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Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated Labor Standards & Social Legislation Volume I of a 3-Volume Series 2019 Edition (3rd Revised Edition)
 

 
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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
March-1997 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. 51765 March 3, 1997 - REPUBLIC PLANTERS BANK v. ENRIQUE A. AGANA, SR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 93397 March 3, 1997 - TRADERS ROYAL BANK v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 99425 March 3, 1997 - ANTONIO RAMOS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 100487 & 100607 March 3, 1997 - ARTURO JULIANO v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 106581 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RENATO FLORES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110419 March 3, 1997 - UERM-MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114383 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOEL COREA

  • G.R. No. 116437 March 3, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. PABLITO ANDAN

  • G.R. No. 117161 March 3, 1997 - RAMON INGLES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120704 March 3, 1997 - BARTOLOME C. CARALE, ET AL. v. PAMPIO A. ABARINTOS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123321 March 3, 1997 - ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123361 March 3, 1997 - TEOFILO CACHO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125198 March 3, 1997 - MSCI-NACUSIP v. NWPC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 84449 March 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BENEDICTO JAVIER, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 102876 March 4, 1997 - BATAAN SHIPYARD AND ENG’G CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118607 March 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JULITO FRANCO

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-96-1335 March 5, 1997 - INOCENCIO BASCO v. LEO H. RAPATALO

  • G.R. No. 126576 March 5, 1997 - RICARDO M. ANGOBUNG v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 83598 March 7, 1997 - LEONCIA BALOGBOG, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 94994-95 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LILIBETH CACO

  • G.R. No. 106212 March 7, 1997 - PROGRESS HOMES, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108395 March 7, 1997 - HEIRS OF TEODORO GUARING, JR. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 108604-10 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FEDERICO A. BURCE

  • G.R. No. 113420 March 7, 1997 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113905 March 7, 1997 - LEOPOLDO ALICBUSAN v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116211 March 7, 1997 - MEYNARDO POLICARPIO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116512 March 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. WILLIAM O. CASIDO, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-96-1353 March 11, 1997 - DANILO B. PARADA v. LORENZO B. VENERACION

  • G.R. No. 127066 March 11, 1997 - REYNALDO O. MALONZO v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117169 March 12, 1997 - PHILTREAD WORKERS UNION, ET AL. v. NIEVES R. CONFESOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121917 March 12, 1997 - ROBIN CARIÑO PADILLA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 99301 & 99343 March 13, 1997 - VICTOR KIERULF, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 100333 March 13, 1997 - HILARIO MAGCALAS, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 103611 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CESAR HERBIETO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 107131 March 13, 1997 - NFD INT’L. MANNING AGENTS, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108454 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TEDDY QUINAO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 109779 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NESTOR MAÑOZCA

  • G.R. No. 110067 March 13, 1997 - LINDA T. ALMENDRAS v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111478 March 13, 1997 - GEORGE F. SALONGA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111567 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TEODORICO AVILLANO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116123 March 13, 1997 - SERGIO NAGUIAT, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116228 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EPIFANIO GAYON, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116352 March 13, 1997 - J. & D.O. AGUILAR CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 116596-98 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LORENZO TOPAGUEN

  • G.R. No. 117266 March 13, 1997 - CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST VENTURA O. DUCAT, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 117955-58 March 13, 1997 - HERMINIGILDO TOMARONG, ET AL. v. ANTONIO C. LUBGUBAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119058 March 13, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ERLINDA VILLARAN

  • G.R. No. 120853 March 13, 1997 - RUDY ALMEDA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122427 March 13, 1997 - BENJAMIN LAZA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123881 March 13, 1997 - VIVA PRODUCTIONS, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 91694 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SABAS CALVO, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 97626 March 14, 1997 - PHIL. BANK OF COMMERCE, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114387 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ALEJANDRO DEVILLERES

  • G.R. No. 120592 March 14, 1997 - TRADERS ROYAL BANK EMPLOYEES UNION v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121765 March 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RANDOLF B. MONTEALTO

  • G.R. No. 122646 March 14, 1997 - ADELIA C. MENDOZA v. ANGELITO C. TEH, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 112229 March 18, 1997 - RAYMOND PE LIM v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 114924-27 March 18, 1997 - DANTE NACURAY, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119321 March 18, 1997 - CATALINO F. BAÑEZ, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Bar Matter No. 712 March 19, 1997 - PETITION OF AL ARGOSINO TO TAKE THE LAWYER’S OATH

  • G.R. Nos. 100382-100385 March 19, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MARIO TABACO

  • G.R. No. 111157 March 19, 1997 - ITOGON-SUYOC MINES, INC. v. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117029 March 19, 1997 - PELTAN DEVELOPMENT, INC., ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121112 March 19, 1997 - FELICIDAD MIRANO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127325 March 19, 1997 - MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ET AL. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-95-1159 March 20, 1997 - COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. WILLIAM C. SEVILLO

  • G.R. No. 88684 March 20, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CESAR LACBANES

  • G.R. No. 95551 March 20, 1997 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. v. CONCEPCION S. ALARCON VERGARA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 107019 March 20, 1997 - FRANKLIN M. DRILON, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116404 March 20, 1997 - FRANCISCO LUNA, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117218 March 20, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GERRY NALANGAN

  • G.R. No. 119599 March 20, 1997 - MALAYAN INSURANCE CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127456 March 20, 1997 - JESUS A. JARIOL, ET AL. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-96-1091 March 21, 1997 - WILFREDO NAVARRO v. DEOGRACIAS K. DEL ROSARIO

  • G.R. No. 107699 March 21, 1997 - ALEX JACOBO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116692 March 21, 1997 - SAMAR II ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117097 March 21, 1997 - SAMAHAN NG OPTOMETRISTS SA PILIPINAS, ET AL. v. ACEBEDO INTL. CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118436 March 21, 1997 - HEIRS OF MANUEL A. ROXAS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118836 March 21, 1997 - FEDERICO DORDAS, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122728 March 21, 1997 - CASIANO A. ANGCHANGCO, JR. v. OMBUDSMAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123037 March 21, 1997 - TEODORO Q. PEÑA v. HRET, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-96-1184 March 24, 1997 - NBI, ET AL. v. RODOLFO TULIAO

  • G.R. No. 106588 March 24, 1997 - RAUL H. SESBREÑO v. CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-89-318 March 25, 1997 - LUCIANA Vda. DE ARAGO v. PATERNO T. ALVAREZ

  • G.R. No. 96229 March 25, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GLORIOSA S. NAVARRO

  • G.R. No. 124137 March 25, 1997 - ROY M. LOYOLA v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126298 March 25, 1997 - PATRIA C. GUTIERREZ v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 99032 March 26, 1997 - RICARDO A. LLAMADO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 101817 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE IMMACULATA

  • G.R. No. 107801 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROSARIA V. IGNACIO

  • G.R. No. 110613 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EDGAR VILLANUEVA

  • G.R. No. 113470 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DANILO CORBES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 115951 March 26, 1997 - ZEBRA SECURITY AGENCY, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117378 March 26, 1997 - GIL CAPILI, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117408 March 26, 1997 - NATIONAL INVESTMENT AND DEV. CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117604 March 26, 1997 - CHINA BANKING CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118332 March 26, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. IRENEO PEREZ

  • G.R. No. 119528 March 26, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121031 March 26, 1997 - ROSAURO I. TORRES v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122013 March 26, 1997 - JOSE C. RAMIREZ v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124333 March 26, 1997 - NATIVIDAD P. ARAGON v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119877 March 31, 1997 - BIENVENIDO ONGKINGCO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  •  




     
     

    G.R. Nos. 100487 & 100607   March 3, 1997 - ARTURO JULIANO v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    EN BANC

    [G.R. No. 100487. March 3, 1997.]

    JUDGE ARTURO JULIANO, Petitioner, v. The SANDIGANBAYAN and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

    [G.R. No. 100607. March 3, 1997.]

    RENATO VERACRUZ Y LEGASTO, Petitioner, v. The SANDIGANBAYAN and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

    Nestor D. Alampay, Jr. for petitioner in G.R. No. 100607.

    The Solicitor General for Respondents.

    Eduardo M. Salandanan for petitioner in G.R. No. 100487.


    SYLLABUS


    1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; TESTIMONY; THE PRESUMPTION IS THAT THE WITNESS IS NOT ACTUATED BY IMPROPER MOTIVE. — While there may be some inconsistencies in complainant’s testimony, as pointed out by the petitioner, the same did not suffer from any major discrepancies and did not affect his credibility. Moreover, there was no showing that de la Cruz, who only finished fourth grade, had been moved by improper motive to prosecute the petitioner. Well-established is the rule that where there is no evidence to indicate that the prosecution witness was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that he was not so actuated and that he would not prevaricate and cause damnation to one who brought him no harm or injury.

    2. ID.; ID.; ID. CREDIBILITY OF A WITNESS; FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT; ENTITLED TO THE HIGHEST DEGREE OF RESPECT. — In fine, it bears repeating the settled rule that the "findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to the highest degree of respect and will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that it had overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which could have altered the conviction of the appellants.

    3. ID.; ID.; PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. — In Precloro v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 111091. August 21, 1991; 247 SCRA 454, We restate the rule that — "Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean that which produces absolute certainty. Only moral certainty is required or ‘that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind.’ We have extensively reviewed the records of this case and we find no reason to overturn the findings of the Sandiganbayan."


    D E C I S I O N


    TORRES, JR., J.:


    These petitions for review on certiorari, although filed separately by petitioners Judge Arturo Juliano and Renato Vera Cruz, arose from the same decision of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 14288 dated April 5, 1991, the dispositive portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "WHEREFORE, on the first count alleged in the Information, the Court finds Judge Arturo Juliano y Llacar and Renato Vera Cruz y Legasta guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as co-principals, of the crime defined in Section 3, paragraph (f) Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, and pursuant to Section 9(a) of the same Act in conjunction with the Indeterminate Sentence law, imposes upon each of them the penalties of imprisonment ranging from SIX (6) YEARS and ONE (1) MONTH as minimum, to NINE (9)YEARS and TWENTY ONE (21) DAYS as maximum, and perpetual disqualification from public office, and further orders them to pay jointly and severally the amount of NINE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P9,500.00) Philippine Currency, to Romeo de la Cruz y Ediza and the costs.

    IT IS SO ORDERED." 1

    The cases had the same antecedent facts:chanrobles.com : virtual law library

    Spouses Romeo de la Cruz and Salvacion Erese were the lessees of a portion of Lot 11-B, Subdivision Plan Pls-2-78-D G.L.R.O. Record No. 8374, with an area of 25 by 36 feet plus 6 meters, located at Biñan, Laguna. They were the owners of the two-storey commercial building constructed on the said land and which was being leased to Carlito Morales and Felisa Ong with a monthly rental of One Thousand Pesos. When the lessees failed to pay the monthly rentals for August, September and October 1983, the spouses de la Cruz filed an ejectment case on January 13, 1984 with the Municipal Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna where Judge Arturo Juliano was the presiding judge and Renato Vera Cruz was the Clerk of Court.

    On August 2, 1984, de la Cruz filed an ex-parte Motion to Withdraw Consigned Rentals amounting to P 10,000.00 previously deposited by defendant Morales representing rentals from September 1983 to June 1984. The motion was not immediately acted upon and it was only on December 26, 1984 that an order was issued by Judge Juliano allowing de la Cruz to withdraw the consigned rentals. Then on February 5, 1985, the trial court rendered its decision ordering defendant Morales to vacate the premises and to pay back rentals starting October 27, 1983 up to the time they leave the premises.

    On January 2, 1986, Romeo de la Cruz filed before the Office of the Tanodbayan a complaint against Judge Arturo Juliano and Renato Vera Cruz with the following charges:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "1. For refusing, after due demand and without justification, to act within a reasonable time to resolve a motion filed with the court in Civil Case No. 2217 pending before said court for the withdrawal of deposited rentals and that said refusal was for the purpose of obtaining material benefit because when the complainant agreed to the demands of the respondents that the deposited rentals be given to them, respondent Judge Arturo Juliano issued an order allowing complainant to withdraw the rentals deposited with the Treasurer of Biñan, Laguna, in the amount of P10,000.00; and

    2. By causing undue injury to herein complainant thru evident bad faith, manifest partiality, inexcusable negligence or ignorance of the law in the discharge of judicial function." 2

    Complainant de la Cruz alleged that Judge Juliano and his Clerk of Court Renato Vera Cruz had conspired against him. The motion to withdraw the deposited rentals remained unresolved for several weeks because the accused had made known to the complainant that a big portion of the amount be given to them before the withdrawal would be granted. Complainant sought assistance from Barangay Captain Alberto Almeda and even asked help from Doña Josefa Marcos, mother of then President Ferdinand Marcos. Mrs. Marcos wrote the accused Judge requesting the resolution of the motion. Complainant then learned from alleged reliable source that he might even lose the case if he would not agree to give the money to the accused. When he agreed to give, Accused Judge issued the order allowing the withdrawal of the deposited rentals.

    Complainant alleged that he met respondent Vera Cruz about the withdrawal of deposit twice. When complainant agreed to the proposal, he met Vera Cruz at the Municipal Building on December 26 or 27, 1984. Complainant was accompanied by his friend Vicente Cea. Accused Vera Cruz was already holding the order allowing the withdrawal of deposit so they proceeded to the Treasurer to get the money. Thereafter, they went to the office of the accused Judge and handed him the money. P9,500.00 was the share of the accused Judge while the P500.00 was given to accused Vera Cruz and Alberto Almeda for their snacks. Complainant also inquired when the case would be decided and the accused judge assured him of a decision by the first week of January 1985.

    Despite regular follow-ups, the case was only decided on February 5, 1985. A copy was given to the complainant by accused Vera Cruz the day after the case was promulgated. Complainant allegedly felt cheated after reading the decision because there was no award of back rentals. Consequently, he returned to accused Vera Cruz but the latter denied having read the decision. Accused Vera Cruz however, assured the complainant that he would talk to the accused judge. Thus, on February 13, 1985, complainant received by mail another decision also dated February 5, 1985 but with award for back rentals.

    Witness for the complainant Alberto Almeda stated during the preliminary conference that he was with the complainant at the Office of the Municipal Treasurer and he saw the latter counting the money. He also stated that he was given P500.00 for their lunch. During the trial, however, Almeda apparently became forgetful and started denying his previous statements. He alleged that he had a poor memory because he got sick with diabetes.

    Another prosecution witness was Mario Faraon who testified that he saw accused Vera Cruz handing a document to the treasurer, Bienvenido Vierneza. Then he saw the complainant counting the money and later wrapping it with a piece of paper.

    Judge Arturo Juliano testified that he allowed the withdrawal of the money after the complainant told him that he was in dire need of money. The reason why the order was not immediately issued was that only one copy of the motion to withdraw was filed. So he waited for the other copies which were probably never filed. Another reason for the delay was that he had other duties attending to two additional courts. Accused judge denied receiving money from the complainant. He also alleged that the decision dated February 5, 1984 was not immediately released because when accused Vera Cruz was about to affix the dry seal, he noticed that there was no provision as to the back rentals. He prepared another decision which was also released the same day.

    Both accused Judge Juliano and Vera Cruz were prosecuted before the Sandiganbayan for violation of Section 3 (f) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    (f) Neglecting or refusing, after due demand or request without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on any matter pending before him for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his own interest or giving undue advantage in favor of or discriminating against any other interested party."cralaw virtua1aw library

    The Sandiganbayan found accused Judge Juliano and Vera Cruz guilty beyond reasonable doubt as co-principals of the crime charged and imposed upon them the penalties of imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office. In convicting the accused, the Sandiganbayan relied mainly on the testimony of the complainant who alleged that he gave money to the accused judge. There was no sufficient explanation presented by the accused as to the delay in the issuance of the order allowing the withdrawal of the deposit. Thus, the court found the testimony of the complainant worthy of credence as against the denials of the accused.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

    Both Judge Arturo Juliano and Renato Vera Cruz filed their respective petitions for review on certiorari with the principal assignment of error of whether or not the respondent Sandiganbayan erred in finding the petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    On January 18, 1995, Flora Vera Cruz, wife of petitioner Renato Vera Cruz filed a motion to quash stating that her husband died on January 13, 1995 and consequently, the proceedings against the latter be terminated.

    The petitions must fail.

    The petitions raise mainly factual questions which have already been extensively stated by the court below. Petitioner Juliano assails the credibility of the complainant, whose sole testimony the Sandiganbayan had relied upon in convicting him. There was no other corroborating testimony and that, as alleged by petitioner, there was no adequate basis to establish any conspiracy between him and his co-accused. Petitioner also posits that the 116 day delay in acting on complainant’s motion could not be a sufficient proof that he extorted money from the latter and that would be enough to convict him of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Hence, the prosecution can not rely on complainant’s testimony which was allegedly bereft of credibility.chanrobles lawlibrary : rednad

    Complainant de la Cruz had positively testified that petitioner Juliano had exacted money from him so that his motion for the withdrawal of rentals, which was already pending for weeks, would be acted upon. De la Cruz continued to follow up the motion but petitioner judge was always away. It was Vera Cruz who acted as the go-between or intermediary and had assured to relay the matter to the judge. Later, complainant was able to talk to the petitioner. As testified to by de la Cruz:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "A. I returned to him many times and requested him to release to me the ten thousand pesos because I was in dire need of money.

    Q. Who is that "him" you are referring to?

    A. I am referring to Judge Juliano.

    JUSTICE ESCAREAL:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Q. Why, you went personally to Judge Juliano?

    A. Yes, Your Honor, I could see him.

    PROS. BERBANO:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Q. How many times have you been able to get in touch in connection with this Motion to Withdraw rentals to Judge Juliano after the filing of the motion?

    A. Many times, sir. I have returned to the Judge many times and I have pleaded to him and Mr. Vera Cruz to help me so that the money could be released to me." 3

    Petitioner Juliano failed to justify his inaction on the motion for 116 days. His first reason was that there was only one copy of the motion. The motion was, however, resolved without the additional copies. Another reason posited by petitioner was that the counsel for the complainant did not set the incident for hearing. Yet, as observed by the court a quo:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Firstly, as its title expressly states, the motion was ex parte. Secondly, the matter involved in the motion was not contentious. The P10,000.00 was deposited in court by Morales as rentals for the premises in dispute in Civil Case No. 2217 from September 1983 to June 1984, because de la Cruz allegedly refused to accept payment. And the latter was precisely praying in his Complaint for payment of back rentals from August 1983 until Morales vacated the premises. In fact, at no time did Morales contest the motion or the grant thereof. Thirdly, Judge Juliano resolved the motion even if de la Cruz’s counsel did not set the incident for hearing." 4

    Admittedly, there was indeed no valid reason for the delay in the disposition of the motion and the complainant’s testimony that petitioner, through Vera Cruz, had extorted money from him. De la Cruz further stated that on the day he was able to withdraw the money, he handed P9,500.00 thereof to Vera Cruz, who turned it over to petitioner Judge Juliano in the latter’s office. To this accusation, petitioner merely offered bare denials. Petitioner’ s defense was weak. His denial, not supported by clear and convincing evidence, is at most self-serving and therefore, can not be given weight and greater value over the positive testimony of the complainant. While there may be some inconsistencies in complainant’s testimony, as pointed out by the petitioner, the same did not suffer from any major discrepancies and did not affect his credibility. Moreover, there was no showing that de la Cruz, who only finished fourth grade, had been moved by improper motive to prosecute the petitioner. Well-established is the rule that where there is no evidence to indicate that the prosecution witness was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that he was not so actuated and that he would not prevaricate and cause damnation to one who brought him no harm or injury. 5

    A further review of the records of the instant case would reveal the thoroughness by which the Court a quo arrived at its decision, thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "At bottom, the issues posed in the Motions for Reconsideration is credibility of witnesses, particularly de la Cruz, Judge Juliano, and Vera Cruz. The Court addressed itself to that question before handing down the Decision sought to be reconsidered. It took into account all the facts and circumstances bearing on the matter, including the complaint against Judge Lucila Violago Isnani and several letters to various officials of de la Cruz (Exhibits 26-33). In the process, most of the matters raised in the Motions for Reconsideration occurred to the Court and were thoroughly considered by it." 6

    In fine, it bears repeating the settled rule that the "findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to the highest degree of respect and will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that it had overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which could have altered the conviction of the appellants. 7

    In Precloro v. Sandiganbayan, 8 We restate the rule that —

    "Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean that which produces absolute certainty. Only moral certainty is required or ‘that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind.’ We have extensively reviewed the records of this case and we find no reason to overturn the findings of the Sandiganbayan."cralaw virtua1aw library

    Considering the foregoing, we find no error of fact or law which would change the decision of the Court a quo declaring accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged.

    IN VIEW WHEREOF, finding merit in the appealed decision dated April 5, 1991, the same is hereby AFFIRMED. llphils.

    SO ORDERED.

    Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Decision, Annex "A", Rollo, p. 68.

    2. Complaint, Exhibit "A", Records, p. 1.

    3. TSN, June 28, 1990, p. 14.

    4. Decision, Rollo (Juliano), pp. 63-64.

    5. People v. Ang Chan Kit, 251 SCRA 660.

    6. Motions for Reconsideration dated April 16, 1991 and April 19, 1991.

    7. People v. Acob and Silao, G.R. No. 114382, July 20, 1995.

    8. G.R. No. 111091, August 21, 1995, 247 SCRA 454.

    G.R. Nos. 100487 & 100607   March 3, 1997 - ARTURO JULIANO v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.




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