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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
December-1996 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. 105746 December 2, 1996 - MUNICIPALITY OF JIMENEZ v. HON. VICENTE T. BAZ. JR, ET. AL.

  • G.R. No. 115686 December 2, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. PEDRO V. MALABAGO

  • G.R. No. 116610 December 2, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. WILSON VILLANUEVA

  • G.R. No. 117217 December 2, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GENER S. DE GUZMAN

  • G.R. No. 119005 December 2, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SABAS RAQUEL, ET.AL.

  • G.R. No. 119722 December 2, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NEMESIO V. GANAN., ET.AL.

  • G.R. No. 105213 December 4, 1996 - ERLINDA DE LA CRUZ v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 112409 December 4, 1996 - CHAD COMMODITIES TRADING v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET.AL.

  • G.R. No. 114266 December 4, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROGELIO VILLANUEVA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121158 December 5, 1996 - CHINA BANKING CORP., ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter Nos. MTJ-91-567 & MTJ-91-588 December 6, 1996 - MODESTO T. UALAT v. JOSE O. RAMOS

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-95-1033 December 6, 1996 - MAMAMAYAN NG ZAPOTE v. ISAURO M. BALDERIAN

  • G.R. No. 94516 December 6, 1996 - LUCIO SAN ANDRES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111857 December 6, 1996 - JAIME CALPO, ET AL. v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114864 December 6, 1996 - NATIONAL CENTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT, ET AL. v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT

  • G.R. No. 118770 December 6, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GEORGE GONDORA

  • G.R. No. 123991 December 6, 1996 - FELIX LADINO v. ALFONSO S. GARCIA, ET. AL.

  • G.R. No. 88043 December 9, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ANTONIO PAREJA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 95049 December 9, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NESTOR ESCANDOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110569 December 9, 1996 - DIOSDADO MALLARI v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. 95-4-41-MeTC December 10, 1996 - QUARTERLY REPORT OF [INHERITED] CASES OF JUDGE EVELYN CORPUS-CABOCHAN

  • G.R. No. 119359 December 10, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROBERT CLOUD

  • G.R. No. 124292 December 10, 1996 - GREGORIO C. JAVELOSA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET.AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 110100-02 December 11, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ISIDORO PEREZ, ET.AL.

  • G.R. No. 119619 December 13, 1996 - RICHARD HIZON, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. 92-6-326-MeTC December 16, 1996 - IN RE: FRANCISCO D. VILLANUEVA

  • G.R. No. 92153 December 16, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ARTEMIO OBZUNAR

  • G.R. Nos. 112716-17 December 16, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EDUARDO S. HERBIAS

  • G.R. Nos. 114011-22 December 16, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. VEVINA BUEMIO

  • G.R. No. 115401 December 16, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EDILBERTO FABULA, ET.AL.

  • G.R. No. 120958 December 16, 1996 - FIL-ESTATE GOLF AND DEVELOPMENT v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET.AL.

  • G.R. No. 123263 December 16, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON CITY, ET.AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-90-454 December 17, 1996 - CARLOS MENDOZA v. NICOLAS TIONGSON

  • Adm. Matter No. P-94-1063 December 17, 1996 - BERNARDITA B. CHUA v. BENJAMIN A. GONZALES

  • G.R. Nos. 93026-27 December 17, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CONRADO PAJARO

  • G.R. No. 101771 December 17, 1996 - SPOUSES MARIANO and GILDA FLORENDO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET. AL.

  • G.R. No. 111541 December 17, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MAX MEJOS

  • G.R. No. 119601 December 17, 1996 - DANILO BUHAT v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET. AL.

  • G.R. No. 120365 December 17, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. WILSON B. QUE

  • G.R. Nos. 103727 & 106496 December 18, 1996 - INTESTATE ESTATE OF DON MARIANO SAN PEDRO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET.AL.

  • Adm. Matter Nos. RTJ-90-372-B & P-93-992 December 23, 1996 - COURT EMPLOYEES OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT v. JUDGE VIVENCIO A. GALON

  • Adm. Matter No. SC-96-1 December 23, 1996 - DAMASO S. FLORES v. BERNARDO P. ABESAMIS

  • G.R. No. 117582 December 23, 1996 - CONRADO SAMILLANO, ET. AL. v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET.AL.

  • G.R. No. 120038 December 23, 1996 - DIANA E. BELAUNZARAN v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET.AL.

  • G.R. No. 118079 December 24, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ARMANDO ESTANISLAO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118808 December 24, 1996 - JUDGE ANA MARIA I. DOLALAS, ET.AL. v. OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN-MINDANAO, ET, AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-96-1112 December 27, 1996 - ANTONIO ADAPON v. JUDGE HERNANDO C. DOMAGTOY

  • G.R. No. 117737 December 27, 1996 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NEMECIO B. CERVANTES

  • G.R. No. 82188 June 30, 1988

    PCGG, ET AL. v. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, ET AL.

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 119601   December 17, 1996 - DANILO BUHAT v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET. AL.

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    FIRST DIVISION

    [G.R. No. 119601. December 17, 1996.]

    DANILO BUHAT, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.


    D E C I S I O N


    HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.:


    Delicate and sensitive is the issue in this case, which is, whether or not the upgrading of the crime charged from homicide to the more serious offense of murder is such a substantial amendment that it is proscribed if made after the accused had pleaded "not guilty" to the crime of homicide, displaying as alleged by the defense, inordinate prejudice to the rights of the defendant.

    On March 25, 1993, an information for HOMICIDE 1 was filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) 2 against petitioner Danny Buhat, "John Doe" and "Richard Doe." The information alleged that on October 16, 1992, petitioner Danilo Buhat, armed with a knife, unlawfully attacked and killed one Ramon George Yu while the said two unknown assailants held his arms, "using superior strength, inflicting . . . mortal wounds which were . . . the direct . . . cause of his death" 3 .

    Even before petitioner could be arraigned, the prosecution moved for the deferment of the arraignment on the ground that the private complainant in the case, one Betty Yu, moved for the reconsideration of the resolution of the City Prosecutor which ordered the filing of the aforementioned information for homicide. Petitioner however, invoking his right to a speedy trial, opposed the motion. Thus, petitioner was arraigned on June 9, 1993 and, since petitioner pleaded "not guilty", trial ensued.

    On February 3, 1994, then Secretary of Justice Franklin M. Drilon, finding Betty Yu’s appeal meritorious, ordered the City Prosecutor of Roxas City "to amend the information by upgrading the offense charged to MURDER and implead therein additional accused Herminia Altavas, Osmeña Altavas and Renato Buhat" 4 .

    On March 10, 1994, the Assistant City Prosecutor filed a motion for leave to amend information. The amendment as proposed was opposed by the petitioner.

    The amended information read:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "The undersigned assistant City Prosecutor accuses DANNY BUHAT, of Capricho II, Barangay V, Roxas City, Philippines, HERMINIA ALTAVAS AND OSMEÑA ALTAVAS both resident of Punta Tabuc, Roxas City, Philippines, of the crime of Murder, committed as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    That on or about the 16th day of October, 1992, in the City of Roxas, Philippines, the above-named accused, Danny Buhat armed with a knife, conspiring, confederating and helping one another, did and then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously [sic] without justifiable motive and with intent to kill, attack, stab and injure one RAMON GEORGE YU, while the two other accused held the arms of the latter, thus using superior strength, inflicting upon him serious and mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of said Ramon George Yu in such amount as maybe [sic] awarded to them by the court under the provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

    CONTRARY TO LAW." 5

    The prosecution had by then already presented at least two witnesses.

    In an order, 6 dated June 2, 1994, the RTC denied the motion for leave to amend information. The denial was premised on (l) an invocation of the trial court’s discretion in disregarding the opinion of the Secretary of Justice as allegedly held in Crespo v. Mogul 7 and (2) a conclusion reached by the trial court that the resolution of the inquest prosecutor is more persuasive than that of the Secretary of Justice, the former having actually conducted the preliminary investigation "where he was able to observe the demeanor of those he investigated" 8 .

    The Solicitor General promptly elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals. He filed a petition for certiorari 9 assailing the aforecited order denying the motion for leave to amend information. Finding the proposed amendment as non-prejudicial to petitioner’s rights, respondent court granted the petition for certiorari in a decision, dated March 28, 1995, the decretal portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED, herein petition is hereby granted: the Order dated June 2, 1994 is set aside and annulled; amendment of the Information from homicide to murder, and including as additional accused Herminia Altavas and Osmena Altavas is allowed; and finally, the writ of preliminary injunction we issued on January 30, 1995 is made permanent by prohibiting the public respondent from hearing aforementioned criminal case under the original Information." 10

    Hence this petition raising the sole issue of whether or not the questioned amendment to the information is procedurally infirm.

    The petition lacks merit.

    The additional allegation of conspiracy is only a formal amendment, petitioner’s participation as principal not having been affected by such amendment

    Petitioner asseverates that the inclusion of additional defendants in the information on the ground of conspiracy "is a substantial amendment which is prohibited by Sec. 14, Rule 110 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, because the allegation of conspiracy . . . is a substantial amendment saddling the [p]etitioner with the need of a new defense in order to met [sic] a different situation at the trial [c]ourt." 11

    Petitioner cites the case of People v. Montenegro 12 as jurisprudential support. Indeed, we stated in the Montenegro case that "the allegation of conspiracy among all the private respondents-accused, which was not previously included in the original information, is . . . a substantial amendment saddling the respondents with the need of a new defense in order to meet a different situation in the trial court" 13 . And to explain the new defense theory as a bar to a substantial amendment after plea, we cited the case of People v. Zulueta 14 where we elucidated, thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Surely the preparations made by herein accused to face the original charges will have to be radically modified to meet the new situation. For undoubtedly the allegation of conspiracy enables the prosecution to attribute and ascribe to the accused Zulueta all the acts, knowledge, admissions and even omissions of his co-conspirator Angel Llanes in furtherance of the conspiracy. The amendment thereby widens the battlefront to allow the use by the prosecution of newly discovered weapons, to the evident discomfiture of the opposite camp. Thus it would seem inequitable to sanction the tactical movement at this stage of the controversy, bearing in mind that the accused is only guaranteed two-days’ preparation for trial. Needless to emphasize, as in criminal cases the liberty, even the life, of the accused is at stake, it is always wise and proper that he be fully apprised of the charges, to avoid any possible surprise that may lead to injustice. The prosecution has too many facilities to covet the added advantage of meeting unprepared adversaries."cralaw virtua1aw library

    This jurisprudential rule, however, is not without an exception. And it is in the same case of Zulueta that we highlighted the case of Regala v. Court of First Instance of Bataan 15 as proffering a situation where an amendment after plea resulting in the inclusion of an allegation of conspiracy and in the indictment of some other persons in addition to the original accused, constitutes a mere formal amendment permissible even after arraignment. In Zulueta, we distinguished the Regala case in this wise:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Some passages from ‘Regala contra El Juez del Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Bataan’ are quoted by petitioners. Therein the accused pleaded not guilty to an information for murder, and later the fiscal amended the indictment by including two other persons charged with the same offense and alleging conspiracy between the three. Five justices held that the amendment was not substantial. But that situation differs from the one at bar. The amendment there did not modify theory of the prosecution that the accused had killed the deceased by a voluntary act and deed. Here there is an innovation, or the introduction of another alternative imputation, which, to make matters worse, is inconsistent with the original allegations." 16

    Applying our aforegoing disquisition in the 1946 case of Regala, we likewise ruled in the 1983 case of People v. Court of Appeals 17 that a post-arraignment amendment to further allege conspiracy, is only a formal amendment not prejudicial to the rights of the accused and proper even after the accused has pleaded "not guilty" to the charge under the original information. We held in said case of People v. Court of Appeals:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    ". . . The trial Judge should have allowed the amendment . . .considering that the amendments sought were only formal. As aptly stated by the Solicitor General in his memorandum, ‘there was no change in the prosecution’s theory that respondent Ruiz willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attacked, assaulted and shot with a gun Ernesto and Rogelio Bello . . . The amendments would not have been prejudicial to him because his participation as principal in the crime charged with respondent Ruiz in the original informations, could not be prejudiced by the proposed amendments.’

    In a case (Regala v. CFI, 77 Phil. 684), the defendant was charged with murder. After plea, the fiscal presented an amended information wherein two other persons were included as co-accused. There was further allegation that the accused and his co-defendants had conspired and confederated together and mutually aided one another to commit the offense charged. The amended information was admitted . . .

    x       x       x


    Otherwise stated, the amendments . . . would not have prejudiced Ruiz whose participation as principal in the crimes charged did not change. When the incident was investigated by the fiscal’s office, the respondents were Ruiz, Padilla and Ongchenco. The fiscal did not include Padilla and Ongchenco in the two informations because of ‘insufficiency of evidence.’ It was only later when Francisco Pagcalinawan testified at the reinvestigation that the participation of Padilla and Ongchenco surfaced and, as a consequence, there was the need for the information of the informations . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

    The aforegoing principle, by way of exception to the general rule, also appositely applies in the present controversy.

    Petitioner undoubtedly is charged as a principal in the killing of Ramon George Yu whom petitioner is alleged to have stabbed while two unknown persons held the victim’s arms. The addition of the phrase, "conspiring, confederating and helping one another" does not change the nature of petitioner’s participation as principal in the killing.

    Whether under the original or the amended information, petitioner would have to defend himself as the People makes a case against him and secures for public protection the punishment of petitioner for stabbing to death, using superior strength, a fellow citizen in whose health and safety society as a whole is interested. Petitioner, thus, has no tenable basis to decry the amendment in question.

    Furthermore, neither may the amendment in question be struck down on the ground that Herminia Altavas, Osmena Altavas and Renato Buhat would be placed in double jeopardy by virtue of said amendment. In the first place, no first jeopardy can be spoken of insofar as the Altavases are concerned since the first information did not precisely include them as accused therein. In the second place, the amendment to replace the name, "John Doe" with the name of Renato Buhat who was found by the Secretary of Justice to be one of the two persons who held the arms of the victim while petitioner was stabbing him, 18 is only a formal amendment and one that does not prejudice any of the accused’s rights. Such amendment to insert in the information the real name of the accused involves merely a matter of form as it does not, in any way, deprive any of the accused of a fair opportunity to present a defense; neither is the nature of the offense charged affected or altered since the revelation of accused’s real name does not change the theory of the prosecution nor does it introduce any new and material fact. 19 In fact, it is to be expected that the information has to be amended as the unknown participants in the crime became known to the public prosecutor. 20

    "Abuse of superior strength" having already been alleged in the original information charging homicide, the amendment of the name of the crime to murder, constitutes a mere formal amendment permissible even after arraignment

    In the case of Dimalibot v. Salcedo. 21 we ruled that the amendment of the information so as to change the crime charged from homicide to murder, may be made "even if it may result in altering the nature of the charge so long as it can be done without prejudice to the rights of the accused." In that case, several accused were originally charged with homicide, but before they were arraigned, an amended information for murder was filed. Understandably raised before us was the issue of the propriety and legality of the afore-described amendment, and we ruled, thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    ". . . it is undisputed that the herein accused were not yet arraigned before the competent court when the complaint for homicide was amended so as to charge the crime of murder. . . . the amendment could therefore be made even as to substance in order that the proper charge may be made. . . . The change may also be made even if it may result in altering the nature of the charge so long as it can be done without prejudice to the rights of the defendant." 22

    Thus, at the outset, the main consideration should be whether or not the accused had already made his plea under the original information, for this is the index of prejudice to, and the violation of, the rights of the accused. The question as to whether the changing of the crime charged from homicide to the more serious offense of murder is a substantial amendment proscribed after the accused had pleaded "not guilty" to the crime of homicide was, it should be noted, categorically answered in the affirmative by us in the case of Dionaldo v. Dacuycuy, 23 for then we ruled:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    ". . . the provision which is relevant to the problem is Rule 110, Sec. 13 [now Sec. 14 under the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure] of the Rules of Court which stipulates:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    ‘. . . The information or complaint may be amended,, in substance or form, without leave of court, at any time before the defendant pleads; and thereafter and during the trial as to all matters of form, by leave and at the discretion of the court, when the same can be done without prejudice to the rights of the defendant.

    x       x       x


    To amend the information so as to change the crime charged for homicide to the more serious offense of murder after the petitioner had pleaded not guilty to the former is indubitably proscribed by the first paragraph of the above-quoted provision. For certainly a change from homicide to murder is not a matter of form; it is one of substance with very serious consequences." 24

    Indeed, petitioner forcefully and strongly submits that, in the light of this ruling, we are allegedly obliged to grant his prayer for the reversal of the assailed decision of respondent Court of Appeals and the affirmance of the trial court’s ruling that the post-arraignment amendment sought by the People is prohibited under Section 14, Rule 110, of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, the same being a substantial amendment prejudicial to the rights of the accused.

    The cited ruling, however, differs from the case at bench because the facts herein sustain a contrary holding. As pointed out by the Court of Appeals:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    ". . . the original Information, while only mentioning homicide, alleged:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Danny Buhat, John Doe and Richard Doe as the accused; [sic] of Danny Buhat stabbing the deceased Ramon while his two other companions were holding the arms of Ramon, thus, ‘the Information already alleged superior strength’; and inflicting mortal wounds which led to the death of Ramon.

    Superior strength qualifies the offense to murder (Article 248).

    x       x       x


    Before us, the Information already alleged superior strength, and the additional allegation that the deceased was stabbed by Buhat while the arms of the former were being held by the two other accused, referring to John Doe and Richard Doe. . . .

    x       x       x


    If the killing is characterized as having been committed by superior strength, then to repeat, there is murder . . .

    Also the case of Dacuycuy was mentioned, as a justification for not allowing change of designation from homicide to murder, but then the body of the Information in the Dacuycuy ruling did not allege averments which qualifies [sic] the offense of murder. The case before us instead is different in that the Information already alleges that Buhat attacked the deceased while his two other companions held him by the arms, ‘using superior strength.’ . . .We would even express the possibility that if supported by evidence, Buhat and the Altavases could still be penalized for murder even without changing the designation from homicide to murder, precisely because of aforementioned allegations. The proposed change of the word from homicide to murder, to us, is not a substantial change that should be prohibited."25cralaw:red

    In the matter of amending a criminal information, what is primarily guarded against is the impairment of the accused’s right to intelligently know the nature of the charge against him. This right has been guaranteed the accused under all Philippine Constitutions 26 and incorporated in Section 1 (b), Rule 115, of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure. 27

    In a criminal case, due process requires that, among others, the accusation be in due form, and that notice thereof and an opportunity to answer the charge be given the accused; 28 hence, the constitutional and reglementary guarantees as to accused’s right "to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him." An accused should be given the necessary data as to why he is being proceeded against and not be left in the unenviable state of speculating why he is made the object of a prosecution, 29 it being the fact that, in criminal cases, the liberty, even the life, of the accused is at stake. It is always wise and proper that the accused be fully apprised of the charge against him in order to avoid any possible surprise that may lead to injustice. 30

    In order to sufficiently inform the accused of the charge against him, a written accusation, in the form of a criminal information indicting the accused and subscribed by the fiscal, must first be filed in court. 31 Such information must state, among others, the name of the accused, the designation of the offense by the statute, and the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense. 32 Evidently, the important end to be accomplished is to describe the act with sufficient certainty in order that the accused may be apprised of the nature of the charge against him. 33 In the event. however. that the appellation of the crime charged as determined by the public prosecutor, does not exactly correspond to the actual crime constituted by the criminal acts described in the information to have been committed by the accused, what controls is the description of the said criminal acts and not the technical name of the crime supplied by the public prosecutor. As this court, through Justice Moreland’s authoritative disquisition, has held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    ". . . Notwithstanding apparent contradiction between caption and body, . . . the characterization of the crime by the fiscal in the caption of the information is immaterial and purposeless . . . the facts stated in the body of the pleading must determine the crime of which the defendant stands charged and for which he must be tried. The establishment of this doctrine . . . is thoroughly in accord with common sense and with the requirements of plain justice. . . . Procedure in criminal actions should always be so framed as to insure to each criminal that retributive punishment which ought swiftly and surely to visit him who willfully and maliciously violates the penal laws of society. We believe that a doctrine which does not produce such a result is illogical and unsound and works irreparable injury to the community in which it prevails.

    From a legal point of view,, and in a very real sense, it is of no concern to the accused what is the technical name of the crime of which he stands charged. It in no way aids him in a defense on the merits. . . .That to which his attention should be directed, and in which he, above all things else, should be most interested, are the facts alleged. The real question is not did he commit a crime given in the law some technical and specific name, but did he perform the acts alleged in the body of the information in the matter therein set forth. If he did, it is of no consequence to him, either as a matter of procedure or of substantive right, how the law denominates the crime which those acts constitute. The designation of the crime by name in the caption of the information from the facts alleged in the body of that pleading is a conclusion of law made by the fiscal. . . . For his full and complete defense he need not know the name of the crime at all. It is of no consequence whatever for the protection of his substantial rights. The real and important question to him is, ‘Did you perform the acts alleged in the manner alleged?’ not, ‘Did you commit a crime named murder?’ If he performed the acts alleged, in the manner stated, the law determines what the name of the crime is and fixes the penal therefor. It is the province of the court alone to say what the crime is or what it is named. If the accused performed the acts alleged in the manner alleged, then he ought to be punished and punished adequately, whatever may be the name of the crime which those acts constitute.

    The plea of not guilty ought always to raise a question of fact and not of law. The characterization of the crime is a conclusion of law on the part of the fiscal. The denial by the accused that he committed that specific crime so characterized raises no real question. No issue can be raised by the assertion of a conclusion of law by one party and a denial of such conclusion by the other. The issues raised by the pleadings in criminal actions . . .are primarily and ready issues of fact and not of law. . . .

    . . . Issues are not made by asserting and denying names. They are framed by the allegation and denial of facts. . . . To quibble about names is to lose sight of realities. To permit an accused to stand by and watch the fiscal while he guesses as to the name which ought to be applied to the crime of which he charges the accused, and then take advantage [sic] of the guess if it happens to be wrong, while the acts or omissions upon which that guess was made and which are the real and only foundation of the charge against him are clearly and fully stated in the information, is to change the battle ground in criminal cases from issues to guesses and from fact to fancy. It changes lawyers into dialecticians and law into metaphysics — that fertile field of delusion propagated by language." 34 [Emphasis ours]

    In other words, the real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or preamble of the information nor from the specification of the provision of the law alleged to have been violated, they being conclusions of law which in no way affect the legal aspects of the information, but from the actual recital of facts as alleged in the body of the information. 35

    Petitioner in the case at bench maintains that, having already pleaded "not guilty" to the crime of homicide, the amendment of the crime charged in the information from homicide to murder is a substantial amendment prejudicial to his right to be informed of the nature of the accusation against him. He utterly fails to dispute, however, that the original information did allege that petitioner stabbed his victim "using superior strength." And this particular allegation qualifies a killing to murder, regardless of how such a killing is technically designated in the information filed by the public prosecutor.

    Our ruling in the case of People v. Resayaga 36 is clearly apropos:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "The appellant maintains that the Information filed in this case is only for Homicide. . . .

    The contention is without merit. Reliance is placed mainly upon the designation of the offense given to it by the fiscal. . . . In the instant case, the information specifically alleges that ‘the said accused conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill and taking advantage of superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab with ice picks one Paulo Balane . . .’ Since the killing is characterized as having been committed by ‘taking advantage of superior strength,’ a circumstance which qualifies a killing to murder, the information sufficiently charged the commission of murder." 37

    On another aspect, we find merit in the manifestation of the Solicitor General to the effect that the respondent Court of Appeals erroneously supposed that petitioner and Renato Buhat are one and the same person, hence the non-inclusion of Renato Buhat as additional accused in its order allowing the amendment of the information. 38 We also agree with the observation of the Solicitor General that the amended information filed in this case still fails to embody the correct identity of all of the persons found to be indictable in the Resolution of the Secretary of Justice. Explained the Solicitor General:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "In its Decision under review, the Court of Appeals erroneously supposed that Danny Buhat and Renato Buhat are, in fact, brothers. Moreover, it was not Osmena Altavas and his wife Herminia Altavas who held the arms of the victim while Danny Buhat stabbed him. According to the Resolution of the Secretary of Justice, which is requoted hereunder:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    ‘The evidence on hand clearly shows that while Osmena Altavas was continuously hitting Ramon Yu with his fists, his wife Herminia aided him by hitting the victim with a chair. It was also during this time that Danny Buhat and two (2) unidentified persons appeared and joined spouses Osmena and Herminia. One of the unidentified persons was later identified as Renato Buhat. Renato Buhat and the other unidentified person held the arms of Ramon Yu while Danny Buhat stabbed Ramon Yu twice on the chest which resulted in his death. The restraint on the person of Ramon Yu before he was stabbed was described by eyewitness Susan Labrador during the continuation of the preliminary investigation of the instant case on December 2, 1992.’

    The Amended Information to be filed in this case must, therefore, reflect the above facts set forth in the aforesaid Resolution of the Secretary of Justice — which was the result of the preliminary investigation (as reviewed by the Secretary of Justice) conducted in this case. Strangely enough, however, the Amended Information (Annex ‘C’) that was subsequently filed before the Roxas City does not reflect the above facts set forth in the aforesaid Resolution of the Secretary of Justice. Said Amended information in effect alleges that Osmeña and Herminia Altavas were the ones who held the arms of the victim while Danny Buhat stabbed him, whereas, according to the Resolution of the Secretary of Justice abovecited, it was Renato Buhat and another unidentified person who held the arms of the victim while Danny Buhat stabbed him. According’ to the said Resolution of the Secretary of Justice, the participation of Osmeña Altavas in the crime was that of hitting the victim with his fists, while . . . the participation of Herminia Altavas in the crime was that of hitting the victim with a chair.

    Verily, the statement of facts in the Information or Amended Information must conform with the findings of fact in the preliminary investigation (in this case, as reviewed by the Secretary of Justice) so as to make it jibe with the evidence . . . to be presented at the trial. . . .

    The Decision of the Court of Appeals in this case (which merely resolved affirmatively the legal issues of whether or not the offense charged in the Information could be upgraded to Murder and additional accused could be included in said Information) should not be made the basis of the Amended Information herein as the said Decision does not constitute the preliminary investigation conducted in this case. Such Amended Information should be based on the findings of fact set forth in the Resolution of the Secretary of Justice, as above quoted and requoted." 39 [Emphasis]

    The Solicitor General prays for at least the remanding of this case to respondent Court of Appeals for the correction of the error abovecited and for the ordering of the filing of the correct Amended Information by the City Prosecutor of Roxas City. Considering, however, that further delay of the trial of this case is repugnant to our inveterate desire for speedy justice and that the full and complete disposition of this case virtually serves this end, we see it to be within our jurisdiction and authority to order the correct amended information to be filed in this case without the need to remand the same to respondent appellate court.

    WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The City Prosecutor of Roxas City is HEREBY ORDERED to file the correct Amended Information fully in accordance with the findings of fact set forth in the Resolution of the Secretary of Justice, dated February 3, 1994, and in disregard of the finding of the Court of Appeals in its Decision, dated March 28, 1995, in CA-G.R. SP No. 35554 to the effect that "Danny Buhat and Renato Buhat are one and the same person."cralaw virtua1aw library

    SO ORDERED.

    Padilla, Bellosillo, Vitug and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Docketed as Criminal Case No. C-3991.

    2. Branch 17, Roxas City.

    3. Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 35554 dated March 28, 1995, pp. 2-3, Rollo, pp. 21-22.

    4. Resolution dated February 3, 1994, p. 6, Rollo, p. 50.

    5. Amended Information dated April 6, 1995, Rollo, p. 51.

    6. Issued by the Honorable Jose O. Alovera, Presiding Judge, RTC Branch 17, Roxas City.

    7. 153 SCRA 470.

    8. Petition, p. 6, Rollo, p. 7.

    9. Docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 35554.

    10. Decision penned by Associate Justice Bernardo Ll. Salas and concurred in by Pacita Canizares-Nye and Conchita Carpio-Morales (all of the Former Special Eleventh Division), p. 8, Rollo, p. 27.

    11. Petition, p. 13, Rollo, p. 14.

    12. 159 SCRA 236 [1988].

    13. Id pp. 241-242.

    14. 89 Phil. 752 [1951].

    15. 77 Phil. 684 [1946].

    16. 89 Phil. 752, 756 [1951]

    17. 121 SCRA 733 [1983].

    18. Resolution dated February 3, 1994, pp. 5-6: Rollo, pp. 49-50.

    19. People v. Padica, 221 SCRA 364, 380 [1993]. See also U.S. v. De la Cruz, Et Al., 3 Phil. 331 [1904]; Arevalo, Et. Al. v. Nepomuceno, etc., Et Al., 63 Phil. 627 [1936] People v. Labatete, 107 Phil. 697 [1960].

    20. People v. Ornopia, 122 SCRA 468, 474 [1983].

    21. 107 Phil. 843 [1960].

    22. Id., p. 846.

    23. 108 SCRA 736 [1981].

    24. Id., p. 738.

    25. Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 35554, pp. 3-7, Rollo, pp. 22-26.

    26. Sec. 1 (17), Art. III, 1935 Constitution; Sec. 19, Art. IV, 1973 Constitution; Sec. 14 (2), Art. III, 1987 Constitution.

    27. "SECTION 1. Rights of accused at the trial. — In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be entitled:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    x       x       x


    (b) To be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

    x       x       x"

    28. U.S. v. Ocampo, 18 Phil. 1 [1910]; U.S. v. Grant and Kennedy 18 Phil. 122 [1910].

    29. People v. Mencias, 46 SCRA 88 [1972].

    30. People v. Zulueta, 89 Phil. 752 [1951].

    31. Sec. 4, Rule 110, 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure.

    32. Sec. 6, id.

    33. U.S. V. Alabot, 38 Phil. 698, 704 [1918].

    34. U.S. v. Lim San, 17 Phil. 273, 278-281 [1910].

    35. U.S. V. Cabe, 36 Phil. 728, 731 [1917]; U.S. v. Ondaro, 39 Phil 70, 75 [1918]; U.S. v. Burns, 41 Phil. 418, 436 [1921]; People v. Perez, 45 Phil. 600, 607 [19231; People v. Oliveria, 67 Phil. 427 [1939]; People v. Arnault, 92 Phil. 252 [1952]; People v. Cosare, 95 Phil. 656, 660 [1954]; Matilde, Jr. v. Jabson, 68 SCRA 456, 462 [1975]; Reyes v. Camilon, 192 SCRA 445, 453 [1990]; People v. Mayoral, 203 SCRA 528, 538-539 [1991]; People v. Escosio, 220 SCRA 475, 488 [1931].

    36. 159 SCRA 426 [1988].

    37. Id., pp. 430-431.

    38. The dispositive portion of the assailed decision reads as follows: "THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED, herein petition is hereby granted . . . the amendment of the Information from homicide to murder and including as additional accused Herminia Altavas and Osmena Altavas is allowed. . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

    39. Comment and Motion of the Solicitor General, pp. 7-11, Rollo, pp. 37-41.

    G.R. No. 119601   December 17, 1996 - DANILO BUHAT v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET. AL.


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