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TOPIC: Rule 110 A.

Institution of Criminal Actions Carmen Alamil, Marceli Gaza, and Markos Avgoustis (respondents) are
some of the listed incorporators of Tsakos Maritime Services, Inc.
Republic of the Philippines (TMSI), another local manning agency.
SUPREME COURT
Manila On August 19, 2003, the petitioner filed a complaint-affidavit 4 with the
Office of the City Prosecutor of Mandaluyong City against the
SECOND DIVISION respondents for syndicated and large scale illegal recruitment. 5 The
petitioner alleged that the respondents falsely represented their
G.R. No. 178607 December 5, 2012 stockholdings in TMSIs articles of incorporation 6 to secure a license to
operate as a recruitment agency from the Philippine Overseas
DANTE LA. JIMENEZ, in his capacity as President and Employment Agency (POEA).
representative of UNLAD SHIPPING & MANAGEMENT
CORPORATION, Petitioner, On October 9, 2003, respondents Antzoulatos and Gaza filed their joint
vs. counter-affidavit denying the complaint-affidavits
HON. EDWIN SORONGON (in his capacity as Presiding Judge of allegations. Respondents Avgoustis and Alamil did not submit any
7

Branch 214 of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City), counter-affidavit.


SOCRATES ANTZOULATOS, CARMEN ALAMIL, MARCELl GAZA and
MARKOS AVGOUSTIS, Respondents. In a May 4, 2004 resolution, 8 the 3rd Assistant City Prosecutor
recommended the filing of an information for syndicated and large
DECISION scale illegal recruitment against the respondents. The City Prosecutor
approved his recommendation and filed the corresponding criminal
BRION, J.: information with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong City
(docketed as Criminal Case No. MC04-8514 and raffled to Branch 212)
presided by Judge Rizalina T. Capco-Umali.
We resolve the petition for review on certiorari[ 1] filed by Dante La.
Jimenez (petitioner) to challenge the twin resolutions of the Court of
Appeals ( CA) dated November 23, 20062 and June 28, 20073 in CA-G.R. Subsequently, in a December 14, 2004 resolution, the City Prosecutor
SP No. 96584, which dismissed the petitioner's petition reconsidered the May 4, 2004 resolution and filed a motion with the
for certiorari and denied his motion for reconsideration, respectively. RTC to withdraw the information. 9 The petitioner and respondents
Antzoulatos and Gaza filed their opposition 10 and comment to the
The Factual Antecedents opposition, respectively.

In an August 1, 2005 resolution, 11 the RTC denied the motion to


The petitioner is the president of Unlad Shipping & Management
Corporation, a local manning agency, while Socrates Antzoulatos, withdraw information as it found the existence of probable cause to
hold the respondents for trial.12 Thus, the RTC ordered the issuance of was later re-raffled to Branch 214, presided by Judge Edwin D.
warrants of arrest against the respondents. Sorongon.

On August 26, 2005, respondents Antzoulatos and Gaza filed an The RTC Rulings
omnibus motion for reconsideration and for deferred enforcement of
the warrants of arrest.13 In a September 2, 2005 order,14 the RTC denied In its March 8, 2006 order, 21 the RTC granted respondent Alamils
the omnibus motion, reiterating that the trial court is the sole judge on motion for reconsideration. It treated respondent Alamils motion for
whether a criminal case should be dismissed or not. judicial determination as a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause.
It found: (1) no evidence on record to indicate that the respondents
On September 26, 2005, respondent Alamil filed a motion for judicial gave any false information to secure a license to operate as a
determination of probable cause with a request to defer enforcement of recruitment agency from the POEA; and (2) that respondent Alamil
the warrants of arrest.15 voluntarily submitted to the RTCs jurisdiction through the filing of
pleadings seeking affirmative relief. Thus, the RTC dismissed the case,
On September 29, 2005, the petitioner filed his opposition with motion and set aside the earlier issued warrants of arrest.
to expunge, contending that respondent Alamil, being a fugitive from
justice, had no standing to seek any relief and that the RTC, in the On April 3, 2006, the petitioner moved for reconsideration, stressing
August 1, 2005 resolution, already found probable cause to hold the the existence of probable cause to prosecute the respondents and that
respondents for trial.16 respondent Alamil had no standing to seek any relief from the RTC. 22

In a September 30, 2005 order,17 the RTC denied respondent Alamils On April 26, 2006, respondent Alamil moved to expunge the motion for
motion for being moot and academic; it ruled that it had already found being a prohibited pleading since the motion did not have the public
probable cause against the respondents in the August 1, 2005 prosecutors conformity.23
resolution, which it affirmed in the September 2, 2005 order.
In its May 10, 2006 order,24 the RTC denied the petitioners motion for
On October 10, 2005, respondent Alamil moved for reconsideration and reconsideration, finding that the petitioner merely reiterated
for the inhibition of Judge Capco-Umali, for being biased or partial. 18 On arguments in issues that had been finally decided. The RTC ordered the
October 25, 2005, the petitioner filed an opposition with a motion to motion expunged from the records since the motion did not have the
expunge, reiterating that respondent Alamil had no standing to seek public prosecutors conformity.
relief from the RTC.19
On May 19, 2006, the petitioner filed a notice of appeal. 25
In a January 4, 2006 order, 20 Judge Capco-Umali voluntarily inhibited
herself from the case and did not resolve respondent Alamils motion On May 30, 2006, respondent Alamil moved to expunge the petitioners
for reconsideration and the petitioners motion to expunge. The case notice of appeal since the public prosecutor did not authorize the
appeal and the petitioner had no civil interest in the case. 26
On June 27, 2006, the petitioner filed his comment to the motion to respondents illegal acts; respondent Alamil has no legal standing to
expunge, claiming that, as the offended party, he has the right to appeal seek any relief from the RTC since she is a fugitive from justice.
the RTC order dismissing the case; the respondents fraudulent acts in
forming TMSI greatly prejudiced him.27 The Case for the Respondents

In its August 7, 2006 joint order, 28 the RTC denied the petitioners notice The respondents32 submit that the petitioner lacks a legal standing to
of appeal since the petitioner filed it without the conformity of the assail the dismissal of the criminal case since the power to prosecute
Solicitor General, who is mandated to represent the People of the lies solely with the State, acting through a public prosecutor; the
Philippines in criminal actions appealed to the CA. Thus, the RTC petitioner acted independently and without the authority of a public
ordered the notice of appeal expunged from the records. prosecutor in the prosecution and appeal of the case.

On October 18, 2006, the petitioner elevated his case to the CA via a The Issue
Rule 65 petition for certiorari assailing the RTCs March 8, 2006, May
10, 2006, and August 7, 2006 orders. The case presents to us the issue of whether the CA committed a
reversible error in dismissing outright the petitioners Rule 65 petition
The CA Ruling for certiorari for lack of legal personality to file the petition on behalf of
the People of the Philippines.
In its November 23, 2006 resolution,29 the CA dismissed outright the
petitioners Rule 65 petition for lack of legal personality to file the Our Ruling
petition on behalf of the People of the Philippines. It noted that only the
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has the legal personality to The petition lacks merit.
represent the People, under Section 35(1), Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV
of the 1987 Administrative Code. It also held that the petitioner was not The petitioner has no legal personality to assail the dismissal of the
the real party in interest to institute the case, him not being a victim of criminal case
the crime charged to the respondents, but a mere competitor in their
recruitment business. The CA denied 30 the motion for It is well-settled that "every action must be prosecuted or defended in
reconsideration that followed.
31
the name of the real party in interest[,]" "who stands to be benefited or
injured by the judgment in the suit, or by the party entitled to the avails
The Petition of the suit."33Interest means material interest or an interest in issue to
be affected by the decree or judgment of the case, as distinguished from
The petitioner argues that he has a legal standing to assail the dismissal mere interest in the question involved. 34 By real interest is meant a
of the criminal case since he is the private complainant and a real party present substantial interest, as distinguished from a mere expectancy,
in interest who had been directly damaged and prejudiced by the or a future, contingent, subordinate or consequential interest. 35 When
the plaintiff or the defendant is not a real party in interest, the suit is In this case, the petitioner has no legal personality to assail the
dismissible.36 dismissal of the criminal case since the main issue raised by the
petitioner involved the criminal aspect of the case, i.e., the existence of
Procedural law basically mandates that "[a]ll criminal actions probable cause. The petitioner did not appeal to protect his alleged
commenced by complaint or by information shall be prosecuted under pecuniary interest as an offended party of the crime, but to cause the
the direction and control of a public prosecutor."37 In appeals of criminal reinstatement of the criminal action against the respondents. This
cases before the CA and before this Court, the OSG is the appellate involves the right to prosecute which pertains exclusively to the People,
counsel of the People, pursuant to Section 35(1), Chapter 12, Title III, as represented by the OSG.40
Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code. This section explicitly
provides: Respondent Alamil voluntarily submitted to the RTCs jurisdiction

SEC. 35. Powers and Functions. The Office of the Solicitor General As a rule, one who seeks an affirmative relief is deemed to have
shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and submitted to the jurisdiction of the court. Filing pleadings seeking
instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, affirmative relief constitutes voluntary appearance, and the consequent
proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. . . . jurisdiction of one's person to the jurisdiction of the court. 41
It shall have the following specific powers and functions:
Thus, by filing several motions before the RTC seeking the dismissal of
(1) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court the criminal case, respondent Alamil voluntarily submitted to the
of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; represent the Government jurisdiction of the RTC. Custody of the law is not required for the
and its officers in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, and all other adjudication of reliefs other than an application for bail. 42
courts or tribunals in all civil actions and special proceedings in which
the Government or any officer thereof in his official capacity is a party. WHEREFORE, we hereby DENY the appeal. The twin resolutions of the
(emphasis added) Court of Appeals dated November 23, 2006 and June 28, 2007 in CAG. R.
SP No. 96584 are AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
The People is the real party in interest in a criminal case and only the
OSG can represent the People in criminal proceedings pending in the CA SO ORDERED.
or in this Court. This ruling has been repeatedly stressed in several
cases38 and continues to be the controlling doctrine.

While there may be rare occasions when the offended party may be
allowed to pursue the criminal action on his own behalf 39 (as when
there is a denial of due process), this exceptional circumstance does not
apply in the present case.
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, who was caught in flagrante delicto and without
authority of law, did then and there wilfully (sic), unlawfully and
feloniously plant, cultivate and culture seven (7) fully grown marijuana
plants known as Indian Hemp weighing 2.194 kilos, from which
dangerous drugs maybe (sic) manufactured or derived, to the damage
TOPIC: Rule 110 B. Sufficiency of Complaint or Information and prejudice of the government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Republic of the Philippines "That the property where the said seven (7) fully grown marijuana
SUPREME COURT plants were planted, cultivated and cultured shall be confiscated and
Manila escheated in favor of the government.

EN BANC "CONTRARY TO LAW."2

G.R. No. 129296 September 25, 2000 On November 15, 1996, appellant was arraigned and, with assistance of
counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial on the merits then
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, ensued.
vs.
ABE VALDEZ y DELA CRUZ, accused-appellant. The first witness for the prosecution was SPO3 Marcelo Tipay, a
member of the police force of Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya. He testified
DECISION that at around 10:15 a.m. of September 24, 1996, he received a tip from
an unnamed informer about the presence of a marijuana plantation,
QUISUMBING, J.: allegedly owned by appellant at Sitio Bulan, Ibung, Villaverde, Nueva
Vizcaya.3 The prohibited plants were allegedly planted close to
For automatic review is the decision1 promulgated on February 18, appellant's hut. Police Inspector Alejandro R. Parungao, Chief of Police
1997, by the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Branch of Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya then formed a reaction team from his
27, in Criminal Case No. 3105. It found appellant Abe Valdez y Dela Cruz operatives to verify the report. The team was composed of SPO3
guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violating Section 9 of the Dangerous Marcelo M. Tipay, SPO2 Noel V. Libunao, SPO2 Pedro S. Morales, SPO1
Drugs Act of 1972 (R.A. No. 6425), as amended by R.A. No. 7659. He was Romulo G. Tobias and PO2 Alfelmer I. Balut. Inspector Parungao gave
sentenced to suffer the penalty of death by lethal injection. them specific instructions to "uproot said marijuana plants and arrest
the cultivator of same."4
In an Information dated September 26, 1996, appellant was charged as
follows:"That on or about September 25, 1996, at Sitio Bulan, Barangay At approximately 5:00 o'clock A.M. the following day, said police team,
Sawmill, Municipality of Villaverde, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, accompanied by their informer, left for the site where the marijuana
plants were allegedly being grown. After a three-hour, uphill trek from occupant of the lot, but no Certificate of Stewardship had yet been
the nearest barangay road, the police operatives arrived at the place issued in his favor.13
pinpointed by their informant. The police found appellant alone in his
nipa hut. They, then, proceeded to look around the area where appellant As its sole witness, the defense presented appellant. He testified that at
had his kaingin and saw seven (7) five-foot high, flowering marijuana around 10:00 o'clock A.M., September 25, 1996, he was weeding his
plants in two rows, approximately 25 meters from appellant's hut. 5 PO2 vegetable farm in Sitio Bulan when he was called by a person whose
Balut asked appellant who owned the prohibited plants and, according identity he does not know. He was asked to go with the latter to "see
to Balut, the latter admitted that they were his. 6 The police uprooted the something."14 This unknown person then brought appellant to the place
seven marijuana plants, which weighed 2.194 kilograms. 7 The police where the marijuana plants were found, approximately 100 meters
took photos of appellant standing beside the cannabis plants. 8 Appellant away from his nipa hut.15 Five armed policemen were present and they
was then arrested. One of the plants, weighing 1.090 kilograms, was made him stand in front of the hemp plants. He was then asked if he
sent to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory in Bayombong, knew anything about the marijuana growing there. When he denied any
Nueva Vizcaya for analysis.9 Inspector Prevy Fabros Luwis, the Crime knowledge thereof, SPO2 Libunao poked a fist at him and told him to
Laboratory forensic analyst, testified that upon microscopic admit ownership of the plants. 16 Appellant was so nervous and afraid
examination of said plant, she found cystolitic hairs containing calcium that he admitted owning the marijuana.17
carbonate, a positive indication for marijuana. 10 She next conducted a
chemical examination, the results of which confirmed her initial The police then took a photo of him standing in front of one of the
impressions. She found as follows: marijuana plants. He was then made to uproot five of the cannabis
plants, and bring them to his hut, where another photo was taken of
"SPECIMEN SUBMITTED: Exh "A" - 1.090 grams of uprooted suspected him standing next to a bundle of uprooted marijuana plants. 18 The
marijuana plant placed inside a white sack with markings. police team then brought him to the police station at Villaverde. On the
way, a certain Kiko Pascua, a barangay peace officer of Barangay
xxx Sawmill, accompanied the police officers. Pascua, who bore a grudge
against him, because of his refusal to participate in the former's illegal
"FINDINGS: Qualitative examination conducted on the above stated logging activities, threatened him to admit owning the marijuana,
specimen gave POSITIVE result to the test for Marijuana, a prohibited otherwise he would "be put in a bad situation." 19 At the police
drug."11 headquarters, appellant reiterated that he knew nothing about the
marijuana plants seized by the police.20
The prosecution also presented a certification from the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources that the land cultivated by On cross-examination, appellant declared that there were ten other
appellant, on which the growing marijuana plants were found, was Lot houses around the vicinity of his kaingin, the nearest house being 100
3224 of Timberland Block B, which formed part of the Integrated Social meters away.21 The latter house belonged to one Carlito (Lito) Pascua,
Forestry Area in Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya.12 This lot was part of the an uncle of the barangay peace officer who had a grudge against him.
public domain. Appellant was acknowledged in the certification as the
The spot where the marijuana plants were found was located between II
his house and Carlito Pascua's.22
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING
The prosecution presented SPO3 Tipay as its rebuttal witness. His APPELLANT OF VIOLATION OF SECTION 9, REPUBLIC ACT NO.
testimony was offered to rebut appellant's claim that the marijuana 6425 DESPITE THE INADMISSIBILITY OF
plants were not planted in the lot he was cultivating. 23 Tipay presented a THE CORPUS DELICTI AND THE FAILURE OF THE
sketch he made,24 which showed the location of marijuana plants in PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE
relation to the old and new nipa huts of appellant, as well as the closest DOUBT.
neighbor. According to Tipay, the marijuana plot was located 40 meters
away from the old hut of Valdez and 250 meters distant from the hut of III
Carlito Pascua.25 Tipay admitted on cross-examination that no surveyor
accompanied him when he made the measurements. 26 He further stated THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING THE
that his basis for claiming that appellant was the owner or planter of SUPREME PENALTY OF DEATH UPON APPELLANT DESPITE
the seized plants was the information given him by the police informer FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THAT THE LAND
and the proximity of appellant's hut to the location of said plants. 27 WHERE THE MARIJUANA PLANTS WERE PLANTED IS A
PUBLIC LAND ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT INDEED
Finding appellant's defense insipid, the trial court held appellant liable APPELLANT PLANTED THE SUBJECT MARIJUANA.29
as charged for cultivation and ownership of marijuana plants as follows:
Simply stated, the issues are:
"WHEREFORE, finding the accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
cultivating marijuana plants punishable under section 9 of the (1) Was the search and seizure of the marijuana plants in the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, accused is hereby sentenced present case lawful?
to death by lethal injection. Costs against the accused.
(2) Were the seized plants admissible in evidence against the
"SO ORDERED."28 accused?

Appellant assigns the following errors for our consideration: (3) Has the prosecution proved appellant's guilt beyond
reasonable doubt?
I
(4) Is the sentence of death by lethal injection correct?
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING AS
EVIDENCE THE SEVEN (7) MARIJUANA PLANTS DESPITE The first and second issues will be jointly discussed because they are
THEIR INADMISSIBILITY BEING PRODUCTS OF AN ILLEGAL interrelated.
SEARCH.
Appellant contends that there was unlawful search. First, the records The Constitution31 lays down the general rule that a search and seizure
show that the law enforcers had more than ample time to secure a must be carried on the strength of a judicial warrant. Otherwise, the
search warrant. Second, that the marijuana plants were found in an search and seizure is deemed "unreasonable." Evidence procured on the
unfenced lot does not remove appellant from the mantle of protection occasion of an unreasonable search and seizure is deemed tainted for
against unreasonable searches and seizures. He relies on the ruling of being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree and should be
the US Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio, 392 US 1, 20 L. Ed 2d 898, 88 S. Ct. excluded.32 Such evidence shall be inadmissible in evidence for any
1868 (1968), to the effect that the protection against unreasonable purpose in any proceeding.33
government intrusion protects people, not places.
In the instant case, there was no search warrant issued by a judge after
For the appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General argues that the personal determination of the existence of probable cause. From the
records clearly show that there was no search made by the police team, declarations of the police officers themselves, it is clear that they had at
in the first place. The OSG points out that the marijuana plants in least one (1) day to obtain a warrant to search appellant's farm. Their
question were grown in an unfenced lot and as each grew about five (5) informant had revealed his name to them. The place where the cannabis
feet tall, they were visible from afar, and were, in fact, immediately plants were planted was pinpointed. From the information in their
spotted by the police officers when they reached the site. The seized possession, they could have convinced a judge that there was probable
marijuana plants were, thus, in plain view of the police officers. The cause to justify the issuance of a warrant. But they did not. Instead, they
instant case must, therefore, be treated as a warrantless lawful search uprooted the plants and apprehended the accused on the excuse that
under the "plain view" doctrine. the trip was a good six hours and inconvenient to them. We need not
underscore that the protection against illegal search and seizure is
The court a quo upheld the validity of the search and confiscation made constitutionally mandated and only under specific instances are
by the police team on the finding that: searches allowed without warrants.34 The mantle of protection
extended by the Bill of Rights covers both innocent and guilty alike
"...It seems there was no need for any search warrant. The policemen against any form of high-handedness of law enforcers, regardless of the
went to the plantation site merely to make a verification. When they praiseworthiness of their intentions.
found the said plants, it was too much to expect them to apply for a
search warrant. In view of the remoteness of the plantation site (they We find no reason to subscribe to Solicitor General's contention that we
had to walk for six hours back and forth) and the dangers lurking in the apply the "plain view" doctrine. For the doctrine to apply, the following
area if they stayed overnight, they had a valid reason to confiscate the elements must be present:
said plants upon discovery without any search warrant. Moreover, the
evidence shows that the lot was not legally occupied by the accused and (a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest
there was no fence which evinced the occupant's desire to keep in which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their
trespassers out. There was, therefore, no privacy to protect, hence, no official duties;
search warrant was required."30
(b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police absurd logic that for a person to be immune against unreasonable
who have the right to be where they are; and searches and seizures, he must be in his home or office, within a fenced
yard or a private place. The Bill of Rights belongs as much to the person
(c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; and in the street as to the individual in the sanctuary of his bedroom.

(d) plain view justified mere seizure of evidence without We therefore hold, with respect to the first issue, that the confiscated
further search.35 plants were evidently obtained during an illegal search and seizure. As
to the second issue, which involves the admissibility of the marijuana
In the instant case, recall that PO2 Balut testified that they first located plants as evidence for the prosecution, we find that said plants cannot,
the marijuana plants before appellant was arrested without a as products of an unlawful search and seizure, be used as evidence
warrant.36 Hence, there was no valid warrantless arrest which preceded against appellant. They are fruits of the proverbial poisoned tree. It was,
the search of appellant's premises. Note further that the police team therefore, a reversible error on the part of the court a quo to have
was dispatched to appellant's kaingin precisely to search for and uproot admitted and relied upon the seized marijuana plants as evidence to
the prohibited flora. The seizure of evidence in "plain view" applies only convict appellant.
where the police officer is not searching for evidence against the
accused, but inadvertently comes across an incriminating We now proceed to the third issue, which revolves around the
object.37 Clearly, their discovery of the cannabis plants was not sufficiency of the prosecution's evidence to prove appellant's guilt.
inadvertent. We also note the testimony of SPO2 Tipay that upon Having declared the seized marijuana plants inadmissible in evidence
arriving at the area, they first had to "look around the area" before they against appellant, we must now address the question of whether the
could spot the illegal plants.38 Patently, the seized marijuana plants were remaining evidence for the prosecution suffices to convict appellant?
not "immediately apparent" and a "further search" was needed. In sum,
the marijuana plants in question were not in "plain view" or "open to In convicting appellant, the trial court likewise relied on the testimony
eye and hand." The "plain view" doctrine, thus, cannot be made to apply. of the police officers to the effect that appellant admitted ownership of
the marijuana when he was asked who planted them. It made the
Nor can we sustain the trial court's conclusion that just because the following observation:
marijuana plants were found in an unfenced lot, appellant could not
invoke the protection afforded by the Charter against unreasonable "It may be true that the admission to the police by the accused that he
searches by agents of the State. The right against unreasonable searches planted the marijuana plants was made in the absence of any
and seizures is the immunity of one's person, which includes his independent and competent counsel. But the accused was not, at the
residence, his papers, and other possessions. 39 The guarantee refers to time of police verification; under custodial investigation. His admission
"the right of personal security"40 of the individual. As appellant correctly is, therefore, admissible in evidence and not violative of the
points out, what is sought to be protected against the State's unlawful constitutional fiat that admission given during custodial investigation is
intrusion are persons, not places. 41 To conclude otherwise would not not admissible if given without any counsel."42
only mean swimming against the stream, it would also lead to the
Appellant now argues that his admission of ownership of the marijuana person suspected of having committed an offense, he should at that
plants in question cannot be used against him for being violative of his juncture be assisted by counsel, unless he waives the right in writing
right to counsel during the police investigation. Hence, it was error for and in the presence of counsel.45
the trial court to have relied upon said admission of ownership. He
submits that the investigation conducted by the police officers was not In the instant case we find that, from the start, a tipster had furnished
a general inquiry, but was meant to elicit information on the ownership the police appellant's name as well as the location of appellant's farm,
of the marijuana plants. Appellant theorizes that since the investigation where the marijuana plants were allegedly being grown. While the
had narrowed down to him, competent and independent counsel police operation was supposedly meant to merely "verify" said
should have assisted him, when the police sought information from him information, the police chief had likewise issued instructions to arrest
regarding the ownership of the prohibited plants. Appellant claims the appellant as a suspected marijuana cultivator. Thus, at the time the
presumption of regularity of duty of officers cannot be made to apply to police talked to appellant in his farm, the latter was already under
his purported voluntarily confession of ownership of the marijuana investigation as a suspect. The questioning by the police was no longer
plants. Nor can it override his constitutional right to counsel during a general inquiry.46
investigation.
Under cross-examination, PO2 Balut stated, he "did not yet admit that
The Office of the Solicitor General believes otherwise. The OSG avers he is the cultivator of that marijuana so we just asked him and I think
that appellant was not yet under custodial investigation when he there is no need to inform (him of) his constitutional rights because we
admitted to the police that he owned the marijuana plants. His right to are just asking him..."47 In trying to elicit information from appellant, the
competent and independent counsel, accordingly, had not yet attached. police was already investigating appellant as a suspect. At this point, he
Moreover, appellants failure to impute any false motive for the police was already under custodial investigation and had a right to counsel
officers to falsely accuse him indicates that the presumption of even if he had not yet been arrested. Custodial investigation is
regularity in the performance of official duties by police officers was "questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has
not sufficiently rebutted. been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action
in any significant way."48 As a suspect, two armed policemen
The Constitution plainly declares that any person under investigation interrogated appellant. Behind his inquisitors were a barangay peace
for the commission of an offense shall have the right: (1) to remain officer and three other armed policemen. 49 All had been dispatched to
silent; (2) to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his arrest him.50 From these circumstances, we may infer that appellant had
own choice; and (3) to be informed of such rights. These rights cannot already been deprived of his freedom of action in a significant way, even
be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel. 43 An before the actual arrest. Note that even before he was arrested, the
investigation begins when it is no longer a general inquiry but starts to police made him incriminatingly pose for photos in front of the
focus on a particular person as a suspect, i.e., when the police marijuana plants.
investigator starts interrogating or exacting a confession from the
suspect in connection with an alleged offense. 44 The moment the police Moreover, we find appellant's extrajudicial confession flawed with
try to elicit admissions or confessions or even plain information from a respect to its admissibility. For a confession to be admissible, it must
satisfy the following requirements: (1) it must be voluntary; (2) it must First, as earlier pointed out, the seized marijuana plants were obtained
be made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel; (3) in violation of appellant's constitutional rights against unreasonable
it must be express; and (4) it must be in writing. 51 The records show searches and seizures. The search and seizure were void ab initio for
that the admission by appellant was verbal. It was also uncounselled. A having been conducted without the requisite judicial warrant. The
verbal admission allegedly made by an accused during the prosecution's very own evidence clearly establishes that the police had
investigation, without the assistance of counsel at the time of his arrest sufficient time to obtain a warrant. There was no showing of such
and even before his formal investigation is not only inadmissible for urgency or necessity for the warrantless search or the immediate
being violative of the right to counsel during criminal investigations, it seizure of the marijuana plants subject of this case. To reiterate, said
is also hearsay.52 Even if the confession or admission were "gospel marijuana plants cannot be utilized to prove appellant's guilt without
truth", if it was made without assistance of counsel and without a valid running afoul of the constitutional guarantees against illegal searches
waiver of such assistance, the confession is inadmissible in evidence, and the inadmissibility of evidence procured pursuant to an unlawful
regardless of the absence of coercion or even if it had been voluntarily search and seizure.
given.53
Second, the confession of ownership of the marijuana plants, which
It is fundamental in criminal prosecutions that before an accused may appellant allegedly made to the police during investigation, is not only
be convicted of a crime, the prosecution must establish by proof beyond hearsay but also violative of the Bill of Rights. The purported confession
reasonable doubt that a crime was committed and that the accused is was made without the assistance of competent and independent
the author thereof.54 The evidence arrayed against the accused, counsel, as mandated by the Charter. Thus, said confession cannot be
however, must not only stand the test of reason, 55 it must likewise be used to convict appellant without running afoul of the Constitution's
credible and competent.56 Competent evidence is "generally admissible" requirement that a suspect in a criminal investigation must have the
evidence.57 Admissible evidence, in turn, is evidence "of such a character services of competent and independent counsel during such
that the court or judge is bound to receive it, that is, allow it to be investigation.
introduced at trial."58
In sum, both the object evidence and the testimonial evidence as to
In the instant case, the trial court relied on two pieces of probative appellant's voluntary confession of ownership of the prohibited plants
matter to convict appellant of the offense charged.1wphi1 These were relied upon to prove appellant's guilt failed to meet the test of
the seized marijuana plants, and appellant's purportedly voluntary Constitutional competence.
confession of ownership of said marijuana plants to the police. Other
than these proofs, there was no other evidence presented to link The Constitution decrees that, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused
appellant with the offense charged. As earlier discussed, it was error on shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved..." 59 To justify
the trial court's part to have admitted both of these proofs against the the conviction of the accused, the prosecution must adduce that
accused and to have relied upon said proofs to convict him. For said quantum of evidence sufficient to overcome the constitutional
evidence is doubly tainted. presumption of innocence. The prosecution must stand or fall on its
evidence and cannot draw strength from the weakness of the evidence
for the accused.60 Absent the required degree of proof of an accused's Republic of the Philippines
guilt, he is entitled to an acquittal.61 In this case, the seized marijuana SUPREME COURT
plants linking appellant to the crime charged are miserably tainted with Manila
constitutional infirmities, which render these inadmissible "for any
purpose in any proceeding."62 Nor can the confession obtained during SECOND DIVISION
the uncounselled investigation be used against appellant, "it being
inadmissible in evidence against him." 63 Without these proffered but G.R. No. 172035 July 4, 2012
proscribed materials, we find that the prosecution's remaining evidence
did not even approximate the quantum of evidence necessary to FERNANDO Q. MIGUEL, Petitioner,
warrant appellant's conviction. Hence, the presumption of innocence in vs.
his favor stands. Perforce, his acquittal is in order. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, Respondent.

In acquitting an appellant, we are not saying that he is lily-white, or DECISION


pure as driven snow. Rather, we are declaring his innocence because the
prosecution's evidence failed to show his guilt beyond reasonable BRION, J.:
doubt. For that is what the basic law requires. Where the evidence is
insufficient to overcome the presumption of innocence in favor of the Before the Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 1 filed by
accused, then his "acquittal must follow in faithful obeisance to the Fernando Q. Miguel (petitioner), assailing the January 25, 2006 and
fundamental law."64 March 27, 2006 resolutions2 of the Sandiganbayan. These resolutions (i)
ordered the petitioners suspension from public office and (ii) denied
WHEREFORE, the decision promulgated on February 18, 1997, by the the petitioners motion for reconsideration of the suspension order.
Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Branch 27, in
Criminal Case No. 3105, finding Abe Valdez y Dela Cruz, guilty beyond THE ANTECEDENT FACTS
reasonable doubt of violating Section 9 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of
1972, and imposing upon him the death penalty, is hereby REVERSED On May 29, 1996, then Vice Mayor Mercelita M. Lucido and other local
and SET ASIDE for insufficiency of evidence. Appellant is officials3 of Koronadal City, South Cotabato filed a letter-complaint with
ACQUITTED and ordered RELEASED immediately from confinement the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao (Ombudsman) 4 charging the
unless held for another lawful cause. petitioner, among others,5 with violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019,
in connection with the consultancy services for the architectural aspect,
SO ORDERED. the engineering design, and the construction supervision and
management of the proposed Koronadal City public market (project). 6

In a June 27, 1996 order, the Ombudsman directed the petitioner,


among others, to submit his counter-affidavit. On October 23, 1996,
after moving for an extension, the petitioner filed his counter- petitioner ten (10) days within which to file his counter-affidavit with
affidavit.7 In its July 29, 1999 resolution, the Ombudsman found the OSP.12
probable cause against the petitioner and some private individuals for
violation of R.A. No. 3019 and against the petitioner alone for Instead of submitting his counter-affidavit, the petitioner asked 13 the
Falsification of Public Document under Article 171, par. 4 of the Revised Sandiganbayan for a thirty-day extension to submit his counter-
Penal Code.8 affidavit. Shortly before the expiry of the extension requested, the
petitioner asked14 the OSP for an additional thirty-day period to file his
On March 1, 2000, the Ombudsman filed the corresponding counter-affidavit. Despite the two extensions asked and granted, the
informations with the Sandiganbayan.9 The information for violation of petitioner asked the OSP anew for a twenty-day extension period. 15
Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 reads:
Despite the extension period asked and given, the petitioner failed to
That on 10 January 1995 or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in file his counter-affidavit, prompting Prosecutor Norberto B. Ruiz to
the Municipality of Koronadal, South Cotabato, Philippines, and within declare that the petitioner had waived his right to submit
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the [petitioner], a high ranking countervailing evidence (April 25, 2001 resolution). On July 31, 2001,
public officer in his capacity as former Municipal Mayor of Koronadal, then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto approved the resolution.16
South Cotabato, and as such while in the performance of his official
functions, committing the offense in relation to his On August 7, 2001, Prosecutor Ruiz asked the Sandiganbayan for the
office, taking advantage of his official position, conspiring and arraignment and trial of the petitioner and of the other accused private
confederating with the private [individuals] xxx acting with evident bad individuals.17
faith and manifest partiality, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
criminally give unwarranted benefits and advantages to said [accused], On August 6, 2002, after several extensions sought and granted, the
by inviting them to participate in the prequalification of consultants to petitioner filed a Motion to Quash and/or Reinvestigation for the
provide the Detailed Architectural & Engineering Design and criminal cases against him. On February 18, 2003, the Sandiganbayan
Construction Supervision and Management of the proposed Koronadal denied the petitioners motion because of the pending OSP
Public Market, without causing the publication of said invitation in a reinvestigation this, despite the OSPs earlier termination of the
newspaper of general circulation, thereby excluding other consultants reinvestigation for the petitioners continuous failure to submit his
from participating in said prequalification. 10 (Emphases and counter-affidavit.18 The petitioner did not question the denial of his
underscoring added) motion.

On motions separately filed by two of the petitioners co-accused, 11 the On November 3, 2004, the petitioner was arraigned; he pleaded not
Sandiganbayan ordered the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to guilty in both criminal cases.19
conduct a reinvestigation. On August 21, 2000, the petitioner, through
counsel, followed suit and orally moved for a reinvestigation, which the On April 28, 2005, the OSP filed a Motion to Suspend [the petitioner]
Sandiganbayan likewise granted. The Sandiganbayan gave the Pendente Lite. On June 27, 2005, the petitioner filed his "Vigorous
Opposition" based on the "obvious and fatal defect of the [i]nformation" date of hearing why he should not be ordered suspended."27 For the
in failing to allege that the giving of unwarranted benefits and petitioner, the requirement of a pre-suspension hearing can only be
advantages was done through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or satisfied if the Sandiganbayan ordered an actual hearing to settle the
gross inexcusable negligence.20 "defect" in the information.

On January 25, 2006, the Sandiganbayan promulgated the assailed THE OSPS COMMENT
resolution21 suspending the petitioner pendente lite
The OSP argues for the sufficiency of the information since all the
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Prosecutions Motion is elements of the offense under Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019 are
GRANTED. As prayed for, the Court hereby orders the suspension of specifically pleaded by way of ultimate facts. These elements are:
[the petitioner] from his position as City Mayor, Koronadal City, South
Cotabato, and from any other public position he now holds. His 1. The petitioner was the Municipal Mayor of Koronadal, South
suspension shall be for a period of ninety (90) days only.22 Cotabato at the time material to the acts complained of;

On February 2, 2006, the petitioner moved for reconsideration of his 2. The petitioner acted with manifest partiality and evident bad
suspension order and demanded for a pre-suspension hearing. 23 The faith when he invited only his co-accused private individuals to
Sandiganbayan denied his motion, 24 prompting him to file this certiorari participate in the prequalification of consultants for the project
petition to challenge the validity of his suspension order. instead of publishing it in a newspaper of general circulation;
and
THE PETITION
3. The petitioners actions, performed in relation to his office,
The petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its gave unwarranted benefits and advantages to his co-accused. 28
discretion in ordering his suspension despite the failure of the
information to allege that the giving of unwarranted benefits and The OSP faults the petitioner for his attempt to mislead the Court on the
advantages by the petitioner was made through "manifest partiality, sufficiency of the allegations in the information, by conveniently failing
evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence." He alleges that the to cite the phrase "acting with evident bad faith and manifest partiality"
phrases "evident bad faith" and "manifest partiality" actually refers not when the petitioner quoted the "relevant" portions of the information
to him, but to his co-accused, 25 rendering the information fatally in his petition.
defective.
Citing Juan v. People, 29 the OSP argues that while no actual pre-
The petitioner bewails the lack of hearing before the issuance of his suspension hearing was conducted, the events preceding the issuance
suspension order. Citing Luciano, et al. v. Hon. Mariano, etc., et al., 26 he of the suspension order already satisfied the purpose of conducting a
claims that "[n]owhere in the records of the [case] can [one] see any pre-suspension hearing i.e., basically, to determine the validity of the
order or resolution requiring the [p]etitioner to show cause at a specific information. Here, the petitioner was afforded his right to preliminary
investigation both by the Ombudsman and by the OSP (when the common understanding to know what offense is being charged x x x
petitioner moved for a reinvestigation with the Sandiganbayan); the and for the court to pronounce judgment."33
acts for which the petitioner was charged constitute a violation of R.A.
No. 3019 and Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code; and the The test of the informations sufficiency is whether the crime is
petitioner already moved to quash the information, although described in intelligible terms and with such particularity with
unsuccessfully, after he had been declared to have waived his right to reasonable certainty so that the accused is duly informed of the offense
submit countervailing evidence in the reinvestigation by the OSP. 30 charged. In particular, whether an information validly charges an
offense depends on whether the material facts alleged in the complaint
ISSUES or information shall establish the essential elements of the offense
charged as defined in the law. The raison detre of the requirement in
There are only two issues presented for our resolution: the Rules is to enable the accused to suitably prepare his defense. 34

1. Whether the information, charging the petitioner with In arguing against the validity of the information, the petitioner appears
violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, is valid; and to go beyond the standard of a "person of common understanding" in
appreciating the import of the phrase "acting with evident bad faith and
2. If it is valid, whether the absence of an actual pre-suspension manifest partiality." A reading of the information clearly reveals that the
hearing renders invalid the suspension order against the phrase "acting with evident bad faith and manifest partiality" was
petitioner. merely a continuation of the prior allegation of the acts of the
petitioner, and that he ultimately acted with evident bad faith and
THE COURTS RULING manifest partiality in giving unwarranted benefits and advantages to his
co-accused private individuals. This is what a plain and non-legalistic
We dismiss the petition for failure to establish any grave abuse of reading of the information would yield.
discretion in the issuance of the assailed resolutions.
Notably, in his petition, the petitioner would have us believe that this
The information for violation of R.A. No. 3019 is valid elemental phrase was actually omitted in the information 35 when, in his
reaction to the OSPs comment, what the petitioner actually disputes is
In deference to the constitutional right of an accused to be informed of simply the clarity of the phrases position, in relation with the other
the nature and the cause of the accusation against him, 31 Section 6, Rule averments in the information. Given the supposed ambiguity of the
110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (Rules) 32 requires, inter subject being qualified by the phrase "acting with evident bad faith and
alia, that the information shall state the designation of the offense given manifest partiality," the remedy of the petitioner, if at all, is merely to
by the statute and the acts or omissions imputed which constitute the move for a bill of particulars and not for the quashal of an information
offense charged. Additionally, the Rules requires that these acts or which sufficiently alleges the elements of the offense charged. 36
omissions and its attendant circumstances "must be stated in ordinary
and concise language" and "in terms sufficient to enable a person of The pre-suspension order is valid
Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 reads: information or challenges the validity thereof, such show-cause order of
the trial court would no longer be necessary. What is indispensable is
Section 13. Suspension and loss of benefits. Any public officer against that the trial court duly hear the parties at a hearing held for
whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this determining the validity of the information, and thereafter hand down
Act or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery is its ruling, issuing the corresponding order of suspension should it
pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be uphold the validity of the information or withholding such suspension
convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity in the contrary case.
benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to
reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive (d) No specific rules need be laid down for such pre-suspension
during suspension, unless in the meantime administrative proceedings hearing. Suffice it to state that the accused should be given a fair and
have been filed against him. adequate opportunity to challenge the validity of the criminal
proceedings against him, e.g. that he has not been afforded the right of
While the suspension of a public officer under this provision is due preliminary investigation; that the acts for which he stands charged
mandatory,37 the suspension requires a prior hearing to determine "the do not constitute a violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3019
validity of the information" 38 filed against him, "taking into account the or of the bribery provisions of the Revised Penal Code which would
serious and far reaching consequences of a suspension of an elective warrant his mandatory suspension from office under section 13 of the
public official even before his conviction." 39 The accused public officials Act; or he may present a motion to quash the information on any of the
right to challenge the validity of the information before a suspension grounds provided in Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. (Emphasis
order may be issued includes the right to challenge the (i) validity of the supplied)
criminal proceeding leading to the filing of an information against him,
and (ii) propriety of his prosecution on the ground that the acts charged The petitioner questions the absence of any show cause order issued by
do not constitute a violation of R.A. No. 3019 or of the provisions on the Sandiganbayan before his suspension in office was ordered. As clear
bribery of the Revised Penal Code.40 as the day, however, Luciano considered it unnecessary for the trial
court to issue a show cause order when the motion, seeking the
In Luciano v. Mariano41 that the petitioner relied upon, the Court suspension of the accused pendente lite, has been submitted by the
required, "by way of broad guidelines for the lower courts in the prosecution, as in the present case.
exercise of the power of suspension," that
The purpose of the law in requiring a pre-suspension hearing is to
(c) upon the filing of such information, the trial court should issue an determine the validity of the information so that the trial court can have
order with proper notice requiring the accused officer to show cause at a basis to either suspend the accused and proceed with the trial on the
a specific date of hearing why he should not be ordered suspended from merits of the case, withhold the suspension and dismiss the case, or
office pursuant to the cited mandatory provisions of the Act. Where correct any part of the proceedings that impairs its
either the prosecution seasonably files a motion for an order of validity.1wphi1 That hearing is similar to a challenge to the validity of
suspension or the accused in turn files a motion to quash the the information by way of a motion to quash.42
While a pre-suspension hearing is aimed at securing for the accused fair receiving an adverse ruling from the Sandiganbayan, (ii) moved for
and adequate opportunity to challenge the validity of the information reconsideration of the suspension order issued against him, and (iii)
or the regularity of the proceedings against him, 43 Luciano likewise filed a Reply to the OSPs Opposition to his plea for
emphasizes that no hard and fast rule exists in regulating its reconsideration.49Given this opportunity, we find that the petitioners
conduct.44 With the purpose of a pre-suspension hearing in mind, the continued demand for the conduct of an actual pre-suspension hearing
absence of an actual hearing alone cannot be determinative of the based on the same alleged "defect in the information," 50 which we
validity of a suspension order. have found wanting has legally nothing to anchor itself on.

In Bedruz v. Sandiganbayan, 45 the Court considered the opposition of Another reason that militates against the petitioners position relates to
the accused (to the prosecutions motion to suspend pendente lite) as the nature of Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019; it is not a penal provision that
sufficient to dispense with the need to actually set the prosecutions would call for a liberal interpretation in favor of the accused public
motion for hearing. The same conclusion was reached in Juan v. official and a strict construction against the State. 51 The suspension
People,46 where the Court ruled: required under this provision is not a penalty, as it is not imposed as a
result of judicial proceedings; in fact, if acquitted, the accused official
In the case at bar, while there was no pre-suspension hearing held to shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which
determine the validity of the Informations that had been filed against he failed to receive during his suspension.52
petitioners, we believe that the numerous pleadings filed for and
against them have achieved the goal of this procedure. The right to due Rather, the suspension under Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 is a mere
process is satisfied nor just by an oral hearing but by the filing and the preventive measure53 that arises from the legal presumption that unless
consideration by the court of the parties' pleadings, memoranda and the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit
other position papers. further acts of malfeasance or do both, in the same way that upon a
finding that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been
Since a pre-suspension hearing is basically a due process requirement, committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof, the law
when an accused public official is given an adequate opportunity to be requires the judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused. 54
heard on his possible defenses against the mandatory suspension under
R.A. No. 3019, then an accused would have no reason to complain that Suspension under R.A. No. 3019 being a mere preventive measure
no actual hearing was conducted. 47 It is well settled that "to be heard" whose duration shall in no case exceed ninety (90) days, 55 the adequacy
does not only mean oral arguments in court; one may be heard also of the opportunity to contest the validity of the information and of the
through pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral proceedings that preceded its filing vis-a -vis the merits of the defenses
arguments or pleadings, has been accorded, no denial of procedural due of the accused cannot be measured alone by the absence or presence of
process exists.48 an actual hearing. An opportunity to be heard on ones defenses,
however unmeritorious it may be, against the suspension mandated by
In the present case, the petitioner (i) filed his Vigorous Opposition (to law equally and sufficiently serves both the due process right of the
the OSPs Motion to Suspend Accused Pendente Lite), and after accused and the mandatory nature of the suspension required by law.
Lest it be forgotten, Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 reinforces the principle SECOND DIVISION
enshrined in the Constitution that a public office is a public trust. 56 In
light of the constitutional principle underlying the imposition of G.R. No. 179031 February 24, 2014
preventive suspension of a public officer charged under a valid
information and the nature of this suspension, the petitioners demand PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff Appellee,
for a trial-type hearing in the present case would only overwhelmingly vs.
frustrate, rather than promote, the orderly and speedy dispensation of BENJAMIN SORIA y GOMEZ, Accused-Appellant.
justice.
RESOLUTION
WHEREFORE, we hereby DISMISS the petition for lack of merit.
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
SO ORDERED.
On November 14, 2012, this Court rendered its Decision 1 in this case
finding accused-appellant Benjamin Soria y Gomez guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of rape. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the December 29, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals


in CA-GR. CR-H.C. No. 01442 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS.
Accused-appellant Benjamin Soria y Gomez is found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape by sexual assault and is
sentenced to suffer the penalty of twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as
minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum. He
is also ordered to pay "AAA" the amounts of 30,000.00 as civil
indemnity, 30,000.00 as moral damages, and 30,000.00 as exemplary
damages. "AAA" is entitled to an interest on all damages awarded at the
legal rate of 6% per annum :from the date of finality of this judgment
until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.2

The said Decision supposedly became final and executory on December


Republic of the Philippines 20, 2012.3 Subsequently, however, the Court received a letter from the
SUPREME COURT Bureau of Corrections informing us of the death of accused-appellant
Manila on August 16, 2012. In compliance with our directive, the Director of
the Bureau of Corrections submitted on November 11, 2013, a certified unresolved.1wphi1 The Court ruled upon Amistosos appeal only
true copy of the death certificate4 of accused-appellant. because it was not immediately informed of his death.

Clearly, accused-appellants demise on August 16, 2012 transpired Amistosos death on December 11, 2012 renders the Courts Decision
before the promulgation of this Courts Decision on November 14, 2012 dated January 9, 2013, even though affirming Amistosos conviction,
or before its finality on December 20, 2012. Therefore, when accused- irrelevant and ineffectual. Moreover, said Decision has not yet become
appellant died, his appeal before this Court was still pending resolution. final, and the Court still has the jurisdiction to set it aside.

Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code pertinently provides: The Court had no course of action but to set aside its Decision and
dismiss the criminal case against Amistoso by reason of his death.
ART. 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. - Criminal liability
is totally extinguished: Likewise, the November 14, 2012 Decision of this Court finding
accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape
1. By the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to had become irrelevant and ineffectual by reason of his death on August
pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the 16, 2012. Consequently, the same must be set aside and the case against
death of the offender occurs before final judgment; accused-appellant must consequently be dismissed.

xxxx ACCORDINGLY, the November 14, 2012 Decision of this Court is SET
ASIDE and Criminal Case No. Q-01-98692 before the Regional Trial
In People v. Amistoso,5 this Court encountered a similar situation Court of Quezon City, Branch 94, is DISMISSED on account of accused-
wherein the accused-appellant died before his appeal could be resolved. appellant's demise.
The Court explained the implications of the accused-appellants demise
as follows: SO ORDERED.

Given the foregoing, it is clear that the death of the accused pending
appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability, as well as his
civil liability ex delicto. Since the criminal action is extinguished
inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused, the
civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is
ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal case.

Undeniably, Amistosos death on December 11, 2012 preceded the


TOPIC: Rule 110 D. Place Where Action is Instituted
promulgation by the Court of its Decision on January 9, 2013. When
Amistoso died, his appeal before the Court was still pending and
Republic of the Philippines Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully,
SUPREME COURT unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful statements under oath
Manila upon a material matter before a competent person authorized to
administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in
EN BANC the Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a complaint for sum
of money with prayer for a writ of replevin docketed as [Civil] Case No.
G.R. No. 192565 February 28, 2012 342-00 of the Metropolitan Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union
Bank of the Philippines has not commenced any other action or
UNION BANK OF THE, PHILIPPINES and DESI TOMAS, Petitioners, proceeding involving the same issues in another tribunal or agency,
vs. accused knowing well that said material statement was false thereby
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. making a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood.2

DECISION The accusation stemmed from petitioner Union Banks two (2)
complaints for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin against
BRION, J.: the spouses Eddie and Eliza Tamondong and a John Doe. The first
complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 98-0717, was filed before the RTC,
We review in this Rule 45 petition, the decision 1 of the Regional Trial Branch 109, Pasay City on April 13, 1998. The second complaint,
Court, Branch 65, Makati City (RTC-Makati City) in Civil Case No. 09- docketed as Civil Case No. 342-000, was filed on March 15, 2000 and
1038. The petition seeks to reverse and set aside the RTC-Makati City raffled to the MeTC, Branch 47, Pasay City. Both complaints showed that
decision dismissing the petition for certiorari of petitioners Union Bank Tomas executed and signed the Certification against Forum Shopping.
of the Philippines (Union Bank) and Desi Tomas (collectively, the Accordingly, she was charged of deliberately violating Article 183 of the
petitioners). The RTC found that the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch RPC by falsely declaring under oath in the Certificate against Forum
63, Makati City (MeTC-Makati City) did not commit any grave abuse of Shopping in the second complaint that she did not commence any other
discretion in denying the motion to quash the information for perjury action or proceeding involving the same issue in another tribunal or
filed by Tomas. agency.

The Antecedents Tomas filed a Motion to Quash, 3 citing two grounds. First, she argued
that the venue was improperly laid since it is the Pasay City court
Tomas was charged in court for perjury under Article 183 of the (where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was submitted and
Revised Penal Code (RPC) for making a false narration in a Certificate used) and not the MeTC-Makati City (where the Certificate against
against Forum Shopping. The Information against her reads: Forum Shopping was subscribed) that has jurisdiction over the perjury
case. Second, she argued that the facts charged do not constitute an
That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, offense because: (a) the third element of perjury the willful and
Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable deliberate assertion of falsehood was not alleged with particularity
without specifying what the other action or proceeding commenced Manila[,] then the court of the said territorial jurisdiction was the
involving the same issues in another tribunal or agency; (b) there was proper venue of the criminal action[.]
no other action or proceeding pending in another court when the
second complaint was filed; and (c) she was charged with perjury by xxxx
giving false testimony while the allegations in the Information make out
perjury by making a false affidavit. x x x Given the present state of jurisprudence on the matter, it is not
amiss to state that the city court of Makati City has jurisdiction to try
The MeTC-Makati City denied the Motion to Quash, ruling that it has and decide the case for perjury inasmuch as the gist of the complaint
jurisdiction over the case since the Certificate against Forum Shopping itself which constitute[s] the charge against the petitioner dwells solely
was notarized in Makati City. 4 The MeTC-Makati City also ruled that the on the act of subscribing to a false certification. On the other hand, the
allegations in the Information sufficiently charged Tomas with charge against the accused in the case of Ilusorio v. Bildner, et al., based
perjury.5 The MeTC-Makati City subsequently denied Tomas motion for on the complaint-affidavits therein[,] was not simply the execution of
reconsideration.6 the questioned documents but rather the introduction of the false
evidence through the subject documents before the court of Makati
The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the RTC-Makati City City.9 (emphasis ours)
to annul and set aside the MeTC-Makati City orders on the ground of
grave abuse of discretion. The petitioners anchored their petition on The RTC-Makati City ruled that the MeTC-Makati City did not commit
the rulings in United States v. Canet7 and Ilusorio v. Bildner8 which ruled grave abuse of discretion since the order denying the Motion to Quash
that venue and jurisdiction should be in the place where the false was based on jurisprudence later than Ilusorio. The RTC-Makati City
document was presented. also observed that the facts in Ilusorio are different from the facts of the
present case. Lastly, the RTC-Makati City ruled that the Rule 65 petition
The Assailed RTC Decision was improper since the petitioners can later appeal the decision in the
principal case. The RTC-Makati City subsequently denied the
In dismissing the petition for certiorari, the RTC-Makati City held: petitioners motion for reconsideration.10

[I]nsofar as the petitioners stance is concerned[,] the more recent case The Petition
of [Sy Tiong Shiou v. Sy] (GR Nos. 174168 & 179438, March 30, 2009)
however, reaffirms what has been the long standing view on the venue The petitioners pray that we reverse the RTC-Makati City decision and
with respect to perjury cases. In this particular case[,] the high court quash the Information for perjury against Tomas. The petitioners
reiterated the rule that the criminal action shall be instituted and tried contend that the Ilusorio ruling is more applicable to the present facts
in the court of the municipality or territory where the offense was than our ruling in Sy Tiong Shiou v. Sy Chim.11 They argued that the facts
committed, or where any of its essential ingredients occurred. It went in Ilusorio showed that the filing of the petitions in court containing the
on to declare that since the subject document[,] the execution of which false statements was the essential ingredient that consummated the
was the subject of the charge[,] was subscribed and sworn to in perjury. In Sy Tiong, the perjurious statements were made in a General
Information Sheet (GIS) that was submitted to the Securities and on the necessity and justice of having an accused on trial in the
Exchange Commission (SEC). municipality of province where witnesses and other facilities for his
defense are available.13
Interestingly, Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz shared the
petitioners view. In his Manifestation and Motion in lieu of Comment Unlike in civil cases, a finding of improper venue in criminal cases
(which we hereby treat as the Comment to the petition), the Solicitor carries jurisdictional consequences. In determining the venue where
General also relied on Ilusorio and opined that the lis mota in the crime the criminal action is to be instituted and the court which has
of perjury is the deliberate or intentional giving of false evidence in the jurisdiction over it, Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of
court where the evidence is material. The Solicitor General observed Criminal Procedure provides:
that the criminal intent to assert a falsehood under oath only became
manifest before the MeTC-Pasay City. (a) Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be
instituted and tried in the court or municipality or
The Issue territory where the offense was committed or where any of its
essential ingredients occurred. [emphasis ours]
The case presents to us the issue of what the proper venue of perjury
under Article 183 of the RPC should be Makati City, where the The above provision should be read in light of Section 10, Rule 110 of
Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states:
the Certification was presented to the trial court.
Place of commission of the offense. The complaint or information is
The Courts Ruling sufficient if it can be understood from its allegations that the offense
was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at some
We deny the petition and hold that the MeTC-Makati City is the proper place within the jurisdiction of the court, unless the particular place
venue and the proper court to take cognizance of the perjury case where it was committed constitutes an essential element of the offense
against the petitioners. charged or is necessary for its identification.

Venue of Action and Criminal Jurisdiction Both provisions categorically place the venue and jurisdiction over
criminal cases not only in the court where the offense was committed,
Venue is an essential element of jurisdiction in criminal cases. It but also where any of its essential ingredients took place. In other
determines not only the place where the criminal action is to be words, the venue of action and of jurisdiction are deemed sufficiently
instituted, but also the court that has the jurisdiction to try and hear the alleged where the Information states that the offense was committed or
case. The reason for this rule is two-fold. First, the jurisdiction of trial some of its essential ingredients occurred at a place within the
courts is limited to well-defined territories such that a trial court can territorial jurisdiction of the court.
only hear and try cases involving crimes committed within its territorial
jurisdiction.12 Second, laying the venue in the locus criminis is grounded Information Charging Perjury
Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, (d) That the sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity
contains the requirement for a Certificate against Forum Shopping. The is required by law or made for a legal purpose. 15(emphasis
Certificate against Forum Shopping can be made either by a statement ours)
under oath in the complaint or initiatory pleading asserting a claim or
relief; it may also be in a sworn certification annexed to the complaint Where the jurisdiction of the court is being assailed in a criminal case
or initiatory pleading. In both instances, the affiant is required to on the ground of improper venue, the allegations in the complaint and
execute a statement under oath before a duly commissioned notary information must be examined together with Section 15(a), Rule 110 of
public or any competent person authorized to administer oath that: (a) the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. On this basis, we find
he or she has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim that the allegations in the Information sufficiently support a finding
involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency that the crime of perjury was committed by Tomas within the territorial
and, to the best of his or her knowledge, no such other action or claim is jurisdiction of the MeTC-Makati City.
pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a
complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he or she The first element of the crime of perjury, the execution of the subject
should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has Certificate against Forum Shopping was alleged in the Information to
been filed or is pending, he or she shall report that fact within five days have been committed in Makati City. Likewise, the second and fourth
therefrom to the court wherein his or her aforesaid complaint or elements, requiring the Certificate against Forum Shopping to be under
initiatory pleading has been filed. In relation to the crime of perjury, the oath before a notary public, were also sufficiently alleged in the
material matter in a Certificate against Forum Shopping is the truth of Information to have been made in Makati City:
the required declarations which is designed to guard against litigants
pursuing simultaneous remedies in different fora.14 That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati,
Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
In this case, Tomas is charged with the crime of perjury under Article Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully,
183 of the RPC for making a false Certificate against Forum Shopping. unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful statements under oath
The elements of perjury under Article 183 are: upon a material matter before a competent person authorized to
administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in
(a) That the accused made a statement under oath or executed the Verification/Certification/Affidavit x x x.16
an affidavit upon a material matter.
We also find that the third element of willful and deliberate falsehood
(b) That the statement or affidavit was made before a was also sufficiently alleged to have been committed in Makati City, not
competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath. Pasay City, as indicated in the last portion of the Information:

(c) That in the statement or affidavit, the accused made a [S]aid accused stated in the Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit
willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood. of a complaint for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin
docketed as [Civil] Case No. 342-00 of the Metropolitan Trial Court[,]
Pasay City, that the Union Bank of the Philippines has not commenced We ruled that the venues of the action were in Makati City and Tagaytay
any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in another City, the places where the verified petitions were filed. The Court
tribunal or agency, accused knowing well that said material statement reasoned out that it was only upon filing that the intent to assert an
was false thereby making a willful and deliberate assertion of alleged falsehood became manifest and where the alleged untruthful
falsehood.17 (underscoring ours) statement found relevance or materiality. We cited as jurisprudential
authority the case of United States. v. Can et18 which ruled:
Tomas deliberate and intentional assertion of falsehood was allegedly
shown when she made the false declarations in the Certificate against It is immaterial where the affidavit was subscribed and sworn, so long
Forum Shopping before a notary public in Makati City, despite her as it appears from the information that the defendant, by means of such
knowledge that the material statements she subscribed and swore to affidavit, "swore to" and knowingly submitted false evidence, material
were not true. Thus, Makati City is the proper venue and MeTC-Makati to a point at issue in a judicial proceeding pending in the Court of First
City is the proper court to try the perjury case against Tomas, pursuant Instance of Iloilo Province. The gist of the offense charged is not the
to Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal making of the affidavit in Manila, but the intentional giving of false
Procedure as all the essential elements constituting the crime of perjury evidence in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo Province by means of
were committed within the territorial jurisdiction of Makati City, not such affidavit. [emphasis and underscoring deleted]
Pasay City.
In Sy Tiong, the perjured statements were made in a GIS which was
Referral to the En Banc subscribed and sworn to in Manila. We ruled that the proper venue for
the perjury charges was in Manila where the GIS was subscribed and
The present case was referred to the En Banc primarily to address the sworn to. We held that the perjury was consummated in Manila where
seeming conflict between the division rulings of the Court in the the false statement was made. As supporting jurisprudence, we cited
Ilusorio case that is cited as basis of this petition, and the Sy Tiong case the case of Villanueva v. Secretary of Justice 19 that, in turn, cited an
that was the basis of the assailed RTC-Makati City ruling. American case entitled U.S. v. Norris.20 We ruled in Villanueva that

The Cited Ilusorio and Sy Tiong Cases Perjury is an obstruction of justice; its perpetration well may affect the
dearest concerns of the parties before a tribunal. Deliberate material
The subject matter of the perjury charge in Ilusorio involved false falsification under oath constitutes the crime of perjury, and the crime
statements contained in verified petitions filed with the court for the is complete when a witness' statement has once been made.
issuance of a new owners duplicate copies of certificates of title. The
verified petitions containing the false statements were subscribed and The Crime of Perjury: A Background
sworn to in Pasig City, but were filed in Makati City and Tagaytay City.
The question posed was: which court (Pasig City, Makati City and/or To have a better appreciation of the issue facing the Court, a look at the
Tagaytay City) had jurisdiction to try and hear the perjury cases? historical background of how the crime of perjury (specifically, Article
183 of the RPC) evolved in our jurisdiction.
The RPC penalizes three forms of false testimonies. The first is false not more than five years; and shall moreover, thereafter be incapable of
testimony for and against the defendant in a criminal case (Articles 180 holding any public office or of giving testimony in any court of the
and 181, RPC); the second is false testimony in a civil case (Article 182, Philippine Islands until such time as the judgment against him is
RPC); and the third is false testimony in other cases (Article 183, RPC). reversed.
Based on the Information filed, the present case involves the making of
an untruthful statement in an affidavit on a material matter. This law was copied, with the necessary changes, from Sections
539224 and 539325 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. 26 Act No.
These RPC provisions, however, are not really the bases of the rulings 1697 was intended to make the mere execution of a false affidavit
cited by the parties in their respective arguments. The cited Ilusorio punishable in our jurisdiction.27
ruling, although issued by this Court in 2008, harked back to the case of
Can et which was decided in 1915, i.e., before the present RPC took In turn, Subsection 4, Section 6 of General Order No. 58 provided that
effect.21 Sy Tiong, on the other hand, is a 2009 ruling that cited the venue shall be the court of the place where the crime was
Villanueva, a 2005 case that in turn cited United States v. Norris, a 1937 committed.
American case. Significantly, unlike Canet, Sy Tiong is entirely based on
rulings rendered after the present RPC took effect.22 As applied and interpreted by the Court in Can et, perjury was
committed by the act of representing a false document in a judicial
The perjurious act in Can et consisted of an information charging proceeding.28 The venue of action was held by the Court to be at the
perjury through the presentation in court of a motion accompanied by a place where the false document was presented since the presentation
false sworn affidavit. At the time the Can et ruling was rendered, the was the act that consummated the crime.
prevailing law on perjury and the rules on prosecution of criminal
offenses were found in Section 3, Act No. 1697 of the Philippine The annotation of Justices Aquino and Grin o-Aquino in their textbook
Commission, and in Subsection 4, Section 6 of General Order No. 58 23 for on the RPC29 interestingly explains the history of the perjury provisions
the procedural aspect. of the present RPC and traces as well the linkage between Act No. 1697
and the present Code. To quote these authors:30
Section 3 of Act No. 1697 reads:
Art. 180 was taken from art. 318 of the Old Penal Code and art. 154 of
Sec. 3. Any person who, having taken oath before a competent tribunal, Del Pans Proposed Correctional Code, while art. 181 was taken from
officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the Philippine Islands art. 319 of the old Penal Code and Art. 157 of Del Pans Proposed
authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, Correctional Code. Said arts. 318 and 319, together with art. 321 of the
depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, old Penal Code, were impliedly repealed by Act 1697, the Perjury Law,
disposition, or certificate by him subscribed is true, willfully and passed on August 23, 1907, which in turn was expressly repealed by the
contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he Administrative Code of 1916, Act 2657. In view of the express repeal of
does not believe to be true, is guilty of perjury, and shall be punished by Act 1697, arts. 318 and 321 of the old Penal Code were deemed revived.
a fine of not more than two thousand pesos and by imprisonment for
However, Act 2718 expressly revived secs. 3 and 4 of the Perjury Law. not an actual testimony in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor
Art. 367 of the Revised Penal Code repealed Act Nos. 1697 and 2718. civil. From this perspective, the situs of the oath, i.e., the place where
the oath was taken, is the place where the offense was committed. By
It should be noted that perjury under Acts 1697 and 2718 includes false implication, the proper venue would have been the City of Mandaluyong
testimony, whereas, under the Revised Penal Code, false testimony the site of the SEC had the charge involved an actual testimony made
includes perjury. Our law on false testimony is of Spanish origin, but our before the SEC.
law on perjury (art. 183 taken from sec. 3 of Act 1697) is derived from
American statutes. The provisions of the old Penal Code on false In contrast, Can et involved the presentation in court of a motion
testimony embrace perjury committed in court or in some contentious supported and accompanied by an affidavit that contained a falsity.
proceeding, while perjury as defined in Act 1697 includes the making of With Section 3 of Act No. 1697 as basis, the issue related to the
a false affidavit. The provisions of the Revised Penal Code on false submission of the affidavit in a judicial proceeding. This came at a time
testimony "are more severe and strict than those of Act 1697" on when Act No. 1697 was the perjury law, and made no distinction
perjury. [italics ours] between judicial and other proceedings, and at the same time
separately penalized the making of false statements under oath (unlike
With this background, it can be appreciated that Article 183 of the RPC the present RPC which separately deals with false testimony in criminal,
which provides: civil and other proceedings, while at the same time also penalizing the
making of false affidavits). Understandably, the venue should be the
The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision place where the submission was made to the court or the situs of the
correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person, court; it could not have been the place where the affidavit was sworn to
who knowingly makes untruthful statements and not being included in simply because this was not the offense charged in the Information.
the provisions of the next preceding articles, shall testify under oath, or
make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person The case of Ilusorio cited the Can et case as its authority, in a situation
authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires. where the sworn petitions filed in court for the issuance of duplicate
[emphasis supplied; emphases ours] certificates of title (that were allegedly lost) were the cited sworn
statements to support the charge of perjury for the falsities stated in
in fact refers to either of two punishable acts (1) falsely testifying the sworn petitions. The Court ruled that the proper venue should be
under oath in a proceeding other than a criminal or civil case; and (2) the Cities of Makati and Tagaytay because it was in the courts of these
making a false affidavit before a person authorized to administer an cities "where the intent to assert an alleged falsehood became manifest
oath on any material matter where the law requires an oath. and where the alleged untruthful statement finds relevance or
materiality in deciding the issue of whether new owners duplicate
As above discussed, Sy Tiong decided under Article 183 of the RPC copies of the [Certificate of Condominium Title] and [Transfer
essentially involved perjured statements made in a GIS that was Certificates of Title] may issue."31 To the Court, "whether the perjurious
subscribed and sworn to in Manila and submitted to the SEC in statements contained in the four petitions were subscribed and sworn
Mandaluyong City. Thus, the case involved the making of an affidavit, in Pasig is immaterial, the gist of the offense of perjury being the
intentional giving of false statement," 32citing Can et as authority for its one of the essential ingredients of the crime took place.1wphi1 This
statement. change was followed by the passage of the 1964 Rules of Criminal
Procedure,33 the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, 34 and the 2000
The statement in Ilusorio may have partly led to the present confusion Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which all adopted the 1940 Rules
on venue because of its very categorical tenor in pointing to the of Criminal Procedures expanded venue of criminal actions. Thus, the
considerations to be made in the determination of venue; it leaves the venue of criminal cases is not only in the place where the offense was
impression that the place where the oath was taken is not at all a committed, but also where any of its essential ingredients took place.
material consideration, forgetting that Article 183 of the RPC clearly
speaks of two situations while Article 182 of the RPC likewise applies to In the present case, the Certification against Forum Shopping was made
false testimony in civil cases. integral parts of two complaints for sum of money with prayer for a
writ of replevin against the respondent spouses Eddie Tamondong and
The Ilusorio statement would have made perfect sense had the basis for Eliza B. Tamondong, who, in turn, filed a complaint-affidavit against
the charge been Article 182 of the RPC, on the assumption that the Tomas for violation of Article 183 of the RPC. As alleged in the
petition itself constitutes a false testimony in a civil case. The Can et Information that followed, the criminal act charged was for the
ruling would then have been completely applicable as the sworn execution by Tomas of an affidavit that contained a falsity.
statement is used in a civil case, although no such distinction was made
under Can et because the applicable law at the time (Act No. 1697) did Under the circumstances, Article 183 of the RPC is indeed the
not make any distinction. applicable provision; thus, jurisdiction and venue should be determined
on the basis of this article which penalizes one who "make[s] an
If Article 183 of the RPC were to be used, as what in fact appears in the affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person
Ilusorio ruling, then only that portion of the article, referring to the authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires."
making of an affidavit, would have been applicable as the other portion The constitutive act of the offense is the making of an affidavit; thus, the
refers to false testimony in other proceedings which a judicial petition criminal act is consummated when the statement containing a falsity is
for the issuance of a new owners duplicate copy of a Certificate of subscribed and sworn before a duly authorized person.
Condominium Title is not because it is a civil proceeding in court. As a
perjury based on the making of a false affidavit, what assumes Based on these considerations, we hold that our ruling in Sy Tiong is
materiality is the site where the oath was taken as this is the place more in accord with Article 183 of the RPC and Section 15(a), Rule 110
where the oath was made, in this case, Pasig City. of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. To reiterate for the
guidance of the Bar and the Bench, the crime of perjury committed
Procedurally, the rule on venue of criminal cases has been subject to through the making of a false affidavit under Article 183 of the RPC is
various changes from the time General Order No. 58 was replaced by committed at the time the affiant subscribes and swears to his or her
Rules 106 to 122 of the Rules of Court on July 1, 1940. Section 14, Rule affidavit since it is at that time that all the elements of the crime of
106 of the Rules of Court provided for the rule on venue of criminal perjury are executed. When the crime is committed through false
actions and it expressly included, as proper venue, the place where any testimony under oath in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil,
venue is at the place where the testimony under oath is given. If in lieu Republic of the Philippines
of or as supplement to the actual testimony made in a proceeding that SUPREME COURT
is neither criminal nor civil, a written sworn statement is submitted, Manila
venue may either be at the place where the sworn statement is
submitted or where the oath was taken as the taking of the oath and the FIRST DIVISION
submission are both material ingredients of the crime committed. In all
cases, determination of venue shall be based on the acts alleged in the G.R. No. 192123 March 10, 2014
Information to be constitutive of the crime committed.
DR. FERNANDO P. SOLIDUM, Petitioner,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition for vs.
lack of merit. Costs against the petitioners. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

SO ORDERED. DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

This appeal is taken by a physician-anesthesiologist who has been


pronounced guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical
injuries by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Court of Appeals
(CA). He had been part of the team of anesthesiologists during the
surgical pull-through operation conducted on a three-year old patient
born with an imperforate anus.1

The antecedents are as follows:

Gerald Albert Gercayo (Gerald) was born on June 2, 1992 2 with an


imperforate anus. Two days after his birth, Gerald underwent
colostomy, a surgical procedure to bring one end of the large intestine
out through the abdominal wall, 3 enabling him to excrete through a
colostomy bag attached to the side of his body. 4
TOPIC: Rule 111 A. Civil Liability Arising from the Offense
On May 17, 1995, Gerald, then three years old, was admitted at the
is Deemed Instituted
Ospital ng Maynila for a pull-through operation. 5Dr. Leandro
Resurreccion headed the surgical team, and was assisted by Dr. Joselito
Lucen o, Dr. Donatella Valen a and Dr. Joseph Tibio. The anesthesiologists The case was initially filed in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, but
included Dr. Marichu Abella, Dr. Arnel Razon and petitioner Dr. was transferred to the RTC pursuant to Section 5 of Republic Act No.
Fernando Solidum (Dr. Solidum).6 During the operation, Gerald 8369 (The Family Courts Act of 1997), 15 where it was docketed as
experienced bradycardia,7 and went into a coma.8His coma lasted for Criminal Case No. 01-190889.
two weeks,9 but he regained consciousness only after a month. 10 He
could no longer see, hear or move.11 Judgment of the RTC

Agitated by her sons helpless and unexpected condition, Ma. Luz On July 19, 2004, the RTC rendered its judgment finding Dr. Solidum
Gercayo (Luz) lodged a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in guilty beyond reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting to
serious physical injuries with the City Prosecutors Office of Manila serious physical injuries,16 decreeing:
against the attending physicians.12
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused DR.
Upon a finding of probable cause, the City Prosecutors Office filed an FERNANDO P. SOLIDUM GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal
information solely against Dr. Solidum,13alleging: of the crime charged and is hereby sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of TWO (2) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of arresto
That on or about May 17, 1995, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the mayor as minimum to ONE (1) YEAR, ONE (1) MONTH and TEN (10)
said accused, being then an anesthesiologist at the Ospital ng Maynila, DAYS of prision correccional as maximum and to indemnify, jointly and
Malate, this City, and as such was tasked to administer the anesthesia severally with the Ospital ng Maynila, Dr. Anita So and Dr. Marichu
on three-year old baby boy GERALD ALBERT GERCAYO, represented by Abella, private complainant Luz Gercayo, the amount of 500,000.00 as
his mother, MA. LUZ GERCAYO, the former having been born with an moral damages and 100,000.00 as exemplary damages and to pay the
imperforate anus [no anal opening] and was to undergo an operation costs.
for anal opening [pull through operation], did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously fail and neglect to use the care and diligence Accordingly, the bond posted by the accused for his provisional liberty
as the best of his judgment would dictate under said circumstance, by is hereby CANCELLED.
failing to monitor and regulate properly the levels of anesthesia
administered to said GERALD ALBERT GERCAYO and using 100% SO ORDERED.17
halothane and other anesthetic medications, causing as a consequence
of his said carelessness and negligence, said GERALD ALBERT GERCAYO Upon motion of Dr. Anita So and Dr. Marichu Abella to reconsider their
suffered a cardiac arrest and consequently a defect called hypoxic solidary liability,18 the RTC excluded them from solidary liability as to
encephalopathy meaning insufficient oxygen supply in the brain, the damages, modifying its decision as follows:
thereby rendering said GERALD ALBERT GERCAYO incapable of moving
his body, seeing, speaking or hearing, to his damage and prejudice. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused Dr.
Fernando Solidum, guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the
Contrary to law.14 crime charged and is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate
penalty of two (2) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor as In cases where the res ipsa loquitur is applicable, the court is permitted
minimum to one (1) year, one (1) month and ten (10) days of prision to find a physician negligent upon proper proof of injury to the patient,
correccional as maximum and to indemnify jointly and severally with without the aid of expert testimony, where the court from its fund of
Ospital ng Maynila, private complainant Luz Gercayo the amount of common knowledge can determine the proper standard of care.
500,000.00 as moral damages and 100,000 as exemplary damages
and to pay the costs. Where common knowledge and experience teach that a resulting injury
would not have occurred to the patient if due care had been exercised,
Accordingly, the bond posted by the accused for his provisional liberty an inference of negligence may be drawn giving rise to an application of
is hereby cancelled.19 the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur without medical evidence, which is
ordinarily required to show not only what occurred but how and why it
Decision of the CA occurred. When the doctrine is appropriate, all that the patient must do
is prove a nexus between the particular act or omission complained of
On January 20, 2010, the CA affirmed the conviction of Dr. and the injury sustained while under the custody and management of
Solidum,20 pertinently stating and ruling: the defendant without need to produce expert medical testimony to
establish the standard of care. Resort to res ipsa loquitur is allowed
The case appears to be a textbook example of res ipsa loquitur. because there is no other way, under usual and ordinary conditions, by
which the patient can obtain redress for injury suffered by him.
xxxx
The lower court has found that such a nexus exists between the act
x x x [P]rior to the operation, the child was evaluated and found fit to complained of and the injury sustained, and in line with the hornbook
undergo a major operation. As noted by the OSG, the accused himself rules on evidence, we will afford the factual findings of a trial court the
testified that pre-operation tests were conducted to ensure that the respect they deserve in the absence of a showing of arbitrariness or
child could withstand the surgery. Except for his imperforate anus, the disregard of material facts that might affect the disposition of the case.
child was healthy. The tests and other procedures failed to reveal that People v. Paraiso 349 SCRA 335.
he was suffering from any known ailment or disability that could turn
into a significant risk. There was not a hint that the nature of the The res ipsa loquitur test has been known to be applied in criminal
operation itself was a causative factor in the events that finally led to cases. Although it creates a presumption of negligence, it need not
hypoxia. offend due process, as long as the accused is afforded the opportunity
to go forward with his own evidence and prove that he has no criminal
In short, the lower court has been left with no reasonable hypothesis intent. It is in this light not inconsistent with the constitutional
except to attribute the accident to a failure in the proper administration presumption of innocence of an accused.
of anesthesia, the gravamen of the charge in this case. The High Court
elucidates in Ramos vs. Court of Appeals 321 SCRA 584 IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the modified decision of the lower court
is affirmed.
SO ORDERED.21 AGENT BECAUSE THERE WAS NO 100% HALOTHANE
ADMINISTERED TO THE CHILD, BUT ONLY ONE (1%)
Dr. Solidum filed a motion for reconsideration, but the CA denied his PERCENT AND THE APPLICATION THEREOF, WAS REGULATED
motion on May 7, 2010.22 BY AN ANESTHESIA MACHINE. THUS, THE APPLICATION OF
THE PRINCIPLE OF RES IPSA LOQUITOR (sic) CONTRADICTED
Hence, this appeal. THE ESTABLISHED FACTS AND THE LAW APPLICABLE IN THE
CASE.
Issues
III.
Dr. Solidum avers that:
THE AWARD OF MORAL DAMAGES AND EXEMPLARY
I. DAMAGES IS NOT JUSTIFIED THERE BEING NO NEGLIGENCE
ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER. ASSUMING THAT THE
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING CHILD IS ENTITLED TO FINANCIAL CONSIDERATION, IT
THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT IN UPHOLDING THE SHOULD BE ONLY AS A FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE, BECAUSE
PETITIONERS CONVICTION FOR THE CRIME CHARGED BASED THERE WAS NO NEGLIGENCE, AND NO OVERDOSING OF
ON THE TRIAL COURTS OPINION, AND NOT ON THE BASIS OF ANESTHETIC AGENT AND AS SUCH, THE AWARD IS SO
THE FACTS ESTABLISHED DURING THE TRIAL. ALSO, THERE EXCESSIVE, AND NO FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS.23
IS A CLEAR MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS WHICH IF
CORRECTED, WILL RESULT TO THE ACQUITTAL OF THE To simplify, the following are the issues for resolution, namely: (a)
PETITIONER. FURTHER, THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN whether or not the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur was applicable herein;
AFFIRMING THE SAID DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT, AS and (b) whether or not Dr. Solidum was liable for criminal negligence.
THIS BREACHES THE CRIMINAL LAW PRINCIPLE THAT THE
PROSECUTION MUST PROVE THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE Ruling
INFORMATION BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, AND NOT ON
THE BASIS OF ITS PRESUMPTIVE CONCLUSION. The appeal is meritorious.

II. Applicability of the Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING Res ipsa loquitur is literally translated as "the thing or the transaction
THE PRINCIPLE OF RES IPSA LOQUITOR (sic) WHEN THE speaks for itself." The doctrine res ipsa loquitur means that "where the
DEFENSE WAS ABLE TO PROVE THAT THERE IS NO thing which causes injury is shown to be under the management of the
NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AND NO defendant, and the accident is such as in the ordinary course of things
OVERDOSING IN THE APPLICATION OF THE ANESTHETIC does not happen if those who have the management use proper care, it
affords reasonable evidence, in the absence of an explanation by the presents a question of law since it is a judicial function to determine
defendant, that the accident arose from want of care." 24 It is simply "a whether a certain set of circumstances does, as a matter of law, permit a
recognition of the postulate that, as a matter of common knowledge and given inference.
experience, the very nature of certain types of occurrences may justify
an inference of negligence on the part of the person who controls the Although generally, expert medical testimony is relied upon in
instrumentality causing the injury in the absence of some explanation malpractice suits to prove that a physician has done a negligent act or
by the defendant who is charged with negligence. It is grounded in the that he has deviated from the standard medical procedure, when the
superior logic of ordinary human experience and on the basis of such doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is availed by the plaintiff, the need for
experience or common knowledge, negligence may be deduced from expert medical testimony is dispensed with because the injury itself
the mere occurrence of the accident itself. provides the proof of negligence. The reason is that the general rule on
the necessity of expert testimony applies only to such matters clearly
Hence, res ipsa loquitur is applied in conjunction with the doctrine of within the domain of medical science, and not to matters that are
common knowledge."25 within the common knowledge of mankind which may be testified to by
anyone familiar with the facts. Ordinarily, only physicians and surgeons
Jarcia, Jr. v. People26 has underscored that the doctrine is not a rule of of skill and experience are competent to testify as to whether a patient
substantive law, but merely a mode of proof or a mere procedural has been treated or operated upon with a reasonable degree of skill and
convenience. The doctrine, when applicable to the facts and care. However, testimony as to the statements and acts of physicians
circumstances of a given case, is not meant to and does not dispense and surgeons, external appearances, and manifest conditions which are
with the requirement of proof of culpable negligence against the party observable by any one may be given by non-expert witnesses. Hence, in
charged. It merely determines and regulates what shall be prima facie cases where the res ipsa loquitur is applicable, the court is permitted to
evidence thereof, and helps the plaintiff in proving a breach of the duty. find a physician negligent upon proper proof of injury to the patient,
The doctrine can be invoked when and only when, under the without the aid of expert testimony, where the court from its fund of
circumstances involved, direct evidence is absent and not readily common knowledge can determine the proper standard of care. Where
available.27 common knowledge and experience teach that a resulting injury would
not have occurred to the patient if due care had been exercised, an
The applicability of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in medical inference of negligence may be drawn giving rise to an application of
negligence cases was significantly and exhaustively explained in Ramos the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur without medical evidence, which is
v. Court of Appeals,28 where the Court said ordinarily required to show not only what occurred but how and why it
occurred. When the doctrine is appropriate, all that the patient must do
Medical malpractice cases do not escape the application of this is prove a nexus between the particular act or omission complained of
doctrine. Thus, res ipsa loquitur has been applied when the and the injury sustained while under the custody and management of
circumstances attendant upon the harm are themselves of such a the defendant without need to produce expert medical testimony to
character as to justify an inference of negligence as the cause of that establish the standard of care. Resort to res ipsa loquitur is allowed
harm. The application of res ipsa loquitur in medical negligence cases
because there is no other way, under usual and ordinary conditions, by accomplished. The real question, therefore, is whether or not in the
which the patient can obtain redress for injury suffered by him. process of the operation any extraordinary incident or unusual event
outside of the routine performance occurred which is beyond the
Thus, courts of other jurisdictions have applied the doctrine in the regular scope of customary professional activity in such operations,
following situations: leaving of a foreign object in the body of the which, if unexplained would themselves reasonably speak to the
patient after an operation, injuries sustained on a healthy part of the average man as the negligent cause or causes of the untoward
body which was not under, or in the area, of treatment, removal of the consequence. If there was such extraneous intervention, the doctrine of
wrong part of the body when another part was intended, knocking out a res ipsa loquitur may be utilized and the defendant is called upon to
tooth while a patients jaw was under anesthetic for the removal of his explain the matter, by evidence of exculpation, if he could.
tonsils, and loss of an eye while the patient plaintiff was under the
influence of anesthetic, during or following an operation for In order to allow resort to the doctrine, therefore, the following
appendicitis, among others. essential requisites must first be satisfied, to wit: (1) the accident was
of a kind that does not ordinarily occur unless someone is negligent; (2)
Nevertheless, despite the fact that the scope of res ipsa loquitur has the instrumentality or agency that caused the injury was under the
been measurably enlarged, it does not automatically apply to all cases exclusive control of the person charged; and (3) the injury suffered
of medical negligence as to mechanically shift the burden of proof to the must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution of the
defendant to show that he is not guilty of the ascribed negligence. Res person injured.29
ipsa loquitur is not a rigid or ordinary doctrine to be perfunctorily used
but a rule to be cautiously applied, depending upon the circumstances The Court considers the application here of the doctrine of res ipsa
of each case. It is generally restricted to situations in malpractice cases loquitur inappropriate. Although it should be conceded without
where a layman is able to say, as a matter of common knowledge and difficulty that the second and third elements were present, considering
observation, that the consequences of professional care were not as that the anesthetic agent and the instruments were exclusively within
such as would ordinarily have followed if due care had been exercised. the control of Dr. Solidum, and that the patient, being then unconscious
A distinction must be made between the failure to secure results, and during the operation, could not have been guilty of contributory
the occurrence of something more unusual and not ordinarily found if negligence, the first element was undeniably wanting. Luz delivered
the service or treatment rendered followed the usual procedure of Gerald to the care, custody and control of his physicians for a pull-
those skilled in that particular practice. It must be conceded that the through operation. Except for the imperforate anus, Gerald was then of
doctrine of res ipsa loquitur can have no application in a suit against a sound body and mind at the time of his submission to the physicians.
physician or surgeon which involves the merits of a diagnosis or of a Yet, he experienced bradycardia during the operation, causing loss of
scientific treatment. The physician or surgeon is not required at his his senses and rendering him immobile. Hypoxia, or the insufficiency of
peril to explain why any particular diagnosis was not correct, or why oxygen supply to the brain that caused the slowing of the heart rate,
any particular scientific treatment did not produce the desired result. scientifically termed as bradycardia, would not ordinarily occur in the
Thus, res ipsa loquitur is not available in a malpractice suit if the only process of a pull-through operation, or during the administration of
showing is that the desired result of an operation or treatment was not anesthesia to the patient, but such fact alone did not prove that the
negligence of any of his attending physicians, including the It is a rare occurrence when someone admitted to a hospital for the
anesthesiologists, had caused the injury. In fact, the anesthesiologists treatment of infectious mononucleosis dies of asphyxiation. But that is
attending to him had sensed in the course of the operation that the lack not sufficient to invoke res ipsa loquitur. The fact that the injury rarely
of oxygen could have been triggered by the vago-vagal reflex, prompting occurs does not in itself prove that the injury was probably caused by
them to administer atropine to the patient.30 someone's negligence. Mason v. Ellsworth, 3 Wn. App. 298, 474 P.2d 909
(1970). Nor is a bad result by itself enough to warrant the application of
This conclusion is not unprecedented. It was similarly reached in the doctrine. Nelson v. Murphy, 42 Wn.2d 737, 258 P.2d 472 (1953). See
Swanson v. Brigham,31 relevant portions of the decision therein being as 2 S. Speiser, The Negligence Case Res Ipsa Loquitur 24:10 (1972).
follows: The evidence presented is insufficient to establish the first element
necessary for application of res ipsa loquitur doctrine. The acute closing
On January 7, 1973, Dr. Brigham admitted 15-year-old Randall Swanson of the patients air passage and his resultant asphyxiation took place
to a hospital for the treatment of infectious mononucleosis. The over a very short period of time. Under these circumstances it would
patient's symptoms had included a swollen throat and some breathing not be reasonable to infer that the physician was negligent. There was
difficulty. Early in the morning of January 9 the patient was restless, and no palpably negligent act. The common experience of mankind does not
at 1:30 a.m. Dr. Brigham examined the patient. His inspection of the suggest that death would not be expected without negligence. And
patient's air passage revealed that it was in satisfactory condition. At there is no expert medical testimony to create an inference that
4:15 a.m. Dr. Brigham received a telephone call from the hospital, negligence caused the injury.
advising him that the patient was having respiratory difficulty. The
doctor ordered that oxygen be administered and he prepared to leave Negligence of Dr. Solidum
for the hospital. Ten minutes later, 4:25 a.m., the hospital called a
second time to advise the doctor that the patient was not responding. In view of the inapplicability of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the
The doctor ordered that a medicine be administered, and he departed Court next determines whether the CA correctly affirmed the conviction
for the hospital. When he arrived, the physician who had been on call at of Dr. Solidum for criminal negligence.
the hospital had begun attempts to revive the patient. Dr. Brigham
joined him in the effort, but the patient died. Negligence is defined as the failure to observe for the protection of the
interests of another person that degree of care, precaution, and
The doctor who performed the autopsy concluded that the patient died vigilance that the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other
between 4:25 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. of asphyxia, as a result of a sudden, person suffers injury.32Reckless imprudence, on the other hand, consists
acute closing of the air passage. He also found that the air passage had of voluntarily doing or failing to do, without malice, an act from which
been adequate to maintain life up to 2 or 3 minutes prior to death. He material damage results by reason of an inexcusable lack of precaution
did not know what caused the air passage to suddenly close. on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act. 33

xxxx Dr. Solidums conviction by the RTC was primarily based on his failure
to monitor and properly regulate the level of anesthetic agent
administered on Gerald by overdosing at 100% halothane. In affirming and until the end of surgery were: BP = 110/70; CR = 116/min
the conviction, the CA observed: and RR = 20-22 cycles/min (on assisted ventilation).

On the witness stand, Dr. Vertido made a significant turnaround. He Dr. Vertido points to the crucial passage in the clinical abstract that the
affirmed the findings and conclusions in his report except for an patient was ventilated with 100% oxygen and another dose of ATSO4
observation which, to all intents and purposes, has become the storm when the bradycardia persisted, but for one reason or another, he read
center of this dispute. He wanted to correct one piece of information it as 100% halothane. He was asked to read the anesthesia record on
regarding the dosage of the anesthetic agent administered to the child. the percentage of the dosage indicated, but he could only sheepishly
He declared that he made a mistake in reporting a 100% halothane and note I cant understand the number. There are no clues in the clinical
said that based on the records it should have been 100% oxygen. abstract on the quantity of the anesthetic agent used. It only contains
the information that the anesthetic plan was to put the patient under
The records he was relying on, as he explains, are the following: general anesthesia using a nonrebreathing system with halothane as
the sole anesthetic agent and that 1 hour and 45 minutes after the
(a) the anesthesia record A portion of the chart in the record operation began, bradycardia occurred after which the inhalational
was marked as Exhibit 1-A and 1-B to indicate the agent was shut off and the patient administered with 100% oxygen. It
administration at intervals of the anesthetic agent. would be apparent that the 100% oxygen that Dr. Vertido said should be
read in lieu of 100% halothane was the pure oxygen introduced after
(b) the clinical abstract A portion of this record that reads as something went amiss in the operation and the halothane itself was
follows was marked Exhibit 3A. 3B Approximately 1 hour and reduced or shut off.
45 minutes through the operation, patient was noted to have
bradycardia (CR = 70) and ATSO4 0.2 mg was immediately The key question remains what was the quantity of halothane used
administered. However, the bradycardia persisted, the before bradycardia set in?
inhalational agent was shut off, and the patient was ventilated
with 100% oxygen and another dose of ATSO4 0.2 mg was The implication of Dr. Vertidos admission is that there was no overdose
given. However, the patient did not respond until no cardiac of the anesthetic agent, and the accused Dr. Solidum stakes his liberty
rate can be auscultated and the surgeons were immediately and reputation on this conclusion. He made the assurance that he gave
told to stop the operation. The patient was put on a supine his patient the utmost medical care, never leaving the operating room
position and CPR was initiated. Patient was given 1 amp of except for a few minutes to answer the call of nature but leaving behind
epinephrine initially while continuously doing cardiac massage the other members of his team Drs. Abella and Razon to monitor the
still with no cardiac rate appreciated; another ampule of operation. He insisted that he administered only a point 1% not 100%
epinephrine was given and after 45 secs, patients vital signs halothane, receiving corroboration from Dr. Abella whose initial MA in
returned to normal. The entire resuscitation lasted the record should be enough to show that she assisted in the operation
approximately 3-5 mins. The surgeons were then told to and was therefore conversant of the things that happened. She revealed
proceed to the closure and the childs vital signs throughout
that they were using a machine that closely monitored the one conclusion if the application of anesthesia was really closely
concentration of the agent during the operation. monitored, the event could not have happened.34

But most compelling is Dr. Solidums interpretation of the anesthesia The Prosecution did not prove the elements of reckless imprudence
record itself, as he takes the bull by the horns, so to speak. In his beyond reasonable doubt because the circumstances cited by the CA
affidavit, he says, reading from the record, that the quantity of were insufficient to establish that Dr. Solidum had been guilty of
halothane used in the operation is one percent (1%) delivered at time inexcusable lack of precaution in monitoring the administration of the
intervals of 15 minutes. He studiedly mentions the concentration of anesthetic agent to Gerald. The Court aptly explained in Cruz v. Court of
halothane as reflected in the anesthesia record (Annex D of the Appeals35 that:
complaint-affidavit) is only one percent (1%) The numbers indicated
in 15 minute increments for halothane is an indication that only 1% Whether or not a physician has committed an "inexcusable lack of
halothane is being delivered to the patient Gerard Gercayo for his entire precaution" in the treatment of his patient is to be determined
operation; The amount of halothane delivered in this case which is only according to the standard of care observed by other members of the
one percent cannot be summated because halothane is constantly being profession in good standing under similar circumstances bearing in
rapidly eliminated by the body during the entire operation. mind the advanced state of the profession at the time of treatment or
the present state of medical science. In the recent case of Leonila
xxxx Garcia-Rueda v. Wilfred L. Pacasio, et. al., this Court stated that in
accepting a case, a doctor in effect represents that, having the needed
In finding the accused guilty, despite these explanations, the RTC training and skill possessed by physicians and surgeons practicing in
argued that the volte-face of Dr. Vertido on the question of the dosage of the same field, he will employ such training, care and skill in the
the anesthetic used on the child would not really validate the non-guilt treatment of his patients. He therefore has a duty to use at least the
of the anesthesiologist. Led to agree that the halothane used was not same level of care that any other reasonably competent doctor would
100% as initially believed, he was nonetheless unaware of the use to treat a condition under the same circumstances. It is in this
implications of the change in his testimony. The court observed that Dr. aspect of medical malpractice that expert testimony is essential to
Vertido had described the condition of the child as hypoxia which is establish not only the standard of care of the profession but also that
deprivation of oxygen, a diagnosis supported by the results of the CT the physician's conduct in the treatment and care falls below such
Scan. All the symptoms attributed to a failing central nervous system standard. Further, inasmuch as the causes of the injuries involved in
such as stupor, loss of consciousness, decrease in heart rate, loss of malpractice actions are determinable only in the light of scientific
usual acuity and abnormal motor function, are manifestations of this knowledge, it has been recognized that expert testimony is usually
condition or syndrome. But why would there be deprivation of oxygen if necessary to support the conclusion as to causation.
100% oxygen to 1% halothane was used? Ultimately, to the court,
whether oxygen or halothane was the object of mistake, the detrimental xxxx
effects of the operation are incontestable, and they can only be led to
In litigations involving medical negligence, the plaintiff has the burden Unfortunately, no clear definition of the duty of a particular physician in
of establishing appellant's negligence and for a reasonable conclusion a particular case exists. Because most medical malpractice cases are
of negligence, there must be proof of breach of duty on the part of the highly technical, witnesses with special medical qualifications must
surgeon as well as a causal connection of such breach and the resulting provide guidance by giving the knowledge necessary to render a fair
death of his patient. In Chan Lugay v. St Luke's Hospital, Inc., where the and just verdict. As a result, the standard of medical care of a prudent
attending physician was absolved of liability for the death of the physician must be determined from expert testimony in most cases;
complainants wife and newborn baby, this Court held that: and in the case of a specialist (like an anesthesiologist), the standard of
care by which the specialist is judged is the care and skill commonly
"In order that there may be a recovery for an injury, however, it must be possessed and exercised by similar specialists under similar
shown that the injury for which recovery is sought must be the circumstances. The specialty standard of care may be higher than that
legitimate consequence of the wrong done; the connection between the required of the general practitioner.37
negligence and the injury must be a direct and natural sequence of
events, unbroken by intervening efficient causes. In other words, the The standard of care is an objective standard by which the conduct of a
negligence must be the proximate cause of the injury. For, negligence, physician sued for negligence or malpractice may be measured, and it
no matter in what it consists, cannot create a right of action unless it is does not depend, therefore, on any individual physicians own
the proximate cause of the injury complained of. And the proximate knowledge either. In attempting to fix a standard by which a court may
cause of an injury is that cause, which, in natural and continuous determine whether the physician has properly performed the requisite
sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the duty toward the patient, expert medical testimony from both plaintiff
injury, and without which the result would not have occurred." and defense experts is required. The judge, as the trier of fact,
ultimately determines the standard of care, after listening to the
An action upon medical negligence whether criminal, civil or testimony of all medical experts.38
administrative calls for the plaintiff to prove by competent evidence
each of the following four elements, namely: (a) the duty owed by the Here, the Prosecution presented no witnesses with special medical
physician to the patient, as created by the physician-patient qualifications in anesthesia to provide guidance to the trial court on
relationship, to act in accordance with the specific norms or standards what standard of care was applicable. It would consequently be truly
established by his profession; (b) the breach of the duty by the difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether the first three
physicians failing to act in accordance with the applicable standard of elements of a negligence and malpractice action were attendant.
care; (3) the causation, i.e., there must be a reasonably close and causal
connection between the negligent act or omission and the resulting Although the Prosecution presented Dr. Benigno Sulit, Jr., an
injury; and (4) the damages suffered by the patient.36 anesthesiologist himself who served as the Chairman of the Committee
on Ethics and Malpractice of the Philippine Society of Anesthesiologists
In the medical profession, specific norms or standards to protect the that investigated the complaint against Dr. Solidum, his testimony
patient against unreasonable risk, commonly referred to as standards of mainly focused on how his Committee had conducted the
care, set the duty of the physician to act in respect of the patient.
investigation.39 Even then, the report of his Committee was favorable to WITNESS General Anesthetic Agent is a substance used in the
Dr. Solidum,40 to wit: conduction of Anesthesia and in this case, halothane was used as a sole
anesthetic agent.
Presented for review by this committee is the case of a 3 year old male
who underwent a pull-thru operation and was administered general xxxx
anesthesia by a team of anesthesia residents. The patient, at the time
when the surgeons was manipulating the recto-sigmoid and pulling it Q Now under paragraph two of page 1 of your report you mentioned
down in preparation for the anastomosis, had bradycardia. The that after one hour and 45 minutes after the operation, the patient
anesthesiologists, sensing that the cause thereof was the triggering of experienced a bradycardia or slowing of heart rate, now as a doctor,
the vago-vagal reflex, administered atropine to block it but despite the would you be able to tell this Honorable Court as to what cause of the
administration of the drug in two doses, cardiac arrest ensued. As the slowing of heart rate as to Gerald Gercayo?
records show, prompt resuscitative measures were administered and
spontaneous cardiac function re-established in less than five (5) WITNESS Well honestly sir, I cannot give you the reason why there was
minutes and that oxygen was continuously being administered a bradycardia of time because is some reason one way or another that
throughout, unfortunately, as later become manifest, patient suffered might caused bradycardia.
permanent irreversible brain damage.
FISCAL CABARON What could be the possible reason?
In view of the actuations of the anaesthesiologists and the
administration of anaesthesia, the committee find that the same were A Well bradycardia can be caused by anesthetic agent itself and that is a
all in accordance with the universally accepted standards of medical possibility, were talking about possibility here.
care and there is no evidence of any fault or negligence on the part of
the anaesthesiologists. Q What other possibility do you have in mind, doctor?

Dr. Antonio Vertido, a Senior Medico-Legal Officer of the National A Well, because it was an operation, anything can happen within that
Bureau of Investigation, was also presented as a Prosecution witness, situation.
but his testimony concentrated on the results of the physical
examination he had conducted on Gerald, as borne out by the following FISCAL CABARON Now, this representation would like to ask you about
portions of his direct examination, to wit: the slowing of heart rate, now what is the immediate cause of the
slowing of the heart rate of a person?
FISCAL CABARON Doctor, what do you mean by General Anesthetic
Agent? WITNESS Well, one of the more practical reason why there is slowing of
the heart rate is when you do a vagal reflex in the neck wherein the
vagal receptors are located at the lateral part of the neck, when you
press that, you produce the slowing of the heart rate that produce ATTY COMIA And do you affirm the figure you mentioned in this Court
bradycardia. Doctor?

Q I am pro[p]ounding to you another question doctor, what about the WITNESS Based on the records, I know the - - -
deficiency in the supply of oxygen by the patient, would that also cause
the slowing of the heart rate? Q 100%?

A Well that is a possibility sir, I mean not as slowing of the heart rate, if A 100% based on the records.
there is a hypoxia or there is a low oxygen level in the blood, the normal
thing for the heart is to pump or to do not a bradycardia but a to Q I will show you doctor a clinical record. I am a lawyer I am not a
counter act the Hypoxia that is being experienced by the patient doctor but will you kindly look at this and tell me where is 100%, the
word "one hundred" or 1-0-0, will you kindly look at this Doctor, this
(sic). Xerox copy if you can show to this Honorable Court and even to this
representation the word "one hundred" or 1-0-0 and then call me.
xxxx
xxxx
Q Now, you made mention also doctor that the use of general anesthesia
using 100% halothane and other anesthetic medications probably were ATTY. COMIA Doctor tell this Honorable Court where is that 100, 1-0-0
contributory to the production of hypoxia. and if there is, you just call me and even the attention of the Presiding
Judge of this Court. Okay, you read one by one.
A Yes, sir in general sir.41
WITNESS Well, are you only asking 100%, sir?
On cross-examination, Dr. Vertido expounded more specifically on his
interpretation of the anesthesia record and the factors that could have ATTY. COMIA Im asking you, just answer my question, did you see there
caused Gerald to experience bradycardia, viz: 100% and 100 figures, tell me, yes or no?

ATTY. COMIA I noticed in, may I see your report Doctor, page 3, will you WITNESS Im trying to look at the 100%, there is no 100% there sir.
kindly read to this Honorable court your last paragraph and if you will
affirm that as if it is correct? ATTY. COMIA Okay, that was good, so you Honor please, may we request
also temporarily, because this is just a xerox copy presented by the
A "The use of General Anesthesia, that is using 100% Halothane fiscal, that the percentage here that the Halothane administered by Dr.
probably will be contributory to the production of Hypoxia and - - - -" Solidum to the patient is 1% only so may we request that this portion,
temporarily your Honor, we are marking this anesthesia record as our
Exhibit 1 and then this 1% Halothane also be bracketed and the same A That is a possibility sir.
be marked as our Exhibit "1-A".
Q And which according to you that Gerald suffered hypoxia is that
xxxx correct?

ATTY. COMIA Doctor, my attention was called also when you said that A Yes, sir.
there are so many factors that contributed to Hypoxia is that correct?
Q And that is one of the risk of that major operation is that correct?
WITNESS Yes, sir.
A That is the risk sir.42
Q I remember doctor, according to you there are so many factors that
contributed to what you call hypoxia and according to you, when this At the continuation of his cross-examination, Dr. Vertido maintained
Gerald suffered hypoxia, there are other factors that might lead to this that Geralds operation for his imperforate anus, considered a major
Hypoxia at the time of this operation is that correct? operation, had exposed him to the risk of suffering the same
condition.43 He then corrected his earlier finding that 100% halothane
WITNESS The possibility is there, sir. had been administered on Gerald by saying that it should be 100%
oxygen.44
Q And according to you, it might also be the result of such other, some
or it might be due to operations being conducted by the doctor at the Dr. Solidum was criminally charged for "failing to monitor and regulate
time when the operation is being done might also contribute to that properly the levels of anesthesia administered to said Gerald Albert
hypoxia is that correct? Gercayo and using 100% halothane and other anesthetic
medications."45However, the foregoing circumstances, taken together,
A That is a possibility also. did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Dr. Solidum had been
recklessly imprudent in administering the anesthetic agent to Gerald.
xxxx Indeed, Dr. Vertidos findings did not preclude the probability that other
factors related to Geralds major operation, which could or could not
ATTY. COMIA How will you classify now the operation conducted to this necessarily be attributed to the administration of the anesthesia, had
Gerald, Doctor? caused the hypoxia and had then led Gerald to experience bradycardia.
Dr. Vertido revealingly concluded in his report, instead, that "although
WITNESS Well, that is a major operation sir. the anesthesiologist followed the normal routine and precautionary
procedures, still hypoxia and its corresponding side effects did occur."46
Q In other words, when you say major operation conducted to this
Gerald, there is a possibility that this Gerald might [be] exposed to some The existence of the probability about other factors causing the hypoxia
risk is that correct? has engendered in the mind of the Court a reasonable doubt as to Dr.
Solidums guilt, and moves us to acquit him of the crime of reckless In criminal prosecutions, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability
imprudence resulting to serious physical injuries. "A reasonable doubt that is deemed instituted with the criminal action refers only to that
of guilt," according to United States v. Youthsey:47 arising from the offense charged.48 It is puzzling, therefore, how the RTC
and the CA could have adjudged Ospital ng Maynila jointly and severally
x x x is a doubt growing reasonably out of evidence or the lack of it. It is liable with Dr. Solidum for the damages despite the obvious fact that
not a captious doubt; not a doubt engendered merely by sympathy for Ospital ng Maynila, being an artificial entity, had not been charged along
the unfortunate position of the defendant, or a dislike to accept the with Dr. Solidum. The lower courts thereby acted capriciously and
responsibility of convicting a fellow man. If, having weighed the whimsically, which rendered their judgment against Ospital ng Maynila
evidence on both sides, you reach the conclusion that the defendant is void as the product of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
guilty, to that degree of certainty as would lead you to act on the faith of jurisdiction.
it in the most important and crucial affairs of your life, you may
properly convict him. Proof beyond reasonable doubt is not proof to a Not surprisingly, the flawed decree raises other material concerns that
mathematical demonstration. It is not proof beyond the possibility of the RTC and the CA overlooked. We deem it important, then, to express
mistake. the following observations for the instruction of the Bench and Bar.

We have to clarify that the acquittal of Dr. Solidum would not For one, Ospital ng Maynila was not at all a party in the proceedings.
immediately exempt him from civil liability.1wphi1 But we cannot now Hence, its fundamental right to be heard was not respected from the
find and declare him civilly liable because the circumstances that have outset. The R TC and the CA should have been alert to this fundamental
been established here do not present the factual and legal bases for defect. Verily, no person can be prejudiced by a ruling rendered in an
validly doing so. His acquittal did not derive only from reasonable action or proceeding in which he was not made a party. Such a rule
doubt. There was really no firm and competent showing how the injury would enforce the constitutional guarantee of due process of law.
to Gerard had been caused. That meant that the manner of
administration of the anesthesia by Dr. Solidum was not necessarily the Moreover, Ospital ng Maynila could be held civilly liable only when
cause of the hypoxia that caused the bradycardia experienced by subsidiary liability would be properly enforceable pursuant to Article
Gerard. Consequently, to adjudge Dr. Solidum civilly liable would be to 103 of the Revised Penal Code. But the subsidiary liability seems far-
speculate on the cause of the hypoxia. We are not allowed to do so, for fetched here. The conditions for subsidiary liability to attach to Ospital
civil liability must not rest on speculation but on competent evidence. ng Maynila should first be complied with. Firstly, pursuant to Article
103 of the Revised Penal Code, Ospital ng Maynila must be shown to be
Liability of Ospital ng Maynila a corporation "engaged in any kind of industry." The term industry
means any department or branch of art, occupation or business,
Although the result now reached has resolved the issue of civil liability, especially one that employs labor and capital, and is engaged in
we have to address the unusual decree of the RTC, as affirmed by the industry.49 However, Ospital ng Maynila, being a public hospital, was not
CA, of expressly holding Ospital ng Maynila civilly liable jointly and engaged in industry conducted for profit but purely in charitable and
severally with Dr. Solidum. The decree was flawed in logic and in law. humanitarian work.50 Secondly, assuming that Ospital ng Maynila was
engaged in industry for profit, Dr. Solidum must be shown to be an THIRD DIVISION
employee of Ospital ng Maynila acting in the discharge of his duties
during the operation on Gerald. Yet, he definitely was not such G.R. No. 191240 July 30, 2014
employee but a consultant of the hospital. And, thirdly, assuming that
civil liability was adjudged against Dr. Solidum as an employee (which CRISTINA B. CASTILLO, Petitioner,
did not happen here), the execution against him was unsatisfied due to vs.
his being insolvent. PHILLIP R. SALVADOR, Respondent.

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for review on certiorari; DECISION
REVERSES AND SETS ASIDE the decision promulgated on January 20,
2010; ACQUITS Dr. Fernando P. Solidum of the crime of reckless PERALTA, J.:
imprudence resulting to serious physical injuries; and MAKES no
pronouncement on costs of suit. Before us is a petition for review on certiorari which assails the
Decision1 dated February 11, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
SO ORDERED. G.R. CR No. 30151 with respect only to the civil aspect of the case as
respondent Phillip R. Salvador had been acquitted of the crime of estafa.
Respondent Phillip Salvador and his brother Ramon Salvador were
charged with estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2 (a) of the Revised
Penal Code in an Information2 which reads:

That during the period from March 2001 up to May 2002, in the City of
Las Pin as, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together
and both of them mutually helping and aiding one another, with intent
to gain and by means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed
prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud the complainant
CRISTINA B. CASTILLO, in the amount of US$100,000.00 in the
following manner, to wit: Respondents convinced the complainant to
invest into the remittance business in the name of accused PHILLIP R.
Republic of the Philippines SALVADOR in Hongkong, representing to her that they will personally
SUPREME COURT take charge of the operations and marketing of the said business,
Manila assuring her with huge profits because of the popularity of accused
PHILLIP R. SALVADOR, knowing very well that the said
manifestations/representations and fraudulent manifestations were respondents popularity among the Filipino domestic helpers. 10 In April
false and were intended only to exact money from the Complainant, and 2001, the same group, with Ramon this time, went to Bangkok where
by reason of the said false representations made by both accused, the respondents popularity was again shown among the overseas
Complainant gave and entrusted to the accused the amount of Filipinos.11 In both instances, respondent promoted their prospective
US$100,000.00 as seed money to start the operations of the business business. In both trips, petitioner paid for all the travelexpenses and
and the said accused, once in the possession of the said amount of even gave respondent US$10,000.00 as pocket money for the Hong
money, misappropriated, misapplied and/or converted the same to Kong trip and another US$10,000.00 for the Bangkok trip. 12 Her
their own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the accountant introduced her to a certain Roy Singun who is into the
Complainant in the aforementioned amount of US$100,000.00. freight and money remittance business. 13 In August 2001, respondent
initiated a trip to Palau, to observe Singuns business thereat to which
CONTRARY TO LAW.3 petitioner acceded.14 Petitioner paid for the travel expenses and even
gaverespondent US$20,000.00.15 In October 2001, she and respondent
Upon their arraignment, respondentand his brother Ramon pleaded not had a training at Western Union at First World Center in Makati City. 16
guilty4 to the offense charged.
As petitioner had deeply fallen in love with respondent and since she
Trial on the merits thereafter ensued. trusted him very much as heeven acted as a father to her children when
her annulment was ongoing, she agreed to embark on the remittance
Petitioner Cristina B. Castillo testified that she is engaged in real estate business. In December 2001, she, accompanied by her mother, Zenaida
business, educational institution, boutique, and trading business. 5 She G. Bondoc (Zenaida), and Ramon, went to Hong Kong and had the
met respondent through a common friend in December 2000 and Phillip Salvador Freight and Remittance International Limited
became close since then. Respondent had told her that his friends, registered on December 27, 2001.17 A Memorandum of Articles of
Jinggoy Estrada and Rudy Fernandez, were engaged in the freight and Incorporation and a Certificate of Incorporation were issued. 18 They
remittance business and that Jinggoy even brought him toHong Kong also rented an office space in Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong which
and Singapore to promote the former's business. 6 Petitioner eventually they registered as their office address as a requirement for opening a
met respondents brother and manager, Ramon Salvador, to whom she business in Hong Kong, thus, a Notification of Situation of Registered
volunteered to financially help respondent in his bid for the Vice- Office was also issued.19 She agreed with respondent and Ramon that
Mayoralty race in Mandaluyong.7 It was also in the same meeting that any profit derived from the business would be equally divided among
they talked about the matter of engaging in a freight and remittance them and thatrespondent would be in charge of promotion and
business.8 Respondent enticed petitioner to go to Hong Kong to see for marketing in Hong Kong,while Ramon would take charge of the
herself the viability of such business and Ramon suggested to use operations of business in the Philippines and she would be financing
respondents name to attract the overseas contract workers. 9 the business.20

In March 2001, petitioner and her husband, together with respondent The business has not operated yet as petitioner was still raising the
and a certain Virgilio Calubaquib wentto Hong Kong and they witnessed amount of US$100,000.00 as capital for the actual operation. 21 When
petitioner already had the money, she handed the same to respondent respondent as it was for the operational expenses of a business which
in May 2002 at her mothers house in Las Pin as City, which was will be for their future, as all they needed to do was to get
witnessed by her disabled half-brother Enrico B. Tan (Enrico). 22 She married.32 She further testified that after the US$100,000.00 was not
also gave respondent 100,000.00 in cash to begiven to Charlie Chau, returned, she still deposited the amount of 500,000.00 in respondents
who is a resident of Hong Kong, as payment for the heart-shaped UCPB bank account33 and also to Ramons bank accounts.34 And while
earrings she bought from him while she was there. Respondent and respondent was in the United States in August 2003, she still gave him
Ramon went to Hong Kong in May 2002. However, the proposed US$2,000.00as evidenced by a Prudential Telegraphic Transfer
business never operated as respondent only stayed in Hong Kongfor Application35 dated August 27, 2003.
three days. When she asked respondent about the money and the
business, the latter told her that the money was deposited in a Petitioners mother, Zenaida, corroborated her daughters testimony
bank.23 However, upon further query, respondent confessed that he that she was with her and Ramon when they went to Hong Kong in
used the money to pay for his other obligations. 24 Since then, the December 2001 to register the freight and remittance business. 36 She
US$100,000.00 was not returned at all. heard Charlie Chau, her daughter's friend, that a part of his office
building will be used for the said remittance business. 37 Enrico Tan, also
On cross-examination, petitioner testified that she fell deeply in love corroborated her sister's claim that she handed the money to
with respondent and was convinced thathe truly loved her and respondent in his presence.38
intended to marry her once there would beno more legal
impediment;25 that she helped in financing respondents campaign in Respondent testified that he and petitioner became close friends and
the May 2001 elections.26 As she loved respondent so much, she gave eventually fell in love and had an affair. 39 They traveled to Hong Kong
him monthly allowances amounting to hundreds of thousands of pesos and Bangkok where petitioner saw how popular he was among the
because he had no work back then. 27 She filed the annulment case Filipino domestic helpers, 40 which led her to suggest a remittance
against her husband on November 21, 2001 and respondent promised business. Although hesitant, he has friends with such business. 41He
her marriage.28 She claimed that respondent and Ramon lured her with denied that petitioner gave him US$10,000.00 whenhe went to Hong
sweet words in going into the freight and remittance business, which Kong and Bangkok.42 In July 2001, after he came back from the United
never operated despite the money she had given respondent. 29 She States, petitioner had asked him and his brother Ramon for a
raised the US$100,000.00 by means of selling and pawning her pieces meeting.43 During the meeting, petitioner brought up the money
of diamond jewelry.30 remittance business, but Ramon told her that they should make a study
of it first.44 He was introduced to Roy Singun, owner of a money
Petitioner admitted being blinded by her love for respondent which remittance business in Pasay City.45 Upon the advise of Roy, respondent
made her follow all the advice given by him and his brother Ramon, i.e., and petitioner, her husband and Ramon went to Palau in August
to save money for her and respondents future because after the 2001.46 He denied receiving US$20,000.00 from petitioner but admitted
annulment, they would get married and to give the capital for the that it was petitioner who paid for the plane tickets. 47 After their Palau
remittance business in cash so as not to jeopardize her annulment trip, they went into training at Western Union at the First World Center
case.31She did not ask for a receipt for the US$100,000.00 she gave to in Makati City.48 It was only in December 2001 that Ramon, petitioner
and her mother went to Hong Kong to register the business, while he there was no more space to accommodate it.63 He and respondent went
took care of petitioners children here. 49 In May 2002, he and Ramon to Hong Kong in May 2002 to examine the office recommended by Chau
went back to Hong Kong but deniedhaving received the amount of and the warehouse of Rudy Fernandez thereatwho also offered to
US$100,000.00 from petitioner but then admitted receipt of the amount help.64 He then told Chau that the remittance office should be in Central
of 100,000.00 which petitioner asked him to give to Charlie Chau as Park, Kowloon, because majority of the Filipinos in Hong Kong live
payment for the pieces of diamond jewelry she got from him, 50 which there.65 He concluded that it was impossible for the business to operate
Chau had duly acknowledged.51 He denied Enricos testimony that immediately because they had no office, no personnel and no license
petitioner gave him the amount of US$100,000.00 in his mothers permit.66 He further claimed that petitioner never mentioned to him
house.52 He claimed that no remittance business was started in Hong about the US$100,000.00 she gave to respondent, 67 and that he even
Kong as they had no license, equipment, personnel and money to traveled again with petitioner to Bangkok in October 2002, and in
operate the same.53 Upon his return to the Philippines, petitioner never August 2003.68 He denied Enricos allegation that he saw him at his
asked him about the business as she never gave him such amount. 54 In mothers house as he only saw Enrico for the first time in court. 69
October 2002, he intimated that he and petitioner even went to Hong
Kong again to buy some goods for the latters boutique. 55 He admitted On April 21, 2006, the RTC rendered a Decision, 70 the dispositive
that he loved petitioner and her children very much as there was a time portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, accused PHILLIP SALVADOR is
when petitioners finances were short, he gave her 600,000.00 for the found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime ofEstafa under
enrollment of her children in very expensive schools. 56 It is also not true Article 315, par. 2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code and is hereby sentenced
that he and Ramon initiated the Hong Kong and Bangkok trips. 57 to suffer the indeterminate sentence of four (4) years, two (2) months
and one (1) day of prisyon (sic) correctional (sic)maximum as
Ramon testified that it was his brother respondent who introduced minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal maximumas
petitioner to him.58 He learned of petitioners plan of a remittance maximum and to indemnify the private complainant in the amount of
business in July 2001 and even told her that they should study it ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS (US$100,000.00) or its
first.59 He was introduced to Roy Singun who operates a equivalent in Philippine currency. With respect to accused RAMON
remittancebusiness in Pasay and who suggested that their group SALVADOR, he is ACQUITTED for insufficiency of evidence. SO
observehis remittance business in Palau. After their Palau trip, ORDERED.71
petitioner decided to put up a similar business in Hong Kong and it was
him who suggested to use respondents name because of name Respondent appealed his conviction to the CA. The parties filed their
recall.60 It was decided thathe would manage the operation in Manila respective pleadings, after which, the case was submitted for decision.
and respondent would be in charge of promotion and marketing in
Hong Kong, while petitioner would be in charge of all the business On February 11, 2010, the CA rendered its Decision reversing the
finances.61 He admitted that he wentto Hong Kong with petitioner and decision of the RTC, the decretal portion of which reads:
her mother to register said business and also to buy goods for
petitioners boutique.62 He said that it was also impossible for Chau to WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision of Branch
offer a part of his office building for the remittance business because 202 of the RTC of Las Pin as City, dated April 21, 2006, is hereby
REVERSED AND SET ASIDE and accused appellant PHILLIP R. A reading of the CA decision would show that respondent was acquitted
SALVADOR is ACQUITTED of the crime of Estafa.72 because the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt. Said the CA:
Petitioner files the instant petition onthe civil aspect of the case alleging
that: The evidence for the prosecution being insufficient to prove beyond
reasonable doubt that the crime as charged had been committed by
THE TRIAL COURT WAS CORRECT IN CONVICTING THE RESPONDENT appellant, the general presumption, "that a person is innocent of the
SO THAT EVEN IF THE COURT OF APPEALS DECIDED TO ACQUIT HIM crime or wrong, stands in his favor. The prosecution failed to prove that
IT SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST RETAINED THE AWARD OF DAMAGES TO all the elements of estafa are present in this case as would overcome the
THE PETITIONER.73 presumption of innocence in favor of appellant. For in fact, the
prosecution's primary witness herself could not even establish clearly
We find no merit in the petition. and precisely how appellant committed the alleged fraud. She failed to
convince us that she was deceived through misrepresentations and/or
To begin with, in Manantan v. CA, 74 we discussed the consequences of an insidious actions, in venturing into a remittance business. Quite the
acquittal on the civil liability of the accused as follows: contrary, the obtaining circumstance inthis case indicate the weakness
of her submissions.76
Our law recognizes two kinds of acquittal, with different effects on the
civil liability of the accused. First is an acquittal on the ground that the Thus, since the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt, respondent is
accused is not the author of the actor omission complained of. This not exempt from civil liability which may be proved by preponderance
instance closes the door to civil liability, for a person who has been of evidence only. In Encinas v. National Bookstore, Inc., 77 we explained
found to be not the perpetrator of any act or omission cannot and can the concept of preponderance of evidence as follows:
never be held liable for such act oromission. There being no delict, civil
liability ex delictois out of the question, and the civil action, if any, x x x Preponderance of evidence is the weight, credit, and value of the
which may be instituted must be based on grounds other than the delict aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be
complained of. This is the situation contemplated in Rule III of the Rules synonymous with the term "greater weight of the evidence" or "greater
of Court. The second instance is an acquittal based on reasonable doubt weight of the credible evidence." Preponderance of evidence is a phrase
on the guilt of the accused. In this case, even if the guilt of the accused which, in the last analysis, means probability of the truth. It is evidence
has not been satisfactorily established, he is not exempt from civil which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that
liability which may be proved by preponderance of evidence only. This which is offered in opposition thereto.78
is the situation contemplated in Article 29 of the Civil Code, where the
civil action for damages is "for the same act or omission." x x x. 75 The issue of whether petitioner gave respondent the amount of
US$100,000.00 is factual. While we are not a trier of facts, there are
instances, however, when we are called upon to re-examine the factual
findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals and weigh, after
considering the records of the case, which of the conflicting findings is There was also no receipt that indeed US$100,000.00 was given by
more in accord with law and justice.79 Such is the case before us. petitioner to respondent.1wphi1 Petitioner in her testimony, both in
the direct and cross examinations, said that the US$100,000.00 given to
In discrediting petitioners allegation that she gave respondent respondent was for the actual expenses for setting up the office and the
US$100,000.00 in May 2002, the CA found that: (1) petitioner failed to operation of the business in Hong Kong. 85 She claimed that she treated
show how she was able to raise the money in such a short period of the freight and remittance business like any of her businesses; 86 that
time and even gave conflicting versions on the source of the same; (2) she, respondent, and the latters brother even agreed to divide
petitioner failed to require respondent to sign a receipt so she could whatever profits they would have from the business;87 and that giving
have a record of the transaction and offered no plausible reason why US$100,000.00 to respondent was purely business to her. 88 She also
the money was allegedly hand-carried toHong Kong; (3) petitioners said that she kept records of all her business, such that, if there are no
claim of trust as reason for not requiring respondent to sign a receipt records, there are no funds entrusted89 . Since petitioner admitted that
was inconsistent with the way she conducted her previous transactions giving the money to respondent was for business, there must be some
with him; and (4) petitioners behavior after the alleged fraud records ofsuch transaction as what she did in her other businesses.
perpetrated against her was inconsistent with the actuation ofsomeone
who had been swindled. In fact, it was not unusual for petitioner to ask respondent for some
documents evidencing the latter's receipt of money for the purpose of
We find no reversible error committed by the CA in its findings. business as this was done in her previous business dealings with
respondent. She had asked respondent to execute a real estate
Petitioner failed to prove on how she raised the money allegedly given mortgage on his condominium unit90 for the 5 million she loaned him
to respondent. She testified that from December 2001 to May 2002, she in August 2001. Also, when petitioner gave respondent an additional
was raising the amount of US$100,000.00 as the capital for the actual loan of 10 million in December 2001, for the latter to redeem the title
operation of the Phillip Salvador Freight and Remittance International to his condominium unit from the bank, she had asked him to sign an
Limited in Hong Kong,80 and that she was ableto raise the same in May acknowledgment receipt for the total amount of 15 million he got from
2002.81 She did so by selling82 or pawning83 her pieces of diamond her.91 She had done all these despite her testimony that she trusted
jewelry. However, there was no documentary evidence showing those respondent from the day they met in December 2000 until the day he
transactions within the period mentioned. Upon further questioning on ran away from her in August 2003.92
cross-examination on where she got the money, she then said that she
had plenty of dollars as she is a frequent traveler to Hong Kong and Petitioner insists that she did not ask for any acknowledgment receipt
Bangkok to shop for her boutique in Glorietta and Star Mall. 84 Such from respondent, because the latter told her not to have traces that she
testimony contradicts her claim that she was still raising the money for was giving money to him as it might jeopardize her then ongoing
5 months and that she was only able to formally raise the money in May annulment proceedings. However, petitioner's testimony would belie
2002. such claim of respondent being cautious of the annulment proceedings.
She declared that when she and her husband separated, respondent
stood as a father to her children. 93 Respondent attended school
programs of her children,94 and fetched them from school whenever the submit an affidavit in this case even when he allegedly witnessed the
driver was not around.95 In fact, at the time the annulment case was giving of the money to respondent as petitioner told him that he could
already pending, petitioner registered the freight and remittance just testify for the other case. However, when the other case was
business under respondents name and the local branch office of the dismissed, it was then that petitioner told him to be a witness in this
business would be in petitioner's condominium unit in Makati. 96 Also, case. Enrico should have been considered at the first opportunity if he
when petitioner went with her mother and Ramon to Hong Kong to indeed had personal knowledge of the alleged giving of money to
register the business, it was respondent who tookcare of her children. respondent. Thus, presenting Enrico as a witness only after the other
She intimated that it was respondent who was insistent in going to their case was dismissed would create doubt as to the veracity of his
house. testimony.

Worthy to mention is that petitioner deposited the amount of WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED. The Decision dated
500,000.00 to respondent's account with United Coconut Planters February 11, 2010, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 30151, is
Bank (UCPB) in July 2003.97 Also, when respondent was in New York in hereby AFFIRMED.
August 2003, petitioner sent him the amount of US$2,000.00 by
telegraphic transfer.98 Petitioner's act ofdepositing money to SO ORDERED.
respondent's account contradicted her claim that there should be no
traces that she was giving money to respondent during the pendency of
the annulment case.

Petitioner conceded that she could have either bought a manager's


check in US dollars from the bank orsend the money by bank transfer,
but she did not do so on the claim that there might be traces of the
transaction.99 However, the alleged US$100,000.00was supposed to be
given to respondent because of the freight and remittance business;
thus, there is nothing wrong to have a record of the same, specially
since respondent had to account for the valid expense she incurred with
the money.100

The testimony of Enrico, petitioner's brother, declaring that he was


present when petitioner gave respondent the US$100,000.00 did not
help. Enrico testified that when petitioner filed the instant case in
September 2004, another case was also filed by petitioner against TOPIC: Rule 111 B. Suspension of Civil Action
respondent and his brother Ramon in the same City Prosecutor's office
in Las Pin as where Enrico had submitted his affidavit. Enrico did not
Republic of the Philippines Before the Court are consolidated Petitions for Review assailing the
SUPREME COURT separate Decisions of the Second and Seventeenth Divisions of the
Manila Court of Appeals (CA) on the above issue.

FIRST DIVISION Lily Lims (Lim) Petition for Review 1 assails the October 20, 2005
Resolution2 of the Second Division in CA-G.R. CV No. 85138, which ruled
G.R. No. 175256 August 23, 2012 on the above issue in the affirmative:

LILY LIM, Petitioner, Due to the filing of the said civil complaint (Civil Case No. 5112396),
vs. Charlie Co filed the instant motion to dismiss [Lily Lims] appeal,
KOU CO PING a.k.a. CHARLIE CO, Respondent. alleging that in filing said civil case, Lily Lim violated the rule against
forum shopping as the elements of litis pendentia are present.
x-----------------------x
This Court agrees.3
G.R. No. 179160
xxxx
KOU CO PING a.k.a. CHARLIE CO, Petitioner,
vs. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appeal is DISMISSED.
LILY LIM, Respondent.
SO ORDERED.4
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,*
On the other hand, Charlie Cos (Co) Petition for Review5 assails the
PERLAS-BERNABE,** April 10, 2007 Decision6 of the Seventeenth Division in CA-G.R. SP No.
93395 for ruling on the same issue in the negative:
DECISION
We find no grave abuse of discretion committed by respondent judge.
DEL CASTILLO, J.: The elements of litis pendentiaand forum-shopping were not met in this
case.7
Is it forum shopping for a private complainant to pursue a civil
complaint for specific performance and damages, while appealing the xxxx
judgment on the civil aspect of a criminal case for estafa?
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is DENIED.
This case is REMANDED to the court of origin for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.8 The criminal case

Factual Antecedents An Information for Estafa through Misappropriation or Conversion was


filed against Co before Branch 154 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
In February 1999, FR Cement Corporation (FRCC), owner/operator of a Pasig City. The accusatory portion thereof reads:
cement manufacturing plant, issued several withdrawal authorities 9 for
the account of cement dealers and traders, Fil-Cement Center and On or about between the months of February and April 1999, in San
Tigerbilt. These withdrawal authorities state the number of bags that Juan, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the dealer/trader paid for and can withdraw from the plant. Each the accused, with intent to defraud Lily Lim, with grave abuse of
withdrawal authority contained a provision that it is valid for six confidence, with unfaithfulness, received in trust from Lily Lim cash
months from its date of issuance, unless revoked by FRCC Marketing money in the amount of 2,380,800.00 as payment for the 37,200 bags
Department. of cement, under obligation to deliver the 37,200 bags of cement to said
Lily Lim, but far from complying with his obligation, misappropriated,
Fil-Cement Center and Tigerbilt, through their administrative manager, misapplied and converted to his own personal use and benefit the said
Gail Borja (Borja), sold the withdrawal authorities covering 50,000 bags amount of 2,300,800.00 [sic] and despite demands, the accused failed
of cement to Co for the amount of 3.15 million or 63.00 per bag. 10 On and refused to return said amount, to the damage and prejudice of Lily
February 15, 1999, Co sold these withdrawal authorities to Lim Lim in the amount of 2,380,800.00.
allegedly at the price of 64.00 per bag or a total of 3.2 million.11
Contrary to Law.12
Using the withdrawal authorities, Lim withdrew the cement bags from
FRCC on a staggered basis. She successfully withdrew 2,800 bags of The private complainant, Lily Lim, participated in the criminal
cement, and sold back some of the withdrawal authorities, covering proceedings to prove her damages. She prayed for Co to return her
10,000 bags, to Co. money amounting to 2,380,800.00, foregone profits, and legal
interest, and for an award of moral and exemplary damages, as well as
Sometime in April 1999, FRCC did not allow Lim to withdraw the attorneys fees.13
remaining 37,200 bags covered by the withdrawal authorities. Lim
clarified the matter with Co and Borja, who explained that the plant On November 19, 2003, the RTC of Pasig City, Branch 154, rendered its
implemented a price increase and would only release the goods once Order14 acquitting Co of the estafa charge for insufficiency of evidence.
Lim pays for the price difference or agrees to receive a lesser quantity The criminal courts Order reads:
of cement. Lim objected and maintained that the withdrawal authorities
she bought were not subject to price fluctuations. Lim sought legal The first and second elements of the crime of estafa [with abuse of
recourse after her demands for Co to resolve the problem with the plant confidence under Article 315, paragraph 1(b)] for which the accused is
or for the return of her money had failed. being charged and prosecuted were not established by the
prosecutions evidence.
xxxx On March 14, 2005, Lim filed her notice of appeal 21 on the civil aspect of
the criminal case. Her appeal was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 85138
In view of the absence of the essential requisites of the crime of estafa and raffled to the Second Division of the CA.
for which the accused is being charged and prosecuted, as above
discussed, the Court has no alternative but to dismiss the case against The civil action for specific performance
the accused for insufficiency of evidence.15
On April 19, 2005, Lim filed a complaint for specific performance and
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Demurrer to damages before Branch 21 of the RTC of Manila. The defendants in the
Evidence is GRANTED, and the accused is hereby ACQUITTED of the civil case were Co and all other parties to the withdrawal authorities,
crime of estafa charged against him under the present information for Tigerbilt, Fil-Cement Center, FRCC, Southeast Asia Cement, and La Farge
insufficiency of evidence. Corporation. The complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 05-112396,
asserted two causes of action: breach of contract and abuse of rights.
Insofar as the civil liability of the accused is concerned, however, set Her allegations read:
this case for the reception of his evidence on the matter on December
11, 2003 at 8:30 oclock [sic] in the morning. ALLEGATIONS COMMON
TO ALL CAUSES OF ACTION
SO ORDERED.16
xxxx
After the trial on the civil aspect of the criminal case, the Pasig City RTC
also relieved Co of civil liability to Lim in its December 1, 2004 23. Charlie Co obligated himself to deliver to Lily Lim 50,000 bags of
Order.17 The dispositive portion of the Order reads as follows: cement of 64.00 per bag on an x-plant basis within 3 months from the
date of their transaction, i.e. February 15, 1999. Pursuant to said
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered agreement, Lily Lim paid Charlie Co 3.2 Million while Charlie Co
holding the accused CHARLIE COnot civilly liable to the private delivered to Lily Lim FR Cement Withdrawal Authorities representing
complainant Lily Lim. 50,000 bags of cement.

SO ORDERED.18 24. The withdrawal authorities issued by FR Cement Corp. allowed the
assignee or holder thereof to withdraw within a six-month period from
Lim sought a reconsideration of the above Order, arguing that she has date a certain amount of cement indicated therein. The Withdrawal
presented preponderant evidence that Co committed estafa against Authorities given to Lily Lim were dated either 3 February 1999 or 23
her.19 February 1999. The Withdrawal Authorities were first issued to
Tigerbilt and Fil-Cement Center which in turn assigned them to Charlie
The trial court denied the motion in its Order20 dated February 21, Co. Charlie Co then assigned the Withdrawal Authorities to Lily Lim on
2005. February 15, 1999. Through these series of assignments, Lily Lim
acquired all the rights (rights to withdraw cement) granted in said SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION:
Withdrawal Authorities. ABUSE OF RIGHTS AND UNJUST ENRICHMENT

25. That these Withdrawal Authorities are valid is established by the 33. Charlie Cos acts of falsely representing to Lily Lim that she may be
fact that FR Cement earlier allowed Lily Lim to withdraw 2,800 bags of able to withdraw the cement from FR Cement Corp. caused Lily Lim to
cement on the basis thereof. incur expenses and losses. Such act was made without justice, without
giving Lily Lim what is due her and without observing honesty and
26. However, sometime 19 April 1999 (within the three (3)-month good faith, all violative of the law, more specifically Articles 19 and 20 of
period agreed upon by Charlie Co and Lily Lim and certainly within the the Civil Code. Such willful act was also made by Charlie Co in a manner
six (6)-month period indicated in the Withdrawal Authorities issued by contrary to morals, good customs or public policy, in violation of Article
FR Cement Corp.), Lily Lim attempted but failed to withdraw the 21 of the Civil Code.
remaining bags of cement on account of FR Cements unjustified refusal
to honor the Withdrawal Authorities. x x x 34. FR Cement Corporations unjust refusal to honor the Withdrawal
Authorities they issued also caused damage to Lily Lim. Further, FR
xxxx Cement Corporations act of withholding the 37,200 bags of cement
despite earning income therefor constitutes as an unjust enrichment
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION: because FR Cement Corporation acquired income through an act or
BREACH OF CONTRACT performance by another or any other means at the expense of another
without just or legal ground in violation of Article 22 of the Civil Code.
30. Charlie Co committed and is therefore liable to deliver to Lily Lim
37,200 bags of cement. If he cannot, then he must pay her the current 35. Fil-Cement Center, Tigerbilt and Gail Borjas false assurances that
fair market value thereof. Lily Lim would be able to withdraw the remaining 37,200 bags of
cement caused Lily Lim to incur expenses and losses. x x x Moreover,
31. FR Cement Corporation is also liable to deliver to Lily Lim the Fil-Cement Center admitted receiving payment for said amount of
amount of cement as indicated in the Withdrawal Authorities it issued. cement, thus they are deemed to have come into possession of money at
xxx FR Cement Corporation has no right to impose price adjustments as the expense of Lily Lim without just or legal ground, in violation of
a qualification for honoring the Withdrawal Authorities. Article 22 of the Civil Code.

32. Fil-Cement Center, Tigerbilt and Gail Borja as the original holders/ THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION:
assignees of the Withdrawal Authorities repeatedly assured Lily Lim MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES and
that the same were valid and would be honored. They are liable to make ATTORNEYS FEES AND COSTS OF SUIT22
good on their assurances.
Lim prayed for Co to honor his contractual commitments either by
delivering the 37,200 bags of cement, making arrangements with FRCC
to allow Lim to withdraw the cement, or to pay for their value. She Meanwhile, the Manila RTC denied Cos Motion to Dismiss in an
likewise asked that the defendants be held solidarily liable to her for Order31 dated December 6, 2005. The Manila RTC held that there was no
the damages she incurred in her failed attempts to withdraw the forum shopping because the causes of action invoked in the two cases
cement and for the damages they inflicted on her as a result of their are different. It observed that the civil complaint before it is based on an
abuse of their rights.23 obligation arising from contract and quasi-delict, whereas the civil
liability involved in the appeal of the criminal case arose from a felony.
Motions to dismiss both actions
Co filed a petition for certiorari, 32 docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 93395,
In reaction to the filing of the civil complaint for specific performance before the appellate court. He prayed for the nullification of the Manila
and damages, Co filed motions to dismiss the said civil case 24 and Lims RTCs Order in Civil Case No. 05-112396 for having been issued with
appeal in the civil aspect of the estafa case or CA-G.R. CV No. 85138. 25 He grave abuse of discretion.33
maintained that the two actions raise the same issue, which is Cos
liability to Lim for her inability to withdraw the bags of cement, 26 and Ruling of the Court of Appeals Seventeenth Division in CA-G.R. SP No.
should be dismissed on the ground of lis pendens and forum shopping. 93395

Ruling of the Court of Appeals Second Division in CA-G.R CV No. The CA Seventeenth Division denied Cos petition and remanded the
85138 civil complaint to the trial court for further proceedings. The CA
Seventeenth Division agreed with the Manila RTC that the elements of
The appellate court (Second Division) favorably resolved Cos motion litis pendentia and forum shopping are not met in the two proceedings
and dismissed Lims appeal from the civil aspect of the estafa case. In its because they do not share the same cause of action.34
Resolution dated October 20, 2005, the CA Second Division held that
the parties, causes of action, and reliefs prayed for in Lims appeal and The CA denied35 Cos motion for reconsideration.36
in her civil complaint are identical. Both actions seek the same relief,
which is the payment of the value of the 37,200 bags of cement. 27 Thus, Co filed the instant Petition for Review, which was docketed as G.R. No.
the CA Second Division dismissed Lims appeal for forum 179160.
shopping.28 The CA denied29 Lims motion for reconsideration.30
Upon Cos motion,37 the Court resolved to consolidate the two
Lim filed the instant petition for review, which was docketed as G.R. No. petitions.38
175256.
Kou Co Pings arguments
Ruling of the Manila Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 05-
112396 Co maintains that Lim is guilty of forum shopping because she is
asserting only one cause of action in CA-G.R. CV No. 85138 (the appeal
from the civil aspect of Criminal Case No. 116377) and in Civil Case No.
05-112396, which is for Cos violation of her right to receive 37,200 her two independent causes of action, Lim contends that it is not forum
bags of cement. Likewise, the reliefs sought in both cases are the same, shopping to pursue them.46
that is, for Co to deliver the 37,200 bags of cement or its value to Lim.
That Lim utilized different methods of presenting her case a criminal She then explains the separate and distinct causes of action involved in
action for estafa and a civil complaint for specific performance and the two cases. Her cause of action in CA-G.R CV No. 85138 is based on
damages should not detract from the fact that she is attempting to the crime of estafa. Co violated Lims right to be protected against
litigate the same cause of action twice.39 swindling. He represented to Lim that she can withdraw 37,200 bags of
cement using the authorities she bought from him. This is a fraudulent
Co makes light of the distinction between civil liability ex contractu and representation because Co knew, at the time that they entered into the
ex delicto. According to him, granting that the two civil liabilities are contract, that he could not deliver what he promised. 47 On the other
independent of each other, nevertheless, the two cases arising from hand, Lims cause of action in Civil Case No. 05-112396 is based on
them would have to be decided using the same evidence and going over contract. Co violated Lims rights as a buyer in a contract of sale. Co
the same set of facts. Thus, any judgment rendered in one of these cases received payment for the 37,200 bags of cement but did not deliver the
will constitute res judicata on the other.40 goods that were the subject of the sale.48

In G.R. No. 179160, Co prays for the annulment of the CA Decision and In G.R. No. 179160, Lim prays for the denial of Cos petition. 49 In G.R. No.
Resolution in CA-G.R. SP No. 93395, for a declaration that Lim is guilty 175256, she prays for the reversal of the CA Decision in CA-G.R. CV No.
of forum shopping, and for the dismissal of Civil Case No. 05-112396. 41 85138, for a declaration that she is not guilty of forum shopping, and for
the reinstatement of her appeal in Criminal Case No. 116377 to the
In G.R. No. 175256, Co prays for the affirmation of the CA Decision in CA.50
CA-G.R. CV No. 85138 (which dismissed Lims appeal from the trial
courts decision in Criminal Case No. 116377).42 Issue

Lily Lims arguments Did Lim commit forum shopping in filing the civil case for specific
performance and damages during the pendency of her appeal on the
Lim admits that the two proceedings involve substantially the same set civil aspect of the criminal case for estafa?
of facts because they arose from only one transaction. 43 She is quick to
add, however, that a single act or omission does not always make a Our Ruling
single cause of action.44 It can possibly give rise to two separate civil
liabilities on the part of the offender (1) ex delicto or civil liability A single act or omission that causes damage to an offended party may
arising from crimes, and (2) independent civil liabilities or those arising give rise to two separate civil liabilities on the part of the offender 51 (1)
from contracts or intentional torts. The only caveat provided in Article civil liability ex delicto, that is, civil liability arising from the criminal
2177 of the Civil Code is that the offended party cannot recover offense under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code,-52 and (2)
damages twice for the same act or omission. 45 Because the law allows independent civil liability, that is, civil liability that may be pursued
independently of the criminal proceedings. The independent civil Because of the distinct and independent nature of the two kinds of civil
liability may be based on "an obligation not arising from the act or liabilities, jurisprudence holds that the offended party may pursue the
omission complained of as a felony," as provided in Article 31 of the two types of civil liabilities simultaneously or cumulatively, without
Civil Code (such as for breach of contract or for tort 53 ). It may also be offending the rules on forum shopping, litis pendentia, or res
based on an act or omission that may constitute felony but, judicata.57 As explained in Cancio, Jr. v. Isip:58
nevertheless, treated independently from the criminal action by specific
provision of Article 33 of the Civil Code ("in cases of defamation, fraud One of the elements of res judicata is identity of causes of action. In the
and physical injuries"). instant case, it must be stressed that the action filed by petitioner is an
independent civil action, which remains separate and distinct from any
The civil liability arising from the offense or ex delicto is based on the criminal prosecution based on the same act. Not being deemed
acts or omissions that constitute the criminal offense; hence, its trial is instituted in the criminal action based on culpa criminal, a ruling on the
inherently intertwined with the criminal action. For this reason, the culpability of the offender will have no bearing on said independent
civil liability ex delicto is impliedly instituted with the criminal civil action based on an entirely different cause of action, i.e., culpa
offense.54 If the action for the civil liability ex delicto is instituted prior contractual.
to or subsequent to the filing of the criminal action, its proceedings are
suspended until the final outcome of the criminal action. 55 The civil In the same vein, the filing of the collection case after the dismissal of
liability based on delict is extinguished when the court hearing the the estafa cases against the offender did not amount to forum-shopping.
criminal action declares that "the act or omission from which the civil The essence of forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving
liability may arise did not exist."56 the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or
successively, to secure a favorable judgment. Although the cases filed by
On the other hand, the independent civil liabilities are separate from [the offended party] arose from the same act or omission of [the
the criminal action and may be pursued independently, as provided in offender], they are, however, based on different causes of action. The
Articles 31 and 33 of the Civil Code, which state that: criminal cases for estafa are based on culpa criminal while the civil
action for collection is anchored on culpa contractual. Moreover, there
ART. 31. When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from can be no forum-shopping in the instant case because the law expressly
the act or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action may allows the filing of a separate civil action which can proceed
proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of independently of the criminal action.59
the result of the latter. (Emphasis supplied.)
Since civil liabilities arising from felonies and those arising from other
ART. 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries a civil sources of obligations are authorized by law to proceed independently
action for damages, entirely separate and distinct from the criminal of each other, the resolution of the present issue hinges on whether the
action, may be brought by the injured party. Such civil action shall two cases herein involve different kinds of civil obligations such that
proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require they can proceed independently of each other. The answer is in the
only a preponderance of evidence. (Emphasis supplied.) affirmative.
The first action is clearly a civil action ex delicto, it having been involves only the civil obligations of Co arising from the offense
instituted together with the criminal action.60 charged. They present different causes of action, which under the law,
are considered "separate, distinct, and independent" 62 from each other.
On the other hand, the second action, judging by the allegations Both cases can proceed to their final adjudication, subject to the
contained in the complaint,61 is a civil action arising from a contractual prohibition on double recovery under Article 2177 of the Civil Code. 63
obligation and for tortious conduct (abuse of rights). In her civil
complaint, Lim basically alleges that she entered into a sale contract WHEREFORE, premises considered, Lily Lims Petition in G.R. No.
with Co under the following terms: that she bought 37,200 bags of 175256 is GRANTED. The assailed October 20, 2005 Resolution of the
cement at the rate of 64.00 per bag from Co; that, after full payment, Second Division of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 85138
Co delivered to her the withdrawal authorities issued by FRCC is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Lily Lims appeal in CA-G.R. CV No.
corresponding to these bags of cement; that these withdrawal 85138 is ordered REINSTATED and the Court of Appeals
authorities will be honored by FRCC for six months from the dates is DIRECTED to RESOLVE the same with DELIBERATE DISPATCH.
written thereon. Lim then maintains that the defendants breached their
contractual obligations to her under the sale contract and under the Charlie Cos Petition G.R. No. 179160 is DENIED. The assailed April 10,
withdrawal authorities; that Co and his co-defendants wanted her to 2007 Decision of the Seventeenth Division of the Court of Appeals in
pay more for each bag of cement, contrary to their agreement to fix the CA-G.R. SP No. 93395 is AFFIRMED in toto.
price at 64.00 per bag and to the wording of the withdrawal
authorities; that FRCC did not honor the terms of the withdrawal SO ORDERED.
authorities it issued; and that Co did not comply with his obligation
under the sale contract to deliver the 37,200 bags of cement to Lim.
From the foregoing allegations, it is evident that Lim seeks to enforce
the defendants contractual obligations, given that she has already
performed her obligations. She prays that the defendants either honor
their part of the contract or pay for the damages that their breach has
caused her.

Lim also includes allegations that the actions of the defendants were
committed in such manner as to cause damage to Lim without regard
for morals, good customs and public policy. These allegations, if proven,
would constitute tortious conduct (abuse of rights under the Human TOPIC: Rule 111 C. Independent Civil Action
Relations provisions of the Civil Code).
Republic of the Philippines
Thus, Civil Case No. 05-112396 involves only the obligations arising SUPREME COURT
from contract and from tort, whereas the appeal in the estafa case Manila
THIRD DIVISION considering the pendency of the criminal case. The MCTC granted the
motion in the Order of March 26, 1999 and dismissed the civil case.
G.R. No. 145391 August 26, 2002
On Motion for Reconsideration, Casupanan and Capitulo insisted that
AVELINO CASUPANAN and ROBERTO CAPITULO, petitioners, the civil case is a separate civil action which can proceed independently
vs. of the criminal case. The MCTC denied the motion for reconsideration in
MARIO LLAVORE LAROYA, respondent. the Order of May 7, 1999. Casupanan and Capitulo filed a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65 before the Regional Trial Court ("Capas RTC"
CARPIO, J.: for brevity) of Capas, Tarlac, Branch 66, 3 assailing the MCTCs Order of
dismissal.
The Case
The Trial Courts Ruling
This is a petition for review on certiorari to set aside the
Resolution1 dated December 28, 1999 dismissing the petition for The Capas RTC rendered judgment on December 28, 1999 dismissing
certiorari and the Resolution2 dated August 24, 2000 denying the the petition for certiorari for lack of merit. The Capas RTC ruled that the
motion for reconsideration, both issued by the Regional Trial Court of order of dismissal issued by the MCTC is a final order which disposes of
Capas, Tarlac, Branch 66, in Special Civil Action No. 17-C (99). the case and therefore the proper remedy should have been an appeal.
The Capas RTC further held that a special civil action for certiorari is
The Facts not a substitute for a lost appeal. Finally, the Capas RTC declared that
even on the premise that the MCTC erred in dismissing the civil case,
Two vehicles, one driven by respondent Mario Llavore Laroya ("Laroya" such error is a pure error of judgment and not an abuse of discretion.
for brevity) and the other owned by petitioner Roberto Capitulo
("Capitulo" for brevity) and driven by petitioner Avelino Casupanan Casupanan and Capitulo filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the
("Casupanan" for brevity), figured in an accident. As a result, two cases Capas RTC denied the same in the Resolution of August 24, 2000.
were filed with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court ("MCTC" for brevity) of
Capas, Tarlac. Laroya filed a criminal case against Casupanan for Hence, this petition.
reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 002-99. On the other hand, Casupanan and Capitulo The Issue
filed a civil case against Laroya for quasi-delict, docketed as Civil Case
No. 2089. The petition premises the legal issue in this wise:

When the civil case was filed, the criminal case was then at its "In a certain vehicular accident involving two parties, each one
preliminary investigation stage. Laroya, defendant in the civil case, filed of them may think and believe that the accident was caused by
a motion to dismiss the civil case on the ground of forum-shopping the fault of the other. x x x [T]he first party, believing himself to
be the aggrieved party, opted to file a criminal case for reckless order of dismissal is already final and a petition for certiorari is not a
imprudence against the second party. On the other hand, the substitute for a lapsed appeal.
second party, together with his operator, believing themselves
to be the real aggrieved parties, opted in turn to file a civil case In their Reply, Casupanan and Capitulo contend that the petition raises
for quasi-delict against the first party who is the very private the legal question of whether there is forum-shopping since they filed
complainant in the criminal case."4 only one action - the independent civil action for quasi-delict against
Laroya.
Thus, the issue raised is whether an accused in a pending criminal case
for reckless imprudence can validly file, simultaneously and Nature of the Order of Dismissal
independently, a separate civil action for quasi-delict against the private
complainant in the criminal case. The MCTC dismissed the civil action for quasi-delict on the ground of
forum-shopping under Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 04-
The Courts Ruling 94. The MCTC did not state in its order of dismissal 5 that the dismissal
was with prejudice. Under the Administrative Circular, the order of
Casupanan and Capitulo assert that Civil Case No. 2089, which the dismissal is without prejudice to refiling the complaint, unless the order
MCTC dismissed on the ground of forum-shopping, constitutes a of dismissal expressly states it is with prejudice. 6 Absent a declaration
counterclaim in the criminal case. Casupanan and Capitulo argue that if that the dismissal is with prejudice, the same is deemed without
the accused in a criminal case has a counterclaim against the private prejudice. Thus, the MCTCs dismissal, being silent on the matter, is a
complainant, he may file the counterclaim in a separate civil action at dismissal without prejudice.
the proper time. They contend that an action on quasi-delict is different
from an action resulting from the crime of reckless imprudence, and an Section 1 of Rule 417 provides that an order dismissing an action
accused in a criminal case can be an aggrieved party in a civil case without prejudice is not appealable. The remedy of the aggrieved party
arising from the same incident. They maintain that under Articles 31 is to file a special civil action under Rule 65. Section 1 of Rule 41
and 2176 of the Civil Code, the civil case can proceed independently of expressly states that "where the judgment or final order is not
the criminal action. Finally, they point out that Casupanan was not the appealable, the aggrieved party may file an appropriate special civil
only one who filed the independent civil action based on quasi-delict action under Rule 65." Clearly, the Capas RTCs order dismissing the
but also Capitulo, the owner-operator of the vehicle, who was not a petition for certiorari, on the ground that the proper remedy is an
party in the criminal case. ordinary appeal, is erroneous.

In his Comment, Laroya claims that the petition is fatally defective as it Forum-Shopping
does not state the real antecedents. Laroya further alleges that
Casupanan and Capitulo forfeited their right to question the order of The essence of forum-shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving
dismissal when they failed to avail of the proper remedy of appeal. the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or
Laroya argues that there is no question of law to be resolved as the successively, to secure a favorable judgment. 8 Forum-shopping is
present when in the two or more cases pending, there is identity of Moreover, paragraph 6, Section 1, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on
parties, rights of action and reliefs sought. 9 However, there is no forum- Criminal Procedure ("2000 Rules" for brevity) expressly requires the
shopping in the instant case because the law and the rules expressly accused to litigate his counterclaim in a separate civil action, to wit:
allow the filing of a separate civil action which can proceed
independently of the criminal action. "SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) x x x.

Laroya filed the criminal case for reckless imprudence resulting in No counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint may be
damage to property based on the Revised Penal Code while Casupanan filed by the accused in the criminal case, but any cause of
and Capitulo filed the civil action for damages based on Article 2176 of action which could have been the subject thereof may be
the Civil Code. Although these two actions arose from the same act or litigated in a separate civil action." (Emphasis supplied)
omission, they have different causes of action. The criminal case is
based on culpa criminal punishable under the Revised Penal Code while Since the present Rules require the accused in a criminal action to file
the civil case is based on culpa aquiliana actionable under Articles 2176 his counterclaim in a separate civil action, there can be no forum-
and 2177 of the Civil Code. These articles on culpa aquiliana read: shopping if the accused files such separate civil action.

"Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to Filing of a separate civil action
another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for
the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre- Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure ("1985
existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a Rules" for brevity), as amended in 1988, allowed the filing of a separate
quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. civil action independently of the criminal action provided the offended
party reserved the right to file such civil action. Unless the offended
Art. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the party reserved the civil action before the presentation of the evidence
preceding article is entirely separate and distinct from the civil for the prosecution, all civil actions arising from the same act or
liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the omission were deemed "impliedly instituted" in the criminal case.
plaintiff cannot recover damages twice for the same act or These civil actions referred to the recovery of civil liability ex-delicto,
omission of the defendant." the recovery of damages for quasi-delict, and the recovery of damages
for violation of Articles 32, 33 and 34 of the Civil Code on Human
Any aggrieved person can invoke these articles provided he proves, by Relations.
preponderance of evidence, that he has suffered damage because of the
fault or negligence of another. Either the private complainant or the Thus, to file a separate and independent civil action for quasi-delict
accused can file a separate civil action under these articles. There is under the 1985 Rules, the offended party had to reserve in the criminal
nothing in the law or rules that state only the private complainant in a action the right to bring such action. Otherwise, such civil action was
criminal case may invoke these articles. deemed "impliedly instituted" in the criminal action. Section 1, Rule
111 of the 1985 Rules provided as follows:
"Section 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. When a institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the
criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of criminal action.
civil liability is impliedly instituted with the criminal action,
unless the offended party waives the action, reserves his right The reservation of the right to institute separately the civil
to institute it separately, or institutes the civil action prior to action shall be made before the prosecution starts presenting
the criminal action. its evidence and under circumstances affording the offended
party a reasonable opportunity to make such reservation.
Such civil action includes recovery of indemnity under the
Revised Penal Code, and damages under Articles 32, 33, 34 xxx
and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines arising from
the same act or omission of the accused. (b) x x x

A waiver of any of the civil actions extinguishes the others. The Where the civil action has been filed separately and trial
institution of, or the reservation of the right to file, any of said thereof has not yet commenced, it may be consolidated with
civil actions separately waives the others. the criminal action upon application with the court trying the
latter case. If the application is granted, the trial of both actions
The reservation of the right to institute the separate civil shall proceed in accordance with section 2 of this rule
actions shall be made before the prosecution starts to present governing consolidation of the civil and criminal actions."
its evidence and under circumstances affording the offended (Emphasis supplied)
party a reasonable opportunity to make such reservation.
Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111, what is "deemed instituted"
In no case may the offended party recover damages twice for with the criminal action is only the action to recover civil liability
the same act or omission of the accused. arising from the crime or ex-delicto. All the other civil actions under
Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code are no longer "deemed
x x x." (Emphasis supplied) instituted," and may be filed separately and prosecuted independently
even without any reservation in the criminal action. The failure to make
Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules was amended on December 1, a reservation in the criminal action is not a waiver of the right to file a
2000 and now provides as follows: separate and independent civil action based on these articles of the
Civil Code. The prescriptive period on the civil actions based on these
"SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) articles of the Civil Code continues to run even with the filing of the
When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the criminal action. Verily, the civil actions based on these articles of the
recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged Civil Code are separate, distinct and independent of the civil action
shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action unless "deemed instituted" in the criminal action.10
the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to
Under the present Rule 111, the offended party is still given the option whatever stage it may be found before judgment on the
to file a separate civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto by merits. The suspension shall last until final judgment is
reserving such right in the criminal action before the prosecution rendered in the criminal action. Nevertheless, before
presents its evidence. Also, the offended party is deemed to make such judgment on the merits is rendered in the civil action, the same
reservation if he files a separate civil action before filing the criminal may, upon motion of the offended party, be consolidated with
action. If the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is filed the criminal action in the court trying the criminal action. In
separately but its trial has not yet commenced, the civil action may be case of consolidation, the evidence already adduced in the civil
consolidated with the criminal action. The consolidation under this action shall be deemed automatically reproduced in the
Rule does not apply to separate civil actions arising from the same act criminal action without prejudice to the right of the
or omission filed under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code. 11 prosecution to cross-examine the witnesses presented by the
offended party in the criminal case and of the parties to
Suspension of the Separate Civil Action present additional evidence. The consolidated criminal and
civil actions shall be tried and decided jointly.
Under Section 2, Rule 111 of the amended 1985 Rules, a separate civil
action, if reserved in the criminal action, could not be filed until after During the pendency of the criminal action, the running of the
final judgment was rendered in the criminal action. If the separate civil period of prescription of the civil action which cannot be
action was filed before the commencement of the criminal action, the instituted separately or whose proceeding has been suspended
civil action, if still pending, was suspended upon the filing of the shall be tolled.
criminal action until final judgment was rendered in the criminal action.
This rule applied only to the separate civil action filed to recover x x x." (Emphasis supplied)
liability ex-delicto. The rule did not apply to independent civil actions
based on Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code, which could Thus, Section 2, Rule 111 of the present Rules did not change the rule
proceed independently regardless of the filing of the criminal action. that the separate civil action, filed to recover damages ex-delicto, is
suspended upon the filing of the criminal action. Section 2 of the
The amended provision of Section 2, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules present Rule 111 also prohibits the filing, after commencement of the
continues this procedure, to wit: criminal action, of a separate civil action to recover damages ex-delicto.

"SEC. 2. When separate civil action is suspended. After the When civil action may proceed independently
criminal action has been commenced, the separate civil action
arising therefrom cannot be instituted until final judgment has The crucial question now is whether Casupanan and Capitulo, who are
been entered in the criminal action. not the offended parties in the criminal case, can file a separate civil
action against the offended party in the criminal case. Section 3, Rule
If the criminal action is filed after the said civil action has 111 of the 2000 Rules provides as follows:
already been instituted, the latter shall be suspended in
"SEC 3. When civil action may proceed independently. - In the Court ruled that the trial court should confine itself to the criminal
cases provided in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code aspect of the case and disregard any counterclaim for civil liability. The
of the Philippines, the independent civil action may be brought Court further ruled that the accused may file a separate civil case
by the offended party. It shall proceed independently of the against the offended party "after the criminal case is terminated and/or
criminal action and shall require only a preponderance of in accordance with the new Rules which may be promulgated." The
evidence. In no case, however, may the offended party recover Court explained that a cross-claim, counterclaim or third-party
damages twice for the same act or omission charged in the complaint on the civil aspect will only unnecessarily complicate the
criminal action." (Emphasis supplied) proceedings and delay the resolution of the criminal case.

Section 3 of the present Rule 111, like its counterpart in the amended Paragraph 6, Section 1 of the present Rule 111 was incorporated in the
1985 Rules, expressly allows the "offended party" to bring an 2000 Rules precisely to address the lacunamentioned in Cabaero.
independent civil action under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Under this provision, the accused is barred from filing a counterclaim,
Code. As stated in Section 3 of the present Rule 111, this civil action cross-claim or third-party complaint in the criminal case. However, the
shall proceed independently of the criminal action and shall require same provision states that "any cause of action which could have been
only a preponderance of evidence. In no case, however, may the the subject (of the counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint)
"offended party recover damages twice for the same act or omission may be litigated in a separate civil action." The present Rule 111
charged in the criminal action." mandates the accused to file his counterclaim in a separate civil actiosn
which shall proceed independently of the criminal action, even as the
There is no question that the offended party in the criminal action can civil action of the offended party is litigated in the criminal action.
file an independent civil action for quasi-delict against the accused.
Section 3 of the present Rule 111 expressly states that the "offended Conclusion
party" may bring such an action but the "offended party" may not
recover damages twice for the same act or omission charged in the Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111, the independent civil action in
criminal action. Clearly, Section 3 of Rule 111 refers to the offended Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code is not deemed instituted
party in the criminal action, not to the accused. with the criminal action but may be filed separately by the offended
party even without reservation. The commencement of the criminal
Casupanan and Capitulo, however, invoke the ruling in Cabaero vs. action does not suspend the prosecution of the independent civil action
Cantos12 where the Court held that the accused therein could validly under these articles of the Civil Code. The suspension in Section 2 of the
institute a separate civil action for quasi-delict against the private present Rule 111 refers only to the civil action arising from the crime, if
complainant in the criminal case. In Cabaero, the accused in the such civil action is reserved or filed before the commencement of the
criminal case filed his Answer with Counterclaim for malicious criminal action.
prosecution. At that time the Court noted the "absence of clear-cut rules
governing the prosecution on impliedly instituted civil actions and Thus, the offended party can file two separate suits for the same act or
the necessary consequences and implications thereof." Thus, the omission. The first a criminal case where the civil action to recover civil
liability ex-delicto is deemed instituted, and the other a civil case Thus, the civil action based on quasi-delict filed separately by
for quasi-delict - without violating the rule on non-forum shopping. The Casupanan and Capitulo is proper. The order of dismissal by the MCTC
two cases can proceed simultaneously and independently of each other. of Civil Case No. 2089 on the ground of forum-shopping is erroneous.
The commencement or prosecution of the criminal action will not
suspend the civil action for quasi-delict. The only limitation is that the We make this ruling aware of the possibility that the decision of the trial
offended party cannot recover damages twice for the same act or court in the criminal case may vary with the decision of the trial court
omission of the defendant. In most cases, the offended party will have in the independent civil action. This possibility has always been
no reason to file a second civil action since he cannot recover damages recognized ever since the Civil Code introduced in 1950 the concept of
twice for the same act or omission of the accused. In some instances, an independent civil action under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the
the accused may be insolvent, necessitating the filing of another case Code. But the law itself, in Article 31 of the Code, expressly provides
against his employer or guardians. that the independent civil action "may proceed independently of the
criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter."
Similarly, the accused can file a civil action for quasi-delict for the same In Azucena vs. Potenciano,13the Court declared:
act or omission he is accused of in the criminal case. This is expressly
allowed in paragraph 6, Section 1 of the present Rule 111 which states "x x x. There can indeed be no other logical conclusion than
that the counterclaim of the accused "may be litigated in a separate this, for to subordinate the civil action contemplated in the said
civil action." This is only fair for two reasons. First, the accused is articles to the result of the criminal prosecution whether it
prohibited from setting up any counterclaim in the civil aspect that is be conviction or acquittal would render meaningless the
deemed instituted in the criminal case. The accused is therefore forced independent character of the civil action and the clear
to litigate separately his counterclaim against the offended party. If the injunction in Article 31 that this action 'may proceed
accused does not file a separate civil action for quasi-delict, the independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of
prescriptive period may set in since the period continues to run until the result of the latter."
the civil action for quasi-delict is filed.
More than half a century has passed since the Civil Code introduced the
Second, the accused, who is presumed innocent, has a right to invoke concept of a civil action separate and independent from the criminal
Article 2177 of the Civil Code, in the same way that the offended party action although arising from the same act or omission. The Court,
can avail of this remedy which is independent of the criminal action. To however, has yet to encounter a case of conflicting and irreconcilable
disallow the accused from filing a separate civil action for quasi-delict, decisions of trial courts, one hearing the criminal case and the other the
while refusing to recognize his counterclaim in the criminal case, is to civil action for quasi-delict. The fear of conflicting and irreconcilable
deny him due process of law, access to the courts, and equal protection decisions may be more apparent than real. In any event, there are
of the law. sufficient remedies under the Rules of Court to deal with such remote
possibilities.
One final point. The Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure took effect on FIRST DIVISION
December 1, 2000 while the MCTC issued the order of dismissal on
December 28, 1999 or before the amendment of the rules. The Revised
Rules on Criminal Procedure must be given retroactive effect
considering the well-settled rule that - G.R. No. 112985 April 21, 1999

"x x x statutes regulating the procedure of the court will be PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee
construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined vs.
at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are retroactive in MARTIN L. ROMERO and ERNESTO C. RODRIGUEZ, accused-
that sense and to that extent."14 appellants.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is hereby GRANTED. PARDO, J


The Resolutions dated December 28, 1999 and August 24, 2000 in
Special Civil Action No. 17-C (99) are ANNULLED and Civil Case No. The case before the Court is an appeal of accused Martin L. Romero and
2089 is REINSTATED. Ernesto C. Rodriguez from the Joint Judgment1 of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 2, Butuan City, convicting each of them of estafa under
SO ORDERED. Article 315, par. 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to
Presidential Decree No. 1689, for widescale swindling, and sentencing
each of them to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to jointly
and severally pay Ernesto A. Ruiz the amount of one hundred fifty
thousand pesos (P150,000.00), with interest at the rate of twelve
percent (12%) per annum, starting September 14, 1989, until fully paid,
and to pay ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00), as moral damages.

On October 25, 1989, Butuan City acting fiscal Ernesto M. Brocoy filed
with the Regional Trial Court, Butuan City, in Information against the
two (2) accused estafa,2 as follows:

That on or about September 14, 1989, at Butuan City,


TOPIC: Rule 111 D. Effect of Death on the Civil Action Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused being the
Republic of the Philippines General Manager and Operation Manager which solicit
SUPREME COURT funds from the general public for investment,
Manila conspiring, confederating together and mutually
helping, one another, by means of deceit and false On November 13, 1992, the parties submitted a joint stipulation of
pretense, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and facts, signed only by their respective counsels. Thereafter, the case was
feloniously deliberately defraud one Ernesto A. Ruiz by submitted for decision.
convincing the latter to invest his money in the amount
of P150,000.00 with a promise return of 800 % profit On March 30, 1993, the trail court promulgated a Joint Judgment dated
within 21 days and in the process caused the issuance March 25, 1993. The trial court acquitted the accused in Criminal Case
of Butuan City Rural [sic] Bank Check No. 158181 No. 38066 based on reasonable doubt, but convicted them in Criminal
postdated to October 5, 1989 in the amount of One Case No. 38087and accordingly sentenced each of them, as follows:
Million Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P1,200,000.00)
Philippine Currency, that upon presentation of said IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court hereby
check to the drawee bank for payment the same was renders judgments, finding or declaring
dishonored and that notwithstanding repeated
demands made on said accused to pay and/or change (a) Accused Martin L. Romero and Ernesto C.
the check to cash, they consistently failed and refused Rodriguez innocent on reasonable doubt in Criminal
and still fail and refuse to pay or redeem the check, to Case No. 3806, for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang
the damage and prejudice of the complainant in the 22;
aforestated amount of P1,200,000.00.3
(b) Accused Martin L. Romero and Ernesto C.
On the same day, the city fiscal filed with the same court another Rodriguez guilty beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal
information against the two (2) accused for violation of Batas Case No. 3808 for estafa under P.D. 1689 for wide scale
Pambansa Bilang 22, arising from the issuance of the same check. 4 [sic] swindling and accordingly sentences them to
suffer life imprisonment (Section 1 P.D. 1689) and
On January 11, 1990, both accused were arraigned before the Regional ordered jointly and severally to return to Ernesto A.
Trial Court, Branch 5, 5 Butuan City, where they plead not guilty to both Ruiz the amount of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos
informations. (P150,000.00) with interest thereon at the rate of
Twelve percent (12%) per annum starting from
The prosecution presented its evidence on January 10, 1991, with September 14, 1989 until fully paid and to pay the
complainant, Ernesto A. Ruiz, and Daphne Parrocho, the usher/collector amount Of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) as moral
of the corporation being managed by accused, testifying for the damages.
prosecution.
In the service of their sentence, the accused pursuant
On August 12, 1991, the defense presented its only witness, accused to R.A. 6127, shall be credited for the preventive
Martin L. Romero. imprisonment they have undergone (PP vs. Ortencio,
38 Phil 941; PP vs. Gabriel, No. L-13750, October 30,
1959, cited in Gregorio's "Fundamentals of Criminal postdated Butuan City Rural Bank check instead of the usual
Law Review", P. 178, Seventh Edition, 1985).8 redeemable coupon. The check indicated P1,000,200.00 as the amount
in words, but the amount in figures was for P1,200,000.00, as the return
On March 31, 1993, accused filed their notice of appeal, which the trial on the investment. Compliant did not notice the discrepancy.
court gave due course on April 5, 1993. On March 16, 1994, this Court
ordered the, accused to file their appellants' brief. When the check was presented to the bank for payment on October 5,
1989, it was dishonored for insufficiency of funds, as evidenced by the
Accused-appellants filed their brief on October 30, 1995, while the check return slip issued by the bank. 11 Both accused could not be
Solicitor General filed the appellee's brief on March 8, 1996. located and demand for payment was made only sometime in
November 1989 during the preliminary investigation of this case.
During the pendency of the appeal, on November 12, 1997, accused Accused responded that they had no money.
Ernesto Rodriguez died. 9 As a consequence of his death before final
judgment, his criminal and civil liability ex delicto, were extinguished. 10 Daphne Parrocho, 12 testified that on September 14, 1989, complainant,
with his friend Jimmy Acebu, approached her to invest the amount of
Complainant Ernesto A. Ruiz was a radio commentator of Radio DXRB, P150,000.00 at SAIDECOR. As she has reached her quota, and therefore,
Butuan City. In August, 1989, he came to know the business of Surigao no longer authorized to receive the amount, she accompanied them to
San Andres Industrial Development Corporation (SAIDECOR), when he the office of SAIDECOR at Ong Yiu District, Butuan City. Accused Ernesto
interviewed accused Martin Romero and Ernesto Rodriguez regarding Rodriguez accepted the investment and issued the check signed by him
the corporation's investment operations in Butuan City and Agusan del and Martin Romero.
Norte. Romero was the president and general manager of SAIDECOR,
while Rodriguez was the operations manager. For their defense, accused Martin Romero 13 testified that on September
14, 1989, he issued a check in the amount of P1,2000,000.00
SAIDECOR started its operation on August 24, 1989 as a marketing corresponding to the total of the P150,000.00 investment and the 800%
business. Later, it engaged in soliciting funds and investments from the return thereon. He claimed that the corporation had a deposit of
public. The corporation guaranteed an 800% return on investment fourteen million pesos (P14,000,000.00) at the time of the issuance of
within fifteen (15) or twenty one (21) days. Investors were given the check and four million pesos (P4,000,000.00) at the time
coupons containing the capital and the return on the capital collectible SAIDDECOR stopped operations. Romero knew these things because he
on the date agreed upon. It stopped operations in September, 1989. used to monitor the funds of the corporation with the bank. He was not
aware that the check he issued was dishonored because he never had
On September 14, 1989, complainant Ernesto A. Ruiz went to the occasion to meet the complainant again after the September 14,
SAIDECOR office in Butuan City to make an investment, accompanied by 1989 transaction. He only came to know about this when the case was
his friend Jimmy Acebu, and SAIDECOR collection agent Daphne already filed in court sometime in the second or third week of January
Parrocho. After handing over the amount of one hundred fifty thousand 1990.
pesos (P150,000.00) to Ernesto Rodriguez, complainant received a
In this appeal, both accused did not deny that complainant made an to complainant that his investment with the corporation would have an
investment with SAIDECOR in the amount of P150,000.00. However, 800% return in 15 or 21 days.
they denied that deceit was employed in the transaction. They assigned
as errors: (1) their conviction under P.D. 1689 due to the prosecution's Upon receipt of the money, accused-appellant Martin Romero issued a
failure to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt; and (2) the trial postdated check. Although accused-appellant contends that sufficient
court's failure to consider the joint stipulation of facts in their favor. 15 funds were deposited in the bank when the check was issued, he
presented no officer of the bank to substantiate the contention. The
There is no merit in this appeal. We sustain accused-appellant's check was dishonored when presented for payment, and the check
conviction. return slip submitted in evidence indicated that it was dishonored due
to insufficiency of funds.
Under paragraph 2 (d) of Article 315, as amended by R.A. 4885, 16 the
elements of estafa are: (1) a check was postdated or issued in payment Even assuming for the sake of argument that the check was dishonored
of an obligation contracted at the time it was issued; (2) lack or without any fraudulent pretense or fraudulent act of the drawer, the
insufficiency of funds to cover the check; (3) damage to the payee latter's failure to cover the amount within three days after notice
thereof. 17 The prosecution has satisfactorily established all these creates a rebuttable presumption of fraud. 22
elements.
Admittedly (1) the check was dishonored for insufficiency of funds as
Fraud, in its general sense, is deemed to comprise anything calculated evidenced by the check return slip; (2) complainant notified accused of
to deceive, including all acts, omissions, and concealment involving a the dishonor; and (3) accused failed to make good the check within
breach of legal equitable duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed, three days. Presumption of deceit remained since accused failed to
resulting in damage to another, or by which an undue and prove otherwise. Complainant sustained damage in the amount of
unconscientious advantage is taken of another. 18 It is a generic term P150,000.00.
embracing all multifarious means which human ingenuity can device,
and which are resorted to by one individual to secure an advantage over Accused-appellant also contends that had the trial court admitted the
another by false suggestions or by suppression of truth and includes all Admission and Stipulaion of Facts of November 9, 1992, it would prove
surprise, trick, cunning, dissembling and any unfair way by which that SAIDECOR had sufficient funds in the bank.
another is cheated. 19
Accused-appellant relies on the fact that there was a discrepancy
Deceit is a specific of fraud. It is actual fraud, and consists in any false between the amount in words and the amount in figures in the check
representation or contrivance whereby one person overreaches and that was dishonored. The amount in words was P1,000,200.00, while
misleads another, to his hurt. Deceit excludes the idea of the amount in figures was P1,200,000.00. It is admitted that the
mistake. 20 There is deceit when one is misled, either by guide or corporation had in the bank P1,144,760.00 on September 28, 1989, and
trickery or by other means, to believe to be true what is really false. 21 In P1,124,307.14 on April 2, 1990. The check was presented for payment
this case, there was deception when accused fraudulently represented on October 5, 1989. The rule in the Negotiable Instruments Law is that
when there is ambiguity in the amount in words and the amount in recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded
figures, it would be the amount in words that would prevail. 23 as it is on the criminal case. Corollarily, the claim for civil liability
survives notwithstanding the death of the accused, if the same may also
However, this rule of interpretation finds no application in the case. The be predicted on a source of obligation other than delicit. 27
agreement was perfectly clear that at the end of twenty one (21) days,
the investment of P150,000.00 would become P1,200,000.00. Even if Thus, the outcome of this appeal pertains only remaining accused-
the trial court admitted the stipulation of facts, it would not be appellant, Martin L. Romero. The trail court considered the swindling
favorable to accused-appellant. involved in this case as having been committed by a syndicate 28 and
sentenced the accused to life imprisonment based on the provisions of
The factual narration in this case established a kind of Ponzi Presidential Decree 1689, which increased the penalty for certain forms
scheme. 24 This is "an investment swindle in which high profits are of swindling or estafa. 29 However, the prosecution failed to clearly
promised from fictitious sources and early investors are paid off with establish that the corporation was a syndicate, as defined under the law.
funds raised from later ones." It is sometimes called a pyramid scheme The penalty of life imprisonment cannot be imposed. What would be
because a broader base of gullible investors must support the structure applicable in the present case is the second paragraph of a Presidential
as time passes. Decree No. 1689, Section 1, which provides that:

In the recent case of People vs. Priscilla Balasa, 25 this Court held that a When not committed by a syndicate as above defined,
transaction similar to the case at hand is not an investment strategy but the penalty imposable shall be reclusion
a gullibility scheme, which works only as long as there is an ever temporal to reclusion perpetua if the amount of the
increasing number of new investors joining the scheme. It is difficult to fraud exceeds 100.000 pesos.
sustain over a long period of time because the operator needs an ever
larger pool of later investors to continue paying the promised profits to Art. 77 of the Revised Penal Code on complex penalties provides that
early investors. The idea behind this type of swindle is that the "con- "whenever the penalty prescribed does not have one of the forms
man" collects his money from his second or third round of investors and specially provided for in this Code, the periods shall be distributed,
then absconds before anyone else shows up to collect. Necessarily, applying by analogy the prescribed rules," that is, those in Articles 61
these schemes only last weeks, or months at most, just like what and 76. 30 Hence, where as in this case, the penalty provided by Section
happened in this case. 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1689 for estafa under Articles 315 and 316
of the Code is reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua, the minimum
The Court notes that one of the accused-appellants, Ernesto Rodriguez, period thereof is twelve (12) year and one (1) day to sixteen (16) years
died pending appeal. Pursuant to the doctrine established in People vs. of reclusion temporal; the medium period is sixteen (16) years and one
Bayotas, 26 the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction (1) day to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal; and the maximum
extinguishes his criminal liability as well as the civil liability ex delicto. period is reclusion perpetua.
The criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a
defendant to stand as the accused, the civil action instituted therein for
In the case at bar, no mitigating or aggravating circumstance has been
alleged or proved. Applying the rules in the Revised Penal Code for
graduating penalties by degreses 31 to determine the proper
period, 32 the penalty for the offense of estafa under Article 315, 2(d) as
amended by P.D. 1689 involving the amount of P150,000.00 is the
medium of the period of the complex penalty in said Section 1, that is,
sixteen (16) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. This penalty,
being that which is to be actually imposed in accordance with the
therefor and not merely imposable as a general prescription under the
law, shall be the maximum range of the indeterminate sentence. 33The
minimum thereof shall be taken, as aforesaid, from any period of the
penalty next lower in degree which isprision mayor.

To enable the complainant to obtain means, diversion or amusements


that will serve to alleviate the moral sufferings undergone by him, by
reason of the failure of the accused to return his money, moral damages
are imposed against accused-appellant Martin L. Romero in the amount
of twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00), 34 To serve as an example for
the public good, exemplary damages are awarded against him in the
amount of fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000. 00). 35

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby AFFIRMS WITH MODIFICATION the


appealed judgment. The Court hereby sentences accused-appellant
Martin Romero to suffer an indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years and
one (1) day ofprision mayor, as minimum, to sixteen (16) years and one
TOPIC: Rule 111 E. Prejudicial Question
(1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum, to indemnify Ernesto A. Ruiz
in the amount of one hundred fifty thousand pesos (P150,000.00) with
interest thereon at six (6%)per centrum per annum from September 14, Republic of the Philippines
1989, until fully paid, to pay twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) as SUPREME COURT
moral damages and fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000.00), as exemplary Manila
damages, and the costs.1wphi1.nt
SECOND DIVISION
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 172060 September 13, 2010
JOSELITO R. PIMENTEL, Petitioner, of a prejudicial question. Petitioner asserted that since the relationship
vs. between the offender and the victim is a key element in parricide, the
MARIA CHRYSANTINE L. PIMENTEL and PEOPLE OF THE outcome of Civil Case No. 04-7392 would have a bearing in the criminal
PHILIPPINES, Respondents. case filed against him before the RTC Quezon City.

DECISION The Decision of the Trial Court

CARPIO, J.: The RTC Quezon City issued an Order dated 13 May 2005 3 holding that
the pendency of the case before the RTC Antipolo is not a prejudicial
The Case question that warrants the suspension of the criminal case before it.
The RTC Quezon City held that the issues in Criminal Case No. Q-04-
Before the Court is a petition for review 1 assailing the Decision2 of the 130415 are the injuries sustained by respondent and whether the case
Court of Appeals, promulgated on 20 March 2006, in CA-G.R. SP No. could be tried even if the validity of petitioners marriage with
91867. respondent is in question. The RTC Quezon City ruled:

The Antecedent Facts WHEREFORE, on the basis of the foregoing, the Motion to Suspend
Proceedings On the [Ground] of the Existence of a Prejudicial Question
The facts are stated in the Court of Appeals decision: is, for lack of merit, DENIED.

On 25 October 2004, Maria Chrysantine Pimentel y Lacap (private SO ORDERED.4


respondent) filed an action for frustrated parricide against Joselito R.
Pimentel (petitioner), docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415, Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 22 August 2005
before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, which was raffled to Order,5 the RTC Quezon City denied the motion.
Branch 223 (RTC Quezon City).
Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with application for a writ of
On 7 February 2005, petitioner received summons to appear before the preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order before the
Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 72 (RTC Antipolo) for the Court of Appeals, assailing the 13 May 2005 and 22 August 2005 Orders
pre-trial and trial of Civil Case No. 04-7392 (Maria Chrysantine Lorenza of the RTC Quezon City.
L. Pimentel v. Joselito Pimentel) for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage
under Section 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological The Decision of the Court of Appeals
incapacity.
In its 20 March 2006 Decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the
On 11 February 2005, petitioner filed an urgent motion to suspend the petition. The Court of Appeals ruled that in the criminal case for
proceedings before the RTC Quezon City on the ground of the existence frustrated parricide, the issue is whether the offender commenced the
commission of the crime of parricide directly by overt acts and did not involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the
perform all the acts of execution by reason of some cause or accident subsequent criminal action and (b) the resolution of such issue
other than his own spontaneous desistance. On the other hand, the determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
issue in the civil action for annulment of marriage is whether petitioner
is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital The rule is clear that the civil action must be instituted first before the
obligations. The Court of Appeals ruled that even if the marriage filing of the criminal action. In this case, the Information 7 for Frustrated
between petitioner and respondent would be declared void, it would be Parricide was dated 30 August 2004. It was raffled to RTC Quezon City
immaterial to the criminal case because prior to the declaration of on 25 October 2004 as per the stamped date of receipt on the
nullity, the alleged acts constituting the crime of frustrated parricide Information. The RTC Quezon City set Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415
had already been committed. The Court of Appeals ruled that all that is for pre-trial and trial on 14 February 2005. Petitioner was served
required for the charge of frustrated parricide is that at the time of the summons in Civil Case No. 04-7392 on 7 February 2005. 8 Respondents
commission of the crime, the marriage is still subsisting. petition9 in Civil Case No. 04-7392 was dated 4 November 2004 and
was filed on 5 November 2004. Clearly, the civil case for annulment was
Petitioner filed a petition for review before this Court assailing the filed after the filing of the criminal case for frustrated parricide. As
Court of Appeals decision. such, the requirement of Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on
Criminal Procedure was not met since the civil action was filed
The Issue subsequent to the filing of the criminal action.

The only issue in this case is whether the resolution of the action for Annulment of Marriage is not a Prejudicial Question
annulment of marriage is a prejudicial question that warrants the in Criminal Case for Parricide
suspension of the criminal case for frustrated parricide against
petitioner. Further, the resolution of the civil action is not a prejudicial question
that would warrant the suspension of the criminal action.
The Ruling of this Court
There is a prejudicial question when a civil action and a criminal action
The petition has no merit. are both pending, and there exists in the civil action an issue which
must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed
Civil Case Must be Instituted because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would
Before the Criminal Case be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal
case.10 A prejudicial question is defined as:
Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure 6 provides:
x x x one that arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical
Section 7. Elements of Prejudicial Question. - The elements of a antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which
prejudicial question are: (a) the previously instituted civil action pertains to another tribunal. It is a question based on a fact distinct and
separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it since at the time of the commission of the alleged crime, he was still
determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend married to respondent.1avvphi1
the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts
intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would We cannot accept petitioners reliance on Tenebro v. Court of
be based but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in Appeals17 that "the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on
the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be the ground of psychological incapacity retroacts to the date of the
determined.11 celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the
spouses is concerned x x x." First, the issue in Tenebro is the effect of the
The relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element judicial declaration of nullity of a second or subsequent marriage on the
in the crime of parricide,12 which punishes any person "who shall kill ground of psychological incapacity on a criminal liability for bigamy.
his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, or any of There was no issue of prejudicial question in that case. Second, the
his ascendants or descendants, or his spouse." 13 The relationship Court ruled in Tenebro that "[t]here is x x x a recognition written into
between the offender and the victim distinguishes the crime of the law itself that such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still
parricide from murder14 or homicide.15 However, the issue in the produce legal consequences."18 In fact, the Court declared in that case
annulment of marriage is not similar or intimately related to the issue that "a declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground
in the criminal case for parricide. Further, the relationship between the of psychological incapacity is of absolutely no moment insofar as the
offender and the victim is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of States penal laws are concerned."19
the accused.
In view of the foregoing, the Court upholds the decision of the Court of
The issue in the civil case for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of Appeals. The trial in Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 may proceed as
the Family Code is whether petitioner is psychologically incapacitated the resolution of the issue in Civil Case No. 04-7392 is not
to comply with the essential marital obligations. The issue in parricide determinative of the guilt or innocence of petitioner in the criminal
is whether the accused killed the victim. In this case, since petitioner case.
was charged with frustrated parricide, the issue is whether he
performed all the acts of execution which would have killed respondent WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 20 March 2006
as a consequence but which, nevertheless, did not produce it by reason Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91867.
of causes independent of petitioners will. 16 At the time of the
commission of the alleged crime, petitioner and respondent were SO ORDERED.
married. The subsequent dissolution of their marriage, in case the
petition in Civil Case No. 04-7392 is granted, will have no effect on the
alleged crime that was committed at the time of the subsistence of the
marriage. In short, even if the marriage between petitioner and
respondent is annulled, petitioner could still be held criminally liable
DOMINGUEZ, Petitioners,
vs.
CECILIA LICLICAN, NORMA D. ISIP, and PURITA
DOMINGUEZ, Respondents.

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

Nature of the Case

Petitioners, through the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari under


Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seek the reversal of the Court of Appeals
(CA) Decision1 dated August 30, 2012 and its Resolution 2 dated July 15,
2013 in CA-G.R. SP No. 108617. Said rulings nullified the Orders
authorizing the issuance of the assailed warrants of arrest against
respondents for allegedly having been issued in grave abuse of
discretion.

The Facts

During the annual stockholders meeting of petitioner JM Dominguez


Agronomic Company, Inc. (JMD) held on December 29, 2007 at the
Baguio City Country Club, the election for its new set of directors was
Republic of the Philippines conducted. This event was presided by then company president, and
SUPREME COURT herein respondent, Cecilia Liclican (Liclican), and attended by her co-
Manila respondents Norma Isip (Isip) and Purita Rodriguez, and by petitioners
Helen Dagdagan (Dagdagan), Patrick Pacis, Kenneth Pacis, and Shirley
THIRD DIVISION Dominguez (Dominguez) as well. Conflict ensued when petitioners
Patrick and Kenneth Pacis were allegedly not allowed to vote on the
G.R. No. 208587 July 29, 2015 ground that they are not registered stockholders of JMD. As pointed out,
it was their mother and grandmother, both deceased, who are the
stockholders in JMD, and that there is still no settlement of their
JM DOMINGUEZ AGRONOMIC COMPANY, INC., HELEN D. DAGDAGAN,
PATRICK PACIS, KENNETH PACIS, and SHIRLEY
respective estates to effectively transfer their shares in the company to 1. Cecilia D. Liclican as President and Presiding Officer
Patrick and Kenneth Pacis.3
2. Norma D. Isip as Vice-President
Tensions rose and respondents, allegedly, walked out of the meeting.
But since the remaining stockholders with outstanding shares 3. Gerald B. Cabrera as Corporate Secretary/Treasurer and
constituted a quorum, the election of officers still proceeded, which
yielded the following result: 4 4. Oscar Aquino Financial Consultant Auditor

Officers: In reaction to the foregoing developments, petitioners Dagdagan,


Patrick and Kenneth Pacis, and Dominguez filed a Complaint against
1. Helen D. Dagdagan as President respondents before the Regional Trial Comi of Baguio City (RTC) for
nullification of meetings, election and acts of directors and officers,
2. Patrick D. Pacis as Vice-President injunction and other reliefs, raffled to Branch 59 of the court. Docketed
as Civil Case No. 6623-R, the case, after a failed mediation, was referred
3. Kenneth D. Pacis as Secretary for appropriate Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR) to Branch 7 of the
RTC. Meanwhile, petitioner stockholders immediately took hold of
4. Shirley C. Dominguez as Treasurer corporate properties, represented themselves to JMD's tenants as the
true and lawful directors of the company, and collected and deposited
After staging the walk-out, respondents, on even date, executed a Board rents due the company to its bank account.6
Resolution certifying that in the stockholders meeting, the following
were elected directors and officers of JMD:5 Board of Directors: Subsequently, JMD, represented by petitioners Dagdagan and Patrick
Pacis, executed an Affidavit-Complaint7 dated December 15, 2008
1. Cecilia D. Liclican Chairman and Presiding Officer charging respondents Liclican and Isip with qualified theft. Petitioners
alleged in the complaint, docketed as I.S. No. 3011 with the Office of the
2. Norma D. Isip City Prosecutor in Baguio City, that on January 2, 2008, Liclican and Isip,
without any authority whatsoever, conspired to withdraw the amount
3. Purita C. Dominguez of 852,024.19 from the corporation's savings account with the
Equitable-PCI Bank; and that the following day, they issued Check No.
4. Tessie C. Dominguez, and C00024899018 in the amount of 200,000, payable to cash, and to be
drawn against JMD's account with Robinson's Savings Bank. 9
5. Shirley C. Dominguez
In a separate complaint,10 docketed as I.S. No. 3118, the corporation
Officers: claimed that respondents Liclican and Isip likewise issued Equitable-
PCI Bank Check No. 32095311 payable to one Atty. Francisco Lava, Jr. for Considering that the address provided for accused Norma Isip is
200,000 to be debited from the corporation's account. Washington, U.S.A., the private complainants are hereby given fifteen
( 15) days from receipt hereof to provide the Court with a local address
After due proceedings, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Baguio City, for the said accused if she may be found in the Philippines.
by Joint Resolution of February 2, 2009, recommended the filing of
informations as follows:12 SO ORDERED.

WHEREFORE, premises considered. the undersigned recommends for Consequently, the corresponding warrants were issued for the arrests
approval the attached Informations for Qualified Theft against of Isip and Liclican. 16 In due time, respondents lodged a petition for
LICLICAN and ISIP in LS. No. 3011 and another against LICLICAN in LS. certiorari with the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 108617, to annul and
No. 3118. set aside the two (2) March I 0, 2009 Orders by the RTC Branch 7,
anchored, among others, on the alleged existence of a prejudicial
When filed, the informations were eventually raffled to Branch 7 of the question. According to respondents, petitioner stockholders, by filing
RTC, the same court overseeing the JDR,13presided over by Judge Mona the complaint-affidavit, are already assuming that they are the
Lisa V. Tiongson-Tabora (Judge Tiongson-Tabora). The criminal cases legitimate directors of JMD, which is the very issue in the intra-
for qualified theft were then docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 29176-R corporate dispute pending in the RTC, Branch 59.
(based on I.S. No. 3118) and 29175-R (based on I.S. No. 3111).
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
On March 10, 2009, Judge Tiongson-Tabora issued an Order in 14

Criminal Case No. 29176-R, finding probable cause for the issuance of a In its assailed Decision, the CA granted the petition for certiorari,
warrant of arrest against Liclican, thus: WHEREFORE. the Information disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, the challenged Orders both dated
filed herein is hereby given due course. Let the corresponding warrant March 10. 2009 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE for having been
of arrest be issued against the accused. As recommended, the bail is issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
hereby fixed as Php 80,000.00. jurisdiction.

SO ORDERED. SO ORDERED.

A similar Order,15 also dated March 10, 2009, was issued in Criminal The appellate court held that Judge Tiongson-Tabora should have
Case No. 29175-R likewise finding probable cause against respondents refrained from determining probable cause since she is well aware of
Liclican and Isip, viz: the pendency of the issue on the validity of JMD's elections in Civil Case
No. 6623-R. As the judge overseeing the JDR of the said intra-corporate
WHEREFORE, the Information filed herein is hereby given due course. dispute, she knew that there was still doubt as to who the rightfully
Let the corresponding warrant of arrest be issued against the accused. elected directors of JMD are and, corollarily, who would have the
As recommended, the bail is hereby fixed at Php 80,000.00 each. authority to initiate the criminal proceedings for qualified theft. 17
The CA further noted that even as corporate officers, as they claim to Criminal Case Nos. 29175-R and 29176-R; and (ii) whether or not grave
be, petitioners Dagdagan and Patrick Pacis cannot file the Complaint- abuse of discretion attended the issuance of the two assailed March 10,
Affidavit in the exercise of corporate powers without authority from the 2009 Orders in Criminal Case Nos. 29175-R and 29176-R.
board of directors under Sec. 23, 18 in relation to Sec. 2519 of the
Corporation Code.20 Any doubt cast on the validity of the board The Court's Ruling
elections would then necessarily extend to the authority of the officers
to act. The petition lacks merit.

As further held by the CA: The challenged Orders of the trial court
were issued in grave abuse of discretion
x x x Since there is doubt in the instant case as to the sufficiency of the
authority of a corporate officer, Judge Tiongson-Tabora should have We have previously ruled that grave abuse of discretion may arise when
exercised prudence by holding the criminal cases in abeyance pending a lower court or tribunal violates or contravenes the Constitution, the
resolution of the intra-corporate dispute which private respondents law or existing jurisprudence. By grave abuse of discretion is meant,
themselves instituted.21 such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to
lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave as where the
Aggrieved, individual petitioners moved for reconsideration, on the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of
main contention that their election as officers and directors of JMD has passion or personal hostility and must be so patent and gross as to
already been sustained by the trial court via its Judgment in Civil Case amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform
No. 6623-R dated May 6, 2011. They likewise claimed that the issue on the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law. The word
whether or not the R TC, Branch 7 committed grave abuse of discretion "capricious," usually used in tandem with the term "arbitrary," conveys
is already rendered moot and academic by the judge's inhibition in the notion of willful and unreasoning action. Thus, when seeking the
Criminal Case Nos. 29175-R and 29176-R, and the termination of the corrective hand of certiorari, a clear showing of caprice and
JDR proceedings in Civil Case No. 6623-R. Petitioners' motion, however, arbitrariness in the exercise of discretion is imperative. 23
proved futile as the appellate court denied the same in its July 15, 2013
Resolution.22 Hence, the instant recourse. In the case at bar, the CA correctly ruled that Judge Tiongson-Tabora
acted with grave abuse of discretion when she ordered the arrests of
The Issues respondents Isip and Liclican despite the existence of a prejudicial
question.
Plainly, the resolution of the extant case depends on whether or not
there exists a prejudicial question that could affect the criminal As jurisprudence elucidates, a prejudicial question generally exists in a
proceedings for qualified theft against respondents. In the concrete, the situation where a civil action and a criminal action are both pending,
issues are (i) whether or not Civil Case No. 6623-R constituted a and there exists in the former an issue that must be pre-emptively
prejudicial question warranting the suspension of the proceedings in resolved before the latter may proceed, because howsoever the issue
raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative Juris et de doubt as to whether private respondents are in a position to act for
Jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. 24 The JMD. (emphasis added)
rationale behind the principle is to avoid two conflicting
decisions,25 and its existence rests on the concurrence of two essential Verily, the RTC ought to have suspended the proceedings, instead of
elements: (i) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately issuing the challenged Orders issued by the RTC.
related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (ii) the resolution
of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may The subsequent resolution of the prejudicial
proceed.26 question did not cure the defect

Here, the CA aptly observed that Civil Case No. 6623-R, the intra- It may be, as the petitioners pointed out in their motion for
corporate dispute, posed a prejudicial question to Criminal Case Nos. reconsideration filed before the CA, that Civil Case No. 6623-R was
29175-R and 29176-R. To be sure, Civil Case No. 6623-R involves the eventually resolved in their favor through a Judgment 27 dated May 6,
same parties herein, and is for nullification of JMD's meetings, election 2011 rendered by the RTC, Branch 59, the dispositive portion of which
and acts of its directors and officers, among others. Court intervention reads: WHEREFORE, from all the foregoing disquisitions, the Court
was sought to ascertain who between the two contesting group of hereby declares that the plaintiffs [petitioners herein] are the duly
officers should rightfully be seated at the company's helm. Without Civil elected board of directors and officers of the JM Dominguez Agronomic
Case No. 6623-R's resolution, petitioners' authority to commence and Company, Inc. for the year 2008 and hold-over capacity unless here had
prosecute Criminal Case Nos. 29175-R and 29176-R against already been an election of new officers.
respondents for qualified theft in JMD's behalf remained questionable,
warranting the suspension of the criminal proceedings. Consequently, all Corporate Acts which the defendants [herein
respondents and one Gerald Cabrera and one Oscar Aquino] have done
Judge Tiongson-Tabora cannot deny knowledge of the pendency of Civil and performed and all documents they have executed and issued have
Case No. 6623-R as the judge presiding over its JDR. As correctly held by no force and effect.
the CA:
Considering that the amount of Php850,000.00 which defendants have
Judge Tiongson-Tabora is well-aware of the existence of said prejudicial withdrawn under the account of JM Dominguez Agronomic Company,
question that should have barred the filing of the criminal complaint Inc. from the Equitable PCI Bank (now Banco de Oro) is the same
against petitioners Liclican and Isip, for the simple reason that a subject in CC no. 29175-R entitled Pp. vs. Cecilia Liclican and Norma D.
juridical person can only act through its officers, and the issue in the Isip for Qualified Theft, the Court will no longer dwell on the same.
main case submitted for JDR before Judge Tiongson-Tabora is one for
nullification of meetings, election and act of directors and officers, xxxx
injunction and other reliefs Thus, she knows for a fact that there is a
question as to who are the legitimate directors of JMD such that there is SO ORDERED. (emphasis and words in bracket added)
This Judgment has, on June 6, 2011, become final and executory, as per Branch 59 not given credence to petitioners' arguments, it would have
the Notice of Entry of Judgment issued by the same trial led to an awkward situation wherein much time and effort is wasted by
court.28 Evidently, whatever cloud of doubt loomed over petitioners' the RTC, Branch 7 in trying criminal cases it should not have
actuations has already been dispelled. Petitioners then postulate that entertained.
the question on whether or not the challenged Orders were issued in
grave abuse of discretion has already been rendered moot and The foregoing notwithstanding, it should be made clear that the
academic by the June 6, 2011 ruling and by Judge Tiongson-Tabora's nullification of the March 10, 2009 Orders does not, under the
subsequent inhibition in the criminal proceedings. Consequently, they premises.1wphi1 entail the dismissal of the instituted criminal cases,
argue that their motion for reconsideration should have been granted but would merely result in the suspension of the proceedings in view of
by the appellate court. the prejudicial question. However, given the resolution of the
prejudicial question and Judge Tiongson-Tabora's inhibition, Criminal
We are not convinced. Case Nos. 29175-R and 29176-R may already proceed, and ought to be
re-raffled to re-determine the existence of probable cause for the
The resolution of the prejudicial question did not, in context, cure the issuance of warrants of arrest against respondents.
grave abuse of discretion already committed. The fact remains that
when the RTC, Branch 7 issued its challenged Orders on March 10, WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED for
2009, the Judg1pent in favor of petitioners was not yet rendered. lack of merit. The Court of Appeals' August 30, 2012 Decision and July
Consequently, there was still, at that time, a real dispute as to who the 15, 2013 Resolution in CA-G.R. SP No. 108617 are hereby AFFIRMED.
rightful set of officers were. Plainly, Judge Tiongson-Tabora should not
have issued the challenged Orders and should have, instead, suspended Criminal Case Nos. 29175-R and 29176-R are hereby REMANDED to the
the proceedings until Civil Case No. 6623-R was resolved with finality. Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City to be re-
raffled to one of its branches other than Branch 7.
To grant the instant petition and rule that the procedural infirmity has
subsequently been cured either by the Judgment or by Judge Tiongson- SO ORDERED.
Tabora's inhibition would mean condoning the continuation of the
criminal proceedings despite, at that time, the existence of a prejudicial
question. Such condonation would create a precedent that renders
inutile the doctrine on prejudicial question, such that the court trying
the criminal case will be permitted to proceed with the trial in the
aberrant assumption that the resolution of the prior instituted civil case
would benefit the private complainant in the criminal proceedings. To
reiterate, there was no certainty yet on how the RTC, Branch 59 would
rule; thus, no assumption on Civil Case No. 6623-R's resolution can be
made when the challenged Orders were issued. Indeed, had the RTC,