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Cobarrubias v.

People of the Philippines

GR No. 160610, August 14, 2009


In 1994, petitioner Judelio Cobarrubias was charged with:

Frustrated Homicide (Criminal Case No. 94-5036);

Homicide (Criminal Case No. 94-5038);
Violation of Section 261(Q) of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to
Section 32 of Republic Act No. 7166 (Criminal Case No. 24-392); and
Illegal Possession of Firearms under Presidential Decree No. 1866
(Criminal Case No. 94-5037).

Petitioner pleaded not guilty to all the charges and trial followed. On
March 20, 2001, Judge Florentino of RTC of Las Pinas City dismissed Criminal
Cases Nos. 94-5036 and 94-5037 (Frustrated Homicide and Illegal Possession
of Firearms Cases). Criminal Cases Nos. 94-5038 and 24392 were set for
further trial.

On July 5, 2001, petitioner filed a Motion for Correction of Clerical Error,

alleging that due to a typographical error in the dispositive portion, Criminal
Case No. 94-5037 (Illegal Possession of Firearms) was dismissed instead of
Criminal Case No. 94-5038 (Homicide). Motion was denied by respondent
judge, holding that alleged error was substantial in nature which affected the
very merit of the case.

On August 21, 2002, petitioner sought to set aside with the Court of
Appeals the orders of the respondent judge which denied his petition. CA
dismissed the petition for failure to submit a clear copy of the assailed order,
and failure to indicate his current receipt number and date of payment of the
current IBP membership dues as per SC BM No. 287. Petitioner moved for
reconsideration, which the CA granted. Petitioner was directed to implead the
People of the Philippines as respondent, but failed to do so, which resulted to
the dismissal of his petition once more.

Whether or not the dismissal of Cobarrubias petition on grounds of

technicality, despite subsequent compliance, was valid
Whether or not the clerical error in the dispositive portion of decision
by judge respondent was substantial in nature


#1: No. Although petitioners failure to impede the Republic of the Philippines
may fall under Sec. 8, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which provided that
manifest delay is a ground for dismissal, Sec. 6 Rule 1 of the Rules of Court
also provided that rules shall be liberally construed in order to promote their
objective in securing a just, speedy, and inexpensive disposition of every
action and proceeding.

In this case, the Court finds the petitioners failure to implead the People
of the Philippines as respondent not so grave as to warrant dismissal of the
petition. After all, petitioner rectified his error by moving for reconsideration
and filing an Amended Petition, impleading the People of the Philippines as

Furthermore, the Court of Appeals should have granted petitioners

motion for reconsideration and given due course to the petition in view of
petitioners subsequent compliance by filing an Amended Petition, impleading
the People of the Philippines as respondent. Technicalities may be set aside
when the strict and rigid application of the rules will frustrate rather than
promote justice

#2: No. The trial court inadvertently designated the wrong criminal case
numbers when they were cited in the decision. In the dispositive portion, the
trial court erroneously dismissed Criminal Case No. 94-5037 which refers to
the charge for Illegal Possession of Firearms under Presidential Decree No.
1866, while Criminal Case No. 94-5038 which refers to the charge for
Homicide was set for further trial.
The general rule is that where there is a conflict between the fallo, or
the dispositive part, and the body of the decision or order, the fallo prevails on
the theory that the fallo is the final order and becomes the subject of
execution, while the body of the decision merely contains the reasons or
conclusions of the court ordering nothing.

However, where one can clearly and unquestionably conclude from the
body of the decision that there was a mistake in the dispositive portion, the
body of the decision will prevail, as is in this case. The body discussed the
prosecutions failure to prove accuseds guilt beyond reasonable doubt for the
crimes of Homicide and Frustrated Homicide. Hence, it is only just and proper
to correct the dispositive portion to reflect the exact findings of the lower