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PeoplevsNavarro:96229:March25,1997:J.Panganiban:ThirdDivision

THIRDDIVISION

[G.R.No.96229.March25,1997]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HON. GLORIOSA S.

NAVARRO,asPresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourt,Branch20,Naga

City,respondent.

PANGANIBAN,J.:

DECISION

Inremandingthecomplaintorinformationtotheprovincialprosecutor,mayaregionaltrial court judge name or designate a particular assistant prosecutor to conduct the preliminary investigationofthecase?

ThisisthemainquestionraisedinthisspecialcivilactionforcertiorariunderRule65ofthe

RulesofCourtassailingtheOrderdatedJune18,1990,aswellastheotherordersdatedJuly

6,1990,August28,1990andSeptember6,1990issuedbyRespondentJudgeGloriosaS.

Navarro. [1] TheimpugnedOrderdatedJune18,1990,thetenorofwhichwasrepeatedinthe subsequent orders, specifically directed Assistant Prosecutor Novelita Villegas­Llaguno to conductthepreliminaryinvestigationonacriminalcaseforqualifiedtheftfiledagainstaminor, CarlosBarbosaJr.

ThepertinenttextofthechallengedOrderdatedJune18,1990,reads: [2]

TherecordswillshowthatthecomplaintwasdirectlyfiledwiththeRegionalTrialCourtbyTSGJose

SanchezofthePhilippineConstabularyandsubsequentlyraffledtothisCourt.

Prov.Pros.LiragonhispartadmittedtheerrorcommittedbyAsst.Pros.Cajotindismissingthiscase.In

factwhenitcametohisknowledgehedirectedProsecutorCajottoreturnthecasetothecourtwiththe

necessaryMotiontoDismissasitisonlytheCourtwhichcanorderthedismissalofthecaseandthe

releaseoftheaccused.However,Pros.Liragmadeanobservationallegingthatwhilehedoesnot

condonetheactiontakenbyProsecutorCajot,asitnotinaccordwiththepresentpracticeandprocedure,

yetheseesmeritintheactiontakenbyPros.Cajotasitallegedlycontributedtothespeedydispositionof

cases.Suchobservationiswithoutanylegalbasisconsideringthefactthatspeedydispositionofcases

doesnotincludeunduehasteanddisregardofthepracticeandprocedurepreciselyadoptedtoinsuredue

process.Obviously,hisdirectivewasnotcompliedwithbyPros.Cajot.

OnthepartofPros.Cajot,hecontendedthatindismissingthiscasehereliedin(sic)Sec.5,ofRule112

ofthe1985RulesofCriminalProcedure,forgettinghoweverthatsuchprovisionisapplicableonlyto

casesforwardedtotheofficeofthefiscalfromthelowercourtwhichconductedthepreliminary

investigationandnottocasesalreadyfiledwiththeRRegional(sic)TrialCourt.Moreover,thecaseof

Quintov.VillaluzcitedbyPros.Cajotisnotinpointconsideringthatitinvolvedthelackofjurisdiction

oftheCFIbecausethecomplaintinvolvingthesamecasewaspreviouslyfiledwiththeCircuitCriminal

Court.Likewise,thedoctrineinthecaseofSalcedovs.Suarezisofftangent.

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Itappearingthereforethatthedismissalofthiscasewithoutanypreliminaryinvestigationconductedwas

improperbeingcontrarytothedoctrineenunciatedinCrespov.Mogul(151SCRA462)andSt.(sic)

RosaMiningv.Asst.Prov.FiscalofDagupan(153SCRA367,theorder(sic)ofdismissaldatedMarch

21,1990issetaside.Consequently,Asst.Pros.LlagunowhoisassignedtothisCourtisorderedto

conductapreliminaryinvestigationinaccordancewiththeRuleswithin15daysfromreceiptofthis

order.

SOORDERED.

TheFacts

Thefactsareundisputedandarenarratedwithclarityinthepetitionbeforeus, [3] asfollows:

OnFebruary20,1990,T/Sgt.JoseV.Sanchez,PCInvestigator,244thPCCompanyinConcepcion

Grande,NagaCityfiledacomplaintforqualifiedtheftdirectlywiththeRegionalTrialCourtofNaga

CityagainstminorCarlosBarbosa.

Subsequently,thePublicAttorneysOffice,ascounselfortherespondentBarbosa,filedaMotionto

QuashtheComplaintonthegroundthatSgt.Sanchezisnotauthorizedtofileacomplaintorinformation

inCourt.

JudgeGregorioManio,Jr.,aspresidingjudgeinBranch19,RegionalTrialCourtandthepairingjudgeof

therespondent,issuedanorder [4] remandingthecaseforpreliminaryinvestigationandassignedthe adjudicationthereoftoProsecutorSalvadorCajot. [5]

BeforeProsecutorCajotcouldconducttherequiredpreliminaryinvestigation,Sgt.Sanchezfileda

motiontowithdrawthecomplaintwiththeProsecutionOffice.

Actingonsaidmotion,ProsecutorCajotissuedanOrder [6] datedMarch21,1990andapprovedbythe ProvincialProsecutor,grantingthemotiontowithdrawthecomplaintandorderingthereleaseofthe accusedfromdetention.AcopyofsaidOrderwasfurnishedtheRegionalTrialCourt.

OnJune6,1990,respondentJudgeGloriosaNavarroordered [7] theProvincialProsecutorandProsecutor

Cajottoexplainwhytheyencroachedonthejurisdictionofthecourtoverthecase.OnJune7,1990,the

ProvincialProsecutorfiledhisexplanation. [8]

OnJune13,1990,(P)rosecutorSalvadorG.Cajotfiledhisexplanation [9] assertingthejurisdictionofthe prosecutorsofficeintheconductofpreliminaryinvestigationandthatwhenthecourtorderedthatthe recordsofthecaseberemandedtotheOfficeoftheProsecutortoconductthepreliminaryinvestigation, thecourtdivesteditselfofitscontrolandjurisdictionoverthecase.

OnJune18,1990,theHonorableJudgeGloriosaS.NavarroissuedanOrdersettingasidetheOrderof

ProsecutorCajotdatedMarch21,1990andordered [10] AssistantProsecutorNovelitaLlaguno,whowas appearinginhersala,toconducttherequiredpreliminaryinvestigation.

OnJune29,1990,ProsecutorLlagunofiledamotionforreconsideration [11] takingexceptiontotheOrder

datedJune18,1990onthegroundthatanyresolutionshemayissuemightruncounterwiththeprevious

orderofhersuperiorsandthusrenderofficepoliciesdisorganized,proceduresdisorderlyandchaotic,

resultingtotheembarrassmentoftheadministrationofjusticexxx.

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OnJuly4,1990,ProsecutorCajotfiledamotionforreconsideration [12] allegingamongothers,(that:)(a) (h)edidnotissueanorderofdismissalbutanordergrantingthemotiontowithdraw.Thereis,therefore, nomorecomplainttospeakofbeforethecourt;(b)(t)heprosecutor,inconductingthepreliminary investigation,hastheexclusivepowerandauthoritytodismissthecomplaintimmediatelyifhefindsno groundstocontinuewiththeinquiry,otherwisehefilestheInformation,ifhefindscausetoholdthe respondentfortrial;(c)(t)hefinding/recommendationoftheinvestigatingprosecutorissubjecttoreview onlybytheProvincial(sic)Prosecutorandtheactionofthelatter,bytheSecretaryofJustice;(d)(w)hen theCourtremandedthecasetotheProsecutionOfficefortherequiredpreliminaryinvestigation;the Courtdivesteditselfofitscontrolandjurisdictionoverthecase;(and)(e)(thef)ilingofinformationis withinthediscretionaryauthorityofthefiscal.

OnJuly6,1990,anOrder [13] wasissuedbytheHonorableCourtdenyingbothmotionsfor reconsiderationandreiterateditspreviousordertoProsecutorNovelitaLlagunotocomplywiththeorder

ofthecourtdatedJune18,1990,grantingher15daystoconductthepreliminaryinvestigationfrom

receiptofthecopyof(the)Order.

OnJuly13,1990,theProvincialProsecutorfiledamotion [14] tosetasidetheordersissuedbyrespondent

judgestating(1)thatshehasnoauthoritytodesignateaparticularprosecutortohandlethecase

(Abugotalvs.Tiro,66SCRA196);(2)thatthecourtwillbeactingwithoutorwithgraveabuseof

discretionshoulditinsistonProsecutorLlagunotoconductthepreliminaryinvestigation;and(3)thatthe

recordofsaidcasebeforwardedtotheProvincialProsecutionsOfficeforittoconductthepreliminary investigation.ASupplementalMotion [15] towithdrawthecasesothatthesamemaynotremainpending

withthecourtwhilethecaseisunderpreliminaryinvestigationwasalsofiledonJuly24,1990xxx.

OnAugust28,1990,theHonorableCourtdeniedbothmotionsonthegroundsthat:(a)(t)hecaseof

Abugotalvs.Tiro(66SCRA196)whichprohibitsthecourtsfromappointingaparticularfiscalto

conducttherequiredpreliminaryinvestigation,isnotinpointasthesaidcasereferstoreinvestigation whiletheinstantcasereferstopreliminaryinvestigation;and(b)(t)heHonorableCourtisapprehensive thatiftheMotiontoAmendOrdersaregranted,thereisnothingthatwillpreventtheProvincial ProsecutorfromimplementingtheordersissuedbyProsecutorSalvadorCajotandthelatterwilljustact inconformitywithhispreviousaction. [16]

OnSeptember4,1990,theProvincialProsecutorfiledaMotionforReconsideration [17] datedSeptember

3,1990.

OnSeptember6,1990,theHonorableCourtdeniedtheMotionforReconsiderationforlackofmerit. [18]

On April 16, 1991, Petitioner People of the Philippines, represented by the Solicitor General,filedthepresentpetitionseekingtheannulmentoftheassailedordersofRespondent JudgeNavarro.

OnMay27,1991,thisCourtinaminuteresolutiondismissedthepetitionforhavingbeen

filedoutoftimeandforitsfailuretostatematerialdatesasrequiredbyparagraph4ofCircular

1­88. [19] However,onMay17,1993, [20] thisCourtreconsidereditsresolutionofMay27,1991, andreinstatedthepetitionforcertiorari.

TheIssue

Thesoleissueraisedinpetitionersmemorandumis: [21]

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Whetherornotrespondenttrialcourtcommittedgraveabuseofdiscretionwhenitissuedvariousorders

appointinganddesignatingaparticularprosecutortoconductthepreliminaryinvestigation.

PetitionerarguesthatRespondentJudgeNavarrocannotnameaparticularprosecutorto conduct the preliminary investigation of the case, because such designation is contrary to extantjurisprudence. [22] Ontheotherhand,RespondentJudgeNavarro,inhermemorandum, maintainsthat existingjurisprudenceappliesonlytoreinvestigationandnot tocaseswhere therewasnopreliminaryinvestigationatall.Shereasonsthat: [23]

xxxinassigningAsst.ProsecutorNovelitaLlaguno,afiscalappearingbeforethisCourt,toconductthe

requiredpreliminaryinvestigation,itistoinsurethecomplianceoftheorder­­toconductareal

preliminaryinvestigationandtopreventthecase(from)beingassignedtothosewhohaveparticipatedin

theerroneousprocedureleadingtotheterminationofthiscasebeforetheProsecutorsOffice.

Wefindforpetitioner.

TheCourtsRuling

Itmustbestressedthatpreliminaryinvestigationisanexecutive,notajudicial,function. [24] As the officer authorized to direct and control the prosecution of all criminal actions, [25] a prosecutor is primarily responsible for ascertaining whether there is sufficient ground to engenderawell­foundedbeliefthatanoffensehasbeencommittedandthattheaccusedis probably guilty thereof. An RTC judge, on the other hand, has no authority to conduct a preliminaryinvestigation.Thus,ithasbeenheld:

Itisthefiscalwhoisgivenbylawdirectionandcontrolofallcriminalactions.Itishewhoinitiatesall prosecutionsinthenameofthePeopleofthePhilippines,byinformationorcomplaint,againstall personswhoappeartoberesponsiblefortheoffenseinvolved.Itishe(orotherpublicprosecutor), therefore,whoisprimarilyresponsibleforascertainingthroughapreliminaryinquiryorproceeding whetherthereisreasonablegroundtobelievethatanoffensehasbeencommittedandtheaccusedis probablyguiltythereof.Thatfunction,torepeat,isnotjudicialbutexecutive.Whenapreliminary investigationisconductedbyajudge,thejudgeperformsanon­judicialfunction,asanexceptiontohis usualjudicialduties.Theassignmentofthatfunctiontojudgesofinferiorcourtsandtoaverylimited extenttocourtsoffirstinstancewasdictatedbynecessityandpracticalconsiderations,andthe consequentpolicy,aswesaidinSalta,wasthatwhenevertherewereenoughfiscalsorprosecutorsto conductpreliminaryinvestigations,courtsweretoleavethatjobwhichisessentiallyexecutivetothem.It followsthattheconclusionsderivedbyajudgefromhisowninvestigationcannotbesuperiortoand conclusivelybindingonthefiscalorpublicprosecutor,inwhomthatfunctionisprincipallyandmore logicallylodged. [26]

In setting aside the order of Prosecutor Cajot which granted the withdrawal of the complaint,andsubsequentlyorderingProsecutorLlagunotoconducttherequiredpreliminary investigation, respondent judge clearly encroached on an executive function. That an RTC Judgehasnoauthoritytoconductapreliminaryinvestigationnecessarilymeansthathecannot directlyorderanassistantprosecutor,particularlyovertheobjectionsofthelatterssuperiors,to conductapreliminaryinvestigation.Toallowhimtodosoistoauthorizehimtomeddleinthe executiveandadministrativefunctionsoftheprovincialorcityprosecutor.Thereisahierarchy ofofficialsintheprosecutoryarmoftheexecutivebranchheadedbytheSecretaryofJustice

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andhisteamofprosecutors.Meresuspicionorbeliefthatthesaidofficialswillnotadequately perform their official duties is no reason for the judges interference in or disregard of such hierarchy.

Abugotalvs.Tiro [27] ruledsquarelyontheissueofwhetheratrialcourtcouldchoosea particular prosecutor who would conduct the preliminary investigation.In that case, the trial court, actinguponanurgent motionbyprivaterespondentstherein, specificallyorderedthe FirstAssistantCityFiscalofCagayandeOroCitytoconductareinvestigation.ThisCourtset asidethatorderbecause: [28]

UnderPresidentialDecreeNo.77,theauthoritytoconductthepreliminaryinvestigationofthemurder

chargefiledagainstprivaterespondentsisvestedinthepetitionerorhisassistants.Aschiefoftheoffice,

petitionerhastherighttodesignateasinfacthedidtheassistantfiscalwhoconductedtheinvestigation.

Whileitistruethatanassistantfiscalorstateprosecutormayfileaninformationonlyinacaseinwhich

hehimselfconductedthepreliminaryinvestigation,hemayfurthermoredosoonlywiththeprior

authorityorapprovalofthecityofprovincialfiscalorchiefstateprosecutor.Theseprovisionsoflaw

showinboldreliefthedegreeofcontroloverhisassistantsthatpetitionerexercisesaschiefoftheoffice.

xxxxxxxxx

xxx.Where,however,theinterestofjusticesorequiresandthecourtordersareinvestigationofa

criminalcasependingbeforeit,thecourtcannotatthesametimechoosethefiscalwhowillconductthe

reinvestigation.Thisisaprerogativevestedinthecityfiscalasheadofoffice,andcertainlybeyondthe

powersofthecourttodo.(Citationsomitted).

While the foregoing was decided pursuant to the provisions of PD No. 77,we hold the sametobestilldeterminativeoftheinstantcase.Preliminaryinvestigationisstillanexecutive functionwhichthelawvestsontheprosecutors,andnotonthejudiciary.

IntherecentcaseofRoberts,Jr.vs.CourtofAppeals, [29] wehaveclearlysaidthatalthough thedeterminationofprobablecausefortheissuanceofawarrantofarrestpertainsexclusively tothejudiciary,thepreliminaryinvestigationproperforresolvingthequestionofwhetherthe offendershouldbeheldfortrialisafunctionoftheprosecutors.Thus,theCourtheldthat: [30]

xxxThepreliminaryinvestigationproper­­whetherornotthereisreasonablegroundtobelievethatthe

accusedisguiltyoftheoffensechargedand,therefore,whetherornotheshouldbesubjectedtothe

expense,rigorsandembarrassmentoftrial­­isthefunctionoftheProsecutor.

Wereiteratethatpreliminaryinvestigationshouldbedistinguishedastowhetheritisaninvestigationfor

thedeterminationofasufficientgroundforthefilingoftheinformationoritisaninvestigationforthe

determinationofaprobablecausefortheissuanceofawarrantofarrest.Thefirstkindofpreliminary

investigationisexecutiveinnature.Itisapartoftheprosecutionsjob.Thesecondkindofpreliminary

investigationwhichismoreproperlycalledpreliminaryexaminationisjudicialinnatureandislodged

withthejudge

Itistruethatafteracasehasalreadybeenfiledincourtandthecourttherebyacquires jurisdiction over it, fiscals as a rule are divested of the power to dismiss a criminal action withouttheconsentofthecourt.Inthecaseatbench,however,theRTChadnotyetacquired jurisdictionoverthecomplaintfileddirectlybeforeitbySgt.Sanchezwhowasnotaprosecutor. Neither was he authorized by the Provincial Prosecutor to file such case directly with the

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respondentcourt.

We are not persuaded by respondent judges contention that Abugotal applies only to reinvestigations,andnottopreliminaryinvestigations.Thisdistinctionisinsubstantialandeven tenuous. Both the preliminary investigation and reinvestigation are conducted in the same mannerandforthesameobjective,thatis,todeterminewhetherthereexistssufficientground toengenderawellfoundedbeliefthatacrimecognizablebytheRegionalTrialCourthasbeen committedandthattherespondentisprobablyguiltythereof,andshouldbeheldfortrial. [31] If thetrialcourtcannotdesignatetheprosecutorwhowillconductareinvestigation,thereismore cogent reason why it should not be allowed to do so in original preliminary investigations, particularly where ­­ as in this case ­­ the said trial court has not even validly acquired jurisdictionoverthecasebecauseofthelackofauthorityofthepoliceofficerwhofiledthe case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Orders of Respondent JudgeGloriosaS.NavarroareSETASIDEandANNULLED.Nocosts.

SOORDERED.

Narvasa,C.J.,(Chairman),Davide,Jr.,Melo,andFrancisco,JJ.,concur.

[1] RegionalTrialCourt,BranchXXofNagaCity.

[2] Rollo,pp.41­43. [3] Ibid.,pp.19­25;omittingstatementsreferringtocertainannexesofthepetition.

[4] Ibid.,p.33. [5] ThenasecondassistantprosecutorandconcurrentlyassistantregionalstateprosecutorofRegionV.

[6] Rollo,p.34.

[7] Ibid.,p.35. [8] Ibid.,pp.36­38.

[9] Ibid.,pp.39­40. [10] Ibid.,pp.41­43.

[11] Ibid.,p.44.

[12] Ibid.,pp.45­47. [13] Ibid.,pp.48­50.

[14] Ibid.,p.51.

[15] Ibid.,p.52.

[16] Ibid.,pp.53­55. [17] Ibid.,pp.56­59.

[18] Ibid.,p.60.

[19] Ibid.,pp.61­62. [20] Ibid.,p.104.

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[21] Ibid.,p.141;originaltextinuppercase.

[22] Ibid.,pp.141­142.

[23] Ibid.,pp.119­120.

[24] Castillovs.Villaluz,171SCRA39,March8,1989.

[25] Section5,Rule110oftheRulesofCourt,provides:

SEC.5.Whomustprosecutecriminalactions.­­Allcriminalactionseithercommencedbycomplaintorinformation

shallbeprosecutedunderthedirectionandcontrolofthefiscal.However,intheMunicipalTrialCourtsor MunicipalCircuit TrialCourts wherethereis nofiscalavailable, theoffendedparty, any peaceofficeror public officer charged with the enforcement of the law violated may prosecute the case. This authority ceasesuponactualinterventionofthefiscaloruponelevationofthecasetotheRegionalTrialCourt.

[26] Castillovs.Villaluz,supra,onpp.46­47.

[27] 66SCRA196,August20,1975.

[28] Ibid.,pp.199­201.

[29] 254SCRA307,March5,1996.

[30] Ibid.,pp.344­345citingPeoplevs.Inting,187SCRA788,792­794,July25,1990.

[31] Section1,Rule112,1985RulesofCriminalProcedureasamended.