Challenged in this petition for certiorari
is the Decision 1 dated November 28, 1994 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC, for brevity) of Manila, Branch 31 in Criminal Case No. 92-111940. The RTC of Manila acquitted private respondent Dominador Ong for violation of Presidential Decree No. 115 (P.D. No. 115, for brevity), otherwise known as the Trust Receipts Law in relation to Article 315(1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The Information dated October 30, 1992 charged the private respondent, Dominador Ong, in this wise, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
That on or about and during the period comprised between September 6, 1989 and September 15, 1989, both dates inclusive and for sometime prior and subsequent thereto, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, as Treasurer of the Sun Ray Metal, Inc., a corporation duly organized under the laws of the Philippines, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously defraud the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, a banking entity organized and doing business under the laws of the Philippines, with office situated at Dasmariñas corner Ugalde Streets, Binondo, this City, represented by LUCILA Y. UY, its Senior Manager, in the following manner, to wit: the said accused, under trust Receipts dated September 6, 1989 and September 15, 1989 executed by the said Dominador Ong/Sun Ray Metal, Inc. in favor of the said Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, received in trust from the latter the following:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Date of Articles Amount
September 6, 1989 4 cases alu- P155,733.00
minum wire EC
Grade D1a 1MM
September 15, 1989 brass sheets P257,400.00
or all valued at P413,133.00 for the purpose of holding the said merchandise in trust under the express obligation on his part to dispose of the same and turn over the proceeds of the sale to the said bank, if sold, or to the account for or return the same, if unsold, on its due date or upon demand, but the said accused, once in possession of the same, far from complying with his aforesaid obligation, failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do so despite repeated demands made upon him to that effect and with intent to defraud, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert the same or the value thereof, to his own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company represented by LUCILA Y. UY in the total amount of P413,133.00, Philippine Currency. 2
On March 15, 1993, private respondent pleaded not guilty on arraignment.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The prosecution’s case showed that Sun Ray Metal, Inc. purchased brass metals and aluminum wires separately through two (2) letters of credit 3 issued by the petitioner bank in favor of the supplier of the raw materials. To secure the obligation by Sun Ray Metal, Inc. to the petitioner bank, the private respondent, in his capacity as treasurer of Sun Ray Metal, Inc., executed two (2) trust receipts 4 in favor of the petitioner bank. He likewise personally bound himself, jointly and severally with Sun Ray Metal, Inc., to petitioner bank in connection therewith. However, despite repeated demands, the private respondent failed to pay the petitioner bank the proceeds of the sale of the raw materials or to turn over the said materials in case of his failure to sell the same.
After resting its case, the prosecution on November 3, 1993 formally offered its documentary evidence.
On December 1, 1993, the defense presented its evidence to show that herein private respondent signed the trust receipts in blank and that he was acting only in his capacity as treasurer of Sun Ray Metal, Inc. Private respondent also claimed that the contract between Sun Ray Metal, Inc. and the petitioner bank has been novated when a representative of the bank verbally proposed to restructure the obligation under the trust receipts, to which he agreed. Private respondent claimed that he paid thrice under the restructuring agreement and showed as proof of the said novation a receipt evidencing one of his payments to the petitioner bank.
On June 13, 1994, the private respondent formally offered his exhibits in evidence. On the same day, the prosecution presented Lucila Uy, as rebuttal witness to refute the claim of the defense that there has been a novation of the obligation under the trust receipts. On August 5, 1994, the defense also called the private respondent to the witness stand to testify on sur-rebuttal. Thereafter, both parties submitted their respective memoranda.
On December 12, 1994, the public respondent promulgated a Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
"WHEREFORE, the guilt of the accused not having been established beyond reasonable doubt, Accused
DOMINADOR ONG, is hereby acquitted of the crime charged, with costs de oficio." 5
The public respondent ratiocinated that the private respondent was not duly authorized to represent Sun Ray Metal, Inc. considering that there were other high-ranking officers who could have negotiated the contract; that there was no written authority from the board of directors of the said corporation authorizing the private respondent to execute the trust receipts in its behalf in favor of petitioner bank. Moreover, the defense sufficiently proved that the restructuring agreement effectively novated the obligation under the trust receipts.
Hence, this petition with the following assignment of errors, viz:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
The public respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in ruling that the private respondent is merely a corporate treasurer and he cannot be considered to be the entrustee because there are other responsible officers of the corporation.
The public respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in ruling that the private respondent had no authority to represent his corporation.
The public respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in ruling that the private respondent did not act in his personal capacity in signing the trust receipts agreements subject of the case below, but rather merely in his personal capacity as corporate treasurer.
The public respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in ruling that petitioner, itself, recognizes that indebtedness was the sole obligation of the corporation in his personal capacity.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The public respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in ruling that there was a restructuring of the trust receipt agreements resulting in a novation.
The public respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in ruling that the petitioner had the burden of proof to show that there was no restructuring.
Petitioner contends that public respondent gravely abused his discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when the latter acquitted the private Respondent
. According to the petitioner, a nullification of the said judgment will not violate the constitutional principle of double jeopardy on the ground that the case at bar falls under one of the exceptions to the rule. Petitioner, citing several cases, 6 argues that no violation of the double jeopardy rule is committed when the judgment was issued in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction tantamount to a violation of due process. With respect to the civil aspect of the case, the petitioner ventilated the issues before the appellate court.
The petition is not meritorious.
We have thoroughly perused the records and carefully analyzed the cases relied upon by the petitioner and found no cogent reason to depart from the judgment of the public respondent in the case at bar.
The cases relied upon by the petitioner are not squarely applicable to the case at bar.
In Gorion v. Regional Trial Court, 7 this Court ruled that the erroneous dismissal order of the criminal case deprived the State of a fair opportunity to present and prove its case. The said order is null and void for being violative of its right to due process. Hence, it cannot be pleaded to bar the subsequent annulment of the judgment of the dismissal order or a reopening of the case on the ground of double jeopardy.
In People v. Bocar, 8 this Court ruled that the order of dismissal given without receiving evidence for the prosecution constitutes a veritable abuse of discretion which the court cannot permit. It cannot therefore be a basis of double jeopardy.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
In Portugal v. Reantaso, 9 the case was dismissed on motion of the accused therein and before the prosecution could present its evidence. The records do not show that notice of hearing was given to the prosecuting officer or to petitioner and his witnesses before the case was heard and tried on the merits on the date mentioned in the notice. This Court ruled that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion due to the failure of the trial court to give the prosecution the opportunity to be heard.
In Galman v. Sandiganbayan, 10 it was held that double jeopardy does not attach where the sham trial was but a mock trial. In that case, the authoritarian president ordered respondents therein Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan to rig the trial and closely monitored the entire proceedings to assure a predetermined final outcome of acquittal and total absolution of the respondents-accused therein of all the charges.
The above-mentioned cases show that the exception to the double jeopardy rule attaches only when the trial court commits grave abuse of discretion due to a violation of due process, i.e., that the prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or that the trial was a sham. Conversely, there cannot be a grave abuse of discretion where the trial court gave both parties the opportunity to present their case and even required them to submit memoranda from which its decision is based, as in this case. In other words, if there is no denial of due process, there can be no grave abuse of discretion that would merit the application of the exception to the double jeopardy rule.
In the present case, inasmuch as the prosecution was never denied any opportunity to present its case and that there is no indication or proof that the trial was a sham, a review and consequent setting aside of the trial court’s decision of acquittal will put the private respondent in double jeopardy. Double jeopardy attaches only: (1) upon valid indictment; (2) before a competent court; (3) after arraignment; (4) when a valid plea has been entered; and (5) when the defendant was acquitted or convicted or the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused. 11 Consequently in such an event, the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for the offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or a frustration thereof, or for any offense which is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information. 12
The record shows that the court a quo allowed both parties an exhaustive presentation and offer of evidence and submission of their respective memoranda. If indeed public respondent has misappreciated certain evidence, as argued by the petitioner in this petition, such are not jurisdictional matters that may be determined and ruled upon in a certiorari
proceeding. If at all, such alleged error by the public respondent was merely an error of judgment, but not an error of jurisdiction.
The fairly recent case of Palu-ay v. Court of Appeals 13 is instructive, to wit:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
"In the case at bar, a hearing was held during which the prosecution and the defense were heard on their evidence. Thereafter, judgment was rendered on the basis of the evidence presented. Consequently, any error made by the trial court in the appreciation of the evidence was only an error of judgment but not of jurisdiction so as to render the judgment void.
Indeed, the question raised by the petition for annulment of judgment is a factual question that cannot be reviewed not only because the decision of the trial court is now final but also because a review of such question at the instance of the prosecution would violate the right of the accused against being placed in double jeopardy of punishment for the same act." 14
Petitioner also contends that its petition for certiorari
does not put the private respondent in double jeopardy since the petition only seeks the nullification of the judgment of the public respondent and does not in any way place the private accused on trial again. The defense of double jeopardy, according to the petitioner, is therefore premature in these proceedings.
We do not agree.
In Palu-ay, this Court regarded the petition for annulment of judgment of acquittal as a sufficient basis to put the accused in double jeopardy. Inasmuch as the petition for certiorari
in the case at bar prays for the nullification of the judgment, it likewise places the herein private respondent in double jeopardy.
It bears stressing that whenever a criminal case is prosecuted and the State is the offended party, the case must always be prosecuted under the control and guidance of the State through its government prosecutors. Accordingly, whenever there is an acquittal or dismissal of a criminal case and the private complainant intends to question such an acquittal or dismissal, the same must likewise be undertaken by the State through the Solicitor General. This, petitioner failed to comply. The present petition for certiorari
before this Court was filed by petitioner Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company. It was not initiated by the Solicitor General. In fact, the Solicitor General intimated to this Court in his comment 15 that a reversal of the assailed judgment would place the private respondent in double jeopardy. Thus, this petition for certiorari
must be dismissed.
We find the ruling in People v. Santiago 16 to be squarely in point wherein this Court ruled that:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
"It is well-settled that in criminal cases where the offended party is the State, the interest of the private complainant or the private offended party is limited to the civil liability. . . If a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal therefrom on the criminal aspect may be undertaken only by the State through the Solicitor General. Only the Solicitor General may represent the People of the Philippines on appeal. The private offended party or complainant may not take such appeal. However, the said offended party or complainant may appeal the civil aspect despite the acquittal of the accused" (Emphasis ours
The above pronouncement of this Court was reaffirmed in Palu-ay, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Petitioner contends that the appellate court erred in ruling that a private complainant cannot file a petition for annulment of judgment without the Solicitor General’s approval except only as to the civil aspect of the case. He invokes the ruling in People v. Santiago [174 SCRA 143 (1989)] in which this Court sustained the right of the private complainant in a criminal case to file a petition for certiorari
to set aside the judgment rendered in the criminal case on the ground that the prosecution had been deprived of due process. This Court made it clear, however, that such action may be brought by the private complainant only insofar as the civil aspect of the case is concerned:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
It is well-settled that in criminal cases where the offended party is the State, the interest of the private complainant or the private offended part is limited to the civil liability... If a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal therefrom on the criminal aspect may be undertaken only be the State through the Solicitor General. Only the Solicitor General may represent the People of the Philippines on appeal. The private offended party or complainant may appeal the civil aspect despite the acquittal of the accused.
x x x
In this case, petitioner’s action does not concern the civil aspect of the case but the validity of the judgment itself. Indeed, petitioner does not actually question the award of damages. What he contends is that the trial court decided the case outside the issues made out by the pleadings and thereby deprived the prosecution of due process.
x x x
The very case of People v. Santiago cited by petitioner in support of his claim of standing refutes such claim" (Emphasis supplied
In the prayer 19 of this petition in the case at bar, what is prayed for is that "the decision of respondent Judge dated November 28, 1994 acquitting the private respondent be reversed." Nothing therein is mentioned about damages or the civil aspect of the case.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
In fine, the instant petition should be dismissed not only for lack of merit but also for lack of legal personality on the part of the petitioner to appeal the public respondent’s ruling on the criminal aspect of the case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED, with costs against the petitioner.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Quisumbing and Buena, JJ.
1. Penned by Judge Regino T. Veridiano II.
2. Rollo, pp. 120-121.
3. Rollo, pp. 53 & 60.
4. Rollo, pp. 145-148.
5. Rollo, p. 127.
6. Gorion v. Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Br. 17, 213 SCRA 138 (1992); People v. Bocar, 138 SCRA 166 (1985); Portugal v. Reantaso, 167 SCRA 712 (1988); Galman v. Sandiganbayan, 144 SCRA 43 (1986).
7. Supra, p. 145.
8. Supra, p. 170-171.
9. Supra, p. 720.
10. Supra, p. 86-87.
11. Tecson v. Sandiganbayan, 318 SCRA 80(1999).
12. Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, Rule 117, Section 7, par. (a).
13. 293 SCRA 358, (1998)
14. Ibid., p. 365.
15. Rollo, pp. 192-200.
16. 174 SCRA 143 (1989).
17. Ibid., p. 152.
18. Supra, pp. 361-362.
19. Rollo, p. 40.