G.R. No. 162370 April 21, 2009
COURT OF APPEALS
The case stemmed from a criminal charge for slight physical injuries filed by Edgardo Postanes (Postanes) against Remigio Pasion (Pasion). On the other hand, David Tiu (Tiu) filed a criminal charge for grave threats against Postanes. Upon motion of Pasion, the two criminal cases were consolidated and jointly heard before the MeTC of Pasay City.
After trial, MeTC rendered judgment dismissing both charges on ground of insufficiency of evidence.
Tiu filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the MeTC. Afterwards, Tiu, through his counsel, filed a petition for certiorari with the RTC of Pasay City. The RTC of Pasay City rendered a decision declaring void the judgment of the MeTC and ordered the case to be remanded in the MeTC. Postanes moved for reconsideration, which was denied by the RTC.
Postanes filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari (with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order), challenging the decision of the RTC. The Court of Appeals reversed the RTC Decision and affirmed the dismissal of the two cases. In annulling the RTC decision, the Court of Appeals held that the RTC has granted upon the State, through the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, the right to appeal the decision of acquittal which right the government does not have.
Whether there was double jeopardy when Tiu filed a petition for certiorari questioning the acquittal of Postanes by the MeTC.
Yes. At the outset, the Court finds that the petition is defective since it was not filed by the Solicitor General. Instead, it was filed by Tiu, the private complainant, through his counsel.
Settled is the rule that only the Solicitor General may bring or defend actions on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, or represent the People or State in criminal proceedings before this Court and the Court of Appeals. Tiu, the offended party in the criminal case is without legal personality to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeals before the Supreme Court. Nothing shows that the Office of the Solicitor General represents the People in this appeal before the Court. On this ground alone, the SC says the petition must fail.
However, the Court opts to resolve the question of double jeopardy.
The elements of double jeopardy are (1) the complaint or information was sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction; (2) the court had jurisdiction; (3) the accused had been arraigned and had pleaded; and (4) the accused was convicted or acquitted or the case was dismissed without his express consent.
These elements are present here: (1) the Information filed in the criminal case against Postanes was sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction; (2) the MeTC had jurisdiction over the criminal case (3) Postanes was arraigned and entered a non-guilty plea; and (4) the MeTC dismissed the Criminal Case on the ground of insufficiency of evidence amounting to an acquittal from which no appeal can be had. Clearly, for the court to grant the petition and order the MeTC to reconsider its decision, just what the RTC ordered the MeTC to do, is to transgress the Constitutional proscription not to put any person twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense.