March 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected March 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

Criminal Law

1.     Revised Penal Code

Acts of lasciviousness; elements. The crime of Acts of Lasciviousness, as defined in Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code, has the following elements: (1) that the offender commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness; (2) that it is done under any of the following circumstances: (a) by using force or intimidation; or (b) when the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; or (c) when the offended party is under 12 years of age; and (3) that the offended party is another person of either sex. Salvador Flordeliz y Abenojar v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 186441, March 3, 2010.

Arson; categories. There are actually two categories of arson, namely: Destructive Arson under Article 320 of the Revised Penal Code and Simple Arson under Presidential Decree No. 1316. Said classification is based on the kind, character and location of the property burned, regardless of the value of the damage caused. Article 320 contemplates the malicious burning of structures, both public and private, hotels, buildings, edifices, trains, vessels, aircraft, factories and other military, government or commercial establishments by any person or group of persons.  On the other hand, Presidential Decree No. 1316 covers houses, dwellings, government buildings, farms, mills, plantations, railways, bus stations, airports, wharves and other industrial establishments. People of the Philippines v. Jessie Villegas Murcia, G.R. No. 182460, March 9, 2010.

Arson; evidence. In the prosecution for the crime of arson, proof of the crime charged is complete where the evidence establishes: (1) the corpus delicti, that is, a fire because of criminal agency; and (2) the identity of the defendant as the one responsible for the crime. In arson, the corpus delicti rule is satisfied by proof of the bare fact of the fire and of it having been intentionally caused. People of the Philippines v. Jessie Villegas Murcia,  G.R. No. 182460, March 9, 2010.

Arson; objective of arson; distinguished from homicide/murder. In cases where both burning and death occur, in order to determine what crime/crimes was/were perpetrated – whether arson, murder or arson and homicide/murder, it is de rigueur to ascertain the main objective of the malefactor: (a) if the main objective is the burning of the building or edifice, but death results by reason or on the occasion of arson, the crime is simply arson, and the resulting homicide is absorbed; (b) if, on the other hand, the main objective is to kill a particular person who may be in a building or edifice, when fire is resorted to as the means to accomplish such goal the crime committed is murder only; lastly, (c) if the objective is, likewise, to kill a particular person, and in fact the offender has already done so, but fire is resorted to as a means to cover up the killing, then there are two separate and distinct crimes committed – homicide/murder and arson.  People of the Philippines Vs. Ferdinand T. Baluntong, G.R. No. 182061, March 15, 2010.

Arson; objective of arson; distinguished from homicide/murder. As it was not shown that the main motive was to kill the occupants of the house, the crime would only be arson, the homicide being a mere consequence thereof, hence, absorbed by arson. People of the Philippines Vs. Ferdinand T. Baluntong, G.R. No. 182061, March 15, 2010.

Arson; simple arson. A close examination of the records, as well as description of the crime as stated in the information of this case reveals that the crime committed is in fact simple arson because the burned properties are residential houses. People of the Philippines v. Jessie Villegas MurciaG.R. No. 182460, March 9, 2010.

Criminal Liability; self-defense; doctrine of rational equivalence. The doctrine of rational equivalence presupposes the consideration not only of the nature and quality of the weapons used by the defender and the assailant—but of the totality of circumstances surrounding the defense vis-à-vis the unlawful aggression. A perusal of the facts shows that after petitioner was successful in taking down private complainant Merto – the former continued to hack the latter, who was, by then, already neutralized by the blow.  This fact was clearly established by the testimony of Rodolfo Muya, who recounted having seen the petitioner continuously hacking the private complainant with the bolo scabbard, even as the latter lay almost motionless upon the muddy ground. Clearly, this “continuous hacking” by the petitioner constitutes force beyond what is reasonably required to repel the private complainant’s attack—and is therefore unjustified. Ladislao Espinosa vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 181071, March 15, 2010.

Criminal Liability; self-defense; unlawful aggressionIt is a statutory and doctrinal requirement that the presence of unlawful aggression is a condition sine qua non for self-defense to be warranted. Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual and imminent peril. In this case, the victim’s mere possession of a knife would not suffice to impute unlawful aggression on him as the appellants in this case have not even established that their lives had been actually threatened on account thereof. The victim in fact drew out his knife after he was twice kicked by one of the accused. Felipe Ronquillo v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 181430, March 9, 2010.

Criminal Liability; mistake of fact. Evil intent must unite with the unlawful act for a crime to exist.  Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea. There can be no crime when the criminal mind is wanting.  As a general rule, ignorance or mistake as to particular facts, honest and real, will exempt the doer from felonious responsibility.  Violeta Bahilidad vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 185195, March 17, 2010.

Estafa; elements. The essence of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) is the appropriation or conversion of money or property received to the prejudice of the owner.  The words “convert” and “misappropriate” connote an act of using or disposing of another’s property as if it were one’s own, or of devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. To misappropriate for one’s own use includes not only conversion to one’s personal advantage, but also every attempt to dispose of the property of another without right. Dionisio Aw, a.k.a. Tony Go vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 182276, March 29, 2010.

Estafa; elements.  In this case, it was clearly established by the testimonies of Abdon and Tiong that petitioner as salesman of Toyota received the check payment issued by Tiong and failed to turn over the check to the cashier of Toyota or to surrender the value of said check in accordance with his duty, upon demand.  The law is clear that failure to account upon demand for funds or property held in trust as in the case at bar is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. Demand for the return of the thing delivered in trust and the failure of the accused to account for it are circumstantial evidence of misappropriation.  In this case, petitioner presented no satisfactory explanation for his inability to account for Philtrust Check No. AO-12122.  Dionisio Aw, a.k.a. Tony Go vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 182276, March 29, 2010.

Estafa through falsification; elements. For a complex crime of estafa through falsification of a public document to prosper, all the elements of both the crimes of estafa and falsification of a public document must exist. In this case, not all the elements of the crime of falsification of a public document are present. There is simply no evidence on record that petitioner had any participation in the execution of the mortgage contract. The denial of Ramirez that she affixed her signature on the deed of mortgage does not prove that it was petitioner and his wife who signed on her behalf. Consequently, petitioner can only be convicted of the crime of estafa.  Danilo D. Ansaldo vs. Niña Z. Ramirez, G.R. No. 159381, March 26, 2010.

Homicide; conspiracy. The Supreme Court did not find the issue of conspiracy in this case relevant to the conviction of the appellant for the following reasons: (a) the participation of the appellants in the killing has already been established considering that appellants have admitted the killing, (b) the fact that the two accused each inflicted a serious wound which contributed to the death of the victim makes them co-principals, and (c) since the appellants invoked several justifying circumstances to exonerate themselves, any discussion on conspiracy is extraneous as these two concepts are incompatible with each other. Conspiracy presupposes a community of criminal intent while invocation of justifying circumstances presupposes lack of it. Felipe Ronquillo, et al v. People of the PhilippinesG.R. No. 181430, March 9, 2010.

Malversation of public funds. Petitioner was found guilty by the trial court of conspiring with Zoleta and other public officials in the commission of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds through Falsification of Public Documents.  The trial court relied on the dictum that the act of one is the act of all. However, conspiracy is not presumed.  Like the physical acts constituting the crime itself, the elements of conspiracy must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Violeta Bahilidad vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 185195, March 17, 2010.

Malversation of public funds. The Supreme Court found that petitioner’s participation in the crime was not adequately proven with moral certainty. There was no showing that petitioner had a hand in the preparation of the requirements submitted for the disbursement of the check.  There was no evidence presented that she was instrumental to the issuance of the check, nor was there any showing that she interceded for the approval of the check.  Violeta Bahilidad vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 185195, March 17, 2010.

Malversation of public funds. The Supreme Court reversed a conviction for the crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.  The Sandiganbayan faulted petitioner for immediately encashing the check, insisting that she should have deposited the check first. Such insistence is unacceptable. The check was issued in petitioner’s name and, as payee, she had the authority to encash it.  Petitioner’s action cannot, in itself, be considered as specious. There was no showing that petitioner had foreknowledge of any irregularity committed in the processing and disbursement of the check,or that the COA Rules required that the check had to be deposited in the bank first, or that an evaluation report from the provincial agriculturist had to be submitted.  Evil intent must unite with the unlawful act for a crime to exist.  Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea. There can be no crime when the criminal mind is wanting.  As a general rule, ignorance or mistake as to particular facts, honest and real, will exempt the doer from felonious responsibility. Violeta Bahilidad v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 185195, March 17, 2010.

Murder; abuse of superior strength. There is no merit to appellants’ contention that they should only be held liable for homicide, and not for murder, because the qualifying circumstance of abuse of superior strength was not specifically alleged in the Information.  Contrary to the assertion of the appellants, the Information specifically alleged that the appellants were “conspiring and confederating with one another, with intent to kill and taking advantage of their superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously tie a plastic nylon cord around the neck of one Romeleo A. Quintos….” Since it has been satisfactorily established that the eight of them acted in concert and definitely took advantage of their superior strength in subduing and killing their lone victim who was unarmed, all the appellants must be held liable for the crime of murder. People of the Philippines vs. Marcelo Z. Bustamante, G.R. No. 172357, March 19, 2010.

Murder; alibi. As for Jadap’s defense of denial and alibi, the same cannot be sustained in light of the eyewitnesses’ positive identification of Jadap and their clear and convincing testimonies regarding Jadap’s shooting of the victim.  For the defense of alibi to prosper, it must be established by positive, clear and satisfactory proof that it was physically impossible for the accused to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission, and not merely that the accused was somewhere else.  Physical impossibility refers to the distance between the place where the accused was when the crime happened and the place where it was committed, as well as the facility of the access between the two places. In the case at bar, Jadap failed to prove the element of physical impossibility for him to be at the scene of the crime at the time it took place.   He himself admitted that it would only take him about ten minutes to walk from his house in Bayabas to his wife’s house at Raagas Beach, Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City, where the crime was committed. People of the Philippines vs. Dante Jadap, G.R. No. 177983, March 30, 2010.

Murder; treachery. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by the aggressor on an unsuspecting victim, depriving him of any real chance to defend himself.  Even when the victim was forewarned of the danger to his person, treachery may still be appreciated since what is decisive is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victim to defend himself or to retaliate. In the instant case, there is no doubt that the victim was surprised by the attack coming from the appellant.  The victim was merely walking along the street unsuspecting of any harm that would befall his person.  That appellant shouted “ano, gusto n’yo, away?” immediately before stabbing the victim could not be deemed as sufficient warning to the latter of the impending attack on his person. People of the Philippines Vs. Richard D. Napalit, G.R. No. 181247, March 19, 2010.

Rape. Under Republic Act No. 8353 (effective October 22, 1997) and Articles 266-A and 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, the crime of rape may be committed by a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman through force, threat, or intimidation. People of the Philippines v. Aurelio Matunhay, G.R. No. 178274, March 5, 2010.

Rape; determination of innocence or guilt. In the determination of the innocence or guilt of the accused in rape cases, the courts consider the following principles: (1) an accusation of rape can be made with facility and while the accusation is difficult to prove, it is even more difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) considering that in the nature of things, only two persons are usually involved in the crime of rape, the testimony of the complainant should be scrutinized with great caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.  People of the Philippines vs. Anthony Rante y Reyes, G.R. No. 184809, March 29, 2010.

Rape; determination of innocence or guilt. Pursuant to these principles, the High Court scrutinized AAA’s statement in her Sinumpaang Salaysay, which was observed as inconsistent with her testimony on cross examination. However, it ruled any such inconsistencies in her testimony referred to minor, trivial or inconsequential circumstances. Further, when a woman states that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was committed especially when the testimony of the witness corresponds with medical findings, there is sufficient basis to conclude that the essential requisites of carnal knowledge have been established. In the instant case, the medico-legal examination conducted on AAA reveals that she is no longer a virgin.  Accordingly, these lacerations, whether healed or fresh, were treated by the Supreme Court as the best physical evidence of forcible defloration, and, when such physician’s finding of penetration, as in this case, is corroborated by the victim’s testimony, there is sufficient reason to conclude that the essential requisite of carnal knowledge exists. Thus, the prosecution has clearly established the guilt of the appellant, while the defense has no contrary evidence to rely on. People of the Philippines vs. Anthony Rante y Reyes, G.R. No. 184809, March 29, 2010.

Rape; elements. The insertion of petitioner’s fingers into the victim’s vagina constituted the crime of Rape through sexual assault. Under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8353, or “The Anti-Rape Law of 1997,” Rape is committed by [A] a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: (1) through force, threat, or intimidation; (2) when the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; (3) by means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and (4)  when the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present, or [B] by any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned above, shall commit an act of sexual assault by inserting his penis into another person’s mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person. Salvador Flordeliz y Abenojar v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 186441, March 3, 2010.

Rape; evidence; credibility of victim as witness. In a prosecution for rape, the victim’s credibility becomes the single most important issue.  For when a woman says she was raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was committed; thus, if her testimony meets the test of credibility, the accused may be convicted on the basis thereof. The rule is settled that the trial court’s findings on the credibility of witnesses and of their testimonies are entitled to the highest respect and will not be disturbed on appeal, in the absence of any clear showing that the court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which would have affected the result of the case.  This is because the trial court, having seen and heard the witnesses themselves, and observed their behavior and manner of testifying, is in a better position to decide the question of credibility. In this case, the test of credibility for a rape victim was more than sufficiently met. People of the Philippines v. Danilo Paculba, G.R. No. 183453, March 9, 2010.

Rape; liability extinguished by marriage. In cases of seduction, abduction, acts of lasciviousness, and rape, the marriage of the offender with the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or remit the penalty already imposed upon him. Based on the documents, including copies of pictures taken after the marriage ceremony, the Supreme Court found that the marriage between appellant and private complainant have been contracted validly, legally, and in good faith, as an expression of their mutual love for each other and their desire to establish a family of their own.  Given public policy considerations of respect for the sanctity of marriage and the highest regard for the solidarity of the family, the Court accorded the appellant the full benefits of Article 89, in relation to Article 344 and Article 266-C of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, the Supreme Court absolved the two counts of rape filed by the private complainant against the appellant on account of their subsequent marriage.  People of the Philippines v. Ronie De Guzman, G.R. No. 185843, March 3, 2010.

Rape with homicide; elements. In the special complex crime of rape with homicide, the following elements must concur: (1) the appellant had carnal knowledge of a woman; (2) carnal knowledge of a woman was achieved by means of force, threat or intimidation; and (3) by reason or on occasion of such carnal knowledge by means of force, threat or intimidation, the appellant killed a woman. When the victim is a minor, however, it is sufficient that the evidence proves that the appellant had sexual intercourse or sexual bodily connections with the victim. People of the Philippines v. Victor Villarino y Mabute, G.R. No. 185012, March 5, 2010.

Rape with homicide; circumstantial evidence. In a special complex crime of rape with homicide, both rape and homicide must be established beyond reasonable doubt. People of the Philippines Vs. Erpascual Diega Y Pajares, G.R. No. 173510/G.R. No. 174099, March 15, 2010.

Rape with homicide; circumstantial evidence. Considering that there were no witnesses to the commission of the crime charged herein, the weight of the prosecution’s evidence must then be appreciated in light of the well-settled rule that an accused can be convicted even in the absence of an eyewitness, as long as sufficient circumstantial evidence is presented by the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime. People of the Philippines Vs. Erpascual Diega Y Pajares, G.R. No. 173510/G.R. No. 174099, March 15, 2010.

Rape with homicide; circumstantial evidence. Here, the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution leads to the inescapable conclusion that the appellant committed the complex crime of rape with homicide: First. The appellant lived and worked as a security guard in the farm where “AAA” was raped and killed. Due to the nature of his job, he had all the opportunity to observe the people who travelled to and from the farm. Second.  “AAA” routinely passed by the farm in going to school. She used the same path on her way home. Third. The appellant displayed lewd interest whenever he saw “AAA” by touching her arms and making lewd comments. Fourth. Although the appellant reported for duty on the day the crime was committed, he was not on his post and could not be located. Fifth.  On March 17, 1995, at around 1:00 to 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, Juanito identified the appellant, clad only in short pants, as the only person beside the unconscious “AAA”, whose blouse was unbuttoned and crumpled, and whose skirt was raised above her knees, near the banana grove inside the farm. Sixth. The appellant threatened to kill Juanito, and with the use of a pistol, ordered him to touch the body of “AAA” and to tie a vine around her neck.  People of the Philippines Vs. Erpascual Diega Y Pajares, G.R. No. 173510/G.R. No. 174099, March 15, 2010.

Rape; penalty. In imposing the proper penalty for the crime of rape, the applicable provisions under the Revised Penal Code, i.e., Articles 266-A and 266-B, as amended by Republic Act No. 8353 (effective October 22, 1997) will be applied. The penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed for rape committed under paragraph 1 of the Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code. Whenever the rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. People of the Philippines v. Aurelio Matunhay, G.R. No. 178274, March 5, 2010.

Qualified rape; elements. Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659 provides that rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: (a) by using force or intimidation; (b) when the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and (c) when the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented. The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua. Under Paragraph 7(1) of Article 335, the death penalty shall also be imposed if victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim. People of the Philippines v. Danilo Paculba, G.R. No. 183453, March 9, 2010.

Qualified rape; elements. To convict appellant for the offense, the prosecution must allege and prove the ordinary elements of (1) sexual congress, (2) with a woman, (3) by force and without consent; and in order to warrant the imposition of the death penalty, the additional elements that (4) the victim is under eighteen years of age at the time of the rape, and (5) the offender is a parent (whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted) of the victim. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution was able to prove the existence of all above elements beyond the shadow of a doubt. Accordingly, the penalty of reclusion perpetua was properly meted out. People of the Philippines v. Rolando Bautista Iroy,G.R. No. 187743, March 3, 2010.

Qualified rape; penalty. Under Article 266-B of the RPC, an accused found guilty of qualified rape should be meted the supreme penalty of death.  However, with the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346, entitled “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines,” the imposition of the death penalty has been prohibited.  Pursuant to Section 2 thereof, the penalty to be imposed on appellant shall be reclusion perpetuaPeople of the Philippines v. Rolando Bautista Iroy, G.R. No. 187743, March 3, 2010.

Robbery with rape; evidence. It is well-settled that findings of fact of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are generally accorded great respect by the appellate court.  The assessment of the credibility of witnesses is a matter best left to the trial court, because it is in the best position to observe that elusive and incommunicable evidence of the witnesses’ deportment on the stand while testifying, which opportunity is denied the appellate court. People of the Philippines v. Nelson Palma y Hangad, G.R. No. 189279, March 9, 2010.

Robbery with rape; nocturnity. Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code provides that Robbery with Rape is committed when the robbery shall have been accompanied by rape. In choosing to commit the crime in the evening and in bringing the victim under the bridge, nighttime facilitated the commission of the crime with impurity. Indeed the cover of darkness aided the appellant in order to ensure that the execution of his criminal action would go unnoticed. The aggravating circumstance of nocturnity is attendant in this case. People of the Philippines v. Nelson Palma y Hangad, G.R. No. 189279, March 9, 2010.

2.     Special Laws

Anti-Graft Law;  Section 3(e). To be found guilty under Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), the public officer must have committed any act causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. The said provision, i.e., Section 3(e), shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions. Engr. Ricardo L. Santillano v. People of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 175045-46, March 3, 2010.

Anti-Graft Law; Section 3(e); elements. To be found guilty under Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), the following elements must concur: (1) the offender is a public officer; (2) the act was done in the discharge of the public officer’s official, administrative or judicial functions; (3) the act was done through manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence; and (4) the public officer caused any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or gave any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference. Rolando E. Sison v. People of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 170339, 170398-403. March 9, 2010

Anti-Graft Law; Section 3(e); elements. The third element of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 may be committed in three ways, i.e., through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. Proof of any of these three in connection with the prohibited acts mentioned in Section 3(e) of RA 3019 is enough to convict. The term “partiality” under the third element is synonymous with “bias” which excites a disposition to see and report matters as they are wished for rather than as they while bad faith” does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence; it imputes a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong; a breach of sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill will; it partakes of the nature of fraud. “Gross negligence” has been so defined as negligence characterized by the want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences in so far as other persons may be affected. It is the omission of that care which even inattentive and thoughtless men never fail to take on their own property. Rolando E. Sison v. People of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 170339, 170398-403. March 9, 2010

Anti-Graft Law; Section 3(e); when private individuals included. While Section 3(e) does not contain a reference to private individuals, private individuals, under Section 4 (b) of the same law, may nonetheless be prosecuted under Section 3(e) thereof if he knowingly induces or causes any public official to commit any of the offenses defined in Section 3(e) of RA 3019. Clearly, the law punishes not only public officers who commit prohibited acts enumerated under Sec. 3, but also those who induce or cause the public official to commit those offenses. This is supported by Sec. 9, which includes private persons as liable for violations under Sections. 3, 4, 5, and 6 of RA 3019. Engr. Ricardo L. Santillano v. People of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 175045-46, March 3, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; entrapment distinguished from instigation. Entrapment is the employment of such ways and means for the purpose of trapping or capturing a lawbreaker. On the other hand, instigation is the means by which the accused is lured into the commission of the offense charged in order to prosecute him. One form of entrapment is the buy-bust operation. It is legal and has been proved to be an effective method of apprehending drug peddlers, provided due regard to constitutional and legal safeguards is undertaken. People of the Philippines v. Victorio Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, March 3, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; buy-bust. In order to determine the validity of a buy-bust operation, the Supreme Court has consistently applied the “objective” test.  Applying the “objective” test, the details of the purported transaction during the buy-bust operation must be clearly and adequately shown, i.e., the initial contact between the poseur-buyer and the pusher, the offer to purchase, and the promise or payment of the consideration until the consummation of the sale by the delivery of the illegal drug subject of the sale.  It further emphasized that the “manner by which the initial contact was made, whether or not through an informant, the offer to purchase the drug, the payment of the ‘buy-bust’ money, and the delivery of the illegal drug, whether to the informant alone or the police officer, must be subject of strict scrutiny by courts to insure that law-abiding citizens are not unlawfully induced to commit an offense. People of the Philippines v. Victorio Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, March 3, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; sale of prohibited drugs; elements. The essential elements of the crime of illegal sale of prohibited drugs are: (1) the accused sold and delivered a prohibited drug to another; and (2) he knew that what he had sold and delivered was a prohibited drug. All these elements were satisfactorily proved by the prosecution in the instant case.  Appellant sold and delivered the shabu for PhP 500 to the poseur-buyer; the said drug was seized and identified as a prohibited drug and subsequently presented in evidence; there was actual exchange of the marked money and contraband; and finally, appellant was fully aware that he was selling and delivering a prohibited drug.  People of the Philippines v. Victorio Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, March 3, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; possession of prohibited drugs; elements. Likewise, the prosecution was also able to prove with moral certainty the guilt of appellant for the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. It was able to prove the following elements: (1) that the accused is in possession of the object identified as a prohibited or regulatory drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) that the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug. People of the Philippines v. Victorio Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, March 3, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. It is true that the IRR of R.A. No. 9165 provides that the physical inventory of the seized items may be done at the nearest police station, if the same cannot be done at the place where the items were seized. However, it must be emphasized that the IRR also provides that “non-compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items.” People of the Philippines vs. Ronaldo De Guzman y Danzil, G.R. No. 186498, March 26, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. The failure to follow the procedure mandated under R.A. No. 9165 and its IRR must be adequately explained. The justifiable ground for non-compliance must be proven as a fact. The court cannot presume what these grounds are or that they even exist. The presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty cannot by itself overcome the presumption of innocence nor constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt. People of the Philippines vs. Ronaldo De Guzman y Danzil, G.R. No. 186498, March 26, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. Sec. 21 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9165 provides for the method of custody and disposition of confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment. As can be gleaned from the language of Sec. 21 of the Implementing Rules, it is clear that the failure of the law enforcers to comply strictly with it is not fatal.  It does not render accused’s arrest illegal nor the evidence adduced against him inadmissible. What is essential is “the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. People of the Philippines v. Victorio Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, March 3, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. In this case, there was substantial compliance with the law and the integrity of the drugs seized from accused was preserved. The chain of custody of the drugs subject matter of the case was shown not to have been broken.  The factual milieu of the case reveals that after police officer seized and confiscated the dangerous drugs, as well as the marked money, accused was immediately arrested and brought to the police station for investigation, where the sachets of suspected shabu were marked appropriately.  Immediately thereafter, the confiscated substance, with a letter of request for examination, was submitted to the PNP Crime Laboratory for laboratory examination to determine the presence of any dangerous drug.  Pursuant to the physical science report, the specimen submitted contained methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.  Therefore, it is evidently clear that there was an unbroken chain in the custody of the illicit drug purchased from appellant. People of the Philippines v. Victorio Pagkalinawan, G.R. No. 184805, March 3, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. In all prosecutions for the violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act (RA 9165), the existence of the prohibited drug has to be proved. The “chain of custody” rule requires that testimony be presented about every link in the chain of the custody of the substance, from the moment the item was seized up to the time it is offered in evidence. To this end, the prosecution must ensure that the substance presented in court is the same substance seized from the accused. People of the Philippines v. Fernando Habana y Orante, G.R. No. 188900, March 5, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. While this Supreme Court recognizes substantial adherence to the requirements of R.A. 9165 and its implementing rules and regulations, not perfect adherence, is what is demanded of police officers attending to drugs cases, still, such officers must present justifiable reason for their imperfect conduct and show that the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items had been preserved.  In this case, they failed to meet these conditions.  People of the Philippines v. Fernando Habana y Orante, G.R. No. 188900, March 5, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. In this case, the police officers offered no explanation for their failure to observe the chain of custody rule. The prosecution failed to show how the seized items changed hands, from when the police officers seized them to the time they were presented in court as evidence. People of the Philippines v. Fernando Habana y Orante, G.R. No. 188900, March 5, 2010..

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. Usually, the police officer who seizes the suspected substance turns it over to a supervising officer, who would then send it by courier to the police crime laboratory for testing.  Since it is unavoidable that possession of the substance changes hand a number of times, it is imperative for the officer who seized the substance from the suspect to place his marking on its plastic container and seal the same, preferably with adhesive tape that cannot be removed without leaving a tear on the plastic container.  At the trial, the officer can then identify the seized substance and the procedure he observed to preserve its integrity until it reaches the crime laboratory. Since the failure in this case to comply with the procedure in the custody of seized drugs compromised the identity and integrity of the items seized, which is the corpus delicti of each of the crimes charged against the accused, his acquittal is in order. People of the Philippines v. Fernando Habana y Orante, G.R. No. 188900, March 5, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. The presentation of the drugs which constitute the corpus delicti of the offenses, calls for the necessity of proving beyond doubt that they are the same seized objects.  While a perfect chain of custody is almost always impossible to achieve, an unbroken chain becomes indispensable and essential in the prosecution of drug cases owing to its susceptibility to alteration, tampering, contamination and even substitution and exchange. Hence, every link must be accounted for.  People of the Philippines vs. Rodnie Almorfe y Sedente, et al., G.R. No. 181831, March 29, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; chain of custody. In the present case, even if the requirement to conduct an inventory were to be excused, given that there were only three sachets confiscated, the prosecution just the same failed to discharge its burden.  Although Janet identified Exhibits “C-1,” “C-2” and “C-3” as the drugs seized from appellants which she claimed to have marked immediately after the bust, she did not disclose the name of the investigator to whom she turned them over.  And there is no showing if that same investigator was the one who turned the drugs over to the forensic chemist, or if the forensic chemist whose name appears in the physical science report was the one who received them from that investigator, or where the drugs were kept for safekeeping after the chemical test was conducted up to the time they were presented in court. In fine, the prosecution failed to account for every link of the chain starting from its turn over by Janet to the investigator, and from the latter to the chemist. Hence, the accused must be acquitted.  People of the Philippines vs. Rodnie Almorfe y Sedente, et al., G.R. No. 181831, March 29, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; proof beyond reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court sustained the finding of the lower court that the prosecution sufficiently established appellants’ guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the illegal sale of and illegal possession of dangerous drugs in violation of Rep. Act No. 9165.  The prosecution proved that appellant Fabian illegally delivered a plastic sachet containing shabu to appellant Macalong, who knowingly possessed the same.  Moreover, the subject drugs were also proven to be positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride, as evidenced by “Chemistry Report No. D-367-04” conducted by Forensic Chemical Officer and PO1 Jennifer G. Tantoy of the PNP Crime Laboratory.  People of the Philippines Vs. Raymond Fabian y Nicolas, et al., G.R. No. 181040, March 15, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence; proof beyond reasonable doubt. In this case, it is indisputable that the procedures for the custody and disposition of confiscated dangerous drugs, as mandated in Section 21 of RA 9165, were not observed.  The records utterly failed to show that the buy-bust team complied with these procedures despite their mandatory nature as indicated by the use of “shall” in the directives of the law.  The procedural lapses in the handling and identification of the seized items collectively raise doubts as to whether the items presented in court were the exact same items that were confiscated from appellant when he was apprehended. The Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause protects the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged.  People of the Philippines vs. Roldan M. Morales, G.R. No. 172873, March 19, 2010.

R.A. 8042; illegal recruitment; elements. To constitute illegal recruitment in large scale, three elements must concur:  (a) the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable him to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers; (b) the offender undertakes any of the activities within the meaning of “recruitment and placement” under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code, or any of the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the same Code (now Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042); and, (c) the offender committed the same against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group. People of the Philippines vs. Rodolfo Gallo, G.R. No. 185277, March 18, 2010.

R.A. 8042; illegal recruitment; elements. Here, all the three elements were proven: First, appellant had no valid license or authority to engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. This is established by the Karagdagang Salaysay executed by Pacardo on 8 March 2002, paragraph 6 of which states that while MPM applied for a license, it was never issued one, for which reason, it changed its name to New Filipino Manpower Development and Services, Inc. Second, despite not having such authority, appellant nevertheless engaged in recruitment activities, offering and promising jobs to private complainants and collecting from them various amounts as placement fees.  This is substantiated by the respective testimonies of the three private complainants. The mere denials of appellant cannot stand against the clear, positive and straightforward testimonies of private complainants who positively identified appellant as one of two persons who undertook to recruit them for a supposed employment in Korea. People of the Philippines vs. Rodolfo Gallo, G.R. No. 185277, March 18, 2010.

R.A. 8042; illegal recruitment; elements. Article 38 (a) of the Labor Code provides that illegal recruitment is committed when any recruitment activities, including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of Labor Code are to be undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority. Illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate or in large scale and shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage. Illegal recruitment is considered to have been committed by a syndicate when it is carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another while illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group. From the foregoing provisions, it is clear that any recruitment activities to be undertaken by non-licensee or non-holder of contracts, or as in the present case, an agency with an expired license,  shall be deemed illegal and punishable under Article 39 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. People of the Philippines v. Melissa Chua, G.R. No. 184058, March 10, 2010.

R.A. 8042; illegal recruitment; elements. For illegal recruitment in large scale to prosper, the prosecution has to prove three essential elements, to wit: (1) the accused undertook a recruitment activity under Article 13(b) or any prohibited practice under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) the accused did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (3) the accused committed such illegal activity against three or more persons individually or as a group. People of the Philippines v. Melissa Chua, G.R. No. 184058, March 10, 2010.

R.A. 8042; illegal recruitment; elements.  Under Article 38 of the Labor Code, any recruitment activities, including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the same law to be undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority shall be deemed illegal and punishable. Under Article 13(b) of the same law “recruitment and placement” refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not:  Provided, That any person or entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement. People of the Philippines v. Maritess Martinez y Dulay, G.R. No. 158627, March 5, 2010.

R.A. 8042; illegal recruitment; elements. In this case, all the four complainants unanimously declared that appellant offered and promised them employment abroad.  They also testified that they gave various amounts to appellant as payment for placement and processing fees.  Notwithstanding said promises and payments, they were not able to leave for abroad to work.  These testimonies, as well as the documentary evidence they submitted consisting of the receipts issued them by the appellant, all prove that the latter was engaged in recruitment and placement activities. Here, the prosecution satisfactorily established that appellant was not a licensee or holder of authority to deploy workers abroad.  By this fact alone, she is deemed to have engaged in illegal recruitment and the same was committed in large scale because it was carried out against the four complainants. People of the Philippines v. Maritess Martinez y Dulay, G.R. No. 158627, March 5, 2010.

Criminal Procedure

Alibi; evidence. Alibi is an inherently weak defense and can easily be fabricated. The settled jurisprudence is that  categorical and consistent positive identification, absent any showing of ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying thereon, prevails over the defenses of denial and alibi which, if not substantiated by clear and convincing proof, as in the case at bar, constitute self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law. Thus, appellant’s alibi in this case, more so that it is not corroborated by any witness, cannot prosper over the victim’s positive identification. People of the Philippines v. Danilo Paculba, G.R. No. 183453, March 9, 2010.

Arrest; estoppel. An accused is estopped from assailing the legality of his arrest if he fails to raise this issue, or to move for the quashal of the information against him on this ground, before arraignment. Here, the appellant was already arraigned, entered a plea of not guilty and actively participated in his trial.  He raised the issue of the irregularity of his arrest only during his appeal to the Court of Appeals.  He is therefore deemed to have waived such alleged defect by submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the court through his counsel-assisted plea during the arraignment, by actively participating in the trial, and by not raising the objection before his arraignment. People of the Philippines v. Nelson Palma y Hangad, G.R. No. 189279, March 9, 2010.

Bail Pending Appeal. In an application for bail pending appeal by an appellant sentenced by the trial court to a penalty of imprisonment for more than six years, the discretionary nature of the grant of bail pending appeal does not mean that bail should automatically be granted absent any of the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court. Jose Antonio Leviste v. Court of Appeals, et al, G.R. No. 189122, March 17, 2010.

Bail Pending Appeal. The third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 applies to two scenarios where the penalty imposed on the appellant applying for bail is imprisonment exceeding six years. The first scenario deals with the circumstances enumerated in the said paragraph not present. The second scenario contemplates the existence of at least one of the said circumstances. In the first situation, bail is a matter of sound judicial discretion. This means that, if none of the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 is present, the appellate court has the discretion to grant or deny bail. An application for bail pending appeal may be denied even if the bail-negating circumstances in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 are absent. On the other hand, in the second situation, the appellate court exercises a more stringent discretion, that is, to carefully ascertain whether any of the enumerated circumstances in fact exists.  If it so determines, it has no other option except to deny or revoke bail pending appeal. Thus, a finding that none of the said circumstances is present will not automatically result in the grant of bail. Such finding will simply authorize the court to use the less stringent sound discretion approach. Jose Antonio Leviste v. Court of Appeals, et al, G.R. No. 189122, March 17, 2010.

Complaint; sufficiency. The test of sufficiency of a complaint is whether or not, assuming the truth of the facts that plaintiff alleges in it, the court can render judgment granting him the judicial assistance he seeks and judgment would be right only if the facts he alleges constitute a cause of action that consists of three elements: (1) the plaintiff’s legal right in the matter; (2) the defendant’s corresponding obligation to honor or respect such right; and (3) the defendant’s subsequent violation of the right.  Absent any of these, the complaint would have failed to state a cause of action. Arthur Del Rosario, et al v. Hellenor D. Doanto, Jr. et al, G.R. No. 180595, March 5, 2010.

Damages resulting from illegal search warrants; remedy of a separate civil action. The proceeding under Rule 126 of the Rules of Court does not provide for the filing of counterclaims for damages against those who may have improperly sought the issuance of the search warrant.  Consequently, the petitioners had the right to seek damages, if the circumstances warranted, by separate civil action for the wrong inflicted on them by an improperly obtained or enforced search warrant. Arthur Del Rosario, et al v. Hellenor D. Doanto, Jr. et al, G.R. No. 180595, March 5, 2010.

Evidence; circumstantial evidence. Even the uncorroborated testimony of a single eyewitness, if credible, is enough to prove the corpus delicti and to warrant conviction. Under the rules, circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if: (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. In order to justify a conviction upon circumstantial evidence, the combination of circumstances must be such as to leave no reasonable doubt in the mind as to the criminal responsibility of the accused. People of the Philippines v. Jessie Villegas Murcia, G.R. No. 182460, March 9, 2010.

Extrajudicial confession; admissibility. The accused’s confession to a bantay bayan is inadmissible in evidence if the same was done without the assistance of his lawyer and without waiver of his right to counsel.  People of the Philippines v. Antonio Lauga, G.R. No. 186228, March 15, 2010.

Extrajudicial confession; admissibility. The Supreme Court held that  barangay-based volunteer organizations in the nature of watch groups, as in the case of the “bantay bayan,” are recognized by the local government unit to perform functions relating to the preservation of peace and order at the barangay level.  Thus, without ruling on the legality of the actions taken by Moises Boy Banting, and the specific scope of duties and responsibilities delegated to a “bantay bayan,” particularly on the authority to conduct a custodial investigation, any inquiry he makes has the color of a state-related function and objective insofar as the entitlement of a suspect to his constitutional rights provided for under Article III, Section 12 of the Constitution, otherwise known as the Miranda Rights, is concerned.  Therefore, the extrajudicial confession of appellant taken without  counsel was inadmissible in evidence. People of the Philippines v. Antonio Lauga, G.R. No. 186228, March 15, 2010.

Improvident Plea. The appellant was not fully apprised of the consequences of his guilty plea. In fact, as argued by appellant, “the trial court should have informed him that his plea of guilt would not affect or reduce the imposable penalty, which is death as he might have erroneously believed that under Article 63, the death penalty, being a single indivisible penalty, shall be applied by the court regardless of any mitigating circumstances that might have attended the commission of the deed.” Moreover, the trial court judge failed to inform appellant of his right to adduce evidence despite the guilty plea.  With the trial court’s failure to comply with the guidelines, appellant’s guilty plea is deemed improvidently made and thus rendered inefficacious. People of the Philippines v. Oscar Documento, G.R. No. 188706, March 17, 2010.

Improvident Plea. An improvident plea of guilt does not mean that the case should be remanded to the trial court. This course of action is appropriate only when the appellant’s guilty plea was the sole basis for his conviction. On the other hand, if the trial court relied on sufficient and credible evidence in finding the accused guilty, the judgment must be sustained. People of the Philippines v. Oscar Documento, G.R. No. 188706, March 17, 2010.

Ombudsman; authority to conduct preliminary investigation. The Deputy Ombudsman is well within his power in disregarding the recommendation of the prosecutor and proceeding to file the information in court. The discretion whether a case should be filed or not lies with the Ombudsman. Thus, given this vast power and authority, he can conduct a preliminary investigation with or without the report from COA. The findings in the COA report or the finality or lack of finality of such report is irrelevant to the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman in its determination of probable cause. Thus, the filing of the information against petitioner notwithstanding the lack of certification on her cashbook examination could not in any manner be said to be premature much less whimsical or arbitrary. Angelita de Guzman v. Emilio Gonzales III, et al, G.R. No. 158104, March 26, 2010

Ombudsman; criminal complaint against Supreme Court justices. Criminal complaint for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019, based on the legal correctness of the official acts of Justices of the Supreme Court, cannot prosper and should not be entertained. The Constitution provides that the appropriate recourse against them is to seek their removal from office if they are guilty of culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. Only after removal can they be criminally proceeded against for their transgressions. Re: Subpoena Duces Tecum dated January 11, 2010 of Acting Director Aleu A. Amante, PIAB-C Office of the Ombudsman, A.M. No. 10-1-13-SC, March 2, 2010.

Ombudsman; validity of subpoena duces tecum. In light of the Ombudsman’s dismissal order of February 4, 2010 of the criminal complaint, any question relating to the legality and propriety of the subpoena duces tecum issued by the Ombudsman in connection with said criminal complaint has been rendered moot and academic.  The subpoena duces tecum merely drew its life and continued viability from the underlying criminal complaint, and the complaint’s dismissal – belated though it may be – cannot but have the effect of rendering the need for the subpoena duces tecum academic. Re: Subpoena Duces Tecum dated January 11, 2010 of Acting Director Aleu A. Amante, PIAB-C Office of the Ombudsman, A.M. No. 10-1-13-SC, March 2, 2010.

Ombudsman; authority to issue subpoena duces tecum. In the appropriate case, the Office of the Ombudsman has full authority to issue subpoenas, including subpoena duces tecum, for compulsory attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and information relating to matters under its investigation. The grant of this authority, however, is not unlimited, as the Ombudsman must necessarily observe and abide by the terms of the Constitution and our laws, the Rules of Court and the applicable jurisprudence on the issuance, service, validity and efficacy of subpoenas.  Under the Rules of Court, the issuance of subpoenas, including a subpoena duces tecum, operates under the requirements of reasonableness and relevance. For the production of documents to be reasonable and for the documents themselves to be relevant, the matter under inquiry should, in the first place, be one that the Ombudsman can legitimately entertain, investigate and rule upon. Re: Subpoena Duces Tecum dated January 11, 2010 of Acting Director Aleu A. Amante, PIAB-C Office of the Ombudsman, A.M. No. 10-1-13-SC, March 2, 2010.

Rule 42 Petition for Review; requirement that petition filed in Court of Appeals be accompanied by copy of judgments or final orders of “both lower courts.” Petitioner contends that her petition before the Court of Appeals merits reinstatement since she attached thereto a carbon original of the RTC decision which affirmed the MTCC’s decision, and which restated verbatim the findings of facts of the MTCC. The Supreme Court agreed with petitioner ruling that while Rule 42, Section 2(d) of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, requires that, inter alia, the petition for review shall “be accompanied by clearly legible duplicate original or true copies of the judgments or final orders of both lower courts,” the cited deficiency in petitioner’s petition for review does not make it insufficient in form and substance since it is the decision of the RTC, not that of the MTCC, which is the subject of her appeal. What is important is that in her petition for review, she attached thereto the original copy of the RTC decision which quoted extensively the findings of the MTCC, including its discussion on the application of the law, that were affirmed in totoEvelyn Barredo vs. People of the Philippines, et al., G.R. No. 183467, March 29, 2010.

Rule 45 Petition; proof of service on Sandiganbayan mandatory. The Supreme Court denied a Rule 45 petition for petitioner’s failure, among others, to show proof of service of a copy of the petition on the Sandiganbayan. Proof of service is required under Supreme Court Circular No. 19-91 dated August 13, 1991, which states: “2. Form and Service of Petition. - A petition filed under Rule 45, or under Rule 65, or a motion for extension may be denied outright if it is not clearly legible, or there is no proof of service on the lower court, tribunal, or office concerned and on the adverse party in accordance with Sections 3, 5 and 10 of Rule 13, attached to the petition or motion for extension when filed.” Here, petitioner fatally failed to implead the Sandiganbayan and to serve a copy of his petition to the said court. While the Rules of Court does not require that the lower court be impleaded, proof of service of the petition on the lower court is mandated. Jurisprudence holds that the utter disregard of the Rules cannot be justified by harking to substantial justice and the policy of liberal construction of the Rules. Technical rules of procedure are not meant to frustrate the ends of justice. Rather, they serve to effect the proper and orderly disposition of cases and, thus, effectively prevent the clogging of court dockets. Engr. Ricardo L. Santillano v. People of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 175045-46, March 3, 2010.

(Lindy thanks Nuj Dumbrigue and Hann Sevilla for their help in preparing this post.)

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