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6/6/2017 LagrosavsPeople:152044:July3,2003:J.

YnaresSantiago:FirstDivision

FIRSTDIVISION

[G.R.No.152044.July3,2003]

DOMINGOLAGROSAandOSIASBAGUIN,petitioners,vs.THEPEOPLEOFTHE
PHILIPPINESandTHEHONORABLECOURTOFAPPEALS,respondents.

DECISION
YNARESSANTIAGO,J.:

ThisisapetitionforreviewofthedecisionoftheCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.No.67308,[1]which
affirmed the Resolution of the Regional Trial Court of Tagbilaran City, Branch 2, denying petitioners
ApplicationforProbation,anditsOrderdenyingpetitionersMotionforReconsideration.[2]
Theundisputedfactsareasfollows.
OnOctober29,1996,theRegionalTrialCourtofTagbilaranCity,Branch2,renderedadecisionin
CriminalCaseNo.8243,[3]findingpetitionersDomingoLagrosaandOsiasBaguinguiltyofviolationof
Section 68 of P.D. 705, as amended (The Revised Forestry Code), for having in their possession
forest products without the requisite permits. The trial court sentenced them to suffer the
indeterminatepenaltyofimprisonmentfromtwo(2)years,four(4)monthsandone(1)dayofprision
correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum. Petitioners Motion for
Reconsiderationofthedecision[4]wasdeniedbythetrialcourtonNovember21,1996.[5]
PetitionersappealedtheirconvictiontotheCourtofAppeals,whereitwasdocketedasCAG.R.
CR No. 20632.[6] On March 14, 2000, the appellate court affirmed the conviction of the petitioners,
with the modification as to the penalty imposed, which was reduced to an indeterminate penalty
rangingfromsix(6)monthsandone(1)dayofprisioncorreccional,asminimum,toone(1)year,eight
(8) months and twenty one (21) days of prision correccional, as maximum.[7] The decision became
finalandexecutoryonApril12,2000.
OnAugust29,2001,petitionersfiledanApplicationforProbationwiththetrialcourt,[8]which,as
mentioned at the outset, was denied.Petitioners motion for reconsideration was likewise denied by
the trial court. Hence, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, which was
docketed as CAG.R. SP No. 67308.[9] On January 11, 2002, the Court of Appeals rendered the
assaileddecisionaffirmingthequestionedresolutionsofthetrialcourt.
Hencethispetition,raisingthefollowingarguments:
1)That Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 968, as amended by PD No. 1990, is very absurd and
illogicalconsideringthatpetitionerswerenotgiventheopportunitytoapplyforprobationwhenthey
wereconvictedbytheRegionalTrialCourtofBohol,Branch2,becausethepenaltyimposedbysaid
courtismorethansix(6)yearsandthereforenonprobationable.
ThatthefirstopportunityforhereinpetitionerstoapplyforprobationwaswhentheCourtofAppeals
modifiedthesentenceimposedbytheRegionalTrialCourtofBohol,Branch2,fromtwo(2)years,
four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision
mayor,asmaximum,tosix(6)monthsandone(1)daytoone(1)year,eight(8)monthsandtwenty
one(21)daysasmaximumwhichisclearlyprobationable.
2) That the ruling of this Honorable Supreme Court in the case of Pablo Francisco versus Court of
Appeals,etal.,G.R.No.108747,isnotapplicabletotheinstantcasebecauseinthesaidFrancisco
case the accused therein can apply for probation because the penalty imposed by the lower court
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wasalreadyprobationablebuttheaccusedinsteadappealedthedecisionbutinthecaseofherein
petitionerstheycannotapplyforprobationwhentheywereconvictedbecausethepenaltyimposedby
thelowercourtwasmorethansix(6)yearsandthereforenonprobationable.
3) That the decision of the Court of Appeals herein sought to be reviewed is clearly contrary to the
purposeoftheProbationLaw.[10]
ThelawthatisattheheartofthiscontroversyisPresidentialDecreeNo.968,alsoknownasthe
ProbationLaw,asamendedbyP.D.1990,thepertinentprovisionofwhichreads:

SEC.4.GrantofProbation.SubjecttotheprovisionsofthisDecree,thetrialcourtmay,afteritshallhave
convictedandsentencedadefendant,anduponapplicationbysaiddefendantwithintheperiodforperfectingan
appeal,suspendtheexecutionofthesentenceandplacethedefendantonprobationforsuchperiodandupon
suchtermsandconditionsasitmaydeembestProvided,Thatnoapplicationforprobationshallbeentertained
orgrantedifthedefendanthasperfectedtheappealfromthejudgmentofconviction.(underscoringours)

Probationmaybegrantedwhetherthesentenceimposesatermofimprisonmentorafineonly.Anapplication
forprobationshallbefiledwiththetrialcourt.Thefilingoftheapplicationshallbedeemedawaiveroftheright
toappeal.

Anordergrantingordenyingprobationshallnotbeappealable.

UnderSection9(a)oftheProbationLaw,offenderswhoaresentencedtoserveamaximumterm
ofimprisonmentofmorethansixyearsaredisqualifiedfromseekingprobation.
ItshouldbenotedthatbeforeP.D.968wasamendedbyP.D.1990,theaccusedwasallowedto
apply for probation even after he had already filed an appeal, as long as he had not yet begun to
servehissentence.[11]
Petitioners contend that they should be allowed to apply for probation even if they had already
appealedthedecisionofthetrialcourt.Theyarguethattheircaseshouldbeconsideredanexception
tothegeneralrulewhichexcludesanaccusedwhohasappealedhisconvictionfromthebenefitsof
probation.Inthecaseatbar,thetrialcourtsentencedpetitionerstoamaximumtermofeightyears,
whichwasbeyondthecoverageoftheProbationLaw.Theyonlybecameeligibleforprobationafter
theCourtofAppealsmodifiedthejudgmentofthetrialcourtandreducedthemaximumtermofthe
penalty imposed on them to one year, eight months and twentyone days.[12] They submit that the
rulinginthecaseofFranciscov.CA[13]isnotapplicablebecauseinthatcase,theaccusedappealed
their conviction notwithstanding the fact that the maximum term of the prison sentence imposed on
thembythetrialcourtwaslessthansixyears.[14]
In its Comment, the Office of the Solicitor General reiterates the express provision of P.D. 968
prohibitingthegrantofprobationtothosewhohaveappealedtheirconvictions.[15]Itarguesthat,even
if the petitioners have appealed for the purpose of reducing an incorrect penalty, this fact does not
serve to remove them from the prohibition in Section 4 of P.D. 968 for the law makes no such
distinction.[16]
Thereisnoquestionthatpetitionersappealedfromthedecisionofthetrialcourt.Thisfactalone
meritsthedenialofpetitionersApplicationforProbation.Having appealed from the judgment of the
trial court and having applied for probation only after the Court of Appeals had affirmed their
conviction,petitionerswereclearlyprecludedfromthebenefitsofprobation.[17]
However, petitioners now ask us not to apply the letter of the law, claiming that their situation
shouldbeconsideredanexceptiontotherule.Theirpetitioniswithoutmerit.
Petitionersrepeatedlyassertthattheirapplicationforprobationwasmadeatthefirstopportunity,
undoubtedlyinvokingthefourthwhereasclauseofP.D.1990,whichreads:

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WHEREAS,probationwasnotintendedasanescapehatchandshouldnotbeusedtoobstructanddelaythe
administrationofjustice,butshouldbeavailedofatthefirstopportunitybyoffenderswhoarewillingtobe
reformedandrehabilitatedxxx.

Tobolsterthisassertion,petitionersclaimthatwhatpromptedthemtoappealthedecisionofthe
trialcourtwastheerroneouspenaltyimposedbythetrialcourt.[18]
Petitionersarenotbeingverycandid.IntheirappellantsbrieffiledinCAG.R.CRNo.20632,they
raisedthefollowingassignmentoferrors:
I

THATTHELOWERCOURTERREDINFINDINGBOTHACCUSEDGUILTYOFTHEOFFENSE
CHARGEDBECAUSETHEEVIDENCEAGAINSTTHEMLACKSMORALCERTAINTY.

II.

IFEVERACCUSEDAREGUILTY,THELOWERCOURTERREDINIMPOSINGTHEPROPER
PENALTYASPROVIDEDBYLAW.

Thefactthatpetitionersputthemeritsoftheirconvictioninissueonappealbeliestheirclaimthat
theirappealwaspromptedbywhatwasadmittedlyanincorrectpenalty.Certainly,theprotestationsof
petitionersconnoteaprofessionofguiltlessness,ifnotcompleteinnocence,anddonotsimplyassail
the propriety of the penalties imposed. For sure, petitioners never manifested that they were
appealing only for the purpose of correcting a wrong penalty to reduce it to within probationable
range.Hence,uponinterposinganappeal,moresoafterassertingtheirinnocencetherein,petitioners
should be precluded from seeking probation. By perfecting their appeal, petitioners ipso facto
relinquishedthealternativeremedyofavailingoftheProbationLaw,thepurposeofwhichissimplyto
preventspeculationoropportunismonthepartofanaccusedwho,althoughalreadyeligible,doesnot
atonceapplyforprobation,butdidsoonlyafterfailinginhisappeal.[19]
Although it has been suggested that an appeal should not bar the accused from applying for
probation if the appeal is solely to reduce the penalty to within the probationable limit may be
equitable,[20] we are not yet prepared to accept this proposition, specially given the factual
circumstancesofthiscase.Hadthepetitionersappealfromthedecisionofthetrialcourtraisedthe
improprietyofthepenaltyimposeduponthemasthesoleissue,perhapsthisCourtwouldhavebeen
moresympathetictotheirplight.Unfortunately,theirmisrepresentationhasledtotheirownundoing.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of
AppealsdatedJanuary11,2002inCAG.R.No.67308,whichaffirmedtheResolutionoftheRegional
Trial Court of Tagbilaran City, Branch 2, denying petitioners Application for Probation, and its Order
denyingpetitionersMotionforReconsideration,isAFFIRMED.Costsagainstthepetitioners.
SOORDERED.
Davide,Jr.,C.J.,(Chairman),Carpio,andAzcuna,JJ.,concur.
Vitug,J.,Ireiteratemyseparate(dissenting)opinioninFranciscovs.CA(243SCRA384,399).

[1]CARollo,p.51pennedbyAssociateJusticeRodrigoV.Cosico,concurredinbyAssociateJusticesEubuloG.Verzola
andEliezerR.DeLosSantos.
[2]Records,pp.262,264,275,294pennedbyJudgeBaudilioK.Dosdos.

[3]Records,pp.219224.

[4]Records,pp.229233.

[5]Records,pp.241242.

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[6]Records,p.243.

[7] CA Rollo for CAG.R. CR No. 20632, pp. 8898 penned by Associate Justice Renato C. Dacudao, concurred in by
AssociateJusticesQuirinoD.AbadSantos,Jr.andB.A.AdefuinDeLaCruz.
[8]Records,pp.262263.

[9]CARolloforCAG.R.SPNo.67308,pp.49.

[10]Rollo,pp.78.

[11]Peoplev.Evangelista,324Phil.80(1996)citingP.D.968,asamendedbyP.D.1287.

[12]Rollo,pp.79.

[13]313Phil.241(1995).

[14]Rollo,pp.89.

[15]Rollo,pp.3032.

[16]Rollo,p.30.

[17]Peoplev.Evangelista,324Phil.80(1996).

[18]Rollo,p.8.

[19]Franciscov.CA,313Phil.241,265(1995).

[20]Franciscov.CA,supra.

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