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Enrile and Enrile v. Judge Manalastas, et al., G.R. No. 166414, 22 October 2014.

[BERSAMIN, J.]

FACTS:

The mauling incident involving neighbors end up with filing of criminal case in the MTC for frustrated homicide and less serious physical injuries. Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the joint resolution, arguing that the complainants had not presented proof of their having been given medical attention lasting 10 days or longer, thereby rendering their charges of less serious physical injuries dismissible; and that the two cases for less serious physical injuries, being necessarily related to the case of frustrated homicide still pending in the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, should not be governed by the Rules on Summary Procedure. The MTC denied the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration because the grounds of the motion had already been discussed and passed upon in the resolution sought to be reconsidered; and because the cases were governed by the Rules on Summary Procedure, which prohibited the motion for reconsideration. Thereafter, the petitioners presented a manifestation with motion to quash and a motion for the deferment of the arraignment. The MTC denied the motion to quash, and ruled that the cases for less serious physical injuries were covered by the rules on ordinary procedure; and reiterated the arraignment previously scheduled.

Unsatisfied, the petitioners commenced a special civil action for certiorari assailing the order of the MTC in the RTC. RTC Judge Manalastas dismissed the petition for certiorari. The petitioners moved for the reconsideration, but the RTC denied their motion.

The petitioners next went to the CA via a petition for certiorari and prohibition to nullify the orders issued by the RTC, averring grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. They urged the dismissal of the criminal cases on the same grounds they advanced in the RTC. The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari and prohibition for being the wrong remedy.

ISSUE#1: Whether a petition for certiorari and prohibition is proper in assailing the decision of RTC dismissing an original action for certiorari.

HELD#1: NO.

The proper recourse for the petitioners should be an appeal by notice of appeal, taken within 15 days from notice of the denial of the motion for reconsideration. Yet, the petitioners chose to assail the dismissal by the RTC through petitions for certiorari and prohibition in the CA, instead of appealing by notice of appeal. Such choice was patently erroneous and impermissible, because certiorari and prohibition, being extra ordinary reliefs to address jurisdictional errors of a lower court, were not available to them. Worthy to stress is that the RTC dismissed the petition for certiorari upon its finding that the MTC did not gravely abuse its discretion in denying the petitioners’ motion to quash. In its view, the RTC considered the denial of the motion to quash correct, for it would be premature and unfounded for the MTC to dismiss the criminal cases against the petitioners upon the supposed failure by the complainants to prove the period of their incapacity or of the medical attendance for them. Indeed, the time and the occasion to establish the duration of the incapacity or medical attendance would only be at the trial on the merits.

ISSUE#2: Is it proper to invoke a motion to quash the information filed in the MTC in this case?

HELD#2: NO.

[T]he motion to quash is the mode by which an accused, before entering his plea, challenges the complaint or information for insufficiency on its face in point of law, or for defects apparent on its face. Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court enumerates the grounds for the quashal of the complaint or information, as follows: (a) the facts charged do not constitute an offense; (b) the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charged; (c) the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the person of the accused; (d) the officer who filed the information had no authority to do so; (e) the complaint or information does not conform substantially to the prescribed form; (f) more than one offense is charged except when a single punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law; (g) the criminal action or liability has been extinguished; (h) the complaint or information contains averments which, if true, would constitute a legal excuse or justification; and (i) 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.

In the context of Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, the complaints sufficiently charged the petitioners with less serious physical injuries. Indeed, the complaints only needed to aver the ultimate facts constituting the offense, not the details of why and how the illegal acts allegedly amounted to undue injury or damage, for such matters, being evidentiary, were appropriate for the trial. Hence, the complaints were not quashable.

ISSUE#3: Is the presentation of medical certificates that will show the number of days rendered for medication essential during filing of complaint, considering the complaints were filed two (2) months after the alleged incident?

HELD#3: NO.

[T]he presentation of the medical certificates to prove the duration of the victims’ need for medical attendance or of their incapacity should take place only at the trial, not before or during the preliminary investigation. According to Cinco v. Sandiganbayan, the preliminary investigation, which is the occasion for the submission of the parties’ respective affidavits, counter-affidavits and evidence to buttress their separate allegations, is merely inquisitorial, and is often the only means of discovering whether a person may be reasonably charged with a crime, to enable the prosecutor to prepare the information. It is not yet a trial on the merits, for its only purpose is to determine whether a crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe that the accused is guilty thereof. The scope of the investigation does not approximate that of a trial before the court; hence, what is required is only that the evidence be sufficient to establish probable cause that the accused committed the crime charged, not that all reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused be removed.

 

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People v. Adil and Fama Jr., G.R. No. L-41863, 22 April 1977.

[BARREDO, J.]

FACTS:

On April 12, 1975, Fama Jr., attacked Viajar by throwing a piece of stone upon his right cheek, inflicting physical injuries which would require medical attendance for a period from 5 to 9 days barring complication as per medical certificate of the physician. A criminal complaint for slight physical injuries was filed against Fama Jr. on April 15, 1975, docketed as Case No. 3335. Meanwhile, Viajar filed another complaint on July 28, 1975, docketed as Case No. 5241, for the same instance of throwing a stone but this time for serious physical injuries because it left permanent scar and deformation on his right face. The first case proceeded and Fama Jr. pleaded not guilty during arraignment. After several postponements by the prosecution, Fama Jr.successfully sought dismissal of the first criminal case invoking the constitutional right to speedy trial. Fama Jr. now moves for the dismissal of the second case on the ground of double jeopardy.

 

ISSUE: Whether or not the additional allegation of deformity in the information in Case No. 5241 constitutes a supervening element which should take this case out of the rule of identity resulting in double jeopardy.

HELD: YES.

This rule of identity does not apply… when the second offense was not in existence at the time of the first prosecution, for the simple reason that in such case there is no possibility for the accused during the first prosecution, to be convicted for an offense that was then inexistent Thus, where the accused was charged with physical injuries and after conviction the injured dies, the charge of homicide against the same accused does not put him twice in jeopardy.

[Here], when the complaint was filed on April 15, 1975, only three days had passed since the incident in which the injuries were sustained took place, and there were yet no indications of a graver injury or consequence to be suffered by said offended party. Evidently, it was only later, after Case No. 3335 had already been filed and the wound on the face of Viajar had already healed, that the alleged deformity became apparent. In other words, in the peculiar circumstances of this case, the plea of double jeopardy of private respondent Fama Jr., cannot hold.

 
 

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Manulat, Jr. v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No.190892, August 17, 2015.

[PERALTA, J.]

FACTS:

Vicente, herein petitioner, is the husband of the deceased Genebe. They have two children, Vince Earl and Leslie Kate, aged three and two years old, respectively. One evening, Vicente, with his two children left their home and went to the house of his mother-in-law, Carmen. Vicente left after dinner.The following morning, Carmen bathed the two children and asked them what happened to their parents. Leslie Kate answered, “Father threw the cellphone, mother’s mouth bled,” while Vince Earl said, “Father choked mama” and “Mama was left home dead.” Carmen did not mind what the children told her and instead told them that their mother was on duty at Gold City. That same day, Genebe was found dead appearing to have committed suicide by hanging herself using nylon rope. However, medical findings apparently show that the hanging was done post mortem. A case for parricide was filed against Vicente.

One of the prosecution witness was Carmen, testifying on the statements made by her grandchildren Vince Earl and Leslie Kate. In order to discredit the evidence of the prosecution, Vicente claims that the testimony of Carmen was purely hearsay and not reliable since the prosecution never presented the children as witnesses to testify as what was told by them to Carmen, their own grandmother. Hence, inadmissible in evidence being hearsay and not statements as part of the res gestae.

ISSUE: Whether the testimony of Carmen as to the statements of her grandchildren qualify as part of res gestae.

HELD: YES.

The res gestae exception to the hearsay rule provides that the declarations must have been “voluntarily and spontaneously made so nearly contemporaneous as to be in the presence of the transaction which they illustrate and explain, and were made under such circumstances as necessarily to exclude the idea of design or deliberation.“There are three essential requisites to admit evidence as part of the res gestae, namely: (1) that the principal act, the res gestae be a startling occurrence; (2) the statements were made before the declarant had the time to contrive or devise a falsehood; and (3) that the statements must concern the occurrence in question and its immediate attending circumstances.In People v. Salafranca, the Court cited two tests in applying the res gestae rule: (a) the act, declaration or exclamation is so intimately interwoven or connected with the principal fact or event that it characterizes as to be regarded as a part of the transaction itself; and (b) the said evidence clearly negatives any premeditation or purpose to manufacture testimony.

There is no hard and fast rule by which spontaneity may be determined although a number of factors have been considered, including, but not always confined to, (1) the time that has lapsed between the occurrence of the act or transaction and the making of the statement, (2) the place where the statement is made, (3) the condition of the declarant when the utterance is given, (4) the presence or absence of intervening events between the occurrence and the statement relative thereto, and (5) the nature and the circumstances of the statement itself.

In this case, this Court finds that the statements of the petitioner and victim’s three-year-old son and two-year-old daughter were spontaneously made. They had no opportunity or chance to invent a story although they made the statements the morning after the occurrence while being bathed by their grandmother Carmen. Their statements were unreflected and instinctive since a three-year-old and a two-year-old children, given their age, do not have the capability, sophistication or malice to fabricate such an incredible story of a violent altercation between their parents and to impute their own father to the killing of their mother.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2016 in Case Digests, Evidence, Remedial Law

 

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MERALCO, et al. v. Lim, G.R. No. 184769, 05 October 2010.

EN BANC

[CARPIO-MORALES, J.]

FACTS:

Rosario G. Lim (respondent), also known as Cherry Lim, an administrative clerk at the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), learned of an anonymous letter that was posted at the door of the Metering Office of the Administration building of MERALCO Plaridel, Bulacan Sector, at which respondent is assigned, denouncing respondent. The letter reads: 

“Cherry Lim:

MATAPOS MONG LAMUNIN LAHAT NG BIYAYA NG MERALCO, NGAYON NAMAN AY GUSTO MONG PALAMON ANG BUONG KUMPANYA SA MGA BUWAYA NG GOBYERNO. KAPAL NG MUKHA MO, LUMAYAS KA RITO, WALANG UTANG NA LOOB…”

By Memorandum, petitioner Alexander Deyto, Head of MERALCO’s Human Resource Staffing, directed the transfer of respondent to MERALCO’s Alabang Sector in Muntinlupa as “A/F OTMS Clerk,” in light of the receipt of “… reports that there were accusations and threats directed against [her] from unknown individuals and which could possibly compromise [her] safety and security.”

Respondent questions the propriety of MERALCO’s action in a letter as “highly suspicious…” and being “punitive”, but the latter never responded. Respondent filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against petitioners before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan. Additionally, respondent prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining petitioners from effecting her transfer to the MERALCO Alabang Sector.

The trial court granted the prayers of respondent including the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction directing petitioners to desist from implementing respondent’s transfer until such time that petitioners comply with the disclosures required.

ISSUES:

[1] Whether the RTC lacked jurisdiction to over the case and cannot restrain MERALCO’s prerogative as employer to transfer the place of work of its employees.

[2] Is the issuance of the writ outside the parameters expressly set forth in the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data? 

 

HELD:

[1] YES.

The habeas data rule, in general, is designed to protect by means of judicial complaint the image, privacy, honor, information, and freedom of information of an individual. It is meant to provide a forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational privacy, thus safeguarding the constitutional guarantees of a person’s right to life, liberty and security against abuse in this age of information technology. It bears reiteration that like the writ of amparo, habeas data was conceived as a response, given the lack of effective and available remedies, to address the extraordinary rise in the number of killings and enforced disappearances. Its intent is to address violations of or threats to the rights to life, liberty or security as a remedy independently from those provided under prevailing Rules.

[W]rits of …habeas data will NOT issue to protect purely property or commercial concerns nor when the grounds invoked in support of the petitions therefor are vague or doubtful. Employment constitutes a property right under the context of the due process clause of the Constitution. It is evident that respondent’s reservations on the real reasons for her transfer – a legitimate concern respecting the terms and conditions of one’s employment – are what prompted her to adopt the extraordinary remedy of habeas data. Jurisdiction over such concerns is inarguably lodged by law with the NLRC and the Labor Arbiters.

[2] YES. 

There is no showing from the facts presented that petitioners committed any unjustifiable or unlawful violation of respondent’s right to privacy vis-a-vis the right to life, liberty or security. To argue that petitioners’ refusal to disclose the contents of reports allegedly received on the threats to respondent’s safety amounts to a violation of her right to privacy is at best speculative. Respondent in fact trivializes these threats and accusations from unknown individuals in her earlier-quoted portion of her letter as “highly suspicious, doubtful or are just mere jokes if they existed at all.” And she even suspects that her transfer to another place of work “betray[s] the real intent of management]” and could be a “punitive move.” Her posture unwittingly concedes that the issue is labor-related.

 

 
 

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Suntay v. Cojuangco-Suntay, G.R. No. 132254, 29 December 1998.

[MARTINEZ, J.]

FACTS:

The ratio decidendi points as the legal basis for setting aside the marriage is paragraph 3, Article 85 of the New Civil Code, the law in force prior to the enactment of the Family Code, on voidable  marriages.

The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

“WHEREFORE, the marriage celebrated between Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay on July 9, 1958 is hereby declared null and void and of no effect as between the parties. xxx”

The conflict lies on the legal connotation and implications of the terms “voidable” and “null and void”.

ISSUE:

Which should prevail between the ratio decidendi and the fallo in this case?

HELD:

It is the ratio decidendi..

[I]t is an elementary principle of procedure that the resolution of the court in a given issue as embodied in the dispositive part of a decision or order is the controlling factor as to settlement of rights of the parties and the questions presented, notwithstanding statement in the body of the decision or order which may be somewhat confusing, the same is not without qualification. The foregoing rule holds true only when the dispositive part of a final decision or order is definite, clear and unequivocal and can be wholly given effect without need of interpretation or construction which usually is the case where the order or decision in question is that of a court not of record which is not constitutionally required to state the facts and the law on which the judgment is based.

Assuming that a doubt or uncertainty exists between the dispositive portion and the body of the decision, effort must be made to harmonize the whole body of the decision in order to give effect to the intention, purpose and judgment of the court.

xxx

Thus, a reading of the pertinent portions of the decision xxx shows that the marriage is voidable.

 
 

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De los Santos v. De la Cruz, G.R. No. L-29192, 22 February 1971

[VILLAMOR, J.]

FACTS 

The parties admit that the owner of the estate, subject matter of the extrajudicial partition agreement, was Pelagia de la Cruz, who died intestate; that defendant-appellant (De la Cruz)is a nephew of the said decedent; that plaintiff-appellee (De los Santos) is a grandniece of Pelagia de la Cruz, her mother, Marciana de la Cruz, being a niece who predeceased said Pelagia de la Cruz; and that the purpose of the extrajudicial partition agreement was to divide and distribute the estate among the heirs of Pelagia de la Cruz.

ISSUE

What is the effect of an extra-judicial partition which included a person who is not an heir of the deceased?

RULING

The extrajudicial partition agreement is void with respect to plaintiff-appellee.

Article 1105 of the Civil Code provides: “A partition which includes a person believed to be a heir, but who is not, shall be void only with respect to such person.” Partition of property affected between a person entitled to inherit from the deceased owner thereof and another person who thought he was an heir, when he was not really and lawfully such, to the prejudice of the rights of the true heir designated by law to succeed the deceased, is null and void. A fortiori, plaintiff-appellee could hardly derive from the agreement the right to have its terms enforced.

 

 

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Nogales v. Capitol Medical Center, et al., G.R. No. 142625, 19 December 2006.

[CARPIO, J.]

FACTS:

Pregnant with her fourth child, Corazon Nogales (“Corazon”), who was then 37 years old, was under the exclusive prenatal care of Dr. Oscar Estrada (“Dr. Estrada”) beginning on her fourth month of pregnancy or as early as December 1975. While Corazon was on her last trimester of pregnancy, Dr. Estrada noted an increase in her blood pressure and development of leg edema indicating preeclampsia, which is a dangerous complication of pregnancy. Around midnight of 25 May 1976, Corazon started to experience mild labor pains prompting Corazon and Rogelio Nogales (“Spouses Nogales”) to see Dr. Estrada at his home. After examining Corazon, Dr. Estrada advised her immediate admission to the Capitol Medical Center (“CMC”). The following day, Corazon was admitted at 2:30 a.m. at the CMC after the staff nurse noted the written admission request of Dr. Estrada. Upon Corazon’s admission at the CMC, Rogelio Nogales (“Rogelio”) executed and signed the “Consent on Admission and Agreement” and “Admission Agreement.” Corazon was then brought to the labor room of the CMC. Corazon died at 9:15 a.m. The cause of death was “hemorrhage, post partum.”

Petitioners filed a complaint for damages with the Regional Trial Court of Manila against CMC, Dr. Estrada, and the rest of CMC medical staff for the death of Corazon. In their defense, CMC pointed out that Dr. Estrada was a consultant to be considered as an independent-contractor, and that no employer-employee relationship existed between the former and the latter.

After more than 11 years of trial, the trial court rendered judgment on 22 November 1993 finding Dr. Estrada solely liable for damages. Petitioners appealed the trial court’s decision. Petitioners claimed that aside from Dr. Estrada, the remaining respondents should be held equally liable for negligence. Petitioners pointed out the extent of each respondent’s alleged liability.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling and applied the “borrowed servant doctrine” to release the liability of other medical staff. This doctrine provides that once the surgeon enters the operating room and takes charge of the proceedings, the acts or omissions of operating room personnel, and any negligence associated with such acts or omissions, are imputable to the surgeon. While the assisting physicians and nurses may be employed by the hospital, or engaged by the patient, they normally become the temporary servants or agents of the surgeon in charge while the operation is in progress, and liability may be imposed upon the surgeon for their negligent acts under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

ISSUE: Whether CMC is vicariously liable for the negligence of Dr. Estrada as its attending independent-contractor physician considering that facts of the instant case.

 

HELD: YES.

In general, a hospital is not liable for the negligence of an independent contractor-physician. There is, however, an exception to this principle. The hospital may be liable if the physician is the “ostensible” agent of the hospital. This exception is also known as the “doctrine of apparent authority.”xxx The doctrine of apparent authority essentially involves two factors to determine the liability of an independent-contractor physician. The first factor focuses on the hospital’s manifestations and is sometimes described as an inquiry whether the hospital acted in a manner which would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the individual who was alleged to be negligent was an employee or agent of the hospital. In this regard, the hospital need not make express representations to the patient that the treating physician is an employee of the hospital; rather a representation may be general and implied. xxx The second factor focuses on the patient’s reliance. It is sometimes characterized as an inquiry on whether the plaintiff acted in reliance upon the conduct of the hospital or its agent, consistent with ordinary care and prudence.

xxx

In the instant case, CMC impliedly held out Dr. Estrada as a member of its medical staff. Through CMC’s acts, CMC clothed Dr. Estrada with apparent authority thereby leading the Spouses Nogales to believe that Dr. Estrada was an employee or agent of CMC. CMC cannot now repudiate such authority. The records show that the Spouses Nogales relied upon a perceived employment relationship with CMC in accepting Dr. Estrada’s services. Rogelio testified that he and his wife specifically chose Dr. Estrada to handle Corazon’s delivery not only because of their friend’s recommendation, but more importantly because of Dr. Estrada’s “connection with a reputable hospital, the [CMC].” In other words, Dr. Estrada’s relationship with CMC played a significant role in the Spouses Nogales’ decision in accepting Dr. Estrada’s services as the obstetrician-gynecologist for Corazon’s delivery. Moreover, as earlier stated, there is no showing that before and during Corazon’s confinement at CMC, the Spouses Nogales knew or should have known that Dr. Estrada was not an employee of CMC. xxx CMC’s defense that all it did was “to extend to [Corazon] its facilities” is untenable. The Court cannot close its eyes to the reality that hospitals, such as CMC, are in the business of treatment.

xxx

The Court finds respondent Capitol Medical Center vicariously liable for the negligence of Dr. Oscar Estrada. The amounts of P105,000 as actual damages and P700,000 as moral damages should each earn legal interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum computed from the date of the judgment of the trial court. The Court affirms the rest of the Decision dated 6 February 1998 and Resolution dated 21 March 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 45641.

 

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