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PEOPLE VS.

VERA

NOVEMBER 16, 1937

The People of the Philippine Islands and the Hong Kong & Shanghai
Banking Corporation – petitioners
Jose O. Vera and Mariano Cu Unjieng – respondents

Facts:

1. Hon. Jose O. Vera, is the Judge ad interim of the seventh branch of the
Court of First Instance of Manila, who heard the application of Cu Unjieng for
probation in criminal case 42649. The information in the said criminal case
was filed with the CFI on 15 October 1931, HSBC intervening in the case as
private prosecutor. The CFI, on 8 January 1934, rendered a judgment of
conviction sentencing Cu Unjieng to indeterminate penalty ranging from 4
years and 2 months of prision correccional to 8 years of prision mayor, to pay
the costs and with reservation of civil action to the offended party, HSBC.

2. Upon appeal, the court, on 26 March 1935, modified the sentence to an


indeterminate penalty of from 5 years and 6 months of prision correccional to
7 years, 6 months and 27 days of prision mayor, but affirmed the judgment in
all other respects.

3. Cu Unjieng filed a motion for reconsideration and four successive motions


for new trial which were denied on 17 December 1935, and final judgment
was accordingly entered on 18 December 1935. Cu Unjieng thereupon sought
to have the case elevated on certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United
States but the latter denied the petition for certiorari in November, 1936.

4. The Supreme Court, on 24 November 1936, denied the petition


subsequently filed by Cu Unjieng for leave to file a second alternative motion
for reconsideration or new trial and thereafter remanded the case to the court
of origin for execution of the judgment.

5. Cu Unjieng filed an application for probation on 27 November 1936, before


the trial court, under the provisions of Act 4221 of the defunct Philippine
Legislature. Cu Unjieng states in his petition, inter alia, that he is innocent of
the crime of which he was convicted, that he has no criminal record and that
he would observe good conduct in the future.

6. Thereafter, the CFI of Manila, seventh branch, Judge Jose O. Vera


presiding, set the petition for hearing on 5 April 1937. On 2 April 1937, the
Fiscal of the City of Manila filed an opposition to the granting of probation to
Cu Unjieng.

ISSUE/S:

a. Whether or not the constitutionality of Act No. 4221 has been properly
raised in the proceedings OR Whether the People of the
Philippines, through the Solicitor General and Fiscal of the City of
Manila, is a proper party in present case
b. Whether or not the said Act is constitutional
Wherein the constitutionality of said act is challenged on these
three grounds
1. The said Act encroaches upon the pardoning power of the
Executive
2. That it constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power
3. That it denies the equal protection of the laws

HELD:
a. YES. The people of the Philippines, represented by the Solicitor-
General and the Fiscal of the City of Manila, is such a proper party in
the present proceedings. It goes without saying that if Act No. 4221
really violates the Constitution, the People of the Philippines has a
substantial interest in having it set aside. Hence, the well-settled rule
that the state can challenge the validity of its own laws.

b. NO. Said act is unconstitutional

Grounds:
1. No, the Act does not conflict with the pardoning power of the
Executive. The pardoning power, in respect to those serving their
probationary sentences remains as full and complete as if the
Probation Law – pardoning is different from suspension
2. Yes, the Act constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power.
Section 11 of the Act says that the provincial boards of the various
provinces are to determine for themselves, whether the Probation
Law shall apply to their provinces or not at all. But law states that
the power of suspending laws shall be exercised by solely the
legislature.
3. Yes, the act denies the equal protection of laws. The resultant
inequality may be said to flow from the previously mentioned
unwarranted delegation of legislative power. One province may
adopt the law, another might not. This means that a person coming
within the purview of law would be liable to enjoy the benefits of
probation in one province, while another person similarly situated in
another province would be denied those benefits. –and if a law has
the effect of denying the equal protection of the law, it is
unconstitutional.