Dissension in the Court: December 2011

The following relates to select decisions promulgated by the High Court in December 2011 where at least one Justice felt compelled to express his or her dissent from the decision penned by the ponente.

1.         Probation or Not? (Abad vs. Peralta and Villarama)

In the case of Arnel Colinares vs. People of the Philippines, Arnel Colinares was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of frustrated homicide and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment from two years and four months of prision correccional, as minimum, to six years and one day of prision mayor, as maximum. Since the maximum probationable imprisonment under the law was only up to six years, Arnel did not qualify for probation.

Colinares appealed to the Court of Appeals invoking self-defense and, alternatively, seeking conviction for the lesser crime of attempted homicide with the consequent reduction of the penalty imposed on him.  However, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the RTC.

Acting on his Petition for Review, the Supreme Court, through Justice Roberto A. Abad, found Colinares guilty of committing only the lesser crime of attempted homicide with its imposable penalty of imprisonment of four months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two years and four months of prision correccional, as maximum.  As a result, the Supreme Court held that since the maximum imposable penalty was now less than six years, Colinares may apply for probation upon remand of the case to the trial court.

Justice Diosadado M. Peralta took exception to this ruling of the majority, emphasizing that probation is not a right but a privilege.

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