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[G.R. No. 117472. September 2, 1997.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. LEO ECHEGARAY, Accused-Appellant.


Gentlemen: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated September
2, 1997.

G.R. No. 117472 (People v. Leo Echegaray). In a letter dated March 4, 1997 of Atty. Vicente
G. Vinarao, Director of the Bureau of Corrections, two queries are addressed before us, to
wit: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(a) What should be the reckoning point from which the execution of the death penalty be
carried out?; and

(b) Does the acceptance of an appointment as phlebotomist, tasked in administering lethal

injection to persons meted with the death sentence by medical technologists, doctors,
dentists, nurses or other medical practitioners warrant revocation of their licenses to practice
as such? chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

As regards the first query, Atty. Vinarao asks whether the reckoning point be from June 25,
1996 which is the date of our decision affirming the judgment of the lower court or from
February 7, 1997 which is the date of the denial of accused-appellants motions for

Under Section 1 of Republic Act No. 8177 (Death Penalty Law), it is provided that: jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The death sentence shall be carried out not earlier than one (1) year nor later than eighteen
(18) months after the judgment has become final and executory without prejudice to the
exercise by the President of his executive clemency powers at all times." (Emphasis ours)

It is well-settled that a judgment becomes final and executory by operation of law. Finality of
judgment becomes a fact upon the lapse of the reglementary period of appeal if no appeal is
perfected. (Adez Realty Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 212 SCRA 623 [1992]; Cachola Sr. v. Court of
Appeals, 208 SCRA 496 [1992]; City of Manila v. Court of Appeals, 204 SCRA 362 [1991]. In
criminal cases, Section 7 of Rule 120 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure states the
circumstances when a judgment becomes final. However, we cannot specifically apply these
tenets to judgments imposing the death penalty which is imposed or affirmed by this Court
itself since, obviously, no appeal lies therefrom. Thus, it is only but proper that a judgment of
this Court imposing the death sentence becomes final and executory after the expiration of
fifteen (15) days from service of a copy thereof on counsel of the accused-appellant, or on
the latter if so ordered by this Court, and no motion for reconsideration (or, where allowed by
this Court, a motion for new trial [see Helmuth, Jr. v. People, 112 SCRA 573 [1982]; People v.
Amparado, 156 SCRA 712 [1987] has been filed by accused-appellant, or no ground has
supervened which would justifiably interrupt or warrant the suspension of the running of the
reglementary period for finality. Where a motion for reconsideration has been filed and
denied, the finality of such resolution shall be substantially subject to the same rule.

A scrutiny of the records reveals that the accused-appellant received on February 12, 1997
(Rollo, p. 289) a copy of our Resolution dated February 7, 1997 denying his motion for
reconsideration. Applying the aforecited rule, we must reckon the fifteen (15) day period
from February 12, 1997 and so rule that the judgment imposing the death sentence on
accused-appellant became final and executory on February 27, 1997.

Considering that it is premature for this Court to make any pronouncements on the position of
PAMET and PASMETH regarding the appointment of a medical technologist as a phlebotomist
in the absence of a judicial controversy before us in relation thereto, We refer this matter to
the Department of Justice for its opinion thereon.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, We RESOLVE that the Director of the Bureau of
Corrections carry out the death sentence not earlier than one (1) year nor later than eighteen
(18) months from February 27, 1997 without prejudice to the exercise by the President of his
executive clemency powers at all times.

As to the acceptance of an appointment as phlebotomist by a medical technologist, doctor,

dentist, nurse or other medical practitioner, as the case may be, We FURTHER RESOLVE that
the query be REFERRED to the Department of Justice for its perusal and opinion. chanrobles lawlibrary : r ednad

Very truly yours,


Clerk of Court

By: chanrob1es virtual 1aw librar y


Assistant Clerk of Court