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Summary: People vs. Vera (GR 45685, 16 November 1937) People vs.

Vera [GR 45685, 16 November 1937] First Division, Laurel (J): 4 concur, 2 concur in result Facts: The People of the Philippine and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), are respectively the plaintiff and the offended party, and Mariano Cu Unjieng is one of the defendants, in the criminal case entitled "The People of the Philippine Islands vs. Mariano Cu Unjieng, et al." (Criminal case 42649) of the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Manila and GR 41200 of the Suprme Court. 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 the aforesaid criminal case. The information in the said criminal case was filed with the CFI on 15 October 1931, HSBC intervening in the case as private prosecutor. After a protracted trial unparalleled in the annals of Philippine jurisprudence both in the length of time spent by the court as well as in the volume in the testimony and the bulk of the exhibits presented, 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. The CFI of Manila, Judge Pedro Tuason presiding, referred the application for probation of the Insular Probation Office which recommended denial of the same 18 June 1937. 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. The private prosecution also filed an opposition on 5 April 1937, alleging, among other things, that Act 4221, assuming that it has not been repealed by section 2 of Article XV of the Constitution, is nevertheless violative of section 1, subsection (1), Article III of the Constitution guaranteeing equal protection of the laws for the reason that its applicability is not uniform throughout the Islands and because section 11 of the said Act endows the provincial boards with the power to make said law effective or otherwise in their respective or otherwise in their respective provinces. The private prosecution also filed a supplementary opposition on April 19, 1937, elaborating on the alleged unconstitutionality on Act 4221, as an undue delegation of legislative power to the provincial boards of several provinces (sec. 1, Art. VI, Constitution). The City Fiscal concurred in the opposition of the private prosecution except with respect to the questions raised concerning the constitutionality of Act 4221. On 28 June 1937, Judge Jose O. Vera promulgated a resolution, concluding that Cu Unjieng "es inocente por duda racional" of the crime of which he stands convicted by the Supreme court in GR 41200, but denying the latter's petition for probation. On 3 July 1937, counsel for Cu Unjieng filed an exception to the resolution denying probation and a notice of intention to file a motion for reconsideration. An alternative motion for reconsideration or new trial was filed by counsel on 13 July 1937. This was supplemented by an additional motion for reconsideration submitted on 14 July 1937. The aforesaid motions were set for hearing on 31 July 1937, but said hearing was postponed at the petition of counsel for Cu Unjieng because a motion for leave to intervene in the case as amici curiae signed by 33 (34) attorneys had just been filed with the trial court. On 6 August 1937, the Fiscal of the City of Manila filed a motion with the trial court for the issuance of an order of execution of the judgment of this court in said case and forthwith to commit Cu Unjieng to jail in obedience to said judgment. On 10 August 1937, Judge Vera issued an order requiring all

parties including the movants for intervention as amici curiae to appear before the court on 14 August 1937. On the last-mentioned date, the Fiscal of the City of Manila moved for the hearing of his motion for execution of judgment in preference to the motion for leave to intervene as amici curiae but, upon objection of counsel for Cu Unjieng, he moved for the postponement of the hearing of both motions. The judge thereupon set the hearing of the motion for execution on 21 August 1937, but proceeded to consider the motion for leave to intervene as amici curiae as in order. Evidence as to the circumstances under which said motion for leave to intervene as amici curiae was signed and submitted to court was to have been heard on 19 August 1937. But at this juncture, HSBC and the People came to the Supreme Court on extraordinary legal process to put an end to what they alleged was an interminable proceeding in the CFI of Manila which fostered "the campaign of the defendant Mariano Cu Unjieng for delay in the execution of the sentence imposed by this Honorable Court on him, exposing the courts to criticism and ridicule because of the apparent inability of the judicial machinery to make effective a final judgment of this court imposed on the defendant Mariano Cu Unjieng." The scheduled hearing before the trial court was accordingly suspended upon the issuance of a temporary restraining order by the Supreme Court on 21 August 1937. Issue: Whether the People of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General and Fiscal of the City of Manila, is a proper party in present case. Held: YES. The People of the Philippines, represented by the Solicitor-General and the Fiscal of the City of Manila, is a proper party in the present proceedings. The unchallenged rule is that the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustained, direct injury as a result of its enforcement. It goes without saying that if Act 4221 really violates the constitution, the People of the Philippines, in whose name the present action is brought, has a substantial interest in having it set aside. Of greater import than the damage caused by the illegal expenditure of public funds is the mortal wound inflicted upon the fundamental law by the enforcement of an invalid statute. Hence, the well-settled rule that the state can challenge the validity of its own laws. Equal Protection of Law People v Vera 65 PHIL 56 (1937)
In criminal cases, the elements were laid down in Vera v. People: a. Accused is informed why he is proceeded against, and what charge he must answer. b. Judgment of conviction is based on evidence that is not tainted by falsity, and after the defendant was heard. If the prosecution produces the conviction based on untrue evidence, then it is guilty of depriving the accused of due process. Thus false testimony can be questioned by the accused regardless of the time that lapsed. c. Judgment according to law d. Tribunal with jurisdiction