July 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1. CRIMINAL LAW

Qualifying circumstance; treachery. The Supreme Court affirmed the findings of the trial court that the qualifying circumstance of treachery attended the commission of the crime. Milan’s act of closing the door facilitated the commission of the crime, allowing Carandang to wait in ambush. The sudden gunshots when the police officers pushed the door open illustrate the intention of appellants and Carandang to prevent any chance for the police officers to defend themselves. Treachery is thus present in the case at bar, as what is decisive for this qualifying circumstance is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victims to defend themselves or to retaliate. People of the Philippines v. Restituto Carandang, et al, G.R. No. 175926, July 6, 2011.

 2. SPECIAL PENAL LAWS

 Dangerous drugs; chain of custody. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the accused by ruling that the failure of the policemen to make a physical inventory and photograph the two plastic sachets containing the shabu subject of this case do not render the confiscated items inadmissible in evidence. Likewise, the failure of the policemen to mark the two plastic sachets containing shabu at the place of arrest does not render the confiscated items inadmissible in evidence. In People v. Resurreccion, G.R. No. 186380, 12 October 2009, 603 SCRA 510, it was held that “the failure of the policemen to immediately mark the confiscated items does not automatically impair the integrity of chain of custody.” Francisco Imson y Adriano vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 193003, July 13, 2011.

Dangerous drugs; chain of custody. The failure to strictly comply with Section 21(1), Article II of RA 9165 does not necessarily render an accused’s arrest illegal or the items seized or confiscated from him inadmissible. What is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as these would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. The presumption is that the policemen performed their official duties regularly. In order to overcome this presumption, the accused must show that there was bad faith or improper motive on the part of the policemen, or that the confiscated items were tampered. In this case, the accused failed to do so. Francisco Imson y Adriano vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 193003, July 13, 2011.

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February 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are selected February 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Abandonment; elements. Respondents filed an illegal dismissal case against the petitioner-corporation. For its defense, petitioner-corporation alleged that the respondents abandoned their work and were not dismissed, and that it sent letters advising respondents to report for work, but they refused. The Court held that for abandonment to exist, it is essential (a) that the employee must have failed to report for work or must have been absent without valid or justifiable reason; and (b) that there must have been a clear intention to sever the employer-employee relationship manifested by some overt acts. The employer has the burden of proof to show the employee’s deliberate and unjustified refusal to resume his employment without any intention of returning. Mere absence is not sufficient. There must be an unequivocal intent on the part of the employee to discontinue his employment. Based on the evidence presented, the reason why respondents failed to report for work was because petitioner-corporation barred them from entering its construction sites. It is a settled rule that failure to report for work after a notice to return to work has been served does not necessarily constitute abandonment. The intent to discontinue the employment must be shown by clear proof that it was deliberate and unjustified. Petitioner-corporation failed to show overt acts committed by respondents from which it may be deduced that they had no more intention to work.  Respondents’ filing of the case for illegal dismissal barely four (4) days from their alleged abandonment is totally inconsistent with the known concept of what constitutes abandonment. E.G. & I. Construction Corporation and Edsel Galeos v. Ananias P. Sato, et al., G.R. No. 182070, February 16, 2011.

Certification election; petition for cancellation of union registration. Respondent union filed a petition for certification election. Petitioner moved to dismiss the petition for certification election alleging the pendency of a petition for cancellation of the union’s registration. The DOLE Secretary ruled in favor of the legitimacy of the respondent as a labor organization and ordered the immediate conduct of a certification election. Pending appeal in the Court of Appeals, the petition for cancellation was granted and became final and executory. Petitioner argued that the cancellation of the union’s certificate of registration should retroact to the time of its issuance. Thus, it claimed that the union’s petition for certification election and its demand to enter into collective bargaining agreement with the petitioner should be dismissed due to respondent’s lack of legal personality. The Court ruled that the pendency of a petition for cancellation of union registration does not preclude collective bargaining, and that an order to hold a certification election is proper despite the pendency of the petition for cancellation of the union’s registration because at the time the respondent union filed its petition, it still had the legal personality to perform such act absent an order cancelling its registration.  Legend International Resorts Limited v. Kilusang Manggagawa ng Legenda, G.R. No. 169754, February 23, 2011.

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January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Attorney; dishonesty. Respondent was accused of filing  various pleadings on behalf of parties who were already deceased. To all attorneys, truthfulness and honesty have the highest value, for, as the Court has said in Young v. Batuegas: “A lawyer must be a disciple of truth. He swore upon his admission to the Bar that he will ‘do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court’ and he shall ‘conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients.’ He should bear in mind that as an officer of the court his high vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts of the case and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct conclusion. The courts, on the other hand, are entitled to expect only complete honesty from lawyers appearing and pleading before them. While a lawyer has the solemn duty to defend his client’s rights and is expected to display the utmost zeal in defense of his client’s cause, his conduct must never be at the expense of truth.”  Respondent lawyer was found not liable as he had disclosed in a pleading the death of the deceased parties and the fact that he was representing the successors in interest of the deceased parties.  Jessie R. De Leon vs. Atty. Eduardo G. Castelo, A.C. No. 8620, January 12, 2011.

Court personnel; conduct prejudicial to service. The respondents were accused of failing to serve a court order and delaying the issuance and implementation of the writ of execution. Due to this negligence, the writ’s implementation was delayed for almost two years, thereby gave the defendants sufficient time to conceal and/or dissipate their assets to thwart plaintiffs’ efforts to recover in full the judgment awarded to them. Court employees bear the burden of observing exacting standards of ethics and morality. This is the price one pays for the honor of working in the judiciary.  Those who are part of the machinery dispensing justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, must conduct themselves with utmost decorum and propriety to maintain the public’s faith and respect for the judiciary. Respondents were held guilty of conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service. Judge Philbert I. Iturralde, et al. vs. OIC Branch Clerk of Court Babe SJ. Ramirez, et al., A.M. No. P-03-1730, January 18, 2011.

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November 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected November 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Appeal; argument raised for first time on appeal. As a last ditch effort, petitioner asserts that the property is a road right of way; thus, it cannot be subject of a writ of execution.  The argument must be rejected because it was raised for the first time in this petition.  In the trial court and the CA, petitioner’s arguments zeroed in on the alleged conjugal nature of the property.  It is well settled that issues raised for the first time on appeal and not raised in the proceedings in the lower court are barred by estoppel. Points of law, theories, issues, and arguments not brought to the attention of the trial court ought not to be considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.  To consider the alleged facts and arguments raised belatedly would amount to trampling on the basic principles of fair play, justice, and due process.  Evangeline D. Imani vs. Metroplitan Bank and Trust Company, G.R. No. 187023, November 17, 2010.

Appeal; argument raised for first time on appeal. The petitioners now claim that the Motion for Reconsideration, filed by the respondent on May 18, 1993 from the September 18, 1992 Order of the RTC, was filed out of time.  The petitioners make this claim to justify their contention that the subsequent rulings of the RTC, including the June 2, 1993 and October 1, 1993 Orders, are barred by res judicata.

We reject this belated claim as the petitioners raised this only for the first time on appeal, particularly, in their Memorandum.  In fact, the petitioners never raised this issue in the proceedings before the court a quo or in the present petition for review.

As a rule, a party who deliberately adopts a certain theory upon which the case is tried and decided by the lower court will not be permitted to change the theory on appeal.  Points of law, theories, issues and arguments not brought to the attention of the lower court need not be, and ordinarily will not be, considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time at such late stage. It would be unfair to the adverse party who would have no opportunity to present further evidence material to the new theory, which it could have done had it been aware of it at the time of the hearing before the trial court.  Thus, to permit the petitioners in this case to change their theory on appeal would thus be unfair to the respondent and offend the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process.  Spouses Ernesto and Vicenta Topacio vs. Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank, G.R. No. 157644, November 17, 2010.

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August 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are selected August 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Labor Law

Dismissal; abandonment. Time and again, the Supreme Court has held that abandonment is totally inconsistent with the immediate filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal, more so if the same is accompanied by a prayer for reinstatement. In the present case, however, petitioner filed his complaint more than one year after his alleged termination from employment. Moreover, petitioner did not ask for reinstatement in the complaint form, which he personally filled up and filed with the NLRC. The prayer for reinstatement is made only in the Position Paper that was later prepared by his counsel. This is an indication that petitioner never had the intention or desire to return to his job. Elpidio Calipay vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 166411, August 3, 2010.

Dismissal; burden of proof. In termination cases, the employer has the burden of proving, by substantial evidence that the dismissal is for just cause. If the employer fails to discharge the burden of proof, the dismissal is deemed illegal. In the present case, BCPI failed to discharge its burden when it failed to present any evidence of the alleged fistfight, aside from a single statement, which was refuted by statements made by other witnesses and was found to be incredible by both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. Alex Gurango vs. Best Chemicals and Plastic, Inc., et al., G.R. No. 174593, August 25, 2010.

Dismissal; burden of proof. The law mandates that the burden of proving the validity of the termination of employment rests with the employer. Failure to discharge this evidentiary burden would necessarily mean that the dismissal was not justified and, therefore, illegal. Unsubstantiated suspicions, accusations, and conclusions of employers do not provide for legal justification for dismissing employees. In case of doubt, such cases should be resolved in favor of labor, pursuant to the social justice policy of labor laws and the Constitution. Century Canning Corporation, Ricardo T. Po, Jr., et al. vs. Vicente Randy R. Ramil, G.R. No. 171630, August 8, 2010.

Dismissal; due process. In termination proceedings of employees, procedural due process consists of the twin requirements of notice and hearing. The employer must furnish the employee with two written notices before the termination of employment can be effected: (1) the first apprises the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought; and (2) the second informs the employee of the employer’s decision to dismiss him. The requirement of a hearing is complied with as long as there was an opportunity to be heard, and not necessarily that an actual hearing was conducted. Pharmacia and Upjohn, Inc., et al. vs. Ricardo P. Albayda, Jr., G.R. No. 172724, August 23, 2010.

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June 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected June 2010 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Annulment of judgment; direct recourse to this remedy not allowed if other appropriate remedies are available.  Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court impose the conditions for the availment of the remedy of annulment of judgment, viz.:

Section 1. Coverage.- This Rule shall govern the annulment by the Court of Appeals of judgments or final orders and resolutions in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner.

Section 2. Groundsfor annulment. – The annulment may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.

Extrinsic fraud shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of, or could have been availed of, in a motion for new trial or petition for relief.

Section 1, Rule 47 provides that it does not allow a direct recourse to a petition for annulment of judgment if other appropriate remedies are available, such as a petition for new trial, appeal or a petition for relief.  If petitioner fails to avail of these remedies without sufficient justification, she cannot resort to the action for annulment of judgment under Rule 47, for otherwise, she would benefit from her inaction or negligence.

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June 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

Criminal Law

1. Revised Penal Code

Aggravating circumstance; evident premeditation. In order for evident premeditation to be appreciated, the following requisites must be proven: (1) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (2) an act manifestly indicating that the culprit has clung to his determination; and (3) a sufficient lapse of time between the determination and execution, to allow him to reflect upon the consequences of his act and to allow his conscience to overcome the resolution of his will. In the instant case, appellant uttered the words “iyang mama na iyan, may araw din siya sa akin.” Even conceding that these utterances were in the form of a threat, it still cannot be presumed that at the time they were made, there was indeed a determination to kill and that appellants had indeed clung to that determination, planning and meditating on how to kill the victim. People of the Philippines vs. Jonel Falabrica Serenas, et al, G.R. No. 188124, June 29, 2010.

Aggravating circumstance; evident premeditation. For evident premeditation to be considered, the following must be established: (1) the time when the accused determined (conceived) to commit the crime; (2) an overt act manifestly indicating that he clung to his determination to commit the crime (kill his victim); and (3) a sufficient lapse of time between the decision to commit the crime and the execution thereof to allow the accused to reflect upon the consequences of his act. Premeditation presupposes a deliberate planning of the crime before executing it. The execution of the criminal act, in other words, must be preceded by cool thought and reflection. In this case, there was a showing of a plan or preparation to kill, or proof that the accused meditated and reflected upon his decision to execute the crime. People of the Philippines vs. Albert Sanchez y Galera, G.R. No. 188610, June 29, 2010.

Aggravating circumstance; treachery. There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, methods or forms which tend directly and specially to ensure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense, which the offended party might make. For treachery to be appreciated, two conditions must concur: (a) the employment of means, methods or manner of execution that would ensure the offender’s safety from any defense or retaliatory act on the part of the offended party; and (b) the offender’s deliberate or conscious choice of means, method or manner of execution. People of the Philippines vs. Albert Sanchez y Galera, G.R. No. 188610, June 29, 2010.

Aggravating circumstance; treachery. The essence of treachery is the sudden attack by an aggressor without the slightest provocation on the part of the victim, depriving the latter of any real chance to defend himself, thereby ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the aggressor. Jurisprudence teaches that there is treachery when an adult person attacks and causes the death of a child of tender years. As the Supreme Court elucidated in People vs. Cabarrubias, the killing of a child is characterized by treachery even if the manner of assault is not shown. For, the weakness of the victim due to his tender years results in the absence of any danger to the accused. People of the Philippines vs. Albert Sanchez y Galera, G.R. No. 188610, June 29, 2010.

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