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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No.

164953 February 13, 2006 JO N JOSEP !UM"N!"# y $U!%N"O, Petitioner, vs. o&. E'U"R'O $. PER"!T" JR., (& () Ca*a+(,y a) "+,(&- Pre)(.(&- Ju.-e, Re-(o&a/ Tr(a/ Cour, 0$ra&+1 132, Ma&(/a, Respondent. D P"NG"N%$"N, CJ.: Ve"atious, oppressive, un#ustified and capricious dela$s in the arrai%n&ent violates the constitutional ri%ht to speed$ trial and speed$ case disposition, particularl$ 'hen the accused is detained. (nder the circu&stances of the present case, &anda&us is a proper re&ed$ for relief fro& prolon%ed detention. This !ourt safe%uards libert$ and 'ill therefore al'a$s uphold the basic constitutional ri%hts of the people, especiall$ the 'ea) and the &ar%inali*ed. The !ase +efore us is a Petition for Manda&us, under Rule -. of the Rules of !ourt, see)in% /,0 the dis&issal of the Infor&ation filed a%ainst Petitioner 1ohn 1oseph 2u&anla' $ +ulinao3 and /40 his release fro& the Manila !it$ 1ail. The Facts !ulled fro& the parties5 pleadin%s are the follo'in% undisputed facts. Petitioner 2u&anla' 'as apprehended b$ the 6estern Police District near San Die%o Street, Sa&paloc, Manila, on the evenin% of Nove&ber 4-, 4774, for ille%al possession of a dan%erous dru%. 8e 'as char%ed in an Infor&ation4 filed 'ith +ranch ,9 of the Re%ional Trial !ourt /RT!0 of Manila, as follo's: ;That on or about Nove&ber 4<, 4774, in the !it$ of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not bein% la'full$ authori*ed to possess an$ dan%erous dru%, did then and there 'illfull$, unla'full$ and )no'in%l$ have in his possession, custod$ and control one /,0 heat sealed transparent plastic sachet containin% *ero point *ero one one /7.7,,0 %ra&s of 'hite cr$stalline substance )no'n as S8=+( containin% &etha&pheta&ine h$drochloride, a dan%erous dru%.9 = !o&&it&ent Order< 'as conse>uentl$ issued b$ Presidin% 1ud%e 2uis 1. =rran* directin% the detention of petitioner in the Manila !it$ 1ail and settin% the latter5s arrai%n&ent on 1anuar$ ?, 4779. On even date, petitioner5s counsel &anifested. his intention to file a &otion for preli&inar$ investi%ation. +ecause of the Manifestation, the arrai%n&ent 'as deferred to Februar$ 4,, 4779. The aforesaid Motion - 'as filed to%ether 'ith a Petition to Reduce +ail @ on 1anuar$ ,@, 4779. The resolution of these &atters 'as overta)en b$ 1ud%e =rran*5s retire&ent fro& public service. Thus, the arrai%n&ent scheduled for Februar$ 4,, 4779, had to be postponed. This !ourt desi%nated herein respondent, 1ud%e duardo +. Peralta, 1r., as actin% presidin% #ud%e of +ranch ,9, Re%ional Trial !ourt, Manila, in =d&inistrative Order No. 4@A4779 issued on Februar$ ,?, 4779.? On March 4-, 4779, the ne'l$ desi%nated actin% presidin% #ud%e issued an Order B settin% the arrai%n&ent of petitioner on =pril 49, 4779. On the latter date, the arrai%n&ent 'as reset to 1une 4., 4779, due to the public prosecutor5s absence.,7 On 1une 4., 4779, petitioner5s counsel received the lo'er court5s Order %rantin% 2u&anla'5s Petition to Reduce +ail and den$in% his Motion for Preli&inar$ Investi%ation for havin% been filed be$ond the re%le&entar$ period. ,,In the sa&e Order, the trial court set petitioner5s arrai%n&ent on =u%ust -, 4779. The arrai%n&ent 'as postponed a%ain, this ti&e due to the absence of petitioner5s counsel. =ccordin% to hi&, he re>uested the court to proceed 'ith the arrai%n&ent, 'ith the public defender assistin% the accused, but that respondent #ud%e denied the re>uest on the %round that petitioner 'as alread$ represented b$ a counsel de parte. ,4 The trial court then reAscheduled the arrai%n&ent on Septe&ber 4<, 4779.,9 !ISION

In 'hat 'as be%innin% to be a pattern of la"it$, the Septe&ber 4< arrai%n&ent 'as li)e'ise postponed in vie' of the scheduled &eetin% of presidin% #ud%es 'ith accredited ne'spaper publishers and 'as thus reset to October ,, 4779. ,< On the latter date, respondent #ud%e issued the follo'in% Order:,. ;In vie' of the draft Order dated =u%ust -, 4779 'hich i&peded the Produce Order for the arrai%n&ent and preAtrial conference this afternoon of defendant 1ohn 1oseph 2u&anla' in relation to !ri&inal !ase No. 74A47?<4-, the arrai%n&ent and preAtrial conference are hereb$ reset on Dece&ber ,7, 4779 at 4:77 o5cloc) in the afternoon, on the date a&enable to =tt$. rnesto Delfin, as 'ell as the defendant.; =%ain, the arrai%n&ent did not occur on Dece&ber ,7, 4779, because petitioner had not been brou%ht to the court b$ the 'ardens of the Manila !it$ 1ail. =ccordin% to the trial court5s Order, ,- there 'as no proof of service on the Manila !it$ 1ail. The arrai%n&ent 'as thus reset to March ,, 477<. Notabl$, a $ear had passed since the filin% of the Infor&ation, $et 2u&anla' re&ained uninfor&ed of the char%es a%ainst hi&, 'hile continuin% to be in detention and despair all throu%hout that period of li&bo. O'in% to this insufferable state of affairs, petitioner5s counsel &anifested his intention to file a &otion to dis&iss on account of the violation of his client5s ri%ht to a speed$ trial. ,@ =ccordin%l$, an (r%ent Motion to Dis&iss ,? 'as filed on Dece&ber ,B, 4779. The Motion 'as heard on Februar$ 47, 477<, but 'as pro&ptl$ denied b$ the trial court. The arrai%n&ent 'as reset $et a%ain to March ,@, 477<.,B The arrai%n&ent did not ta)e place, ho'ever, because the accused 'as not produced in court b$ the #ail 'ardens concerned. It turned out that the trial court had not issued a ;produce order; to the Manila !it$ 1ail. =nother resettin% 'as ordered for =pril ,-, 477<.47 No' frustrated 'ith the repeated postpone&ents, petitioner filed a Second (r%ent Motion to Dis&iss 4, on March 44, 477<. Rel$in% on the provisions of the Revised Rules of !ri&inal Procedure, &andatin% that arrai%n&ent should be held 'ithin thirt$ /970 da$s fro& the date the court ac>uired #urisdiction over the accused, petitioner ar%ued that the protracted dela$ of his arrai%n&ent violated his constitutional ri%ht to speed$ trial. 44 On =pril ,-, 477<, the RT! could not proceed 'ith the arrai%n&ent. 6hat transpired on that date is evident fro& its Order:49 ;Inas&uch as the Trial Prosecutor has #ust furnished a cop$ of her !o&&ent dated =pril ,4, 477< to the defense counsel, as pra$ed for b$ =tt$. rnesto Delfin, counsel for accused 1ohn 1oseph 2u&anla' in !ri&inal !ase No. 74A 47?<4-, he is CR=NT D five /.0 da$s fro& toda$ to sub&it his Repl$. =fter 'hich, the pendin% Second (r%ent Motion to Dis&iss dated March 4,, 477< filed on March 44, 477< /pa%e 99, Record in !ri&inal !ase No. 74A47?<4-0 'ill be dee&ed sub&itted for resolution. ;Mean'hile, 'ithout pre#udice to the resolution of the pendin% &otion, the arrai%n&ent and preAtrial conference of 1ohn 1oseph 2u&anla' are hereb$ tentativel$ scheduled on Ma$ 4-, 477< at 4:77 o5cloc) in the afternoon.; On Ma$ 4-, 477<, the arrai%n&ent could not be conducted, a%ain because of the Manila !it$ 1ail5s failure to brin% petitioner to the court despite notice.4< On the sa&e da$, his counsel received4. the trial court5s Order4- dated Ma$ 9, 477<, den$in% his Second (r%ent Motion to Dis&iss. The arrai%n&ent 'as reset to 1une ,-, 477<. 4@ On this date, it 'as respondent #ud%e5s absence that caused the postpone&ent of the arrai%n&ent, 'hich 'as reset to 1ul$ 4,, 477<.4? +ut on that date, no hearin% 'as conducted in +ranch ,9 because of the on%oin% se&estral inventor$ of cases in respondent #ud%e5s re%ular sala, +ranch ,@.4B 8ence, the present Petition.97 The Issues Petitioner raises the follo'in% issues for our consideration: ;6hether or not the failure of public respondent to conduct the arrai%n&ent of the petitioner despite the dela$ of one /,0 $ear, nine /B0 &onths and four /<0 da$s constitute undue and un#ustifiable dela$ in violation of his constitutional ri%ht to speed$ trial. ;6hether or not such undue and un#ustifiable dela$ 'ould 'arrant the dis&issal of the Infor&ation filed a%ainst the petitioner. ;That should the decision b$ the 8onorable Supre&e !ourt be one findin% &erit in this Petition, 'hether or not the

said decision is bindin% upon the ne'l$ appointed presidin% #ud%e of Re%ional Trial !ourt, +ranch ,9, Manila, as successor of public respondent.;9, On the other hand, respondent as)s 'hether the Petition for Manda&us should be %iven due course. 94 On the 'hole, the issues &a$ be reduced to the follo'in%: ,0 'hether there 'as a violation of the ri%ht to speed$ trial, 'arrantin% a >uashal of the Infor&ation a%ainst petitioner3 and 40 'hether &anda&us is the proper re&ed$. The !ourt5s Rulin% The Petition is &eritorious. Main Issue: Ri%ht to Speed$ Trial =rrai%n&ent is a vital sta%e in cri&inal proceedin%s in 'hich the accused are for&all$ infor&ed of the char%es a%ainst the&.99 The proper conduct of the arrai%n&ent is provided in Rule ,,- of the Revised Rules on !ri&inal Procedure. = perusal of the provision sho's that arrai%n&ent is not a &ere for&alit$, but an inte%ral part of due process.9< Particularl$, it i&ple&ents the constitutional ri%ht of the accused to be infor&ed of the nature and cause of the accusation a%ainst the& and their ri%ht to speed$ trial. On this point, petitioner ar%ues that, b$ respondent5s failure to act e"peditiousl$ on his arrai%n&ent, his ri%ht to speed$ trial 'as violated. 8e points out the fourteen postpone&ents that resulted in his intolerable detention for al&ost t'o $ears. Moreover, he cites Section 4 of Supre&e !ourt !ircular No. 9?AB? /i&ple&entin% Republic =ct No. ?<B9, other'ise )no'n as ;The Speed$ Trial =ct of ,BB?;0, 'hich provides that arrai%n&ent shall be held 'ithin thirt$ da$s fro& the date the court ac>uired #urisdiction over the accused. On the other hand, respondent counters that there 'ere no capricious and oppressive dela$s that 'ould #ustif$ a dis&issal of the Infor&ation. The Office of the Solicitor Ceneral points to the participation of petitioner hi&self in the protracted proceedin%s, such as his filin% of a Motion for Preli&inar$ Investi%ation and his counsel5s absence fro& one of the scheduled hearin%s.9. Speed$ Trial !onstrued The thirt$Ada$ period invo)ed b$ petitioner 'as construed in Solar Tea& ntertain&ent, Inc. v. 8o'. 9- It 'as held in that case that the period 'as not absolute. !ertain dela$s 'ere allo'ed b$ la' and e"cluded fro& the co&putation of the ti&e 'ithin 'hich trial &ust co&&ence. The !ourt ruled that those e"clusions should ;reflect the funda&entall$ reco%ni*ed principle that the concept of Dspeed$ trial5 is a Drelative ter& and &ust necessaril$ be a fle"ible concept.5;9@ It held further that courts &ust strive to &aintain a delicate balance bet'een the de&ands of due process and the strictures of speed$ trial, on the one hand3 and, on the other, the ri%ht of the State to prosecute cri&es and rid societ$ of cri&inals. Indeed, #udicial proceedin%s do not e"ist in a vacuu&. The$ &ust contend 'ith the realities of ever$da$ life. Thus, a sensible assess&ent of their conduct &ust consider several factors, rather than a &ere &athe&atical calculation of periods that have elapsed bet'een sta%es. 1urisprudence has set forth the follo'in% %uidelines: ;" " ". ETFhe ri%ht to a speed$ disposition of a case, li)e the ri%ht to speed$ trial, is dee&ed violated onl$ 'hen the proceedin% is attended b$ ve"atious, capricious, and oppressive dela$s3 or 'hen un#ustified postpone&ents of the trial are as)ed for and secured, or 'hen 'ithout cause or #ustifiable &otive a lon% period of ti&e is allo'ed to elapse 'ithout the part$ havin% his case tried. >uall$ applicable is the balancin% test used to deter&ine 'hether a defendant has been denied his ri%ht to a speed$ trial, or a speed$ disposition of a case for that &atter, in 'hich the conduct of both the prosecution and the defendant are 'ei%hed, and such factors as len%th of the dela$, reason for the dela$, the defendant5s assertion or nonAassertion of his ri%ht, and pre#udice to the defendant resultin% fro& the dela$, are considered.;9? Reasonable Postpone&ents It should be stressed that petitioner never ac>uiesced to the see&in%l$ endless postpone&ents of the arrai%n&ent. 8e asserted his ri%ht to speed$ trial t'ice, but 'as denied b$ respondent in both instances. !onsiderin% that petitioner has been under detention since Dece&ber 4774, 'e need not belabor the pre#udice, distress, and an"iet$ he suffered as a result of the dela$ed arrai%n&ent. 6e concede that the bases for so&e of the dela$s 'ere co&pletel$ sound, such as the retire&ent of 1ud%e

=rran*9B and the &anifestation of petitioner that the latter 'ould be filin% a Motion for Preli&inar$ Investi%ation.<7Those &atters 'ere &anifestl$ not intended to dela$ the proceedin%s in !ri&inal !ase No. 74A47?<4-. The dela$ caused b$ 1ud%e =rran*5s retire&ent &a$ be dee&ed a nor&al part of the ordinar$ conduct of court business and 'as not necessaril$ unreasonable. The second %round 'as the ri%ht of the accused accorded b$ Section @ of Rule ,,4 of the Revised Rules on !ri&inal Procedure. <, Veril$, petitioner5s re>uest for a preli&inar$ investi%ation before arrai%n&ent 'as 'ellAadvised, in vie' of the rule that failure to do so 'ould constitute a 'aiver of the ri%ht.<4 Thus, it has been held that thou%h the conduct of a preli&inar$ investi%ation &a$ hold bac) the pro%ress of a case, such investi%ation is necessar$ so that the defendant5s ri%ht 'ill not be co&pro&ised or sacrificed at the altar of e"pedienc$.<9 (n#ustified Dela$ This !ourt revie'ed the other reasons for the postpone&ents in this case, but finds the& far fro& bein% reasonable. There 'ere fourteen postpone&ents in all. Coin% over the causes for the dela$s, 'e see the lac) of earnest effort on the part of respondent to conduct the arrai%n&ent as soon as the court calendar 'ould allo'. Most of the postpone&ents could have easil$ been avoided if he had been &ore )een on respectin% and upholdin% petitioner5s constitutional ri%ht to speed$ trial and speed$ disposition. Civen the len%th and the unreasonableness of the &a#orit$ of the dela$s, a violation of the ri%ht of petitioner to speed$ trial beco&es &anifest. =l&ost t'o $ears << elapsed fro& the filin% of the Infor&ation a%ainst hi& until the filin% of this Petition3 incredibl$, he has not been arrai%ned. =n arrai%n&ent ta)es, at &ost, ten &inutes of the court5s business and does not nor&all$ entail le%al %$&nastics. It consists si&pl$ of readin% to the accused the char%es leveled a%ainst the&, ensurin% their understandin% of those char%es, and obtainin% their plea to the char%es. = prudent and resolute #ud%e can conduct an arrai%n&ent as soon as the accused are presented before the court. In fact, b$ fi"in% a period of onl$ thirt$ da$s fro& the filin% of the infor&ation to the conduct of an arrai%n&ent, R= ?<B9 reco%ni*es that this funda&ental ri%ht should and can be done 'ith &ini&al dela$. For this reason alone, 'e are astonished that the court a >uo could not co&plete such a si&ple but funda&ental sta%e in the proceedin%s. The protracted dela$ beca&e all the &ore oppressive and ve"atious 'hen vie'ed fro& the perspective that the libert$ of the accused 'as bein% curtailed for the entire duration. Postpone&ent Due to =bsence of !ounsel It 'ill be recalled that the arrai%n&ent set for =u%ust -, 4779, 'as postponed b$ the trial court due to the absence of the counsel of petitioner. <. The latter sou%ht to proceed 'ith the arrai%n&ent b$ re>uestin% the assistance of the public defender as counsel de oficio, but the re>uest 'as denied on the fli&s$ %round that the accused alread$ had a counsel de parte. 6e find no le%al basis for the trial court5s action. The appoint&ent of a counsel de oficio in the absence of the defendant5s counsel de parte is not prohibited, <- not even b$ the !onstitution,<@ especiall$ 'hen the accused the&selves re>uest that appoint&ent. In fact, the court has a &andator$ dut$ to appoint a counsel de oficio 'hen the accused have no counsel of choice at the ti&e of their arrai%n&ent.<? People v. Ser*o<B held thus: ;" " " E=Fn accused &a$ e"ercise his ri%ht to counsel b$ electin% to be represented either b$ a courtAappointed la'$er or b$ one of his o'n choice. 6hile his ri%ht to be represented b$ counsel is i&&utable, his option to secure the services of counsel de parte, ho'ever, is not absolute. The court is obli%ed to balance the privile%e to retain a counsel of choice a%ainst the stateGs and the offended part$Gs e>uall$ i&portant ri%ht to speed$ and ade>uate #ustice. Thus, the court &a$ restrict the accusedGs option to retain a counsel de parte if the accused insists on an attorne$ he cannot afford, or the chosen counsel is not a &e&ber of the bar, or the attorne$ declines to represent the accused for a valid reason, e.%. conflict of interest and the li)e.;.7 2i)e other personal ri%hts, the ri%ht to a counsel de parte is 'aivable, so lon% as ,0 the 'aiver is not contrar$ to la', public order, public polic$, &orals or %ood custo&s3 or pre#udicial to a third person 'ith a ri%ht reco%ni*ed b$ la'3 and 40 the 'aiver is une>uivocall$, )no'in%l$ and intelli%entl$ &ade.., =ppl$in% these principles, it 'ould have been &ore prudent for respondent #ud%e to have appointed a counsel de oficio for purposes of arrai%n&ent onl$. This course of action beca&e &ore co&pellin% in the instant case 'hen petitioner hi&self re>uested the appoint&ent. .4 To be sure, he 'ould not have been pre#udiced b$ that action, provided there 'as a proper observance of Rule ,,- of the Revised Rules of !ri&inal Procedure. (nder Section ? of this rule, before proceedin% 'ith the arrai%n&ent, the court is &andated to %ive the appointed counsel de oficio

reasonable ti&e to consult 'ith the accused as to the latter5s plea..9 !learl$, respondent #ud%e5s postpone&ent of the arrai%n&ent on =u%ust -, 4779, had no substantial basis. Thus, the postpone&ent, initiall$ caused b$ the absence of petitioner5s counsel, beca&e unreasonable and ulti&atel$ attributable to respondent5s infle"ibilit$ as re%ards contin%encies. Responsibilit$ of 1ud%es in Mini&i*in% Dela$ The fore&ost cause for the len%th$ dela$ in this case 'as the repeated failure of the #ail 'ardens to brin% the accused to court. No less than four court settin%s, .< spannin% seven &onths, 'ere postponed on this %round alone. To be sure, this recurrin% circu&stance 'as caused, in different instances, b$ the failure of the court personnel to issue the produce order on ti&e and b$ the dereliction of the #ail 'ardens. Re&ar)abl$, althou%h respondent #ud%e 'as #ustified in deferrin% the arrai%n&ent until the accused 'as presented, .. the proble& could have been easil$ averted b$ efficient court &ana%e&ent. In his role as ad&inistrator, respondent should have supervised his cler) of court to ensure a ti&el$ service of the produce order on the 'ardens of the Manila !it$ 1ail. 1ud%es &ust )eep a 'atchful e$e on the level of perfor&ance and conduct of the court personnel under their i&&ediate supervision, 'ho are pri&aril$ e&plo$ed to aid in the ad&inistration of #ustice. 1ud%es 'ho set the pace for %reater efficienc$, dili%ence and dedication, could pro&pt their personnel to be &ore dili%ent and efficient in the perfor&ance of official duties. For certain, lenienc$ in the ad&inistrative supervision of court personnel &ust be avoided..6e stress the need to re&ind #ud%es to e"hibit &ore dili%ence and efficienc$ in the perfor&ance of their #udicial duties to avoid loss of faith and confidence in the ad&inistration of #ustice. Rule 9.7B of !anon 9 of the !ode of 1udicial !onduct re>uires the& to ;or%ani*e and supervise the court personnel to ensure the pro&pt and efficient dispatch of business " " ".; =dditionall$, Section ./d0 of Rule ,9. confers upon ever$ court the po'er to control the conduct of its &inisterial officers and of all other persons 'ho in an$ &anner are connected 'ith a case before it. Respondent did not e"ercise his prero%atives in ad&inisterin% speed$ #ustice. Instead, he 'as content 'ith issuin% re&inders.@ that &iserabl$ failed to resolve the proble& e"peditiousl$. 6e can onl$ conclude fro& the distinct circu&stances of the case that he failed to assert activel$ his authorit$ to e"pedite the proceedin%s. Instead of bein% proactive and steerin% the course of the proceedin%s 'ith deliberate dispatch, respondent tended to be passive and reactive b$ allo'in% the pace of the proceedin%s to be dictated b$ the listlessness of the parties, his staff, and the #ail 'ardens. 1ud%es should be &ore deliberate in their actions and, 'ithin the bounds of la', &a)e full use of their authorit$ to e"pedite proceedin%s 'hile continuin% to respect the ri%hts of parties to ventilate their respective causes full$. Indeed, #ud%es are re>uired to dispose of the court5s business e"peditiousl$, in accordance 'ith Rule 9.7. of !anon 9 of the !ode of 1udicial !onduct, 'hich 'e >uote: ;= #ud%e shall dispose of the court5s business pro&ptl$ and decide cases 'ithin the re>uired period.; This !ourt has constantl$ i&pressed upon #ud%es the need to act pro&ptl$ on their cases. Dela$ in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the #udiciar$, lo'ers its standards, and brin%s it into disrepute. .? In the li%ht of the nu&erous and unreasonable dela$s in the arrai%n&ent of petitioner, the sou%ht for dis&issal of the Infor&ation filed a%ainst hi& is in order. Second Issue: Propriet$ of a Petition for Manda&us Respondent &aintains that &anda&us is not the proper re&ed$, because he did not ne%lect his duties. !onsiderin% the above findin%s of inordinate dela$, respondent5s contention evidentl$ has no le% to stand on. It is established that a 'rit of &anda&us &a$ be issued to control the e"ercise of discretion .B 'hen, in the perfor&ance of dut$, there is undue dela$ that can be characteri*ed as a %rave abuse of discretion resultin% in &anifest in#ustice.-7 In vie' of our findin% of un'arranted dela$s in the conduct of the arrai%n&ent of petitioner, he has indeed the ri%ht to de&and AA throu%h a 'rit of &anda&us AA e"peditious action fro& all officials tas)ed 'ith the ad&inistration of #ustice. Thus, he &a$ not onl$ de&and that his arrai%n&ent be held but, ulti&atel$, that the infor&ation a%ainst hi& be dis&issed on the %round of the violation of his ri%ht to speed$ trial. Manda&us is a proper recourse for citi*ens 'ho see) to enforce a public ri%ht and to co&pel the perfor&ance of a

public dut$, &ost especiall$ 'hen the public ri%ht involved is &andated b$ the !onstitution. -, +esides, it has lon% been established in this #urisdiction that the 'rit of &anda&us is available to the accused to co&pel a dis&issal of the case.-4 Respondent ar%ues for the dis&issal of the instant Petition on the %round that petitioner did not &ove for a reconsideration of the trial court5s Order dated Ma$ 9, 477<. Respondent insists that a &otion for reconsideration is a prere>uisite to a &anda&us petition, because the for&er re&ed$ is plain, speed$, and ade>uate in the ordinar$ course of la'.-9 Indeed, his contention e"presses the %eneral rule, but is not i&pervious to e"ceptions. In the face of e"traordinar$ and co&pellin% reasons, it has been held that the availabilit$ of another re&ed$ does not preclude a resort to a special civil action under Rule -. of the Rules of !ourt. These reasons arise 'hen, a&on% others, the assailed order issued 'ith %rave abuse of discretion is null, -< 'hen the available re&ed$ 'ill not afford e"peditious relief,-. and 'hen a &otion for reconsideration 'ill be useless.-The instant case falls under these e"ceptional cases. To be%in 'ith, the nu&erous and unreasonable postpone&ents displa$ed an abusive e"ercise of discretion. The dela$s 'ere ordered in total disre%ard of the constitutional ri%ht of petitioner. In fact, the Orders den$in% his &otions to dis&iss did not even bother to e"plain the reasonableness of the bases for the postpone&ents. The Order dated Februar$ 47, 477<, contains onl$ this %eneral state&ent: ;Pendin% resolution of certain incidents as chronicled b$ the !ourt in open court, and %iven the Trial Prosecutor5s ob#ections thereto lifted fro& the record as to 'h$ the arrai%n&ent and preAtrial conference of the EpetitionerF 1ohn 1oseph 2u&anla' $ +olinao 'ere not scheduled for'ith /sic0 as e"pected b$ counsel for the defense, the !ourt opted to D NH the D(r%ent Motion to Dis&iss5 dated Dece&ber ,@, 4779 in !ri&inal !ase No. 74A47?<4-.; -@ =fter enu&eratin% all the causes for the postpone&ents, the Second (r%ent Motion to Dis&iss 'as denied b$ respondent in the Order dated Ma$ 9, 477<, in 'ords that 'ere #ust as va%ue, as sho'n belo': ;+ased on the fore%oin% chronolo%ical bac)drop, there 'ere causes that #ustified the suspension of the arrai%n&ent that shall be e"cluded in co&putin% the period for arrai%n&ent per Section , /%0, Rule ,,- of the 4777 Revised Rules on !ri&inal Procedure, thusl$:

D(nless a shorter period is provided b$ special la' or Supre&e !ourt circular, the arrai%n&ent shall be held 'ithin
thirt$ /970 da$s fro& the date the court ac>uires #urisdiction over the person of the accused. The ti&e of the pendenc$ of a &otion to >uash or for a bill of particulars or other causes #ustif$in% suspension of the arrai%n&ent shall be e"cluded in co&putin% the period.5 ;=ccordin%l$, the Second (r%ent Motion to Dis&iss dated March 4,, 477< fro& defense counsel in !ri&inal !ase No. 74A47?<4- &ust be and is hereb$ D NI D. " " ".;-? The Orders did not even discuss 'h$ the postpone&ents 'ere #ustified, or 'hich of the& could be e"cluded fro& the co&putation of the prescribed period. =bsent an$ discussion of these &atters, baseless 'as the court a >uo5s conclusion that there 'as no violation of petitioner5s ri%ht to speed$ trial. = veritable displa$ of capriciousness cannot be countenanced 'hen 'ei%hed a%ainst an i&&utable ri%ht protected b$ the !onstitution. =s further a%%ravation, respondent did not e"ert an$ effort to e"pedite the arrai%n&ent even after petitioner had filed t'o ur%ent &otions to dis&iss. Indeed, there 'as basis for the latter5s belief that filin% a &otion for reconsideration 'ould have been onl$ an e"ercise in futilit$.-B Respondent also contends that the instant Petition should be dis&issed for disre%ardin% the hierarch$ of courts. This !ourt has full discretionar$ po'er to ta)e co%ni*ance of a petition filed directl$ 'ith it. @7 In the interest of speed$ #ustice, the !ourt dee&ed it best to ta)e co%ni*ance of the present Petition, not'ithstandin% the hierarch$ of courts. Re&andin% the le%al issues to the !ourt of =ppeals 'ould have onl$ e"acerbated the violation of petitioner5s ri%hts. It is the polic$ of this !ourt not to den$ a 'rit of &anda&us on purel$ technical &atters, if a part$ 'ould be deprived of substantive ri%hts. Procedural rules should not be strictl$ enforced 'hen their enforce&ent 'ould result in a &iscarria%e of #ustice. This principle holds, especiall$ 'hen a petition is &eritorious and the trial #ud%e clearl$ violated petitioner5s constitutional ri%ht. The protection of our people5s civil liberties over'hel&s all rules of procedure. These rules are &ere tools for facilitatin% the attain&ent of #ustice. =s e"plicitl$ provided in the Rules of !ourt itself, the$ ;shall be liberall$ construed in order to pro&ote their ob#ective of securin% a #ust, speed$, and ine"pensive disposition of ever$ action and proceedin%.;@, 2et it be )no'n that this !ourt 'ill not shir) fro& the responsibilit$ AA na$, the dut$ AA to set aside all obstacles to the

fortification of ever$ citi*en5s constitutionall$ enshrined ri%hts. 6e 'ill not condone or %ive our i&pri&atur to the slu%%ish pace of the proceedin%s belo'. The !ourt has the dut$ to safe%uard libert$3 hence, it 'ill al'a$s uphold the basic constitutional ri%hts of our people, especiall$ the 'ea) and the &ar%inali*ed. 68 R FOR , the Petition is CR=NT D. !ri&inal !ase No. 74A47?<4.A4- pendin% before +ranch ,9 of the Manila Re%ional Trial !ourt is DISMISS D. Petitioner is hereb$ ordered R 2 =S D fro& the Manila !it$ 1ail, 'here he is currentl$ detained, unless he is bein% held for an$ other la'ful cause. No pronounce&ent as to costs. SO ORD R D. "RTEM%O 3. P"NG"N%$"N !hief 1ustice !hair&an, First Division 6 !ON!(R: CONSUE!O 4N"RES5S"NT%"GO =ssociate 1ustice ROMEO J. C"!!EJO, SR. =ssociate 1ustice ! M". "!%C%" "USTR%"5M"RT%NE6 =sscociate 1ustice M%N%T" 3. C %CO5N"6"R%O =sscociate 1ustice R T I F I !=T I O N

Pursuant to Section ,9, =rticle VIII of the !onstitution, I certif$ that the conclusions in the above Decision 'ere reached in consultation before the case 'as assi%ned to the 'riter of the opinion of the !ourt5s Division. "RTEM%O 3. P"NG"N%$"N !hief 1ustice

, Rollo, pp. 9A4@. 4 Id., p. 4B. 9 +old t$pes in ori%inal. < Rollo, p. 9,. . Petition, p. .3 rollo, p. @. - Rollo, pp. 94A99. @ Id., pp. 9<A9.. ? Petition, p. -3 rollo, p. ?. B Rollo, pp. <9A<<. ,7 Id., p. <.. ,, Id., pp. <-A<@. ,4 Petition, p. ?3 rollo, p. ,7. ,9 Rollo, p. <?. ,< Id., p. <B. ,. Id., p. .7. ,- Id., p. .,.

,@ Petitioner5s Me&orandu&, p. .3 rollo, p. ,9<. ,? Rollo, pp. .4A.-. ,B Id., p. .B. 47 Id., p. -7. 4, Id., pp. -,A--. 44 Id., pp. -9A-<. 49 Id., p. -@. 4< Id., p. @?. 4. Petitioner5s Me&orandu&, p. -3 rollo, p. ,9.. 4- Rollo, pp. @.A@@. 4@ Id., p. @?. 4? Id., p. @B. 4B Id., p. ?7. 97 This case 'as dee&ed sub&itted for resolution on =u%ust ,?, 477., upon the !ourt5s receipt of Petitioner5s

Me&orandu& si%ned b$ =tt$. rnesto 2. Delfin. Respondent5s Me&orandu&, si%ned b$ =ssistant Solicitor Ceneral =ntonio 2. Villa&or and =ssociate Solicitor Sarah Mae S. !ru*, 'as filed on 1ul$ 4@, 477..
9, Petitioner5s Me&orandu&, p. ?3 rollo, p. ,9@. Ori%inal in uppercase. 94 Respondent5s Me&orandu&, p. .3 rollo, p. ,47. 99 =%palo, 8andboo) on !ri&inal Procedure /477,0, p. 99,. 9< See People v. sto&aca, 94- Phil <4B, =pril 44, ,BB-. 9. Respondent5s Me&orandu&, p. -3 rollo, p. ,4,. 9- 99? S!R= .,,, =u%ust 44, 4777. 9@ Id., .47, per Con*a%aARe$es, 1. /citin% +ernas, The !onstitution of the Republic of the Philippines, =

!o&&entar$, Vol. ,, ,B?@0, p. <4,.

9? Con*ales v. Sandi%anba$an, ,BB S!R= 4B?, 97@, 1ul$ ,-, ,BB,, per Re%alado, 1.

&phasis supplied.

9B 1ud%e =rran*5 retire&ent resulted in the postpone&ent of the arrai%n&ent scheduled for Februar$ 4,, 4779. <7 This &anifestation caused the postpone&ent of the arrai%n&ent scheduled on 1anuar$ ?, 4774. <, ;S !. @. 6hen accused la'full$ arrested 'ithout 'arrant. AA " " "

""""""""" ;=fter the filin% of the co&plaint or infor&ation in court 'ithout a preli&inar$ investi%ation, the accused &a$, 'ithin five /.0 da$s fro& the ti&e he learns of its filin%, as) for a preli&inar$ investi%ation 'ith the sa&e ri%ht to adduce evidence in his defense as provided in this Rule.;
<4 People v. !ubcubin, <,9 Phil 4<B, 1ul$ ,7, 477,3 Husop v. Sandi%anba$an, 9.4 S!R= .?@, Februar$ 44,

477, /citin% Co v. !=, 47- S!R= ,9?, Februar$ ,,, ,BB40.

<9 Matala& v. Second Division Sandi%anba$an, C.R. No. ,-.@.,, =pril ,4, 477.. << The Infor&ation a%ainst petitioner 'as filed before the court a >uo on Dece&ber 4, 4774. The instant

Petition 'as filed on Septe&ber @, 477<.

<. Petitioner5s Me&orandu&, p. <3 rollo, p. ,99. <- See

balla v. Paas, 9-4 S!R= 9?B, =u%ust B, 477,.

<@ See People v. 2arraIa%a, <4, S!R= .97, Februar$ 9, 477<.

<? Sa$son v. People, ,-- S!R= -?7, October 4?, ,B??. <B 4@< S!R= ..9, 1une 47, ,BB@. .7 Id., p. .--, per Pan%aniban, 1. /no' !10. ., Ibid. .4 In

&phasis supplied.

balla v. Paas, supra at note <-, 'e upheld the #ud%e5s decision to appoint a counsel de oficio to represent the defendant durin% her arrai%n&ent despite vehe&ent ob#ections fro& the defendant. 6e ruled that the #ud%e5s action did not violate the defendant5s ri%ht to have counsel of her o'n choice.
.9 J? of Rule ,,- of the Revised Rules on !ri&inal Procedure. .< The accused 'as not brou%ht before the court on October ,, 4779 /rollo, p. .70, Dece&ber ,7, 4779 /rollo,

p. .,0, March ,@, 477< /rollo, p. -70 or Ma$ 4-, 477< /rollo, p. @?0.
.. J,/b0 of Rule ,,- of the Revised Rules on !ri&inal Procedure. .- Shan 1r. v. =%uinaldo, ,,@ S!R= 94, Septe&ber 97, ,B?4. .@ Rollo, pp. <., .7, and -7. .? =tt$. N% v. 1ud%e (libari, 9.. Phil @-, 1ul$ 97, ,BB?. .B Kant K'on% v. Presidential !o&&ission on Cood Covern&ent, ,.- S!R= 444, Dece&ber @, ,B?@. -7 See 2icaros v. Sandi%anba$an, 9@7 S!R= 9B<, Nove&ber 44, 477,. -, Ibid. -4 See 8i&a%an v. People, 49@ S!R= .9?, October @, ,BB<3 =cebedo v. 8on. Sar&iento, ,<- Phil ?47,

Dece&ber ,-, ,B@73 s%uerra v. De la !osta, -- Phil ,9<, =u%ust 97, ,B9?.
-9 Respondent5s Me&orandu&, pp. @A?3 rollo, pp. ,44A,49. -< National

lectrification =d&inistration, 4,, Phil. ..,, Dece&ber 4B, ,B?93 Marcelo v. 8on. de Cu*&an, 477 Phil. ,9@, 1une 4B, ,B?43 Pineda L =&pil Manufacturin% !o., v. +artolo&e, B. Phil B97, Septe&ber 97, ,B.<.
-. Marcelo v. 8on. de Cu*&an, ibid. -- See National -@ Rollo, p. .B. -? Id., p. @@. -B Petitioner5s Repl$, p. ,,3 rollo, p. ,,,. @7 See =r) Travel

lectrification =d&inistration, supra at note -<.

"press, Inc. v. =bro%ar, <,7 S!R= ,<?, =u%ust 4B, 47793 Nala v. 1ud%e +arroso 1r., <.. Phil BBB, =u%ust @, 47793 Del Mar v. Philippine =&use&ent and Ca&in% !orporation, 9<- S!R= <?., Nove&ber 4B, 4777.
@, J- of Rule , of the Revised Rules of !ourt.