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782 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED

Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals
*
G.R.No.119010.September5,1997.

PAZT.BERNARDO,petitioner,vs.COURTOFAPPEALS,HON.
OSCAR L. LEVISTE and FLORLITA RONQUILLO
CONCEPCION,respondents.

Criminal Procedure Pleadings and Practice Demurrer to Evidence


The court on its initiative can dismiss the case after giving prior notice to
theprosecution.Theaccusedcanfileademurreronlyifheisgrantedprior
leaveofcourt.Ifthemotionforleaveordemurrerisdenied,theaccusedcan
presenthisevidence,andthereisnowaiverIftheaccusedfilesademurrer
withoutleave,hisrighttopresentevidenceiswaived.ChiefJusticeAndres
R.Narvasa,ChairmanoftheCommittee,suggestedthatxxxtheremaybe
instanceswhereitisveryplainthattheevidenceisinsufficient,butthereare
alsoinstanceswherethecourtisindoubtxxxxitisthecourtthatwillnow
determine whether a demurrer should be filed or not after getting the
opinion of both sides x x x x If the accused asks for leave of court and the
courtsupportsit,itisgoodbutxxxifitfindsthemotiondilatory,thenit
deniesit.Butxxxthereshouldbenowaiverifthedemurreriswithleaveof
court, because there may be a situation where the court itself may want to
dismiss the case x x x x If leave is denied, and the accused still files the
demurrer, then there is waiver (italics supplied). The Committee finally
approvedthefollowingpropositionsoftheChiefJustice:(a)Thecourtonits
initiativecandismissthecaseaftergivingpriornoticetotheprosecution(b)
Theaccusedcanfileademurreronlyifheisgrantedpriorleaveofcourt(c)
Ifthemotionforleaveorthedemurrerisdenied,theaccusedcanpresenthis
evidence, and there is no waiver and, (d) If the accused files a demurrer
withoutleave,hisrighttopresentevidenceiswaived.

____________________

*FIRSTDIVISION.

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VOL.278,SEPTEMBER5,1997 783
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals

SameSameSameThe power to grant leave to the accused to file a


demurrerisaddressedtothesounddiscretionofthetrialcourt.Thepurpose
istodeterminewhethertheaccusedinfilinghisdemurrerismerelystalling
theproceedings.In fine, under the new rule on demurrer to evidence the
accusedhastherighttofileademurrertoevidenceaftertheprosecutionhas
resteditscase.Iftheaccusedobtainedpriorleaveofcourtbeforefilinghis
demurrer,hecanstillpresentevidenceifhisdemurrerisdenied.However,if
he demurs without prior leave of court, or after his motion for leave is
denied, he waives his right to present evidence and submits the case for
decisiononthebasisoftheevidencefortheprosecution.Thispowertogrant
leavetotheaccusedtofileademurrerisaddressedtothesounddiscretionof
thetrialcourt.Thepurposeistodeterminewhethertheaccusedinfilinghis
demurrerismerelystallingtheproceedings.

SameSameSameWherethecourthasdeniedhermotionforleaveto
fileademurrertoevidence,heronlyrightunderSection15,Rule119ofthe
Rules of Court is to adduce evidence in her defense.In the case at bar,
petitioner admits that in the hearing of 20 May 1994 the trial court denied
her motion for leave to file a demurrer to evidence. In such case, the only
right petitioner has under Sec. 15, Rule 119, of the Rules of Court after
having been denied leave to submit a demurrer is to adduce evidence in her
defense. However, even without express leave of the trial court, nay, after
her motion for leave was denied, petitioner insisted on filing a demurrer
insteadofpresentingevidenceinherdefense.

Same Same Same Once prior leave is denied and the accused still
fileshisdemurrertoevidenceormotiontodismiss,thecourtnolongerhas
discretiontoallowtheaccusedtopresentevidence.Judicialactiontogrant
priorleavetofiledemurrertoevidenceisdiscretionaryuponthetrialcourt.
Buttoallowtheaccusedtopresentevidenceafterhewasdeniedpriorleave
to file demurrer is not discretionary. Once prior leave is denied and the
accused still files his demurrer to evidence or motion to dismiss, the court
no longer has discretion to allow the accused to present evidence. The only
recourse left for the court is to decide the case on the basis of the evidence
presented by the prosecution. And, unless there is grave abuse thereof
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, which is not present in the
instant case, the trial courts denial of prior leave to file demurrer to
evidenceormotiontodismissmaynotbedis

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784 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED

Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals
turbed. However, any judgment of conviction by a trial court may still be
elevatedbytheaccusedtotheappellatecourt.

PETITIONforreviewoncertiorariofadecisionoftheCourtof
Appeals.

ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
JorgeV.Miraviteforpetitioner.
Trinidad,Reverente,MakalintalandCabreraLawOffice for
privaterespondents.

BELLOSILLO,J.:

For an orderly procedure in the disposition of criminal cases the


RulesofCourtprovidesthattheprosecutionandthedefensepresent
their evidence in the order prescribed in Sec. 3, Rule 119, after
which, evaluating the evidence presented, the trial court renders
judgment either of acquittal or conviction. Under Sec. 15 of the
same Rule, after the prosecution has rested its case, the court may
dismissthecaseonthegroundofinsufficiencyofevidenceeitheron
its own initiative after giving the prosecution an opportunity to be
heard,oronmotionoftheaccusedfiledwithpriorleaveofcourt.If
thecourtdeniesthedemurrerormotiontodismiss,theaccusedmay
adduceevidenceinhisdefense.Whentheaccusedfilessuchmotion
to dismiss without express leave of court, he waives the right to
presentevidenceandsubmitsthecaseforjudgmentonthebasisof
theevidencefortheprosecution.
The newruleondemurrer to evidence was first incorporated in
the1985RulesonCriminalProcedurewhichsignificantlychanged
1 2
therulinginPeoplev.Mamacol andAbriolv.Homeres thatwhena
motiontodismissoninsufficiencyofevidenceisdeniedtheaccused
has a right to present evidence in his behalf. Earlier the rule was,
whenaftertheprosecutionhasresteditscase,andtheaccusedfilesa
motiontodismissoninsufficiencyofevidence,hewaivestheright
topresent

__________________

181Phil.543(1948).

284Phil.525(1949).

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VOL.278,SEPTEMBER5,1997 785
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals

evidence and submits the case


3
for judgment on the basis of the
evidenceoftheprosecution. Therulewasfurthermodifiedin1988
totheeffectthatonlywhentheaccusedfilesademurrerormotionto
dismissoninsufficiencyofevidencewithoutexpressleaveofcourt
thattheaccusedmaybedeemedtohavewaivedhisrighttopresent
evidenceandthecaseconsideredsubmittedfordecisiononthebasis
oftheevidencefortheprosecution.Iftheaccusedhasobtainedprior
leaveofcourt,incaseofdenialofhismotiontodismiss,heretains
hisrighttopresentevidenceinhisbehalf.Thecourtmayalsomotu
proprio dismiss the case on insufficiency of evidence, but before
doingso,itshouldgivetheprosecutionanopportunitytobeheard
4
andtoopposethemotion.
We are now called upon to apply the new rule on demurrer to
evidence.
Paz T. Bernardo was originally charged with four (4) counts of
violationofB.P.Blg.22beforetheRegionalTrialCourtofQuezon
City, docketed as Crim. Cases Nos. Q934679295. Subsequently,
private complainant, respondent Florlita RonquilloConcepcion,
executed an Affidavit of Desistance which led to the dismissal of
Crim.CasesNos.Q9346794andQ9346795,thusleavingCrim.
Cases Nos. Q9346792 and Q9346793 to be disposed of by the
trialcourt.
On20May1994,afterpresentingitslastwitness,theprosecution
resteditscaseandformallyoffereditsexhibits.Thathearingwasset
at 8:30 a.m. on that date for continuation of the reception of the
evidence
5
for the prosecution as reflected in the calendar of the
court. After the prosecution had formally offered its evidence, the
followingtranspiredinopencourt

___________________

3Ocampov.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.79060,8December1989,180SCRA27.

4Herrera,OscarM.,RemedialLaw,Vol.IV,Rules110127,1995Ed.,pp.510511.

5Rollo,p.36.

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786 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals

COURT:
Alright,prosecutionhavingrested,defensewillnowpresentits
evidence.Proceed.
ATTY.MIRAVITE:
Yourhonor,werespectfullyaskforaresetting,forleaveofcourt
tofiledemurrertoevidence(italicssupplied).
COURT:
Onwhatground?
ATTY.MIRAVITE:
Onthegroundthattheprosecutionfailedtoelicitthefactwhere
thecheckswereissuedandwheretheywereactuallydishonored.
Thisismaterial,yourhonor,forpurposesofdetermining
jurisdiction.Also,yourhonor,aswementionedinourcomments
totheevidencepresentedbytheprosecution,therehasbeenno
validnoticeofdishonorofthesubjectchecksuponthe
accused.So,uponthosegrounds,webelievethatthe
prosecutionhasnotdulymadeoutacaseagainsttheaccused,
andwefeelthosearesufficientforthedismissalofthecaseas
againsttheaccused.
COURT:
Soastoavoidreviewingtherecords,wouldyouadmitthatthere
isnoproofwherethecheckswereissuedandwheretheywere
dishonored?
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
No,wewouldnotadmitthat,yourhonor.Theyweredishonored
actuallyinManila,butthecheckwasdepositedinthebankof
PARCREDITENTERPRISESinQuezonCity,anditwas
naturallyforwardedtothePhilippineNationalBankwherethe
samewasreturnedtothebankofPARCREDIT
ENTERPRISEShereinQuezonCity.
COURT:
Wheredoesitappear?
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
ItisatthebackofExhibitA,yourhonor.
COURT:
IsItmark(ed)?
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
Yourhonor,itstateshere,depositedtoPhilippineNationalBank,
WestAvenue,QuezonCitywhichisatthecheckmarkedas
exhibitA4.

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VOL.278,SEPTEMBER5,1997 787
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals

COURT:
So,thattakesjurisprudence.TheelementshappenedinQuezon
City.
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
Yes,yourhonor.
ATTY.MIRAVITE:
Thenotationreadbycounsel,yourhonor,wasnotmarkedin
evidence,whatwasmarkedisB4appearingatthedorsal
portionofthecheckwhichpertainsonlyfor(sic)thedishonor,
theinitialandthedate.Nothingwaspresentedastothefact.If
thatisso,thatwasindeeddepositedatWestAvenue,Quezon
City.
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
Thereis,yourhonor.ThestampreceivedbytheCashier
Division,PNB,QuezonCity,WestAvenue.
COURT:
Anyway,wasthereanofferofthatdocument?
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
Yes,therewasanofferofexhibitA4,yourhonor.Therecord
wouldshowthatwemanifestedthatexhibitB4arestampsof
thebankreadingDAIFoverwhichthereareotherstamps.
COURT:
YouaresayingthatthewordDAIFwasmarkedatthebackand
offeredasproofofthedishonorandtheplacewasevidence?
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
Yes,yourhonor,immediatelyontopoftheword,DAIF.
COURT:
Isthereanyevidencetestimonialthatthesewereencashedand
dishonored?
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
Yes,yourhonor,thetestimonyofthiswitnessisveryclearthat
thechecksweredepositedandthesamewas(sic)dishonoredby
thebank.
COURT:
Doyouadmitthattherewasnonoticeofdishonor?
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
Wedontadmitthat,yourhonor.Infact,thereareadmissionsin
handwritingregardingtheclaim.

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788 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals

COURT:

Isthereanyevidencepresentedthatthesecheckswerenotpaid
uptonow?
PRIVATEPROSECUTOR:
Yes,yourhonor.First,istheoraltestimonyofthewitness,thatit
hasnotbeenpaidsecond,exhibits1and11,whichisthe
ComplaintAffidavitofthewitness.
COURT:
Alright,inviewoftheobjections,andinviewofthe
manifestationsoftheprivateprosecutor,thedefensegroundsfor
demurrer,thesamenotbeingwelltakenisherebyDENIED
(italicssupplied).Youwillnowpresentyourevidence.
ATTY.MIRAVITE:
Ifyourhonorplease,maywejustaskforareconsideration
(italicssupplied)?
COURT:
Ifyouwillwaiveyourrighttopresentyourevidence,theCourt
willgiveyouaperiodtofileademurrertoevidence.And,ifyou
dontpresentyourevidencenow,youwillbeconsideredtohave
waivedyourrighttopresentevidence(italicssupplied).
xxxx
ATTY.MIRAVITE:
Ifyourhonorplease,wewouldliketoreiterateourmotiontofile
ademurrertoevidence(italicssupplied)?
COURT:
Butyouhavealreadyorallymadethatdemurrerwhichhasbeen
denied(italicssupplied).
ATTY.MIRAVITE:
Inwhichcaseyourhonor,ifthereisnoleaveofcourt,wewillbe
filingourdemurrertoevidence,yourhonor(italicssupplied).
COURT:
Thatistantamounttopostpone(sic)thiscase.TheCourt
considersthatmotiondilatory(italicssupplied).
ATTY.MIRAVITE:
Yourhonor,Ithinkwithintheoptionofthepartiestotake
remediesandatthispoint,wedidprepareforourpurposes,that
insteadofpresentingtheaccusedorpresentingourwitnesses,
wewouldjustprefertomoveforademurrertoevidence(italics
supplied).

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VOL.278,SEPTEMBER5,1997 789
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals

COURT:
Youmayincludethatinyourmotionforreconsideration.Alright,
theprosecutionhavingrested,andthedefensehavingbeen
consideredtohavewaivedhisrighttopresenthisevidence,this
caseisdeemedsubmittedfordecision.Setthepromulgationof
thiscasetoJune6,1994at8:30oclockinthemorning(italics
6
supplied).

Petitioner assailed the Order of respondent judge hereinbefore


immediately quoted before the Court of Appeals by way of
certiorari,prohibitionandmandamus.Petitionerarguedthatthetrial
courtcommittedgraveabuseofdiscretioninconsideringhertohave
waived her right to present evidence after the denial of her motion
forleavetofiledemurrertoevidence.
On30September1994theCourtofAppealsrenderedadecision
modifyingineffectthatportionofthequestionedOrderoftheRTC
Br.97,QuezonCity,of20May1994whichstatesthatthedefense
having been considered to have waived her right to 7
present her
evidence,thiscaseisdeemedsubmittedfordecision by directing8
thetrialcourttosetCrim.CasesNos.Q9346792andQ9346793 9
for trial for reception of evidence for the petitioner. Petitioner
moved for partial reconsideration of the decision of the Court of
Appealsbuthermotionwasdeniedon7February1995.
Petitioner Bernardo filed the instant petition for review on
certiorariofthedecisionoftheCourtofAppealsonthegroundthat
when it refused to allow petitioner to demur to the evidence the
appellate court decided the matter10
not in accordance with law and
applicabledecisionsofthisCourt. Petitionersubmitsthatwhenher
counselmovedforleavetofileademurrertoevidenceon20May
1994thismeantthat

___________________

6TSN,20May1994,pp.1621.

7Rollo,pp.2940.

8 Not Crim. Cases Nos. Q934746567 see Records of the RTCBr. 97, Quezon

City,p.60.
9DecisionofrespondentCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.SPNo.34219,30September

1994,p.12Rollo,p.40.
10Rollo,p.20.

790

790 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals
sheintendedtomakeawrittendemurrerafterextensiveresearchand
withproperauthoritiestosupportthesamethatwhenthetrialcourt
denied her motion, it was in effect a denial only of the motion for
leavetofiledemurrertoevidenceandnotthedemurrertoevidence
itselfand,therefore,theorderofrespondentappellatecourtallowing
petitioner to present her evidence was premature. Petitioner further
contends that she should first be given the opportunity to file her
demurrertoevidenceandwaitforitsdenialwithfinalitybeforeshe 11
couldbedirectedtopresentherevidencebeforethetrialcourt.
We cannot sustain petitioner. As the trial court observed, 12
her
move, expressed through counsel, was merely dilatory. But
neither can we affirm the ruling of respondent Court of Appeals
directingthetrialcourttoreceivetheevidenceofthedefenseafter
itsmotionforleavetofileademurrertoevidencewasdenied.Itis
contrarytotheletterandspiritofSec.15,Rule119,oftheRulesof
Court.
The implications and consequences of obtaining prior leave
before the accused files a demurrer to evidence were discussed by
the Committee on the Revision of the Rules as reflected in its
Minutes of 18 February 1997. Mr. Justice Jose Y. Feria, Co
ChairmanoftheCommittee,explained

Objections were raised against the new Rule on the ground that it was
prejudicial to the accused. Hence, the present amended provision was
adopted.Itisonlywhentheaccusedfilessuchamotiontodismisswithout
express leave of court that he waives the right to present evidence and
submits the case13 for judgment on the basis of the evidence for the
prosecutionxxxx

Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa, Chairman of the Committee,


suggestedthat

_____________________

11Id.,pp.2026.

12SeeNote6.

13Gupit,Fortunato,Jr.,The1988AmendmentstotheRulesonCriminalProcedure,

1989 Ed., p. 87, citing Feria, 1988 Amendments to the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure,PhilippineLegalStudies,SeriesNo.3,p.28.

791

VOL.278,SEPTEMBER5,1997 791
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals

x x x there may be instances where it is very plain that the evidence is


insufficient,buttherearealsoinstanceswherethecourtisindoubtxxxxit
isthecourtthatwillnowdeterminewhetherademurrershouldbefiledor
not after getting the opinion of both sides x x x x If the accused asks for
leave of court and the court supports it, it is good but x x x if it finds the
motiondilatory,thenitdeniesit.Butxxxthereshouldbenowaiverifthe
demurrer is with leave of court, because there may be a situation where the
courtitselfmaywanttodismissthecasexxxxIfleaveisdenied,andthe
14
accusedstillfilesthedemurrer,thenthereiswaiver(italicssupplied).

The Committee finally approved the following propositions of the


ChiefJustice:(a)Thecourtonitsinitiativecandismissthecaseafter
giving prior notice to the prosecution (b) The accused can file a
demurreronlyifheisgrantedpriorleaveofcourt(c)Ifthemotion
for leave or the demurrer is denied, the accused can present his
evidence, and there is no waiver and, (d) If the accused files
15
a
demurrerwithoutleave,hisrighttopresentevidenceiswaived.
Infine,underthenewruleondemurrertoevidencetheaccused
hastherighttofileademurrertoevidenceaftertheprosecutionhas
rested its case. If the accused obtained prior leave of court before
filing his demurrer, he can still present evidence if his demurrer is
denied.However,ifhedemurswithoutpriorleaveofcourt,orafter
his motion for leave is denied, he waives his right to present
evidence and submits the case for decision on the basis of the
evidence for the prosecution. This power to grant leave to the
accusedtofileademurrerisaddressedtothesounddiscretionofthe
trialcourt.Thepurposeistodeterminewhethertheaccusedinfiling
16
hisdemurrerismerelystallingtheproceedings.
Inthecaseatbar,petitioneradmitsthatinthehearingof20May
1994thetrialcourtdeniedhermotionforleavetofileademurrerto
evidence.Insuchcase,theonlyrightpetitioner

____________________

14Gupit,op.cit.,pp.8889.

15Gupit,op.cit.,pp.23.

16Peoplev.Mahinay,G.R.No.109613,17July1995,246SCRA451,457.

792

792 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Bernardovs.CourtofAppeals

hasunderSec.15,Rule119,oftheRulesofCourtafterhavingbeen
denied leave to submit a demurrer is to adduce evidence in her
defense.However,evenwithoutexpressleaveofthetrialcourt,nay,
afterhermotionforleavewasdenied,petitionerinsistedonfilinga
demurrerinsteadofpresentingevidenceinherdefense.
Judicialactiontograntpriorleavetofiledemurrertoevidenceis
discretionaryuponthetrialcourt.Buttoallowtheaccusedtopresent
evidence after he was denied prior leave to file demurrer is not
discretionary. Once prior leave is denied and the accused still files
his demurrer to evidence or motion to dismiss, the court no longer
has discretion to allow the accused to present evidence. The only
recourse left for the court is to decide the case on the basis of the
evidence presented by the prosecution. And, unless there is grave
abuse thereof amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, which is
notpresentintheinstantcase,thetrialcourtsdenialofpriorleave
to file demurrer
17
to evidence or motion to dismiss may not be
disturbed. However, any judgment of conviction by a18trial court
maystillbeelevatedbytheaccusedtotheappellatecourt.
WHEREFORE,thePetitiontoallowpetitionertofileademurrer
toevidenceisDENIED.TherulingofrespondentCourtofAppeals
directingthetrialcourttoheartheevidenceoftheaccusedisSET
ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court of Quezon City is directed to
decidetheremainingCrim.CasesNos.Q9346792andQ9346793
onthebasisoftheevidencealreadypresentedbytheprosecution.
SOORDERED.
Vitug,KapunanandHermosisima,Jr.,JJ.,concur.
Petitiondenied,CArulingsetaside.

____________________________

17Peoplev.Mercado,No.L33492,30March1988,159SCRA453.

18Cruzv.People,G.R.No.67228,9October1986,144SCRA677.

793

VOL.278,SEPTEMBER5,1997 793
Torres,Jr.vs.CourtofAppeals

Notes.Theaccusedisallowedtopresentevidenceevenaftera
motion to dismiss is denied provided the demurrer was made with
the express consent of the court. (People vs. Mahinay, 246 SCRA
451[1995])
Thepurposeforobtainingleaveofcourtistodeterminewhether
ornotthedefendantinacriminalcasehasfiledthedemurrermerely
tostalltheproceedings.(Ibid.)

o0o

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