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Eurika Jessa Castillon

FACTS: On February 7, 1989, respondent Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court
of Pangasinan rendered a judgment finding accused Eduardo Cuison guilty of the crime
of double homicide. On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the said decision was affirmed
with the modification that the civil indemnity was increased. The accused elevated the
decision on a petition for review but the Supreme Court denied the said petition.
The case was remanded to the Regional Trial Court for promulgation of the
decision. However, respondent Judge promulgated the decision of the CA only with
respect to the modified civil liability of the accused but did not commit the accused to
jail to commence service of his sentence.
In its Resolution, the Court of Appeals clarified that the conviction of the accused
is affirmed with the modification that the civil liability is increased. The dispositive
portion of the decision may not have used the exact words but a reading of the decision
can lead to no other conclusion. Hence, this appeal.
ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner's right against double jeopardy was violated?
Petitioner contends that "the promulgation by Judge Ramos on April 4, 1995 of
the Respondent Court's decision of June 30, 1991 by reading its dispositive portion has
effectively terminated the criminal cases against the petitioner . . ." In other words,
petitioner claims that the first jeopardy attached at that point.
The Court is not persuaded. As a rule, a criminal prosecution includes a civil
action for the recovery of indemnity. Hence, a decision in such case disposes of both the
criminal as well as the civil liabilities of an accused. Here, trial court promulgated only
the civil aspect of the case, but not the criminal.
As earlier observed, the promulgation of the CA Decision was not complete. In
fact and in truth, the promulgation was not merely incomplete; it was also void. In
excess of its jurisdiction, the trial judge rendered a substantially incomplete
promulgation on April 4, 1995, and he repeated his mistake in his April 12, 1996 Order.
We emphasize that grave abuse of discretion rendered the aforementioned act of the
trial court void. Since the criminal cases have not yet been terminated, the first jeopardy
has not yet attached. Hence, double jeopardy cannot prosper as a defense.
We must stress that Respondent Court's questioned Decision did not modify or
amend its July 30, 1991 Decision. It merely ordered the promulgation of the judgment of
conviction and the full execution of the penalty it had earlier imposed on petitioner.


Petitioner is one of the accused for the crime of estafa. After petitioners
arraignment and pre-trial, the cases were scheduled for continuous trial, but the
hearings were repeatedly postponed for various reasons. Hence, upon motion of
petitioners counsel, respondent court issued the case to be dismissed for failure to
prosecute and considering that accused is entitled to a speedy trial. However, upon
motion of the private prosecutor, respondent court reconsidered the case and reversed
the dismissal.

Petitioner sought a reconsideration but it was denied. Aggrieved by the foregoing order,
petitioner filed before the CA a petition for certiorari which was likewise denied.

Petitioner maintains that the appellate court erred when it reconsidered the order which
dismissed the criminal cases against him. Petitioner asserts that this reversal was a
violation of the doctrine of double jeopardy, as the criminal cases were initially
dismissed for an alleged violation of petitioners constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Whether or not in petitioners cases, double jeopardy had set in so that
petitioners constitutional right against such jeopardy had been violated?


There being no oppressive delay in the proceedings, and no postponements

unjustifiably sought, we concur with the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals that
petitioners right to speedy trial had not been infringed. Where the right of the accused
to speedy trial had not been violated, there was no reason to support the initial order of
It follows that petitioner cannot invoke the constitutional right against double
jeopardy when that order was reconsidered seasonably. For as petitioners right to
speedy trial was not transgressed, this exception to the fifth element of double jeopardy
that the defendant was acquitted or convicted, or the case was dismissed or otherwise
terminated without the express consent of the accused was not met. The trial courts
initial order of dismissal was upon motion of petitioners counsel, hence made with the

express consent of petitioner. That being the case, despite the reconsideration of said
order, double jeopardy did not attach. As this Court had occasion to rule in People vs.
Tampal, (244 SCRA 202) reiterated in People vs. Leviste, where we overturned an order
of dismissal by the trial court predicated on the right to speedy trial It is true that in an
unbroken line of cases, we have held that the dismissal of cases on the ground of failure
to prosecute is equivalent to an acquittal that would bar further prosecution of the
accused for the same offense. It must be stressed, however, that these dismissals were
predicated on the clear right of the accused to speedy trial. These cases are not
applicable to the petition at bench considering that the right of the private respondents
to speedy trial has not been violated by the State. For this reason, private respondents
cannot invoke their right against double jeopardy.



In the evening of September 25, 1982, petitioner George Manantan was driving a
Toyota car going home. At that time, he was with Fiscal Ambrocio, Miguel Tabangin and
Ruben Nicolas. Suddenly, a jeepney, coming from the opposite direction hit the driver
side of the car, driven by Manantan. Consequently, Manantan, Ambrocio and Tabangin
were injured while Nicolas died. Trial followed.
The lower court acquitted the Manantan of the crime of reckless imprudence
resulting to homicide. The respondents filed their notice of appeal on the civil aspect of
the lower courts judgment. Even if the accused was acquitted from his criminal liability,
the Appellate Court held him civilly liable and ordered him to indemnify the aggrieved
party for the death of Nicolas.


Whether or not petitioners acquittal in the criminal case foreclosed any further
inquiry on his negligence because by then his right against double jeopardy would be


Petitioners claim that the decision of the appellate court awarding indemnity
placed him in double jeopardy is misplaced. The constitution provides that no person
shall be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense. If an act is punished by a law and an
ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another
prosecution for the same act. When a person is charged with an offense and the case is
terminated either by acquittal or conviction or in any other manner without the consent
of the accused, the latter cannot again be charged with the same or identical offense.
This is double jeopardy. For double jeopardy to exist, the following elements must be
established: (a) a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second; (2) the first
jeopardy must have terminated; and (3) the second jeopardy must be for the same
offense as the first. In the instant case, petitioner had once been placed in jeopardy by
the filing of Criminal Case and the jeopardy was terminated by his discharge. The
judgment of acquittal became immediately final. Note, however, that what was elevated

to the Court of Appeals by private respondents was the civil aspect of Criminal
Case. Petitioner was not charged anew with a second criminal offense identical to the
first offense. The records clearly show that no second criminal offense was being
imputed to petitioner on appeal. In modifying the lower courts judgment, the appellate
court did not modify the judgment of acquittal. Nor did it order the filing of a second
criminal case against petitioner for the same offense. Obviously, therefore, there was no
second jeopardy to speak of. Petitioners claim of having been placed in double jeopardy
is incorrect.

On August 12, 1993, criminal cases for rape with homicide were filed against the
private respondents for the death of Maritess Ricafort Merciales. During the trial, after
presenting seven witnesses, the public prosecutor filed a motion for the discharge of
accused Joselito Nuada, in order that he may be utilized as a state witness. However, the
prosecution contended that it was not required to present evidence to warrant the
discharge of accused Nuada, since the latter had already been admitted into the Witness
Protection Program. Consequently, the respondent judge denied the motion for
discharge, for failure of the prosecution to present evidence. On July 13, 1994, private
respondents filed a motion to set the case for hearing, invoking their constitutional
right to speedy trial. The respondent Judge granted the motion. On the said date, the
prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration, instead of presenting further evidence.
The respondent Judge postponed the hearing and reset the same for August 9, 1994.On
August 9, 1994, respondent Judge called for a recess so as to let the prosecution decide
whether or not to present an NBI agent, who was then present, to prove the due
execution of the accused Nuada's extrajudicial confession. However, after the recess, the
public prosecutor declined to present the NBI agent and instead manifested that he was
not presenting any further evidence.
On October 21, 1994, the trial court, for lack of sufficient evidence to prove the
guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, acquitted all the accused and dismissed
the cases against them. Petitioner Leticia Merciales, who is the mother of the victim in
the said criminal cases, filed before the respondent Court of Appeals a petition to annul
the Order of the trial court. However, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition.
Whether or not the reopening of the criminal case will violate the accuseds right
to double jeopardy?
Inasmuch as the acquittal of the accused by the court a quo was done without
regard to due process of law, the same is null and void. It is as if there was no acquittal
at all, and the same cannot constitute a claim for double jeopardy.
By contending that the challenged Decision is void for having been issued with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the petition does
not violate the right of the accused against double jeopardy. It is elementary that double
jeopardy attaches only when the following elements concur: (1) the accused are charged
under a complaint or information sufficient in form and substance to sustain their
conviction; (2) the court has jurisdiction; (3) the accused have been arraigned and have
pleaded; and (4) they are convicted or acquitted, or the case is dismissed without their
Thus, even assuming that a writ of certiorari is granted, the accused would not be
placed in double jeopardy because, from the very beginning, the lower tribunal had
acted without jurisdiction. Precisely, any ruling issued without jurisdiction is, in legal
contemplation, necessarily null and void and does not exist.
Otherwise put, the dismissal of the case below was invalid for lack of a
fundamental prerequisite, that is, due process. In rendering the judgment of dismissal,
the trial judge in this case acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, for a judgment
which is void for lack of due process is equivalent to excess or lack of jurisdiction.
Indeed, "jurisdiction" is the right to hear and determine, not to determine without


Petitioner Potot was charged with homicide. Upon arraignment, he pleaded guilty
to the charge. Thereupon, the trial court convicted Potot of homicide. The petitioner
filed a manifestation with motion that he is not appealing from the Decision. However,
the wife of the victim, filed a motion for reconsideration praying that the Decision be set
aside and that the case be heard again because there were irregularities committed
before and during the trial which caused miscarriage of justice. The trial court
granted private complainant's motion and set aside its Decision and ordered that the
records of the case be remanded to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for reevaluation of the evidence and to file the corresponding charge. Petitioner filed a
motion for reconsideration contending that the trial court has no jurisdiction to issue
the order as the Decision had become final, and that the said order would place the
accused in double jeopardy. This was denied for the reason that the State is not bound
by the error or negligence of its prosecuting officers, hence, jeopardy does not attach.
ISSUE: Whether or not the judgment has become final that the accused right against
double jeopardy will be violated upon re-trial of the same case?
It is an undisputed fact that three days after the promulgation of the judgment of
conviction, petitioner filed a manifestation expressly waiving his right to appeal
therefrom. His intention not to appeal is further indicated by his prayer in the same
manifestation for the immediate issuance of a commitment order so he could serve his
sentence. Such waiver has the effect of causing the judgment to become final and
unalterable. Thus, it was beyond the authority of the trial court to issue the order of May
3, 2000 setting aside its February 3, 2000 Decision which had attained finality.
In Calalang vs. Register of Deeds of Quezon City[16] and in a long line of cases,
this Court (En Banc) held that a judgment which has acquired the status of finality
becomes immutable. Any error, assuming one was committed in the judgment, will not
justify its amendment except only to correct clerical errors or mistakes.
Finally, we agree with the petitioner that the assailed orders would violate his
constitutional right against double jeopardy. Such right prohibits any subsequent
prosecution of any person for a crime of which he has previously been acquitted or
convicted. The objective is to set the effects of the first prosecution forever at rest,
assuring the accused that he shall not thereafter be subjected to the peril and anxiety of
a second charge against him for the same offense.
To invoke the defense of double jeopardy, the following requisites must be
present: (1) a valid complaint or information; (2) the court has jurisdiction to try the
case; (3) the accused has pleaded to the charge; and (4) he has been convicted or
acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated without his
express consent.
These requisites have been established. Records show that petitioner was charged
with homicide under a valid information before the trial court which has jurisdiction
over it. He was arraigned and pleaded guilty to the charge. On the basis of his plea,
petitioner was convicted and meted the corresponding penalty. As petitioner has been
placed in jeopardy for the crime of homicide, he cannot be prosecuted anew for the same
offense, or any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the first
offense charged.


FACTS: Brothers Clarence, Crisanto and Hilario Astudillo, went to house of Alberto
Damian who was celebrating the eve of his birthday. Clarence greeted Alberto and
thereafter asked the victim, Silvestre Aquino, who was one of the visitors, to go with
him. Silvestre acceded and the two walked towards Floras' Store, where they were later
joined by Crisanto and Hilario. While at the store, Crisanto and Silvestre had an
Prosecution eyewitnesses saw Clarence stab Silvestre with a bolo while Crisanto
and Hilario held him by the wrists. Thereafter, the three appellants fled on board a
tricycle. Silvestre was rushed to the Municipal Health Office, where he was pronounced
dead on arrival. The trial court rendered a decision convicting appellants of the crime of
Murder. Appellants motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order dated July 13,
1998. However, an Amended Decision was rendered where the phrase "abuse of
superior strength" was replaced with "TREACHERY" in the body of the Decision.
ISSUE: Whether or not the amended decision violates the appellants right against
double jeopardy?
Under Rule 121, Section 1 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, a motion
for reconsideration of a judgment of conviction may be filed by the accused, or initiated
by the court, with the consent of the accused. Likewise, under Rule 120, Section 7, a
judgment of conviction may be modified or set aside only upon motion of the accused.
These provisions changed the previous rulings of the Court to the effect that such
modification may be made upon motion of the fiscal, provided the same is made before
a judgment has become final or an appeal has been perfected. The requisite consent of
the accused to such motion for reconsideration or modification is intended to protect
the latter from having to defend himself anew from more serious offenses or penalties
which the prosecution or the court may have overlooked. Accordingly, once the
judgment has been validly promulgated, any reconsideration or amendment to correct a
manifest substantial error, even if unwittingly committed by the trial court through
oversight or an initially erroneous comprehension, can be made only with the consent or
upon the instance of the accused. Errors in the decision cannot be corrected unless the
accused consents thereto, or himself moves for reconsideration of, or appeals from, the
It must be stressed, however, that the protection against double jeopardy in the
foregoing rules may be waived by the accused. Thus, when the accused himself files or
consents to the filing of a motion for reconsideration or modification, double jeopardy
cannot be invoked because the accused waived his right not to be placed therein by filing
such motion. His motion gives the court an opportunity to rectify its errors or to
reevaluate its assessment of facts and conclusions of law and make them conformable
with the statute applicable to the case in the new judgment it has to render. The raison
detre is to afford the court a chance to correct its own mistakes and to avoid
unnecessary appeals from being taken. In effect, a motion for reconsideration or
modification filed by or with consent of the accused renders the entire evidence open for
the review of the trial court without, however, conducting further proceedings, such as
the taking of additional proof.
Clearly, therefore, appellants cannot dictate upon the trial court which aspects of
the judgment of conviction should be reviewed. Having filed a timely motion for
reconsideration asking the court to acquit, or in the alternative, convict them of the
lesser offense of homicide, appellants waived the defense of double jeopardy and
effectively placed the evidence taken at the trial open for the review of the trial court.
Hence, the court a quo is not only empowered but also under obligation to rectify its
mistake in appreciating the qualifying circumstance of abuse of superior strength
instead of treachery.