G.R. No. 151911, July 25, 2011
EDGAR PAYUMO, REYNALDO RUANTO, CRISANTO RUANTO, APOLINARIO RUANTO, AND EXEQUIEL BONDE, PETITIONERS, VS. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, AND OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, DOMICIANO CABIGAO, NESTOR DOMACENA, ROLANDO DOBLADO, ERNESTO PAMPUAN, EDGARDO PRADO, ROMEO DOMINICO, RAMON GARCIA, AND CARLOS PACHECO, RESPONDENTS.
G.R. NO. 154535
NESTOR DOMACENA, PETITIONER, VS. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, AND EDGAR PAYUMO, REYNALDO RUANTO, CRISANTO RUANTO, APOLINARIO RUANTO, AND EXEQUIEL BONDE, RESPONDENTS.
A composite team of Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police units allegedly fired at a group of civilians instantly killing one civilian and wounding seven others, including Edgar Payumo. The accused pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. During the trial, the accused interposed the defenses of lawful performance of duty, self-defense, mistake of fact, and alibi. They insisted that the incident was a result of a military operation, and not an ambush as claimed by the prosecution.
The Fifth Division promulgated its judgment dated November 27, 1998, convicting the accused of the crime of Murder with Multiple Attempted Murder. The accused filed their Supplemental Omnibus Motion to Set Aside Judgment and for New Trial because there was serious irregularity during the trial due to the erroneous admission of the testimonies of the witnesses of the petitioners, such should be taken anew and to afford the accused the opportunity to present in evidence the records of the Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO) relative to the shooting as to whether it was an ambush or the result of a military operation. The omnibus motion was granted.
Ascribing grave abuse of discretion to the Sandiganbayan amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction for nullifying the order of conviction and granting new trial, Edgar Payumo and et. al, filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or injunction to enjoin the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with the scheduled hearings for a second new trial.
Whether or not the Sandiganbayan acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it granted a new trial in favor of the accused.
Yes. Rule 121, Section 2 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure enumerates the grounds for a new trial, to wit:
Sec. 2. Grounds for a new trial. The court shall grant a new trial on any of the following grounds:
(a) That errors of law or irregularities prejudicial to the substantial rights of the accused have been
commited during the trial;
(b) That new and material evidence has been discovered which the accused could not with reasonable diligence have discovered and produced at the trial and which if introduced and admitted would probably change the judgment.
It must be emphasized that an erroneous admission or rejection of evidence by the trial court is not a ground for a new trial or reversal of the decision if there are other independent evidence to sustain the decision, or if the rejected evidence, if it had been admitted; would not have changed the decision.
The records of the JAGO relative to shooting incident do not meet the criteria for newly discovered evidence that would merit a new trial. A motion for new trial based on newly-discovered evidence may be granted only if the following requisites are met:
1. that the evidence was discovered after trial;
2. that said evidence could not have been discovered and produced at the trial even with the exercise of
3. that it is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative or impeaching; and
4. that the evidence is of such weight that, if admitted, would probably change the judgment.
It is essential that the offering party exercised reasonable diligence in seeking to locate the evidence before or during trial but nonetheless failed to secure it. In this case, however, such records could have been easily obtained by the accused and could have been presented during the trial with the exercise of reasonable diligence.