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People of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan and Jinggoy Estrada, G.R. No. 158754, 10 August 2007.

En Banc

[GARCIA, J.]

FACTS: This petition seeks to reverse and set aside the Resolution of herein respondent Sandiganbayan (Special Division) issued on March 6, 2003 in Criminal Case No. 26558, granting bail to private respondent Senator Jose Jinggoy Estrada (hereafter Jinggoy for brevity). Jinggoy was among the respondents in the crime of Plunder filed by the Office of the Ombudsman. Jinggoy filed with the Court an Urgent Motion praying for early resolution of his Petition for Bail on Medical/Humanitarian Considerations. He reiterated his earlier plea for bail filed with the Sandiganbayan. Jinggoy filed before the Sandiganbayan an Omnibus Application for Bail against which the prosecution filed its comment and opposition. Bail hearings were then conducted, followed by the submission by the parties of their respective memoranda.  Petitioner suggests that Jinggoy is harboring a plan to escape, thus a flight risk. But in a Resolution, the Sandiganbayan granted Jinggoy’s Omnibus Application for Bail. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but was denied.

ISSUE: Is the grant of bail in favor of Jinggoy proper on the ground that he is no longer considered a flight risk?

HELD: YES, the grant of bail is proper.

To begin with, Section 13 of Article III (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution mandates:

Section 13. All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. xxx.

Even if the capital offense charged is bailable owing to the weakness of the evidence of guilt, the right to bail may justifiably still be denied if the probability of escape is great. Here, ever since the promulgation of the assailed Resolutions a little more than four (4) years ago, Jinggoy does not, as determined by Sandiganbayan, seem to be a flight risk. We quote with approval what the graft court wrote in this regard:

It is not open to serious doubt that the movant [Jinggoy] has, in general, been consistently respectful of the Court and its processes. He has not ominously shown, by word or by deed, that he is of such a flight risk that would necessitate his continued incarceration. Bearing in mind his conduct, social standing and his other personal circumstances, the possibility of his escape in this case seems remote if not nil.

The likelihood of escape on the part individual respondent is now almost nil, given his election on May 10, 2004, as Senator of the Republic of the Philippines. The Court takes stock of the fact that those who usually jump bail are shadowy characters mindless of their reputation in the eyes of the people for as long as they can flee from the retribution of justice. On the other hand, those with a reputation and a respectable name to protect and preserve are very unlikely to jump bail. The Court, to be sure, cannot accept any suggestion that someone who has a popular mandate to serve as Senator is harboring any plan to give up his Senate seat in exchange for becoming a fugitive from justice.

 

 

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Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v. Judge Olalia and Muñoz, G.R. No. 153675, 29 April 2007.

En Banc

[SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.]

FACTS: Private respondent Muñoz was charged before the Hong Kong Court with three (3) counts of the offense of “accepting an advantage as agent,” in violation of Section 9 (1) (a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, Cap. 201 of Hong Kong. Petitioner Hong Kong Special Administrative Region filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for the extradition of private respondent. After hearing, Judge Bernardo, Jr. issued an Order denying the petition for bail, holding that there is no Philippine law granting bail in extradition cases and that private respondent is a high “flight risk.” Judge Bernardo, Jr. inhibited himself from further hearing and the case was raffled off to another judge. Private respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order denying his application for bail. This was granted by respondent judge. Petitioner filed an urgent motion to vacate the above Order, but it was denied. Hence, the instant petition.

ISSUE: Is the contention of the Petitioner, that the potential extraditee has a right to bail under the Constitution or statutory law, the right being limited solely to criminal proceedings, tenable?

HELD: NO, the contention is untenable.

The modern trend in public international law is the primacy placed on the worth of the individual person and the sanctity of human rights. Slowly, the recognition that the individual person may properly be a subject of international law is now taking root. The vulnerable doctrine that the subjects of international law are limited only to states was dramatically eroded towards the second half of the past century. For one, the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War II resulted in the unprecedented spectacle of individual defendants for acts characterized as violations of the laws of war, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity. Recently, under the Nuremberg principle, Serbian leaders have been persecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the former Yugoslavia. These significant events show that the individual person is now a valid subject of international law.

On a more positive note, also after World War II, both international organizations and states gave recognition and importance to human rights. Thus, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which the right to life, liberty and all the other fundamental rights of every person were proclaimed. While not a treaty, the principles contained in the said Declaration are now recognized as customarily binding upon the members of the international community. Thus, in Mejoff v. Director of Prisonsthis Court, in granting bail to a prospective deportee, held that under the Constitution, the principles set forth in that Declaration are part of the law of the land. In 1966, the UN General Assembly also adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the Philippines signed and ratified. Fundamental among the rights enshrined therein are the rights of every person to life, liberty, and due process.

If bail can be granted in deportation cases, we see no justification why it should not also be allowed in extradition cases. Likewise, considering that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to deportation cases, there is no reason why it cannot be invoked in extradition cases. After all, both are administrative proceedings where the innocence or guilt of the person detained is not in issue. Clearly, the right of a prospective extraditee to apply for bail in this jurisdiction must be viewed in the light of the various treaty obligations of the Philippines concerning respect for the promotion and protection of human rights. Under these treaties, the presumption lies in favor of human liberty. Thus, the Philippines should see to it that the right to liberty of every individual is not impaired.

 

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Zuño v. Judge Cabebe, A.M. OCA No. 03-1800-RTJ, 26 November 2004.

Third Division

[SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.]

FACTS: The instant administrative case stemmed from the sworn complaint of Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zuño of the Department of Justice, against Judge Alejandrino C. Cabebe, then Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Batac, Ilocos Norte. The charges are knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, gross ignorance of the law and partiality in a case where: The accused filed a motion to dismiss invoking as ground the right of the accused to a speedy trial; Respondent judge motu propio issued an Order granting bail to the accused; Respondent judge issued the Order without the accused’s application or motion for bail. The prosecution then filed a motion for reconsideration. Instead of acting thereon, respondent judge issued an order inhibiting himself from further proceeding with the case, realizing that what he did was patently irregular. Complainant thus prays that respondent judge be dismissed from the service with forfeiture of all benefits and be disbarred from the practice of law. In his comment, respondent denied the charges. While admitting that he issued the Order granting bail to the accused without any hearing, “the same was premised on the constitutional right of the accused to a speedy trial.” There was delay in the proceedings due to complainant’s frequent absences and failure of the witnesses for the prosecution to appear in court, resulting in the cancellation of the hearings.

ISSUE#1: Is the Judge correct in granting bail sans the application or motion for bail and without conducting a hearing?

HELD#2: NO, the Judge is not correct.

In Docena-Caspe vs. Judge Arnulfo O. Bugtas, we held that jurisprudence is replete with decisions on the procedural necessity of a hearing, whether summary or otherwise, relative to the grant of bail, especially in cases involving offenses punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, where bail is a matter of discretion. Under the present Rules, a hearing is mandatory in granting bail whether it is a matter of right or discretion. It must be stressed that the grant or the denial of bail in cases where bail is a matter of discretion, hinges on the issue of whether or not the evidence of guilt of the accused is strong, and the determination of whether or not the evidence is strong is a matter of judicial discretion which remains with the judge. In order for the latter to properly exercise his discretion, he must first conduct a hearing to determine whether the evidence of guilt is strong. In fact, even in cases where there is no petition for bail, a hearing should still be held.

There is no question that respondent judge granted bail to the accused without conducting a hearing, in violation of Sections 8 and 18, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure xxx.

[T]he court’s order granting or refusing bail must contain a summary of the evidence of the prosecution and based thereon, the judge should formulate his own conclusion as to whether the evidence so presented is strong enough to indicate the guilt of the accused. Respondent judge did not follow the above Rules and procedure enumerated in Cortes. He did not conduct a hearing before he granted bail to the accused, thus depriving the prosecution of an opportunity to interpose objections to the grant of bail. Irrespective of his opinion on the strength or weakness of evidence to prove the guilt of the accused, he should have conducted a hearing and thereafter made a summary of the evidence of the prosecution. The importance of a bail hearing and a summary of evidence cannot be downplayed, these are considered aspects of procedural due process for both the prosecution and the defense; its absence will invalidate the grant or denial of bail

ISSUE#2: Is the contention of the Respondent Judge, in granting bail on the ground that the accused were entitled to their right to a speedy trial, meritorious?

HELD#2: NO. Respondent’s contention is bereft of merit.

There is no indication in the records of the criminal case that the prosecution has intentionally delayed the trial of the case. Even assuming there was delay, this does not justify the grant of bail without a hearing. This is utter disregard of the Rules. The requirement of a bail hearing has been incessantly stressed by this Court. In the same vein, the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to be conversant with the law and the Rules and maintain professional competence; and by the very nature of his office, should be circumspect in the performance of his duties. He must render justice without resorting to shortcuts clearly uncalled for. Obviously, respondent failed to live up to these standards.

 

 

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Floresta v. Judge Ubadias, A.M. No. RTJ-03-1774, 27 May 2004.

Third Division

[CARPIO-MORALES, J.]

FACTS: By a Sworn Complaint, then Provincial Prosecutor, now Regional Trial Court Judge Dorentino Z. Floresta (complainant) administratively charged Judge Eliodoro G. Ubiadas of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) with “gross ignorance of [the] law, grave abuse of authority and violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.” Among other grounds, complainant faults respondent for granting, “without giving notice to the prosecution,” the petition for bail of Jose Mangohig, Jr. who was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by the Municipal Trial Court of Subic, Zambales which found probable cause against him for violation of Section 5(b), Art. III of Republic Act No. 7610 (“Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”). Respondent avers that in Crim. Case No. 271-99, upon motion filed close to noon time of January 3, 2000, the prosecutor was furnished a copy of the petition for bail by Mangohig, who was then under preliminary investigation. During the hearing set on the following day, or on January 4, 2000 at 8:30 a.m, there was no appearance from the Prosecutor’s Office. Since the offense for which Mangohig was charged is ordinarily a bailable offense, respondent granted him bail.

ISSUE: Is the Judge correct in granting the petition for bail even without the participation of the Prosecution during the bail hearing?

HELD: NO, the Judge is not correct.

Whether bail is a matter of right or discretion, and even if no charge has yet been filed in court against a respondent-suspect-detainee, reasonable notice of hearing is required to be given to the prosecutor, or at least his recommendation must be sought. So Fortuna v. Penaco-Sitaca instructs:

[A]dmission to bail as a matter of discretion presupposes the exercise thereof in accordance with law and guided by the applicable legal principlesThe prosecution must first be accorded an opportunity to present evidence because by the very nature of deciding applications for bail, it is on the basis of such evidence that judicial discretion is weighed against in determining whether the guilt of the accused is strong. In other words, discretion must be exercised regularly, legally and within the confines of procedural due process, that is, after the evaluation of the evidence submitted by the prosecution. Any order issued in the absence thereof is not a product of sound judicial discretion but of whim and caprice and outright arbitrariness. (Italics in the original; underscoring supplied)

True, a hearing of the petition for bail was conducted in Crim. Case No. 271-99 on January 4, 2000 at 8:30 a.m. Given the filing of the petition only the day before, at close to noontime, it cannot be said that the prosecution was afforded reasonable notice and opportunity to present evidence after it received a copy of the petition minutes before it was filed in court. It bears stressing that the prosecution should be afforded reasonable opportunity to comment on the application for bail by showing that evidence of guilt is strong.

While in Section 18 of Rule 114 on applications for bail, no period is provided as it merely requires the court to give a “reasonable notice” of the hearing to the prosecutor or require him to submit his recommendation, and the general rule on the requirement of a three-day notice for hearing of motions under Section 4 of Rule 15 allows a court for good cause to set the hearing on shorter notice, there is, in the case of Mangohig, no showing of good cause to call for hearing his petition for bail on shorter notice. Reasonable notice depends of course upon the circumstances of each particular case, taking into account, inter alia, the offense committed and the imposable penalties, and the evidence of guilt in the hands of the prosecution. In Crim. Case No. 271-99, Mangohig was arrested for violation of Sec. 5(b), Art. III of R.A. 7610 which is punishable by reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua, and subsequently indicted for statutory rape qualified by relationship which is punishable by death. Under the circumstances, by respondent’s assailed grant of bail, the prosecution was deprived of due process for which he is liable for gross ignorance of the law or procedure which is a serious charge under Sec. 8 of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court.

 

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Dr. Solidum v. People, G.R. No. 192123, 10 March 2014.

[BERSAMIN, J.]

FACTS: Gerald Albert Gercayo (Gerald) was born with an imperforate anus. Two days after his birth, Gerald underwent colostomy, a surgical procedure to bring one end of the large intestine out through the abdominal wall, enabling him to excrete through a colostomy bag attached to the side of his body. When Gerald was three years old, he was admitted at the Ospital ng Maynila for a pull-through operation Dr. Leandro Resurreccion headed the surgical team, and was assisted by Dr. Joselito Luceño, Dr. Donatella Valeña and Dr. Joseph Tibio. The anesthesiologists included Dr. Marichu Abella, Dr. Arnel Razon and petitioner Dr. Fernando Solidum (Dr. Solidum). During the operation, Gerald experienced bradycardia, and went into a coma. His coma lasted for two weeks, but he regained consciousness only after a month. He could no longer see, hear or move.

A criminal complaint for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Serious Physical Injuries was filed against Dr. Solidum. The RTC rendered a judgment of conviction against Dr. Solidum with Ospital ng Maynila jointly and severally liable. The CA affirmed the RTC judgment. The SC ruled that Dr. Solidum must be acquitted because the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Dr. Solidum had been recklessly imprudent in administering the anesthetic agent to Gerald.  Indeed, Dr. Vertido’s findings did not preclude the probability that other factors related to Gerald’s major operation, which could or could not necessarily be attributed to the administration of the anesthesia, had caused the hypoxia and had then led Gerald to experience bradycardia. Dr. Vertido revealingly concluded in his report, instead, that “although the anesthesiologist followed the normal routine and precautionary procedures, still hypoxia and its corresponding side effects did occur.

ISSUE#1: Will the acquittal of Dr. Solidum exempt him from civil liability arising from the crime?

HELD#2: NO, it does not follow.

We have to clarify that the acquittal of Dr. Solidum would not immediately exempt him from civil liability. But we cannot now find and declare him civilly liable because the circumstances that have been established here do not present the factual and legal bases for validly doing so. His acquittal did not derive only from reasonable doubt. There was really no firm and competent showing how the injury to Gerard had been caused. That meant that the manner of administration of the anesthesia by Dr. Solidum was not necessarily the cause of the hypoxia that caused the bradycardia experienced by Gerard. Consequently, to adjudge Dr. Solidum civilly liable would be to speculate on the cause of the hypoxia. We are not allowed to do so, for civil liability must not rest on speculation but on competent evidence.

ISSUE#2: Is the decree that Ospital ng Maynila is jointly and severally liable with Dr. Solidum correct?

HELD#2: NO, the decree is not correct.

For one, Ospital ng Maynila was not at all a party in the proceedings. Hence, its fundamental right to be heard was not respected from the outset. The R TC and the CA should have been alert to this fundamental defect. Verily, no person can be prejudiced by a ruling rendered in an action or proceeding in which he was not made a party. Such a rule would enforce the constitutional guarantee of due process of law.

Moreover, Ospital ng Maynila could be held civilly liable only when subsidiary liability would be properly enforceable pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. But the subsidiary liability seems far-fetched here. The conditions for subsidiary liability to attach to Ospital ng Maynila should first be complied with. Firstly, pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code, Ospital ng Maynila must be shown to be a corporation “engaged in any kind of industry.” The term industry means any department or branch of art, occupation or business, especially one that employs labor and capital, and is engaged in industry.

However, Ospital ng Maynila, being a public hospital, was not engaged in industry conducted for profit but purely in charitable and humanitarian work. Secondly, assuming that Ospital ng Maynila was engaged in industry for profit, Dr. Solidum must be shown to be an employee of Ospital ng Maynila acting in the discharge of his duties during the operation on Gerald. Yet, he definitely was not such employee but a consultant of the hospital. And, thirdly, assuming that civil liability was adjudged against Dr. Solidum as an employee (which did not happen here), the execution against him was unsatisfied due to his being insolvent.

 

N.B.

In criminal prosecutions, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability that is deemed instituted with the criminal action refers only to that arising from the offense charged. It is puzzling, therefore, how the RTC and the CA could have adjudged Ospital ng Maynila jointly and severally liable with Dr. Solidum for the damages despite the obvious fact that Ospital ng Maynila, being an artificial entity, had not been charged along with Dr. Solidum. The lower courts thereby acted capriciously and whimsically, which rendered their judgment against Ospital ng Maynila void as the product of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

 

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Spouses Fermin v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 95146, 06 May 1991.

[GANCAYCO, J.]

FACTS: A reading of the lease agreement shows that it is for a term of ten (10) years and that the lease shall be renewable for another term of 10 years upon mutual agreement of the parties. The agreed rental is P5,000.00 per annum with the escalation clause that the rental shall be increased by 10% at the end of each five-year period counted from the effectivity of the lease agreement. After the 10-year term and during the renewal period, the lessee may, at his/their own option and discretion, terminate the lease, after giving the lessors a previous written notice in advance, at least 180 days from the effective date of termination. Upon termination of the lease after the first 10 years, all improvements which are permanent in nature that may have been constructed by the lessee on the leased properties, shall become properties of the lessors, their heirs or assigns, without any further obligation to reimburse the lessees. The lessee has the priority to purchase the property if the lessors decide to sell said property.

Before the expiration of the 10 year term of the lease, private respondents manifested their desire to renew the lease when they sent petitioners’ representative a prepared lease agreement already signed by them but it was never signed nor returned by petitioners. Petitioners would be willing to renew said lease if the rentals are increased to P2,000.00 monthly. Petitioners acquiesced on private respondents’ occupation for more than 15 days after the expiration of the lease agreement. Private respondents now contend that there is an implied renewal of lease agreement for another 10 years.

 

ISSUE: Is the contention that implied renewal of a lease agreement originally for 10 year term be for another 10 years correct?

 

HELD: NO, the contention is not correct.

From the foregoing set of facts, it cannot be said that the lease agreement had been effectively renewed for another 10 years. The stipulation of the parties is clear in that such a renewal is subject to the mutual agreement of the parties. While there is no question that private respondents expressed their desire to renew the lease by another 10 years at the rate of the rental stipulated in the lease agreement, apparently petitioners would be willing to renew said lease if the rentals are increased to P2,000.00 monthly. Obviously, there was no meeting of the minds as to the rate of the rental. As there was no agreement reached, then the term of the lease may not be considered to have been renewed for another 10 years.

However, since after the expiration of the lease agreement, the private respondents continued to occupy the premises for more than 15 days with the acquiescence of petitioners, then it is understood that there is an implied new lease, not for the period of the original contract, but from year to year. Article 1670 of the Civil Code so provides for this situation.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in Case Digests, Lease

 

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Doromal, et al. v. Court of Appeals and Javellana, G.R. No. L-36083, 05 September 1975.

[BARREDO, J.]

FACTS:

Private respondent (plaintiff) Javellana filed an action for redemption of a co-owned property against petitioners Doromal, et al. (defendants). The Court of First Instance (CFI) dismissed the action for having been made out of time.  The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and held that although respondent Javellana was informed of her co-owners’ proposal to sell the land in question to petitioners she was, however, “never notified … least of all, in writing”, of the actual execution and registration of the corresponding deed of sale, hence, said respondent’s right to redeem had not yet expired at the time she made her offer for that purpose thru her letter of June 10, 1968 delivered to petitioners on even date.

The other pivotal issue raised by petitioners on relates to the price which respondent offered for the redemption in question. The decision under review states that notwithstanding the fact that “the consideration of P30,000 only was placed in the deed of sale to minimize the payment of the registration fees, stamps and sales tax” and

ISSUE#1: Is a notice to co-owner(s) of a perfected sale a sufficient notice for the counting of the 30-day right of redemption period by a co-owner?

HELD#1: NO, the notice of perfected sale is not sufficient.

We are of the considered opinion and so hold that for purposes of the co-owner’s right of redemption granted by Article 1620 of the Civil Code, the notice in writing which Article 1623 requires to be made to the other co-owners and from receipt of which the 30-day period to redeem should be counted is a notice not only of a perfected sale but of the actual execution and delivery of the deed of sale. This is implied from the latter portion of Article 1623 which requires that before a register of deeds can record a sale by a co-owner, there must be presented to him, an affidavit to the effect that the notice of the sale had been sent in writing to the other co-owners. A sale may not be presented to the register of deeds for registration unless it be in the form of a duly executed public instrument. Moreover, the law prefers that all the terms and conditions of the sale should be definite and in writing. As aptly observed by Justice Gatmaitan in the decision under review, Article 1619 of the Civil Code bestows unto a co-owner the right to redeem and “to be subrogated under the same terms and conditions stipulated in the contract”, and to avoid any controversy as to the terms and conditions under which the right to redeem may be exercised, it is best that the period therefor should not be deemed to have commenced unless the notice of the disposition is made after the formal deed of disposal has been duly executed. And it being beyond dispute that respondent herein has never been notified in writing of the execution of the deed of sale by which petitioners acquired the subject property, it necessarily follows that her tender to redeem the same made on June 10, 1968 was well within the period prescribed by law. Indeed, it is immaterial when she might have actually come to know about said deed, it appearing she has never been shown a copy thereof through a written communication by either any of the petitioners-purchasers or any of her co-owners-vendees. (Cornejo et al. vs. CA et al., 16 SCRA 775.)

ISSUE#2: Can the contention of the petitioners be sustained that redemption price should be the actual amount paid and not that consideration in the deed of sale which is only P30,000?

HELD#2: No, petitioners’ contention cannot be sustained.

As stated in the decision under review, the trial court found that “the consideration of P30,000 only was placed in the deed of sale to minimize the payment of the registration fees, stamps and sales tax.” With this undisputed fact in mind, it is impossible for the Supreme Court to sanction petitioners’ pragmatic but immoral posture. Being patently violative of public policy and injurious to public interest, the seemingly wide practice of understating considerations of transactions for the purpose of evading taxes and fees due to the government must be condemned and all parties guilty thereof must be made to suffer the consequences of their ill-advised agreement to defraud the state. Verily, the trial court fell short of its devotion and loyalty to the Republic in officially giving its stamp of approval to the stand of petitioners and even berating respondent Javellana as wanting to enrich herself “at the expense of her own blood relatives who are her aunts, uncles and cousins.” On the contrary, said “blood relatives” should have been sternly told, as We here hold, that they are in pari-delicto with petitioners in committing tax evasion and should not receive any consideration from any court in respect to the money paid for the sale in dispute. Their situation is similar to that of parties to an illegal contract.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Sales

 

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