Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 48

proceeding.

FIRST DIVISION The RTC, in its Order dated September 19, 2011, granted Dujali's motion for reconsideration. It
held that under the law, there are only two exceptions to the requirement that the settlement of a
[ G.R. No. 199885, October 02, 2017 ] deceased's estate should be judicially administered—extrajudicial settlement and summary
settlement of an estate of small value.[16] According to the RTC, in the case of Buot's petition,
administration has been barred by the fact that Gregorio's estate has already been settled
JESUSA DUJALI BUOT, PETITIONER, VS. ROQUE RASAY DUJALI, RESPONDENT. extrajudicially as evidenced by the Amended Extrajudicial Settlement. It also noted that Gregorio
had no creditors since Buot failed to allege it in her petition. [17] Since recourse to judicial
DECISION administration of an estate that has no debt is allowed only when there are good reasons for not
resorting to extrajudicial settlement or action for partition, the RTC dismissed Buot's petition.
Buot filed a motion for reconsideration which the RTC denied in its Order dated December 8,
JARDELEZA, J.: 2011. According to the RTC, not only was Buot's motion a second motion for reconsideration
prohibited under the Rules, there was also no sufficient reason to reverse its earlier dismissal of
This is a petition for review on certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Petitioner Jesusa
the petition.[18]
Dujali Buot (Buot) challenged the Orders of Branch 34 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Panabo City, dated September 19, 2011[2]and December 8, 2011,[3] dismissing her petition and
Buot filed this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court challenging the
denying her subsequent motion for reconsideration, respectively.
RTC's Orders on pure questions of law. In her petition, Buot argues that her motion for
reconsideration is not a prohibited second motion for reconsideration. Section 2 of Rule 52 of the
Buot filed before the RTC a petition[4] for letters of administration of the estate of deceased
Rules of Court states that a prohibited second motion for reconsideration is one filed by
Gregorio Dujali (Gregorio). In her petition, Buot alleged that she was a surviving heir, along with
the same party. In this case, Buot's motion for reconsideration was her first, since the motion for
Roque Dujali, Constancia Dujali-Tiongson, Concepcion Dujali-Satiembre, Marilou Sales-Dujali,
reconsideration subject of the Order dated September 19, 2011 was filed by Dujali. She also
Marietonete Dujali, Georgeton Dujali, Jr. and Geomar Dujali, of Gregorio who died
argued that the Amended Extrajudicial Settlement did not cover all of Gregorio's properties.[19]
intestate.[5]Buot annexed[6] to her petition a list of Gregorio's properties that are allegedly publicly
known. She claimed that since Gregorio's death, there had been no effort to settle his estate.
Further, Buot maintains that heirs are not precluded from instituting a petition for administration if
Roque Dujali (Dujali) purportedly continued to manage and control the properties to the
they do not, for good reason, wish to pursue an ordinary action for partition. In her case, she
exclusion of all the other heirs. Buot further alleged that Dujali for no justifiable reason denied
claims that there are good reasons justifying her recourse to administration proceedings: (1) the
her request to settle the estate.[7] Thus, Buot asked that: (1) an administrator be appointed to
Amended Extrajudicial Settlement did not cover the entire estate; (2) there has been no effort to
preserve Gregorio's estate; (2) a final inventory of the properties be made; (3) the heirs be
partition the property; (3) Dujali seeks to challenge Buot's status as an heir; (4) other heirs have
established; and (4) the net estate be ordered distributed in accordance with law among the
been deprived of the properties of the estate; and (5) other heirs, particularly Constancia Dujali
legal heirs.[8]
and Marilou Dujali, have already manifested that they are amenable to the appointment of an
administrator.[20]
Dujali filed an opposition with motion to dismiss,[9] arguing that Buot had no legal capacity to
institute the proceedings. He asserted that despite Buot's claim that she was Gregorio's child
In his comment,[21] Dujali argues that Buot is not an interested person allowed to file a petition for
with his first wife Sitjar Escalona, she failed to attach any document, such as a certificate of live
administration of the estate. While she claims to be Gregorio's heir, public documents, such as
birth or a marriage certificate, to prove her filiation. Dujali, on the other hand, attached a
Buot's certificate of live birth and the certificate of marriage between Gregorio and Yolanda
certificate of marriage between Gregorio and his mother Yolanda Rasay. This certificate also
Rasay, reveal otherwise. Dujali also attached to his comment certain documents that appear to
indicated that Gregorio had never been previously married to a certain Sitjar Escalona. Thus, as
show that there has been an extrajudicial settlement of some of the properties of the estate and
Buot failed to prove that she is an heir, Dujali prayed that her petition be dismissed outright.
that Buot has already received her share from the proceeds of the sale of these properties by
the true heirs.[22] Further, he explains that Buot was only allowed to participate in the Amended
Buot filed her comment[10] to Dujali's opposition with motion to dismiss. She argued that under
Extrajudicial Settlement by Gregorio's legitimate heirs out of humanitarian considerations, not
the Rules of Court, only ultimate facts should be included in an initiatory pleading. The marriage
because she is a true heir. All these, Dujali argues, clearly indicate that there is no good and
certificate and certificate of live birth which Dujali demands are evidentiary matters that ought to
compelling reason to grant Buot's petition for administration. [23]
be tackled during trial. Nevertheless, to answer Dujali's allegations, Buot attached to her
comment a copy of the necrological services program [11] where she was listed as one of
In her reply,[24] Buot contends that the issue of whether she is a person interested in the estate is
Gregorio's heirs, a certification[12] from the municipal mayor that she is Gregorio's child, and a
a matter that should be raised during the trial by the RTC of her petition for administration.
copy of the Amended Extrajudicial Settlement[13]dated July 4, 2001 which includes both Buot and
Dujali as Gregorio's heirs. Notably, this Amended Extrajudicial Settlement pertained to parcels of
We deny the petition.
land not included in the list of properties annexed in Buot's petition.
First, we must emphasize that this is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
On May 3, 2011, the RTC denied Dujali's motion to dismiss. It agreed with Buot that the issues
Rules of Court. This recourse to the Court covers only a review of questions of law. In this case,
raised by Dujali are evidentiary matters that should be addressed during trial.[14]
the question of law presented before us is whether the RTC properly dismissed the petition for
administration on the ground that there has already been an extrajudicial settlement of certain
Dujali filed a motion for reconsideration.[15] He argued that under the Rules of Court and
properties of the estate. An additional question of procedure raised here is whether the RTC was
prevailing jurisprudence, a party's lack of legal capacity to sue should be raised in a motion to
correct in holding that Buot's motion for reconsideration should be denied as it is a prohibited
dismiss. Further, he took issue with the existence of the Amended Extrajudicial Settlement.
second motion for reconsideration.
According to him, when an estate has no debts, recourse to administration proceedings is
allowed only when there are good and compelling reasons. Where an action for partition
All other issues raised in the pleadings before us are questions of fact that we cannot resolve at
(whether in or out of court) is possible, the estate should not be burdened with an administration
this time. As we shall shortly explain in this Decision, these questions of fact ought to be
resolved by a trial court in the appropriate proceeding. Section 1 of Rule 74, however, does not prevent the heirs from instituting administration
proceedings if they have good reasons for choosing not to file an action for partition.
We will first rule on the procedural issue raised in the petition. In its Order dated September 19, In Rodriguez, et al. v. Tan, etc. and Rodriguez,[26] we said:
2011, the RTC held that Buot's motion for reconsideration is a second motion for reconsideration
prohibited under the Rules of Court. Thus, the motion was denied. We reviewed the motions [S]ection 1 [of Rule 74] does not preclude the heirs from instituting administration proceedings,
filed by the parties before the RTC and rule that the RTC erred in its finding. even if the estate has no debts or obligation, if they do not desire to resort for good reasons to
an ordinary action of partition. While section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among
When Buot filed her petition for administration, Dujali filed an opposition with a motion to themselves as they may see fit, or to resort to an ordinary action of partition, it does not compel
dismiss. When the RTC denied his motion to dismiss, Dujali filed a motion for reconsideration. them to do so if they have good reasons to take a different course of action. Said section is not
This led to the RTC's issuance of the Order of September 19, 2011 granting Dujali's motion for mandatory or compulsory as may be gleaned from the use made therein of the word may. If the
reconsideration and holding that Buot's petition for administration should be dismissed. It was intention were otherwise the framer of the rule would have employed the word shall as was done
only at this point that Buot filed, for the first time, a motion seeking for reconsideration of the in other provisions that are mandatory in character. x x x.[27] (Italics in the original.)
Order which declared the dismissal of her petition for administration. Clearly, this is not the Since such proceedings are always "long," "costly," "superfluous and unnecessary," [28] resort to
motion for reconsideration contemplated in Section 2 of Rule 52 of the Rules of Court which judicial administration of cases falling under Section 1, Rule 74 appears to have become the
states: exception rather than the rule. Cases subsequent to Rodriguez emphasized that "[w]here
partition is possible, either in or out of court, the estate should not be burdened with an
Sec. 2. Second motion for reconsideration. - No second motion for reconsideration of a judgment administration proceeding without good and compelling reasons."[29]
or final resolution by the same party shall be entertained.
Section 2 of Rule 52 is clear and leaves no room for interpretation. What it prohibits is a second In Pereira v. Court of Appeals[30] we had the opportunity to explain what the "good reason
motion for reconsideration filed by the same party involving the same judgment or final exception" means. What constitutes good reason depends on the circumstances of each case.
resolution. In the present case, Buot's motion for reconsideration was only her first motion We said:
challenging the Order dismissing her petition for administration of Gregorio's estate. The RTC
clearly erred in denying her motion on the ground that it is a second motion for reconsideration "Again the petitioner argues that only when the heirs do not have any dispute as to the bulk of
prohibited under the Rules. the hereditary estate but only in the manner of partition does section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of
Court apply and that in this case the parties are at loggerheads as to the corpus of the hereditary
Nevertheless, we rule that the RTC properly ordered the dismissal of Buot's petition for estate because respondents succeeded in sequestering some assets of the intestate. The
administration. argument is unconvincing, because, as the respondent judge has indicated, questions as to
what property belonged to the deceased (and therefore to the heirs) may properly be ventilated
When a person dies intestate, his or her estate may generally be subject to judicial in the partition proceedings, especially where such property is in the hands of one heir."
administration proceedings. There are, however, several exceptions. One such exception is In another case, We held that if the reason for seeking an appointment as administrator is
provided for in Section 1 of Rule 74 of the Rules of Court. This Section states: merely to avoid a multiplicity of suits since the heir seeking such appointment wants to ask for
the annulment of certain transfers of property, that same objective could be achieved in an
Sec. 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. - If the decedent left no will and no action for partition and the trial court is not justified in issuing letters of administration. In still
debts and the heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their judicial or legal another case, We did not find so powerful a reason the argument that the appointment of the
representatives duly authorized for the purpose, the parties may, without securing letters of husband, a usufructuary forced heir of his deceased wife, as judicial administrator is necessary
administration, divide the estate among themselves as they see fit by means of a public in order for him to have legal capacity to appear in the intestate proceedings of his wife's
instrument filed in the office of the register of deeds, and should they disagree, they may do so deceased mother, since he may just adduce proof of his being a forced heir in 2 intestate
in an ordinary action of partition. If there is only one heir, he may adjudicate to himself the entire proceedings of the latter.[31] (Citations omitted.)
estate by means of an affidavit filed in the office of the register of deeds. The parties to an Thus, in Pereira, we refused to allow administration proceedings where the only reason why the
extrajudicial settlement, whether by public instrument or by stipulation in a pending action for appointment of an administrator was sought so that one heir can take possession of the estate
partition, or the sole heir who adjudicates the entire estate to himself by means of an affidavit from the other heir. We held that this was not a compelling reason to order judicial
shall file, simultaneously with and as a condition precedent to the filing of the public instrument, administration. We added that in cases like this, "the claims of both parties as to the properties
or stipulation in the action for partition, or of the affidavit in the office of the register of deeds, a left by the deceased may be properly ventilated in simple partition proceedings where the
bond with the said register of deeds, in an amount equivalent to the value of the personal creditors, should there be any, are protected in any event."[32]
property involved as certified to under oath by the parties concerned and conditioned upon the
payment of any just claim that may be filed under Section 4 of this rule. It shall be presumed that We have reviewed the reasons which Buot proffers to warrant the grant of her petition for letters
the decedent left no debts if no creditor files a petition for letters of administration within two (2) of administration and rule that these do not suffice to warrant the submission of Gregorio's estate
years after the death of the decedent. to administration proceedings. That the extrajudicial settlement in this case did not cover
Gregorio's entire estate is, by no means, a sufficient reason to order the administration of the
The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published in a newspaper of estate. Whether the extrajudicial settlement did in fact cover the entire estate and whether an
general circulation in the manner provided in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial extrajudicial settlement that does not cover the entire estate may be considered valid do not
settlement shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or had no notice automatically create a compelling reason to order the administration of the estate. Parties
thereof. seeking to challenge an extrajudicial settlement of estate possess sufficient remedies under the
According to this provision, when the deceased left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of law and procedural rules.
age, the heirs may divide the estate among themselves without judicial administration. The heirs
may do so extrajudicially through a public instrument filed in the office of the Register of Deeds. As to Buot's other allegations that: (1) there has been no effort to partition the estate; (2) that
In case of disagreement, they also have the option to file an action for partition. Dujali challenges her status as an heir; (3) that other heirs have been deprived of the estate; and
(4) these heirs are amenable to the appointment of an administrator, we find that none of these On March 23,1983, petitioner filed her opposition and motion to dismiss the petition of private
allegations actually prevent the filing of an ordinary action for partition. In fact, if it is indeed true respondent 2 alleging that there exists no estate of the deceased for purposes of administration
that there has been no effort to partition Gregorio's entire estate, the filing of an action for and praying in the alternative, that if an estate does exist, the letters of administration relating to
partition before the proper court will leave his heirs with no choice but to proceed. An action for the said estate be issued in her favor as the surviving spouse.
partition is also the proper venue to ascertain Buot's entitlement to participate in the proceedings
as an heir.[33] Not only would it allow for the full ventilation of the issues as to the properties that
In its resolution dated March 28, 1985, the Regional Trial Court, appointed private respondent
ought to be included in the partition and the true heirs entitled to receive their portions of the
Rita Pereira Nagac administratrix of the intestate estate of Andres de Guzman Pereira upon a
estate, it is also the appropriate forum to litigate questions of fact that may be necessary to
bond posted by her in the amount of Pl,000.00. The trial court ordered her to take custody of all
ascertain if partition is proper and who may participate in the proceedings.
the real and personal properties of the deceased and to file an inventory thereof within three
months after receipt of the order. 3
WHEREFORE, this petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The Orders of Branch 34 of the
Regional Trial Court, Panabo City, dated September 19, 2011 and December 8, 2011
are AFFIRMED insofar as they ordered the dismissal of the petition for letters of administration. Not satisfied with the resolution of the lower court, petitioner brought the case to the Court of
Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the appointment of private respondent as administratrix in
SO ORDERED. its decision dated December 15, 1987. 4

G.R. No. L-81147 June 20, 1989 Hence, this petition for review on certiorari where petitioner raises the following issues: (1)
Whether or not there exists an estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira for purposes
of administration; (2) Whether or not a judicial administration proceeding is necessary where
VICTORIA BRINGAS PEREIRA, petitioner, there are no debts left by the decedent; and, (3) Who has the better right to be appointed as
vs. administratrix of the estate of the deceased, the surviving spouse Victoria Bringas Pereira or the
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and RITA PEREIRA NAGAC, respondents. surviving sister Rita Pereira Nagac?

Benjamin J. Quitoriano for petitioner. Anent the first issue, petitioner contends that there exists no estate of the deceased for purposes
of administration for the following reasons: firstly, the death benefits from PAL, PALEA, PESALA
Linzag-Arcilla & Associates Law Offices for private respondent. and the SSS belong exclusively to her, being the sole beneficiary and in support of this claim
she submitted letter-replies from these institutions showing that she is the exclusive beneficiary
of said death benefits; secondly, the savings deposits in the name of her deceased husband with
the PNB and the PCIB had been used to defray the funeral expenses as supported by several
receipts; and, finally, the only real property of the deceased has been extrajudicially settled
GANCAYCO, J.: between the petitioner and the private respondent as the only surviving heirs of the deceased.

Is a judicial administration proceeding necessary when the decedent dies intestate without Private respondent, on the other hand, argues that it is not for petitioner to decide what
leaving any debts? May the probate court appoint the surviving sister of the deceased as the properties form part of the estate of the deceased and to appropriate them for herself. She
administratrix of the estate of the deceased instead of the surviving spouse? These are the main points out that this function is vested in the court in charge of the intestate proceedings.
questions which need to be resolved in this case.
Petitioner asks this Court to declare that the properties specified do not belong to the estate of
Andres de Guzman Pereira, an employee of the Philippine Air Lines, passed away on January 3, the deceased on the basis of her bare allegations as aforestated and a handful of documents.
1983 at Bacoor, Cavite without a will. He was survived by his legitimate spouse of ten months, Inasmuch as this Court is not a trier of facts, We cannot order an unqualified and final exclusion
the herein petitioner Victoria Bringas Pereira, and his sister Rita Pereira Nagac, the herein or non-exclusion of the property involved from the estate of the deceased. 5
private respondent.
The resolution of this issue is better left to the probate court before which the administration
On March 1, 1983, private respondent instituted before Branch 19 of the Regional Trial Court of proceedings are pending. The trial court is in the best position to receive evidence on the
Bacoor, Cavite, Special Proceeding No. RTC-BSP-83-4 for the issuance of letters of discordant contentions of the parties as to the assets of the decedent's estate, the valuations
administration in her favor pertaining to the estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman thereof and the rights of the transferees of some of the assets, if any. 6 The function of resolving
Pereira. 1 In her verified petition, private respondent alleged the following: that she and Victoria whether or not a certain property should be included in the inventory or list of properties to be
Bringas Pereira are the only surviving heirs of the deceased; that the deceased left no will; that administered by the administrator is one clearly within the competence of the probate court.
there are no creditors of the deceased; that the deceased left several properties, namely: death However, the court's determination is only provisional in character, not conclusive, and is subject
benefits from the Philippine Air Lines (PAL), the PAL Employees Association (PALEA), the PAL to the final decision in a separate action which may be instituted by the parties. 7
Employees Savings and Loan Association, Inc. (PESALA) and the Social Security System
(SSS), as well as savings deposits with the Philippine National Bank (PNB) and the Philippine Assuming, however, that there exist assets of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira for
Commercial and Industrial Bank (PCIB), and a 300 square meter lot located at Barangay purposes of administration, We nonetheless find the administration proceedings instituted by
Pamplona, Las Pinas, Rizal and finally, that the spouse of the deceased (herein petitioner) had private respondent to be unnecessary as contended by petitioner for the reasons herein below
been working in London as an auxiliary nurse and as such one-half of her salary forms part of discussed.
the estate of the deceased.
The general rule is that when a person dies leaving property, the same should be judicially The only conceivable reason why private respondent seeks appointment as administratrix is for
administered and the competent court should appoint a qualified administrator, in the order her to obtain possession of the alleged properties of the deceased for her own purposes, since
established in Section 6, Rule 78, in case the deceased left no will, or in case he had left one, these properties are presently in the hands of petitioner who supposedly disposed of them
should he fail to name an executor therein. 8 An exception to this rule is established in Section 1 fraudulently. We are of the opinion that this is not a compelling reason which will necessitate a
of Rule 74. 9 Under this exception, when all the heirs are of lawful age and there are no debts judicial administration of the estate of the deceased. To subject the estate of Andres de Guzman
due from the estate, they may agree in writing to partition the property without instituting the Pereira, which does not appear to be substantial especially since the only real property left has
judicial administration or applying for the appointment of an administrator. been extrajudicially settled, to an administration proceeding for no useful purpose would only
unnecessarily expose it to the risk of being wasted or squandered. In most instances of a similar
nature, 16 the claims of both parties as to the properties left by the deceased may be properly
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court, however, does not preclude the heirs from
ventilated in simple partition proceedings where the creditors, should there be any, are protected
instituting administration proceedings, even if the estate has no debts or obligations, if they do
in any event.
not desire to resort for good reasons to an ordinary action for partition. While Section 1 allows
the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as they may see fit, or to resort to an ordinary
action for partition, the said provision does not compel them to do so if they have good reasons We, therefore, hold that the court below before which the administration proceedings are
to take a different course of action. 10 It should be noted that recourse to an administration pending was not justified in issuing letters of administration, there being no good reason for
proceeding even if the estate has no debts is sanctioned only if the heirs have good reasons for burdening the estate of the deceased Andres de Guzman Pereira with the costs and expenses
not resorting to an action for partition. Where partition is possible, either in or out of court, the of an administration proceeding.
estate should not be burdened with an administration proceeding without good and compelling
reasons. 11
With the foregoing ruling, it is unnecessary for us to delve into the issue of who, as between the
surviving spouse Victoria Bringas Pereira and the sister Rita Pereira Nagac, should be preferred
Thus, it has been repeatedly held that when a person dies without leaving pending obligations to to be appointed as administratrix.
be paid, his heirs, whether of age or not, are not bound to submit the property to a judicial
administration, which is always long and costly, or to apply for the appointment of an
WHEREFORE, the letters of administration issued by the Regional Trial Court of Bacoor to Rita
administrator by the Court. It has been uniformly held that in such case the judicial
Pereira Nagac are hereby revoked and the administration proceeding dismissed without
administration and the appointment of an administrator are superfluous and unnecessary
prejudice to the right of private respondent to commence a new action for partition of the
proceedings . 12
property left by Andres de Guzman Pereira. No costs.

Now, what constitutes "good reason" to warrant a judicial administration of the estate of a
SO ORDERED.
deceased when the heirs are all of legal age and there are no creditors will depend on the
circumstances of each case.

In one case, 13 We said: FIRST DIVISION

Again the petitioner argues that only when the heirs do not have any dispute [G.R. No. L-6044. November 24, 1952.]
as to the bulk of the hereditary estate but only in the manner of partition
does section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court apply and that in this case the
parties are at loggerheads as to the corpus of the hereditary estate because FORTUNATA VDA. DE RODRIGUEZ, BENJAMIN RODRIGUEZ,
respondents succeeded in sequestering some assets of the intestate. The MERCEDES RODRIGUEZ DE CRUZ, HERMINIA RODRIGUEZ DE
argument is unconvincing, because, as the respondent judge has indicated, HALLARE, LUZ RODRIGUEZ DE CARLOS and ANTONIO
questions as to what property belonged to the deceased (and therefore to RODRIGUEZ, petitioners, vs. HON. BIENVENIDO A. TAN, Judge of the
the heirs) may properly be ventilated in the partition proceedings, especially Court of First Instance of Rizal, and ABELARDO
where such property is in the hands of one heir. RODRIGUEZ, respondents.

In another case, We held that if the reason for seeking an appointment as administrator is
merely to avoid a multiplicity of suits since the heir seeking such appointment wants to ask for Godofredo C. Montesines and Antonio Rodriguez for petitioners.
the annulment of certain transfers of property, that same objective could be achieved in an
action for partition and the trial court is not justified in issuing letters of administration. 14 In still Lorenzo Sumulong, Guillermo Romero and Antonio C. Masaquel for respondent.
another case, We did not find so powerful a reason the argument that the appointment of the
husband, a usufructuary forced heir of his deceased wife, as judicial administrator is necessary Roman Ozaeta as amicus curiæ.
in order for him to have legal capacity to appear in the intestate proceedings of his wife's
deceased mother, since he may just adduce proof of his being a forced heir in the intestate
proceedings of the latter.15 SYLLABUS

We see no reason not to apply this doctrine to the case at bar. There are only two surviving
heirs, a wife of ten months and a sister, both of age. The parties admit that there are no debts of 1. DESCENT AND DISTRIBUTION; PARTITION, ADMINISTRATOR,
the deceased to be paid. What is at once apparent is that these two heirs are not in good terms. APPOINTMENT OF. — Section 1 of Rule 74 does not preclude the heirs from instituting
administration proceedings, even if the estate has no debts or obligation, if they do not may, without securing letters of administration, divide the estate among themselves as they
desire to resort for good reasons to an ordinary action of partition. While section 1 allows see fit, and should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action of partition.
the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as they may see fit, or to resort to an
Construing the scope of said section 1, (formerly section 596, Act No. 190), this
ordinary action of partition, it does not compel them to do so if they have good reasons to
Court repeatedly held "that when a person dies without leaving pending obligations to be
take a different course of action. Said section is not mandatory or compulsory as may be
paid, his heirs, whether of age or not, are not bound to submit the property to a judicial
gleaned from the use made therein of the word may. If the intention were otherwise the
administration, which is always long and costly, or to apply for the appointment of an
framer of the rule would have employed the word shall as was done in other provisions that
administrator by the court. It has been uniformly held that in such case the judicial
are mandatory in character. Note that the word may is used not only once but in the whole
administration and the appointment of an administrator are superfluous and unnecessary
section, which indicates an intention to leave the matter entirely to the discretion of the
proceedings" (Ilustre vs. Alaras Frondosa, 17 Phil., 321; Malahacan vs. Ignacio, 19 Phil.,
heirs.
434; Bondad vs. Bondad, 34 Phil., 232; Baldemor vs. Malangyaon, 34 Phil., 367; Fule vs.
Fule, 46 Phil., 317; Utulo vs. Pasion de Garcia, 66 Phil., 302).
It, therefore, appears from said section 1, as construed by this Court, that when
DECISION the estate has no pending obligations to be paid, his heirs, whether of age or not, are not
bound to submit the property to a judicial administration, for the reason that it is superfluous
or unnecessary, and in most cases long and costly, in which case the way left to the heirs is
to divide the estate among themselves as they may see fit, and should they disagree, they
may do so in an ordinary action of partition. But, is this pattern mandatory upon the heirs?
BAUTISTA ANGELO, J p: Should the heirs be unable to agree on a settlement of the estate, do they have to resort
necessarily to an ordinary action of partition? Can they not choose to institute
This is a petition for certiorari seeking to nullify the order of respondent Judge administration proceedings?
dated August 11, 1952, wherein after overruling the opposition to the institution of the Our answer is that section 1 does not preclude the heirs from instituting
intestate estate proceedings of the late Flaviano Rodriguez, he appointed Abelardo administration proceedings, even if the estate has no debts or obligation, if they do not
Rodriguez administrator of the estate upon filing a bond in the sum of P2,000. desire to resort for good reasons to an ordinary action of partition. While section 1 allows
the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as they may see fit, or to resort to an
It is averred in the petition that Flaviano Rodriguez died on February 8, 1944, at ordinary action of partition, it does not compel them to do so if they have good reasons to
Parañaque, Rizal, leaving an estate with a value of P10,000; that the surviving heirs are the take a different course of action. Said section is not mandatory or compulsory as may be
widow, Fortunata Vda. de Rodriguez, and six children who are the petitioners and gleaned from the use made therein of the word may. If the intention were otherwise the
respondent Abelardo Rodriguez; that after the death of Flaviano Rodriguez all the heirs, framer of the rule would have employed the word shallas was done in other provisions that
who were then already of age, entered into a verbal agreement whereby they agreed not to are mandatory in character. Note that the word may is used not only once but in the whole
make a liquidation of the estate but to place it under the administration of the widow with section which indicates an intention to leave the matter entirely to the discretion of the
the understanding that each of the six children would be entitled to receive a portion of the heirs.
income in equal shares from year to year for the needs of their families provided that they
do not exceed the participation to which they are entitled; that on March 19, 1952, or eight The inquiry before us is not new. In a case where one of the heirs chose to
years after the death of Flaviano Rodriguez, respondent Abelardo Rodriguez filed a petition institute administration proceedings in court, even if the estate had no debts, and the widow
for administration of the intestate estate of said deceased in spite of his knowledge that the sought to dismiss the case invoking in support of her contention the doctrine enunciated in
estate had no debts and all the heirs were of age; that on June 2, 1952, the other heirs, the cases already adverted to, this Court said:
petitioners herein, objected to the petition invoking the rule that if the estate is free from "The principal ground of the opposition is that the heirs being of
obligations and the heirs are all of age, no administration proceedings shall be allowed; that legal age, and there being no proof that there is any valid and effective
on August 11, 1952, respondent Judge, after overruling the opposition, appointed Abelardo credit against the deceased, no legal reason exists for the court to
Rodriguez administrator of the estate upon filing the requisite bond. appoint an administrator, as prayed for in the petition, citing in support of
Respondents herein, in answer to the petition, admitted the existence of a verbal this contention the doctrine enunciated in the cases of Ilustre vs. Alaras
agreement entered into between the heirs in 1944, wherein they agreed not to liquidate the Frondosa (17 Phil., 321); Bondad vs.Bondad (34 Phil., 232);
estate and to place it under the administration of the widow in view of the unsettled Baldemor vs. Malangyaon (34 Phil., 367).
conditions then prevailing at the time, but they contend that while that was the It is true that, under section 596 of the Code of Civil Procedure,
understanding the same was not carried out because in reality it was Benjamin Rodriguez, whenever all the heirs of a person who died intestate are of lawful age
one of the petitioners herein, who took over the administration of the estate and in the and legal capacity, and there are no debts due from the estate, or all the
discharge of his duties he failed and refused to give to respondent Abelardo Rodriguez his debts have been paid, the heirs may, by agreement duly executed in
share in the income which he badly needed for the support of his family, for which reason writing by all of them, and not otherwise, apportion and divide the estate
he started the intestate proceedings which gave rise to the present petition for certiorari. among themselves, as they may see fit, without court proceedings. But
The issue to be determined is whether respondent Judge acted properly in there is nothing in this section which prohibits said heirs from instituting
maintaining the administration proceedings and in appointing Abelardo Rodriguez as special proceedings for the administration of the intestate estate if they
administrator of the estate notwithstanding the fact that the estate has no debts and all the cannot agree on the extrajudicial partition and apportionment of the
heirs entitled to share in its distribution are all of age. same." (Orozco vs. Garcia, 50 Phil., 149, 151.)

Under section 1, rule 74 of the Rules of Court, if the decedent left no debts and In this particular case, however, we find that the core of petitioners' objection is
the heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their judicial guardians, the parties not that the heirs have erroneously instituted these administration proceedings but that the
court erred in appointing Abelardo Rodriguez administrator of the estate. It is claimed that indebtedness therefrom. 7 Upon inquiry, the Register of Deeds of Nasugbu informed
Abelardo Rodriguez was appointed administrator without the petitioners having been given respondents that he has no record of any transaction involving the subject properties,
an opportunity to be heard. But this claim has no basis it appearing that the parties had giving them certified true copies of the titles to the same. When respondents went to the
been duly heard before the court issued its order now complained of. It appears that both subject properties, they discovered that 4 out of the 8 cottages in the resort had been
parties had submitted the names of the persons they wanted to be appointed as demolished. They were not, however, able to enter as the premises were padlocked.
administrator and the court made its choice only after weighing the fitness and
qualifications of the persons recommended. Thus, on this point, the court said: Subsequently, respondents learned that on July 18, 1991, a notice of an extra-
judicial settlement of estate of their late father was published in a tabloid
"The petitioner in this case appears to be fully qualified to act called Balita. Because of this, they caused the annotation of their adverse claims over the
as administrator of the estate of the deceased Flaviano Rodriguez, and subject properties before the Register of Deeds of Nasugbu and filed their complaint
does not possess any of the disqualifications. Moreover, he is one of the praying, among others, for the annulment of all documents conveying the subject properties
heirs left by the deceased. Inasmuch as none of the oppositors appear to to the petitioners and certificates of title issued pursuant thereto. 8
be more qualified to act as administrator of the estate, the Court is
inclined to grant the petition presented by Abelardo Rodriguez." (Annex In their Answer, 9 petitioners denied the allegations of the complaint on the
D). ground of lack of personal knowledge and good faith in acquiring the subject properties. In
the course of his testimony during trial, petitioner Francisco further contended that what
The petition is dismissed, with costs. The preliminary injunction issued is hereby they purchased was only the resort. 10 He also presented an Extra-Judicial Settlement with
dissolved Renunciation, Repudiations and Waiver of Rights and Sale which provides, among others,
||| (Vda. de Rodriguez v. Tan, G.R. No. L-6044, [November 24, 1952], 92 PHIL 273-278) that respondents' co-heirs sold the family home to the spouses Rolando and Ma. Cecilia
Bondoc for P1 million as well as a Deed of Sale whereby Benita sold the resort to
petitioners for P650,000.00. 11
On October 1, 2001, the trial court nullified the transfer of the subject properties
SPOUSES MARIA BUTIONG and FRANCISCO VILLAFRIA, to petitioners and spouses Bondoc due to irregularities in the documents of conveyance
substituted by DR. RUEL B. VILLAFRIA, petitioners, vs. MA. GRACIA offered by petitioners as well as the circumstances surrounding the execution of the same.
RIÑOZA PLAZO and MA. FE RIÑOZA ALARAS, respondents. Specifically, the Extra-Judicial Settlement was notarized by a notary public who was not
duly commissioned as such on the date it was executed. 12The Deed of Sale was undated,
the date of the acknowledgment therein was left blank, and the typewritten name "Pedro
Riñoza, Husband" on the left side of the document was not signed. 13 The trial court also
DECISION observed that both documents were never presented to the Office of the Register of Deeds
for registration and that the titles to the subject properties were still in the names of Pedro
and his second wife Benita. In addition, the supposed notaries and buyers of the subject
properties were not even presented as witnesses who supposedly witnessed the signing
and execution of the documents of conveyance. 14 On the basis thereof, the trial court
PERALTA, J p: ruled in favor of respondents, in its Judgment, the pertinent portions of its fallo provide:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, judgment is
of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision 1 and Resolution, 2 dated March 13, hereby rendered as follows:
2009 and April 23, 2009, respectively, of the Court Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No.
107347, which affirmed the Judgment 3 dated October 1, 2001 of the Regional Trial xxx xxx xxx
Court (RTC) of Nasugbu, Batangas, Branch 14, in Civil Case No. 217.
4. a) Declaring as a nullity the "Extra-Judicial Settlement with
The antecedent facts are as follows: HTcADC Renunciation, Repudiation and Waiver of Rights and Sale" (Exh. "1",
Villafria) notarized on December 23, 1991 by Notary Public Antonio G.
On November 16, 1989, Pedro L. Riñoza died intestate, leaving several heirs, Malonzo of Manila, Doc. No. 190, Page No. 20, Book No. IXII, Series
including his children with his first wife, respondents Ma. Gracia R. Plazo and Ma. Fe of 1991.
Alaras, as well as several properties including a resort covered by Transfer Certificates of
Title (TCT) No. 51354 and No. 51355, each with an area of 351 square meters, and a b) Declaring as a nullity the Deed of Absolute Sale (Exh. "2",
family home, the land on which it stands is covered by TCT Nos. 40807 and 40808, both Villafria), purportedly executed by Benita T. Riñoza in favor of spouses
located in Nasugbu, Batangas. 4 Francisco Villafria and Maria Butiong, purportedly notarized by one
Alfredo de Guzman, marked Doc. No. 1136, Page No. 141, Book No.
In their Amended Complaint for Judicial Partition with Annulment of Title and XXX, Series of 1991.
Recovery of Possession 5 dated September 15, 1993, respondents alleged that sometime
in March 1991, they discovered that their co-heirs, Pedro's second wife, Benita Tenorio and c) Ordering the forfeiture of any and all improvements
other children, had sold the subject properties to petitioners, spouses Francisco Villafria introduced by defendants Francisco Villafria and Maria Butiong in the
and Maria Butiong, who are now deceased and substituted by their son, Dr. Ruel B. properties covered by TCT No. 40807, 40808, 51354 and 51355 of the
Villafria, without their knowledge and consent. When confronted about the sale, Benita Register of Deeds for Nasugbu, Batangas.
acknowledged the same, showing respondents a document she believed evidenced receipt
5. Ordering defendant Francisco Villafria and all persons,
of her share in the sale, which, however, did not refer to any sort of sale but to a previous
whose occupancy within the premises of the four (4) parcels of land
loan obtained by Pedro and Benita from a bank. 6 The document actually evidenced receipt
described in par. 4-c above is derived from the rights and interest of
from Banco Silangan of the amount of P87,352.62 releasing her and her late husband's
defendant Villafria, to vacate its premises and to deliver possession Parenthetically, the settlement/family home deed cannot
thereof, and all improvements existing thereon to plaintiffs, for and in be considered a public document. This is because the following
behalf of the estate of decedent Pedro L. Riñoza. cast doubt on the document's authenticity, to wit: aScITE
6. Declaring the plaintiffs and the defendants-heirs in the 1.) The date of its execution was not indicated;
Amended Complaint to be the legitimate heirs of decedent Pedro L.
Riñoza, each in the capacity and degree established, as well as their 2.) The amount of consideration was superimposed;
direct successors-in-interest, and ordering the defendant Registrar of 3.) It was not presented to the Registry of Deeds of
Deeds to issue the corresponding titles in their names in the proportion Nasugbu, Batangas for annotation; and
established by law, pro indiviso, in TCT Nos. 40807, 40808, 51354,
51355 and 40353 (after restoration) within ten (10) days from finality of 4.) Not even the supposed notary public, Alfredo de
this Decision, upon payment of lawful fees, except TCT No. 40353, Guzman, or the purported buyer, the Spouses Rolando and Ma.
which shall be exempt from all expenses for its restoration. Cecilia Bondoc, were presented as witnesses.
With no costs. Concededly, the absence of notarization in the resort deed
and/or the lacking details in the settlement/family home deed did not
SO ORDERED. 15 necessarily invalidate the transactions evidenced by the said
On appeal, the CA affirmed the trial court's Judgment in its Decision 16 dated documents. However, since the said deeds are private documents,
October 31, 2006 in the following wise: perforce, their due execution and authenticity becomes subject to
the requirement of proof under the Rules on Evidence, Section 20,
The person before whom the resort deed was Rule 132 of which provides:
acknowledged, Alfredo de Guzman, was not commissioned as a
notary public from 1989 to July 3, 1991, the date the certification Sec. 20. Proof of private document. —
was issued. Such being the case, the resort deed is not a public Before any private document offered as authentic
document and the presumption of regularity accorded to public is received in evidence, its due execution and
documents will not apply to the same. As laid down in Tigno, et al. authenticity must be proved either:
v. Aquino, et al.: (a) By anyone who saw the document
The validity of a notarial certification executed or written; or
necessarily derives from the authority of the (b) By evidence of the genuineness of
notarial officer. If the notary public does not the signature or handwriting of the maker.
have the capacity to notarize a document, but
does so anyway, then the document should be The Complaining Heirs insist that the settlement/family home
treated as unnotarized. The rule may strike as and the resort deed are void as their signatures thereon are forgeries
rather harsh, and perhaps may prove to be as opposed to the Villafrias who profess the deeds'
prejudicial to parties in good faith relying on the enforceability. After the Complaining Heirs presented proofs in
proffered authority of the notary public or the support of their claim that their signatures were forged, the
person pretending to be one. Still, to admit burden then fell upon the Villafrias to disprove the same, or
otherwise would render merely officious the conversely, to prove the authenticity and due execution of the
elaborate process devised by this Court in order said deeds. The Villafrias failed in this regard.
that a lawyer may receive a notarial
commission. Without such a rule, the As aforestated, the Villafrias did not present as
notarization of a document by a duly-appointed witnesses (a) the notary public who purportedly notarized the
notary public will have the same legal effect as questioned instrument, (b) the witnesses who appear[ed] in the
one accomplished by a non-lawyer engaged in instruments as eyewitnesses to the signing, or (c) an expert to
pretense. prove the authenticity and genuineness of all the signatures
appearing on the said instruments. Verily, the rule that, proper
The notarization of a document carries foundation must be laid for the admission of documentary
considerable legal effect. Notarization of a evidence; that is, the identity and authenticity of the document
private document converts such document must be reasonably established as a pre-requisite to its
into a public one, and renders it admissible in admission, was prudently observed by the lower court when it
court without further proof of its refused to admit the settlement/family home and the resort deeds
authenticity. Thus, notarization is not an empty as their veracity are doubtful. 17
routine; to the contrary, it engages public interest
in a substantial degree and the protection of that Aggrieved, petitioners, substituted by their son Ruel Villafria, filed a Motion for
interest requires preventing those who are not Reconsideration dated November 24, 2006 raising the trial court's lack of jurisdiction. It was
qualified or authorized to act as notaries public alleged that when the Complaint for Judicial Partition with Annulment of Title and Recovery
from imposing upon the public and the courts and of Possession was filed, there was yet no settlement of Pedro's estate, determination as to
administrative offices generally. the nature thereof, nor was there an identification of the number of legitimate heirs. As
such, the trial court ruled on the settlement of the intestate estate of Pedro in its ordinary
jurisdiction when the action filed was for Judicial Partition. Considering that the instant practiced on him by his opponent, as by
action is really one for settlement of intestate estate, the trial court, sitting merely in its keeping him away from court, . . . or where the
probate jurisdiction, exceeded its jurisdiction when it ruled upon the issues of forgery and defendant never had knowledge of the suit,
ownership. Thus, petitioner argued that said ruling is void and has no effect for having been being kept in ignorance by the acts of the
rendered without jurisdiction. The Motion for Reconsideration was, however, denied by the plaintiff; . . ."
appellate court on February 26, 2007.
Otherwise put, extrinsic or collateral fraud pertains to such
On appeal, this Court denied on June 20, 2007, petitioner's Petition for Review fraud which prevents the aggrieved party from having a trial or
on Certiorari for submitting a verification of the petition, a certificate of non-forum shopping presenting his case to the court, or is used to procure the judgment
and an affidavit of service that failed to comply with the 2004 Rules on Notarial without fair submission of the controversy. This refers to acts intended
Practice regarding competent evidence of affiant's identities. 18 In its Resolution 19 dated to keep the unsuccessful party away from the courts as when there is a
September 26, 2007, this Court also denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration in the false promise of compromise or when one is kept in ignorance of the
absence of any compelling reason to warrant a modification of the previous denial. Thus, suit.
the June 20, 2007 Resolution became final and executory on October 31, 2007 as certified
by the Entry of Judgment issued by the Court. 20 The pivotal issues before Us are: (1) whether there was a
time during the proceedings below that the Petitioners ever
On January 16, 2008, the Court further denied petitioner's motion for leave to prevented from exhibiting fully their case, by fraud or deception,
admit a second motion for reconsideration of its September 26, 2007 Resolution, practiced on them by Respondents, and (2) whether the
considering that the same is a prohibited pleading under Section 2, Rule 52, in relation to Petitioners were kept away from the court or kept in ignorance by
Section 4, Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. Furthermore, the acts of the Respondent?
petitioner's letter dated December 18, 2007 pleading the Court to take a second look at his
petition for review on certiorari and that a decision thereon be rendered based purely on its We find nothing of that sort. Instead, what We deduced
merits was noted without action. 21 as We carefully delved into the evidentiary facts surrounding the
instant case as well as the proceedings below as shown in the 36-
Unsatisfied, petitioner wrote a letter dated March 24, 2008 addressed to then page Decision of the Court a quo, is that the Petitioners were
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno praying that a decision on the case be rendered based on given ample time to rebut the allegations of the Respondents and
the merits and not on formal requirements "as he stands to lose everything his parents had had in fact addressed every detail of Respondent's cause of
left him just because the verification against non-forum shopping is formally defective." action against them. Thus, Petitioners' allegation of the Court a
However, in view of the Entry of Judgment having been made on October 31, 2007, the quo's lack of jurisdiction is misplaced. HEITAD
Court likewise noted said letter without action. 22
Our pronouncement on the matter finds support in the
On November 27, 2008, the RTC issued an Order issuing a Partial Writ of explicit ruling of the Supreme Court in Sps. Santos, et al. v. Sps.
Execution of its October 1, 2001 Decision with respect to the portions disposing of Lumbao, thus:
petitioner's claims as affirmed by the CA.
It is elementary that the active
The foregoing notwithstanding, petitioner filed, on February 11, 2009, a Petition participation of a party in a case pending
for Annulment of Judgment and Order before the CA assailing the October 1, 2001 against him before a court is tantamount to
Decision as well as the November 27, 2008 Order of the RTC on the grounds of extrinsic recognition of that court's jurisdiction and
fraud and lack of jurisdiction. In its Decision dated March 13, 2009, however, the CA willingness to abide by the resolution of the
dismissed the petition and affirmed the rulings of the trial court in the following wise: case which will bar said party from later on
impugning the court's jurisdiction.
Although the assailed Decision of the Court a quo has
already become final and executory and in fact entry of judgment In fine, under the circumstances obtaining in this case the
was issued on 31 October 2007, supra, nevertheless, to put the Petitioners are stopped from assailing the Court a quo's lack of
issues to rest, We deem it apropos to tackle the same. jurisdiction.
The Petitioner argues that the assailed Decision and Order Too, We do not find merit in the Petitioners' second
of the Court a quo, supra, should be annulled and set aside on the issue, supra.
grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.
As mentioned earlier, entry of judgment had already been
We are not persuaded. made on the assailed Decision and Order as early as 31 October 2007.
xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Section 2 of the Rules as stated above provides that the It maybe that the doctrine of finality of judgments
annulment of a judgment may "be based only on grounds of extrinsic permits certain equitable remedies such as a petition for
fraud and lack of jurisdiction." In RP v. The Heirs of Sancho annulment. But the rules are clear. The annulment by the Court of
Magdato, the High Tribunal stressed that: Appeals of judgments or final orders and resolutions in civil
actions of the Regional Trial Courts is resorted to only where the
There is extrinsic fraud when "the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other
unsuccessful party had been prevented from appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of
exhibiting fully his case, by fraud or deception the petitioner, supra.
If Petitioners lost their chance to avail themselves of the FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
appropriate remedies or appeal before the Supreme Court, that is
their own look out. The High Tribunal has emphatically pointed out 1. That Pedro L. Riñoza, Filipino and resident of Nasugbu,
in Mercado, et al. v. Security Bank Corporation, thus: Batangas at the time of his death, died intestate on November 16,
1989. Copy of his death certificate is hereto attached as Annex "A";
A principle almost repeated to satiety is
that "an action for annulment of judgment cannot 2. That Plaintiffs together with the
and is not a substitute for the lost remedy of Defendants enumerated from paragraph 2-A to 2-J are the only
appeal." A party must have first availed of known heirs of the above-mentioned decedent. The plaintiffs and the
appeal, a motion for new trial or a petition for Defendants Rolando, Rafael, Antonio, Angelito, Lorna all surnamed
relief before an action for annulment can Riñoza, and Myrna R. Limon or Myrna R. Rogador, Epifanio Belo and
prosper. Its obvious rationale is to prevent the Ma. Theresa R. Demafelix are the decedent's legitimate children with
party from benefiting from his inaction or his first wife, while Benita Tenorio Riñoza, is the decedent's widow and
negligence. Also, the action for annulment of Bernadette Riñoza, the decedent's daughter with said widow. As such,
judgment must be based either on (a) extrinsic said parties are co-owners by virtue of an intestate inheritance
fraud or (b) lack of jurisdiction or denial of due from the decedent, of the properties enumerated in the succeeding
process. Having failed to avail of the remedies paragraph; ATICcS
and there being a clear showing that neither of 3. That the decedent left the following real properties all
the grounds was present, the petition must be located in Nasugbu, Batangas:
dismissed. Only a disgruntled litigant would
find such legal disposition unacceptable. 23 xxx xxx xxx
When the appellate court denied Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration in its 16. That the estate of decedent Pedro L. Riñoza has no
Resolution dated April 23, 2009, petitioner filed the instant Petition for Review known legal indebtedness;
on Certiorari on June 10, 2009, invoking the following ground:
17. That said estate remains undivided up to this
I. date and it will be to the best interest of all heirs that same be
partitioned judicially. 26
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN
NOT RULING THAT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 14, Petitioner is mistaken. It is true that some of respondents' causes of action
NASUGBU, BATANGAS, ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION IN pertaining to the properties left behind by the decedent Pedro, his known heirs, and the
ENTERTAINING THE SPECIAL PROCEEDING FOR THE nature and extent of their interests thereon, may fall under an action for settlement of
SETTLEMENT OF ESTATE OF PEDRO RIÑOZA AND THE CIVIL estate. However, a complete reading of the complaint would readily show that, based on
ACTION FOR ANNULMENT OF TITLE OF THE HEIRS AND THIRD the nature of the suit, the allegations therein, and the reliefs prayed for, the action is clearly
PERSONS IN ONE PROCEEDING. 24 one for judicial partition with annulment of title and recovery of possession.
Petitioner asserts that while the complaint filed by respondents was captioned as Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules of Court provides:
"Judicial Partition with Annulment of Title and Recovery of Possession," the allegations
therein show that the cause of action is actually one for settlement of estate of decedent RULE 74
Pedro. Considering that settlement of estate is a special proceeding cognizable by a Summary Settlement of Estate
probate court of limited jurisdiction while judicial partition with annulment of title and Section 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. — If
recovery of possession are ordinary civil actions cognizable by a court of general the decedent left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of
jurisdiction, the trial court exceeded its jurisdiction in entertaining the latter while it was age, or the minors are represented by their judicial or legal
sitting merely in its probate jurisdiction. This is in view of the prohibition found in the Rules representatives duly authorized for the purpose, the parties may
on the joinder of special civil actions and ordinary civil actions. 25 Thus, petitioner argued without securing letters of administration, divide the estate among
that the ruling of the trial court is void and has no effect for having been rendered in without themselves as they see fit by means of a public instrument filed in the
jurisdiction. office of the register of deeds, and should they disagree, they may do
Petitioner also reiterates the arguments raised before the appellate court that so in an ordinary action of partition. If there is only one heir, he may
since the finding of forgery relates only to the signature of respondents and not to their co- adjudicate to himself the entire estate by means of an affidavit filled in
heirs who assented to the conveyance, the transaction should be considered valid as to the office of the register of deeds. The parties to an extrajudicial
them. Petitioner also denies the findings of the courts below that his parents are builders in settlement, whether by public instrument or by stipulation in a pending
bad faith for they only took possession of the subject properties after the execution of the action for partition, or the sole heir who adjudicates the entire estate to
transfer documents and after they paid the consideration on the sale. himself by means of an affidavit shall file, simultaneously with and as a
condition precedent to the filing of the public instrument, or stipulation
The petition is bereft of merit. in the action for partition, or of the affidavit in the office of the register of
deeds, a bond with the said register of deeds, in an amount equivalent
Petitioner maintains that since respondents' complaint alleged the following to the value of the personal property involved as certified to under oath
causes of action, the same is actually one for settlement of estate and not of judicial by the parties concerned and conditioned upon the payment of any just
partition: claim that may be filed under section 4 of this rule. It shall be presumed
that the decedent left no debts if no creditor files a petition for letters of only if the heirs have good reasons for not resorting to an action for
administration within two (2) years after the death of the decedent. partition. Where partition is possible, either in or out of court, the
estate should not be burdened with an administration proceeding
The fact of the extrajudicial settlement or administration shall without good and compelling reasons.
be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the manner
provided in the next succeeding section; but no extrajudicial settlement Thus, it has been repeatedly held that when a person
shall be binding upon any person who has not participated therein or dies without leaving pending obligations to be paid, his heirs,
had no notice thereof. 27 whether of age or not, are not bound to submit the property to a
judicial administration, which is always long and costly, or to
In this relation, Section 1, Rule 69 of the Rules of Court provides: apply for the appointment of an administrator by the Court. It has
Section 1. Complaint in action for partition of real estate. — been uniformly held that in such case the judicial administration
A person having the right to compel the partition of real estate may do and the appointment of an administrator are superfluous and
so as provided in this Rule, setting forth in his complaint the nature unnecessary proceedings. 33
and extent of his title and an adequate description of the real Thus, respondents committed no error in filing an action for judicial partition
estate of which partition is demanded and joining as defendants instead of a special proceeding for the settlement of estate as the same is expressly
all other persons interested in the property. 28 permitted by law. That the complaint contained allegations inherent in an action for
As can be gleaned from the foregoing provisions, the allegations of respondents settlement of estate does not mean that there was a prohibited joinder of causes of action
in their complaint are but customary, in fact, mandatory, to a complaint for partition of real for questions as to the estate's properties as well as a determination of the heirs, their
estate. Particularly, the complaint alleged: (1) that Pedro died intestate; (2) that status as such, and the nature and extent of their titles to the estate, may also be properly
respondents, together with their co-heirs, are all of legal age, with the exception of one who ventilated in partition proceedings alone. 34 In fact, a complete inventory of the estate may
is represented by a judicial representative duly authorized for the purpose; (3) that the heirs likewise be done during the partition proceedings, especially since the estate has no
enumerated are the only known heirs of Pedro; (4) that there is an account and description debts. 35 Indeed, where the more expeditious remedy of partition is available to the heirs,
of all real properties left by Pedro; (5) that Pedro's estate has no known indebtedness; and then they may not be compelled to submit to administration proceedings, dispensing of the
(6) that respondents, as rightful heirs to the decedent's estate, pray for the partition of the risks of delay and of the properties being dissipated. 36
same in accordance with the laws of intestacy. It is clear, therefore, that based on the Moreover, the fact that respondents' complaint also prayed for the annulment of
allegations of the complaint, the case is one for judicial partition. That the complaint alleged title and recovery of possession does not strip the trial court off of its jurisdiction to hear and
causes of action identifying the heirs of the decedent, properties of the estate, and their decide the case. Asking for the annulment of certain transfers of property could very well be
rights thereto, does not perforce make it an action for settlement of estate. achieved in an action for partition, 37 as can be seen in cases where courts determine the
It must be recalled that the general rule is that when a person dies intestate, or, if parties' rights arising from complaints asking not only for the partition of estates but also for
testate, failed to name an executor in his will or the executor so named is incompetent, or the annulment of titles and recovery of ownership and possession of property. 38 In fact,
refuses the trust, or fails to furnish the bond required by the Rules of Court,then the in Bagayas v. Bagayas, 39 wherein a complaint for annulment of sale and partition was
decedent's estate shall be judicially administered and the competent court shall appoint a dismissed by the trial court due to the impropriety of an action for annulment as it
qualified administrator in the order established in Section 6 of Rule 78 of the Rules of constituted a collateral attack on the certificates of title of the respondents therein, this
Court. 29 An exception to this rule, however, is found in the aforequoted Section 1 of Rule Court found the dismissal to be improper in the following manner:
74 wherein the heirs of a decedent, who left no will and no debts due from his estate, may In Lacbayan v. Samoy, Jr. (Lacbayan) which is an action
divide the estate either extrajudicially or in an ordinary action for partition without submitting for partition premised on the existence or non-existence of co-
the same for judicial administration nor applying for the appointment of an administrator by ownership between the parties, the Court categorically
the court. 30 The reason is that where the deceased dies without pending obligations, there pronounced that a resolution on the issue of ownership does not
is no necessity for the appointment of an administrator to administer the estate for them subject the Torrens title issued over the disputed realties to a
and to deprive the real owners of their possession to which they are immediately collateral attack. It must be borne in mind that what cannot be
entitled. 31 collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the title
In this case, it was expressly alleged in the complaint, and was not disputed, that itself. As pronounced in Lacbayan:
Pedro died without a will, leaving his estate without any pending obligations. Thus, contrary There is no dispute that a Torrens
to petitioner's contention, respondents were under no legal obligation to submit the subject certificate of title cannot be collaterally attacked,
properties of the estate to a special proceeding for settlement of intestate estate, and are, but that rule is not material to the case at
in fact, encouraged to have the same partitioned, judicially or extrajudicially, by Pereira v. bar. What cannot he collaterally attacked is the
Court of Appeals: 32 certificate of title and not the title itself. The
Section 1, Rule 74 of the Revised Rules of Court, however, certificate referred to is that document issued
does not preclude the heirs from instituting administration proceedings, by the Register of Deeds known as the TCT. In
even if the estate has no debts or obligations, if they do not desire to contrast, the title referred to by law means
resort for good reasons to an ordinary action for partition. While ownership which is, more often than not,
Section 1 allows the heirs to divide the estate among themselves as represented by that document. Petitioner
they may see fit, or to resort to an ordinary action for partition, the said apparently confuses title with the certificate of title.
provision does not compel them to do so if they have good reasons to Title as a concept of ownership should not be
take a different course of action. It should be noted that recourse to an confused with the certificate of title as evidence of
administration proceeding even if the estate has no debts is sanctioned
such ownership although both are interchangeably on February 15, 1988 the questioned Affidavit of Adjudication
used. (Emphases supplied) TIADCc under the second sentence of Rule 74, Section 1 of the Revised
Rules of Court. Said rule is an exception to the general rule that
Thus, the RTC erroneously dismissed petitioner's when a person dies leaving a property, it should be judicially
petition for annulment of sale on the ground that it constituted a administered and the competent court should appoint a qualified
collateral attack since she was actually assailing Rogelio and administrator, in the order established in Sec. 6, Rule 78 in case the
Orlando's title to the subject lands and not any Torrens certificate deceased left no will, or in case he did, he failed to name an executor
of title over the same. therein.
Indeed, an action for partition does not preclude the settlement of the issue of xxx xxx xxx
ownership. In fact, the determination as to the existence of the same is necessary in the
resolution of an action for partition, as held in Municipality of Biñan v. Garcia: 40 It appearing, however, that in the present case the only
property of the intestate estate of Portugal is the Caloocan parcel
The first phase of a partition and/or accounting suit is of land, to still subject it, under the circumstances of the case, to
taken up with the determination of whether or not a co-ownership a special proceeding which could be long, hence, not expeditious,
in fact exists, and a partition is proper (i.e., not otherwise legally just to establish the status of petitioners as heirs is not only
proscribed) and may be made by voluntary agreement of all the parties impractical; it is burdensome to the estate with the costs and
interested in the property. This phase may end with a declaration that expenses of an administration proceeding. And it is superfluous
plaintiff is not entitled to have a partition either because a co-ownership in light of the fact that the parties to the civil case — subject of
does not exist, or partition is legally prohibited. It may end, on the other the present case, could and had already in fact presented
hand, with an adjudgment that a co-ownership does in truth exist, evidence before the trial court which assumed jurisdiction over
partition is proper in the premises and an accounting of rents and the case upon the issues it defined during pre-trial.
profits received by the defendant from the real estate in question is in
order. . . . In fine, under the circumstances of the present case, there
being no compelling reason to still subject Portugal's estate to
The second phase commences when it appears that "the administration proceedings since a determination of petitioners'
parties are unable to agree upon the partition" directed by the court. In status as heirs could be achieved in the civil case filed by
that event[,] partition shall be done for the parties by the [c]ourt with the petitioners, the trial court should proceed to evaluate the
assistance of not more than three (3) commissioners. This second evidence presented by the parties during the trial and render a
stage may well also deal with the rendition of the accounting itself and decision thereon upon the issues it defined during pre-trial, . . . . 48
its approval by the [c]ourt after the parties have been accorded
opportunity to be heard thereon, and an award for the recovery by the Thus, in view of the clarity of respondents' complaint and the causes of action
party or parties thereto entitled of their just share in the rents and alleged therein, as well as the fact that the trial court, in arriving at its decision, gave
profits of the real estate in question. . . . . 41 petitioner more than ample opportunity to advance his claims, petitioner cannot now be
permitted to allege lack of jurisdiction just because the judgment rendered was adverse to
An action for partition, therefore, is premised on the existence or non-existence of them. To repeat, the action filed herein is one for judicial partition and not for settlement of
co-ownership between the parties. 42 Unless and until the issue of co-ownership is intestate estate. Consequently, that respondents also prayed for the annulment of title and
definitively resolved, it would be premature to effect a partition of an estate. 43 recovery of possession in the same proceeding does not strip the court off of its jurisdiction
In view of the foregoing, petitioner's argument that the trial court acted without for asking for the annulment of certain transfers of property could very well be achieved in
jurisdiction in entertaining the action of settlement of estate and annulment of title in a an action for partition.
single proceeding is clearly erroneous for the instant complaint is precisely one for judicial As for petitioner's contention that the sale must be considered valid as to the
partition with annulment of title and recovery of possession, filed within the confines of heirs who assented to the conveyance as well as their allegation of good faith, this Court
applicable law and jurisprudence. Under Section 1 44 of Republic Act No. 7691 (RA does not find any compelling reason to deviate from the ruling of the appellate court. As
7691), 45 amending Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, the RTC shall exercise exclusive original sufficiently found by both courts below, the authenticity and due execution of the
jurisdiction over all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of documents on which petitioner's claims are based were inadequately proven. They were
pecuniary estimation. Since the action herein was not merely for partition and recovery of undated, forged, and acknowledged before a notary public who was not commissioned as
ownership but also for annulment of title and documents, the action is incapable of such on the date they were executed. They were never presented to the Register of Deeds
pecuniary estimation and thus cognizable by the RTC. Hence, considering that the trial for registration. Neither were the supposed notaries and buyers of the subject properties
court clearly had jurisdiction in rendering its decision, the instant petition for annulment of presented as witnesses.
judgment must necessarily fail.
While it may be argued that Benita, one of the co-heirs to the estate, actually
Note that even if the instant action was one for annulment of title alone, without acknowledged the sale of the resort, the circumstances surrounding the same militate
the prayer for judicial partition, the requirement of instituting a separate special proceeding against the fact of its occurrence. Not only was the Deed of Sale supposedly executed by
for the determination of the status and rights of the respondents as putative heirs may be Benita undated and unsigned by Pedro, but the document she presented purportedly
dispensed with, in light of the fact that the parties had voluntarily submitted the issue to the evidencing her receipt of her share in the sale, did not refer to any sort of sale but to a
trial court and had already presented evidence regarding the issue of previous loan obtained by Pedro and Benita from a bank. AIDSTE
heirship. 46 In Portugal v. Portugal-Beltran, 47 the Court explained:
Moreover, credence must be given on the appellate court's observations as to
In the case at bar, respondent, believing rightly or petitioners' actuations insofar as the transactions alleged herein are concerned. First,they
wrongly that she was the sole heir to Portugal's estate, executed were seemingly uncertain as to the number and/or identity of the properties bought by
them. 49 In their Answer, they gave the impression that they bought both the resort and the SERENO, C.J p:
family home and yet, during trial, Francisco Villafria claimed they only bought the resort. In
fact, it was only then that they presented the subject Extra-Judicial Settlement and Deed of Before this Court is a Rule 45 Petition 1 assailing the Court of Appeals (CA)
Sale. 50 Second, they never presented any other document which would evidence their Decision and Resolution, 2 which reversed the Decision 3 of the Regional Trial Court
actual payment of consideration to the selling heirs. 51 Third, in spite of the blatant legal (RTC).The RTC granted the entreaty of petitioner spouses Elvira and Edwin Alcantara for
infirmities of the subject documents of conveyance, petitioners still took possession of the the quieting of title and reconveyance of possession of Lot No. 16932 occupied by
properties, demolished several cottages, and introduced permanent improvements thereon. respondent spouses Florante Belen and Zenaida Ananias. HTcADC
In all, the Court agrees with the appellate court that petitioners failed to FACTS OF THE CASE
adequately substantiate, with convincing, credible and independently verifiable proof, their
claim that they had, in fact, purchased the subject properties. The circumstances In 2005, Spouses Alcantara filed before the RTC a Complaint 4 against Spouses
surrounding the purported transfers cast doubt on whether they actually took place. In Belen for the quieting of title, reconveyance of possession, and accounting of harvest with
substantiating their claim, petitioners relied solely on the Extra-Judicial Settlement and damages. Petitioners argued that their neighbors, respondents herein, had extended the
Deed of Sale, who utterly failed to prove their authenticity and due execution. They cannot, latter's possession up to the land titled to Spouses Alcantara, and usurped the harvests
therefore, be permitted to claim absolute ownership of the subject lands based on the therefrom.
same.
Spouses Alcantara claimed that they were the registered owners of Lot No.
Neither can they be considered as innocent purchasers for value and builders in 16932 — a 3,887-square-meter parcel of land planted with trees and covered by Transfer
good faith. Good faith consists in the belief of the builder that the land the latter is building Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-36252. 5 Elvira Alcantara traced her ownership of the
on is one's own without knowledge of any defect or flaw in one's title. 52However, in view of property to her inheritance from her mother, Asuncion Alimon. By virtue of an Affidavit of
the manifest defects in the instruments conveying their titles, petitioners should have been Self-Adjudication dated 24 March 1993, 6 Free Patent No. (IV-5)-3535 dated 28 August
placed on guard. Yet, they still demolished several cottages and constructed improvement 1974 and Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-512 7 issued on 17 January 1975 were
on the properties. Thus, their claim of good faith cannot be given credence. cancelled, and, in lieu thereof, TCT No. T-36252 was issued in the name of Elvira
Alcantara.
Indeed, a judgment which has acquired finality becomes immutable and
unalterable, hence, may no longer be modified in any respect except to correct clerical In addition to the certificate of title, Spouses Alcantara submitted as evidence the
errors or mistakes, all the issues between the parties being deemed resolved and laid to Tax Declarations of the property registered to them and their predecessors-in-interest,
rest. 53 It is a fundamental principle in our judicial system and essential to an effective and receipts 8 of their payments for real property taxes, and a Sketch/Special Plan 9 of Lot No.
efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party 16932 prepared by Geodetic Engineer Augusto C. Rivera.
be, not through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. 54 Exceptions to the
immutability of final judgment are allowed only under the most extraordinary of On the strength of a sales agreement called Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan ng
circumstances. 55 Yet, when petitioner is given more than ample opportunity to be heard, Lupa,10 respondents countered Spouses Alcantara's claims over the property. Spouses
unbridled access to the appellate courts, as well as unbiased judgments rendered after a Belen alleged that they bought the property from its prior owners. Even though respondents
consideration of evidence presented by the parties, as in the case at hand, the Court shall did not have any certificate of title over the property, they supported their claim of
refrain from reversing the rulings of the courts below in the absence of any showing that the ownership with various Tax Declarations under the name of their predecessors-in-interest.
same were rendered with fraud or lack of jurisdiction. Spouses Belen also submitted a Sketch/Special Plan 11of Lot No. 16932 prepared by
Geodetic Engineer Hector C. Santos.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED. The
Decision and Resolution, dated March 13, 2009 and April 23, 2009, respectively, of the Furthermore, Spouses Belen attacked the OCT of Asuncion Alimon. They
Court Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 107347, which affirmed the Judgment dated October 1, claimed that fraud attended the issuance of a Free Patent to her, considering that the
2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Nasugbu, Batangas, Branch 14, in Civil Case No. 217, Belens had occupied the property ever since. According to respondents, they already
insofar as it concerns the resort covered by Transfer Certificates of Title No. 51354 and No. protested her title still pending before the Community Environment and Natural Resources
51355, and family home covered by TCT No. 40807 and 40808, are AFFIRMED. Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).12

SO ORDERED. In its Decision dated 9 February 2009, the RTC gave more weight to the
certificate of title and Tax Declarations presented by petitioners, declaring them the
||| (Spouses Villafria v. Plazo, G.R. No. 187524 , [August 5, 2015]) absolute owners of Lot No. 16932. The trial court further dislodged the use of the Tax
Declarations registered under the names of Spouses Belen and their predecessors-in-
interest, because these documents did not have the technical description of the land and its
boundaries; and in contrast, the TCT of Spouses Alcantara defined the subject property by
SPOUSES ELVIRA ALCANTARA AND EDWIN metes and bounds, with a technical description approved by the Land Management
ALCANTARA,petitioners,vs.SPOUSES FLORANTE BELEN AND Bureau.
ZENAIDA ANANIAS, THE PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT AND The RTC went on to conclude that respondents were claiming Lot No. 16931, a
NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICER, DEPARTMENT OF property different from Lot No. 16932, viz.: 13
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, STA. CRUZ, LAGUNA,
and THE CITY ASSESSOR OF SAN PABLO CITY,respondents. There is clear evidence that what the plaintiffs are claiming based on
their title is Lot No. 16932, and what the defendants are claiming to
have bought from their predecessors-in-interest, is a different lot with
different boundaries and technical descriptions to that of Lot No.
DECISION 16932. The land covered by the plaintiff's title has an area of 3,887
square meters only and its boundaries consist of the following "NW-by equitable title to or interest in the real property that is the subject matter of the
Lot 16916; NE & SE-by Lot 16934; S-by Lot 16930; and SW-by Lot action. 17 aScITE
16931." On the other hand, the lot bought by the defendants has 4,368
square meters with the following boundaries: "N-Paulino Velasco; E-by As for the recovery of possession, Spouses Alcantara pray for the possession
Felix Velasco; South-Cipriano Dayo and Crisanto Delos Reyes; and W- and use of the subject lot and the right to harvest from it, which are the reliefs granted in
by Casiano Meraña." The difference is made more manifest by the an accion reivindicatoria.18 In this judicial remedy, a party claims ownership over a parcel
survey plan (Exhibit "E";Records, p. 213) prepared by Geodetic of land and seeks recovery of its full possession. 19
Engineer Augusto C. Rivera which is part of the Cadastral Lot survey Therefore, in these proceedings, the Court is tasked to review whether the CA
for San Pablo City, showing that the defendants' property which they committed errors of law in concluding the legal issue of ownership in favor of respondents
bought is Lot No. 16931, not Lot 16932,covered by the title of the on the basis of their Tax Declarations and the Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan ng
plaintiffs. x x x CAIHTE Lupa notwithstanding the TCT of Spouses Alcantara. In other words, we are presented with
xxx xxx xxx the question of whether a certificate of title may be sufficiently defeated by tax declarations
and deeds of sale. Before us is thus a question of law as elucidated in Gaerlan v.
The evidence of the defendants consisting of tax declarations (Exhibit Republic: 20
"4";Records, p. 278) show that what is tax declared in their names
is Lot No. 16931, not Lot No. 16932. The distinction between a "question of law" and a "question of fact" is
settled. x x x. In Republic v. Vega,the Court held that when petitioner
x x x. The evidence also shows that while the lot purchased by the asks for a review of the decision made by a lower court based on the
defendants from their predecessors-in-interest has been tax declared evidence presented, without delving into their probative value but
since 1948, Lot No. 16932 covered by plaintiff's title was only tax simply on their sufficiency to support the legal conclusions made, then
declared in 1983 in the name of the plaintiff's mother Asuncion Alimon. a question of law is raised.
This simply goes to show that if indeed what was purchased by the
defendants is Lot No. 16932, the said lot should have been In the present case, there seems to be no dispute as to the facts, and
covered by the tax declarations issued to their predecessors-in- the question presented before us calls for a review of the CA's
interest as early as 1948. Yet it clearly appears that Lot 16932 was conclusion that the documents and evidence presented by petitioner
declared only in 1983. (Emphasis supplied) are insufficient to support her application for registration of title. Hence,
the petition is properly filed.
Spouses Belen successfully appealed before the CA. The appellate court found
that respondents had presented their claims of ownership over Lot No. 16932, and not Lot RULING OF THE COURT
No. 16931. The appellate court held that the Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan ng Lupa and the
The CA then declared that Asuncion Alimon was not a possessor or cultivator of Tax Declaration submitted by respondents pertained to the lot in litigation and reasoned
the subject land, a fact that voided the Free Patent issued to her, as well as the resulting that the "description of the property as shown by the statement of the boundaries in the tax
OCT and TCT. The appellate court additionally held that Elvira Alcantara was not a legal declaration bespeaks of the lot in litigation as described in the Deed of Sale submitted in
heir of Asuncion Alimon. evidence by the appellants." 21 Based on these documents, the CA adjudged Spouses
Belen the lawful owners of Lot No. 16932.
Since petitioners failed to show their legal entitlement to Lot No. 16932, the CA
went on to declare respondents the owners of that property. Moreover, it ordered the However, in the first place, these exhibits do not involve Lot No. 16932. As
cancellation of OCT No. P-512 and TCT No. T-36252. correctly assessed by the RTC, the parcel of land described in the Kasulatan ng Bilihang
Tuluyan ng Lupa does not correspond to the description of Lot No. 16932 as contained in
Spouses Alcantara moved for reconsideration, 14 but to no avail. Before this the realty's certificate of title claimed by petitioners. TCT No. T-36252 reads: 22
Court, petitioners bewail the conclusions of the CA that respondents own Lot No. 16932
and that petitioners' title to the realty is void. Petitioners assert that the Tax Declarations Beginning at a point marked "1" of lot 16932, Cad-438-D, being N. 46-
and the Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan ng Lupa submitted by Spouses Belen pertain to Lot 17 W.,5367.86 m. from BLLM No. 1, Cad-438-D, San Pablo City
No. 16931. Spouses Alcantara further posit that the Free Patent granted to Asuncion Cad.;thence N. 65-45 E.,63.74 m. to point 2 S. 20-56 E.,68.88 m. to
Alimon can only be litigated in reversion proceedings. Moreover, they allege that point 3; S. 76-30 W. 28.67 m. to point 4; S. 76-47 W.,31.59 m. to point
respondents cannot properly assail, for the first time on appeal, the right of Elvira Alcantara 5; N. 24-50 W.,57.36 m. to point 1; point of beginning. Containing an
to succeed Asuncion Alimon. area of THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN
(3,887) SQUARE METERS. x x x.
In their Comment, 15 respondents do not deny that Lot No. 16932 is different
from Lot No. 16931. 16 They nevertheless assert ownership over Lot No. 16932, alleging On the other hand, the Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan ng Lupa pertains to the
that their exhibits — the Tax Declarations and the Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan ng following: 23
Lupa — showed their superior right over the realty. They also maintain that the CA correctly Isang (1) lagay na lupang niyugan na natatayo sa Nayon ng San
cancelled the Free Patent of Asuncion Alimon and declared Elvira Alcantara a mere Marcos, Lungsod ng San Pablo. Ang kabalantay sa HILAGA — ay
adoptee of Alimon. Paulino Velasco; sa SILANGAN — ay, Felix Velasco; sa TIMOG — ay
ISSUE OF THE CASE Cipriano Dayo at Crisanto Meraña Reyes; at sa KANLURAN — ay
Casiano Meraña; may lawak na 4,368 metros parisukat, humigit-
The nature of the action filed by petitioners below is for the quieting of title and kumulang, x x x ayon sa Boja Declaratoria Blg. 23949. x x x. DETACa
the recovery of possession against the occupants of the property, Spouses Belen. To quiet
title, Article 477 of the Civil Code requires that the claimants must have a legal or an
A cursory reading of the above excerpts clearly shows that the lot claimed by submitted as evidence by petitioners. In Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corp. v. Heirs of
petitioners is not the property conveyed in the deed of sale presented by respondents. Coronado,45 we discussed the instant legal issue as follows:
Aside from their difference in size, the two properties have distinctive boundaries.
Therefore, on the face of the documents, the CA incorrectly ruled that these pertained to Indubitably, a certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible
Lot No. 16932. and incontrovertible title to the property in favor of the person whose
name appears therein. The real purpose of the Torrens System of land
The ruling of the CA that respondents own Lot No. 16932 based on their Tax registration is to quiet title to land and put stop forever to any question
Declarations is likewise erroneous. Tracing the history of the Tax Declarations registered as to the legality of the title.
under the names of respondents to those of their predecessors-in-interest, we find that
none of these refers to Lot No. 16932. In the same assailed ruling, the CA went beyond the contents of the TCT and
concluded that its issuance was a nullity. It went on to declare the Free Patent issued to
The oldest Tax Declaration exhibited by respondents is No. 3902 24 issued to Asuncion Alimon void and ruled that Elvira Alcantara was not a lawful heir of Asuncion
Martin Belen in 1948. It covers a 4,368-square-meter lot with the same boundaries as those Alimon.
indicated in the Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan ng Lupa.This document was followed by the
following Tax Declarations covering the same property and registered to respondents' In declaring the nullity of the Free Patent, the CA held thus: 46
predecessors-in-interest: (1) No. 12041; 25 (2) No. 34046; 26 (3) No. 20303; 27 (4) No. A Free Patent cannot be issued to Alimon because it cannot be issued
51502; 28 (5) No. 23439 29 (which is the subject of the Kasulatang Bilihang Tuluyan ng to a person who is not a possessor or cultivator of the land or is not
Lupa);(6) No. 63-914; 30 (7) ARP No. 91-06422; 31 and (8) the present Tax Declaration, paying taxes that will justify segregation from the public land of the land
ARP No. 94-059-018. 32 applied for. Alimon intentionally applied for a Free Patent absent the
The last three Tax Declarations were already registered to Spouses Belen. foregoing requirements.
Indicated on the dorsal portion of these documents are the following: the parcel of land, Noticeably, the CA failed to cite any specific exhibit on record showing that
area, and boundaries covered by the Tax Declaration. Through all of these details, we read Asuncion Alimon did not possess the land when she applied for the patent. In effect, it
that the exhibits presented by respondents refer to Lot No. 16931, having an area of around jumped to conclusions without any sufficient basis for its premise. This form of adjudication
4,368 square meters 33 and delineated by metes and bounds different from those is flawed, as no less than the Constitution mandates that a court decision must express
described in TCT No. T-36252. Hence, the RTC accurately ruled that the evidence of clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. 47
respondents "consisting of tax declarations x x x shows that what is tax declared in their
names is Lot No. 16931, not Lot No. 16932." 34 Anent the legal status of Elvira Alcantara, the CA stated: 48
Even assuming that the Tax Declarations of respondents pertain to the subject On the other hand, appellee Elvira Alcantara is just a "Palake" of
property, this Court finds that the CA incorrectly applied the law on land titles. The appellate Alimon who had transferred the land to themselves. Appellee is not a
court should not have set aside the RTC's appreciation of the certificate of title registered to legal heir of Alimon. Margarito Belarmino, who testified for the
Spouses Alcantara just because Spouses Belen presented their Tax Declarations. appellees, admitted in court during cross-examination that appellee
Elvira Alcantara is just a "Palake" or adopted.
Based on established jurisprudence, 35 we rule that the certificate of title of
petitioners is an absolute wad indefeasible evidence of their ownership of the property. The In Bagayas v. Bagayas,49 this Court reiterated that courts must refrain from
irrelevant Tax Declarations of Spouses Belen cannot defeat TCT No. T-36252 of Spouses making a declaration of heirship in an ordinary civil action because "matters relating to the
Alcantara, as it is binding and conclusive upon the whole world. 36Cureg v. Intermediate rights of filiation and heirship must be ventilated in a special proceeding instituted precisely
Appellate Court 37 explains: for the purpose of determining such rights." 50 Straightforwardly, the CA is precluded from
determining the issue of filiation in a proceeding for the quieting of title and accion
[A]s against an array of proofs consisting of tax declarations and/or tax reivindicatoria.
receipts which are not conclusive evidence of ownership nor proof of
the area covered therein, an original certificate of title indicates true While there are exceptions to this rule, none obtains in this case. 51 There is no
and legal ownership by the registered owners over the disputed allegation on record that, as regards the parties, a special proceeding was instituted but
premises. Petitioners' OCT No. P-19093 should be accorded greater was finally closed and terminated. In the proceedings before the RTC, none of the parties
weight as against the tax declarations x x x offered by private exhaustively presented evidence regarding the issue of filiation, save for the above-cited
respondents in support of their claim x x x. testimony of Margarito Belarmino. Neither did the trial court make any pronouncement as
regards that issue. Given, therefore, the dearth of evidence and discussion on filiation a
Aside from presenting a certificate of title to the claimed property, petitioners quo,the CA should not have adjudicated the status of Elvira Alcantara as a legitimate
submit as evidence the Tax Declarations registered to them and to their predecessors-in- daughter or an adopted child in succeeding to the rights of Asuncion Alimon.
interest. The earliest Tax Declaration on record is No. 58760 38registered to Asuncion
Alimon in 1983. Subsequent to that issuance are the following Tax Declarations: (1) No. 59- All told, we find that the CA committed an error of law in giving precedence to the
992; 39 (2) ARP No. 91-48014; 40 (3) ARP No. 94-059-0019; 41 and (4) the present Tax Tax Declarations and irrelevant deed of sale of Spouses Belen over a Torrens title to Lot
Declaration, 99-059-00795. 42 The back pages of all these Tax Declarations exhibited by No. 16932 registered to Spouses Alcantara. The appellate court likewise erred in nullifying
petitioners uniformly refer to Lot No. 16932, having an area of 3,887 square meters with the title of petitioners over the realty, because it did not provide any basis for invalidating
boundaries as described in TCT No. T-36252. HEITAD the Free Patent of Asuncion Alimon. Finally, we find fault on the part of the CA in
improperly declaring Elvira Alcantara an adopted child outside the confines of a special
These Tax Declarations, 43 together with the certificate of title 44 presented by proceeding. aDSIHc
petitioners, support their claims over Lot No. 16932. Therefore, the CA incorrectly disposed
of the property in favor of respondents, considering the indefeasibility of the Torrens title WHEREFORE,the Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by Spouses Elvira
Alcantara and Edwin Alcantara is GRANTED.The Court of Appeals Decision dated 26
August 2011 and Resolution dated 12 January 2012 in CA-G.R. CV No. 94638 [2] Whether or not the Deed of Absolute Sale dated October 7, 1974 is
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.The Regional Trial Court Decision dated 9 February 2009 valid;
in Civil Case No. SP-6207 is hereby REINSTATED.
[3] Whether or not plaintiff can ask for partition of the subject properties
SO ORDERED. assuming that she is an adopted child of the late spouses
Maximino Bagayasand Eligia Clemente and assuming further that the
||| (Spouses Alcantara v. Spouses Belen, G.R. No. 200204, [April 25, 2017])
subject deed of sale is invalid; and

[4] Is the prevailing party entitled to damages? 17

HILARIA BAGAYAS, petitioner, vs. ROGELIO BAGAYAS, With respect to the first issue, the RTC declared petitioner to be an adopted child of Maximino
FELICIDAD BAGAYAS, ROSALINA BAGAYAS, MICHAEL BAGAYAS, and Eligia on the strength of the order of adoption, which it considered as more reliable than the
and MARIEL BAGAYAS, respondents. oral testimonies of respondents denying the fact of adoption. 18On the issue of the validity of the
questioned deed of absolute sale, the RTC ruled that Eligia's signature thereon was a mere
surplusage, as the subject lands belonged exclusively to Maximino who could alienate the same
without the consent of his wife. 19
DECISION The RTC further held that, even though petitioner is an adopted child, she could not ask for
partition of the subject lands as she was not able to prove any of the instances that would
invalidate the deed of absolute sale. Moreover, the action for annulment of sale was improper as
it constituted a collateral attack on the title of Rogelio and Orlando. 20
PERLAS-BERNABE, J p:
Insisting that the subject lands were conjugal properties of Maximino and Eligia, petitioner filed a
motion for reconsideration 21 from the aforesaid Decision, which was denied by the RTC in a
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari 1 are the Resolutions 2 dated January 6, Resolution 22 dated June 17, 2008 holding that while it may have committed a mistake in
2009 3 and Order 4 dated March 16, 2009 of the Regional Trial Court of Camiling, Tarlac, declaring the subject lands as exclusive properties of Maximino (since the defendants therein
Branch 68 (RTC) which dismissed on the ground of res judicata the twin petitions of already admitted during the pre-trial conference that the subject lands are the conjugal
Hilaria Bagayas (petitioner) for amendment of Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. 375657 properties of Maximino and Eligia), the action was nevertheless dismissible on the ground that it
and 375658, docketed as Land Registration Case (LRC) Nos. 08-34 and 08-35. was a collateral attack on the title of Rogelio and Orlando. 23 Citing the case of Tapuroc v.
Loquellano Vda. de Mende, 24 it observed that the action for the declaration of nullity of deed of
The Facts
sale is not the direct proceeding required by law to attack a Torrens certificate of title. 25
On June 28, 2004, petitioner filed a complaint 5 for annulment of sale and partition before the
RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 04-42, claiming that Rogelio, Felicidad, Rosalina, Michael, and No appeal was taken from the RTC's Decision dated March 24, 2008 or the
Mariel, all surnamed Bagayas (respondents) intended to exclude her from inheriting from the Resolution dated June 17, 2008, thereby allowing the same to lapse into finality. AEIHaS
estate of her legally adoptive parents, Maximino Bagayas(Maximino) and Eligia Clemente Subsequently, however, petitioner filed, on August 1, 2008, twin petitions 26 before the same
(Eligia), by falsifying a deed of absolute sale (deed of absolute sale) purportedly executed by the RTC, docketed as LRC Nos. 08-34 and 08-35, for the amendment of TCT Nos. 375657 and
deceased spouses (Maximino and Eligia) transferring two parcels of land (subject lands) 375658 to include her name and those of her heirs and successors-in-interest as registered
registered in their names to their biological children, respondent Rogelio and owners to the extent of one-third of the lands covered therein. 27The petitions were anchored on
Orlando Bagayas 6 (Orlando). 7 Said deed, which was supposedly executed on October 7, Section 108 of Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1529, 28otherwise known as the "Property
1974, 8 bore the signature of Eligia who could not have affixed her signature thereon as she had Registration Decree," which provides as follows:
long been dead since August 21, 1971. 9 By virtue of the same instrument, however,
the Bagayas brothers were able to secure in their favor TCT Nos. 375657 10 and Section 108. Amendment and alteration of certificates. — No erasure,
375658 11 over the subject lands. alteration, or amendment shall be made upon the registration book
after the entry of a certificate of title or of a memorandum thereon and
As a matter of course, trial ensued on the merits of the case. Petitioner presented herself and the attestation of the same be [sic] Register of Deeds, except by order
five other witnesses to prove the allegations in her complaint. Respondents likewise testified in of the proper Court of First Instance. A registered owner [sic] of other
their defense denying any knowledge of the alleged adoption of petitioner by Maximino and person having an interest in registered property, or, in proper cases,
Eligia, and pointing out that petitioner had not even lived with the family. 12 Furthermore, the [sic] Register of Deeds with the approval of the Commissioner of
Rogelio claimed 13 that after their parents had died, he and Orlando executed a document Land Registration, may apply by petition to the court upon the ground
denominated as Deed of Extrajudicial Succession 14(deed of extrajudicial succession) over the that . . . new interest not appearing upon the certificate have
subject lands to effect the transfer of titles thereof to their names. Before the deed of arisen or been created; . . . ; or upon any other reasonable ground;
extrajudicial succession could be registered, however, a deed of absolute sale transferring the and the court may hear and determine the petition after notice to all
subject lands to them was discovered from the old files of Maximino, which they used by "reason parties in interest, and may order the entry or cancellation of a new
of convenience" to acquire title to the said lands. 15 DAaIHT certificate, the entry or cancellation of a memorandum upon a
certificate, or grant of any other relief upon such terms and conditions,
In a Decision 16 dated March 24, 2008 dismissing the case a quo, the RTC summarized the
requiring security or bond if necessary, as it may consider proper;
threshold issues for resolution, to wit:
Provided, however, That this section shall not be construed to give the
[1] Whether or not [petitioner] is an adopted child of the late spouses court authority to reopen the judgment or decree of registration, and
Maximino Bagayas and Eligia Clemente; that nothing shall be done or ordered by the court which shall impair
the title or other interest of a purchaser holding a certificate for value finding that, since the subject lands belonged exclusively to Maximino, there was no need to
and in good faith, or his heirs and assigns, without his or their written secure the consent of his wife who was long dead before the sale took place. For this reason,
consent. . . . . the forgery of Eligia's signature on the questioned deed was held to be inconsequential.
However, on reconsideration, the RTC declared that it committed a mistake in holding the
xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied) subject lands as exclusive properties of Maximino "since there was already an admission [by]
the defendants during the pre-trial conference that the subject properties are the conjugal
To substantiate her "interest" in the subject lands, petitioner capitalized on the finding of the RTC properties of the spouses Maximino Bagayas and Eligia Clemente." 40 Nonetheless, the RTC
in its Decision dated March 24, 2008 that she is the adopted child of Maximino and Eligia, and sustained its dismissal of Civil Case No. 04-42 on the ground that it constituted a collateral
that the signature of the latter in the deed of absolute sale transferring the subject lands to attack upon the title of Rogelio and Orlando. SEACTH
Rogelio and Orlando was falsified. 29
In Lacbayan v. Samoy, Jr. 41 (Lacbayan) which is an action for partition premised on the
The petitions were dismissed 30 by the RTC, however, on the ground of res judicata. The RTC existence or non-existence of co-ownership between the parties, the Court categorically
ruled that the causes of action in the two cases filed by petitioner are similar in that the ultimate pronounced that a resolution on the issue of ownership does not subject the Torrens title issued
objective would be her inclusion as co-owner of the subject lands and, eventually, the partition over the disputed realties to a collateral attack. It must be borne in mind that what cannot be
thereof. 31 Since judgment had already been rendered on the matter, and petitioner had allowed collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the title itself. As pronounced in Lacbayan:
the same to attain finality, the principle of res judicata barred further litigation thereon. 32
There is no dispute that a Torrens certificate of title cannot be collaterally
Dissatisfied, petitioner argued in her motion for reconsideration 33 that the dismissal of Civil attacked, but that rule is not material to the case at bar. What cannot be
Case No. 04-42 (for annulment of sale and partition) on the ground that it was a collateral attack collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the title
on the title of Rogelio and Orlando did not amount to a judgment on the merits, thus, precluding itself. The certificate referred to is that document issued by the Register
the applicability of res judicata. 34 The motion was resolved against petitioner, and the dismissal of Deeds known as the TCT. In contrast, the title referred to by law
of LRC Nos. 08-34 and 08-35 (for amendment of TCT Nos. 375657 and 375658) was upheld by means ownership which is, more often than not, represented by that
the RTC in an Order 35 dated March 16, 2009. Hence, the instant petition. cDTACE document. Petitioner apparently confuses title with the certificate of title.
The Issue Before the Court Title as a concept of ownership should not be confused with the
certificate of title as evidence of such ownership although both are
The essential issue in this case is whether or not the dismissal of the earlier complaint on the interchangeably used. 42 (Emphases supplied)
ground that it is in the nature of a collateral attack on the certificates of title constitutes a bar to a
subsequent petition under Section 108 of PD 1529. Thus, the RTC erroneously dismissed petitioner's petition for annulment of sale on the ground
that it constituted a collateral attack since she was actually assailing Rogelio and Orlando's title
The Court's Ruling to the subject lands and not any Torrens certificate of title over the same.
At the outset, it must be stressed that Civil Case No. 04-42 was a complaint for annulment of Be that as it may, considering that petitioner failed to appeal from the dismissal of Civil Case No.
sale and partition. In a complaint for partition, the plaintiff seeks, first, a declaration that he is a 04-42, the judgment therein is final and may no longer be reviewed.
co-owner of the subject properties; and second, the conveyance of his lawful shares. An action
for partition is at once an action for declaration of co-ownership and for segregation and The crucial issue, therefore, to be resolved is the propriety of the dismissal of LRC Nos. 08-34
conveyance of a determinate portion of the properties involved. 36 The determination, therefore, and 08-35 on the ground of res judicata.
as to the existence of co-ownership is necessary in the resolution of an action for partition. As
held in the case of Municipality of Biñan v. Garcia: 37 It must be pointed out that LRC Nos. 08-34 and 08-35 praying that judgment be rendered
directing the Registry of Deeds of Tarlac to include petitioner's name, those of her heirs and
The first phase of a partition and/or accounting suit is taken up with successors-in-interest as registered owners to the extent of one-third of the lands covered by
the determination of whether or not a co-ownership in fact exists, TCT Nos. 375657 and 375658, were predicated on the theory 43that Section 108 of PD 1529 is
and a partition is proper (i.e., not otherwise legally proscribed) and may a mode of directly attacking the certificates of title issued to the Bagayas brothers. On the
be made by voluntary agreement of all the parties interested in the contrary, however, the Court observes that the amendment of TCT Nos. 375657 and 375658
property. This phase may end with a declaration that plaintiff is not under Section 108 of PD 1529 is actually not the direct attack on said certificates of title
entitled to have a partition either because a co-ownership does not exist, contemplated under Section 48 44 of the same law. Jurisprudence instructs that an action or
or partition is legally prohibited. It may end, on the other hand, with an proceeding is deemed to be an attack on a certificate of title when its objective is to nullify the
adjudgment that a co-ownership does in truth exist, partition is proper in same, thereby challenging the judgment pursuant to which the certificate of title was
the premises and an accounting of rents and profits received by the decreed. 45Corollary thereto, it is a well-known doctrine that the issue as to whether the
defendant from the real estate in question is in order. In the latter case, certificate of title was procured by falsification or fraud can only be raised in an action expressly
the parties may, if they are able to agree, make partition among instituted for such purpose. As explicated in Borbajo v. Hidden View Homeowners,
themselves by proper instruments of conveyance, and the court shall Inc.: 46 CcTHaD
confirm the partition so agreed upon. In either case — i.e., either the
action is dismissed or partition and/or accounting is decreed — the order It is a well-known doctrine that the issue as to whether [the certificate of]
is a final one, and may be appealed by any party aggrieved title was procured by falsification or fraud can only be raised in an action
thereby. 38 (Emphasis supplied; citations omitted) expressly instituted for the purpose. A Torrens title can be attacked only
for fraud, within one year after the date of the issuance of the decree of
In dismissing Civil Case No. 04-42, the RTC declared that petitioner could not ask for the registration. Such attack must be direct, and not by a collateral
partition of the subject lands, even though she is an adopted child, because "she was not able to proceeding. The title represented by the certificate cannot be changed,
prove any of the instances that would invalidate the deed of absolute sale" 39purportedly altered, modified, enlarged, or diminished in a collateral proceeding. The
executed by Maximino and Eligia. This conclusion came about as a consequence of the RTC's
certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible title to the ||| (Bagayas v. Bagayas, G.R. Nos. 187308 & 187517, [September 18, 2013], 718 PHIL 91-104)
property in favor of the person whose name appears
therein. 47 (Citations omitted) [G.R. No. 198680. July 8, 2013.]
Contrary to the foregoing characterization, Section 108 of PD 1529 explicitly states that said
provision "shall not be construed to give the court authority to reopen the judgment or decree of HEIRS OF MAGDALENO YPON, namely, ALVARO YPON, ERUDITA
registration." In fact, based on settled jurisprudence, Section 108 of PD 1529 is limited only to Y. BARON, CICERO YPON, WILSON YPON, VICTOR YPON, AND
seven instances or situations, namely: (a) when registered interests of any description, whether HINIDINO Y. PEÑALOSA, petitioners, vs. GAUDIOSO
vested, contingent, expectant, or inchoate, have terminated and ceased; (b) when new interests PONTERAS RICAFORTE a.k.a. "GAUDIOSO E. YPON," and THE
have arisen or been created which do not appear upon the certificate; (c) when any error, REGISTER OF DEEDS of TOLEDO CITY,respondents.
omission or mistake was made in entering a certificate or any memorandum thereon or on any
duplicate certificate; (d)when the name of any person on the certificate has been
changed; (e) when the registered owner has been married, or, registered as married, the
marriage has been terminated and no right or interest of heirs or creditors will thereby be
affected; (f)when a corporation, which owned registered land and has been dissolved, has not RESOLUTION
conveyed the same within three years after its dissolution; and (g) when there is reasonable
ground for the amendment or alteration of title. 48 Hence, the same cannot be said to constitute
an attack on a certificate of title as defined by case law. That said, the Court proceeds to resolve
the issue as to whether or not the dismissal of petitioner's twin petitions for the amendment of PERLAS-BERNABE, J p:
TCT Nos. 375657 and 375658 was proper.

Petitioner claims that the determination of the RTC in Civil Case No. 04-42 that she is an This is a direct recourse to the Court from the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Branch 59
adopted child and that the signature of her adoptive mother Eligia in the deed of absolute sale (RTC), through a petition for review on certiorari 1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, raising a
transferring the subject land to Rogelio and Orlando was forged amounts to a new interest that pure question of law. In particular, petitioners assail the July 27, 2011 2and August 31,
should be reflected on the certificates of title of said land, or provides a reasonable ground for 2011 3 Orders of the RTC, dismissing Civil Case No. T-2246 for lack of cause of action.
the amendment thereof.
The Facts
The Court disagrees for two reasons: On July 29, 2010, petitioners, together with some of their cousins, 4 filed a complaint for
First. While the RTC may have made a definitive ruling on petitioner's adoption, as well as the Cancellation of Title and Reconveyance with Damages (subject complaint) against respondent
forgery of Eligia's signature on the questioned deed, no partition was decreed, as the action was, Gaudioso Ponteras Ricaforte a.k.a. "Gaudioso E. Ypon" (Gaudioso), docketed as Civil Case No.
in fact, dismissed. Consequently, the declaration that petitioner is the legally adopted child of T-2246. 5 In their complaint, they alleged that Magdaleno Ypon (Magdaleno) died intestate and
Maximino and Eligia did not amount to a declaration of heirship and co-ownership upon which childless on June 28, 1968, leaving behind Lot Nos. 2-AA, 2-C, 2-F, and 2-J which were then
petitioner may institute an action for the amendment of the certificates of title covering the covered by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. T-44 and T-77-A. 6 Claiming to be the sole
subject land. More importantly, the Court has consistently ruled that the trial court cannot make a heir of Magdaleno, Gaudioso executed an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication and caused the
declaration of heirship in an ordinary civil action, for matters relating to the rights of filiation and cancellation of the aforementioned certificates of title, leading to their subsequent transfer in his
heirship must be ventilated in a special proceeding instituted precisely for the purpose of name under TCT Nos. T-2637 and T-2638, 7 to the prejudice of petitioners who are Magdaleno's
determining such rights. 49 aScITE collateral relatives and successors-in-interest. 8 STaIHc

Second. Petitioner cannot avail of the summary proceedings under Section 108 of PD In his Answer, Gaudioso alleged that he is the lawful son of Magdaleno as evidenced by: (a) his
1529 because the present controversy involves not the amendment of the certificates of title certificate of Live Birth; (b) two (2) letters from Polytechnic School; and (c) a certified true copy of
issued in favor of Rogelio and Orlando but the partition of the estate of Maximino and Eligia who his passport. 9 Further, by way of affirmative defense, he claimed that: (a) petitioners have no
are both deceased. As held in Philippine Veterans Bank v. Valenzuela, 50the prevailing rule is cause of action against him; (b) the complaint fails to state a cause of action; and (c) the case is
that proceedings under Section 108 of PD 1529 are summary in nature, contemplating not prosecuted by the real parties-in-interest, as there is no showing that the petitioners have
corrections or insertions of mistakes which are only clerical but certainly not controversial been judicially declared as Magdaleno's lawful heirs. 10
issues. 51 Relief under said legal provision can only be granted if there is unanimity among the The RTC Ruling
parties, or that there is no adverse claim or serious objection on the part of any party in interest.
This is now the controlling precedent, and the Court should no longer digress from such On July 27, 2011, the RTC issued the assailed July 27, 2011 Order, 11 finding that the subject
ruling. 52 Therefore, petitioner may not avail of the remedy provided under Section 108 of PD complaint failed to state a cause of action against Gaudioso. It observed that while the plaintiffs
1529. therein had established their relationship with Magdaleno in a previous special proceeding for
the issuance of letters of administration, 12 this did not mean that they could already be
In fine, while LRC Nos. 08-34 and 08-35 are technically not barred by the prior judgment in Civil considered as the decedent's compulsory heirs. Quite the contrary, Gaudioso satisfactorily
Case No. 04-42 as they involve different causes of action, the dismissal of said petitions for the established the fact that he is Magdaleno's son — and hence, his compulsory heir — through the
amendment of TCT Nos. 375657 and 375658 is nonetheless proper for reasons discussed documentary evidence he submitted which consisted of: (a) a marriage contract between
above. The remedy then of petitioner is to institute intestate proceedings for the settlement of the Magdaleno and Epegenia Evangelista; (b) a Certificate of Live Birth; (c) a Letter dated February
estate of the deceased spouses Maximino and Eligia. 19, 1960; and (d) a passport. 13
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
The plaintiffs therein filed a motion for reconsideration which was, however, denied on August special proceeding instituted precisely for the purpose of
31, 2011 due to the counsel's failure to state the date on which his Mandatory Continuing Legal determining such rights. Citing the case of Agapay v. Palang, this Court
Education Certificate of Compliance was issued. 14 held that the status of an illegitimate child who claimed to be an heir to a
decedent's estate could not be adjudicated in an ordinary civil action
Aggrieved, petitioners, who were among the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. T-2246, 15 sought direct which, as in this case, was for the recovery of property. 22 (Emphasis
recourse to the Court through the instant petition. and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)
The Issue Before the Court By way of exception, the need to institute a separate special proceeding for the determination of
The core of the present controversy revolves around the issue of whether or not the RTC's heirship may be dispensed with for the sake of practicality, as when the parties in the civil case
dismissal of the case on the ground that the subject complaint failed to state a cause of action had voluntarily submitted the issue to the trial court and already presented their evidence
was proper. HEcTAI regarding the issue of heirship, and the RTC had consequently rendered judgment
thereon, 23 or when a special proceeding had been instituted but had been finally closed and
The Court's Ruling terminated, and hence, cannot be re-opened. 24 ITDSAE
The petition has no merit. In this case, none of the foregoing exceptions, or those of similar nature, appear to exist. Hence,
there lies the need to institute the proper special proceeding in order to determine the heirship of
Cause of action is defined as the act or omission by which a party violates a right of the parties involved, ultimately resulting to the dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246.
another. 16 It is well-settled that the existence of a cause of action is determined by the
allegations in the complaint. 17 In this relation, a complaint is said to assert a sufficient cause of Verily, while a court usually focuses on the complaint in determining whether the same fails to
action if, admitting what appears solely on its face to be correct, the plaintiff would be entitled to state a cause of action, a court cannot disregard decisions material to the proper appreciation of
the relief prayed for. 18 Accordingly, if the allegations furnish sufficient basis by which the the questions before it. 25 Thus, concordant with applicable jurisprudence, since a determination
complaint can be maintained, the same should not be dismissed, regardless of the defenses that of heirship cannot be made in an ordinary action for recovery of ownership and/or possession,
may be averred by the defendants. 19 the dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246 was altogether proper. In this light, it must be pointed out
that the RTC erred in ruling on Gaudioso's heirship which should, as herein discussed, be
As stated in the subject complaint, petitioners, who were among the plaintiffs therein, alleged threshed out and determined in the proper special proceeding. As such, the foregoing
that they are the lawful heirs of Magdaleno and based on the same, prayed that the Affidavit of pronouncement should therefore be devoid of any legal effect.
Self-Adjudication executed by Gaudioso be declared null and void and that the transfer
certificates of title issued in the latter's favor be cancelled. While the foregoing allegations, if WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The dismissal of Civil Case No. T-2246 is
admitted to be true, would consequently warrant the reliefs sought for in the said complaint, the hereby AFFIRMED, without prejudice to any subsequent proceeding to determine the lawful
rule that the determination of a decedent's lawful heirs should be made in the corresponding heirs of the late Magdaleno Ypon and the rights concomitant therewith.
special proceeding 20 precludes the RTC, in an ordinary action for cancellation of title and
reconveyance, from granting the same. In the case of Heirs of Teofilo Gabatan v. CA, 21 the SO ORDERED.
Court, citing several other precedents, held that the determination of who are the decedent's
lawful heirs must be made in the proper special proceeding for such purpose, and not in an ||| (Heirs of Ypon v. Ricaforte, G.R. No. 198680 (Resolution), [July 8, 2013], 713 PHIL 570-578)
ordinary suit for recovery of ownership and/or possession, as in this case: DaTEIc

Jurisprudence dictates that the determination of who are the legal G.R. No. 229781
heirs of the deceased must be made in the proper special
proceedings in court, and not in an ordinary suit for recovery of SENATOR LEILA M. DE LIMA, Petitioner
ownership and possession of property. This must take precedence vs.
over the action for recovery of possession and ownership. The Court has HON. JUANITA GUERRERO, in her capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of
consistently ruled that the trial court cannot make a declaration of heirship Muntinlupa City, Branch 204, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, P/DIR. GEN. RONALD M.
in the civil action for the reason that such a declaration can only be DELA ROSA, in his capacity as Chief of the Philippine National Police, PSUPT. PHILIP GIL
made in a special proceeding. Under Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 M. PHILIPPS, in his capacity as Director, Headquarters Support Service, SUPT. ARNEL
Revised Rules of Court, a civil action is defined as one by which a party JAMANDRON APUD, in his capacity as Chief, PNP Custodial Service Unit, and ALL
sues another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or the PERSONS ACTING UNDER THEIR CONTROL, SUPERVISION, INSTRUCTION OR
prevention or redress of a wrong while a special proceeding is a remedy DIRECTION IN RELATION TO THE ORDERS THAT MAY BE ISSUED BY THE COURT,
by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact. It Respondents
is then decisively clear that the declaration of heirship can be made only
in a special proceeding inasmuch as the petitioners here are seeking the
establishment of a status or right. DECISION

In the early case of Litam, et al. v. Rivera, this Court ruled that the
VELASCO, JR., J.:
declaration of heirship must be made in a special proceeding, and not in
an independent civil action. This doctrine was reiterated in Solivio v.
Court of Appeals . . .: For consideration is the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Application for a Writ of
Preliminary Injunction, and Urgent Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and Status Quo Ante
In the more recent case of Milagros Joaquino v. Lourdes Reyes, the Order1 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed by petitioner Senator Leila De Lima. In it,
Court reiterated its ruling that matters relating to the rights of filiation petitioner assails the following orders and warrant issued by respondent judge Hon. Juanita
and heirship must be ventilated in the proper probate court in a
Guerrero of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Muntinlupa City, Branch 204, in Criminal Case No. pending incidents and the cases as submitted for resolution. Petitioner moved for but was
17-165, entitled "People vs. Leila De Lima, et al.:" (1) the Order dated February 23, 2017 finding denied reconsideration by the DOJ Panel.13
probable cause for the issuance of warrant of arrest against petitioner De Lima; (2) the Warrant
of Arrest against De Lima also dated February 23, 2017; (3) the Order dated February 24, 2017
On January 13, 2017, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals a Petition for Prohibition and
committing the petitioner to the custody of the PNP Custodial Center; and finally, (4) the
Certiorari14assailing the jurisdiction of the DOJ Panel over the complaints against her. The
supposed omission of the respondent judge to act on petitioner's Motion to Quash, through
petitions, docketed as CA-G.R. No. 149097 and CA-G.R. No. SP No. 149385, are currently
which she questioned the jurisdiction of the RTC.2
pending with the Special 6th Division of the appellate court. 15Meanwhile, in the absence of a
restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals, the DOJ Panel proceeded with the conduct of
Antecedents the preliminary investigation16 and, in its Joint Resolution dated February 14,
2017,17 recommended the filing of Informations against petitioner De Lima. Accordingly, on
February 17, 2017, three Informations were filed against petitioner De Lima and several co-
The facts are undisputed. The Senate and the House of Representatives conducted several
accused before the RTC ofMuntinlupa City. One of the Infonnations was docketed as Criminal
inquiries on the proliferation of dangerous drugs syndicated at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP),
Case No. 17-16518 and raffled off to Branch 204, presided by respondent judge. This Information
inviting inmates who executed affidavits in support of their testimonies. 3 These legislative
charging petitioner for violation of Section 5 in relation to Section (jj), Section 26(b), and Section
inquiries led to the filing of the following complaints with the Department of Justice:
28 of Republic Act No. (RA) 9165, contained the following averments:

a) NPS No. XVI-INV-16J-00313, entitled "Volunteers against Crime and Corruption


That within the period from November 2012 to March 2013, in the City of Muntinlupa,
(VACC), represented by Dante Jimenez vs. Senator Leila M. De Lima, et al.;"
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Leila M. De Lima, being
then the Secretary of the Department of Justice, and accused Rafael Marcos Z. Rages, being
b) NPS No. XVI-INV-16J-00315, entitled "Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala vs. then the Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Corrections, by taking advantage of their public
Senator Leila De Lima, et al.;" office, conspiring and confederating with accused Ronnie P. Dayan, being then an employee of
the Department of Justice detailed to De Lima, all of them having moral ascendancy or influence
over inmates in the New Bilibid Prison, did then and there commit illegal drug trading, in the
c) NPS No. XVI-INV-16K-00331, entitled "Jaybee Nifio Sebastian, represented by his following manner: De Lima and Ragos, with the use of their power, position, and authority,
wife Roxanne Sebastian, vs. Senator Leila M De Lima, et al.;" and demand, solicit and extort money from the high profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison to
support the senatorial bid of De Lima in the May 2016 election; by reason of which, the inmates,
d) NPS No. XVI-INV-16K-00336, entitled "National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) vs. not being lawfully authorized by law and through the use of mobile phones and other electronic
Senator Leila M. De Lima, et al. "4 devices, did then and there willfully and unlawfully trade and traffic dangerous drugs, and
thereafter give and deliver to De Lima, through Ragos and Dayan, the proceeds of illegal drug
trading amounting to Five Million (₱5,000,000.00) Pesos on 24 November 2012, Five Million
Pursuant to DOJ Department Order No. 790, the four cases were consolidated and the DOJ (₱5,000,000.00) Pesos on 15 December 2012, and One Hundred Thousand (₱100,000.00)
Panel of Prosecutors (DOJ Panel),5 headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, Pesos weekly "tara" each from the high profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison.19
was directed to conduct the requisite preliminary investigation. 6

On February 20, 2017, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash,20mainly raising the following: the RTC
The DOJ Panel conducted a preliminary hearing on December 2, 2016, 7 wherein the petitioner, lacks jurisdiction over the offense charged against petitioner; the DOJ Panel lacks authority to
through her counsel, filed an Omnibus Motion to Immediately Endorse the Cases to the Office of file the Information; the Information charges more than one offense; the allegations and the
the Ombudsman and for the Inhibition of the Panel of Prosecutors and the Secretary of Justice recitals of facts do not allege the corpus delicti of the charge; the Information is based on
("Omnibus Motion").8 In the main, the petitioner argued that the Office of the Ombudsman has testimonies of witnesses who are not qualified to be discharged as state witnesses; and the
the exclusive authority and jurisdiction to hear the four complaints against her. Further, alleging testimonies of these witnesses are hearsay.21
evident partiality on the part of the DOJ Panel, the petitioner contended that the DOJ
prosecutors should inhibit themselves and refer the complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman.
On February 23, 2017, respondent judge issued the presently assailed Order 22finding probable
cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest against De Lima and her co-accused.
A hearing on the Omnibus Motion was conducted on December 9, 2016,9 wherein the The Order stated, viz.:
complainants, YACC, Reynaldo Esmeralda (Esmeralda) and Ruel Lasala (Lasala), filed a Joint
Comment/Opposition to the Omnibus Motion. 10
After a careful evaluation of the herein Information and all the evidence presented during the
preliminary investigation conducted in this case by the Department of Justice, Manila, the Court
On December 12, 2016, petitioner, in turn, interposed a Reply to the Joint finds sufficient probable cause for the issuance of Warrants of Arrest against all the accused
Comment/Opposition filed by complainants VACC, Esmeralda and Lasala. In addition, petitioner LEILA M. DE LIMA, RAFAEL MARCOS Z. RAGOS and RONNIE P ALISOC DAYAN.
submitted a Manifestation with Motion to First Resolve Pending Incident and to Defer Further
Proceedings. 11
WHEREFORE, let Warrants of Arrest be issued against the abovementioned accused.
During the hearing conducted on December 21, 2016, petitioner manifested that she has
decided not to submit her counter-affidavit citing the pendency of her two motions.12 The DOJ SO ORDERED.23
Panel, however, ruled that it will not entertain belatedly filed counter-affidavits, and declared all
Accordingly, the questioned Warrant of Arrest dated February 23, 2017 ,24 which contained no The parties simultaneously filed their respective Memoranda on April 17, 2017. 33
recommendation for bail, was issued against petitioner.
The Issues
On February 24, 2017, the PNP Investigation and Detection Group served the Warrant of
Arrest on petitioner and the respondent judge issued the assailed February 24, 2017
From the pleadings and as delineated in this Court's Advisory dated March 10, 201734 and
Order,25 committing petitioner to the custody of the PNP Custodial Center.
discussed by the parties during the oral arguments, the issues for resolution by this Court are:

On February 27, 2017, petitioner repaired to this court via the present petition, praying for the
Procedural Issues:
following reliefs:
A Whether or not petitioner is excused from compliance with the doctrine on hierarchy of courts
considering that the petition should first be filed with the Court of Appeals.
a. Granting a writ of certiorari annulling and setting aside the Order dated 23 February 2017,
the Warrant of Arrest dated the same date, and the Order dated 24 February 2017 of the
B. Whether or not the pendency of the Motion to Quash the Information before the trial court
Regional Trial Court - Branch 204, Muntinlupa City, in Criminal Case No. 17-165 entitled People
renders the instant petition premature.
of the Philippines versus Leila M De Lima, et al.;

C. Whether or not petitioner, in filing the present petition, violated the rule against forum
b. Granting a writ of prohibition enjoining and prohibiting respondent judge from conducting
shopping given the pendency of the Motion to Quash the Information before the Regional Trial
further proceedings until and unless the Motion to Quash is resolved with finality;
Court of Muntinlupa City in Criminal Case No. 17-165 and the Petition for Certiorari filed before
the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. SP No. 149097, assailing the preliminary investigation
c. Issuing an order granting the application for the issuance of temporary restraining order (TRO) conducted by the DOJ Panel.
and a writ of preliminary injunction to the proceedings; and
Substantive Issues:
d. Issuing a Status Quo Ante Order restoring the parties to the status prior to the issuance of the A. Whether the Regional Trial Court or the Sandiganbayan has the jurisdiction over the violation
Order and Warrant of Arrest, both dated February 23, 201 7, thereby recalling both processes of Republic Act No. 9165 averred in the assailed Information.
and restoring petitioner to her liberty and freedom.26
B. Whether or not the respondent gravely abused her discretion in finding probable cause to
On March 9, 2017, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), on behalf of the respondents, issue the Warrant of Arrest against petitioner.
interposed its Comment to the petition.27 The OSG argued that the petition should be dismissed
as De Lima failed to show that she has no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy. Further,
C. Whether or not petitioner is entitled to a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Status Quo
the OSG posited that the petitioner did not observe the hierarchy of courts and violated the rule
Ante Order in the interim until the instant petition is resolved or until the trial court rules on the
against forum shopping. On substantive grounds, the OSG asserted inter alia that the RTC has
Motion to Quash.
jurisdiction over the offense charged against the petitioner, that the respondent judge observed
the constitutional and procedural rules, and so did not commit grave abuse of discretion, in the
issuance of the assailed orders and warrant.28 OUR RULING

On petitioner's motion, the Court directed the holding of oral arguments on the significant issues Before proceeding to a discussion on the outlined issues, We shall first confront the issue of the
raised. The Court then heard the parties in oral arguments on March 14, 21, and 28, 2017. 29 alleged falsification committed by petitioner in the jurats of her Verification and Certification
against Forum Shopping and Affidavit of Merit in support of her prayer for injunctive relief.
In the meantime, the OSG filed a Manifestation dated March 13, 2017, 30 claiming that petitioner
falsified the juratsappearing in the: (1) Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping In her Affidavit, Atty. Tresvalles-Cabalo disproves the OSG's allegation that she did not notarize
page of her petition; and (2) Affidavit of Merit in support of her prayer for injunctive relief. The the petitioner's Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping and Affidavit of Merit in this
OSG alleged that while the advertedjurats appeared to be notarized by a certain Atty. Maria wise:
Cecille C. Tresvalles-Cabalo on February 24, 2017, the guest logbook31 in the PNP Custodial
Center Unit in Camp Crame for February 24, 2017 does not bear the name of Atty. Tresvalles-
Cabalo. Thus, so the OSG maintained, petitioner De Lima did not actually appear and swear 4. On February 24, 2017 at or around nine in the morning (9:00 AM), I went to PNP, CIDG,
before the notary public on such date in Quezon City, contrary to the allegations in Camp Crame, Quezon City to notarize the Petition as discussed the previous night.
the jurats. For the OSG, the petition should therefore be dismissed outright for the falsity
committed by petitioner De Lima. 5. I met Senator De Lima when she was brought to the CIDG at Camp Crame and I was
informed that the Petition was already signed and ready for notarization.
In compliance with an Order of this Court, petitioner filed the Affidavit of Atty. Maria Cecille C.
Tresvalles-Cabalo dated March 20, 201732 to shed light on the allegations of falsity 6. I was then provided the Petition by her staff. I examined the signature of Senator De Lima and
in petitioner'sjurats. confirmed that it was signed by her. I have known the signature of the senator given our
personal relationship. Nonetheless, I still requested from her staff a photocopy of any of her
government-issued valid Identification Cards (ID) bearing her signature. A photocopy of her
passport was presented to me. I compared the signatures on the Petition and the Passport and I to be verified which x x x lacks a proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading."
was able to verify that the Petition was in fact signed by her. Afterwards, I attached the Meanwhile, Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "[t]he plaintiff or
photocopy of her Passport to the Petition which I appended to my Notarial Report/Record. principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a
claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a)
that he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues
7. Since I already know that Sen. De Lima caused the preparation of the Petition and that it was
in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other
her who signed the same, I stamped and signed the same.
action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete
statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or
8. To confirm with Senator De Lima that I have already notarized the Petition, I sought entry to similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days
the detention facility at or around three in the afternoon (3:00 PM). x x x therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed."
"Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of
the complaint or other initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without
xxxx prejudice, unless otherwise provided x x x."

11. Since I was never cleared after hours of waiting, I was not able to talk again to Senator De In this case, when petitioner De Lima failed to sign the Verification and Certification against
Lima to confirm the notarization of the Petition. I then decided to leave Camp Crame. 35 Forum Shopping in the presence of the notary, she has likewise failed to properly swear under
oath the contents thereof, thereby rendering false and null the jurat and invalidating the
At first glance, it is curious that Atty. Tresvalles-Cabalo who claims to have "stamped and signed Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping. The significance of a proper jurat and the
the [Verification and Certification and Affidavit of Merit]" inside Camp Crame, presumably in De effect of its invalidity was elucidated in William Go Que Construction v. Court of Appeals,39where
Lima's presence, still found it necessary to, hours later, "confirm with Senator De Lima that [she this Court held that:
had] already notarized the Petition." Nonetheless, assuming the veracity of the allegations
narrated in the Affidavit, it is immediately clear that petitioner De Lima did not sign the In .this case, it is undisputed that the Verification/Certification against Forum Shopping attached
Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping and Affidavit of Merit in front of the notary
to the petition for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No. 109427 was not accompanied with a valid
public. This is contrary to the jurats (i.e., the certifications of the notary public at the end of the affidavit/properly certified under oath. This was because the jurat thereof was defective in that it
instruments) signed by Atty. Tresvalles-Cabalo that the documents were "SUBSCRIBED AND did not indicate the pertinent details regarding the affiants' (i.e., private respondents) competent
SWORN to before me."
evidence of identities.

Such clear breach of notarial protocol is highly censurable36 as Section 6, Rule II of the 2004 Under Section 6, Rule II of AM. No. 02-8-13-SC 63 dated July 6, 2004, entitled the "2004 Rules
Rules on Notarial Practice requires the affiant, petitioner De Lima in this case, to sign the
on Notarial Practice" (2004 Rules on Notarial Practice), ajurat refers to an act in which an
instrument or document in the presence of the notary, viz.: individual on a single occasion:

SECTION 6. Jurat. - "Jurat" refers to an act in which an individual on a single occasion: xxxx

(a) appears in person before the notary public and presents an instrument or document; In Fernandez v. Villegas (Fernandez), the Court pronounced that noncompliance with the
verification requirement or a defect therein "does not necessarily render the pleading fatally
(b) is personally known to the notary public or identified by the notary public through competent defective. The court may order its submission or correction or act on the pleading if the attending
evidence of identity as defined by these Rules; circumstances are such that strict compliance with the Rule may be dispensed with in order that
the ends of justice may be served thereby." "Verification is deemed substantially complied with
when one who has ample knowledge to swear to the truth of the allegations in the complaint or
(c) signs the instrument or document in the presence of the notary; and petition signs the verification, and when matters alleged in the petition have been made in good
faith or are true and correct." Here, there was no substantial compliance with the verification
(d) takes an oath or affirmation before the notary public as to such instrument or requirement as it cannot be ascertained that any of the private respondents actually swore to the
document.(Emphasis and underscoring supplied.) truth of the allegations in the petition for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No. 109427 given the lack of
competent evidence of any of their identities. Because of this, the fact that even one of the
private respondents swore that the allegations in the pleading are true and correct of his
While there is jurisprudence to the effect that "an irregular notarization merely reduces the knowledge and belief is shrouded in doubt.
evidentiary value of a document to that of a private document, which requires /roof of its due
execution and authenticity to be admissible as evidence," 37 the same cannot be considered
controlling in determining compliance with the requirements of Sections 1 and 2, Rule 65 of the For the same reason, neither was there substantial compliance with the certification against
Rules of Court. Both Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 6538 require that the petitions for certiorari and forum shopping requirement. In Fernandez, the Court explained that "non-compliance therewith
prohibition must be verified and accompanied by a "sworn certificate of non-forum shopping." or a defect therein, unlike in verification, is generally not curable by its subsequent submission or
correction thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of 'substantial
compliance' or presence of 'special circumstances or compelling reasons."' Here, the CA did not
In this regard, Section 4, Rule 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure states that "[a] pleading is mention - nor does there exist - any perceivable special circumstance or compelling reason
verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are which justifies the rules' relaxation. At all events, it is uncertain if any of the private respondents
true and correct of his personal knowledge or based on authentic records." "A pleading required certified under oath that no similar action has been filed or is pending in another forum.
xxxx The Court must enjoin the observance of the policy on the hierarchy of courts, and now affirms
that the policy is not to be ignored without serious consequences. The strictness of the policy is
designed to shield the Court from having to deal with causes that are also well within the
Case law states that "[v]erification is required to secure an assurance that the allegations in the
competence of the lower courts, and thus leave time for the Court to deal with the more
petition have been made in good faith or are true and correct, and not merely speculative." On
fundamental and more essential tasks that the Constitution has assigned to it. The Court may
the other hand, "[t]he certification against forum shopping is required based on the principle that
act on petitions for the extraordinary writs of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus only when
a party-litigant should not be allowed to pursue simultaneous remedies in different fora." The
absolutely necessary or when serious and important reasons exist to justify an exception to the
important purposes behind these requirements cannot be simply brushed aside absent any
policy.
sustainable explanation justifying their relaxation. In this case, proper justification is especially
called for in light of the serious allegations of forgery as to the signatures of the remaining
private respondents, i.e., Lominiqui and Andales. Thus, by simply treating the insufficient xxxx
submissions before it as compliance with its Resolution dated August 13, 2009 requiring anew
the submission of a proper verification/certification against forum shopping, the CA patently and
The doctrine that requires respect for the hierarchy of courts was created by this court to ensure
grossly ignored settled procedural rules and, hence, gravely abused its discretion. All things
that every level of the judiciary performs its designated roles in an effective and efficient manner.
considered, the proper course of action was for it to dismiss the petition. 40 (Emphasis and
Trial courts do not only determine the facts from the evaluation of the evidence presented before
underscoring supplied.)
them. They are likewise competent to determine issues of law which may include the validity of
an ordinance, statute, or even an executive issuance in relation to the Constitution. To effectively
Without the presence of the notary upon the signing of the Verification and Certification against perform these functions, they are territorially organized into regions and then into branches.
Forum Shopping, there is no assurance that the petitioner swore under oath that the allegations Their writs generally reach within those territorial boundaries. Necessarily, they mostly perform
in the petition have been made in good faith or are true and correct, and not merely speculative. the all-important task of inferring the facts from the evidence as these are physically presented
It must be noted that verification is not an empty ritual or a meaningless formality. Its import must before them. In many instances, the facts occur within their territorial jurisdiction, which properly
never be sacrificed in the name of mere expedience or sheer caprice, 41as what apparently present the "actual case" that makes ripe a determination of the constitutionality of such action.
happened in the present case. Similarly, the absence of the notary public when petitioner The consequences, of course, would be national in scope. There are, however, some cases
allegedly affixed her signature also negates a proper attestation that forum shopping has not where resort to courts at their level would not be practical considering their decisions could still
been committed by the filing of the petition. Thus, the petition is, for all intents and purposes, an be appealed before the higher courts, such as the Court of Appeals.
unsigned pleading that does not deserve the cognizance of this Court. 42 In Salum bides, Jr. v.
Office of the Ombudsman,43the Court held thus:
The Court of Appeals is primarily designed as an appellate court that reviews the determination
of facts and law made by the trial courts. It is collegiate in nature. This nature ensures more
The Court has distinguished the effects of non-compliance with the requirement of verification standpoints in the review of the actions of the trial court. But the Court of Appeals also has
and that of certification against forum shopping. A defective verification shall be treated as an original jurisdiction over most special civil actions. Unlike the trial courts, its writs can have a
unsigned pleading and thus produces no legal effect, subject to the discretion of the court to nationwide scope. It is competent to determine facts and, ideally, should act on constitutional
allow the deficiency to be remedied, while the failure to certifv against forum shopping shall be issues that may not necessarily be novel unless there are factual questions to determine.
cause for dismissal without prejudice, unless otherwise provided, and is not curable by
amendment of the initiatory pleading. (Emphasis and italicization from the original.)
This court, on the other hand, leads the judiciary by breaking new ground or further reiterating -
in the light of new circumstances or in the light of some confusion of bench or bar - existing
Notably, petitioner has not proffered any reason to justify her failure to sign the Verification and precedents. Rather than a court of first instance or as a repetition of the actions of the Court of
Certification Against Forum Shopping in the presence of the notary. There is, therefore, no Appeals, this court promulgates these doctrinal devices in order that it truly performs that
justification to relax the rules and excuse the petitioner's non-compliance therewith. This Court role.50 (Emphasis supplied.)
had reminded parties seeking the ultimate relief of certiorari to observe the rules, since
nonobservance thereof cannot be brushed aside as a "mere technicality." 44 Procedural rules are
Nonetheless, there are recognized exceptions to this rule and direct resort to this Court were
not to be belittled or simply disregarded, for these prescribed procedures ensure an orderly and
allowed in some instances. These exceptions were summarized in a case of recent vintage, Aala
speedy administration of justice.45 Thus, as in William Go Que Construction, the proper course of
v. Uy, as follows:
action is to dismiss outright the present petition.

In a fairly recent case, we summarized other well-defined exceptions to the doctrine on hierarchy
Even if We set aside this procedural infirmity, the petition just the same merits denial on several
of courts. Immediate resort to this Court may be allowed when any of the following grounds are
other grounds.
present: (1) when genuine issues of constitutionality are raised that must be addressed
immediately; (2) when the case involves transcendental importance; (3) when the case is novel;
PETITIONER DISREGARDED THE HIERARCHY OF COURTS (4) when the constitutional issues raised are better decided by this Court; (5) when time is of the
essence; (6) when the subject of review involves acts of a constitutional organ; (7) when there is
no other plain, speedy, adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law; (8) when the petition
Trifling with the rule on hierarchy of courts is looked upon with disfavor by this Court. 46 It will not
includes questions that may affect public welfare, public policy, or demanded by the broader
entertain direct resort to it when relief can be obtained in the lower courts.47 The Court has
interest of justice; (9) when the order complained of was a patent nullity; and (10) when the
repeatedly emphasized that the rule on hierarchy of courts is an important component of the
appeal was considered as an inappropriate remedy.51
orderly administration of justice and not imposed merely for whimsical and arbitrary
reasons.48 In The Diocese of Bacolod v. Commission on Elections, 49the Court explained the
reason for the doctrine thusly: Unfortunately, none of these exceptions were sufficiently established in the present petition so
as to convince this court to brush aside the rules on the hierarchy of courts.
Petitioner's allegation that her case has sparked national and international interest is obviously b. Granting a writ of prohibition enjoining and prohibiting respondent judge from conducting
not covered by the exceptions to the rules on hierarchy of courts. The notoriety of a case, further proceedings until and unless the Motion to Quash is resolved with finality;
without more, is not and will not be a reason for this Court's decisions. Neither will this Court be
swayed to relax its rules on the bare fact that the petitioner belongs to the minority party in the
c. Issuing an order granting the application for the issuance of temporary restraining order (TRO)
present administration. A primary hallmark of an independent judiciary is its political neutrality.
and a writ of preliminary injunction to the proceedings; and
This Court is thus loath to perceive and consider the issues before it through the warped prisms
of political partisanships.
d. Issuing a Status Quo Ante Order restoring the parties to the status prior to the issuance of the
Order and Warrant of Arrest, both dated February 23, 201 7, thereby recalling both processes
That the petitioner is a senator of the republic does not also merit a special treatment of her
and restoring petitioner to her liberty and freedom. 55 (Emphasis supplied)
case. The right to equal treatment before the law accorded to every Filipino also forbids the
elevation of petitioner's cause on account of her position and status in the government.
Under paragraph (a), petitioner asks for a writ of certiorari annulling the Order dated February
23, 2017 finding probable cause, the warrant of arrest and the Order dated February 24, 2017
Further, contrary to her position, the matter presented before the Court is not of first impression.
committing petitioner to the custody of the PNP Custodial Center. Clearly petitioner seeks the
Petitioner is not the first public official accused of violating RA 9165 nor is she the first defendant
recall of said orders to effectuate her release from detention and restore her liberty. She did not
to question the finding of probable cause for her arrest. In fact, stripped of all political
ask for the dismissal of the subject criminal case.
complexions, the controversy involves run-of-the mill matters that could have been resolved with
ease by the lower court had it been given a chance to do so in the first place.
More importantly, her request for the issuance of a writ of prohibition under paragraph (b) of the
prayer "until and unless the Motion to Quash is resolved with finality," is an unmistakable
In like manner, petitioner's argument that the rule on the hierarchy of court should be
admission that the RTC has yet to rule on her Motion to Quash and the existence of the RTC's
disregarded as her case involves pure questions of law does not obtain. One of the grounds
authority to rule on the said motion. This admission against interest binds the petitioner; an
upon which petitioner anchors her case is that the respondent judge erred and committed grave
admission against interest being the best evidence that affords the greatest certainty of the facts
abuse of discretion in finding probable cause to issue her arrest. By itself, this ground removes
in dispute.56 It is based on the presumption that "no man would declare anything against himself
the case from the ambit of cases involving pure questions of law. It is established that the issue
unless such declaration is true. "57 It can be presumed then that the declaration corresponds with
of whether or not probable cause exists for the issuance of warrants for the arrest of the accused
the truth, and it is her fault if it does not.58
is a question of fact, determinable as it is from a review of the allegations in the Information, the
Resolution of the Investigating Prosecutor, including other documents and/ or evidence
appended to the Information.52 This matter, therefore, should have first been brought before the Moreover, petitioner under paragraphs (c) and (d) prayed for a TRO and writ of preliminary
appellate court, which is in the better position to review and determine factual matters. injunction and a status quo ante order which easily reveal her real motive in filing the instant
petition-to restore to "petitioner her liberty and freedom."
Yet, petitioner harps on the supposed judicial efficiency and economy of abandoning the rule on
the hierarchy of courts in the present case. Indeed, the Court has considered the practical Nowhere in the prayer did petitioner explicitly ask for the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 17-165.
aspects of the administration of justice in deciding to apply the exceptions rather than the rule. What is clear is she merely asked the respondent judge to rule on her Motion to Quash before
However, it is all the more for these practical considerations that the Court must insist on the issuing the warrant of arrest.
application of the rule and not the exceptions in this case. As petitioner herself alleges, with the
President having declared the fight against illegal drugs and corruption as central to his platform
of government, there will be a spike of cases brought before the courts involving drugs and In view of the foregoing, there is no other course of action to take than to dismiss the petition on
the ground of prematurity and allow respondent Judge to rule on the Motion to Quash according
public officers.53 As it now stands, there are 232,557 criminal cases involving drugs, and around
260,796 criminal cases involving other offenses pending before the R TCs. 54 This Court cannot to the desire of petitioner.
thus allow a precedent allowing public officers assailing the finding of probable cause for the
issuance of arrest warrants to be brought directly to this Court, bypassing the appellate court, This Court, in Solid Builders Inc. v. China Banking Corp., explained why a party should not pre-
without any compelling reason. empt the action of a trial court:

THE PRESENT PETITION IS PREMATURE Even Article 1229 of the Civil Code, which SBI and MFII invoke, works against them. Under that
provision, the equitable reduction of the penalty stipulated by the parties in their contract will be
The prematurity of the present petition is at once betrayed in the reliefs sought by petitioner's based on a finding by the court that such penalty is iniquitous or unconscionable. Here, the trial
court has not yet made a ruling as to whether the penalty agreed upon by CBC with SBI and
Prayer, which to restate for added emphasis, provides:
MFII is unconscionable. Such finding will be made by the trial court only after it has heard both
parties and weighed their respective evidence in light of all relevant circumstances. Hence, for
WHEREFORE, premises considered, and in the interest of substantial justice and fair play, SBI and MFII to claim any right or benefit under that provision at this point is
Petitioner respectfully prays the Honorable Court that judgment be rendered: premature.59 (Emphasis supplied)

a. Granting a writ of certiorari annulling and setting aside the Order dated 23 February 2017, In State of Investment House, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 60the Court likewise held that a petition
the Warrant of Arrest dated the same date, and the Order dated 24 February 2017 of the for certiorari can be resorted to only after the court a quo has already and actually rendered its
Regional Trial CourtBranch 204, Muntinlupa City, in Criminal Case No. 17-165 entitled People of decision. It held, viz.:
the Philippines versus Leila M De Lima et al.;
We note, however, that the appellate court never actually ruled on whether or not petitioner's (1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and
right had prescribed. It merely declared that it was in a position to so rule and thereafter required consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas
the parties to submit memoranda. In making such a declaration, did the CA commit grave abuse corpus.
of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction? It did not.
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of
xxxx Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:

All things considered, this petition is premature. The CA has decided nothing and whatever (a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive
petitioner's vehement objections may be (to any eventual ruling on the issue of prescription) agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is
should be raised only after such ruling shall have actually been promulgated. in question.

The situation evidently does not yet call for a recourse to a petition for certiorari under Rule (b) All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any penalty imposed
65.61(Italicization from the original. Emphasis supplied.) in relation thereto.

An analogous ruling was made by this Court in Diaz v. Nora, where it ruled in this wise: (c) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue.

x x x In the case of the respondent labor arbiter, he has not denied the motion for execution filed (d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.
by the petitioner. He merely did not act on the same. Neither had petitioner urged the immediate
resolution of his motion for execution by said arbiter. In the case of the respondent NLRC, it was
(e) All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved. (Emphasis supplied.)
not even given the opportunity to pass upon the question raised by petitioner as to whether or
not it has jurisdiction over the appeal, so the records of the case can be remanded to the
respondent labor arbiter for execution of the decision. In the palpable absence of a ruling on the Motion to Quash -- which puts the jurisdiction of the
lower court in issue -- there is no controversy for this Court to resolve; there is simply no final
judgment or order of the lower court to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm. As per the block
Obviously, petitioner had a plain, speedy and adequate remedy to seek relief from public
letter provision of the Constitution, this Court cannot exercise its jurisdiction in a vacuum nor
respondents but he failed to avail himself of the same before coming to this Court. To say the
issue a definitive ruling on mere suppositions.
least, the petition is premature and must be struck down.62 (Emphasis supplied.)

Succinctly, the present petition is immediately dismissible for this Court lacks jurisdiction to
The dissents would deny the applicability of the foregoing on the ground that these were not
review a non-existent court action. It can only act to protect a party from a real and actual ruling
criminal cases that involved a pending motion to quash. However, it should be obvious from the
by a lower tribunal. Surely, it is not for this Court to negate "uncertain contingent future event
afore-quoted excerpts that the nature of the cases had nothing to do with this Court's finding of
that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all," as the lower court's feared
prematurity in those cases. Instead, what was stressed therein was that the lower courts had not
denial of the subject Motion to Quash.63
yet made, nor was not given the opportunity to make, a ruling before the parties came before
this forum.
The established rule is that courts of justice will take cognizance only of controversies "wherein
actual and not merely hypothetical issues are involved."64 The reason underlying the rule is "to
Indeed, the prematurity of the present petition cannot be over-emphasized considering that
prevent the courts through avoidance of premature adjudication from entangling themselves in
petitioner is actually asking the Court to rule on some of the grounds subject of her Motion to
abstract disagreements, and for us to be satisfied that the case does not present a hypothetical
Quash. The Court, if it rules positively in favor of petitioner regarding the grounds of the Motion
injury or a claim contingent upon some event that has not and indeed may never transpire." 65
to Quash, will be preempting the respondent Judge from doing her duty to resolve the said
motion and even prejudge the case. This is clearly outside of the ambit of orderly and
expeditious rules of procedure. This, without a doubt, causes an inevitable delay in the Even granting arguendo that what is invoked is the original jurisdiction of this Court under
proceedings in the trial court, as the latter abstains from resolving the incidents until this Court Section 5 (1) of Article VIII, the petition nonetheless falls short of the Constitutional requirements
rules with finality on the instant petition. and of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. In the absence of a final judgment, order, or ruling on the
Motion to Quash challenging the jurisdiction of the lower court, there is no occasion for this Court
to issue the extraordinary writ of certiorari. Without a judgment or ruling, there is nothing for this
Without such order, the present petition cannot satisfy the requirements set before this Court
Court to declare as having been issued without jurisdiction or in grave abuse of discretion.
can exercise its review powers. Section 5 (2)(C) of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution explicitly
requires the existence of "final judgments and orders of lower courts" before the Court can
exercise its power to "review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari" in "all Furthermore, it is a basic requirement under Rule 65 that there be "[no] other plain, speedy and
cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue," viz.: adequate remedy found in law."66 Thus, the failure to exhaust all other remedies, as will be later
discussed, before a premature resort to this Court is fatal to the petitioner's cause of action.
SECTION 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
Petitioner even failed to move for the reconsideration of the February 23 and 24, 2017 Orders
she is currently assailing in this Petition. As this Court held in Estrada v. Office of the
Ombudsman, "[a] motion for reconsideration allows the public respondent an opportunity to
correct its factual and legal errors x x x [it] is mandatory before the filing of a petition preceding particulars, such that any judgment rendered in the other action will, regardless of
for certiorari."67The reasons proffered by petitioner fail to justify her present premature recourse. which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the action under consideration.71

Various policies and rules have been issued to curb the tendencies of litigants to disregard, nay Anent the first requisite, there is an identity of parties when the parties in both actions are the
violate, the rule enunciated in Section 5 of Article VIII of the Constitution to allow the Court to same, or there is privity between them, or they are successors-in-interest by title subsequent to
devote its time and attention to matters within its jurisdiction and prevent the overcrowding of its the commencement of the action litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the
docket. There is no reason to consider the proceedings at bar as an exception. same capacity.72

PETITIONER VIOLATED THE RULE AGAINST FORUM SHOPPING Meanwhile, the second and third requisites obtain where the same evidence necessary to
sustain the second cause of action is sufficient to authorize a recovery in the first, even if the
forms or the nature of the two (2) actions are different from each other. If the same facts or
It is settled that forum shopping exists when a party repetitively avails himself of several judicial
evidence would sustain both, the two (2) actions are considered the same within the rule that the
remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the
judgment in the former is a bar to the subsequent action; otherwise, it is not. 73
same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially
the same issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely by, some other court. It is
considered an act of malpractice as it trifles with the courts and abuses their processes. 68 Thus, All these requisites are present in this case.
as elucidated in Luzon Iron Development Group Corporation v. Bridgestone Mining and
Development Corporation,69forum shopping warrants the immediate dismissal of the suits filed:
The presence of the first requisite is at once apparent. The petitioner is an accused in the
criminal case below, while the respondents in this case, all represented by the Solicitor General,
Forum shopping is the act of litigants who repetitively avail themselves of multiple judicial have substantial identity with the complainant in the criminal case still pending before the trial
remedies in different fora, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same court.
transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances; and raising substantially similar
issues either pending in or already resolved adversely by some other court; or for the purpose of
As for the second requisite, even a cursory reading of the petition and the Motion to Quash will
increasing their chances of obtaining a favorable decision, if not in one court, then in another.
reveal that the arguments and the reliefs prayed for are essentially the same. In both, petitioner
The rationale against forum-shopping is that a party should not be allowed to pursue
advances the RTC's supposed lack of jurisdiction over the offense, the alleged multiplicity of
simultaneous remedies in two different courts, for to do so would constitute abuse of court
offenses included in the Information; the purported lack of the corpus delicti of the charge, and,
processes which tends to degrade the administration of justice, wreaks havoc upon orderly
basically, the non-existence of probable cause to indict her. And, removed of all non-essentials,
judicial procedure, and adds to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts.
she essentially prays for the same thing in both the present petition and the Motion to
Quash: the nullification of the Information and her restoration to liberty and freedom. Thus, our
xxxx ruling in Jent v. Tullet Prebon (Philippines), Inc. 74 does not apply in the present case as the
petition at bar and the motion to quash pending before the court a quo involve similar if not the
same reliefs. What is more, while Justice Caguioa highlights our pronouncement
What is essential in determining the existence of forum-shopping is the vexation caused the
in Jent excepting an "appeal or special civil action for certiorari" from the rule against the
courts and litigants by a party who asks different courts and/or administrative agencies to rule on
violation of forum shopping, the good justice overlooks that the phrase had been used with
similar or related causes and/or grant the same or substantially similar reliefs, in the process
respect to forum shopping committed through successive actions by a "party, against whom an
creating the possibility of conflicting decisions being rendered upon the same issues.
adverse judgment or order has [already] been rendered in one forum."75 The exception with
respect to an "appeal or special civil action for certiorari" does not apply where the forum
xxxx shopping is committed by simultaneous actions where no judgment or order has yet been
rendered by either forum. To restate for emphasis, the RTC has yet to rule on the Motion to
Quash. Thus, the present petition and the motion to quash before the R TC
We emphasize that the grave evil sought to be avoided by the rule against forum-shopping is the
are simultaneous actions that do not exempt petitions for certiorari from the rule against forum
rendition by two competent tribunals of two separate and contradictory decisions. To avoid any shopping.
confusion, this Court adheres strictly to the rules against forum shopping, and any violation of
these rules results in the dismissal of a case. The acts committed and described herein can
possibly constitute direct contempt.70 With the presence of the first two requisites, the third one necessarily obtains in the present
case. Should we grant the petition and declare the RTC without jurisdiction over the offense, the
RTC is bound to grant De Lima's Motion to Quash in deference to this Court's authority. In the
This policy echoes the last sentence of Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, which states that
alternative, if the trial court rules on the Motion to Quash in the interim, the instant petition will be
"[i]f the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, rendered moot and academic.
the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct
contempt as well as a cause for administrative sanctions."
In situations like the factual milieu of this instant petition, while nobody can restrain a party to a
case before the trial court to institute a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,
The test to determine the existence of forum shopping is whether the elements of litis still such petition must be rejected outright because petitions that cover simultaneous actions are
pendentia, or whether a final judgment in one case amounts to res judicata in the other. Forum
anathema to the orderly and expeditious processing and adjudication of cases.
shopping therefore exists when the following elements are present: (a) identity of parties, or at
least such parties representing the same interests in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted
and reliefs prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and (c) the identity of the two On the ground of forum shopping alone, the petition merits immediate dismissal.
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT HAS JURISDICTION That within the period from November 2012 to March 2013, in the City of Muntinlupa,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Leila M. De Lima, being
then the Secretary of the Department of Justice, and accused Rafael Marcos Z. Ragos, being
Even discounting the petitioner's procedural lapses, this Court is still wont to deny the instant
then the Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Corrections, by taking advantage of their public
petition on substantive grounds.
office, conspiring and confederating with accused Ronnie P. Dayan, being then the employee of
the Department of Justice detailed to De Lima, all of them having moral ascendancy or influence
Petitioner argues that, based on the allegations of the Information in Criminal Case No. 17-165, over inmates in the New Bilibid Prison, did then and there commit illegal drug trading, in the
the Sandiganbayan has the jurisdiction to try and hear the case against her. She posits that the following manner: De Lima and Ragos, with the use of their power, position, and authority
Information charges her not with violation of RA 9165 but with Direct Bribery-a felony within the demand, solicit and extort money from the high profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison to
exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan given her rank as the former Secretary of Justice support the Senatorial bid of De Lima in the May 2016 election; by reason of which, the inmates,
with Salary Grade 31. For the petitioner, even assuming that the crime described in the not being lawfully authorized by law and through the use of mobile phones and other electronic
Information is a violation of RA 9165, the Sandiganbayan still has the exclusive jurisdiction to try devices, did then and there willfully and unlawfully trade and traffic dangerous drugs, and
the case considering that the acts described in the Information were intimately related to her thereafter give and deliver to De Lima, through Ragos and Dayan, the proceeds of illegal drug
position as the Secretary of Justice. Some justices of this Court would even adopt the trading amounting to Five Million (₱5,000,000.00) Pesos on 24 November 2012, Five Million
petitioner's view, declaring that the Information charged against the petitioner is Direct Bribery. (₱5,000,000.00) Pesos on 15 December 2012, and One Hundred Thousand (₱l00,000.00)
Pesos weekly "tara" each from the high profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison.
The respondents, on the other hand, maintain that the R TC has exclusive jurisdiction to try
violations of RA 9165, including the acts described in the Information against the petitioner. The CONTRARY TO LAW.76
Sandiganbayan, so the respondents contend, was specifically created as an anti-graft court. It
was never conferred with the power to try drug-related cases even those committed by public
Notably, the designation, the prefatory statements and the accusatory portions of the Information
officials. In fact, respondents point out that the history of the laws enabling and governing the
repeatedly provide that the petitioner is charged with "Violation of the Comprehensive
Sandiganbayan will reveal that its jurisdiction was streamlined to address specific cases of graft
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Section 5, in relation to Section 3(jj), Section 26(b), and Section
and corruption, plunder, and acquisition of ill-gotten wealth.
28, Republic Act No. 9165." From the very designation of the crime in the Information itself, it
should be plain that the crime with which the petitioner is charged is a violation of RA 9165. As
Before discussing the issue on jurisdiction over the subject matter, it is necessary to clarify the this Court clarified in Quimvel v. People, 77 the designation of the offense in the Information is a
crime with which the petitioner is being charged. For ease of reference, the Information filed with critical element required under Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court in apprising the
the R TC is restated below: accused of the offense being charged, viz.:

The offense charged can also be elucidated by consulting the designation of the offense as
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appearing in the Information. The designation of the offense is a critical element required under
Sec. 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court for it assists in apprising the accused of the offense being
Plaintiff, charged. Its inclusion in the Information is imperative to avoid surprise on the accused and to
afford him of the opportunity to prepare his defense accordingly. Its import is underscored in this
case where the preamble states that the crime charged is of "Acts of Lasciviousness in relation
Versus Criminal Case No. 17-165
to Section 5(b) of R.A. No.7610."78(Emphasis supplied.)

LEILA M. DE LIMA (NPS No. XVI-INV-16J-00315Further,and NPS No.


a reading of XVl-INV-16K-00336)
the provisions of RA For:9165Violation of
under which the petitioner is prosecuted would
the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
convey that DeAct of 2002,Section
Lima 5, inasrelation
is being charged to Section
a conspirator in the crime of Illegal Drug Trading. The
3(jj), Section 26 (b), andpertinent
Section 28, Republic
provisions of Act
RA No.
91659165
read:(lllegal Drug Trading)
(66 Laguna de Bay corner Subic Bay Drive, South Bay Village, Paraiiaque City
and/or Room 502, GSIS Building, Financial Center, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay
City), RAFAEL MARCOS Z. RAGOS (c/o National Bureau of Investigation, Taft SECTION 3. Definitions. - As used in this Act, the following terms shall mean:
Avenue, Manila) and RONNIE P ALISOC DAY AN, (Barangay Galarin,
Urbiztondo, Pangasinan), Accused
xxxx

x-------------------------------------x (jj) Trading. - Transactions involving the illegal trafficking of dangerous drugs and/or controlled
precursors and essential chemicals using electronic devices such as, but not limited to, text
messages, e-mail, mobile or landlines, two-way radios, internet, instant messengers and chat
INFORMATION rooms or acting as a broker in any of such transactions whether for money or any other
consideration in violation of this Act.
The undersigned Prosecutors, constituted as a Panel pursuant to Department Orders 706 and
790 dated October 14, 2016 and November 11, 2016, respectively, accuse LEILA M. DE LIMA, xxxx
RAFAEL MARCOS Z. RAGOS and RONNIE P ALISOC DAY AN, for violation of Section 5, in
relation to Section 3 (jj), Section 26 (b) and Section 28, Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known
as the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002, committed as follows: SECTION 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and
Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals. -
The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos one way or another, helped and cooperated in the consummation of a felony, she is liable as a
(₱500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (₱10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, co-principal.83 As the Information provides, De Lima's participation and cooperation was
unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, instrumental in the trading of dangerous drugs by the NBP inmates. The minute details of this
distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of participation and cooperation are matters of evidence that need not be specified in the
opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of Information but presented and threshed out during trial.
such transactions.
Yet, some justices remain adamant in their position that the Information fails to allege the
xxxx necessary elements of Illegal Drug Trading. Justice Carpio, in particular, would cite cases
supposedly enumerating the elements necessary for a valid Information for Illegal Drug Trading.
However, it should be noted that the subject of these cases was "Illegal Sale" of dangerous
SECTION 26. Attempt or Conspiracy. - Any attempt or conspiracy to commit the following
drugs -- a crime separate and distinct from "Illegal Trading" averred in the Information against
unlawful acts shall be penalized by the same penalty prescribed for the commission of the same
De Lima. The elements of "Illegal Sale" will necessary differ from the elements of Illegal Trading
as provided under this Act:
under Section 5, in relation to Section 3(jj), of RA 9165. The definitions of these two separate
acts are reproduced below for easy reference:
xxxx
SECTION 3. Definitions. - As used in this Act, the following terms shall mean:
(b) Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any
dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical;
xxxx

xxxx
(ii) Sell. - Any act of giving away any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential
chemical whether for money or any other consideration.
SECTION 28. Criminal Liability of Government Officials and Employees. - The maximum
penalties of the unlawful acts provided for in this Act shall be imposed, in addition to absolute
(jj) Trading. - Transactions involving the illegal trafficking of dangerous drugs and/or controlled
perpetual disqualification from any public office, if those found guilty of such unlawful acts are
precursors and essential chemicals using electronic devices such as, but not limited to, text
government officials and employees.
messages, e-mail, mobile or landlines, two-way radios, internet, instant messengers and chat
rooms or acting as a broker in any of such transactions whether for money or any other
While it may be argued that some facts may be taken as constitutive of some elements of Direct consideration in violation of this Act.
Bribery under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), these facts taken together with the other
allegations in the Information portray a much bigger picture, Illegal Drug Trading. The latter
It is obvious from the foregoing that the crime of illegal trading has been written in strokes much
crime, described by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as "a global illicit
broader than that for illegal sale. In fact, an illegal sale of drugs may be considered as only one
trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances," 79necessarily
of the possible component acts of illegal trading which may be committed through two modes:
involves various component crimes, not the least of which is the bribery and corruption of
(1) illegal trafficking using electronic devices; or (2) acting as a broker in any transactions
government officials. An example would be reports of recent vintage regarding billions of pesos'
involved in the illegal trafficking of dangerous drugs.
worth of illegal drugs allowed to enter Philippine ports without the scrutiny of Customs officials.
Any money and bribery that may have changed hands to allow the importation of the confiscated
drugs are certainly but trivial contributions in the furtherance of the transnational illegal drug On this score, the crime of "illegal trafficking" embraces various other offenses punishable by RA
trading - the offense for which the persons involved should be penalized. 9165. Section 3(r) of RA 9165 provides:

Read as a whole, and not picked apart with each word or phrase construed separately, the (r) Illegal Trafficking. - The illegal cultivation, culture, delivery, administration, dispensation,
Information against De Lima goes beyond an indictment for Direct Bribery under Article 210 of manufacture, sale, trading, transportation, distribution, importation, exportation and possession
the RPC.80 As Justice Martires articulately explained, the averments on solicitation of money in of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical.
the Information, which may be taken as constitutive of bribery, form "part of the description on
how illegal drug trading took place at the NBP." The averments on how petitioner asked for and
In turn, the crimes included in the definition of Illegal Trafficking of drugs are defined as follows:
received money from the NBP inmates simply complete the links of conspiracy between her,
Ragos, Dayan and the NBP inmates in willfully and unlawfully trading dangerous drugs through
the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices under Section 5, in relation to Section (a) Administer. - Any act of introducing any dangerous drug into the body of any person, with or
3(jj), Section 26(b), and Section 28, of RA 9165. without his/her knowledge, by injection, inhalation, ingestion or other means, or of committing
any act of indispensable assistance to a person in administering a dangerous drug to
himself/herself unless administered by a duly licensed practitioner for purposes of medication.
On this score, that it has not been alleged that petitioner actually participated in the actual
trafficking of dangerous drugs and had simply allowed the NBP inmates to do so is non
sequitur given that the allegation of conspiracymakes her liable for the acts of her co- xxxx
conspirators. As this Court elucidated, it is not indispensable for a co-conspirator to take a direct
part in every act of the crime. A conspirator need not even know of all the parts which the others
have to perform,81 as conspiracy is the common design to commit a felony; it is not (d) Chemical Diversion. - The sale, distribution, supply or transport of legitimately imported, in-
participation in all the details of the execution of the crime. 82 As long as the accused, in transit, manufactured or procured controlled precursors and essential chemicals, in diluted,
mixtures or in concentrated form, to any person or entity engaged in the manufacture of any The same may be said of the second mode for committing Illegal Trading, or trading by "acting
dangerous drug, and shall include packaging, repackaging, labeling, relabeling or concealment as a broker" in transactions involved in Illegal Trafficking. In this instance, the accused may
of such transaction through fraud, destruction of documents, fraudulent use of permits, neither have physical possession of the drugs nor meet the buyer and seller and yet violate RA
misdeclaration, use of front companies or mail fraud. 9165. As pointed out by Justice Perlas-Bernabe, as early as 1916, jurisprudence has defined a
broker as one who is simply a middleman, negotiating contracts relative to property with which
he has no custody, viz.:
xxxx

A broker is generally defined as one who is engaged, for others, on a commission, negotiating
(i) Cultivate or Culture. - Any act of knowingly planting, growing, raising, or permitting the
contracts relative to property with the custody of which he has no concern; the negotiator
planting, growing or raising of any plant which is the source of a dangerous drug.
between other parties, never acting in his own name, but in the name of those who employed
him; he is strictly a middleman and for some purposes the agent of both parties. 84 (Emphasis
xxxx and underscoring supplied.)

(k) Deliver. - Any act of knowingly passing a dangerous drug to another, personally or otherwise, In some cases, this Court even acknowledged persons as brokers even "where they actually
and by any means, with or without consideration. took no part in the negotiations, never saw the customer."85 For the Court, the primary
occupation of a broker is simply bringing "the buyer and the seller together, even if no sale is
eventually made. "86 Hence, in indictments for Illegal Trading, it is illogical to require the
xxxx elements of Illegal Sale of drugs, such as the identities of the buyer and the seller, the object
and consideration.87 For the prosecution of Illegal Trading of drugs to prosper, proof that the
(m) Dispense. - Any act of giving away, selling or distributing medicine or any dangerous drug accused "act[ed] as a broker" or brought together the buyer and seller of illegal drugs "using
with or without the use of prescription. electronic devices such as, but not limited to, text messages, e-mail, mobile or landlines, two-
way radios, internet, instant messengers and chat rooms" is sufficient.
xxxx
The DOJ' s designation of the charge as one for Illegal Drug Trading thus holds sway. After all,
the prosecution is vested with a wide range of discretion-including the discretion of whether,
(u) Manufacture. - The production, preparation, compounding or processing of any dangerous what, and whom to charge.88 The exercise of this discretion depends on a smorgasboard of
drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical, either directly or indirectly or by factors, which are best appreciated by the prosecutors. 89
extraction from substances of natural origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis or
by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis, and shall include any packaging or
repackaging of such substances, design or configuration of its form, or labeling or relabeling of As such, with the designation of the offense, the recital of facts in the Information, there can be
its container; except that such terms do not include the preparation, compounding, packaging or no other conclusion than that petitioner is being charged not with Direct Bribery but with violation
labeling of a drug or other substances by a duly authorized practitioner as an incident to his/her of RA 9165.
administration or dispensation of such drug or substance in the course of his/her professional
practice including research, teaching and chemical analysis of dangerous drugs or such Granting without conceding that the information contains averments which constitute the
substances that are not intended for sale or for any other purpose. elements of Direct Bribery or that more than one offence is charged or as ill this case, possibly
bribery and violation of RA 9165, still the prosecution has the authority to amend the information
xxxx at any time before arraignment. Since petitioner has not yet been arraigned, then the information
subject of Criminal Case No. 17-165 can still be amended pursuant to Section 14, Rule 110 of
the Rules of Court which reads:
(kk) Use. - Any act of injecting, intravenously or intramuscularly, of consuming, either by
chewing, smoking, sniffing, eating, swallowing, drinking or otherwise introducing into the
physiological system of the body, any of the dangerous drugs. SECTION 14. Amendment or Substitution. - A complaint or information may be amended, in
form or in substance, without leave of court, at any time before the accused enters his plea. After
the plea and during the trial, a formal amendment may only be made with leave of court and
With the complexity of the operations involved in Illegal Trading of drugs, as recognized and when it can be done without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused.
defined in RA 9165, it will be quite myopic and restrictive to require the elements of Illegal Sale-a
mere component act-in the prosecution for Illegal Trading.
Now the question that irresistibly demands an answer is whether it is the Sandiganbayan or the
RTC that has jurisdiction over the subject matter of Criminal Case No. 17-165, i.e., violation of
More so, that which qualifies the crime of Illegal Trafficking to Illegal Trading may make it RA 9165.
impossible to provide the details of the elements of Illegal Sale. By "using electronic devices
such as, but not limited to, text messages, email, mobile or landlines, two-way radios, internet,
instant messengers and chat rooms," the Illegal Trading can be remotely perpetrated away from It is basic that jurisdiction over the subject matter in a criminal case is given only by law in the
where the drugs are actually being sold; away from the subject of the illegal sale. With the manner and form prescribed by law.90 It is determined by the statute in force at the time of the
proliferation of digital technology coupled with ride sharing and delivery services, Illegal Trading commencement of the action.91 Indeed, Congress has the plenary power to define, prescribe
under RA 9165 can be committed without getting one's hand on the substances or knowing and and apportion the jurisdiction of various courts. It follows then that Congress may also, by law,
meeting the seller or buyer. To require the elements of Illegal Sale (the identities of the buyer, provide that a certain class of cases should be exclusively heard and determined by one court.
seller, the object and consideration, in Illegal Trade) would be impractical.
Such would be a special law that is construed as an exception to the general law on jurisdiction Section 90. Jurisdiction. - The Supreme Court shall designate special courts from among the
of courts.92 existing Regional Trial Courts in each judicial region to exclusively try and hear cases involving
violations of this Act. The number of courts designated in each judicial region shall be based on
the population and the number of cases pending in their respective jurisdiction.
The pertinent special law governing drug-related cases is RA 9165, which updated the rules
provided in RA 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. A plain reading of
RA 9165, as of RA 6425, will reveal that jurisdiction over drug-related cases is exclusively The DOJ shall designate special prosecutors to exclusively handle cases involving violations of
vested with the Regional Trial Court and no other. The designation of the RTC as the court with this Act.
the exclusive jurisdiction over drug-related cases is apparent in the following provisions where it
was expressly mentioned and recognized as the only court with the authority to hear drug-
Notably, no other trial court was mentioned in RA 9165 as having the authority to take
related cases:
cognizance of drug-related cases. Thus, in Morales v. Court of Appeals,93this Court categorically
named the RTC as the court with jurisdiction over drug related-cases, as follows:
Section 20. Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments of the Unlawful Act,
Including the Properties or Proceeds Derived from the Illegal Trafficking of Dangerous Drugs
Applying by analogy the ruling in People v. Simon, People v. De Lara, People v.
and/or Precursors and Essential Chemicals. - x x x x
Santos, and Ordonez v. Vinarao, the imposable penalty in this case which involves 0.4587
grams of shabu should not exceed prision correccional. We say by analogy because these
After conviction in the Regional Trial Court in the appropriate criminal case filed, the Court shall cases involved marijuana, not methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu). In Section 20 of RA.
immediately schedule a hearing for the confiscation and forfeiture of all the proceeds of the No. 6425, as amended by Section 17 of RA No. 7659, the maximum quantities of marijuana and
offense and all the assets and properties of the accused either owned or held by him or in the methamphetamine hydrochloride for purposes of imposing the maximum penalties are not the
name of some other persons if the same shall be found to be manifestly out of proportion to same. For the latter, if the quantity involved is 200 grams or more, the penalty of reclusion
his/her lawful income: perpetua to death and a fine ranging from ₱500,000 to PIO million shall be imposed.
Accordingly, if the quantity involved is below 200 grams, the imposable penalties should be as
follows:
xxxx

xxxx
During the pendency of the case in the Regional Trial Court, no property, or income derived
therefrom, which may be confiscated and forfeited, shall be disposed, alienated or transferred
and the same shall be in custodia legis and no bond shall be admitted for the release of the Clearly, the penalty which may be imposed for the offense charged in Criminal Case No. 96-
same. 8443 would at most be only prision correccional duration is from six (6) months and one (1) day
to six (6) years. Does it follow then that, as the petitioner insists, the RTC has no jurisdiction
thereon in view of the amendment of Section 32 of B.P. Big. 129 by R.A. No. 7691, which vested
xxxx
upon Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts
exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment not exceeding six
Section 61. Compulsory Confinement of a Drug Dependent Who Refuses to Apply Under the (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine and regardless of other imposable accessory or other
Voluntary Submission Program. - x x x penalties? This Section 32 as thus amended now reads:

A petition for the confinement of a person alleged to be dependent on dangerous drugs to a xxxx
Center may be filed by any person authorized by the Board with the Regional Trial Court of the
province or city where such person is found.
The exception in the opening sentence is of special significance which we cannot disregard. x xx
The aforementioned exception refers not only to Section 20 of B.P. Blg. 129 providing for the
xxxx jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts in criminal cases, but also to other laws which specifically
lodge in Regional Trial Courts exclusive jurisdiction over specific criminal cases, e. g., (a) Article
360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. Nos. 1289 and 4363 on written defamation
Section 62. Compulsory Submission of a Drug Dependent Charged with an Offense to or libel; (b) Decree on Intellectual Property (P. D. No. 49, as amended), which vests upon Courts
Treatment and Rehabilitation. - If a person charged with an offense where the imposable penalty
of First Instance exclusive jurisdiction over the cases therein mentioned regardless of the
is imprisonment of less than six (6) years and one (1) day, and is found by the prosecutor or by imposable penalty; and (c) more appropriately for the case at bar, Section 39 of RA No. 6425, as
the court, at any stage of the proceedings, to be a drug dependent, the prosecutor or the court amended by P.D. No. 44, which vests on Courts of First Instance, Circuit Criminal Courts, and
as the case may be, shall suspend all further proceedings and transmit copies of the record of
the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts concurrent exclusive original jurisdiction over all
the case to the Board. cases involving violations of said Act.

In the event the Board determines, after medical examination, that public interest requires that
xxxx
such drug dependent be committed to a center for treatment and rehabilitation, it shall file a
petition for his/her commitment with the regional trial court of the province or city where he/she is
being investigated or tried: x x x That Congress indeed did not intend to repeal these special laws vesting exclusive jurisdiction in
the Regional Trial Courts over certain cases is clearly evident from the exception provided for in
the opening sentence of Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended by RA No. 7691. These
xxxx special laws are not, therefore, covered by the repealing clause (Section 6) of RA No. 7691.
Neither can it be successfully argued that Section 39 of RA. No. 6425, as amended by P.D. No. In this regard, Rep. Dilangalen suggested that if the Committee's intention was only to amend
44, is no longer operative because Section 44 of B.P. Big. 129 abolished the Courts of First RA No. 6425, then the wording used should be "to amend" and not "to repeal" with regard to the
Instance, Circuit Criminal Courts, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts. While, indeed, provisions that are contrary to the provisions of the Bill.
Section 44 provides that these courts were to be "deemed automatically abolished" upon the
declaration by the President that the reorganization provided in B.P. Blg. 129 had been
Adverting to Article VIII, Section 60, on Jurisdiction Over Dangerous Drugs Case, which provides
completed, this Court should not lose sight of the fact that the Regional Trial Courts merely
that "the Supreme Court shall designate regional trial courts to have original jurisdiction over all
replaced the Courts of First Instance as clearly borne out by the last two sentences of Section
offenses punishable by this Act," Rep. Dilangalen inquired whether it is the Committee's
44, to wit:
intention that certain RTC salas will be designated by the Supreme Court to try drug-related
offenses, although all RTCs have original jurisdiction over those offenses.
xxxx
Rep. Cuenco replied in the affirmative. He pointed that at present, the Supreme Court's
Consequently, it is not accurate to state that the "abolition" of the Courts of First Instance carried assignment of drug cases to certain judges is not exclusive because the latter can still handle
with it the abolition of their exclusive original jurisdiction in drug cases vested by Section 39 of cases other than drug-related cases. He added that the Committee's intention is to assign drug-
R.A. No. 6425, as amended by P. D. No. 44. If that were so, then so must it be with respect to related cases to judges who will handle exclusively these cases assigned to them.
Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code and Section 57 of the Decree on Intellectual Property. On
the contrary, in the resolution of 19 June 1996 in Caro v. Court of Appeals and in the resolution
In this regard, Rep. Dilangalen stated that, at the appropriate time, he would like to propose the
of 26 February 1997 in Villalon v. Ba/dado, this Court expressly ruled that Regional Trial Courts
following amendment; "The Supreme Court shall designate specific salas of the RTC to try
have the exclusive original jurisdiction over libel cases pursuant to Article 360 of the Revised
exclusively offenses related to drugs."
Penal Code. In Administrative Order No. 104-96 this Court mandates that:

Rep. Cuenca agreed therewith, adding that the Body is proposing the creation of exclusive drug
xxxx
courts because at present, almost all of the judges are besieged by a lot of drug cases some of
which have been pending for almost 20 years.95 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
The same Administrative Order recognizes that violations of RA. No. 6425, as amended,
regardless of the quantity involved, are to be tried and decided by the Regional Trial Courts
Per the "Records of the Bilateral Conference Committee on the Disagreeing Provisions of
therein designated as special courts.94 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Senate Bill No. 1858 and House Bill No. 4433," the term "designation" of R TCs that will
exclusively handle drug-related offenses was used to skirt the budgetary requirements that might
Yet, much has been made of the terminology used in Section 90 of RA 9165. The dissents accrue by the "creation" of exclusive drugs courts. It was never intended to divest the R TCs of
would highlight the provision's departure from Section 39 of RA 6425 - the erstwhile drugs law, their exclusive original jurisdiction over drug-related cases. The Records are clear:
which provides:
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. CUENCO). x x x [W]e would like to propose the creation of drug courts
SECTION 39. Jurisdiction of the Circuit Criminal Court. - The Circuit Criminal Court shall have to handle exclusively drug cases; the imposition of a 60-day deadline on courts within which to
exclusive original jurisdiction over all cases involving offenses punishable under this Act. decide drug cases; and No. 3, provide penalties on officers of the law and government
prosecutors for mishandling and delaying drugs cases.
For those in the dissent, the failure to reproduce the phrase "exclusive original jurisdiction" is a
clear indication that no court, least of all the RTC, has been vested with such "exclusive original We will address these concerns one by one.
jurisdiction" so that even the Sandiganbayan can take cognizance and resolve a criminal
prosecution for violation of RA 9165.
1. The possible creation of drugs courts to handle exclusively drug cases. Any comments?

As thoroughly discussed by Justice Peralta in his Concurring Opinion, such deduction is


xxxx
unwarranted given the clear intent of the legislature not only to retain the "exclusive original
jurisdiction" of the RTCs over violations of the drugs law but to segregate from among the
several RTCs of each judicial region some RTCs that will "exclusively try and hear cases THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. BARBERS). We have no objection to this proposal, Mr. Chairman. As a
involving violations of [RA 9165)." If at all, the change introduced by the new phraseology of matter of fact, this is one of the areas where we come into an agreement when we were in
Section 90, RA 9165 is not the deprivation of the RTCs' "exclusive original jurisdiction" but the Japan. However, I just would like to add a paragraph after the word "Act" in Section 86 of the
further restriction of this "exclusive original jurisdiction" to select RTCs of each judicial region. Senate versions, Mr. Chairman. And this is in connection with the designation of special courts
This intent can be clearly gleaned from the interpellation on House Bill No. 4433, entitled "An Act by "The Supreme Court shall designate special courts from among the existing Regional Trial
Instituting the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, repealing Republic Act No. 6425, as amended:" Courts in each judicial region to exclusively try and hear cases involving violations of this Act.
The number of court designated in each judicial region shall be based on the population and the
number of pending cases in their respective jurisdiction." That is my proposal, Mr. Chairman.
Initially, Rep. Dilangalen referred to the fact sheet attached to the Bill which states that the
measure will undertake a comprehensive amendment to the existing law on dangerous drugs --
RA No. 6425, as amended. Adverting to Section 64 of the Bill on the repealing clause, he then THE CHAIRMAN (REP. CUENCO). We adopt the same proposal.
asked whether the Committee is in effect amending or repealing the aforecited law. Rep.
Cuenco replied that any provision of law which is in conflict with the provisions of the Bill is
repealed and/or modified accordingly. xxxx
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. BARBERS). I have no problem with that, Mr. Chairman, but I'd like to The foregoing immediately betrays that the Sandiganbayan primarily sits as a special anti-graft
call your attention to the fact that my proposal is only for designation because if it is for a court pursuant to a specific injunction in the 1973 Constitution. 99 Its characterization and
creation that would entail another budget, Mr. Chairman. And almost always, the Department of continuation as such was expressly given a constitutional fiat under Section 4, Article XI of the
Budget would tell us at the budget hearing that we lack funds, we do not have money. So that 1987 Constitution, which states:
might delay the very purpose why we want the RTC or the municipal courts to handle exclusively
the drug cases. That's why my proposal is designation not creation.
SECTION 4. The present anti-graft court known as the Sandiganbayan shall continue to
function and exercise its jurisdiction as now or hereafter may be provided by law.
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. CUENCO). Areglado. No problem, designation. Approved. 96
It should occasion no surprise, therefore, that the Sandiganbayan is without jurisdiction to hear
The exclusive original jurisdiction over violations of RA 9165 is not transferred to the drug-related cases. Even Section 4(b) of PD 1606, as amended by RA 10660, touted by the
Sandiganbayan whenever the accused occupies a position classified as Grade 27 or higher, petitioner and the dissents as a catchall provision, does not operate to strip the R TCs of its
regardless of whether the violation is alleged as committed in relation to office. The power of the exclusive original jurisdiction over violations of RA 9165. As pointed out by Justices Tijam and
Sandiganbayan to sit in judgment of high-ranking government officials is not omnipotent. The Martires, a perusal of the drugs law will reveal that public officials were never considered
Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction is circumscribed by law and its limits are currently defined and excluded from its scope. Hence, Section 27 of RA 9165 punishes government officials found to
prescribed by RA 10660,97 which amended Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1606. 98 As it now have benefited from the trafficking of dangerous drugs, while Section 28 of the law imposes the
stands, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the following: maximum penalty on such government officials and employees. The adverted sections read:

SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. - The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all SECTION 27. Criminal Liability of a Public Officer or Employee for Misappropriation,
cases involving: Misapplication or Failure to Account for the Confiscated, Seized and/or Surrendered Dangerous
Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals,
Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laborat01y Equipment Including the Proceeds or Properties
a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Obtained from the Unlawful Act Committed - The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine
Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the
ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos
Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following
(Pl0,000,000.00), in addition to absolute perpetual disqualification from any public office, shall be
positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of
imposed upon any public officer or employee who misappropriates, misapplies or fails to account
the commission of the offense:
for confiscated, seized or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs,
controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory
(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, equipment including the proceeds or properties obtained from the unlawful acts as provided for
otherwise classified as Grade '27' and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification in this Act.
Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:
Any elective local or national official found to have benefited from the proceeds of the trafficking
xxxx of dangerous drugs as prescribed in this Act, or have received any financial or material
contributions or donations from natural or juridical persons found guilty of trafficking dangerous
drugs as prescribed in this Act, shall be removed from office and perpetually disqualified from
(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade '27' and higher under the holding any elective or appointive positions in the government, its divisions, subdivisions, and
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989; intermediaries, including government-owned or -controlled corporations.

(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; SECTION 28. Criminal Liability of Government Officials and Employees. - The maximum
penalties of the unlawful acts provided for in this Act shall be imposed, in addition to absolute
(4) Chairmen and members of the Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the perpetual disqualification from any public office, if those found guilty of such unlawful acts are
provisions of the Constitution; and government officials and employees. (Emphasis supplied)

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade '27' and higher under the Section 4(b) of PD 1606, as amended by RA 10660, provides but the general rule, couched in a
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. "broad and general phraseology. "100 Exceptions abound. Besides the jurisdiction on written
defamations and libel, as illustrated in Morales 101and People v. Benipayo, 102 the RTC is likewise
given "exclusive original jurisdiction to try and decide any criminal action or proceedings for
b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the violation of the Omnibus Election Code,"103 regardless of whether such violation was committed
public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a. of this section in relation to their office. by public officers occupying positions classified as Grade 27 or higher in relation to their offices.
In fact, offenses committed by members of the Armed Forces in relation to their office, i.e., in the
c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 words of RA 7055,104"service-connected crimes or offenses," are not cognizable by the
and 14-A, issued in 1986. Provided, That the Regional Trial Court shall have exclusive original Sandiganbayan but by court-martial.
jurisdiction where the information: (a) does not allege any damage to the government or any
bribery; or (b) alleges damage to the government or bribery arising from the same or closely Certainly, jurisdiction over offenses and felonies committed by public officers is not determined
related transactions or acts in an amount not exceeding One Million pesos (₱l,000,000.00). solely by the pay scale or by the fact that they were committed "in relation to their office." In
determining the forum vested with the jurisdiction to try and decide criminal actions, the laws from February 1979 to June 30, 2017 dealt with violations of the drugs law. Instead, true to its
governing the subject matter of the criminal prosecution must likewise be considered. designation as an anti-graft court, the bulk of the cases filed before the Sandiganbayan involve
violations of RA 3019, entitled the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" and
malversation.111 With these, it would not only be unwise but reckless to allow the tribunal
In this case, RA 9165 specifies the RTC as the court with the jurisdiction
uninstructed and inexperienced with the intricacies of drugs cases to hear and decide violations
to "exclusively try and hear cases involving violations of [RA 9165)." This is an exception,
of RA 9165 solely on account of the pay scale of the accused.
couched in the special law on dangerous drugs, to the general rule under Section 4(b) of
PD 1606, as amended by RA 10660. It is a canon of statutory construction that a special law
prevails over a general law and the latter is to be considered as an exception to the general. 105 Likewise of special significance is the proviso introduced by RA 10660 which, to reiterate for
emphasis, states:
Parenthetically, it has been advanced that RA 10660 has repealed Section 90 of RA 9165.
However, a closer look at the repealing clause of RA 10660 will show that there is no express Provided, That the Regional Trial Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction where the
repeal of Section 90 of RA 9165 and well-entrenched is the rule that an implied repeal is information: (a) does not allege any damage to the government or any bribery; or (b) alleges
disfavored. It is only accepted upon the clearest proof of inconsistency so repugnant that the two damage to the government or bribery arising from the same or closely related transactions or
laws cannot be enforced.106 The presumption against implied repeal is stronger when of two laws acts in an amount not exceeding One million pesos (₱l,000,000.00).
involved one is special and the other general.107 The mentioned rule in statutory construction
that a special law prevails over a general law applies regardless of the laws' respective dates of
The clear import of the new paragraph introduced by RA 10660 is to streamline the cases
passage. Thus, this Court ruled:
handled by the Sandiganbayan by delegating to the RTCs some cases involving high-ranking
public officials. With the dissents' proposition, opening the Sandiganbayan to the influx of drug-
x x x [I]t is a canon of statutory construction that a special law prevails over a general law - related cases, RA 10660 which was intended to unclog the dockets of the Sandiganbayan would
regardless of their dates of passage - and the special is to be considered as remaining an all be for naught. Hence, sustaining the RTC's jurisdiction over drug-related cases despite the
exception to the general. accused's high-ranking position, as in this case, is all the more proper.

So also, every effort must be exerted to avoid a conflict between statutes. If reasonable Even granting arguendo that the Court declares the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the
construction is possible, the laws must be reconciled in that manner. information subject of Criminal Case No. 17-165, still it will not automatically result in the release
from detention and restore the liberty and freedom of petitioner. The R TC has several options if
it dismisses the criminal case based on the grounds raised by petitioner in her Motion to Quash.
Repeals of laws by implication moreover are not favored, and the mere repugnancy between two
statutes should be very clear to warrant the court in holding that the later in time repeals the
other.108 Under Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, the trial court has three (3) possible alternative actions
when confronted with a Motion to Quash:
To reiterate for emphasis, Section 4(b) of PD 1606, as amended by RA 10660, is the general
law on jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over crimes and offenses committed by high-ranking 1. Order the amendment of the Infonnation;
public officers in relation to their office; Section 90, RA 9165 is the special law excluding from
the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction violations of RA 9165 committed by such public officers. In the
2. Sustain the Motion to Quash; or
latter case, jurisdiction is vested upon the RTCs designated by the Supreme Court as drugs
court, regardless of whether the violation of RA 9165 was committed in relation to the public
officials' office. 3. Deny the Motion to Quash.

The exceptional rule provided under Section 90, RA 9165 relegating original exclusive The first two options are available to the trial court where the motion to quash is meritorious.
jurisdiction to RTCs specially designated by the Supreme Court logically follows given the Specifically, as to the first option, this court had held that should the Information be deficient or
technical aspect of drug-related cases. With the proliferation of cases involving violation of RA lacking in any material allegation, the trial court can order the amendment of the Information
9165, it is easy to dismiss them as common and untechnical. However, narcotic substances under Section 4, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, which states:
possess unique characteristics that render them not readily identifiable. 109 In fact, they must first
be subjected to scientific analysis by forensic chemists to determine their composition and
nature.110Thus, judges presiding over designated drugs courts are specially trained by the SECTION 4. Amendment of Complaint or Information. - If the motion to quash is based on an
Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJa) and given scientific instructions to equip them with the alleged defect of the complaint or information which can be cured by amendment, the court shall
order that an amendment be made.
proper tools to appreciate pharmacological evidence and give analytical insight upon this
esoteric subject. After all, the primary consideration of RA 9165 is the fact that the substances
involved are, in fact, dangerous drugs, their plant sources, or their controlled precursors and If it is based on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, the prosecution
essential chemicals. Without a doubt, not one of the Sandiganbayan justices were provided with shall be given by the court an opportunity to correct the defect by amendment. The motion shall
knowledge and technical expertise on matters relating to prohibited substances. be granted if the prosecution fails to make the amendment, or the complaint or information still
suffers from the same defect despite the amendment.
Hard figures likewise support the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the RTCs over violations of
RA 9165. As previously stated, as of June 30, 2017, there are 232,557 drugs cases pending The failure of the trial court to order the correction of a defect in the Information curable by an
before the RTCs. On the other hand, not even a single case filed before the Sandiganbayan amendment amounts to an arbitrary exercise of power. So, this Court held in Dio v. People:
This Court has held that failure to provide the prosecution with the opportunity to amend is an accused can then raise the denial of his motion to quash not only as an error committed by the
arbitrary exercise of power. In People v. Sandiganbayan (Fourth Division): When a motion to trial court but as an added ground to overturn the latter's ruling.
quash is filed challenging the validity and sufficiency of an Information, and the defect may be
cured by amendment, courts must deny the motion to quash and order the prosecution to file an
In this case, the petitioner did not proceed to trial but opted to immediately question the denial of
amended Information. Generally, a defect pertaining to the failure of an Information to charge
his motion to quash via a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
facts constituting an offense is one that may be corrected by an amendment. In such instances,
courts are mandated not to automatically quash the Information; rather, it should grant the
prosecution the opportunity to cure the defect through an amendment. This rule allows a case to As a rule, the denial of a motion to quash is an interlocutory order and is not appealable; an
proceed without undue delay. By allowing the defect to be cured by simple amendment, appeal from an interlocutory order is not allowed under Section 1 (b), Rule 41 of the Rules of
unnecessary appeals based on technical grounds, which only result to prolonging the Court. Neither can it be a proper subject of a petition for certiorari which can be used only in the
proceedings, are avoided. absence of an appeal or any other adequate, plain and speedy remedy. The plain and speedy
remedy upon denial of an interlocutory order is to proceed to trial as discussed
above.114 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
More than this practical consideration, however, is the due process underpinnings of this rule. As
explained by this Court in People v. Andrade, the State, just like any other litigant, is entitled to
its day in court. Thus, a court's refusal to grant the prosecution the opportunity to amend an At this juncture, it must be stressed yet again that the trial court has been denied the opportunity
Information, where such right is expressly granted under the Rules of Court and affirmed time to act and rule on petitioner's motion when the latter jumped the gun and prematurely repaired
and again in a string of Supreme Court decisions, effectively curtails the State's right to due posthaste to this Court, thereby immobilizing the trial court in its tracks. Verily, De Lima should
process.112 have waited for the decision on her motion to quash instead of prematurely filing the instant
recourse.
Notably, the defect involved in Dio was the Information's failure to establish the venue - a matter
of jurisdiction in criminal cases. Thus, in the case at bar where petitioner has not yet been In the light of the foregoing, the best course of action for the Court to take is to dismiss the
arraigned, the court a quo has the power to order the amendment of the February 17, 2017 petition and direct the trial court to rule on the Motion to Quash and undertake all the necessary
Information filed against the petitioner. This power to order the amendment is not reposed with proceedings to expedite the adjudication of the subject criminal case.
this Court in the exercise of its certiorari powers.
RESPONDENT JUDGE DID NOT ABUSE HER DISCRETION IN FINDING PROBABLE CAUSE
Nevertheless, should the trial court sustain the motion by actually ordering the quashal of the TO ORDER THE PETITIONER'S ARREST
Infonnation, the prosecution is not precluded from filing another information. An order sustaining
the motion to quash the information would neither bar another prosecution113 or require the
The basis for petitioner's contention that respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion
release of the accused from custody. Instead, under Section 5, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court,
the trial court can simply order that another complaint or information be filed without discharging in issuing the February 23, 2017 Order115 finding probable cause to arrest the petitioner is two-
the accused from custody. Section 5, Rule 117 states, thus: pronged: respondent judge should have first resolved the pending Motion to Quash before
ordering the petitioner's arrest; and there is no probable cause to justify the petitioner's arrest.

Section 5. Effect of sustaining the motion to quash. - If the motion to quash is sustained, the
court may order that another complaint or information be filed except as provided in Section 6 of Grave abuse of discretion is the capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to an
this rule. If the order is made, the accused, if in custody, shall not be discharged unless admitted evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to act at all in contemplation of the law.116
to bail. If no order is made or if having been made, no new information is filed within the time
specified in the order or within such further time as the court may allow for good cause, the In the present case, the respondent judge had no positive duty to first resolve the Motion to
accused, if in custody, shall be discharged unless he is also in custody for another charge. Quash before issuing a warrant of arrest. There is no rule of procedure, statute, or jurisprudence
to support the petitioner's claim. Rather, Sec.5(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court 117 required the
respondent judge to evaluate the prosecutor's resolution and its supporting evidence within a
Section 6, Rule 117, adverted to in the foregoing provision, prevents the re-filing of an
information on only two grounds: that the criminal action or liability has already been limited period of only ten (10) days, viz.:
extinguished, and that of double jeopardy. Neither was invoked in petitioner's Motion to
Quash filed before the court a quo. SEC. 5. When warrant of arrest may issue. -

The third option available to the trial court is the denial of the motion to quash. Even granting, for (a) By the Regional Trial Court. - Within ten (10) days from the filing of the complaint or
the nonce, the petitioner's position that the trial court's issuance of the warrant for her arrest is information, the judge shall personally evaluate the resolution of the prosecutor and its
an implied denial of her Motion to Quash, the proper remedy against this court action is to supporting evidence. He may immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails
proceed to trial, not to file the present petition for certiorari. This Court in Galzote v. to establish probable cause. If he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a
Briones reiterated this established doctrine: commitment order when the complaint or information was filed pursuant to Section 6 of this
Rule. In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to
A preliminary consideration in this case relates to the propriety of the chosen legal remedies present additional evidence within five (5) days from notice and the issue must be resolved by
the court within thirty (30) days from the filing of the complaint or information.
availed of by the petitioner in the lower courts to question the denial of his motion to quash. In
the usual course of procedure, a denial of a motion to quash filed by the accused results in the
continuation of the trial and the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. If a
judgment of conviction is rendered and the lower court's decision of conviction is appealed, the
It is not far-fetched to conclude, therefore, that had the respondent judge waited longer and first finds sufficient probable cause for the issuance of Warrants of Arrest against all the accused
attended to the petitioner's Motion to Quash, she would have exposed herself to a possible LEILA M. DE LIMA x x x.127 (Emphasis supplied.)
administrative liability for failure to observe Sec. 5(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court. Her
exercise of discretion was sound and in conformity with the provisions of the Rules of Court
As the prosecutor's report/resolution precisely finds support from the evidence presented during
considering that a Motion to Quash may be filed and, thus resolved by a trial court judge, at any
the preliminary investigation, this Court cannot consider the respondent judge to have evaded
time before the accused petitioner enters her plea.118 What is more, it is in accord with this
her duty or refused to perform her obligation to satisfy herself that substantial basis exists for the
Court's ruling in Marcos v. Cabrera-Faller119that "[a]s the presiding judge, it was her task, upon
petitioner's arrest. "All the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation"
the filing of the Information, to first and foremost determine the existence or non-existence of
encompasses a broader category than the "supporting evidence" required to be evaluated
probable cause for the arrest of the accused."
in Soliven. It may perhaps even be stated that respondent judge performed her duty in a manner
that far exceeds what is required of her by the rules when she reviewed all the evidence, not just
This Court's ruling in Miranda v. Tuliao 120does not support the petitioner's the supporting documents. At the very least, she certainly discharged a judge's duty in finding
position. Miranda does not prevent a trial court from ordering the arrest of an accused even probable cause for the issuance of a warrant, as described in Ho v. People:
pending a motion to quash the infonnation. At most, it simply explains that an accused can seek
judicial relief even if he has not yet been taken in the custody of law.
The above rulings in Soliven, Inting and Lim, Sr. were iterated in Allado v. Diokno, where we
explained again what probable cause means. Probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of
Undoubtedly, contrary to petitioner's postulation, there is no rule or basic principle requiring a arrest is the existence of such facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably discreet
trial judge to first resolve a motion to quash, whether grounded on lack of jurisdiction or not, and prudent person to believe that an offense has been committed by the person sought to be
before issuing a warrant of arrest. As such, respondent judge committed no grave abuse of arrested. Hence, the judge, before issuing a warrant of arrest, 'must satisfy himself that based on
discretion in issuing the assailed February 23, 2017 Order even before resolving the evidence submitted, there is sufficient proof that a crime has been committed and that the
petitioner's Motion to Quash. There is certainly no indication that respondent judge deviated from person to be arrested is probably guilty thereof' At this stage of the criminal proceeding, the
the usual procedure in finding probable cause to issue the petitioner's arrest. judge is not yet tasked to review in detail the evidence submitted during the preliminary
investigation. It is sufficient that he personally evaluates such evidence in determining probable
cause. In Webb v. De Leon we stressed that the judge merely determines the probability, not the
And yet, petitioner further contends that the language of the February 23, 2017 Order violated
certainty, of guilt of the accused and, in doing so, he need not conduct a de novo hearing. He
her constitutional rights and is contrary to the doctrine in Soliven v. Makasiar. 121Petitioner
simply personally reviews the prosecutor's initial determination finding probable cause to see if it
maintains that respondent judge failed to personally determine the probable cause for the
is supported by substantial evidence."
issuance of the warrant of arrest since, as stated in the assailed Order, respondent judge based
her findings on the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation and not on the report
and supporting documents submitted by the prosecutor. 122 This hardly deserves serious xxxx
consideration.
x x x [T]he judge cannot rely solely on the report of the prosecutor in finding probable cause to
Personal determination of the existence of probable cause by the judge is required before a justify the issuance of a warrant of arrest. Obviously and understandably, the contents of the
warrant of arrest may issue. The Constitution123 and the Revised Rules of Criminal prosecutor's report will support his own conclusion that there is reason to charge the accused for
Procedure124 command the judge "to refrain from making a mindless acquiescence to the an offense and hold him for trial. However, the judge must decide independently. Hence, he
prosecutor's findings and to conduct his own examination of the facts and circumstances must have supporting evidence, other than the prosecutor's bare report, upon which to legally
presented by both parties. "125 This much is clear from this Court's n1ling in Soliven cited by the sustain his own findings on the existence (or non-existence) of probable cause to issue an arrest
petitioner, viz.: order. This responsibility of determining personally and independently the existence or
nonexistence of probable cause is lodged in him by no less than the most basic law of the land.
Parenthetically, the prosecutor could ease the burden of the judge and speed up the litigation
What the Constitution underscores is the exclusive and personal responsibility of the issuing
process by forwarding to the latter not only the information and his bare resolution finding
judge to satisfy himself the existence of probable cause. In satisfying himself of the existence of
probable cause, but also so much of the records and the evidence on hand as to enable His
probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the judge is not required to personally
Honor to make his personal and separate judicial finding on whether to issue a warrant of arrest.
examine the complainant and his witnesses. Following established doctrine and procedure, he
shall: (1) personally evaluate the report and the supporting documents submitted by the fiscal
regarding the existence of probable cause and, on the basis thereof, issue a warrant of arrest; or Lastly, it is not required that the complete or entire records of the case during the preliminary
(2) if on the basis thereof he finds no probable cause, he may disregard the fiscal's report and investigation be submitted to and examined by the judge. We do not intend to unduly burden trial
require the submission of supporting affidavits of witnesses to aid him in arriving at a conclusion courts by obliging them to examine the complete records of every case all the time simply for the
as to the existence of probable cause.126 purpose of ordering the arrest of an accused. What is required, rather, is that the judge must
have sufficient supporting documents (such as the complaint, affidavits, counter-affidavits, sworn
statements of witnesses or transcript of stenographic notes, if any) upon which to make his
It must be emphasized, however, that in determining the probable cause to issue the warrant of
independent judgment or, at the very least, upon which to verify the findings of the prosecutor as
arrest against the petitioner, respondent judge evaluated the Information and "all the evidence
to the existence of probable cause. The point is: he cannot rely solely and entirely on the
presented during the preliminary investigation conducted in this case." The assailed February
prosecutor's recommendation, as Respondent Court did in this case. Although the prosecutor
23, 2017 Order is here restated for easy reference and provides, thusly:
enjoys the legal presumption of regularity in the performance of his official duties and functions,
which in turn gives his report the presumption of accuracy, the Constitution, we repeat,
After a careful evaluation of the herein Information and all the evidence presented during the commands the judge to personally determine probable cause in the issuance of warrants of
preliminary investigation conducted in this case by the Department of Justice, Manila, the Court arrest. This Court has consistently held that a judge fails in his bounden duty if he relies merely
on the certification or the report of the investigating officer.128 (Emphasis supplied.)
Notably, for purposes of determining the propriety of the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the 27. At that time, I also saw the then DOJ Sec. De Lima at the main door of the house. She was
judge is tasked to merely determine the probability, not the certainty, of the guilt of the wearing plain clothes which is commonly known referred to as "duster."
accused.129 She is given wide latitude of discretion in the determination of probable cause for the
issuance of warrants of arrest.130 A finding of probable cause to order the accused's arrest does
28. The house was elevated from the road and the fence was not high that is why I was able to
not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction. 131 It is
clearly see the person at the main door, that is, Sen. De Lima.
enough that it is believed that the act or omission complained of constitutes the offense
charged.132
29. When Dep. Dir. Ragos and Mr. Dayan reached the main door, I saw Mr. Dayan hand the
black handbag to Sen. De Lima, which she received. The three of them then entered the house.
Again, per the February 23, 2017 Order, respondent judge evaluated all the evidence presented
during the preliminary investigation and on the basis thereof found probable cause to issue the
warrant of arrest against the petitioner. This is not surprising given that the only evidence 30. After about thirty (30) minutes, Dep. Dir. Ragos went out of the house. He no longer has the
available on record are those provided by the complainants and the petitioner, in fact, did not black handbag with him.
present any counter-affidavit or evidence to controvert this. Thus, there is nothing to disprove the
following preliminary findings of the DOJ prosecutors relative to the allegations in the Information
filed in Criminal Case No. 17-165: 31. We then drove to the BuCor Director's Quarters in Muntinlupa City. While cruising, Dep. Dir.
Ragos told me "Nior 'wag kang maingay kahit kanino at wala kang nakita ha," to which I
replied "Sabi mo e. e di wala akong nakita."
Thus, from November 2012 to March 2013, De Lima[,] Ragos and Dayan should be indicted for
violation of Section 5, in relation to Section 3Gj), Section 26(b) and Section 28, of R.A. 9165,
owing to the delivery of PS million in two (2) occasions, on 24 November 2012 and 15 December 32. On the morning of 15 December 2012, Dep. Dir. Ragos again fetched me from my house
and we proceeded to the same house located at Laguna Bay comer Subic Bay Drive, South Bay
2012, to Dayan and De Lima. The monies came inmate Peter Co [were] proceeds from illicit
drug trade, which were given to support the senatorial bid of De Lima. Village, Paranaque City.

33. That time, I saw a plastic bag in front of my feet. I asked Dep. Dir. Ragos "Quota na naman
Also in the same period, Dayan demanded from Ragos money to support the senatorial bid of
De Lima. Ragos demanded and received ₱100,000 tara from each of the high-profile inmates in Sir?"Dep. Dir. Ragos replied "Ano pa nga ba, 'tang ina sila lang meron. "134
exchange for privileges, including their illicit drug trade. Ablen collected the money for Ragos
who, in turn, delivered them to Dayan at De Lima's residence.133 Petitioner's co-accused, Rafael Ragos, recounted in his own Affidavit dated September 26, 2016
a similar scenario:
The foregoing findings of the DOJ find support in the affidavits and testimonies of several
persons. For instance, in his Affidavit dated September 3, 2016, NBI agent Jovencio P. Ablen, 8. One morning on the latter part of November 2012, I saw a black handbag containing a huge
Jr. narrated, viz.: sum of money on my bed inside the Director's Quarters of the BuCor. I looked inside the black
handbag and saw that it contains bundles of one thousand peso bills.
21. On the morning of 24 November 2012, I received a call from Dep. Dir. Ragos asking where I
was. I told him I was at home. He replied that he will fetch me to accompany him on a very 9. I then received a call asking me to deliver the black handbag to Mr. Ronnie Dayan. The caller
important task. said the black handbag came from Peter Co and it contains "Limang Manoi<' which means Five
Million Pesos (Php5,000,000.00) as a "manoR' refers to One Million Pesos (Php 1,000,000.00)
22. Approximately an hour later, he arrived at my house. I boarded his vehicle, a Hyundai in the vernacular inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Tucson, with plate no. RGU910. He then told me that he will deliver something to the then
Secretary of Justice, Sen. Leila De Lima. He continued and said "Nior confidential 'to. Tayong 10. As I personally know Mr. Dayan and knows that he stays in the house of the then DOJ Sec.
dalawa lang ang nakakaalam nito. Dadalhin natin yung quota kay Lola. SM 'yang nasa bag. Leila M. De Lima located at Laguna Bay corner Subic Bay Drive, South Bay Village, Paranaque
Tingnan mo." City, I knew I had to deliver the black handbag to Sen. De Lima at the said address.

23. The black bag he was referring to was in front of my feet. It [was a] black handbag. When I 11. Before proceeding to the house of Sen. De Lima at the above[-]mentioned address, I called
opened the bag, I saw bundles of One Thousand Peso bills.1âwphi1 Mr. Ablen to accompany me in delivering the money. I told him we were going to do an important
task.
24. At about 10 o'clock in the morning, we arrived at the house located at Laguna Bay corner
Subic Bay Drive, South Bay Village, Paranaque City. 12. Mr. Ablen agreed to accompany me so I fetched him from his house and we proceeded to
the house of Sen. De Lima at the above-mentioned address.
25. Dep. Dir. Ragos parked his vehicle in front of the house. We both alighted the vehicle but he
told me to stay. He then proceeded to the house. 13. While we were in the car, I told Mr. Ablen that the important task we will do is deliver Five
Million Pesos (Php5,000,000.00) "Quota" to Sen. De Lima. I also told him that the money was in
26. From our parked vehicle, I saw Mr. Ronnie Dayan open the gate. Dep. Dir. Ragos then the black handbag that was on the floor of the passenger seat (in front of him) and he could
check it, to which Mr. Ablen complied.
handed the black handbag containing bundles of one thousand peso bills to Mr. Dayan.
14. Before noon, we arrived at the house of Sen. De Lima located at Laguna Bay corner Subic 8. Sa kabuuan, nakapagbigay ang mga Chinese sa loob ng Maximum ng PIO Million sa mga
Bay Drive, South Bay Village, Paranaque City. huling bahagi ng taong 2012 kay dating DOJ Sec. De Lima para sa kanyang planong pagtakbo
sa senado sa2013 Elections. Ang mga perang ito ay mula sa pinagbentahan ng illegal na
droga.136
15. I parked my vehicle in front of the house. Both Mr. Ablen and I alighted from the vehicle but I
went to the gate alone carrying the black handbag containing the Five Million Pesos
(Php5,000,000.00). All these, at least preliminarily, outline a case for illegal drug trading committed in conspiracy by
the petitioner and her co-accused. Thus, the Court cannot sustain the allegation that respondent
judge committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the assailed Order for petitioner's arrest.
16. At the gate, Mr. Ronnie Dayan greeted me and opened the gate for me. I then handed the
handbag containing the money to Mr. Dayan.
Petitioner would later confine herself to the contention that the prosecution's evidence is
inadmissible, provided as they were by petitioner's co-accused who are convicted felons and
17. We then proceeded to the main door of the house where Sen. De Lima was waiting for us. At
whose testimonies are but hearsay evidence.
the main door, Mr. Dayan handed the black handbag to Sen. De Lima, who received the same.
We then entered the house.
Nowhere in Ramos v. Sandiganbayan 137 - the case relied upon by petitioner - did this Court rule
that testimonies given by a co-accused are of no value. The Court simply held that said
18. About thirty minutes after, I went out of the house and proceeded to my quarters at the
testimonies should be received with great caution, but not that they would not be considered.
BuCor, Muntinlupa City.
The testimony of Ramos' co-accused was, in fact, admitted in the cited case. Furthermore, this
Court explicitly ruled in Estrada v. Office of the Ombudsman138that hearsay evidence is
19. One morning in the middle part of December 2012, I received a call to again deliver the admissible during preliminary investigation. The Court held thusly:
plastic bag containing money from Peter Co to Mr. Ronnie Dayan. This time the money was
packed in a plastic bag left on my bed inside my quarters at the BuCor, Muntinlupa City. From
Thus, probable cause can be established with hearsay evidence, as long as there is substantial
the outside of the bag, I could easily perceive that it contains money because the bag is
basis for crediting the hearsay. Hearsay evidence is admissible in determining probable cause in
translucent.
a preliminary investigation because such investigation is merely preliminary, and does not finally
adjudicate rights and obligations of parties.139 (Emphasis supplied.)
20. Just like before, I fetched Mr. Ablen from his house before proceeding to the house of Sen.
De Lima located at Laguna Bay corner Subic Bay Drive, South Bay Village, Paranaque City,
Verily, the admissibility of evidence,140 their evidentiary weight, probative value, and the
where I know I could find Mr. Dayan.
credibility of the witness are matters that are best left to be resolved in a full-blown trial,141 not
during a preliminary investigation where the technical rules of evidence are not applied 142 nor at
21. In the car, Mr. Ablen asked me if we are going to deliver "quota." I answered yes. the stage of the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. Thus,
the better alternative is to proceed to the conduct of trial on the merits for the petitioner and the
prosecution to present their respective evidence in support of their allegations.
22. We arrived at the house of Sen. De Lima at the above[-]mentioned address at noontime. I
again parked in front of the house.
With the foregoing disquisitions, the provisional reliefs prayed for, as a consequence, have to be
rejected.
23. I carried the plastic bag containing money to the house. At the gate, I was greeted by Mr.
Ronnie Dayan. At that point, I handed the bag to Mr. Dayan. He received the bag and we
proceeded inside the house.135 WHEREFORE, the instant petition for prohibition and certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
The Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa City, Branch 204 is ordered to proceed with dispatch with
Criminal Case N6.17-165.
The source of the monies delivered to petitioner De Lima was expressly bared by several felons
incarcerated inside the NBP. Among them is Peter Co, who testified in the following manner:
SO ORDERED.
6. Noong huling bahagi ng 2012, sinabi sa akin ni Hans Tanna nanghihingi ng kontribusyon sa
mgaChinese sa Maximum Security Compound ng NBP si dating DOJ Sec. De Lima para sa G.R. No. 220598
kanyang planong pagtakbo sa senado sa 2013 Elections. Dalawang beses akong nagbigay ng
tig-P5 Million para tugunan ang hiling ni Sen. De Lima, na dating DOJ Secretary;
GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, Petitioner,
vs.
7. Binigay ko ang mga halagang ito kay Hans Tan para maibigay kay Sen. Leila De Lima na PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND THE SANDIGANBAYAN, (First Division), Respondents
datingDOJ Secretary. Sa parehong pagkakataon, sinabihan na lang ako ni Hans Tan na
naibigay na ang pera kay Ronnie Dayan na siyang tumatanggap ng pera para kay dating DOJ
Sec. De Lima Sinabi rin niHans Tanna ang nagdeliver ng pera ay si dating OIC ng BuCor na RESOLUTION
si Rafael Ragos.
BERSAMIN,, J.:
On July 19, 2016, the Court promulgated its decision, disposing: Petitioner Gloria M. Macapagal-Arroyo (Arroyo) points out that the State miserably failed to
prove the corpus delicti of plunder; that the Court correctly required the identification of the main
plunderer as well as personal benefit on the part of the raider of the public treasury to enable the
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petitions for certiorari; ANNULS and SETS ASIDE the
successful prosecution of the crime of plunder; that the State did not prove the conspiracy that
resolutions issued in Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 by the Sandiganbayan on April 6,
justified her inclusion in the charge; that to sustain the case for malversation against her, in lieu
2015 and September 10, 2015; GRANTSthe petitioners' respective demurrers to evidence;
of plunder, would violate her right to be informed of the accusation against her because the
DISMISSES Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 as to the petitioners GLORIAMACAPAGAL-
information did not necessarily include the crime of malversation; and that even if the information
ARROYO and BENIGNOAGUAS for insufficiency of evidence; ORDERS the immediate release
did so, the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy already barred the re-opening of the
from detention of said petitioners; and MAKES no pronouncements on costs of suit.
case for that purpose.

SO ORDERED. 1
Petitioner Benigno B. Aguas echoes the contentions of Arroyo in urging the Com1 to deny the
motion for reconsideration.
On August 3, 2016, the State, through the Office of the Ombudsman, has moved for the
reconsideration of the decision, submitting that:
In reply, the State avers that the prohibition against double jeopardy does not apply because it
was denied its day in court, thereby rendering the decision void; that the Court should re-
I. THIS HONORABLE COURT'S GIVING DUE COURSE TO A CERTIORARI ACTION examine the facts and pieces of evidence in order to find the petitioners guilty as charged; and
ASSAILING AN INTERLOCUTORY ORDER DENYING DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE VIOLA that the allegations of the information sufficiently included all that was necessary to fully inform
TES RULE 119, SECTION 23 OF THE RULES OF COURT, WHICH PROVIDES THAT AN the petitioners of the accusations against them.
ORDER DENYING THE DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE SHALL NOT BE REVIEWABLE BY
APPEAL OR BY CERTIORARI BEFORE JUDGMENT.
Ruling of the Court

II. THE HONORABLE COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ERRORS WHICH AMOUNT TO A


The Court DENIES the motion for reconsideration for its lack of merit.
VIOLATION OR DEPRIVATION OF THE STATE'S FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO DUE
PROCESS OF LAW.
To start with, the State argues' that the consolidated petitions for certiorari were improper
remedies in light of Section 23, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court expressly prohibiting the review of
A. THE DECISION REQUIRES ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS IN THE PROSECUTION
the denial of their demurrer prior to the judgment in the case either by appeal or
OF PLUNDER, VIZ. IDENTIFICATION OF THE MAIN
by certiorari; that the Court has thereby limited its own power, which should necessarily prevent
PLUNDERER AND PERSONAL BENEFIT TO HIM/HER, BOTH OF WHICH ARE
the giving of due course to the petitions for certiorari, as well as the undoing of the order denying
NOT PROVIDED IN THE TEXT OF REPUBLIC ACT (R.A.) NO. 7080.
the petitioners' demurrer to evidence; that the proper remedy under the Rules of Court was for
the petitioners to proceed to trial and to present their evidence-in-chief thereat; and that even if
B. THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION WAS NOT FULLY there had been grave abuse of discretion attending the denial, the Court's certiorari powers
TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO should be exercised only upon the petitioners' compliance with the stringent requirements of
THE IRREGULARITIES IN THE CONFIDENTIAL/INTELLIGENCE FUND (CIF) Rule 65, particularly with the requirement that there be no plain, speedy or adequate remedy in
DISBURSEMENT PROCESS, QUESTIONABLE PRACTICE OF CO-MINGLING OF the ordinary course of law, which they did not establish.
FUNDSAND AGUAS' REPORTS TO THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT (COA) THAT
BULK OF THE PHP365,997,915.00 WITHDRAWN FROM THE PHILIPPINE
Section 23, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, pertinently provides:
CHARITY SWEEPSTAKES OFFICE'S (PCSO) CIF WERE DIVERTED TO THE
ARROYO-HEADED OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT.
Section 23. Demurrer to evidence. – xxx
C. ARROYO AND AGUAS, BY INDISPENSABLE COOPERATION, IN
CONSPIRACY WITH THEIR COACCUSED IN SB-12-CRM-0174, COMMITTED xxxx
PLUNDER VIA· A COMPLEX ILLEGAL SCHEME WHICH DEFRAUDED PCSO IN
HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PESOS.
The order denying the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence or the
demurrer itself shall not be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before judgment. (n)
D. EVEN ASSUMING THAT THE ELEMENTS OF PLUNDER WERE NOT PROVEN
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE PEOPLE
The argument of the State, which is really a repetition of its earlier submission, was squarely
SHOWS, BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, THAT ARROYO, AGUAS AND THEIR
resolved in the decision, as follows:
COACCUSED IN SB-12-CRM-0174 ARE GUILTY OF MALVERSATION.2

The Court holds that it should take cognizance of the petitions for certiorari because
In contrast, the petitioners submit that the decision has effectively barred the consideration and
the Sandiganbayan, as shall shortly be demonstrated, gravely abused its discretion amounting
granting of the motion for reconsideration of the State because doing so would amount to the re-
to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
prosecution or revival of the charge against them despite their acquittal, and would thereby
violate the constitutional proscription against double jeopardy.
The special civil action for certiorari is generally not proper to assail such an interlocutory order complains that it was not given the opportunity to establish such additional elements; that the
issued by the trial court because of the availability of another remedy in the ordinary course of imposition of new elements fu1iher amounted to judicial legislation in violation of the doctrine of
law. Moreover, Section 23, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court expressly provides that "the order separation of powers; that the Court nitpicked on the different infirmities of the information
denying the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence or the demurrer itself shall not despite the issue revolving only around the sufficiency of the evidence; and that it established all
be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before judgment." It is not an insuperable obstacle to the elements of plunder beyond reasonable doubt.
this action, however, that the denial of the demurrers to evidence of the petitioners was an
interlocutory order that did not terminate the proceedings, and the proper recourse of the
The State cites the plain meaning rule to highlight that the crime of plunder did not require
demurring accused was to go to trial, and that in case of their conviction they may then appeal
personal benefit on the part of the raider of the public treasury. It insists that the definition
the conviction, and assign the denial as among the errors to be reviewed. Indeed, it is doctrinal
of raids on the public treasury, conformably with the plain meaning rule, is the taking of public
that the situations in which the writ of certiorari may issue should not be limited, because to do
money through fraudulent or unlawful means, and such definition does not require enjoyment or
so -
personal benefit on the part of plunderer or on the part of any of his co-conspirators for them to
be convicted for plunder.
x x x would be to destroy its comprehensiveness and usefulness. So wide is the discretion of the
com1 that authority is not wanting to show that certiorari is more discretionary than either
The submissions of the State are unfounded.
prohibition or mandamus. In the exercise of oursuperintending control over other courts,
we are to be guided by all the circumstances of each particular case 'as the ends of
justice may require.' So it is that the writ will be granted where necessary to prevent a The requirements for the identification of the main plunderer and for personal benefit in the
substantial wrong or to do substantial justice. predicate act of raids on the public treasury have been written in R.A. No. 7080 itself as well as
embedded in pertinent jurisprudence. This we made clear in the decision, as follows:
The Constitution itself has imposed upon the Court and the other courts of justice the duty to
correct errors of jurisdiction as a result of capricious, arbitrary, whimsical and despotic exercise A perusal of the information suggests that what the Prosecution sought to show was an implied
of discretion by expressly incorporating in Section 1 of Article VIII the following provision: conspiracy to commit plunder among all of the accused on the basis of their collective actions
prior to, during and after the implied agreement. It is notable that the Prosecution did not allege
that the conspiracy among all of the accused was by express agreement, or was a wheel
Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as
conspiracy or a chain conspiracy.
may be established by law.

This was another fatal flaw of the Prosecution.


Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether
or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of In its present version, under which the petitioners were charged, Section 2 of Republic Act No.
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. The exercise 7080 (Plunder Law) states:
of this power to correct grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government cannot be
thwarted by rules of procedure to the contrary or for the sake of the convenience of one Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder: Penalties. - Any public officer who, by himself or in
side. This is because the Court has the bounden constitutional duty to strike down grave connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business
abuse of discretion whenever and wherever it is committed. Thus, notwithstanding the associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth
interlocutory character and effect of the denial of the demurrers to evidence, the through a combination or series of overt criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof in the
petitioners as the accused could avail themselves of the remedy of certiorari when the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (₱50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of
denial was tainted with grave abuse of discretion. As we shall soon show, the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any person who
the Sandiganbayan as the trial court was guilty of grave abuse of discretion when it participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime
capriciously denied the demurrers to evidence despite the absence of competent and of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree
sufficient evidence to sustain the indictment for plunder, and despite the absence of the of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by
factual bases to expect a guilty verdict.3 the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-
gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and
shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State. [As
We reiterate the foregoing resolution, and stress that the prohibition contained in Section 23, Amended by Section 12, Republic Act No. 7659 (The Death Penalty Law)]
Rule 119 of the Rules of Court is not an insuperable obstacle to the review by the Court of the
denial of the demurrer to evidence through certiorari. We have had many rulings to that effect in
the past. For instance, in Nicolas v. Sandiganbayan,4the Court expressly ruled that the petition Section l(d) of Republic Act No. 7080 provides:
for certiorari was the proper remedy to assail the denial of the demurrer to evidence that was
tainted with grave abuse of discretion or excess of jurisdiction, or oppressive exercise of judicial Section 1. Definition of terms. - As used in this Act, the term:
authority.
xxxx
Secondly, the State submits that its right to due process was violated because the decision
imposed additional elements for plunder that neither ' Republic Act No. 7080 nor jurisprudence
had theretofore required, i.e., the identification of the main plunderer, and personal benefit on d. "Ill-gotten wealth" means any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of
the part of the accused committing the predicate crime of raid on the public treasury. The State any person within the purview of Section two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly
through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any Corporation and receive commissions from such sale, nor that each unjustly enriched himself
combination or series of the following means or similar schemes: from commissions, gifts and kickbacks; rather, it is that each of them, by their individual acts,
agreed to participate, directly or indirectly, in the amassing, accumulation and acquisition
of ill-gotten wealth of and/or for former President Estrada. 5 [bold underscoring supplied for
1. Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or
emphasis]
raids on the public treasury;

Indeed, because plunder is a crime that only a public official can commit by amassing,
2. By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage,
accumulating, or acquiring ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or total value of at least
kickbacks or any/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or by
₱50,000,000.00, the identification in the information of such public official as the main plunderer
reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned;
among the several individuals thus charged is logically necessary under the law itself. In
particular reference to Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174, the individuals charged therein -
3. By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the including the petitioners - were 10 public officials; hence, it was only proper to identify the main
National Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or plunderer or plunderers among the 10 accused who herself or himself had amassed,
government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; accumulated, or acquired ill-gotten wealth with the total value of at least ₱50,000,000.00.

4. By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity The phrase raids on the public treasury as used in Section 1 (d) of R. A. No. 7080 is itself
or any other form of interest or participation including the promise of future ambiguous. In order to ascertain the objective meaning of the phrase, the act of raiding the
employment in any business enterprise or undertaking; public treasury cannot be divided into parts. This is to differentiate the predicate act of raids on
the public treasury from other offenses involving property, like robbery, theft,
or estafa. Considering that R.A. No. 7080 does not expressly define this predicate act, the Court
5. By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other has necessarily resorted to statutory construction. In so doing, the Court did not adopt the
combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit State's submission that personal benefit on the part of the accused need not be alleged and
particular persons or special interests; or
shown because doing so would have defeated the clear intent of the law itself, 6 which was to
punish the amassing, accumulating, or acquiring of ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or
6. By taking undue advantage of official positi0n, authority, relationship, connection or total value of at least ₱150,000,000.00 by any combination or series of acts of misappropriation,
influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury.
and prejudice
As the decision has observed, the rules of statutory construction as well as the deliberations of
The law on plunder requires that a particular public officer must be identified as the one Congress indicated the intent of Congress to require personal benefit for the predicate act
who amassed, acquired or accumulated ill-gotten wealth because it plainly states that of raids on the public treasury, viz.:
plunder is committed by any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with
members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates,
The phrase raids on the public treasury is found in Section 1 (d) of R.A. No. 7080, which
subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth in the
provides:
aggregate amount or total value of at least ₱50,000,000.00 through
a combination or series of overt criminal acts as described in Section l(d) hereof. Surely,
the law requires in the criminal charge for plunder against several individuals that there Section l .Definition of Terms. – xxx
must be a main plunderer and her co-conspirators, who may be members of her family,
relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordim1tes or other
xxxx
persons. In other words, the allegation of the wheel conspiracy or express conspiracy in
the information was appropriate because the main plunderer would then be identified in
either manner. Of course, implied conspiracy could also identify the main plunderer, but d) Ill-gotten wealth means any asset, prope1iy, business enterprise or material possession of
that fact must be properly alleged and duly proven by the Prosecution. any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly
through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any
combination or series of the following means or similar schemes:
This interpretation is supported by Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, where the Court explained the
nature of the conspiracy charge and the necessity for the main plunderer for whose benefit the
amassment, accumulation and acquisition was made, thus: 1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the
public treasury;
There is no denying the fact that the "plunder of an entire nation resulting in material damage to
the national economy" is made up of a complex and manifold network of crimes. In the crime of xxxx
plunder, therefore, different parties may be united by a common purpose. In the case at bar, the
different accused and their different criminal acts have a commonality - to help the former
To discern the proper import of the phrase raids on the public treasury, the key is to look
President amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. Sub-paragraphs (a) to (d) in the
at the accompanying words: misappropriation, conversion, misuse or malversation of
Amended Information alleged the different participation of each accused in the conspiracy. The
public funds. This process is conformable with the maxim of statutory
gravamen of the conspiracy charge, therefore, is not that each accused agreed to receive
construction noscitur a sociis, by which the correct construction of a particular word or
protection money from illegal gambling, that each misappropriated a portion of the tobacco
phrase that is ambiguous in itself or is equally susceptible of various meanings may be
excise tax, that each accused ordered the GSIS and SSS to purchase shares of Belle
made by considering the company of the words in which the word or phrase is found or The exchanges between Senator Enrile and Senator Tañada reveal, therefore, that what was
with which it is associated. Verily, a word or phrase in a statute is always used in removed from the coverage of the bill and the final version that eventually became the law was a
association with other words or phrases, and its meaning may, therefore, be modified or person who was not the main plunderer or a co-conspirator, but one who personally benefited
restricted by the latter. from the plunderers' action. The requirement of personal benefit on the part of the main
plunderer or his co-conspirators by virtue of their plunder was not removed.
To convert connotes the act of using or disposing of another's property as if it were one's own; to
misappropriate means to own, to take something for one's own benefit; misuse means "a good, As a result, not only did the Prosecution fail to show where the money went but, more
substance, privilege, or right used improperly, unforcsccably, or not as intended;" importantly, that GMA and Aguas had personally benefited from the same. Hence, the
and malversation occurs when "any public officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is Prosecution did not prove the predicate act of raids on the public treasury beyond reasonable
accountable for public funds or property, shall appropriate the same or shall take or doubt. 8
misappropriate or shall consent, through abandonment or negligence, shall permit any other
person to take such public funds, or property, wholly or partially." The common thread that binds
Thirdly, the State contends that the Court did not appreciate the totality of its evidence,
all the four terms together is that the public officer used the property taken. Considering
particularly the different irregularities committed in the disbursement of the PCSO funds, i.e., the
that raids on the public treasury is in the company of the four other terms that require the use of
commingling of funds, the non-compliance with LOI No. 1282, and the unilateral approval of the
the property taken, the phrase raids on the public treasury similarly requires such use of the
disbursements. Such totality, coupled with the fact of the petitioners' indispensable cooperation
property taken. Accordingly, the Sandiganbayan gravely erred in contending that the mere
in the pilfering of public funds, showed the existence of the conspiracy to commit plunder among
accumulation and gathering constituted the forbidden act of raids on the public
all of the accused.
treasury. Pursuant to the maxim of noscitur a sociis, raids on the public treasury requires the
raider to use the property taken impliedly for his personal benefit. 7
The contention lacks basis.
The Prosecution asserts that the Senate deliberations removed personal benefit as a
requirement for plunder. In not requiring personal benefit, the Sandiganbayan quoted the As can be readily seen from the decision, the Court expressly granted the petitioners' respective
following exchanges between Senator Enrile and Senator Tafiada, viz.: demurrers to evidence and dismissed the plunder case against them for insufficiency of
evidence because:
Senator Enrile. The word here, Mr. President, "such public officer or person who conspired or
knowingly benefited". One does not have to conspire or rescheme. The only element x x x the Sandiganbayan as the trial court was guilty of grave abuse of discretion when it
needed is that he "knowingly benefited". A candidate for the Senate for instance, who received a capriciously denied the demurrers to evidence despite the absence of competent and
political contribution from a plunderer, knowing that the contributor is a plunderer and therefore, sufficient evidence to sustain the indictment for plunder, and despite the absence of the
he knowingly benefited from the plunder, would he also suffer the penalty, Mr. President, for life factual bases to expect a guilty verdict. 9
imprisonment?
Such disposition of the Court fully took into consideration all the evidence adduced against the
Senator Tafiada. In the committee amendments, Mr. President, we have deleted these lines 1 to petitioners. We need not rehash our review of the evidence thus adduced, for it is enough simply
4 and part of line 5, on page 3. But, in a way, Mr. President, it is good that the Gentleman is to stress that the Prosecution failed to establish the corpus delicti of plunder - that any or all of
bringing out these questions, I believe that under the examples he has given, the Court will have the accused public officials, particularly petitioner Arroyo, had amassed, accumulated, or
to... acquired ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or total value of at least ₱50,000,000.00.

Senator Enrile. How about the wife, Mr. President, he may not agree with the plunderer to Fourthly, in accenting certain inadequacies of the allegations of the information, the Court did not
plunder the country but because she is a dutiful wife or a faithful husband, she has to keep her engage in purposeless nitpicking, and did not digress from the primary task of determining the
or his vow of fidelity to the spouse. And, of course, she enjoys the benefits out of the plunder. sufficiency of the evidence presented by the State against the petitioners. What the Court
Would the Gentleman now impute to her or him the crime of plunder simply because she or he thereby intended to achieve was to highlight what would have been relevant in
knowingly benefited out of the fruits of the plunder and, therefore, he must suffer or he must the proper prosecution of plunder and thus enable itself to discern and determine whether the
suffer the penalty of life imprisonment? evidence of guilt was sufficient or not. In fact, the Court categorically clarified that in discussing
the essential need for the identification of the main plunderer it was not harping on the
sufficiency of the information, but was only enabling itself to search for and to find the relevant
The President. That was stricken out already in the Committee amendment.
proof that unequivocally showed petitioner Arroyo as the "mastermind" - which was how the
Sandiganbayan had characterized her participation - in the context of the implied conspiracy
Senator Tañada. Yes, Mr. President. Lines 1 to 4 and part of line 5 were stricken out in the alleged in the information. But the search came to naught, for the information contained nothing
Committee amendment. But, as I said, the examples of the Minority Floor Leader are still worth that averred her commission of the overt act necessary to implicate her in the supposed
spreading the Record. And, I believe that in those examples, the Court will have just to take into conspiracy to commit the crime of plunder. Indeed, the Court assiduously searched for but did
consideration all the other circumstances prevailing in the case and the evidence that will be not find the sufficient incriminatory evidence against the petitioners. Hence, the Sandiganbayan
submitted. capriciously and oppressively denied their demurrers to evidence.

The President. In any event, 'knowingly benefited' has already been stricken off." Fifthly, the State posits that it established at least a case for malversation against the petitioners.
Malversation is defined and punished under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, which reads the Board of Directors, MANUEL L. MORA TO, JOSE R. TARUC V, RAYMUNDO T.
thusly: ROQUERO, MA. FATIMA AS. VALDES, then members of the Board of Directors, BENIGNO B.
AGUAS, then Budget and Accounts Manager, all of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office
(PCSO), REYNALDO A. VILLAR, then Chairman, and NILDA B. PLARAS, then Head of
Article 217. Malversation of public funds or property; Presumption of malversation. - Any public
Intelligence/Confidential Fund Fraud Audit Unit, both of the Commission on Audit, all public
officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is accountable for public funds or property, shall
officers committing the offense in relation to their respective offices and taking undue advantage
appropriate the same or shall take or misappropriate or shall consent, through abandonment or
of their respective official positions, authority, relationships, connections or influence, conniving,
negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public funds, or property, wholly or
conspiring and confederating with one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
partially, or shall otherwise be guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or
criminally 'amass,, accumulate and/or acquire directly or indirectly, ill-gotten wealth in the
property, shall suffer:
aggregate amount or total value of THREE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE MILLION NINE HUNDRED
NINETY SEVEN THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FIFTEEN PESOS (PHP365,997,915.00), more
1. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the or less, through any or a combination or a series of overt or criminal acts, or similar schemes or
amount involved in the misappropriation or malversation does not exceed two hundred means, described as follows:
pesos.
(a) diverting in several instances, funds from the operating budget of PCSO to its
2. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the amount Confidential/Intelligence Fund that could be accessed and withdrawn at any time with
involved is more than two hundred pesos but does not exceed six thousand pesos. minimal restrictions, and converting, misusing, and/or illegally conveying or
transferring the proceeds drawn from said fund in the aforementioned sum, also in
several instances, to themselves, in the guise of fictitious expenditures, for their
3. The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal in its
personal gain and benefit;
minimum period, if the amount involved is more than six thousand pesos but is less
than twelve thousand pesos.
(b) raiding the public treasury by withdrawing and receiving, in several instances, the
above-mentioned amount from the Confidential/Intelligence Fund from PCSO's
4. The penalty of reclusion temporal, in its medium and maximum periods, if the accounts, and or unlawfully transferring or conveying the same into their possession
amount involved is more than twelve thousand pesos but is less than twenty-two and control through irregularly issued disbursement vouchers and fictitious
thousand pesos. If the amount exceeds the latter, the penalty shall be reclusion
expenditures; and
temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua.

(c) taking advantage of their respective official positions, authority, relationships,


In all cases, persons guilty of malversation shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual special
connections or influence, in several instances, to unjustly enrich themselves in the
disqualification and a fine equal to the amount of the funds malversed or equal to the total value aforementioned sum, at the expense of, and the damage and prejudice of the Filipino
of the property embezzled. people and the Republic of the Philippines.

The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he CONTRARY TO LAW.
is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he
has put such missing funds or property to personal use. (As amended by RA 1060).
In thereby averring the predicate act of malversation, the State did not sufficiently allege the
aforementioned essential elements of malversation in the information. The omission from the
The elements of malversation are that: (a) the offender is an accountable public officer; (b)
information of factual details descriptive of the aforementioned elements of malversation
he/she is responsible for the misappropriation of public funds or property through intent or highlighted the insufficiency of the allegations. Consequently, the State's position is entirely
negligence; and (c) he/she has custody of and received such funds and property by reason of unfounded.
his/her office. 10

Lastly, the petitioners insist that the consideration and granting of the motion for reconsideration
The information in Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-017411 avers: of the State can amount to a violation of the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy
because their acquittal under the decision was a prior jeopardy within the context of Section 21,
The undersigned Assistant Ombudsman and Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution, to wit:
Office of the Ombudsman, hereby accuse GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, ROSARIO C.
URIARTE, SERGIO O. VALENCIA, MANUEL L. MORATO, JOSE R. TARUC V, RAYMUNDO T.
Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. If an
ROQUERO, MA. FATIMA AS. VALDES, BENIGNO B. AGUAS, REYNALDO A. VILLAR and act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a
NILDA B. PLARAS, of the crime of PLUNDER, as defined by, and penalized under Section 2 of
bar to another prosecution for the same act.
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7080, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, committed, as follows:

The insistence of the petitioners is fully warranted. Indeed, the consideration and granting of the
That during the period from January 2008 to June 2010 or sometime prior or subsequent motion for reconsideration of the State will amount to the violation of the constitutional guarantee
thereto, in Quezon City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused
against double jeopardy.
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, then the President of the Philippines, ROSARIO C.
URIARTE, then General Manager and Vice Chairman, SERGIO 0. VALENCIA, then Chairman of
The Court's consequential dismissal of Criminal Case No. SB-12- CRM-0174 as to the Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 187-188 (1957).
petitioners for insufficiency of evidence amounted to their acquittal of the crime of plunder
charged against them. In People v. Tan, 12the Court shows why:
The policy of avoiding multiple trials has been regarded as so important that exceptions
to the principle have been only grudgingly allowed. Initially, a new trial was thought to be
In People v. Sandiganbayan, this Com1 explained the general rule that the grant of a demurrer unavailable after appeal, whether requested by the prosecution or the
to evidence operates as an acquittal and is, thus, final and unappealable, to wit: defendant. See United States v. Gibert, 25 F. Cas. 1287 (No. 15,204) (CCD Mass. 1834) (Story,
J.). It was not until 1896 that it was made clear that a defendant could seek a new trial
after conviction, even though the Government enjoyed no similar right. United States v.
The demurrer to evidence in criminal cases, such as the one at bar, is ''filed after tile
Ball, 163 U.S. 662. (Bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)
prosecution had rested its case," and when the same is granted, it calls "for an
appreciation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and its sufficiency to warrant
conviction beyond reasonable doubt, resulting in a dismissal of the case on the merits, WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
tantamount to an acquittal of the accused." Such dismissal of a criminal case by the grant
of demurrer to evidence may not be appealed, for to do so would be to place the accused
SO ORDERED
in double jeopardy. The verdict being one of acquittal, the case ends there.

xxxx G.R. No. 224162

The rule on double jeopardy, however, is not without exceptions. In People v. Laguio, Jr., this JANET LIM NAPOLES, Petitioner
Court stated that the only instance when double jeopardy will not attach is when the RTC acted vs.
with grave abuse of discretion, thus: SANDIGANBAYAN (THIRD DIVISION), Respondent

... The only instance when double ,jeopardy will not attach is when the trial court acted with DECISION
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, such as where the
prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or where the trial was a sham. REYES, JR., J.:
However, while certiorari may be availed of to correct an erroneous acquittal, the petitioner in
such an extraordinary proceeding must clearly demonstrate that the trial court blatantly abused
its authority to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice. 13 Before this Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which sought to
nullify and set aside the Resolutions dated October 16, 20151 and March 2, 20162 of the
Sandiganbayan in SB-14-CRM-0238. These Resolutions denied Janet Lim Napoles' (Napoles)
The constitutional prohibition against placing a person under double jeopardy for the same application for bail because the evidence of her guilt for the crime of Plunder is strong.
offense bars not only a new and independent prosecution but also an appeal in the same action
after jeopardy had attached. 14 As such, every acquittal becomes final immediately upon
promulgation and cannot be recalled for correction or amendment. With the acquittal being Factual Antecedents
immediately final, granting the State's motion for reconsideration in this case would violate the
Constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy because it would effectively reopen the On September 16, 2013, the Office of the Ombudsman received the report of the National
prosecution and subject the petitioners to a second jeopardy despite their acquittal. Bureau of Investigation (NBI), regarding its investigation on several persons, including Napoles,
former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile (Enrile) and his former Chief of Staff, Atty. Jessica Lucila
It is cogent to remind in this regard that the Constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy Reyes (Reyes). In its report, the NBI recommended to prosecute Napoles, former Senator
provides to the accused three related protections, specifically: protection against a second Enrile, Reyes, and several other named individuals for the crime of Plunder, defined and
prosecution for the same offense after acquittal; protection against a second prosecution for the penalized under Section 2 of Republic Act (RA) No. 7080, as amended, for essentially
same offense after conviction; and protection against multiple punishments for the same misappropriating former Senator Enrile's Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) through
offense. 15The rationale for the three protections is expounded in United States v. Wilson: 16 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that were selected without the required bidding
procedure.3 This case was docketed as OMB-C-C-13-0318.4
The interests underlying these three protections arc quite similar. When a defendant has
been once convicted and punished for a particular crime, principles of fairness and Soon after, or on November 18, 2013, the Office of the Ombudsman received a Complaint from
finality require that he not be subjected to the possibility of further punishment by being its Field Investigation Office (FIO), criminally charging former Senator Enrile, Reyes, Napoles,
again tried or sentenced for the same offense.Ex pa rte Lange, 18 Wall 163 (1874); In re and fifty-two (52) other individuals with violations of RA No. 7080 and Section 3(e) of RA No.
Nielsen, 131 U.S. 176 (1889). When a defendant has been acquitted of an offense, the 3019.5 Said complaint was docketed as OMB-C-C-13-0396.6
Clause guarantees that the State shall not be permitted to make repeated attempts to
convict him, In a Joint Resolution dated March 28, 2014, the Ombudsman Special Panel of Investigators
found probable cause to indict Napoles, among others, with one (1) count of Plunder and fifteen
"thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense and ordeal, and compelling him to (15) counts of violating Section 3(e) of RA No. 3019. They likewise recommended to
live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility immediately file the necessary Informations against all the named accused.7
that, even though innocent, he may be found guilty."
Some of the named accused, including Napoles, filed their respective motions for Sandiganbayan: (a) Eldred P. Tumbocon, Municipal Mayor of Umingan, Pangasinan; (b)
reconsideration. The Special Panel of Investigators denied these motions in its Joint Order dated Francisco 0. Collado, Jr., Municipal Agriculturist of Umingan, Pangasinan; (c) Bartolome Ramos,
June 4, 2014, but dropped Ruby Chan Tuason as a respondent, in light of her admission as a Municipal Mayor of Sta. Maria, Bulacan; (d) Ricardo V. Revita, Municipal Mayor of Rosales,
State witness and her corresponding immunity from criminal prosecution. 8 Pangasinan; (e) Rodolfo A. Mendoza, Municipal Agriculturist of San Miguel, Bulacan; and (t)
Imelda Alvarado Eudenio, Municipal Agriculturist of Sta. Maria, Bulacan. The defense also
stipulated that: (a) the witnesses occupied their respective positions at the time material to the
Thus, in an Information dated June 5, 2014, Napoles, together with former Senator Enrile,
case; (b) they were unaware that their respective municipalities were recipients of livelihood
Reyes, Ronald John Lim and John Raymund De Asis, were charged with Plunder in Criminal
projects from former Senator Enrile's PDAF; (c) they did not receive any agricultural package or
Case No. SB-14-CRM-0238 filed with the Sandiganbayan.9 The pertinent portions of the
livelihood training from former Senator Enrile, the implementing agencies of his PDAF, or from
Information state:
any NGO; and (d) they did not sign or prepare any acknowledgment receipt or liquidation
documents pertaining to the transactions.13
In 2004 to 2010, or thereabout (sic), in the Philippines, and within this Honorable Court's
jurisdiction, above-named accused JUAN PONCE ENRILE, then a Philippine Senator, JESSICA
Furthermore, the prosecution presented another group of beneficiaries, whose testimonies were
LUCILA G. REYES, then Chief of Staff of Senator Emile's Office, both public officers, committing
subject of the same stipulations: (a) Shiela May Cebedo, Municipal Mayor of Bacuag, Surigao
the offense in relation to their respective offices, conspiring with one another and with JANET
del Norte; (b) Elyzer C. Chavez, City Mayor of Passi, Iloilo; (c) Benito D. Siadto, Municipal Mayor
LIM NAPOLES, RONALD JOHN LIM, and JOHN RAYMUND DE ASIS, did then and there
of Kibungan, Benguet; (d) Florencio Bentrez, Municipal Mayor of Tuba, Benguet; and (e) Jose C.
willfully, unlawfully, and criminally amass, accumulate, and/or acquire ill-gotten wealth
Ginez, Municipal Mayor of Sta. Maria, Pangasinan. The defense cross-examined this group of
amounting to at least ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY TWO MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED THIRTY
beneficiaries.14
FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (Php 172,834,500.00) through a combination or
series of overt criminal acts, as follows:
After the conclusion of the prosecution's presentation of evidence, Napoles manifested that she
is not presenting any evidence for her bail application.15
a) by repeatedly receiving from NAPOLES and/or representatives LIM, DE ASIS, and others,
kickbacks or commissions under the following circumstances: before, during and/or after the
project identification, NAPOLES gave, and ENRILE and/or REYES received, a percentage of the Ruling of the Sandiganbayan
cost of a project to be funded from ENRILE's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), in
consideration of ENRILE's endorsement, directly or through REYES, to the appropriate
In the first assailed Sandiganbayan Resolution dated October 16, 2015, the Petition for Bail of
government agencies, of NAPOLES' non-government organizations which became the
Napoles was denied for lack of merit.16 The relevant portions of this Resolution reads:
recipients and/or target implementors (sic) of ENRILE's PDAF projects, which duly-funded
projects turned out to be ghosts or fictitious, thus enabling NAPOLES to misappropriate the
PDAF proceeds for her personal gain; It is true that none of the prosecution witnesses testified that Senator Enrile directly received the
kickbacks/commissions/rebates from accused Napoles. Based on the DDRs of Luy, accused
Napoles repeatedly gave kickbacks/commissions/rebates to Senator Emile's middlepersons.
b) by taking undue advantage, on several occasions, of their official positions, authority,
Also, prosecution witnesses Suñas and Luy categorically testified that they were the ones who
relationships, connections, and influence to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the
prepared the documents and money in paying the kickbacks/commissions/rebates for Senator
damage and prejudice, of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.
Enrile. These kickbacks/commissions/rebates were given by them or by accused Napoles to
Ruby Tuason and other middlepersons for Senator Enrile.
CONTRARY TO LAW.10 (Emphasis Ours)
xxxx
On July 7, 2014, Napoles filed her Petition for Bail, arguing that the evidence of the prosecution
is insufficient to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. She particularly assailed the credibility
A FINAL WORD
of the State witnesses (otherwise referred to as whistle blowers) as these are allegedly mere
hearsay, tainted with bias, and baseless. Citing the res inter alias acta rule, Napoles submitted
that the testimonies of these whistleblowers are inadmissible against her. 11 The Court stresses, however, that in resolving this petition for bail of accused Napoles, it is not
passing judgment on the culpability or non-culpability of Senator Enrile, Atty. Reyes, accused
Napoles, Lim[,] and de Asis. Again, in a petition for bail, the Court is only mandated to determine
In view of Napoles' application for bail, the Sandiganbayan conducted bail hearings. The
whether based on the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution, proof evident exists or
prosecution presented the following witnesses: (a) Carmencita N. Delantar, then Director in the
the presumption of guilt is strong. As above discussed, the prosecution had presented clear and
Department of Budget and Management (DBM); (b) Susan P. Garcia, an Assistant
strong evidence which leads to a well-guarded dispassionate judgment that the offense of
Commissioner in the Commission on Audit (COA), and the former Director of the Special Audit
plunder has been committed as charged; that accused Napoles is guilty thereof, and that she will
Office; (c) Ryan P. Medrano, the Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer from the PIO, Office
probably be punished capitally if the law were administered at this stage of the proceedings.
of the Ombudsman; (d) Marina Cortez Sula, former employee of Napoles; (e) Mary Arlene Joyce
Baltazar, former bookkeeper for JLN Corporation; (t) Merlina P. Sufias, fonner employee of
Napoles; (g) Benhur K. Luy, former finance officer of Napoles; and (h) Ruby Chan Tuason, WHEREFORE, accused Janet Lim Napoles's (sic) Petition for Bail dated July 7, 2014,
fonner Social Secretary of former President Joseph E. Estrada. 12 is DENIED for lack of merit.

The prosecution likewise presented the following supposed beneficiaries of former Senator SO ORDERED.17
Enrile's PDAF projects, all of whom identified their respective sworn statements before the
On November 4, 2015, Napoles moved for the reconsideration of the Sandiganbayan's Section 7. Capital offense of an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,
Resolution denying her Petition for Bail.18 This motion was likewise deemed unmeritorious and not bailable. - No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion
the Sandiganbayan denied it in its Resolution dated March 2, 2016, 19 viz.: perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong,
regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution. (7a)27
WHEREFORE, accused Janet Lim Napoles's (sic) Motion for Reconsideration dated November
4, 2015 is DENIED for lack of merit. The trial court is thus granted the discretion to determine whether there is strong evidence of
guilt on the part of the accused. The trial court may also deny the application for bail when the
accused is a flight risk, notwithstanding the prosecution's evidence on the guilt of the accused. 28
SO ORDERED.20

In exercising this discretion, the trial court should receive the parties' evidence at a hearing duly
Napoles thus filed the present petition before this Court, alleging that the Sandiganbayan gravely
scheduled for this purpose. The prosecution and the accused are granted reasonable
abused its discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in denying her bail application.
opportunity to prove their respective positions: on the part of the prosecution, that the evidence
She insists in the present petition that the prosecution was unable to discharge its burden of
of guilt against the accused is strong, and on the part of the defense, the opposite. 29 The hearing
proving that the evidence of her guilt is strong.21
is summary and limited to the determination of the weight of evidence for purposes of granting or
denying bail. The denial or refusal must be supported by a summary of the prosecution's
Ruling of this Court evidence.30

Preliminarily, it should be emphasized that since this is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of In Cortes v. Catral,31 this Court laid down the following duties of the trial court in cases of an
the Rules of Court, this Court's review is limited to whether the Sandiganbayan gravely abused application for bail:
its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing its assailed Resolutions
denying Napoles' application for bail. The Court's certiorarijurisdiction covers only errors of
1. In all cases, whether bail is a matter of right or of discretion, notify the prosecutor of the
jurisdiction on the part of the Sandiganbayan. It should be borne in mind that not every error in
hearing of the application for bail or require him to submit his recommendation (Section 18, Rule
the proceedings, or every erroneous conclusion of law or fact, constitutes grave abuse of
114 of the Rules of Court as amended);
discretion. Errors in the appreciation of the parties' evidence, including the conclusions anchored
on these findings, are not correctible by the writ of certiorari.22
2. Where bail is a matter of discretion, conduct a hearing of the application for bail regardless of
whether or not the prosecution refuses to present evidence to show that the guilt of the accused
In this regard, Napoles bears the burden of showing that the Sandiganbayan's denial of her bail
is strong for the purpose of enabling the court to exercise its sound discretion; (Sections 7 and 8,
application was capricious, whimsical, arbitrary, or despotic, so as to amount to grave abuse of
supra).
discretion. This Court is not a trier of facts. As such, it must be established that there was a
patent and gross abuse of discretion amounting to an evasion of a positive duty, or a virtual
refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law. 23 3. Decide whether the guilt of the accused is strong based on the summary of evidence of the
prosecution;
It is within this framework that the Court reviewed the assailed Sandiganbayan Resolutions.
4. If the guilt of the accused is not strong, discharge the accused upon the approval of the
bailbond (Section 19, supra) Otherwise petition should be denied. 32
The prosecution bears the burden of
proving that the evidence of Napoles'
guilt for the crime of Plunder is Since Napoles was charged with the crime of Plunder, which carries the imposable penalty
strong. of reclusion perpetua,33she cannot be admitted to bail when the evidence of her guilt is strong.
This was the burden that the prosecution assumed in the subsequent hearings that followed the
filing of Napoles' Petition for Bail before the Sandiganbayan. As a trial court, the
Despite the arrest of the accused, or his/her voluntary surrender as the case may be, the
Sandiganbayan, in turn, possessed the jurisdiction to hear and weigh the evidence of the
accused may be granted provisional liberty under certain conditions. This right to bail is
prosecution and the defense.
guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, except when the accused is charged with a capital
offense,24 viz.:
At that stage of the proceedings, the bail hearings are limited to the determination of whether
there is a strong presumption of Napoles' guilt.34 It is merely a preliminary determination, and
Section 13. All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion
the Sandiganbayan may deny admission to bail even when there is reasonable doubt as
perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient
to the guilt of Napoles. Thus, the prosecution can discharge its burden by proving that the
sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not
evidence against Napoles shows evident proof of guilt or a great presumption of guilt, which the
be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail
Court defined in People v. Cabral35as follows:
shall not be required.25

By judicial discretion, the law mandates the determination of whether proof is evident or the
While· bail may generally be granted as a matter of right prior to the conviction of the
presumption of guilt is strong. "Proof evident" or "Evident proof' in this connection has been held
accused,26 those charged with a capital offense is granted bail only when the evidence of guilt is
to mean clear, strong evidence which leads a well-guarded dispassionate judgment to the
not strong:
conclusion that the offense has been committed as charged, that accused is the guilty agent,
and that he will probably be punished capitally if the law is administered. "Presumption In these lights, the succeeding discussion on the evidence of the prosecution against Napoles is
great" exists when the circumstances testified to are such that the inference of guilt naturally to limited only to reviewing whether the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in denying the
be drawn therefrom is strong, clear, and convincing to an unbiased judgment and excludes all application for bail on the basis of the evidence of the prosecution. For this purpose, it must be
reasonable probability of any other conclusion.Even though there is a reasonable doubt as to the clearly established that the Sandiganbayan arbitrarily ignored the alleged dearth of evidence
guilt of accused, if on an examination of the entire record the presumption is great that accused against Napoles.
is guilty of a capital offense, bail should be refused.36(Emphasis in the original)
The prosecution was able to establish
As a lesser quantum of proof than guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the Sandiganbayan may deny with evident proof that Napoles
the application for bail on evidence less than that required for the conviction of Napoles. participated in the implied
Furthermore, the Sandiganbayan "does not sit to try the merits or to enter into any nice inquiry conspiracy to misappropriate public
as to the weight that ought to be allowed to the evidence for or against accused, nor will it funds and acquire ill-gotten wealth.
speculate on the outcome of the trial or on what further evidence may be therein offered and
admitted."37 It should not be forgotten that the purpose of the bail hearing is to determine
The charge of Plunder against Napoles in this case alleges a conspiracy among former Senator
whether the accused is entitled to provisional liberty before conviction. To require more from the
Enrile and Reyes, as public officers, and Napoles, Lim, and De Asis, as private individuals. On
prosecution, as well as from the trial court, effectively defeats the purpose of the proceeding.38
this point, this Court has consistently ruled that the conspiracy among the accused to commit the
crime of Plunder is usually an agreement or connivance to secretly cooperate in doing the
The Sandiganbayan did not gravely unlawful act.47 Even Congress, in its Explanatory Note to the proposed bill criminalizing Plunder,
abuse its discretion in denying recognized that this crime, by its very nature, is committed through a series or combination of
Napoles' Petition for Bail. acts done "in stealth and secrecy over a period of time."48

Applying these jurisprudential standards to the present case, it is readily apparent that the Seeing as it would be difficult to provide direct evidence establishing the conspiracy among the
Sandiganbayan did not gravely abuse its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. accused, the Sandiganbayan may infer it "from proof of facts and circumstances which, taken
Upon receiving Napoles' Petition for Bail, it scheduled hearings to allow the parties to submit together, apparently indicate that they are merely parts of some complete whole." 49 It was
their respective pieces of evidence. The prosecution submitted numerous testimonial and therefore unnecessary for the Sandiganbayan to find direct proof of any agreement
documentary evidence, endeavoring to establish evident proof of Napoles' guilt. Napoles, on the among Napoles, former Senator Enrile and Reyes. The conspiracy may be implied from the
other hand, opted not to submit any evidence on her behalf and relied instead on the supposed intentional participation in the transaction that furthers the common design and purpose. As long
weakness of the prosecution's evidence.39 as the prosecution was able to prove that two or more persons aimed their acts towards the
accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their combined acts,
though apparently independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness
The Sandiganbayan's first assailed Resolution dated October 16, 2015 also reveals straightaway
of personal association and a concurrence of sentiment, the conspiracy may be inferred even
that the evidence of the prosecution was summarized accordingly, effectively complying with the
if no actual meeting among them was proven.50
due process requirements.40 It even extensively discussed the available evidence in relation to
the elements of Plunder, which the prosecution intended to prove point by point for purposes of
demonstrating Napoles' great presumption of guilt.41 Here, .the implied conspiracy among Napoles and her co-accused was proven through various
documentary and testimonial evidence showing that they acted towards the common goal of
misappropriating the PDAF of former Senator Enrile.
Napoles points out in her petition, however, that the Sandiganbayan erred in finding strong
evidence of her guilt for the crime of Plunder.42 She challenges the credibility of the prosecution
witnesses, particularly the whistleblowers Luy, Suñas, Sula, and Baltazar. 43 When Commissioner Susan P. Garcia (Garcia) testified regarding the results of their special
audit on the PDAF-funded projects of the government, they found that Napoles and her co-
accused committed Plunder through an elaborate scheme. It began through a letter originating
She further claims that her bail application should have been granted because the prosecution
from the office of former Senator Enrile being sent to the concerned implementing agency,
did not present any documentary evidence directly connecting her to the NGOs that facilitated
informing the latter that the office of former Senator Enrile designated Jose Antonio Evangelista
the misappropriation of former Senator Enrile's PDAF. 44 In the same manner, she likewise
(Evangelista) as its representative in the implementation of the PDAF-funded project.
argues that there was no direct proof of any agreement with former Senator Enrile and Reyes to
Evangelista, who was likewise the Deputy Chief of Staff of former Senator Enrile and acting in
obtain kickbacks from the implementation of former Senator Enrile' s PDAF projects.45 Napoles
representative capacity, then sends another letter to the implementing agency designating a
particularly repudiates the evidentiary value of the Summary of Rebates that Luy prepared from
specific NGO to implement the PDAF-funded project. Thereafter, the NGO that was endorsed by
the Daily Disbursement Reports (DD Rs) and Disbursement Vouchers (DVs) that came into in
Evangelista submits a project proposal to the implementing agency, and proceeds to enter into a
his possession while he was an employee of Napoles.46
memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the implementing agency and former Senator Enrile as
the parties.51
At first glance, it is apparent that the arguments of Napoles before this Court are fundamentally
allegations of serious errors on the part of the Sandiganbayan in appreciating the evidence of
After the signing of the MOA, the project proposal is attached to the Special Allotment Release
the prosecution. This is not within the purview of this Court's review power under Rule 65 of the
Order (SARO), which allows the implementing agency to incur the expenses that are stated in
Rules of Court. This Court is not a trier of facts and this proceeding is limited to the
it.52 These documents are submitted to the DBM for processing, and if not lacking in
detennination of whether the Sandiganbayan patently, grossly, and arbitrarily exercised its
requirements, the DBM issues the Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA). 53 This authorizes the
discretion with respect to Napoles' bail application.
payment of the allocated amount to the implementing agency, which is done by way of crediting
the same to its account. After the amount is credited to its account, the implementing agency
prepares the DV s and checks payable to the identified NGO. 54 The NGO, in turn, drafts and Sula also stated that the NGOs were created at the instance of Napoles. According to Sula,
submits the requirements for liquidation (i.e. the accomplishment report, the disbursement Napoles asked her and the other employees to come up with the names of these NGOs. Upon
report, and the list of beneficiaries) after receiving the check. 55 However, as it turned out, the Napoles' approval of the name, Sula reserved its use at the SEC. Sula also purchased forms for
Special Audit Team found that the beneficiaries denied receiving any proceeds, whether in terms the articles of incorporation and by-laws of the NGOs, which she completed under the direction
of projects or equipment, from the PDAF of former Senator Enrile. 56 of Napoles. Napoles then provided the amount necessary for the initial deposit to open a bank
account in the name of the NGO. The bank accounts were opened at either Metrobank or
Landbank because the branch managers were already familiar with Napoles, making it easy for
Commissioner Garcia and the rest of the Special Audit Team found that the release of the PDAF
Sula to facilitate the process. Thereafter, Sula registered the NGOs with the SEC. 71
to the concerned NGOs through this system violated the following: (a) DBM National Budget
Circular No. 476 dated September 20, 2001, or the guidelines on the release of the PDAF, which
requires national government agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations to Sula noted that Napoles selected the incorporators and officers of the NGOs. The incorporators
only implement programs that are within their functions; (b) Government Procurement Policy and officers were usually employees of Napoles, or the relatives of these employees. Sula
Board (GPPB) Resolution No. 12-2007, which requires the selection of an NGO through public testified that those chosen as presidents of the NGO were aware that their names were used
bidding or negotiated procurement; and (c) COA Circular No. 2007- 001 dated October 25, 2007, because they were made to sign the incorporation documents. In cases where the president was
or the guidelines on the grant, utilization, accounting and auditing of funds released to NGOs. 57 not an employee of Napoles, the employee who provided the name of the NGO president was
made to sign in their stead.72 Sula likewise admitted to forging the signatures of the
incorporators, or using the incorporators' names without their knowledge. 73
Remarkably, the respective testimonies of Commissioner Garcia and the supposed
beneficiaries58 of former Senator Enrile's PDAF were corroborated on material points by the
whistleblowers. These whistleblowers, who were former employees of Napoles, participated in Suñas and Luy corroborated the testimony of Sula on the fictitious manner by which the NGOs
different capacities to the conspiracy. were incorporated. The three of them were all presidents of different NGOs, and they provided
the names of their relatives as its officers and incorporators.74 In exchange for agreeing to
become presidents of the NGOs, both Sufi.as and Sula testified that Napoles promised to
Merlina P. Sufias (Suñas), a former employee of Napoles, testified that the office of Napoles
provide them 1% of the project cost as their commission.75
received copies of the SARO from the office of former Senator Enrile. Upon receipt, Napoles
held meetings where they would be given instructions to prepare an indorsement letter
addressed to the implementing agency, and a project proposal identifying the local government Similar to Suñas and Sula, Mary Arlene Joyce Baltazar (Baltazar), testified that Napoles likewise
unit that would benefit from the PDAF-funded project. The drafts of these documents were sent promised to give her a commission in exchange for using her name as the president of an NGO.
to Evangelista for review, and subsequently, the finalized versions were returned to their office. As the former bookkeeper of Napoles, Baltazar further confirmed that Napoles used the names
Suñas, as the custodian of documents involving transactions with legislators, retained a copy for of her employees, and that of their friends and relatives to make them appear as incorporators or
their file.59 officers of the concerned NGOs.76 Once they became president of an NGO, Napoles instructed
them to become voluntary members of the Social Security System (SSS) and Philippine Health
Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), because Napoles needed to terminate their
Suñas also testified that Benhur K. Luy (Luy) prepared the letters authorizing Evangelista to
employment.77Baltazar stated that this was purposely done in order to avoid any connection
implement the PDAF-funded projects on behalf of former Senator Enrile. She likewise
between Napoles and the NGOs.78
participated in the preparation of the MOA executed among the concerned implementing
agency, former Senator Enrile, and the relevant NGO.60
As to the manner by which Napoles obtained the amount allocated for the PDAF-funded
projects, Sula narrated that this was equally done through the employees of Napoles. Whenever
Meanwhile, Luy confirmed that Napoles asked them to prepare the documents referred to in
the DBM disbursed the allocated amount to the implementing agency, a check was issued to the
Suñas' testimony. He also substantiated the statement of Suñas that the office of former Senator
Napoles-controlled NGO. Since Sula and the other employees were designated as presidents of
Enrile furnished them with copies of the PDAF requirements after its submission to the
these NGOs, they were authorized to receive the check for the PDAF-funded project from the
DBM.61 Luy was the first to receive the documents because he had to verify if the entries as to
implementing agency.79
the name of the NGO and the project cost were correct. 62

Napoles had access to the bank accounts of the NGOs because as Sula, Luy, and Suñas
In their separate testimonies, both Suñas and Luy confirmed that former Senator Enrile received
testified during the bail hearing, they were required to sign blank withdrawal slips, which were
40% to 50% of the project cost.63 According to Luy, they referred to the share of the legislators
turned over to Napoles together with the corresponding passbook for these accounts.80 Thus, in
as rebates, which he recorded in line with his position as the finance officer of Napoles. 64 The
the ultimate scheme of things, Napoles received the amounts allocated for the PDAF-funded
payment of the rebates was made in tranches starting in 2004-with the first half paid to former
projects of former Senator Enrile, which she later on apportioned according to the agreed upon
Senator Enrile upon the listing of the project, and the balance paid upon the release of the
share of the legislators.
SARO.65 Napoles, on the other hand, took 5% of the project cost as her share. 66 The
middlepersons who received the rebates on behalf of former Senator Enrile, such as
Tuason,67 were also given 5% of the project cost.68 With respect to the actual delivery of the PDAF-funded projects to its intended beneficiaries,
Sula, Luy, Suñas, and Baltazar admitted that they fabricated the liquidation documents. This was
done by forging the receipts and the signatures of the beneficiaries, making it appear that the
Another former employee of Napoles, Marina Cortez Sula (Sula), narrated that Napoles gave her
project was indeed implemented.81 Again, this supported the findings of the COA Special Audit
instructions to register approximately twenty (20) NGOs, including those that implemented the
Team82 and the FIO83 on the fictitious projects funded by the PDAF of former Senator Enrile.
ghost projects funded by former Senator Enrile's PDAf; The relevant information regarding these
NGOs were listed in a red notebook that Sula kept to assist her in the preparation of the General
Information Sheets that were regularly submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission It is plain from the foregoing that Napoles and her co-accused, as well as the former employees
(SEC).69 This notebook was presented to the Sandiganbayan during the bail hearing. 70 of Napoles who were eventually admitted as State witnesses, had a common design and
objective-to divert the PDAF of former Senator Enrile from its lawful purpose and to their own Sandiganbayan did not gravely abuse its discretion when it considered the testimonies of the
personal accounts. The individuals involved in this case performed different criminal acts, whistleblowers in denying Napoles' bail application, despite their participation in the conspiracy
which contributed, directly or indirectly, in the amassing, accumulation, and acquisition itself. The mere fact that the whistleblowers were conspirators themselves does not
of ill-gotten wealth. Consistent with the doctrine on implied conspiracy, these actions on the automatically render their testimonies incredible and unreliable. The ruling in United States v.
part of Napoles and her co-accused are sufficient to prove the existence of a "concurrence in Remigio88is instructive in this regard:
sentiment," regardless of any proof that an actual agreement took place.
The true doctrine which should govern the testimony of accomplices, or what may be variously
Arguably, there is no documentary evidence directly linking Napoles to the NGOs used as termed principals, confederates, or conspirators, is not in doubt. The evidence of accomplices is
conduits for the PDAF-funded projects of former Senator Enrile. However, her ties to the officers admissible and competent. Yet such testimony comes from a "polluted source." Consequently, it
of the NGOs involved in this case reveal otherwise. Napoles' participation in the conspiracy was is scrutinized with care. It is properly subject to grave suspicion. If not corroborated, credibility is
established through testimonial evidence, not only from one of her former employees, but from affected. Even then, however, the defendant may be convicted upon the unsupported evidence
four (4) witnesses-all of whom corroborate each other on material points. More importantly, of an accomplice. If corroborated absolutely or even to such an extent as is indicative of
they testified on the minute details of the scheme that only those privy to the conspiracy trustworthiness, the testimony of the accomplice is sufficient to warrant a conviction. This is true
would be able to provide. Notably, Napoles did not even refute their claims that they were her even if the accomplice has made previous statements inconsistent with his testimony at the trial
former employees, relying instead on singling out inconsequential details in their testimonies. and such inconsistencies are satisfactorily explained.

Even the testimony of Ruby Chan Tuason, the middleperson who received the rebates of former xxxx
Senator Enrile on his behalf, confirmed that Napoles oversaw the implementation of the scheme
to divert the disbursements of the PDAF. She personally met with Napoles to negotiate the
Where conspiracy is in issue these principles are even more certain. A conspiracy is more
respective shares of the conspirators, and received the amount on behalf of former Senator
readily proved by the acts of a fellow criminal than by any other method. If it is shown that the
Enrile, which she subsequently turned over to Reyes.84
statements of the conspirator are corroborated by other evidence, then we have convincing
proof of veracity. Even if the confirmatory testimony only applies to some particulars, we can
Since the whistleblowers personally received instructions from Napoles to incorporate the properly infer that the witness has told the truth in other respects. 89 (Emphasis and underscoring
NGOs, prepare the requirements for the release of the PDAF, prepare and deliver the rebates to Ours)
the middlepersons, and fabricate the liquidation documents, they were competent witnesses on
the subject of their respective testimonies.85 Clearly, the prosecution witnesses and the
At this point it should be emphasized that this Court is not the proper forum to weigh the
documentary evidence supply interlocking pieces of information that when taken together,
credibility of the prosecution witnesses. It is elementary that the factual findings of the trial court,
provide a complete picture of the indispensability of the participation of Napoles in the scheme to
especially on the assessment or appreciation of the testimonies of witnesses, are accorded
misappropriate public funds for the benefit of select individuals, by using the NGOs as conduits
great weight and respect.90 In this case, it is the Sandiganbayan that had the opportunity to
for the PDAF projects of former Senator Enrile. The directions and instructions she gave to her
observe the deportment and behavior of the witnesses during the bail hearing. It was in a better
former employees constitute a clear evidence of her active participation, not mere acquiescence
position to pass judgment on the credibility of these witnesses and the weight of their respective
or presence, in the conspiracy.
testimonies. At any rate, Napoles was unable to establish any motive on the part of her former
employees, which would compel them to falsely testify against her and her co-accused.
The Sandiganbayan may rely on the
testimonies of the whistleblowers,
The core issue, therefore, of whether there is strong evidence of guilt on the part of Napoles,
especially since these were
was resolved by the Sandiganbayan in accordance with the relevant laws, rules, and
corroborated by other available
jurisprudence.
evidence.

Plunder is a deplorable crime that unfairly exploits the trust that the public reposed in its officials.
Napoles nonetheless challenged the credibility of the whistleblowers, arguing that their
It is inherently immoral not only because it involves the corruption of public funds, but also
testimonies should have been received with "grave suspicion," coming as they were from
because its essence proceeds from a rapacious intent. This Court's ruling in Estrada v.
"polluted source[s]."86 However, as this Court earlier discussed, the testimonies of these
Sandiganbayan91is a constant reminder of the magnitude of this offense:
prosecution witnesses were consistent, clear, and corroborative of each other. Other testimonial
and documentary evidence also substantiated the veracity of the whistleblowers' statements
during the bail hearing. As regards the third issue, again we agree with Justice Mendoza that plunder is a malum in
se which requires proof of criminal intent. Thus, he says, in his Concurring Opinion
In any case, a careful perusal of the assailed Sandiganbayan Resolutions reveals that it
considered the prosecution's other testimonial and documentary evidence, and discussed it in xxxx
relation to one another. Among the documents that the Sandiganbayan considered were the
letters requesting for the release of former Senator Enrile's PDAF, the incorporation documents
of the NGOs, the liquidation documents for the PDAF-funded projects, the SAROs itself, and the Finally, any doubt as to whether the crime of plunder is a malum in se must be deemed to have
been resolved in the affirmative by the decision of Congress in 1993 to include it among the
DV s issued by the implementing agencies to the NGOs under the control of Napoles. 87
heinous crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Other heinous crimes are punished
with death as a straight penalty in R.A. No. 7659. Referring to these groups of heinous crimes,
In other words, the Sandiganbayan did not rely solely on the testimonies of the whistleblowers. this Court held in People v. Echegaray:
Seeing as there were other available evidence lending credence to their testimonies, the
The evil of a crime may take various forms. There are crimes that are, by their very nature,
despicable, either because life was callously taken or the victim is treated like an animal and
utterly dehumanized as to completely disrupt the normal course of his or her growth as a human
being . . . . Seen in this light, the capital crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for
ransom resulting in the death of the victim or the victim is raped, tortured, or subjected to
dehumanizing acts; destructive arson resulting in death; and drug offenses involving minors or
resulting in the death of the victim in the case of other crimes; as well as murder, rape, parricide,
infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, where the victim is detained for more than
three days or serious physical injuries were inflicted on the victim or threats to kill him were
made or the victim is a minor, robbery with homicide, rape or intentional mutilation, destructive
arson, and can1apping where the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped vehicle is killed or
raped, which are penalized by reclusion perpetua to death, are clearly heinous by their very
nature.

There are crimes, however, in which the abomination lies in the significance and implications of
the subject criminal acts in the scheme of the larger socio-political and economic context in
which the state finds itself to be struggling to develop and provide for its poor and
underprivileged masses. Reeling from decades of corrupt tyrannical rule that bankrupted the
government and impoverished the population, the Philippine Government must muster the
political will to dismantle the culture of corruption, dishonesty, greed and syndicated criminality
that so deeply entrenched itself in the structures of society and the psyche of the populace. [With
the government] terribly lacking the money to provide even the most basic services to its people,
any form of misappropriation or misapplication of government funds translates to an actual threat
to the very existence of government, and in turn, the very survival of the people it governs over.
Viewed in this context, no less heinous are the effects and repercussions of crimes like qualified
bribery, destructive arson resulting in death, and drug offenses involving government officials,
employees or officers, that their perpetrators must not be allowed to cause further destruction
and damage to society.92 (Emphasis in the original)

It is precisely the enormous gravity of this offense that capital punishment is imposed on those
who are found guilty of Plunder. As a necessary consequence, provisional liberty is not easily
granted to those accused of this offense, especially when the prosecution more than amply
established that the evidence of guilt is strong. This is a matter of judicial discretion on the part
of the trial court, which this Court may nullify only when the exercise of this discretion is tainted
with arbitrariness and capriciousness that the trial court failed to act within the contemplation of
law.

Unfortunately for Napoles, there is nothing in the records showing that the Sandiganbayan
gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It has discharged its
judicial duty in Napoles' bail application in a manner consistent with the applicable laws and
jurisprudence, and the evidence on record. Thus, all things considered, the Court finds no
reason to nullify the assailed Sandiganbayan Resolutions. The Petition for Bail of Napoles was
correctly denied.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED. The Resolutions dated


October 16, 2015 and March 2, 2016 of the Sandiganbayan in SB-14-CRM-0238
are AFFIRMED, there being no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of the Sandiganbayan.

SO ORDERED.