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HUBERT J. P. WEBB, VS.

HONORABLE
RAUL E. DE LEON
G.R. No. 121234, August 23, 1995
FACTS:
On June 19, 1994, the National Bureau of
Investigation
(NBI)
filed
with
the
Department of Justice a letter-complaint
charging
petitioners
Hubert
Webb,
Michael Gatchalian, Antonio J. Lejano and
six (6) other persons with the crime of
Rape and Homicide of Carmela N.
Vizconde, her mother Estrellita NicolasVizconde, and her sister Anne Marie
Jennifer in their home at Number 80 W.
Vinzons, St., BF Homes Paranaque, Metro
Manila on June 30, 1991.
Forthwith, the Department of Justice
formed a panel of prosecutors headed by
Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Jovencio
R. Zuno to conduct the preliminary
investigation.
ARGUMENTS:
Petitioners fault the DOJ Panel for its
finding of probable cause. They assail the
credibility of Jessica Alfaro as inherently
weak and uncorroborated due to the
inconsistencies between her April 28,
1995 and May 22, 1995 sworn
statements. They criticize the procedure
followed by the DOJ Panel when it did not
examine witnesses to clarify the alleged
inconsistencies.
Petitioners charge that respondent Judge
Raul de Leon and, later, respondent
Judge Amelita Tolentino issued warrants
of
arrest
against
them
without
conducting the required preliminary
examination.
Petitioners complain about the denial of
their constitutional right to due process
and violation of their right to an impartial
investigation. They also assail the
prejudicial publicity that attended their
preliminary investigation.

ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the DOJ Panel likewise
gravely abused its discretion in holding
that there is probable cause to charge
them with the crime of rape and
homicide
2. Whether or not respondent Judges de
Leon and Tolentino gravely abused their
discretion when they failed to conduct a
preliminary examination before issuing
warrants of arrest against them
3. Whether or not the DOJ Panel denied
them their constitutional right to due
process
during
their
preliminary
investigation
4. Whether or not the DOJ Panel
unlawfully
intruded
into
judicial
prerogative when it failed to charge
Jessica Alfaro in the information as an
accused.
HELD:
1. NO.
2. NO.
3. NO. There is no merit in this contention
because petitioners were given all the
opportunities to be heard.
4. NO.
REASONS:
1. The Court ruled that the DOJ Panel did
not gravely abuse its discretion when it
found probable cause against the
petitioners. A probable cause needs only
to rest on evidence showing that more
likely than not, a crime has been
committed and was committed by the
suspects. Probable cause need not be
based on clear and convincing evidence
of guilt, neither on evidence establishing
guilt beyond reasonable doubt and
definitely, not on evidence establishing
absolute certainty of guilt.
2. The Court ruled that respondent
judges did not gravely abuse their
discretion. In arrest cases, there must be
a probable cause that a crime has been
committed and that the person to be

arrested committed it. Section 6 of Rule


112 simply provides that upon filing of
an information, the Regional Trial Court
may issue a warrant for the accused.
Clearly the, our laws repudiate the
submission of petitioners that respondent
Judges
should
have
conducted
searching examination of witnesses
before issuing warrants of arrest against
them.
3. The DOJ Panel precisely ed the parties
to adduce more evidence in their behalf
and for the panel to study the evidence
submitted more fully.
4. Petitioners argument lacks appeal for
it lies on the faulty assumption that the
decision whom to prosecute is a judicial
function, the sole prerogative of the
courts and beyond executive and
legislative interference. In truth, the
prosecution of crimes appertains to the
executive department of government
whose principal power and responsibility
is to see that our laws are faithfully
executed. A necessary component of this
power is the right to prosecute their
violators (See R.A. No. 6981 and section
9 of Rule 119 for legal basis).
With regard to the inconsistencies of the
sworn statements of Jessica Alfaro, the
Court believes that these have been
sufficiently explained and there is no
showing that the inconsistencies were
deliberately made to distort the truth.
With regard to the petitioners complaint
about the prejudicial publicity that
attended their preliminary investigation,
the Court finds nothing in the records
that will prove that the tone and content
of the publicity that attended the
investigation
of
petitioners
fatally
infected the fairness and impartiality of
the DOJ Panel. Petitioners cannot just rely
on the subliminal effects of publicity on
the sense of fairness of the DOJ Panel, for
these are basically unbeknown and
beyond knowing.
PANGANDAMAN v CASAR

159 SCRA 599NARVASA; April 14, 1988


FACTS
- On July 27, 1985, a shooting incident
occurred in Pantao, Masiu, Lanao del Sur,
which left at least five persons dead and
two others wounded. What in fact
transpired is still unclear. According to
one version, armed men had attacked a
residence in Pantao, Masiu, with both
attackers
and
defenders
suffering
casualties. Another version has it that a
group that was on its way to another
place, Lalabuan, also in Masiu, had been
ambushed- The next day, a lawyer (Atty.
Batuampar) of one of the widows filed a
letter-complaint with the fiscal, asking for
a full blast preliminary investigation.
The letter adverted to the possibility of
innocent persons being implicated by the
parties involved on both sides none of
whom was, however, identified and
promised that supporting affidavits would
shortly be filed. Immediately the
Provincial
Fiscal
addressed
a"1st
endorsement" to the respondent Judge,
transmitting Atty. Batuampar's letter and
requesting that "all cases that may be
filed relative .. (to the incident) that
happened in the afternoon of July
27,1985," be forwarded to his office,
which "has first taken cognizance of said
cases.- On August 10, 1985, a criminal
complaint for multiple murder was filed.
On the same day, respondent Judge
examined personally the 3witnesses.
Thereafter, the Judge approved the
complaint and issued a warrant of arrest
against the14 petitioners (who were
named by the witnesses) and 50 "John
Does.- On Aug 14, 1985, an ex-parte
motion was filed by Atty. Batuampar
seeking recall of the warrant of arrest
and subsequent holding of a "thorough
investigation" on the ground that the
Judge's initial investigation had been
"hasty and manifestly haphazard" with
"no searching questions" having been
propounded. The respondent Judge

denied the motion for "lack of basis;"


hence the present petition.
ISSUE:
WON the respondent Judge had the
power to issue the warrant of arrest
without completing the entire prescribed
procedure for preliminary investigation
HELD
YES.- What the Rule provides is that no
complaint or information for an offense
cognizable by the Regional Trial Court
may be filed without completing that
procedure. Sec. 6 of Rule 112 clearly
authorizes the MTC to issue a warrant
even before opening the second phase.This was equally true under the former
rules, where the first phase of the
investigation was expressly denominated
"preliminary examination" to distinguish
it from the second phase, or preliminary
investigation proper
- Sec 3 of rule 112 consists of 2 phases:The first phase consists of an ex-parte
inquiry into the sufficiency of the
complaint and the affidavits and other
documents offered in support thereof.
And it ends with the determination by the
Judge either:(1) that there is no ground to
continue with the inquiry, in which case
he dismisses the complaint and transmits
the order of dismissal, together with the
records of the case, to the provincial
fiscal; or (2)that the complaint and the
supporting documents show sufficient
cause to continue with the inquiry and
this ushers in the second phase.- This
second phase is designed to give the
respondent notice of the complaint,
access to the complainant's evidence
and an opportunity to submit counteraffidavits and supporting documents. At
this stage also, the Judge may conduct a
hearing and propound to the parties and
their witnesses questions on matters
that, in his view, need to be clarified. The
second phase concludes with the Judge
rendering his resolution, either for
dismissal of the complaint or holding the
respondent for trial, which shall be
transmitted, together with the record, to

the provincial fiscal for appropriate


action.- The argument, therefore, must
be rejected that the respondent Judge
acted with grave abuse of discretion in
issuing the warrant of arrest against
petitioners without first completing the
preliminary investigation in accordance
with the prescribed procedure. The rule is
and has always been that such issuance
need only await a finding of probable
cause, not the completion of the entire
procedure of preliminary investigationAlso without appreciable merit is
petitioners' other argument that there
was scarcely time to determine probable
cause against sixty-four persons (the
fourteen petitioners and fifty "Does")
within a matter of hours on a Saturday
when municipal trial courts are open only
from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Nothing in
the record before this Court belies or
discredits those affirmations which have,
besides, the benefit of the legal
presumption that official duty has been
regularly performed.- Insofar, however,
as said warrant is issued against fifty (50)
"John Does" not one of whom the
witnesses to the complaint could or
would Identify, it is of the nature of a
general warrant, one of a class of writs
long proscribed as unconstitutional and
once
an
athematized
as
"totally
subversive of the liberty of the subject."
Clearly violative of the constitutional
injunction that warrants of arrest should
particularly describe the person or
persons to be seized, the warrant must,
as regards its unidentified subjects, be
voided.
Dispositive
Warrants against petitioners upheld;
warrants against John Does denied
PEOPLE VS VELOSO48 PHIL. 169 (1925)
Facts:
- In May, 1923, the building located at
No. 124 Calle Arzobispo, City of Manila,
was used by an organization known as
the Parliamentary Club. Jose Ma. Veloso
was at that time a member of the House

of Representative of the Philippine


Legislature. He was also the manager of
the club.-The police of Manila had reliable
information
that
the
so-called
Parliamentary Club was nothing more
than a gambling house. Indeed, on May
19, 1923, J. F. Townsend, the chief of the
gambling squad, had been to the club
and verified this fact. As a result, on May
25, 1923, Detective Andres Geronimo of
the secret service of the City of Manila,
applied for, and obtained a search
warrant from Judge Garduo of the
municipal court. Thus provided, the
police
attempted
to
raid
the
Parliamentary Club a little after three in
the afternoon of the date abovementioned. They found the doors to the
premises closed and barred. Accordingly,
one band of police including policeman
Rosacker, ascended a telephone pole, so
as to enter a window of the house. Other
policemen, headed by Townsend, broke
in the outer door.
-Once inside the Parliamentary Club,
nearly fifty persons were apprehended by
the police. One of them was the
defendant
Veloso.
Veloso
asked
Townsend what he wanted, and the latter
showed him the search warrant. Veloso
read it and told Townsend that he was
Representative Veloso and not John Doe,
and that the police had no right to search
the house. Townsend answered that
Veloso was considered as John Doe. As
Veloso's pocket was bulging, as if it
contained gambling utensils, Townsend
required Veloso to show him the evidence
of the game. About five minutes was
consumed in conversation between the
policemen
and
the
accused
the
policemen insisting on searching Veloso,
and Veloso insisting in his refusal to
submit to the search.
-At last the patience of the officers was
exhausted. So policeman Rosacker took
hold of Veloso only to meet with his
resistance. Veloso bit Rosacker in the
right forearm, and gave him a blow in

another part of the body, which injured


the policeman quite severely. Through
the combined efforts of Townsend and
Rosacker, Veloso was finally laid down on
the floor, and long sheets of paper, of
reglas de monte, cards, cardboards, and
chips were taken from his pockets.
-All of the persons arrested were
searched and then conducted to the
patrol wagons. Veloso again refused to
obey and shouted offensive epithets
against the police department. It was
necessary for the policemen to conduct
him downstairs. At the door, Veloso
resisted so tenaciously that three
policemen were neededto place him in
the patrol wagon.
-The warrant read as follows:
SEARCH WARRANT

(G)

The People of the Philippine Islands, to


any member of the
Police Force of the City of Manila.
GREETING
Proof by affidavit having this day been
made before me by Andres Geronimo
that he has good reason to believe and
does believe that John Doe has illegally in
his possession in the building occupied
by him and which is under his control,
namely in the building numbered 124
Calle
Arzobispo,
City
of
Manila,
Philippines Islands, certain devices and
effects used in violation of the Gambling
Law, to wit: money, cards,chips, reglas,
pintas, tables and chairs and other
utensils used in connection with the
game commonly known as monte and
that the said John Doe keeps and
conceals saiddevices and effects with the
illegal and criminal intention of using
them in violation of the Gambling Law.
Now
therefore,
you
are
hereby
commanded that at any time in the day

or night within ten (10) days on or after


this date to make a search on the person
of said John Doe and in the house
situated at No. 124 Calle Arzobispo, City
of Manila, Philippine Islands, in quest of
the above described devices and effects
and if you find the same or any part
thereof, you are commanded to bring it
forthwith before me as provided for by
law.
Given under my hand, this 25th day of
May, 1923.(Sgd.) L. GARDUO Judge,
Municipal Court
Issue:
WON the search warrant and the arrest of
Veloso was valid.
Ruling: Yes.
RD:
It is provided, among other things, in the
Philippine Code on Criminal Procedure
that a search warrant shall not issue
except for probable cause and upon
application
supported
by
oath
particularly describing the place to be
searched and the person of thing to be
seized.
The name and description of the accused
should be inserted in the body of the
warrant and where the name is unknown
there must be such a description of the
person accused as will enable the officer
to identify him when found. A warrant for
the apprehension of a person whose true
name is unknown, by the name of "John
Doe" or "Richard Roe," "whose other or
true name in unknown," is void, without
other and further descriptions of the
person to be apprehended, and such
warrant will not justify the officer in
acting under it. Such warrant must, in
addition, contain the best descriptio
personae possible to be obtained of the
person or persons to be apprehended,
and this description must be sufficient to
indicate clearly the proper person or
persons upon whom the warrant is to be

served; and should state his personal


appearance and peculiarities, give his
occupation and place of residence, and
any other circumstances by means of
which he can be identified.
In the first place, the affidavit for the
search warrant and the search warrant
itself described the building to be
searched as "the building No. 124 Calle
Arzobispo, City of Manila, Philippine
Islands." This, without doubt, was a
sufficient designation of the premises to
be searched.
As the search warrant stated that John
Doe had gambling apparatus in his
possession in the building occupied by
him at No. 124 Calle Arzobispo, City of
Manila, and as this John Doe was Jose Ma.
Veloso, the manager of the club, the
police could identify John Doe as Jose Ma.
Veloso without difficulty.
PANGANDAMAN VS CASAR159 SCRA 599,
611 (1988)
Facts:
-On July 27, 1985, a shooting incident
occurred in Pantao, Masiu, Lanao del Sur,
which left at least fivepersons dead and
two others wounded. What in fact
transpired is still unclear.
-On the following day, Atty. Mangurun
Batuampar, claiming to represent the
widow of one of the victims, filed a lettercomplaint with the Provincial Fiscal at
Marawi City, asking for a "full blast
preliminary investigation" of the incident.
The letter adverted to the possibility of
innocent persons being implicated by the
parties involved on both sides none of
whom was, however, identified and
promised that supporting affidavits would
shortly be filed. Immediately the
Provincial
Fiscal
addressed
a
"1stendorsement" to the respondent
Judge, transmitting Atty. Batuampar's
letter and requesting that " all cases that
may be filed relative (to the incident)

that happened in the afternoon of July


27, 1985 ," be forwarded to his office,
which " has first taken cognizance of said
cases."
-No case relative to the incident was,
however, presented to the respondent
Judge until Saturday, August10, 1985,
when a criminal complaint for multiple
murder was filed before him by P.C. Sgt.
Jose L. Laruan, which was docketed as
Case No. 1748. On that same day, the
respondent Judge " examined personally
all(three) witnesses (brought by the
sergeant) under oath thru (his) closed
and direct supervision ,"reducing to
writing the questions to the witnesses
and the latter's answers. Thereafter the
Judge " approved the complaint and
issued the corresponding warrant of
arrest
"
against
the
fourteen
(14)petitioners (who were named by the
witnesses) and fifty (50) John Does.
-An "ex-parte" motion for reconsideration
was filed on August 14, 1985 by Atty.
Batuampar (joined by Atty.Pama L. Muti),
seeking recall of the warrant of arrest
and subsequent holding of a "thorough
investigation on the ground that the
Judge's initial investigation had been
"hasty and manifestly haphazard" with
"no searching questions" having been
propounded. The respondent Judge
denied the motion for lack of basis.

hardly have been possible for respondent


Judge to determine the existence of
probable cause against sixty- four (64)
persons whose participations were of
varying nature and degree in a matter of
hours and issue the warrant of arrest in
the same day";
-that there was undue haste and an
omission to ask searching questions by
the Judge who relied" mainly on the
supporting
affidavits
which
were
obviously
prepared
already
when
presented to him by an enlisted PC
personnel as investigator.";
- that the respondent Judge conducted
the preliminary investigation of the
charges " ... in total disregard of the
Provincial Fiscal ..." who, as said
respondent well knew, had already taken
cognizance of the matter twelve (12)
days earlier and was poised to conduct
his own investigation of the same; andthat issuance of a warrant of arrest
against
fifty
(50)
"John
Does"
transgressed the Constitutional provision
requiring that such warrants should
particularly describe the persons or
things to be seized.
Issue:
WON the warrant of arrest was null and
void. More specifically stated, WON
completion of the procedure laid down in
Section 3 of Rule 112 a condition sine
qua non for the issuance of a warrant of
arrest.

-The petitioners contend:


-that the Judge in the case at bar failed to
conduct the investigation in accordance
with the procedure prescribed in Section
3, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court;- that
failure constituted a denial to petitioners
of due process which nullified the
proceedings leading to the issuance of
the warrant for the petitioners' arrest;
- that August 10, 1985 was a Saturday
during which "
Municipal Trial Courts are open from 8:00
a.m.to 1:00 p.m. only ..." and "... it would

Ruling:
The warrant complained of is upheld and
declared valid insofar as it orders the
arrest of the petitioners. Said warrant is
voided to the extent that it is issued
against fifty (50) "John Does." The
respondent Judge is directed to forward
to the Provincial Fiscal of Lanao del Sur
the
record
of
the
preliminary
investigation of the complaint in Criminal
Case No. 1728 of his court for further
appropriate action.
RD:

Sec 3 of Rule 112 of the 1985 Rules on


Criminal
Procedure
provides
the
procedure
in
conducting
a
preinvestigation of any crime cognizable in
the RTCs. Although not specifically
declared the said provision actually
mandates two phases. The first phase
consists of an ex-parte inquiry into the
sufficiency of the complaint and the
affidavits and other documents offered in
support thereof. And it ends with the
determination by the Judge either:
(1) that there is no ground to continue
with the inquiry, in which case he
dismisses the complaint and transmits
the order of dismissal, together with the
records of the case, to the provincial
fiscal; or
(2) That the complaint and the
supporting documents show sufficient
cause to continue with the inquiry and
this ushers in the second phase. This
second phase is designed to give the
respondent notice of the complaint,
access to the complainant's evidence
and an opportunity to submit counteraffidavits and supporting documents. At
this stage also, the Judge may conduct a
hearing and propound to the parties and
their witnesses questions on matters
that, in his view, need to be clarified. The
second phase concludes with the Judge
rendering his resolution, either for
dismissal of the complaint or holding the
respondent for trial, which shall be
transmitted, together with the record, to
the provincial fiscal for appropriate
action.
There is no requirement that the entire
procedure for preliminary investigation
must be completed before a warrant of
arrest may be issued.
The present Section 6 of the same Rule
112 clearly authorizes the municipal trial
court
to
order
the
respondent's
arrest:Sec. 6. When warrant of arrest
may issue.- xxx xxx xxx (b) By the
Municipal Trial Court. If the municipal trial
judge
conducting
the
preliminary

investigation is satisfied after an


examination in writing and under oath of
the complainant and his witnesses in the
form of searching question and answers,
that a probable cause exists and that
there is a necessity of placing the
respondent under immediate custody in
order not to frustrate the ends of justice,
he shag issue a warrant of arrest.
The argument, therefore, must be
rejected that the respondent Judge acted
with grave abuse of discretion in issuing
the warrant of arrest against petitioners
without first completing the preliminary
investigation in accordance with the
prescribed procedure. The rule is and has
always been that such issuance need
only await a finding of probable cause,
not the completion of the entire
procedure of preliminary investigation.
LIM, SR. VS JUDGE FELIXGR NOS. 95954-7
(FEBRUARY 19, 1991)
Facts:
-On March 17, 1989, at about 7:30
o'clock in the morning, at the vicinity of
the airport road of the Masbate Domestic
Airport, located at the municipality of
Masbate
province
of
Masbate,
Congressman Moises Espinosa, Sr. and
his security escorts, namely Provincial
Guards Antonio Cortes, Gaspar Amaro,
and Artemio Fuentes were attacked and
killed by a lone assassin. Dante Siblante
another security escort of Congressman
Espinosa, Sr. survived the assassination
plot, although, he himself suffered a
gunshot wound.
-An investigation of the incident then
followed.
-Thereafter, and for the purpose of
preliminary investigation, the designated
investigator, Harry O. Tantiado, TSg, of
the PC Criminal Investigation Service at
Camp Bagong Ibalon Legazpi City filed an
amended complaint with the Municipal

Trial Court of Masbate accusing, among


others, Vicente Lim, Sr.,Mayor Susana
Lim of Masbate, Jolly T. Fernandez,
Florencio T. Fernandez, Jr., Nonilon A.
Bagalihog, MayorNestor C. Lim and
Mayor Antonio Kho of the crime of
multiple murder and frustrated murder in
connectionwith the airport incident. The
case was docketed as Criminal Case No.
9211.
-After
conducting
the
preliminary
investigation, the court issued an order
dated July 31, 1989 stating therein that:
. . . after weighing the affidavits and
answers given by the witnesses for the
prosecution
during
the
preliminary
examination in searching questions and
answers, concludes that a probable
cause has been established for the
issuance of a warrant of arrest of named
accused in the amended complaint,
namely,
Jimmy
Cabarles,
Ronnie
Fernandez, Nonilon Bagalihog, Jolly
Fernandez, Florencio Fernandez, Jr.,
Vicente Lim, Sr., Susana Lim, Nestor Lim,
Antonio Kho, Jaime Liwanag, Zaldy
Dumalag and Rene Tualla alias Tidoy.
- Petitioners Vicente Lim, Sr. and Susana
Lim filed with the respondent court
several motions and manifestations
which in substance prayed that an order
be issued requiring the transmittal of the
initial records of the preliminary inquiry
or investigation conducted by the
Municipal Judge Barsaga of Masbate for
the best enlightenment regarding the
existence of a probable cause or prima
facie
evidence
as
well
as
the
determination of the existence of guilt,
pursuant to the mandatory mandate of
the constitution that no warrant shall be
issued unless the issuing magistrate shall
have himself been personally convinced
of such probable cause.
- In another manifestation, the Lims
reiterated that the court conduct a
hearing to determine if there really exists

a prima facie case against them in the


light
of
documents
which
are
recantations of some witnesses in the
preliminary investigation.- It should also
be noted that the Lims also presented to
the respondent Judge documents of
recantation
of
witnesses
whose
testimonies were used to establish a
prima facie case against them.-On July 5,
1990, the respondent court issued an
order denying for lack of merit the
motions and manifestations and issued
warrants of arrest against the accused
including the petitioners herein.
The judge wrote,
In the instant cases, the preliminary
investigation was conducted by the
Municipal Trial Court of Masbate, Masbate
which found the existence of probable
cause that the offense of multiple murder
was committed and that all the accused
are probably guilty thereof, which was
affirmed upon review by the Provincial
Prosecutor who properly filed with the
Regional Trial Court four separate
informations for murder. Considering that
both the two competent officers to whom
such duty was entrusted by law have
declared the existence of probable cause,
each information is complete in form and
substance, and there is no visible defect
on its face, this Court finds it just and
proper to rely on the prosecutor's
certification in each information
-Petitioners question the judgment of
Judge Felix
(statement immediately preceding this
paragraph,italicized).
ISSUE: WON a judge may issue a warrant
of arrest without bail by simply relying on
the
prosecution's
certification
and
recommendation that a probable cause
exists.
RULING:
The questioned Order of respondent
Judge Nemesio S. Felix of Branch 56,
Regional Trial Court of Makati dated July

5, 1990 is declared NULL and VOID and


SET ASIDE.

discretion when having no evidence


before him, he issues a warrant of arrest.

RD:
As held in Soliven v. Makasiar, the Judge
does not have to personally examine the
complainant and his witnesses. The
Prosecutor can perform the same
functions as a commissioner for the
taking of the evidence. However, there
should be necessary documents and a
report supporting the Fiscal's bare
certification. All of these should be before
the Judge.

Indubitably, the respondent Judge (Felix)


committed a grave error when he relied
solely on the Prosecutors certification
and issued the questioned Order dated
July 5, 1990 without having before him
any other basis for his personal
determination of the existence of a
probable cause.

We cannot determine beforehand how


cursory or exhaustive the Judge's
examination should be. Usually, this
depends on the circumstances of each
case. The Judge has to exercise sound
discretion; after all, the personal
determination is vested in the Judge by
the Constitution. However, to be sure,
the Judge must go beyond the
Prosecutor's
certification
and
investigation report whenever necessary.
As mentioned in the facts (stated above),
the Lims presented documents of
recantations of the witnesses. Although,
the general rule is that recantations are
not
given
much
weight
in
the
determination of a case and in the
granting of a new trial the respondent
Judge before issuing his own warrants of
arrest should, at the very least, have
gone over the records of the preliminary
examination conducted earlier in the
light of the evidence now presented by
the concerned witnesses in view of the
"political undertones" prevailing in the
cases.
In
making
the
required
personal
determination, a Judge is not precluded
from relying on the evidence earlier
gathered by responsible officers. The
extent of the reliance depends on the
circumstances of each case and is
subject to the Judge's sound discretion.
However,
the
Judge
abuses
that

MAXIMO SOLIVEN VS HON. RAMON P.


MAKASIAR
167 SCRA 393 (1988)
In these consolidated cases, three
principal issues were raised: (1) whether
or not petitioners were denied due
process when informations for libel were
filed against them although the finding of
the existence of a prima faciecase was
still under review by the Secretary of
Justice and, subsequently, by the
President; (2) whether or not the
constitutional rights of Beltran were
violated when respondent RTC judge
issued a warrant for his arrest without
personally examining the complainant
and the witnesses, if any, to determine
probable cause; and (3) whether or not
the President of the Philippines, under
the Constitution, may initiate criminal
proceedings against the petitioners
through the filing of a complaint-affidavit.
Subsequent events have rendered the
first issue moot and academic. On March
30, 1988, the Secretary of Justice denied
petitioners motion for reconsideration
and upheld the resolution of the
Undersecretary of Justice sustaining the
City Fiscals finding of a prima facie case
against petitioners. A second motion for
reconsideration filed by petitioner Beltran
was denied by the Secretary of Justice on
April 7, 1988. On appeal, the President,
through
the
Executive
Secretary,
affirmed the resolution of the Secretary
of Justice on May 2, 1988. The motion for
reconsideration was denied by the

Executive Secretary on May 16, 1988.


With these developments, petitioners
contention that they have been denied
the administrative remedies available
under the law has lost factual support.
It may also be added that with respect to
petitioner Beltran, the allegation of
denial of due process of law in the
preliminary investigation is negated by
the fact that instead of submitting his
counter- affidavits, he filed a Motion to
Declare Proceedings Closed, in effect
waiving his right to refute the complaint
by filing counter-affidavits. Due process
of law does not require that the
respondent in a criminal case actually file
his
counter-affidavits
before
the
preliminary investigation is deemed
completed. All that is required is that the
respondent be given the opportunity to
submit counter-affidavits if he is so
minded.
The second issue, raised by petitioner
Beltran, calls for an interpretation of the
constitutional provision on the issuance
of warrants of arrest. The pertinent
provision reads:
Art. III, Sec. 2. The right of the people to
be secure in their persons, houses,
papers and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures of whatever nature
and for any purpose shall be inviolable,
and no search warrant or warrant of
arrest shall issue except upon probable
cause to be determined personally by the
judge after examination nder oath or
affirmation of the complainant and the
witnesses
he
may
produce,
and
particularly describing the place to be
searched and the persons or things to be
seized.
The addition of the word personally
after the word determined and the
deletion of the grant of authority by the
1973 Constitution to issue warrants to
other responsible officers as may be
authorized by law, has apparently

convinced petitioner Beltran that the


Constitution now requires the judge to
personally examine the complainant and
his witnesses in his determination of
probable cause for the issuance of
warrants of arrest. This is not an accurate
interpretation.
What the Constitution underscores is the
exclusive and personal responsibility of
the issuing judge to satisfy himself of the
existence of probable cause. In satisfying
himself of the existence of probable
cause for the issuance of a warrant of
arrest, the judge is not required to
personally examine the complainant and
his witnesses. Following established
doctrine and procedure, he shall: (1)
personally evaluate the report and the
supporting documents submitted by the
fiscal regarding the existence of probable
cause and, on the basis thereof, issue a
warrant of arrest; or (2) if on the basis
thereof he finds no probable cause, he
may disregard the fiscals report and
require the submission of supporting
affidavits of witnesses to aid him in
arriving at a conclusion as to the
existence of probable cause.
Sound policy dictates this procedure,
otherwise judges would be unduly laden
with the preliminary examination and
investigation of criminal complaints
instead of concentrating on hearing and
deciding cases filed before their courts.
On June 30, 1987, the Supreme Court
unanimously adopted Circular No. 12,
setting down guidelines for the issuance
of warrants of arrest. The procedure
therein provided is reiterated and
clarified in this resolution.
It has not been shown that respondent
judge has deviated from the prescribed
procedure. Thus, with regard to the
issuance of the warrants of arrest, a
finding of grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction cannot be sustained.

Anent the third issue, petitioner Beltran


argues
that
the
reasons
which
necessitate presidential immunity from
suit impose a correlative disability to file
suit. He contends that if criminal
proceedings ensue by virtue of the
Presidents filing of her complaintaffidavit, she may subsequently have to
be a witness for the prosecution, bringing
her under the trial courts jurisdiction.
This, continues Beltran, would in an
indirect way defeat her privilege of
immunity from suit, as by testifying on
the witness stand, she would be exposing
herself to possible contempt of court or
perjury.
The rationale for the grant to the
President of the privilege of immunity
from suit is to assure the exercise of
Presidential duties and functions free
from any hindrance or distraction,
considering
that
being
the
Chief
Executive of the Government is a job
that, aside from requiring all of the office
holders time, also demands undivided
attention.
But this privilege of immunity from suit,
pertains to the President by virtue of the
office and may be invoked only by the
holder of the office; not by any other
person in the Presidents behalf. Thus, an
accused in a criminal case in which the
President is complainant cannot raise the
presidential privilege as a defense to
prevent the case from proceeding
against such accused.
Moreover, there is nothing in our laws
that would prevent the President from
waiving the privilege. Thus, if so minded
the President may shed the protection
afforded by the privilege and submit to
the courts jurisdiction. The choice of
whether to exercise the privilege or to
waive it is solely the Presidents
prerogative. It is a decision that cannot
be assumed and imposed by any other
person.

As regards the contention of petitioner


Beltran that he could not be held liable
for libel because of the privileged
character or the publication, the Court
reiterates that it is not a trier of facts and
that such a defense is best left to the
trial court to appreciate after receiving
the evidence of the parties.
As to petitioner Beltrans claim that to
allow the libel case to proceed would
produce a chilling effect on press
freedom, the Court finds no basis at this
stage to rule on the point.
The petitions fail to establish that public
respondents, through their separate acts,
gravely abused their discretion as to
amount to lack of jurisdiction. Hence, the
writs of certiorari and prohibition prayed
for cannot issue.
WHEREFORE, finding no grave abuse of
discretion amounting to excess or lack of
jurisdiction on the part of the public
respondents, the Court Resolved to
DISMISS the petitions in G. R. Nos.
82585, 82827 and 83979. The Order to
maintain the status quo contained in the
Resolution of the Court en banc dated
April 7, 1988 and reiterated in the
Resolution dated April 26, 1988 is LIFTED.
DORIS TERESA HO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE
OF THE PHILIPPINES 280 SCRA 365
(1997)
May a judge issue a warrant of arrest
solely on the basis of the report and
recommendation of the investigating
prosecutor,
without
personally
determining
probable
cause
by
independently
examining
sufficient
evidence submitted by the parties during
the preliminary investigation?
The Case
This is the main question raised in these
two consolidated petitions for certiorari
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court

challenging the Sandiganbayans August


25, 1992 Resolution[1] which answered
the said query in the affirmative.
The Facts
Both petitions have the same factual
backdrop. On August 8, 1991, the AntiGraft
League
of
the
Philippines,
represented by its chief prosecutor and
investigator, Atty. Reynaldo L. Bagatsing,
filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a
complaint[2] against Doris Teresa Ho,
Rolando S. Narciso (petitioners in G.R.
Nos. 106632 and 106678, respectively),
Anthony Marden, Arsenio Benjamin
Santos and Leonardo Odoo.
The
complaint was for alleged violation of
Section 3 (g) of Republic Act 3019[3]
prohibiting a public officer from entering
into any contract or transaction on behalf
of the government if it is manifestly and
grossly disadvantageous to the latter,
whether or not the public officer profited
or will profit thereby. After due notice, all
respondents therein filed their respective
counter-affidavits
with
supporting
documents. On January 8, 1992, Graft
Investigation Officer Titus P. Labrador
(hereafter, GIO Labrador) submitted his
resolution[4]
with
the
following
recommendations:
WHEREFORE, all premises considered, it
is respectfully recommended that an
information for violation of Section 3 (g)
of R.A. 3019 as amended be filed against
respondent Rolando S. Narciso before the
Sandiganbayan.
It is likewise recommending that the case
against the other respondents be
DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence.
However, after a review of the above
resolution, Special Prosecution Officer
Leonardo P. Tamayo (hereafter, SPO
Tamayo)
recommended
that
both
Rolando Narciso and Doris Teresa Ho be
charged with violation of Section 3 (e) of
R.A. 3019.
The resolution of GIO

Labrador,
as
modified
by
the
memorandum[5] of SPO Tamayo, was
approved by Ombudsman Conrado M.
Vasquez on May 5, 1992. Thus, herein
petitioners were charged accordingly
before
the
Sandiganbayan
in
an
information[6] filed on May 18, 1992.
Attached to the information were the
resolution of GIO Labrador and the
memorandum of SPO Tamayo. The said
information reads:
The undersigned Special Prosecution
Officer III, Office of the Special
Prosecutor, hereby accuses ROLANDO
NARCISO and DORIS TERESA HO,
President of National Marine Corporation,
of violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019, as
amended, committed as follows:
That on or about April 4, 1989, and for
sometime
prior
and/or
subsequent
thereto, in the City of Manila, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named
accused ROLANDO NARCISO, a public
officer, being then the Vice-President of
the National Steel Corporation (NSC), a
government-owned
or
controlled
corporation organized and operating
under the Philippine laws, and DORIS
TERESA HO, a private individual and then
the
President
of
National
Marine
Corporation (NMC), a private corporation
organized and operating under our
Corporation
law,
conspiring
and
confederating with one another, did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully and
criminally, with evident bad faith and
through manifest partiality, cause undue
injury to the National Steel Corporation
(NSC),
by
entering
without
legal
justification into a negotiated contract of
affreightment disadvantageous to the
NSC for the haulage of its products at the
rate of P129.50/MT, from Iligan City to
Manila, despite their full knowledge that
the rate they have agreed upon was
much higher than those offered by the
Loadstar Shipping Company, Inc. (LSCI)
and Premier Shipping Lines, Inc. (PSLI), in

the amounts of P109.56 and P123.00 per


Metric Ton, respectively, in the public
bidding held on June 30, 1988, thereby
giving unwarranted benefits to the
National Marine Corporation, in the total
sum of One Million One Hundred Sixteen
Thousand Fifty Two Pesos and Seventy
Five Centavos (P1,116,052.75), Philippine
Currency, to the pecuniary damage and
prejudice of the NSC in the aforestated
sum. The said offense was committed by
Rolando S. Narciso in the performance of
his official functions as Vice-President of
the National Steel Corporation.

as filed, clearly shows that it is sufficient


in form and substance based on the facts
and evidence adduced by both parties
during the preliminary investigation. To
require this Court to have the entire
record of the preliminary investigation to
be produced before it, including the
evidence submitted by the complainant
and the accused-respondents, would
appear to be an exercise in futility.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Petitioner Ho raises this sole issue:

Acting on the foregoing information, the


Sandiganbayan
issued
the
now
questioned warrant of arrest against
Petitioners Ho and Narciso. Petitioner Ho
initially questioned the issuance thereof
in an Urgent Motion to Recall Warrant of
Arrest/Motion for Reconsideration which
was adopted by Petitioner Narciso. They
alleged that the Sandiganbayan, in
determining probable cause for the
issuance of the warrant for their arrest,
merely relied on the information and the
resolution attached thereto, filed by the
Ombudsman without other supporting
evidence, in violation of the requirements
of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution,
and settled jurisprudence. Respondent
Sandiganbayan denied said motion in the
challenged Resolution. It ratiocinated in
this wise:

May a judge determine probable cause


and issue [a] warrant of arrest solely on
the basis of the resolution of the
prosecutor (in the instant case, the Office
of the Special Prosecutor of the
Ombudsman)
who
conducted
the
preliminary investigation, without having
before him any of the evidence (such as
complainants
affidavit,
respondents
counter-affidavit, exhibits, etc.) which
may have been submitted at the
preliminary investigation?[7]

Considering, therefore, that this Court


did not rely solely on the certification
appearing in the information in this case
in the determination of whether probable
cause exists to justify the issuance of the
warrant of arrest but also on the basis
predominantly shown by the facts and
evidence
appearing
in
the
resolution/memorandum of responsible
investigators/ prosecutors, then the recall
of the warrant of arrest, or the
reconsideration sought for, cannot be
granted. More so, when the information,

Thus, these petitions.


The Issue

In his separate petition, Rolando S.


Narciso adopts the foregoing and raises
no other distinct issue.
Petitioners Ho and Narciso similarly
contend that a judge, in personally
determining the existence of probable
cause, must have before him sufficient
evidence submitted by the parties, other
than the information filed by the
investigating prosecutor, to support his
conclusion and justify the issuance of an
arrest warrant. Such evidence should not
be merely described in a prosecutors
resolution. Citing People vs. Inting,[8]
petitioners insist that the judge must
have before him the report, the
affidavits, the transcripts of stenographic
notes (if any), and all other supporting
documents which are material in

assisting the judge


determination.

to

make

his

The Courts Ruling

require the submission of


affidavits of witnesses to
arriving at a conclusion
existence
of
probable
[underscoring supplied]

supporting
aid him in
as to the
cause.[10]

The petitions are meritorious.


The
pertinent
provision
Constitution reads:

of

the

Section 2 [, Article III].


The right of
the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures of
whatever nature and for any purpose
shall be inviolable, and no search warrant
or warrant of arrest shall issue except
upon probable cause to be determined
personally
by
the
judge
after
examination under oath or affirmation of
the complainant and the witnesses he
may produce and particularly describing
the place to be searched and the persons
or things to be seized. (Underscoring
supplied.)
In explaining the object and import of the
aforequoted
constitutional
mandate,
particularly the power and the authority
of judges to issue warrants of arrest, the
Court
elucidated
in
Soliven
vs.
Makasiar[9]:
What the Constitution underscores is
the exclusive and personal responsibility
of the issuing judge to satisfy himself of
the existence of probable cause.
In
satisfying himself of the existence of
probable cause for the issuance of a
warrant of arrest, the judge is not
required to personally examine the
complainant
and
his
witnesses.
Following
established
doctrine
and
procedure, he shall:
(1) personally
evaluate the report and the supporting
documents submitted by the fiscal
regarding the existence of probable
cause and, on the basis thereof, issue a
warrant of arrest; or (2) if on the basis
thereof he finds no probable cause, he
may disregard the fiscals report and

We should stress that the 1987


Constitution requires the judge to
determine probable cause personally.
The word personally does not appear in
the corresponding provisions of our
previous Constitutions. This emphasis
shows the present Constitutions intent
to
place
a
greater
degree
of
responsibility upon trial judges than that
imposed under the previous Charters.
While affirming Soliven, People vs.
Inting[11]
elaborated
on
what
determination
of
probable
cause
entails, differentiating the judges object
or goal from that of the prosecutors.
First, the determination of probable
cause is a function of the Judge. It is not
for the Provincial Fiscal or Prosecutor nor
for the Election Supervisor to ascertain.
Only the Judge and the Judge alone
makes this determination.
Second, the preliminary inquiry made by
a Prosecutor does not bind the Judge. It
merely assists him to make the
determination of probable cause. The
Judge does not have to follow what the
Prosecutor presents to him. By itself, the
Prosecutors certification of probable
cause is ineffectual. It is the report, the
affidavits the transcripts of stenographic
notes (if any), and all other supporting
documents behind the Prosecutors
certification which are material in
assisting the Judge to make his
determination.
And third, Judges and Prosecutors alike
should distinguish the preliminary inquiry
which determines probable cause for the
issuance of a warrant of arrest from the
preliminary investigation proper which
ascertains whether the offender should

be held for trial or released. Even if the


two inquiries are conducted in the course
of one and the same proceeding, there
should be no confusion about the
objectives.
The determination of
probable cause for the warrant of arrest
is made by the Judge. The preliminary
investigation proper -- whether or not
there is reasonable ground to believe
that the accused is guilty of the offense
charged and, therefore, whether or not
he should be subjected to the expense,
rigors and embarrassment of trial -- is the
function of the Prosecutor.[12]
And clarifying the statement in People vs.
Delgado[13] -- that the trial court may
rely on the resolution of the COMELEC to
file the information, by the same token
that it may rely on the certification made
by the prosecutor who conducted the
preliminary investigation, in the issuance
of the warrant of arrest -- this Court
underscored in Lim Sr. vs. Felix[14] that
[r]eliance on the COMELEC resolution or
the
Prosecutors
certification
presupposes that the records of either
the COMELEC or the Prosecutor have
been submitted to the Judge and he
relies on the certification or resolution
because the records of the investigation
sustain the recommendation.
We
added, The warrant issues not on the
strength of the certification standing
alone but because of the records which
sustain it. Summing up, the Court said:
We reiterate the ruling in Soliven vs.
Makasiar that the Judge does not have to
personally examine the complainant and
his witnesses.
The Prosecutor can
perform the same functions as a
commissioner for the taking of the
evidence. However, there should be a
report
and
necessary
documents
supporting the Fiscals bare certification.
All of these should be before the Judge.
The extent of the Judges personal
examination of the report and its
annexes depends on the circumstances

of each case.
We cannot determine
beforehand how cursory or exhaustive
the Judges examination should be. The
Judge has to exercise sound discretion
for, after all, the personal determination
is vested in the Judge by the
Constitution. It can be as brief or as
detailed as the circumstances of each
case require. To be sure, the Judge must
go beyond the Prosecutors certification
and
investigation
report
whenever
necessary.
He should call for [the]
complainant
and
[the]
witnesses
themselves to answer the courts probing
questions when the circumstances of the
case so require.[15] [underscoring
supplied]
The above rulings in Soliven, Inting and
Lim Sr. were iterated in Allado vs.
Diokno[16] where we explained again
what probable cause means. Probable
cause for the issuance of a warrant of
arrest is the existence of such facts and
circumstances
that
would
lead
a
reasonably discreet and prudent person
to believe that an offense has been
committed by the person sought to be
arrested.[17] Hence, the judge, before
issuing a warrant of arrest, must satisfy
himself that based on the evidence
submitted there is sufficient proof that a
crime has been committed and that the
person to be arrested is probably guilty
thereof.[18] At this stage of the criminal
proceeding, the judge is not yet tasked to
review in detail the evidence submitted
during the preliminary investigation. It is
sufficient that he personally evaluates
such evidence in determining probable
cause.[19] In Webb vs. De Leon,[20] we
stressed
that
the
judge
merely
determines the probability, not the
certainty, of guilt of the accused and, in
doing so, he need not conduct a de novo
hearing. He simply personally reviews
the prosecutors initial determination
finding probable cause to see if it is
supported by substantial evidence.

In the recent case of Roberts Jr. vs. Court


of Appeals,[21] this Courts application of
the dictum laid down in Soliven -affirmed and fortified in Inting, Lim Sr.,
Allado and Webb -- should lay to rest the
issue raised in the instant petitions. In
Roberts Jr., this Court, through Mr. Justice
Hilario G. Davide, Jr., set aside the order
of the respondent judge directing inter
alia the issuance of warrants of arrest
against the accused, reasoning that said
judge did not personally determine the
existence of probable cause, since he
had only the information, amended
information, and Joint Resolution as
bases thereof.
He did not have the
records or evidence supporting the
prosecutors finding of probable cause.
In like manner, herein Respondent
Sandiganbayan had only the information
filed by the Office of the Ombudsman,
the thirteen-page resolution of the
investigating officer and the three-page
memorandum of the prosecution officer,
when it issued the warrant of arrest
against the petitioners. The latter two
documents/reports even had dissimilar
recommendations -- the first indicting
only Petitioner Narciso, the second
including Petitioner Ho.
This alone
should have prompted the public
respondent to verify, in the records and
other documents submitted by the
parties
during
the
preliminary
investigation,
whether
there
was
sufficient evidence to sustain the
Ombudsmans action charging both
petitioners with violation of Sec. 3(e) of
Anti-Graft law.
But in its initial
justification of the issuance of the
warrant, the Sandiganbayan simply said:
JUSTICE ESCAREAL:
xxx
xxx
xxx
But in this particular case we believe
there is a prima facie case based on our
examination of the resolution because we
believe, we think the Ombudsman will

not approve a resolution just like that,


without evidence to back it up.[22]
In attempting to further justify its
challenged action, the public respondent
explained in its assailed Resolution:
In the instant case, there are attached
to
the
information,
two
(2)
Memorandum/Resolution (sic) emanating
from the Offices of the Ombudsman and
the Special Prosecutor (Pp. 4-6, 7-19,
respectively, Record) which clearly and
indubitably
established,
firstly,
the
conduct of a due and proper preliminary
investigation, secondly, the approval by
proper officials clothed with statutory
authority; and thirdly, the determination
and ascertainment of probable cause
based on the documentary evidence
submitted by the complainant (Anti-Graft
League of the Philippines), foremost
among which is the Contract of
Affreightment entered into between
National Steel Corporation (NSC), and
National Marine Corporation (NMC) and
the COA-NSC audit report, together with
the counter-affidavits of accused Rolando
Narciso and NMC officials, among whom
is accused-movant. Outlined in detail in
the aforesaid Resolution of Titus P.
Labrador, Graft Investigation Officer II,
which was reviewed by Attys. Romeo I.
Tan
and
Arturo
Mojica,
Director,
Community Coordination Bureau and
Assistant
Ombudsman,
PACPO,
[respectively,] are the facts leading to
the questioned transaction between NSC
and NMC, together with an evaluation of
the propriety and legality of the bidding
process involved therein and which
revealed that there were supposed noncompliance
with
proper
bidding
procedures. GIO Labradors findings and
recommendations, extensively set out in
his
thirteen-page
resolution,
is
complemented
by
the
three-page
Memorandum of Special Prosecution
Officer II Leonardo P. Tamayo, both of
which meticulously delved into the merits
and demerits of the evidence presented

by the complainant and accusedrespondents and which resulted in their


respective recommendation which led
the Honorable Conrado M. Vasquez to
approve the recommendations of Deputy
Special Prosecutor Jose de G. Ferrer and
Special Prosecutor Aniano A. Desierto for
the filing of the information in the case at
bar.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Considering, therefore, that this Court
did not rely solely on the certification
appearing in the information in this case
in the determination of whether probable
cause exists to justify the issuance of the
warrant of arrest but also on the basis
predominantly shown by the facts and
evidence
appearing
in
the
resolution/memorandum of responsible
investigators/ prosecutors, then the recall
of the warrant of arrest, or the
reconsideration sought for, cannot be
granted. More so, when the information,
as filed, clearly shows that it is sufficient
in form and substance based on the facts
and evidence adduced by both parties
during the preliminary investigation. To
require this Court to have the entire
record of the preliminary investigation to
be produced before it, including the
evidence submitted by the complainant
and the accused-respondents, would
appear to be an exercise in futility.[23]
In light of the aforecited decisions of this
Court, such justification cannot be
upheld. Lest we be too repetitive, we
only wish to emphasize three vital
matters once more: First, as held in
Inting, the determination of probable
cause by the prosecutor is for a purpose
different from that which is to be made
by the judge.
Whether there is
reasonable ground to believe that the
accused is guilty of the offense charged
and should be held for trial is what the
prosecutor passes upon. The judge, on
the other hand, determines whether a
warrant of arrest should be issued
against the accused, i.e. whether there is

a necessity for placing him under


immediate custody in order not to
frustrate the ends of justice.[24] Thus,
even if both should base their findings on
one and the same proceeding or
evidence, there should be no confusion
as to their distinct objectives.
Second, since their objectives are
different, the judge cannot rely solely on
the report of the prosecutor in finding
probable cause to justify the issuance of
a warrant of arrest.
Obviously and
understandably, the contents of the
prosecutors report will support his own
conclusion that there is reason to charge
the accused of an offense and hold him
for trial. However, the judge must decide
independently.
Hence, he must have
supporting evidence, other than the
prosecutors bare report, upon which to
legally sustain his own findings on the
existence (or nonexistence) of probable
cause to issue an arrest order.
This
responsibility of determining personally
and independently the existence or
nonexistence of probable cause is lodged
in him by no less than the most basic law
of the land.
Parenthetically, the
prosecutor could ease the burden of the
judge and speed up the litigation process
by forwarding to the latter not only the
information and his bare resolution
finding probable cause, but also so much
of the records and the evidence on hand
as to enable His Honor to make his
personal and separate judicial finding on
whether to issue a warrant of arrest.[25]
Lastly, it is not required that the
complete or entire records of the case
during the preliminary investigation be
submitted to and examined by the judge.
[26] We do not intend to unduly burden
trial courts by obliging them to examine
the complete records of every case all
the time simply for the purpose of
ordering the arrest of an accused. What
is required, rather, is that the judge must
have sufficient supporting documents
(such as the complaint, affidavits,

counter-affidavits, sworn statements of


witnesses or transcripts of stenographic
notes, if any) upon which to make his
independent judgment or, at the very
least, upon which to verify the findings of
the prosecutor as to the existence of
probable cause. The point is: he cannot
rely
solely
and
entirely
on
the
prosecutors
recommendation,
as
Respondent Court did in this case.
Although the prosecutor enjoys the legal
presumption
of
regularity
in
the
performance of his official duties and
functions, which in turn gives his report
the presumption of accuracy, the
Constitution, we repeat, commands the
judge to personally determine probable
cause in the issuance of warrants of
arrest. This Court has consistently held
that a judge fails in his bounden duty if
he relies merely on the certification or
the report of the investigating officer.
True, in Webb vs. De Leon, we found that
the painstaking recital and analysis of
the parties evidence made in the DOJ
Panel Report satisfied both judges that
there [was] probable cause to issue
warrants of arrest against petitioners.
This statement may have been wrongly
construed by the public respondent to
mean that the narration or description of
portions of the evidence in the
prosecutors report may serve as
sufficient basis to make its own
independent judgment. What it should
bear in mind, however, is that, aside
from the 26-page report of the DOJ panel,
the sworn statements of three witnesses
and counter-affidavits of the petitioners
in Webb were also submitted to the trial
court, and the latter is presumed to have
reviewed these documents as well, prior
to its issuance of the warrants of arrest.
In the instant case, the public respondent
relied fully and completely upon the
resolution of the graft investigation
officer and the memorandum of the
reviewing prosecutor, attached to the
information filed before it, and its

conjecture that the Ombudsman would


not have approved their recommendation
without supporting evidence. It had no
other documents from either the
complainant (the Anti-Graft League of
the Philippines) or the People from which
to sustain its own conclusion that
probable cause exists.
Clearly and
ineluctably, Respondent Courts findings
of the conduct of a due and proper
preliminary investigation and the
approval by proper officials clothed with
statutory authority are not equivalent to
the
independent
and
personal
responsibility
required
by
the
Constitution and settled jurisprudence.
At least some of the documentary
evidence
mentioned
(Contract
of
Affreightment between National Steel
Corporation
and
National
Marine
Corporation, the COA-NSC audit report,
and counter-affidavits of Rolando Narciso
and NMC officials), upon which the
investigating officials of the Ombudsman
reportedly ascertained the existence of
probable cause, should have been
physically present before the public
respondent for its examination, to enable
it to determine on its own whether there
is substantial evidence to support the
finding of probable cause.
But it
stubbornly stood pat on its position that
it had essentially complied with its
responsibility. Indisputably, however, the
procedure it undertook contravenes the
Constitution and settled jurisprudence.
Respondent Court palpably committed
grave abuse of discretion in ipso facto
issuing the challenged warrant of arrest
on the sole basis of the prosecutors
findings and recommendation, and
without determining on its own the issue
of probable cause based on evidence
other than such bare findings and
recommendation.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED
and the assailed Resolution is SET ASIDE.
The
warrant
issued
by
the
Sandiganbayan (Second Division) on May
20, 1992 in Case No. 17674 for the arrest

of Petitioners Doris Teresa Ho and


Rolando Narciso is hereby declared NULL
AND VOID.