Case Brief: Union Bank vs. People

G.R. No. 192565, February 28, 2012

UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES and DESI TOMAS, Petitioners,

vs.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

 

Facts:  

Desi Tomas executed and signed the Certification against Forum Shopping. Then, she was charged of deliberately violating Article 183 of the RPC (perjury) “by falsely declaring under oath in the Certificate against Forum Shopping in the second complaint that she did not commence any other action or proceeding involving the same issue in another tribunal or agency”. The Certification was notarized in Makati City but was submitted and used in Pasay City, while the Information against Union Bank and Tomas was filed in Makati.

Tomas filed a Motion to Quash. She argued that the venue was improperly laid since it is the Pasay City Court (where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was submitted and used) and not the MeTC-Makati City (where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was subscribed) that has jurisdiction over the perjury case.

The MeTC-Makati City denied the Motion to Quash, ruling that it has jurisdiction over the case since the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized in Makati City. The MeTC-Makati City also ruled that the allegations in the Information sufficiently charged Tomas with perjury.

The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the RTC-Makati City to annul and set aside the MeTC-Makati City orders on the ground of grave abuse of discretion. The petitioners anchored their petition on the rulings in United States v. Canet and Ilusorio v. Bildner which ruled that venue and jurisdiction should be in the place where the false document was presented.

Issue:

Whether or not the proper venue of perjury under Article 183 of the RPC should be – Makati City, where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the Certification was presented to the trial court.

Held: 

The SC denied the petition and held that the MeTC-Makati City is the proper venue and the proper court to take cognizance of the perjury case against the petitioners.

The criminal charged was for the execution by Tomas of an affidavit that contained a falsity. Article 183 of the RPC is indeed the applicable provision; thus, jurisdiction and venue should be determined on the basis of this article which penalizes one who “makes an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.” The constitutive act of the offense is the making of an affidavit; thus, the criminal act is consummated when the statement containing a falsity is subscribed and sworn before a duly authorized person.

Based on these considerations, SC held that its ruling in Sy Tiong is more in accord with Article 183 of the RPC and Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. To reiterate for the guidance of the Bar and the Bench, the crime of perjury committed through the making of a false affidavit under Article 183 of the RPC is committed at the time the affiant subscribes and swears to his or her affidavit since it is at that time that all the elements of the crime of perjury are executed. When the crime is committed through false testimony under oath in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, venue is at the place where the testimony under oath is given. If in lieu of or as supplement to the actual testimony made in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, a written sworn statement is submitted, venue may either be at the place where the sworn statement is submitted or where the oath was taken as the taking of the oath and the submission are both material ingredients of the crime committed. In all cases, determination of venue shall be based on the acts alleged in the Information to be constitutive of the crime committed.

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Case Brief: People vs Pangilinan

People of the Philippines
vs
Alfredo Pangilinan y Trinidad
G.R. No. 171020, March 14, 2007

FACTS:
Pangilinan is the husband of BBB and the father of AAA. On September 9, 1995, AAA felt that appellant approach their bed where she and her two siblings are sleeping. Appellant removed her shorts and lay on top of her. Her hands were pinned down above her head by the appellant. Appellant tried to insert her penis on the vagina of AAA but was not successful. On the following night, again appellant did the same but this time he had forcibly inserted his penis unto the vagina of AAA. During the month of September 1995, appellant repeatedly raped AAA. On the month of January 1995, appellant did the same act towards AAA. On March 1997, BBB the mother of AAA went home from Singapore. AAA kept her silence until the time when BBB is about to leave for Singapore. BBB was confronted by the grandmother of AAA saying that appellant is molesting AAA. BBB confronted AAA and she tearfully confessed. BBB filed the complaint. Prosecution finally offered the evidences in which the trial court finds that those evidences against the accused are strong. Trial court having discovered that the accused has not be arraigned, scheduled his arraignment.

ISSUE:
Whether or not, the case would be dismissed for the ground that the appellant was not properly arraigned.

HELD:
No. Because appellant’s elated arraignment did not prejudice him. This procedural defect was cured when his counsel participated in the trial without raising any objection that his client had yet to be arraigned. His counsel even cross-examined the prosecution witnesses.  His counsel’s active participation in the hearings is a clear indication that he was fully aware of the charges against him; otherwise, his counsel would have objected and informed the court of this blunder. Moreover, no protest was made when appellant was subsequently arraigned. The parties did not question the procedure undertaken by the trial court. It is only now, after being convicted and sentenced to two death sentences, that appellant cries that his constitutional right has been violated. It is already too late to raise this procedural defect. SC did not allow it.

 

Case Brief: People vs Dumlao

People of the Philippines
vs
Hermenegildo Dumlao y Castiliano and Emilio Lao y Gonzales
GR No. 168918 March 2, 2009

Facts:

Before the Sandiganbayan, an information was filed charging Dumlao, La’o and others with violation of Sec. 3 (g) of RA No. 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

It was alleged in the said information that the respondents, who were members of the GSIS Board of Trustees, entered into a contract of lease-purchase with respondent La’o, a private person. The said contract provided the concurrence of GSIS to sell La’o a property it had acquired, consisting of land and building known as the Government Counsel Center for P2 million on an installment with annual interest and amortization. La’o was also authorized to sub-lease the ground floor of the said building during the lease period, from which he collected yearly rentals in excess of the yearly amortization, causing huge disadvantage to the government.

Considering the foregoing, Dumlao filed a motion to quash on the ground that the facts alleged did not constitute an offense. He averred that the prosecution’s main thrust against him was the alleged approval by the GSIS Board of the said contract. He contended that it was never approved as the signatures of his fellow respondents did not appear in the minutes of meeting therefor, proving their non-participation therein. Additionally, there was no board quorum during that time to push through with the approval thereof. Hence, since the evidence of the prosecution was insufficient, he should be deemed innocent.

The Sandiganbayan ruled in Dumlao’s favor, based on the said insufficiency of evidence.

Issue:

Whether the insufficiency of evidence is a ground for motion to quash.

Held:

No.

Insufficiency of evidence is not one of the grounds of a Motion to Quash. The grounds, as enumerated in Section 3, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, are as follows:

(a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense;

(b) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charged;

(c) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the person of the accused;

(d) That the officer who filed the information had no authority to do so;

(e) That it does not conform substantially to the prescribed form;

(f) That more than one offense is charged except when a single punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law;

(g) That the criminal action or liability has been extinguished;

(h) That it contains averments which, if true, would constitute a legal excuse or justification; and

(i) That the accused has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense charged, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.

Insufficiency of evidence is a ground for dismissal of an action only after the prosecution rests its case. Section 23, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:

Sec. 23. Demurrer to evidence. After the prosecution rests its case, the court may dismiss the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence (1) on its own initiative after giving the prosecution the opportunity to be heard or (2) upon demurrer to evidence filed by the accused with or without leave of court.

In the case under consideration, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the case against respondent for insufficiency of evidence, even without giving the prosecution the opportunity to present its evidence. In so doing, it violated the prosecution’s right to due process. It deprived the prosecution of its opportunity to prosecute its case and to prove the accused’s culpability.

It was therefore erroneous for the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the case under the premises. Not only did it not consider the ground invoked by respondent Dumlao; it even dismissed the case on a ground not raised by him, and not at the appropriate time. The dismissal was thus without basis and untimely.

Case Brief: Manguerra vs. Risos

CONCEPCION CUENCO VDA. DE MANGUERRA and THE HON. RAMON C. CODILLA, JR., Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 19, Petitioners,

– versus –

RAUL RISOS, SUSANA YONGCO, LEAH ABARQUEZ and ATTY. GAMALIEL D.B. BONJE, Respondents.

G.R. No. 152643, August 28, 2008.

Facts:
On November 4, 1999, respondents (Risos, et. al.) were charged with Estafa Through Falsification of Public Document before the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 19, through a criminal information dated October 27, 1999, which was subsequently amended on November 18, 1999. The case, arose from the falsification of a deed of real estate mortgage allegedly committed by respondents where they made it appear that petitioner (Concepcion De Manguerra), the owner of the mortgaged property known as the Gorordo property, affixed her signature to the document. Concepcion who was a resident of Cebu City, while on vacation in Manila, was unexpectedly confined at the Makati Medical Center due to upper gastro-intestinal bleeding; and was advised to stay in Manila for further treatment.
The counsel of Concepcion filed a motion to take the latter’s deposition due to her weak physical condition and old age, which limited her freedom of mobility. The RTC of Cebu granted the motion and directed that Concepcions deposition be taken before the Clerk of Court of Makati City. After several motions for change of venue of the deposition-taking, Concepcion’s deposition was finally taken on March 9, 2001 at her residence.

 

Issue:
Whether or not Rule 23 of Rules of Court is applicable in the case of Concepcion. Thus, her deposition in her residence is valid?

 

Held:
No. Undoubtedly, the procedure set forth in Rule 119 applies to the case at bar. It is thus required that the conditional examination be made before the court where the case is pending. It is also necessary that the accused be notified, so that he can attend the examination, subject to his right to waive the same after reasonable notice. As to the manner of examination, the Rules mandate that it be conducted in the same manner as an examination during trial, that is, through question and answer.
Unlike an examination of a defense witness which, pursuant to Section 13, Rule 119 of the present Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, may be taken before any judge, or, if not practicable, a member of the Bar in good standing so designated by the judge in the order, or, if the order be made by a court of superior jurisdiction, before an inferior court to be designated therein, the examination of a witness for the prosecution under Section 15 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (December 1, 2000) may be done only before the court where the case is pending.

Case Brief: People vs. Olivo

G.R. No. 177768               July 27, 2009

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,

vs.

CHARMEN OLIVO y ALONG, NELSON DANDA y SAMBUTO, and JOEY ZAFRA y REYES, Appellants.

FACTS:

Accused-Appellants were found guilty reasonable doubt for the crime of Robbery with Homicide both by the RTC and Court of Appeals.

Based from the Information dated Nov.29, 2000, the three accused conspired to engaged in robbery done in a hardware store. They were able to take 35,000, but on the process, they assaulted and killed the store owner.

But when the case was appealed before the Supreme Court, it was found out that the accused-appellants was arrested without a warrant during a buy-bust operation for selling illegal drugs and not for robbery with homicide. Further, during the investigation at Camp Karingal, the accused was made to stand in a police line- up and identified by the eyewitness who failed to identify them three times.

ISSUE: 

Whether the accused-appellants can be convicted guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Robbery with homicide despite the dubious and questionable circumstances of the trial.

HELD: 

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of RTC and CA for two reasons:  One, the accused-appellants were not arrested for the crime of robbery with homicide but were arrested during a buy-bust operation; Second, the material fact that the lone alleged eyewitness, Maricel Permejo, was not able to identify them as the perpetrators of the crime, their guilt has not been proved with the required quantum of evidence.

SC ruled that with respect to the insufficiency of the prosecution evidence to convict appellants beyond reasonable doubt, trial courts are mandated not only to look at the direct examination of witnesses but to the totality of evidence before them. In every case, the court should review, assess and weigh the totality of the evidence presented by the parties. It should not confine itself to oral testimony during the trial. In the absence of clear and convincing evidence that the tribunals ignored, misconstrued or misapplied facts and circumstances of substances such that, if considered, the same will warrant the modification or reversal of the outcome of the case.

The accused-appellants upon appeal were acquitted.  The other accused, Joey Zafra, who was likewise convicted on the same evidence but did not perfect an appeal, was also acquitted because the present rule provides that an appeal taken by one or more several accused shall not affect those who did not appeal, except insofar as the judgment of the appellate court is favorable and applicable to the latter. 

Case Brief: Lim vs. Kou Co Ping

G.R. No. 175256               August 23, 2012
LILY LIM, Petitioner,
vs.
KOU CO PING a.k.a. CHARLIE CO, Respondent.

G.R. No. 179160
KOU CO PING a.k.a. CHARLIE CO, Petitioner,
vs.
LILY LIM, Respondent.

FACTS:

FR Cement Corporation (FRCC) issued several withdrawal authorities for the account of cement dealers and traders, Fil-Cement and Tigerbilt (FCCT).

FCCT then sold the withdrawal authorities covering 50,000 bags of cement to respondent Co for the amount of P3.15 million or P63.00 per bag.

Co then sold the same withdrawal authorities to petitioner Lily Lim for the alleged amount of P3.2 million or P64.00 per bag.

Lim, using the withdrawal authorities, withdrew 2,800 bags of cement from FRCC. He then sold some of the withdrawal authorities covering 10,000 bags back to respondent Co. (Remaining: 37,200 bags)

Sometime within the same year, FRCC no longer allowed Lim to withdraw the remaining 37,200 bags covered by the withdrawal authorities. According to Co and the manager of FCCT, the plant implemented a price increase and would only release the goods once Lim paid for the price difference or agreed to receive a lesser quantity of cement. Lim objected and maintained that the withdrawal authorities were not subject to price fluctuations.

Because of this, Lim filed an information for Estafa through Misappropriation or Conversion before the RTC of Pasig City. The criminal case was dismissed. The civil liability was subsequently dismissed as well after the reception of the evidence.
Lim appealed the dismissal of the civil liability before the CA. While the appeal before the CA was pending, she filed a complaint for specific performance and damages before the RTC of Manila. The complaint asserted two causes of action: breach of contract and abuse of rights.

In his defense, Co maintained that the two causes of action raise the same issue, which was Co’s liability to Lim for her inability to withdraw the bags of cement, and SHOULD BE DISMISSED ON THE GROUNDS OF LIS PENDENS AND FORUM SHOPPING.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Lim committed forum shopping in filing the civil case for specific performance and damages during the pendency of her appeal on the civil aspect of Estafa.

HELD:

Lim did not commit forum shopping in filing the civil case for specific performance and damages during the pendency of her appeal on the civil aspect of Estafa.

A single act or omission that causes damage to an offended party may give rise to two separate civil liabilities on the part of the offender:  (1) civil liability ex delicto, that is, civil liability arising from the criminal offense under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code,− and (2) independent civil liability, that is, civil liability that may be pursued independently of the criminal proceedings. The independent civil liability may be based on “an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony,” as provided in Article 31 of the Civil Code (such as for breach of contract or for tort). It may also be based on an act or omission that may constitute felony but, nevertheless, treated independently from the criminal action by specific provision of Article 33 of the Civil Code (“in cases of defamation, fraud and physical injuries”).

The filing of the collection case after the dismissal of the estafa cases against the offender did not amount to forum-shopping. The essence of forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, to secure a favorable judgment. Although the cases filed by the offended party arose from the same act or omission of the offender, they are, however, based on different causes of action. The criminal cases for estafa are based on culpa criminal while the civil action for collection is anchored on culpa contractual.

Moreover, there can be no forum-shopping in the instant case because the law expressly allows the filing of a separate civil action which can proceed independently of the criminal action.

Case Brief: Villareal vs. People

G.R. No. 151258 December 1, 2014
ARTEMIO VILLAREAL, Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

FACTS:

In February 1991, seven freshmen law students of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law signified their intention to join the Aquila Legis Juris Fraternity (Aquila Fraternity). Hazing was pre-requisite in joining for which Lenny was one of few who had undergone the process. After the initiation, Lenny’s condition worsened due to the blows he received, the Aquilans rushed him to the hospital. Lenny was pronounced dead on arrival.

Consequently, a criminal case for homicide was filed against the 35 Aquilans. Four of the accused (Tecson, et. al.) were found to be guilty of homicide by the trial court but was reduced to crime of slight physical injuries and sentenced to 20 days of arresto menor by the Court of Appeals.  However, upon appeal to the Supreme Court by the Office of the Solicitor General, the Supreme Court ruled that they should be liable for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide instead.

In Motions for Clarification or Reconsideration, Tecson et. al. clarified the effect of the decision of the Supreme Court to their criminal liability. According to Tecson et. al., they immediately applied for probation after the CA rendered its Decision lowering their criminal liability from the crime of homicide, which carries a non-probationable sentence, to slight physical injuries, which carries a probationable sentence. Hence, they have already been discharged from their criminal liability and the cases against them closed and terminated by virtue of their granted Applications for Probation for which the terms therein are already been complied with.

ISSUE:

Whether Tecson et. al. can be covered by the Probation Law despite their appeal of conviction?

HELD:

Yes. First, the Court in resolving this issue ruled that the RTC Branch 130 had no jurisdiction to act on the probation applications of Tecson et. al. for the law requires that an application for probation be filed with the trial court that convicted and sentenced the defendant, meaning the court of origin (Branch 121). Hence, its grant of probation with Tecson et. al. is void.

However, the Court abandoning its previous stance on ineligibility of those who have appealed their conviction to probation, citing the then recent case of Colinares vs. People that the Probation Law never intended to deny an accused his right to probation through no fault of his. Had the RTC done what was right and imposed the correct penalty, he would have had the right to apply for probation. Moreover, the Court was quick to clarify that it remains that those who will appeal from judgments of conviction, when they have the option to try for probation, forfeit their right to apply for that privilege.

Note:  See full text for the extensive discussion of SC about Hazing.