Saturday, January 27, 2007

2006 Remedial Law Case Digests


G.R. No. 158245. June 30, 2005

Facts: Petitioners are the registered owners of three parcels of agricultural land. They entered into a Contract of Sale with respondent and agreed that "in the event that the parties herein are unable to effect the transfer and sale of the said properties in whole or in part in favor of the vendees, all the paid-in amounts shall be applied to another similar property also owned by the vendors in substitution of the above-described properties."
Pursuant to the contract, respondent corporation paid the down payment however; it refused to remit any monthly installment due to petitioners' failure to obtain a clearance and/or approval of the sale of the subject land from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Respondent demanded that petitioners either solve the problem with the land tenants or substitute the lots with another acceptable, suitable and untenanted land, pursuant to their agreement.
Petitioners informed respondent that they were ready to finalize the transaction in accordance with the legal opinion of the DAR. In a letter, respondent informed petitioners that the scheme proposed in the DAR Opinion was "far from acceptable." Respondent offered to purchase the property on a direct sale basis. Petitioners did not respond to respondent hence, the latter, through counsel, requested the return of its down payment. As petitioners did not acquiesce, respondent filed a complaint for rescission with damages with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati. As a countermove, petitioners filed the instant case for specific performance with the RTC of Laguna.
Respondent filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of litis pendentia. Petitioners opposed contending that the instant complaint for specific performance was served on respondent ahead of the service of the complaint for rescission on petitioners. Later, however, respondent withdrew its motion to dismiss in view of the order of the RTC of Makati dismissing the complaint for rescission. In its Answer with Counterclaim, respondent alleged by way of affirmative defense that "specific performance is not possible because the respondent had already bought another property which is untenanted, devoid of any legal complications and now converted from agricultural to non-agricultural purpose in accordance with DAR Administrative Order.
Thereafter, petitioners filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint considering respondent's special defense that specific performance was no longer possible. They prayed that their complaint and respondent's counterclaim be ordered withdrawn or dismissed, arguing that respondent's counterclaim would have no leg to stand on as it was compulsory in nature.

Issue: Whether respondent's counterclaim should be dismissed.

Held: There are two ways by which an action may be dismissed upon the instance of the plaintiff. First, dismissal is a matter of right when a notice of dismissal is filed by the plaintiff before an answer or a motion for summary judgment has been served on him by the defendant. Second, dismissal is discretionary on the court when the motion for the dismissal of the action is filed by the plaintiff at any stage of the proceedings other than before service of an answer or a motion for summary judgment. While the dismissal in the first mode takes effect upon the mere notice of plaintiff without need of a judicial order, the second mode requires the authority of the court before dismissal of the case may be effected. This is so because in the dismissal of an action, the effect of the dismissal upon the rights of the defendant should always be taken into consideration.
In the case at bar, it is undisputed that petitioners filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint after respondent already filed its answer with counterclaim. In fact, the reason for their motion for withdrawal was the special defense of respondent in its answer that substitution was no longer possible as it already bought another property in lieu of the subject lots under the contract. It is, therefore, inexplicable how petitioners could argue that their complaint was successfully withdrawn upon the mere filing of a Motion to Withdraw Complaint when they themselves alleged in this petition that "private respondent objected to the withdrawal and the Trial Court sustained the objection."

G.R. No. 141255. June 21, 2005

Facts: Respondent Springfield Development Corporation is the owner and actual possessor of a lot covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-92571, while respondent Constantino Jaraula is the owner and actual possessor of a covered by TCT No. T-63088, both situated at Cagayan de Oro City. The two lots adjoin each other and were originally parts of a 12-hectare lot which has been developed by respondents as the Mega Heights Subdivision. Sometime in 1996, petitioner spouses Luciano and Gaudiosa Ello and their hired personnel surreptitiously and stealthily occupied respondents’ lots, built a make-shift shed under the trees, and fenced the area they occupied. Respondents then demanded that petitioners and their hired personnel vacate the area but they refused. Instead, they threatened and prevented respondents from developing their lots into a subdivision. Thus, respondent Springfield Development Corporation and Constantino G. Jaraula, filed a complaint against them for forcible entry with application for preliminary mandatory injunction.
Issue: Whether the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion when it dismissed outright petitioners’ petition for review on the sole technical ground that it does not contain the affidavit of service as required by Section 11 in relation to Section 13, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
Held: Sections 3 and 5, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, prescribe two modes of filing and service of pleadings, motions, notices, orders, judgments and other papers. These are: (a) by personal delivery, governed by Section 6 of the same Rule; and (b) by mail, under Section 7 thereof.
However, Section 11 of Rule 13 requires that “whenever practicable,” the filing of pleadings and other papers in court, as well as the service of said papers on the adverse party or his counsel, must be done “personally.” But if such filing and service were through a different mode, the party concerned must submit a “written explanation” why they were not done personally.
There is no question that petitioners violated Section 11 of Rule 13 by failing to append the affidavit of service to their petition for review filed with the Court of Appeals. Petitioners, upon receipt of the Court of Appeals’ challenged Resolution dismissing outright their petition due to such omission, promptly filed a motion for reconsideration, readily acknowledging their procedural lapse and attaching therewith the required affidavit of service. Rules of procedure must be faithfully followed except only when for persuasive reasons, they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice not commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure.


G.R. No. 147349. February 13, 2004

Facts: The contract for the structural repair and waterproofing of the IPT and ICT building of the NAIA airport was awarded, after a public bidding, to respondent ALA. Respondent made the necessary repair and waterproofing.
After submission of its progress billings to the petitioner, respondent received partial payments. Progress billing remained unpaid despite repeated demands by the respondent. Meanwhile petitioner unilaterally rescinded the contract on the ground that respondent failed to complete the project within the agreed completion date.
Respondent objected to the rescission made by the petitioner and reiterated its claims. The trial court directed the parties to proceed to arbitration. Both parties executed a compromise agreement and jointly filed in court a motion for judgment based on the compromise agreement. The Court a quo rendered judgment approving the compromise agreement.
For petitioner’s failure to pay within the period stipulated, respondent filed a motion for execution to enforce its claim. Petitioner filed a comment and attributed the delays to its being a government agency. The trial court denied the respondent’s motion. Reversing the trial court, the CA ordered it to issue a writ of execution to enforce respondent’s claim. The appellate court ratiocinated that a judgment rendered in accordance with a compromise agreement was immediately executory, and that a delay was not substantial compliance therewith.

Issues: 1) Whether or not decision based on compromise agreement is final and executory.

2) Whether or not delay by one party on a compromise justifies execution.

Held: 1) A compromise once approved by final orders of the court has the force of res judicata between the parties and should not be disturbed except for vices of consent or forgery. Hence, a decision on a compromise agreement is final and executory. Such agreement has the force of law and is conclusive between the parties. It transcends its identity as a mere contract binding only upon the parties thereto, as it becomes a judgment that is subject to execution in accordance with the Rules. Judges therefore have the ministerial and mandatory duty to implement and enforce it.
2. The failure to pay on the date stipulated was clearly a violation of the Agreement. Thus, non-fulfillment of the terms of the compromise justified execution. It is the height of absurdity for petitioner to attribute to a fortuitous event its delayed payment. Petitioner’s explanation is clearly a gratuitous assertion that borders callousness.


G.R. No. RTJ-02-1674. January 22, 2004

Facts: Complainant Marohombsar was the defendant in the civil case for injunction. The case was filed by Yasmira Pangadapun questioning the legality of Marohombsar’s appointment as Provincial Social Welfare Officer of the DSWD-ARMM. Prior to his appointment, Pangadapun used to occupy said position.
Upon the filing of the said complaint, respondent judge issued a TRO and set the hearing on the application for the issuance of the preliminary injunction. Summons, together with a copy of the complaint and a notice, was also served on both parties. Marohombsar filed an ex parte urgent motion to dissolve the TRO. Pangadapun was given the time to comment. Respondent judge issued an order stating that a preliminary conference had been held and that both parties had waived the raffle of the case and reset the hearing on the application for the issuance of a writ of injunction. The judge gave another time to file her comment again.
During the hearing on the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, none of the lawyers appeared. Hence, respondent judge considered it submitted for resolution and issued the preliminary injunction. Hence, this complaint for gross ignorance of law, abuse of discretion and conduct unbecoming a judge.

Issues: 1) Whether or not TRO ex parte is allowed in the instant case.

2) Whether or not trial-type hearing is essential to due process.

3) Whether or not respondent judge erred in ordering the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction.

Held: 1) A TRO is generally granted without notice to the opposite party and is intended only as a restraint on him until the propriety of granting a temporary injunction can be determined. It goes no further than to preserve the status quo until that determination. Respondent judge was justified in issuing the TRO ex parte due to his assessment of the urgency of the relief sought.
2) In applications for preliminary injunction, the dual requirement of prior notice and hearing before injunction may issue has been relaxed to the point that not all petitions for preliminary injunction need undergo a trial-type hearing, it being doctrinal that a formal or trial-type hearing is not, at all times and in all instances, essential to due process. The essence of due process is that a party is afforded a reasonable opportunity to be heard and to present any evidence he may have in support of his defense. It is a rule that a party cannot claim that he has been denied due process when he was given the opportunity to present his position.
3) As a matter of public policy, the acts of a judge in his official capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even though such acts are erroneous, provided he acts in good faith and without malice. Respondent judge, or any other member of the bench for that matter, is presumed to have acted regularly and in the manner that preserves the ideal of the cold neutrality of an impartial judge implicit in the guarantee of due process.


G.R. No. 147369. October 23, 2003

Facts: Petitioners lodged a complaint for specific performance against respondents to compel them to facilitate the transfer of ownership of a parcel of land subject of a controverted sale. The RTC issued a summons to respondents. As per return of the summons, substituted service was resorted to by the process server allegedly because efforts to serve personally to re respondents failed. Meanwhile, petitioners filed before the RTC an ex parte motion for leave of court to effect summons by publication and the judge issued an order granting the same. The respondents were declared in default and as a consequence of the declaration of default, petitioners were allowed to submit their evidence ex parte.
Helen Boyon, who was then in United Sates, was surprised to learn from her sister of the resolution issued by the court. Respondents filed an Ad Cautelam motion questioning, among others, the validity of the service of summons effected by the court a quo. The court issued an order denying the said motion on the basis of the defaulted respondent supposed loss of standing in court. Once again, the respondents raised the issue of the jurisdiction of the trial court via a motion for reconsideration and the same was denied. The petitioners moved for the execution of the controverted judgment which the judge granted.
Thereafter, respondents filed before the CA a petition for certiorari which held that the trial court had no authority to issue the questioned resolution and orders.

Issue: Whether or not summons by publication can validly serve in the instant case.

Held: In general, courts acquire jurisdiction over the person of the defendant by the service of summons, such service may be done personal or substituted service, where the action is in personam and the defendant is in the Philippines. However, extraterritorial service of summons or summons by publication applies only when the action is in rem or quasi in rem. That is, the action against the thing itself instead of against the defendant’s person if the action is in rem or an individual is named as defendant and the purpose is to subject the individual’s interest in a piece of property to the obligation or loan burdening it if quasi in rem.
In the instant case, what was filed before the trial court was an action for specific performance directed against respondents. While the suit incidentally involved a piece of land, the ownership or possession thereof was not put in issue. Moreover, court has consistently declared that an action for specific performance is an action in personam. Hence, summons by publication cannot be validly served.


386 SCRA 67. August 1, 2002

Facts: Private respondent Manuel Dulawon filed with the Regional Trial Court a complaint for breach of contract of lease with damages against petitioner Radio Communications of the Philippines, Inc. (RCPI). Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction contending that it is the Municipal Trial Court which has jurisdiction as the complaint is basically one for collection of unpaid rentals.

Issue: Whether or not the RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint filed by private respondent.

Held: RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint. The averments in the complaint reveal that the suit filed by private respondent was primarily one for specific performance as it was aimed to enforce their three-year lease contract which would incidentally entitle him to monetary awards if the court should find that the subject contract of lease was breached. As alleged therein, petitioner’s failure to pay rentals due for the period from January to March 1997, constituted a violation of their contract which had the effect of accelerating the payment of monthly rentals for the years 1997 and 1998. Clearly, the action for specific performance, irrespective of the amount of the rentals and damages sought to be recovered, is incapable of pecuniary estimation, hence, cognizable exclusively by the RTC.


SPO4 EDUARDO ALONZO VS. JUDGE CRISANTO C. CONCEPCION, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Malolos City, Branch 12, Province of Bulacan
A.M. No. RTJ-04-1879. January 17, 2005

Facts: In a wedding party, SPO4 Eduardo Alonzo, Jun Rances, Zoilo Salamat and Rey Santos were drinking together at the same table. While waiting to be seated, Pedrito Alonzo was introduced by SPO4 Alonzo to Rances as his nephew and as the son of ex-Captain Alonzo. SPO4 Alonzo then introduced him to Salamat. Pedrito and his companions took their seats and started drinking at the table across SPO4 Alonzo’s table. After some time, Pedrito stood up to urinate at the back of the house. Santos passed a bag to Salamat, and they followed Pedrito. Rances likewise followed them. A shot rang out. Salamat was seen placing a gun inside the bag as he hurriedly left. The wedding guests ran after Salamat. They saw him and Rances board a vehicle being driven by Santos. Pedrito’s uncle, Jose Alonzo, sought the help of SPO4 Alonzo to chase the culprits. He refused and even disavowed any knowledge as to their identity.
Jose Alonzo filed a complaint for murder against Salamat, Rances, Santos, SPO4 Alonzo and a certain Isidro Atienza. A preliminary investigation1 was conducted by the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor where Jose Alonzo and his four witnesses testified. Upon review of the records of the case by the 3rd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, it was recommended that Salamat be charged with murder as principal, and Santos and Rances as accessories. With regard to SPO4 Alonzo and Isidro Atienza, the prosecutor found that no sufficient evidence was adduced to establish their conspiracy with Salamat. Judge Concepcion of the RTC issued an Order directing the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor to amend the information, so as to include all the aforenamed persons as accused in this case, all as principals.

Issue: Whether or not the court has authority to review and reverse the resolution of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor or to find probable cause against a respondent for the purpose of amending the Information.

Held: The function of a preliminary investigation is to determine whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial. It is through the conduct of a preliminary investigation that the prosecutor determines the existence of a prima facie case that would warrant the prosecution of a case. As a rule, courts cannot interfere with the prosecutor's discretion and control of the criminal prosecution. The reason for placing the criminal prosecution under the direction and control of the fiscal is to prevent malicious or unfounded prosecution by private persons. However, while prosecuting officers have the authority to prosecute persons shown to be guilty of a crime they have equally the legal duty not to prosecute when after an investigation, the evidence adduced is not sufficient to establish a prima facie case.
In a clash of views between the judge who did not investigate and the prosecutor who did, or between the fiscal and the offended party or the accused, that of the prosecutor's should normally prevail.

G.R. No. 155791. March 16, 2005

Facts: An Information was filed with the Regional Trial Court that the accused Dante Andres and Randyver Pacheco, conspiring, confederating, and helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault, and maul Wilson Quinto inside a culvert where the three were fishing, causing Wilson Quinto to drown and die. The respondents filed a demurer to evidence which the trial court granted on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. It also held that it could not hold the respondents liable for damages because of the absence of preponderant evidence to prove their liability for Wilson’s death. The petitioner appealed the order to the Court of Appeals insofar as the civil aspect of the case was concerned. The CA ruled that the acquittal in this case is not merely based on reasonable doubt but rather on a finding that the accused-appellees did not commit the criminal acts complained of. Thus, pursuant to the above rule and settled jurisprudence, any civil action ex delicto cannot prosper. Acquittal in a criminal action bars the civil action arising therefrom where the judgment of acquittal holds that the accused did not commit the criminal acts imputed to them.

Issue: Whether or not the extinction of respondent’s criminal liability carries with it the extinction of their civil liability.

Held: When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.
The prime purpose of the criminal action is to punish the offender in order to deter him and others from committing the same or similar offense, to isolate him from society, to reform and rehabilitate him or, in general, to maintain social order. The sole purpose of the civil action is the restitution, reparation or indemnification of the private offended party for the damage or injury he sustained by reason of the delictual or felonious act of the accused.
The extinction of the penal action does not carry with it the extinction of the civil action. However, the civil action based on delict shall be deemed extinguished if there is a finding in a final judgment in the criminal action that the act or omission from where the civil liability may arise does not exist. In this case, the petitioner failed to adduce proof of any ill-motive on the part of either respondent to kill the deceased and as held by the the trial court and the CA, the prosecution failed to adduce preponderant evidence to prove the facts on which the civil liability of the respondents rest, i.e., that the petitioner has a cause of action against the respondents for damages.


G.R. No. 147607. January 22, 2004

Facts: SPO2 Chito Esmenda applied before the RTC for a search warrant authorizing the search for marijuana at the family residence of appellant Benhur. During the search operation, the searching team confiscated sachets of suspected marijuana leaves. Police officers took pictures of the confiscated items and prepared a receipt of the property seized and certified that the house was properly searched which was signed by the appellant and the barangay officials who witnessed the search.
After the search, the police officers brought appellant and the confiscated articles to the PNP station. After weighing the specimens and testing the same, the PNP Crime Laboratory issued a report finding the specimens to be positive to the test for the presence of marijuana. Moreover, the person who conducted the examination on the urine sample of appellant affirmed that it was positive for the same.
Appellant denied that he was residing at his parent’s house since he has been residing at a rented house and declared that it was his brother and the latter’s family who were residing with his mother, but on said search operation, his brother and family were out. He testified that he was at his parent’s house because he visited his mother, that he saw the Receipt of Property Seized for the first time during the trial and admitted that the signature on the certification that the house was properly search was his.

Issues: 1) Whether or not the trial court erred in issuing a search warrant.

2) Whether or not the accused-appellant waived his right to question the legality of the search.

3) Whether or not evidence seized pursuant to an illegal search be used as evidence against the accused.

Held: 1) The issuance of a search warrant is justified only upon a finding of probable cause. Probable cause for a search has been defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. In determining the existence of probable cause, it is required that: 1) The judge must examine the complaint and his witnesses personally; 2) the examination must be under oath; 3) the examination must be reduced in writing in the form of searching questions and answers. The prosecution failed to prove that the judge who issued the warrant put into writing his examination of the applicant and his witnesses on the form of searching questions and answers before issuance of the search warrant. Mere affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses are not sufficient. Such written examination is necessary in order that the judge may be able to properly determine the existence and non-existence of probable cause. Therefore, the search warrant is tainted with illegality by failure of the judge to conform with the essential requisites of taking the examination in writing and attaching to the record, rendering the search warrant invalid.
2) At that time the police officers presented the search warrant, appellant could not determine if the search warrant was issued in accordance with law. It was only during the trial that appellant, through his counsel, had reason to believe that the search warrant was illegally issued. Moreover, appellant seasonably objected on constitutional grounds to the admissibility of the evidence seized pursuant to said warrant during the trial, after the prosecution formally offered its evidence. Under the circumstances, no intent to waive his rights can reasonably be inferred from his conduct before or during the trial.
3) No matter how incriminating the articles taken from the appellant may be, their seizure cannot validate an invalid warrant. The requirement mandated by the law that the examination of the complaint and his witnesses must be under oath and reduced to writing in the form of searching questions and answers was not complied with, rendering the search warrant invalid. Consequently, the evidence seized pursuant to illegal search warrant cannot be used in evidence against appellant in accordance with Section 3 (2) Article III of the Constitution.


G.R. No. 114967-68. January 26, 2004

Facts: Private complainant Elizabeth Genteroy was introduced to accused Crispin Billaber by her friends. The accused told Genteroy that he could help her acquire the necessary papers and find her a job abroad. Genteroy introduced the accused to Raul Durano. The accused offered Durano a job as his personal driver in the U.S. Durano and Genteroy paid the accused and asked for receipt, but the accused said that it was not necessary since they will leave together.
Meanwhile, Genteroy introduced the accused to Tersina Onza and offered a job abroad. Thereafter, the accused instructed the three private complainants, Genteroy, Durano and Onza to meet him at the airport on the agreed date, however, the accused failed to show up.
Durano chanced upon the accused at the canteen. A commotion ensued when Durano tried to stop the accused from leaving. A police officer brought both Durano and the accused to the PNP station. The prosecution offered in evidence a certificate from the POEA stating that the accused was not licensed or authorized to recruit workers for employment abroad. The accused denied receiving money from private complainants and interposed a defense of frame-up and extortion against Durano.

Issues: 1) Whether or not the trial court erred in not considering that the accused arrested without warrant.

2) Whether or not the court acquired jurisdiction over the person of the accused.

Held: 1) It appears that accused-appellant was brought to the police station, together with the complainant Durano, not because of the present charges but because of the commotion that ensued between the two at the canteen. At the police station, Durano and the other complainants then executed statements charging appellant with illegal recruitment and estafa. As to whether there was an actual arrest or whether, in the commotion, the appellant committed, was actually committing, or was attempting to commit an offense, have been rendered moot.
2) Appellant did not allege any irregularity in a motion to quash before entering his plea, and is therefore deemed to have waived any question of the trial court’s jurisdiction over his person.


G.R. No. 144037, Sept.ember 26, 2003

Facts: Solier informed the police that Tudtud would come back with new stocks of marijuana. Policemen saw two men alighted from the bus, helping each other carry a carton/ box, one of them fitted the description of Tudtud. They approached the two and Tudtud denied that he carried any drugs. The latter opened the box, beneath dried fish where two bundles, one wrapped in a plastic bag and another in newspapers. Policemen asked Tudtud to unwrap the packages and contained what seemed to the police as marijuana leaves. The two did not resist the arrest. Charged with illegal possession of prohibited drugs, they pleaded not guilty and interposed the defense that they were framed up. The trial court convicted them with the crime charged and sentenced them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

Issue: Whether or not searches and seizures without warrant may be validly obtained.

Held: The rule is that a search and seizure must be carried out through or with a judicial warrant; otherwise such “search and seizure” becomes reasonable within the meaning of the constitutional provision, and any evidence secured thereby will be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding. Except with the following instances even in the absence of a warrant: 1) Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest, 2) Search in evidence in plain view, 3) Search of a moving vehicle, 4) Consented warrantless search, 5) Customs search, 6) Stop and frisk and 7) Exigent and emergency circumstances.
The long –standing rule in this jurisdiction, applied with a degree of consistency, is that, a reliable information alone is not sufficient to justify a warrantless arrest. Hence, the items seized were held inadmissible, having been obtained in violation of the accused’s constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.


G.R. No. 151931, September 23, 2003

Facts: Petitioner Anamer Salazar purchased 300 cavans of rice from J.Y. Brothers Marketing. As payment for these, she gave a check drawn against the Prudential Bank by one Nena Timario. J.Y. accepted the check upon the petitioner’s assurance that it was good check. Upon presentment, the check was dishonored because it was drawn under a closed account. Upon being informed of such dishonor, petitioner replaced the check drawn against the Solid Bank, which, however, was returned with the word “DAUD” (Drawn against uncollected deposit).
After the prosecution rested its case, the petitioner filed a Demurrer to Evidence with Leave of Court. The trial court rendered judgment acquitting the petitioner of the crime charged but ordering her to pay, as payment of her purchase. The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration on the civil aspect of the decision with a plea that she be allowed to present evidence pursuant to Rule 33 of the Rules of Court, but the court denied the motion.

Issues: 1) Does the acquittal of the accused in the criminal offense prevent a judgment against her on the civil aspect of the case?
2) Was the denial of the motion for reconsideration proper?

Held: 1) The rule on the Criminal Procedure provides that the extension of the penal action does not carry with it the extension of the civil action. Hence, the acquittal of the accused does not prevent a judgment against him on the civil aspect of the case where a) the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only preponderance of evidence is required; b) where the court declared that the liability of the accused is only civil; c) where the civil liability of the accused does not arise from or is not based upon the crime of which the accused was acquitted.
2) No, because after an acquittal or grant of the demurrer, the trial shall proceed for the presentation of evidence on the civil aspect of the case. This is so because when the accused files a demurrer to evidence, the accused has not yet adduced evidence both on the criminal and civil aspect of the case. The only evidence on record is the evidence for the prosecution. What the trial court should do is to set the case for continuation of the trail for the petitioner to adduce evidence on the civil aspect and for the private offended party adduce evidence by way of rebuttal as provided for in Sec.11, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. Otherwise, it would be a nullity for the reason that the constitutional right of the accused to due process is thereby violated.

G.R. No. 147678-87, July 7, 2004

Facts: Appellant Efren Mateo was charged with ten counts of rape by his step-daughter Imelda Mateo. During the trial, Imelda’s testimonies regarding the rape incident were inconsistent. She said in one occasion that incident of rape happened inside her bedroom, but other times, she told the court that it happened in their sala. She also told the court that the appellant would cover her mouth but when asked again, she said that he did not. Despite the irreconcilable testimony of the victim, the trial court found the accused guilty of the crime of rape and sentenced him the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The Solicitor General assails the factual findings of the trial and recommends an acquittal of the appellant.
Issue: Whether or not this case is directly appeallable to the Supreme Court.
Held: While the Fundamental Law requires a mandatory review by the Supreme Court of cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment, or death, nowhere, however, has it proscribed an intermediate review. If only to ensure utmost circumspection before the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment is imposed, the Court now deems it wise and compelling to provide in these cases a review by the Court of Appeals before the case is elevated to the Supreme Court. Where life and liberty are at stake, all possible avenues to determine his guilt or innocence must be accorded an accused, and no case in the evaluation of the facts can ever be overdone. A prior determination by the Court of Appeals on, particularly, the factual issues, would minimize the possibility of an error of judgment. If the Court of Appeals should affirm the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, it could then render judgment imposing the corresponding penalty as the circumstances so warrant, refrain from entering judgment and elevate the entire records of the case to the Supreme Court for its final disposition.
Under the Constitution, the power to amend rules of procedure is constitutionally vested in the Supreme Court –
Article VIII, Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
“(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts.”
Procedural matters, first and foremost, fall more squarely within the rule-making prerogative of the Supreme Court than the law-making power of Congress. The rule here announced additionally allowing an intermediate review by the Court of Appeals, a subordinate appellate court, before the case is elevated to the Supreme Court on automatic review is such a procedural matter.
Pertinent provisions of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, more particularly Section 3 and Section 10 of Rule 122, Section 13 of Rule 124, Section of Rule 125, and any other rule insofar as they provide for direct appeals from the Regional Trial Courts to the Supreme Court in cases where the penalty imposed is death reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, as well as the resolution of the Supreme Court en banc, dated 19 September 1995, in “Internal Rules of the Supreme Court” in cases similarly involving the death penalty, are to be deemed modified accordingly.
A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC


Acting on the recommendation of the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court submitting for this Court’s consideration and approval the Proposed Amendments to the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure to Govern Death Penalty Cases, the Court Resolved to APPROVE the same.
The amendment shall take effect on October 15, 2004 following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation not later than September 30, 2004
September 28, 2004
Rule 122, Sections 3 and 10, and Rule 124, Sections 12 and 13, of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, are amended as follows:
RULE 122
Sec. 3. How appeal taken – (a) The appeal to the Regional Trial Court, or to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, shall be by notice of appeal filed with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and by serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party.
(b) The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review under Rule 42.
(c) The appeal in cases whereby the penalty imposed by the Regional Trial Court is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or where a lesser penalty is imposed for offenses committed on the same occasion on the or which arose out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is imposed, shall be by notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals in accordance with paragraph (a) of this Rule.
(d) No notice of appeal is necessary in cases where the Regional Trial Court imposed the death penalty. The Court of Appeals shall automatically review the judgment as provided in Section 10 of this Rule. (3a)
RULE 124
Sec. 12. Power to receive evidence. – The Court of Appeals shall have the power to try cases and conduct hearings, receive evidence and perform all acts necessary to resolve the factual issues raised in cases falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and conduct new trials or further proceedings. Trials or hearing in the Court of Appeals must be continuous and must be completed within three months, unless extended by the Chief Justice. (12a)
Sec. 13. Certification or appeal of case to the Supreme Court. – (a) Whenever the Court of Appeals finds that the penalty of death should be imposed, the court shall render judgment but refrain from making an entry of judgment and forthwith certify the case and elevate its entire record to the Supreme Court for review.
(b) Where the judgment also imposes a lesser penalty for offenses committed on the same occasion or which arose out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more severe offense for which the penalty is imposed, and the accused appeals, the appeal shall be included in the case certified for review to the Supreme Court.
(c) In cases where the Court of Appeals imposes reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or a lesser penalty, it shall render and enter judgment imposing such penalty. The judgment may be appealed to the Supreme Court by notice of appeal file with the Court of Appeals. (13a)


G.R. No. 152752. January 19, 2005

Facts: City Administrator Rodel M. Mañara lodged a complaint against petitioner Inocelia S. Autencio with the Office of the City Mayor for dishonesty and misconduct in office. The complaint alleged that Riza Bravo, an employee of the City Assessor’s Office charged with the preparation of the payroll of casual employees, changed the September 1996 payroll prepared by her upon the order of petitioner. After hearing, the Office for Legal Services issued a resolution/decision, declaring the petitioner guilty of misconduct in office for allowing irregularities to happen which led to illegal payment of salaries to casuals. However, as regards to the charge of dishonesty, the same was found wanting due to insufficiency of evidence. A penalty of forced resignation with forfeiture of retirement benefits except for earned leave accumulated before the filing of the complaint was imposed. In return, petitioner alleged that she had waived her right to present her evidence at a formal hearing and agreed to submit the case for resolution, only because of the manifestation of the complainant and the hearing officer that she could be held liable only for the lesser offense of simple negligence.

Issue: Was the petitioner deprived of substantial due process?”

Held: Petitioner was afforded due process. On the formal charge against her, she had received sufficient information which, in fact, enabled her to prepare her defense. She filed her Answer controverting the charges against her and submitted Affidavits of personnel in the Assessor’s Office to support her claim of innocence. A pre-hearing conference was conducted by the legal officer, during which she -- assisted by her counsel -- had participated. Finally, she was able to appeal the ruling of City Mayor Badoy to the CSC, and then to the CA.
Finally, settled is the rule in our jurisdiction that the findings of fact of an administrative agency must be respected, so long as they are supported by substantial evidence. It is not the task of this Court to weigh once more the evidence submitted before the administrative body and to substitute its own judgment for that of the latter in respect of the sufficiency of evidence. In any event, the Decisions of the CSC and the Court of Appeals finding petitioner guilty of the administrative charge prepared against her are supported by substantial evidence.

G.R. No. 150897. April 11, 2005

Facts: Petitioner Turadio Domingo is the oldest of the five children of the late Bruno B. Domingo, formerly the registered owner of the properties subject of this dispute. Private respondents Leonora Domingo-Castro, Nuncia Domingo-Balabis, Abella Domingo, and Jose Domingo are petitioner’s siblings. A family quarrel arose over the validity of the purported sale of the house and lot by their father to private respondents. Sometime in 1981 petitioner, who by then was residing on the disputed property, received a notice, declaring him a squatter. Petitioner learned of the existence of the assailed Deed of Absolute Sale when an ejectment suit was filed against him. Subsequently, he had the then Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP, now Philippine National Police or PNP) Crime Laboratory compare the signature of Bruno on the said deed against specimen signatures of his father. As a result, the police issued him Questioned Document Report to the effect that the questioned signature and the standard signatures were written by two different persons Thus; petitioner filed a complaint for forgery, falsification by notary public, and falsification by private individuals against his siblings. But after it conducted an examination of the questioned documents, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) came up with the conclusion that the questioned signature and the specimen signatures were written by one and the same person, Bruno B. Domingo. Consequently, petitioner instituted a case for the declaration of the nullity of the Deed of Sale, reconveyance of the disputed property, and cancellation of TCT.

Issue: Whether or not the court errs when it held that the trial court correctly applied the rules of evidence in disregarding the conflicting PC-INP and NBI questioned document reports.

Held: Petitioner has shown no reason why the ruling made by the trial court on the credibility of the respondent’s witnesses below should be disturbed. Findings by the trial court as to the credibility of witnesses are accorded the greatest respect, and even finality by appellate courts, since the former is in a better position to observe their demeanor as well as their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial.
Finally, the questioned Deed of Absolute Sale in the present case is a notarized document. Being a public document, it is prima facie evidence of the facts therein expressed. It has the presumption of regularity in its favor and to contradict all these, evidence must be clear, convincing, and more than merely preponderant. Petitioner has failed to show that such contradictory evidence exists in this case.

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