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

22 Nov

[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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