G.R. No. 167526 July 26, 2010
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
DANTE TAN, Respondent
Two separate information were filed against respondent Tan for violation of the Revised Securities Act, when he failed to file with SEC the amount of all BWRC (Best World Resources Corporation) shares of which he is the beneficial owner within 10 days after he became such beneficial owner.
During the trial, petitioner made its formal offer of evidence. RTC admitted the pieces of evidence, but denied admission of all other exhibits. Tan filed Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence. Petitioner filed its Opposition to which Tan filed a Reply. In the end, RTC issued an order granting Tan’s Demurrer to Evidence.
Petitioner filed a petition before the CA assailing the order of RTC which granted Tan’s motion. CA denied, ruling that the dismissal of a criminal action by the grant of a Demurrer to Evidence is one on the merits and operates as an acquittal, for which reason, the prosecution cannot appeal therefrom as it would place the accused in double jeopardy.
Hence, the appeal.
Whether or not the court erred in granting Tan’s Demurrer to Evidence.
The demurrer to evidence in criminal cases, such as the one at bar, is “filed after the prosecution had rested its case,” and when the same is granted, it calls “for an appreciation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and its sufficiency to warrant conviction beyond reasonable doubt, resulting in a dismissal of the case on the merits, tantamount to an acquittal of the accused.” Such dismissal of a criminal case by the grant of demurrer to evidence may not be appealed, for to do so would be to place the accused in double jeopardy. The verdict being one of acquittal, the case ends there.
The only instance when double jeopardy will not attach is when the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, which is not present in this case. RTC did not violate petitioner’s right to due process as the petitioner was given more than ample opportunity to present its case which led to grant of Tan’s demurrer. RTC never prevented petitioner from presenting its case. In fact, one of the main reasons for the RTCs decision to grant the demurrer was the absence of evidence to prove the classes of shares that the Best World Resources Corporation stocks were divided into, whether there are preferred shares as well as common shares, or even which type of shares respondent had acquired,
Petitioner argues that the RTC displayed resolute bias when it chose to grant respondents demurrer to evidence notwithstanding that it had filed a Motion to Hold in Abeyance the Resolution of Tan’s Demurrer to Evidence and The Prosecution’s Opposition Thereto. Petitioner contends that instead of acting on the motion, the RTC peremptorily granted Tan’s demurrer to evidence which prevented petitioner from its intention to file a petition to question the orders.
While it would have been ideal for the RTC to hold in abeyance the resolution of the demurrer to evidence, nowhere in the rules, however, is it mandated to do so. Furthermore, even if this Court were to consider the same as an error on the part of the RTC, the same would merely constitute an error of procedure or of judgment and not an error of jurisdiction as persistently argued by petitioner.
As such RTC did not abuse its discretion in the manner it conducted the proceedings of the trial, as well as its grant of respondent’s demurrer to evidence.