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Tag Archives: bail

Leviste v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 189122, 17 March 2010.

Third Division

[CORONA, J.]

FACTS: Charged with the murder of Rafael de las Alas, petitioner Jose Antonio Leviste was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Makati City for the lesser crime of homicide and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six years and one day of prision mayor as minimum to 12 years and one day of reclusion temporal as maximum. He appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals. Pending appeal, he filed an urgent application for admission to bail pending appeal, citing his advanced age and health condition, and claiming the absence of any risk or possibility of flight on his part. The Court of Appeals denied petitioner’s application for bail. It invoked the bedrock principle in the matter of bail pending appeal, that the discretion to extend bail during the course of appeal should be exercised “with grave caution and only for strong reasons.” Petitioner now questions as grave abuse of discretion the denial of his application for bail, considering that none of the conditions justifying denial of bail under the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court was present. Petitioner’s theory is that, where the penalty imposed by the trial court is more than six years but not more than 20 years and the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5 are absent, bail must be granted to an appellant pending appeal.

ISSUE: In an application for bail pending appeal by an appellant sentenced by the trial court to a penalty of imprisonment for more than six years, does the discretionary nature of the grant of bail pending appeal mean that bail should automatically be granted absent any of the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court?

HELD: NO, discretionary nature of bail mentioned in Section 5 of Rule 114 does not mean automatic grant of bail in case of appeal.

After conviction by the trial court, the presumption of innocence terminates and, accordingly, the constitutional right to bail ends. From then on, the grant of bail is subject to judicial discretion. At the risk of being repetitious, such discretion must be exercised with grave caution and only for strong reasons. Considering that the accused was in fact convicted by the trial court, allowance of bail pending appeal should be guided by a stringent-standards approach. This judicial disposition finds strong support in the history and evolution of the rules on bail and the language of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court. It is likewise consistent with the trial court’s initial determination that the accused should be in prison. Furthermore, letting the accused out on bail despite his conviction may destroy the deterrent effect of our criminal laws. This is especially germane to bail pending appeal because long delays often separate sentencing in the trial court and appellate review. In addition, at the post-conviction stage, the accused faces a certain prison sentence and thus may be more likely to flee regardless of bail bonds or other release conditions. Finally, permitting bail too freely in spite of conviction invites frivolous and time-wasting appeals which will make a mockery of our criminal justice system and court processes.

 

 

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Okabe v. Judge Gutierrez and Maruyama, G.R. No. 150185, 27 May 2004.

Second Division

[CALLEJO, SR., J.]

FACTS: Maruyama charged Okabe of Estafa. After the preliminary investigation, an Information was filed and a warrant of arrest was issued.  Petitioner posted a personal bail bond in the said amount, duly approved by Judge Demetrio B. Macapagal, the Presiding Judge of Branch 79 of the RTC of Quezon City, who forthwith recalled the said warrant. The approved personal bail bond of the petitioner was transmitted to the RTC of Pasig City on June 21, 2000. Upon her request, the petitioner was furnished with a certified copy of the Information, the resolution and the criminal complaint which formed part of the records of the said case. Petitioner twice left the Philippines but returned. The prosecution moved for the issuance of a hold departure order to hold and prevent any attempt on the part of the petitioner to depart from the Philippines. Petitioner filed a Very Urgent Motion To Lift/Recall Hold Departure Order and/or allow her to regularly travel to Japan. Petitioner filed a motion for the postponement of her arraignment alleging that, in case the trial court ruled adversely thereon, she would refuse to enter a plea and seek relief from the appellate court. The court denied the petitioner’s motions on the ground that when the petitioner posted a personal bail bond for her provisional liberty, she thereby waived her right to question the court’s finding of the existence of probable cause for her arrest and submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the court, more so when she filed the motion for the lifting of the hold departure order the court issued, and the motion to defer the proceedings and her arraignment.

ISSUE: Is the application for or filing of bail bond a waiver of one’s right to assail the warrant issued for his arrest?

 

HELD: NO, there is no waiver in application for or filing of a bail.

It bears stressing that Section 26, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure is a new one, intended to modify previous rulings of this Court that an application for bail or the admission to bail by the accused shall be considered as a waiver of his right to assail the warrant issued for his arrest on the legalities or irregularities thereon. The new rule has reverted to the ruling of this Court in People v. Red. The new rule is curative in nature because precisely, it was designed to supply defects and curb evils in procedural rules. Hence, the rules governing curative statutes are applicable. Curative statutes are by their essence retroactive in application. Besides, procedural rules as a general rule operate retroactively, even without express provisions to that effect, to cases pending at the time of their effectivity, in other words to actions yet undetermined at the time of their effectivity. Before the appellate court rendered its decision on January 31, 2001, the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure was already in effect. It behooved the appellate court to have applied the same in resolving the petitioner’s petition for certiorari and her motion for partial reconsideration.

Moreover, considering the conduct of the petitioner after posting her personal bail bond, it cannot be argued that she waived her right to question the finding of probable cause and to assail the warrant of arrest issued against her by the respondent judge. There must be clear and convincing proof that the petitioner had an actual intention to relinquish her right to question the existence of probable cause. When the only proof of intention rests on what a party does, his act should be so manifestly consistent with, and indicative of, an intent to voluntarily and unequivocally relinquish the particular right that no other explanation of his conduct is possible. In this case, the records show that a warrant was issued by the respondent judge in Pasay City for the arrest of the petitioner, a resident of Guiguinto, Bulacan. When the petitioner learned of the issuance of the said warrant, she posted a personal bail bond to avert her arrest and secure her provisional liberty. Judge Demetrio B. Macapagal of the RTC of Quezon City approved the bond and issued an order recalling the warrant of arrest against the petitioner. Thus, the posting of a personal bail bond was a matter of imperative necessity to avert her incarceration; it should not be deemed as a waiver of her right to assail her arrest.

 

 

 

 

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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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