January 2014 Philippine Supreme Court Rulings on Remedial Law

Here are select January 2014 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Action to annul judgment or final order; jurisdiction. In 1981, the Legislature enacted Batas Pambansa Blg.129 (Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980). Among several innovations of this legislative enactment was the formal establishment of the annulment of a judgment or final order as an action independent from the generic classification of litigations in which the subject matter was not capable of pecuniary estimation, and expressly vested the exclusive original jurisdiction over such action in the CA. The action in which the subject of the litigation was incapable of pecuniary estimation continued to be under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC, which replaced the CFI as the court of general jurisdiction. Since then, the RTC no longer had jurisdiction over an action to annul the judgment of the RTC, eliminating all concerns about judicial stability. To implement this change, the Court introduced a new  procedure to govern the action to annul the judgment of the RTC in the 1997 revision of the Rules of Court under Rule 47, directing in Section 2 thereof that “[t]he annulment may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.” Pinausukan Seafood House-Roxas Blvd., Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust Cp., now Bank of the Philippine Islands, et al., G.R. No. 159926, January 20, 2014.

Action to annul judgment or final order; lack of jurisdiction; types. Lack of jurisdiction on the part of the trial court in rendering the judgment or final order is either lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action, or lack of jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner. The former is a matter of substantive law because statutory law defines the jurisdiction of the courts over the subject matter or nature of the action. The latter is a matter of procedural law, for it involves the service of summons or other process on the petitioner. A judgment or final order issued by the trial court without jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action is always void, and, in the words of Justice Street in Banco Español-Filipino v. Palanca (37 Phil 949 [1918]), “in this sense it may be said to be a lawless thing, which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever and whenever it exhibits its head.” But the defect of lack of jurisdiction over the person, being a matter of procedural law, may be waived by the party concerned either expressly or impliedly. Pinausukan Seafood House-Roxas Blvd., Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust Cp., now Bank of the Philippine Islands, et al., G.R. No. 159926, January 20, 2014.

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November 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select November 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Conspiracy. Appellant conspired with his co-accused in killing the victim. They ganged up on the victim and took turns in stabbing and mauling him – animated by the same purpose and criminal intent to kill. Such unity of mind and purpose is shown by the twelve stab wounds and several abrasions found on different parts of the body of the victim that led to his instantaneous death. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that while there may be no evidence of an appreciable time that these persons agreed on the criminal resolution prior to the incident, the stabbings were not separate but were geared towards the consummation of the same end – to attack and kill the victim. Appellant’s positive identification by Candelada as one of those persons who stabbed the victim makes him criminally responsible as principal by indispensable cooperation. People of the Philippines v. Basilio Villarmea y Echavez, et al, G.R. No. 200029, November 13, 2013.

Murder; imposable penalty; damages to be awarded. When death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; and (5) temperate damages.” The heirs of the victim are likewise entitled to moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00. The award of exemplary damages in the amount of P30,000.00, in view of the aggravating circumstance of treachery, is likewise proper and in line with prevailing jurisprudence. Moreover, while actual damages cannot be awarded since there was no evidence of actual expenses incurred for the death of the victim, in lieu thereof, the sum of P25,000.00 may be granted, as it is hereby granted, by way of temperate damages as it cannot be denied that the heirs of the [victim] suffered pecuniary loss although the exact amount was not proved. In addition, all damages awarded shall earn interest at the rate of 6% per annum from date of finality of the decision until fully paid. People of the Philippines v. Andy Zulueta, a.k.a. Bogarts,G.R. No. 192183, November 11, 2013.

Qualified theft; grave abuse of confidence. To warrant the conviction and, hence, imposition of the penalty for qualified theft, there must be an allegation in the information and proof that there existed between the offended party and the accused such high degree of confidence or that the stolen goods have been entrusted to the custody or vigilance of the accused. In other words, where the accused had never been vested physical access to, or material possession of, the stolen goods, it may not be said that he or she exploited such access or material possession thereby committing such grave abuse of confidence in taking the property. Without the circumstance of a grave abuse of confidence and considering that the use of force in breaking the door was not alleged in the Information, petitioner can only be held accountable for the crime of simple theft under Art. 308 in relation to Art. 309 of the RPC. Ryan Viray v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 205180, November 11, 2013.

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The Recognizance Act of 2012: Giving the Poor “More in Law”

In our criminal justice system, one kind of injustice, that victimizes only the poor, happens every day whenever an accused, who has the right to post bail to attain liberty during the course of the trial of his criminal case, is not able to enjoy such right because he cannot afford to post bail for his release. This reality tramples upon the social justice mandate of our Constitution and has caused great injustice to the poor, especially those who are wrongly accused of the crime for which they have been charged and arrested.

There is a recent legislation that seeks to address this problem: Republic Act 10389 or the Recognizance Act of 2012 (“RA 10389” or the “Act”), which was signed into law by President Benigno S. Aquino III on March 14, 2013, and which is intended to promote restorative justice amid problems confronting the criminal justice system such as protracted trials, prolonged resolution of cases, inability to post bail bond, and congestion in jails.

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January 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are select January 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Annulment of Judgment; exception to final judgment rule; lack of due process as additional ground. A petition for Annulment of Judgment under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court is a remedy granted only under exceptional circumstances where a party, without fault on his part, has failed to avail of the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies. Said rule explicitly provides that it is not available as a substitute for a remedy which was lost due to the party’s own neglect in promptly availing of the same. “The underlying reason is traceable to the notion that annulling final judgments goes against the grain of finality of judgment, litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an affective administration of justice that once a judgment has become final, the issue or cause involved therein should be laid to rest.”

While under Section 2, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court a Petition for Annulment of Judgment may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction, jurisprudence recognizes lack of due process as additional ground to annul a judgment. In Arcelona v. Court of Appeals, this Court declared that a final and executory judgment may still be set aside if, upon mere inspection thereof, its patent nullity can be shown for having been issued without jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law. Leticia Diona, represented by her Attorney-in-fact, Marcelina Diona v. Romeo Balangue, Sonny Balangue, Reynaldo Balangue, and Esteban Balangue, Jr.; G.R. No. 173559. January 7, 2013

Appeal; filing of motion for extension of time to file motion for reconsideration in CA does not toll fifteen-day period to appeal; rule suspended in exceptional cases to serve substantial justice. The assailed CA resolution upheld the general rule that the filing of a motion for reconsideration in the CA does not toll the fifteen-day period to appeal, citing Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japson. However, in previous cases we suspended this rule in order to serve substantial justice.

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March 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select March 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.         REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa; elements. The offense of estafa committed with abuse of confidence has the following elements under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended: (a) that money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same; (b) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender, or denial on his part of such receipt; (c) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and (d)there is demand by the offended party to the offender. Esla Macandog Magtira v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 170964, March 7, 2012.

Estafa; elements. The Supreme Court ruled that all the above elements [of estafa] are present in this case, having been established by the prosecution’s evidence and by the petitioner’s own admissions. The first element was established by the evidence showing that the petitioner received various sums of money from the private complainants to be held in trust for them under the Paluwagan operation. The petitioner admitted that she was under obligation, at a fixed date, to account for and to deliver the Paluwagan funds to the private complainants in the sequential order agreed upon among them. The second element was established by the evidence that the petitioner failed to account for and to deliver the Paluwagan funds to the private complainants on the agreed time of delivery. The third and fourth elements of the offense were proven by evidence showing that the petitioner failed to account for and to deliver the Paluwagan funds to the private complainants despite several demands made upon her by the private complainants. Each of the private complainants testified as to how they were prejudiced when they failed to receive their allotted Paluwagan funds. Given the totality of evidence, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the petitioner of the crime charged. Esla Macandog Magtira v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 170964, March 7, 2012.

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November 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected November 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.         REVISED PENAL CODE

Malversation of public funds; elements.The elements of the crime of malversation of public funds are as follows: (a) that the offender is a public officer; (b) that he had the custody or control of funds or property by reason of the duties of his office; (c) that those funds or property were public funds or property for which he was accountable; and (d) that he appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented or, through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take them. In this case, all the elements are present and proven by the prosecution. With respect to the first three elements, it was established that petitioner was a revenue collection agent of the BIR. He was a public officer who had custody of public funds for which he was accountable. Anent the fourth element, such was established when the PNB confirmed that there was a discrepancy in the amounts actually received by the PNB and the amounts stated in the receipts reported by petitioner. Guillermo E. Cua v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 166847, November 16, 2011.

Rape; elements.  Proof of hymenal laceration is not an element of rape. An intact hymen does not negate a finding that the victim was raped. Penetration of the penis by entry into the lips of the vagina, even without laceration of the hymen, is enough to constitute rape, and even the briefest of contact is deemed rape. People of the Philippines v. Bernabe Pangilinan y Crisostomo, G.R. No. 183090, November 14, 2011.

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