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IVLER vs. HON.

MODESTO

G.R. No. 172716, November 17, 2010

FACTS: Following a vehicular collision in August 2004, petitioner Jason Ivler was charged before the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasig City (MeTC), with two separate offenses: (1) reckless imprudence resulting
in slight physical injuries for injuries sustained by respondent Evangeline L. Ponce; and (2) reckless
imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property for the death of respondent Ponce’s husband
Nestor C. Ponce and damage to the spouses Ponce’s vehicle.

Crimes charged: 1) reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries; and 2) reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide and damage to property

On September 7, 2004, Ivler pleaded guilty to the charge in reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical
injuries and was meted out the penalty of public censure. Invoking this conviction, Ivler moved to quash the
Information of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property for placing him in
jeopardy of second punishment for the same offense of reckless imprudence.

MeTC: denied the motion to quash

RTC: denied Ivler’s Petition for Certiorari in dismissing his Motion to Quash

ISSUE: Whether or not Ivler’s constitutional right under the Double Jeopardy Clause bars further proceedings
in the information charging him with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property
(YES)

Defense: Ivler argues that his constitutional right not to be placed twice in jeopardy of punishment for the
same offense bars his prosecution in reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property
having been previously convicted in reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries for injuries for
the same offense. Ivler submits that the multiple consequences of such crime are material only to determine
his penalty

HELD: The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the RTC. Petitioner’s conviction in the case of reckless
imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries bars his prosecution in criminal reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide and damage to property

1) Reckless Imprudence is a Single Crime; its Consequences on Persons and Property are Material Only to
Determine the Penalty

Quasi-offenses penalize “the mental attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack
of care or foresight, the imprudencia punible,” unlike willful offenses which punish the intentional criminal
act. These structural and conceptual features of quasi-offenses set them apart from the mass of intentional
crimes.

2) Prior Conviction or Acquittal of Reckless Imprudence Bars Subsequent Prosecution for the Same Quasi-
offense

Once convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless imprudence, the accused may not be prosecuted
again for that same act. For the essence of the quasi-offense of criminal negligence under Article 365 of
the Revised Penal Code lies in the execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally done,
would be punishable as a felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act, not the result thereof.

The gravity of the consequence is only taken into account to determine the penalty, it does not qualify the
substance of the offense. And, as the careless act is single, whether the injurious result should affect one
person or several persons, the offense (criminal negligence) remains one and the same, and cannot be split
into different crimes and prosecutions.

3) Article 48 Does Not Apply to Acts Penalized Under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code

Article 48 is a procedural device allowing single prosecution of multiple felonies falling under either of two
categories: (1) when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies (thus excluding from
its operation light felonies); and (2) when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other. The
legislature crafted this procedural tool to benefit the accused who, in lieu of serving multiple penalties, will
only serve the maximum of the penalty for the most serious crime.

In contrast, Article 365 is a substantive rule penalizing not an act defined as a felony but the mental attitude
behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, a single mental attitude regardless of
the resulting consequences. Thus, Article 365 was crafted as one quasi-crime resulting in one or more
consequences. Article 48 is incongruent to the notion of quasi-crime resulting in one or more consequences.

Article 48 is incongruent to the notion of quasi-crimes under Article 365. It is conceptually impossible for
a quasi-offense to stand for (1) a single act constituting two or more grave or less grave felonies; or (2) an
offense which is a necessary means for committing another.

Prosecutions under Article 365 should proceed from a single charge regardless of the number or severity of
the consequences. In imposing penalties, the judge will do no more than apply the penalties under Article
365 for each consequence alleged and proven. In short, there shall be no splitting of charges under Article
365, and only one information shall be filed in the same first level court.

People vs. Judge Villarama

FACTS: Jaime Manuel y Ohide was charged with violation of Section 16, Republic Act No. 6425, as
amended.

During the arraignment, the accused entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued. After the
prosecution rested its case, counsel for private respondent verbally manifested in open court that private
respondent was willing to change his former plea of “not guilty” to that of “guilty” to the lesser offense of
violation of Section 17, R.A. No. 6425.

Respondent Judge issued an order directing private respondent to secure the consent of the prosecutor
to the change of plea.

The prosecutor filed his Opposition to the Request to Plead Guilty to a Lesser Offense.
Accused filed his Reply to Opposition with Leave of Court to Plead Guilty to a Lesser Offense, alleging that
the Rules on Criminal Procedure does not fix a specific period within which an accused is allowed to plead
guilty to a lesser offense. Respondent judge granted accused’s motion and convicted him guilty beyond
reasonable-doubt of the crime of violation of Section 17, Republic Act No. 6425 thus this instant petition
for review.

Counsel for the private respondent maintains that the private respondent’s change of plea and his
conviction to the lesser offense of violation of Section 17, RA No. 6425 as amended is no longer open to
review otherwise his constitutional right against double jeopardy will be violated.

ISSUE: W/N accused can invoke double jeopardy?

HELD: NO. The right against double jeopardy given to the accused in Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of
Court applies in cases where both the fiscal and the offended party consent to the private respondent’s
change of plea. Since this is not the situation here, the private respondent cannot claim this privilege.
Instead, the more pertinent and applicable provision is that found in Section 7, Rule 117 which states:

Sec. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. —

xxx xxx xxx

However, the conviction of the accused shall not be a bar to another prosecution for an offense which
necessarily includes the offense charged in the former complaint or information under any of the
following instances:

(a) . . . ;

(b) . . . ;

(c) the plea of guilty to the lesser offense was made without the consent of the Fiscal and of the offended
party;

xxx xxx xxx

Under this rule, the private respondent could still be prosecuted under the original charge of violation of
Section 16 of RA 6425 as amended because of the lack of consent of the Fiscal who also represents the
offended party, i.e., the state. More importantly, the trial court’s approval of his change of plea was
irregular and improper.
Velarde v SJS (2004)

Doctrine: Decision, more specifically a decision not conforming to the form and substance required by the
Constitution is void and deemed legally inexistent (Panganiban)

Mike Velarde, Petitioner vs. SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY, respondent.

Date promulgated: April 28, 2004

Ponente: J. Panganiban

Facts:

-On January 28, 2003, SJS filed a Petition for Declaratory Relief before the RTC-Manila against Velarde and
his co-respondents Eminence, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Executive Minister Eraño Manalo, Brother Eddie
Villanueva and Brother Eliseo F. Soriano.

-SJS, a registered political party, sought the interpretation of several constitutional provisions, specifically
on the separation of church and state; and a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the acts of
religious leaders endorsing a candidate for an elective office, or urging or requiring the members of their
flock to vote for a specified candidate.

-The petitioner filed a Motion to dismiss before the trial court owing to the fact that alleged that the
questioned SJS Petition did not state a cause of action and that there was no justiciable controversy.

-The trial court’s junked the Velarde petitions under certain reasons:

1. It said that it had jurisdiction over the SJS petition, because in praying for a determination as to whether
the actions imputed to the respondents were violative of Article II, Section 6 of the Fundamental Law, the
petition has raised only a question of law.

2. It then proceeded to a lengthy discussion of the issue raised in the Petition – the separation of church
and state – even tracing, to some extent, the historical background of the principle. Through its discourse,
the court quipped at some point that the "endorsement of specific candidates in an election to any public
office is a clear violation of the separation clause."

-The trial court’s essay did not contain a statement of facts and a dispositive portion, however. Due to this
aberration, Velarde and Soriano filed separate Motions for Reconsideration before the trial court owing
to these facts.

-The lower court denied these Motions. Hence, this petition for review.

On April 13, 2004, the Court en banc conducted an Oral Argument.14

-In his Petition, Brother Mike Velarde submits the following issues for this Court’s resolution:

1. Whether or not the Decision dated 12 June 2003 rendered by the court a quo was proper and valid;

2. Whether or not there exists justiciable controversy in herein respondent’s Petition for declaratory
relief;
3. Whether or not herein respondent has legal interest in filing the Petition for declaratory relief;

4. Whether or not the constitutional question sought to be resolved by herein respondent is ripe for
judicial determination;

5. Whether or not there is adequate remedy other than the declaratory relief; and,

6. Whether or not the court a quo has jurisdiction over the Petition for declaratory relief of herein
respondent.

Issues:

In its oral argument, the Supreme Court condensed Velarde’s issues and divided it into 2 groups:

A. Procedural Issues

1. Did the Petition for Declaratory Relief raise a justiciable controversy?

2. Did it state a cause of action?

3.Did respondent have any legal standing to file the Petition for Declaratory Relief?

B. Substantive Issues

1. Did the RTC Decision conform to the form and substance required by the Constitution, the law and the
Rules of Court?

2. May religious leaders like herein petitioner, Bro. Mike Velarde, be prohibited from endorsing
candidates for public office? Corollarily, may they be banned from campaigning against said candidates?
(Not answered in the affirmative)

Decision:

Petition for Review GRANTED. The assailed June 12, 2003 Decision and July 29, 2003 Order of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila DECLARED NULL AND VOID and thus SET ASIDE. The SJS Petition for Declaratory Relief
is DISMISSED for failure to state a cause of action.

Holding:

Procedural Issues:

1. NO. A justiciable controversy to an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for
judicial determination, not one that is conjectural or merely anticipatory. A petition filed with the trial
court should contain a plain, concise and direct statement of the ultimate facts on which the party
pleading relies for his claim.
The SJS Petition fell short of the requirements to constitutue a jusiciable controversy. Why?

a. It stated no ultimate facts. The petition simply theorized that the people elected who were endorsed
by these religious leaders might become beholden to the latter.

b. It did not sufficiently state a declaration of its rights and duties, what specific legal right of
the petitioner was violated by the respondents therein, and what particular act or acts of the latter were
in breach of its rights, the law or the constitution,

c. The petition did not pray for a stoppage of violated rights (duh, wala ngang rights na sinabi
eh). It merely sought an opinion of the trial court. However, courts are proscribed from rendering an
advisory opinion. (tantamount to making laws, remember the questionability of justice panganiban’s
guidelines for article 36 of the family code)

It must also be considered that even the religious leaders were puzzled as to the breach of rights they
were claimed to have committed. As pointed out by Soriano, what exactly has he done that merited the
attention of SJS? Jaime Cardinal Sin adds that the election season had not even started at the time SJS
filed its Petition and that he has not been actively involved in partisan politics. The Petition does not even
allege any indication or manifest intent on the part of any of the respondents below to champion an
electoral candidate, or to urge their so-called flock to vote for, a particular candidate. It is a time-honored
rule that sheer speculation does not give rise to an actionable right.

2. NO. A cause of action is an act or an omission of one party in violation of the legal right or
rights of another, causing injury to the latter. (Rebollido v. Court of Appeals, 170 SCRA 800)

Its essential elements are the following: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff; (2) an obligation on the part of
the named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and (3) such defendant’s act or omission that
is violative of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the former to the latter.

The court held that the complaint’s failure to state a cause of action became a ground for its outright
dismissal. Why?

The Court found nothing in the SJS Petition to suggest that an explicit allegation of fact that SJS had a legal
right to protect. (trigger for the cause of action)

In special civil actions for declaratory relief, the concept of cause of action under ordinary civil actions
does not strictly apply. The reason for this exception is that an action for declaratory relief presupposes
that there has been no actual breach of the instruments involved or of rights arising thereunder.
Nevertheless, a breach or violation should be impending, imminent or at least threatened.
The justices could only infer that the interest from its allegation was its mention of “its (SJS) thousands of
members who are citizens-taxpayers-registered voters and who are keenly interested”. Aside from the
fact that this general averment did not constitute a legal right or interest, the court’s inferred interest too
vague and speculative in character. Rules require that the interest must be material to the issue and
affected by the questioned act or instrument.

To bolster its point, the SJS cited the Corpus Juris Secundum and submitted that the plaintiff in a
declaratory judgment action does not seek to enforce a claim against the defendant, but sought a judicial
declaration of the rights of the parties for the purpose of guiding their future conduct, and the essential
distinction between a ‘declaratory judgment action’ and the usual ‘action’ is that no actual wrong need
have been committed or loss have occurred in order to sustain the declaratory judgment action, although
there must be no uncertainty that the loss will occur or that the asserted rights will be invaded. (???)

During the Oral Argument, Velarde and co-respondents strongly asserted that they had not in any way
engaged or intended to participate in partisan politics. Not even the alleged proximity of the elections to
the time the Petition was filed below would have provided the certainty that it had a legal right that would
be jeopardized or violated by any of those respondents.

Even if the SJS petition asserted a legal right, there was nevertheless no certainty that such right would
be invaded by the said respondents.

3. NO. Legal standing or locus standi has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in
the case, such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the challenged act.

Interest means a material interest in issue that is affected by the questioned act or instrument, as
distinguished from a mere incidental interest in the question involved.

SJS has no legal interest in the controversy and has failed to establish how the resolution of the proffered
question would benefit or injure it.

Parties bringing suits challenging the constitutionality of a law, an act or a statute must demonstrate that
they have been, or are about to be, denied some right or privilege to which they are lawfully entitled, or
that they are about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act
complained of.
If the petition were to be valid, it should satisfy:

First, parties suing as taxpayers must specifically prove that they have sufficient interest in preventing the
illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation, particularly that of Congress' taxing power.

Second, there was no showing in the Petition for Declaratory Relief that SJS as a political party or its
members as registered voters would be adversely affected by the alleged acts of the respondents below,
such as the deprivation of votes or barring of suffrage to its constituents.

Finally, the allegedly keen interest of its "thousands of members who are citizens-taxpayers-registered
voters" is too general and beyond the contemplation of the standards set by our jurisprudence. Not only
is the presumed interest impersonal in character; it is likewise too vague, highly speculative and uncertain
to satisfy the requirement of standing.

In not a few cases, the Court has liberalized the locus standi requirement when a petition raises an issue
of transcendental significance or importance to the people (IBP v Zamora). The Court deemed the
constitutional issue raised to be both transcendental in importance and novel in nature. Nevertheless, the
barren allegations in the SJS Petition as well as the abbreviated proceedings in the court would prevent
the resolution of the transcendental issue.

Substantive Issues

1. NO. The Constitution commands that no decision shall be rendered by any court without
expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. No petition for review
or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court shall be refused due course or denied without
stating the basis therefor.

Consistent with this are Section 1 of Rule 36 of the Rules on Civil Procedure, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court
on Criminal Procedure, Administrative Circular No. 1. which states that :

“A judgment or final order determining the merits of the case shall be rendered. The decision shall be in
writing, personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and law on
which it is based, signed by the issuing magistrate, and filed with the clerk of court.”

The SC has reminded magistrates to heed the demand of Section `4, Art VIII of the contsitution. This was
evinced in Yao v. Court of Appeals where Davide, CJ said that faithful adherence to the requirements of
Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution is indisputably a paramount component of due process and fair
play.

In People v. Bugarin, the court held that the requirement that the decisions of courts must be in writing
and that they must set forth clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which they are based is
intended, among other things, to inform the parties of the reason or reasons for the decision so that if
any of them appeals, he can point out to the appellate court the finding of facts or the rulings on points
of law with which he disagrees.

The assailed Decision contains no statement of facts (much less an assessment or analysis thereof) or of
the court’s findings as to the probable facts. The assailed Decision begins with a statement of the nature
of the action and the question or issue presented. Then follows a brief explanation of the constitutional
provisions involved, and what the Petition sought to achieve. Thereafter, the ensuing procedural incidents
before the trial court are tracked. The Decision proceeds to a full-length opinion on the nature and the
extent of the separation of church and state. Without expressly stating the final conclusion she has
reached or specifying the relief granted or denied, the trial judge ends her “Decision” with the clause “SO
ORDERED.”

A decision that does not clearly and distinctly state the facts and the law on which it is based leaves the
parties in the dark as to how it was reached and is precisely prejudicial to the losing party, who is unable
to pinpoint the possible errors of the court for review by a higher tribunal. More than that, the
requirement is an assurance to the parties that, in reaching judgment, the judge did so through the
processes of legal reasoning.

It was truly obvious that the RTC’s Decision did not adhere to the Bugarin precedent because of its failure
to express clearly and distinctly the facts on which it was based. The significance of factual findings lies in
the value of the decision as a precedent (how will the ruling be applied in the future, if there is no point
of factual comparison?).

Respondent SJS insisted that the dispositive portion can be found in the body (p. 10) of the assailed
Decision. Stating “Endorsement of specific candidates in an election to any public office is a clear violation
of the separation clause.”

The Court held that the statement is merely an answer to a hypothetical legal question and just a part of
the opinion of the trial court. It does not conclusively declare the rights (or obligations) of the parties to
the Petition. Neither does it grant any -- much less, the proper -- relief under the circumstances, as
required of a dispositive portion.
The standard for a dispositive was set in Manalang v. Tuason de Rickards where the resolution of the Court
on a given issue as embodied in the dispositive part of the decision or order is the investitive or controlling
factor that determines and settles the rights of the parties and the questions presented therein,
notwithstanding the existence of statements or declaration in the body of said order that may be
confusing.

In Magdalena Estate, Inc. v. Caluag: The rule is settled that where there is a conflict between the
dispositive part and the opinion, the former must prevail over the latter on the theory that the dispositive
portion is the final order while the opinion is merely a statement ordering nothing.

The statement quoted by SJS does not conclusively declare the rights (or obligations) of the parties to the
Petition. Neither does it grant proper relief under the circumstances, as required of a dispositive portion.

Failure to comply with the constitutional injunction is a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction. Decisions or orders issued in careless disregard of the constitutional mandate are
a patent nullity and must be struck down as void.

2. It is not legally possible to take up, on the merits, the paramount question involving a
constitutional principle. It is a time-honored rule that the constitutionality of a statute or act will be passed
upon only if, and to the extent that, it is directly and necessarily involved in a justiciable controversy and
is essential to the protection of the rights of the parties concerned. (So no answer)

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