Teope v. People : 149687 : April 14, 2004 : J. Azcuna : First Division :
[G.R. NO. 149687 : April
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
This is a Petition for Review of certiorari assailing the
Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 52906 dismissing the petition for mandamus
filed by Florita Teope.
Petitioner alleged that on January
19, 1994, she was charged with 2 counts of violation of Batas
Pambansa Bilang 22 (B. P. 22) before the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City
(RTC). 3 After the prosecution rested its case, petitioner filed a Demurrer to the
Evidence on December 9, 1995.
The RTC denied said demurrer on January
9, 1995 and a Notice of Appeal from the denial was filed on January
21, 1999. The RTC denied due course to the Notice of Appeal on February
5, 1999. Petitioner timely filed a motion for reconsideration, but
it was denied by the RTC on March 16,
Petitioner then filed a petition for mandamus with the
Court of Appeals on May 24, 1999.
On October 19, 2000 and August
6, 2001, respectively, the Court of Appeals promulgated the assailed
Decision and Resolution dismissing the petition and denying the subsequent
motion for reconsideration. Thus, the present petition was instituted.
To start with, the RTC decision4 and the Comment5 filed by the Office of the Solicitor General bring to light some very relevant
antecedent facts that occurred between January
9, 1995 and January 21, 1999,
which the petitioner did not state in her petition.
Upon verification from the records of the case, it appears that
after the Demurrer to the Evidence was denied on January
9, 1995, the RTC ordered that hearings for the reception of
petitioners evidence be set. Petitioners counsel himself suggested that the
hearings be held on April 17, 19, 21, 24, 25 and 26, 1995.
On April 17, 1995, however, petitioner filed a MOTION ENTREATING
HON. ENRIQUE C. GARROVILLO TO CONSIDER WHETHER TO CONTINUE PRESIDING OVER THE
CASES AND TO INHIBIT FISCAL DIOSDADO D. HERMOSA FROM APPEARING AS PUBLIC
PROSECUTOR IN THE CASES. On April 21,
1995, said motion to inhibit was denied by the RTC and petitioner
was ordered to present her evidence on April 24 and 26, 1995 and on May 9 and
Petitioner failed to appear at the April
24, 1995 hearing. Thus, the RTC declared her bail bonds forfeited
and ordered the bondsman to produce petitioner within 30 days and show cause
why no judgment should be rendered against her for the amount of the bonds.
On April 27, 1995,
the RTC received an urgent motion for postponement from petitioners counsel,
asking for the resetting of the May 9 and 12, 1995 hearings. The reasons given
were that on May 9, 1995
petitioners counsel was scheduled to attend to some urgent family engagement,
while on May 12, 1995 her
counsel already had prior engagements with other courts. The RTC acceded to the
motion and reset the hearings to June 6,7,8,9 and 13, 1995, but declared these
hearings to be intransferable considering the fact that the termination of
these cases has been much delayed by the frequent absence and/or postponements
made by the Accused.
On June 2, 1995,
petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the April
21, 1995 order. The RTC denied the motion for reconsideration on July
6, 1995, the RTC rendered judgment against the bonds for failure of
the bondsman to produce petitioner and submit an explanation for the latters
failure to appear at the April 24, 1996
On January 30, 1997,
as prayed for by petitioners counsel, the RTC issued an order again resetting
the hearing to April 7, 1997.
4, 1997, the RTC issued another order declaring petitioner as a
fugitive from justice and a warrant of arrest was issued against her.
Petitioners counsel then filed an Omnibus Motion dated May
19, 1997, asserting that petitioner cannot be tried in absentia because she was not notified of the subsequent trials after the forfeiture of
her bail bonds. Consequently, petitioners counsel prayed that the two criminal
cases against her be archived and that an alias warrant of arrest be issued.
The RTC denied the Omnibus Motion for lack of merit on October
30, 1998. In the same order, the criminal cases were deemed
submitted for decision and an alias warrant of arrest was issued.
On January 18, 1999,
the RTC rendered a Joint Judgment finding petitioner guilty on both counts of
violation of B. P. 22, with the following dispositive portion:6 cralawred
WHEREFORE, finding the accused Florita Teope guilty beyond a
scintilla of doubt of violation of Section 1 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22, she
is hereby imprisoned for one (1) year to be served successively plus a fine of
in Criminal Case No. 11357 and P20,000. 00 in Criminal Case No. 11358
with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
Florita Teope is also ordered to pay by way of civil liability the
P45,000. 00 to Hermogena Beltran.
Costs against the accused.
Let a copy of this judgment be furnished to the NBI and the ICS for
them to locate and arrest Florita L. Teope who jumped bail and is presently a
fugitive from justice.
Furnish Florita L. Teope with a copy of this judgment by registered
mail at her last known address as well as Atty. Marcelo Flores, her counsel of
On January 20, 1999,
petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal, to which the RTC denied due course on the
ground that, being a fugitive from justice, petitioner has lost her right to
appeal. Unable to convince the RTC to give due course to her appeal,
petitioners counsel sought redress with the Court of Appeals by filing a
petition for mandamus.
The dismissal by the Court of Appeals of the petition for mandamus
and the subsequent denial of the motion for reconsideration thereof are
what are now before this Court for review.
The Court finds no error committed by the Court of Appeals in
dismissing the case for mandamus.
Section 6 of Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure7 clearly provides that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SEC. 6. Promulgation of
judgments. x x x
If the judgment is for conviction and the failure of the accused to
appear was without justifiable cause, he shall lose the remedies available
in these Rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest.
Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of judgment, however, the accused
may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies.
He shall state the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation and if
he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to
avail of said remedies within fifteen (15) days from notice. (underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
There is no question that petitioner escaped after her
Subsequently, the trial
was ordered to continue but after the accused failed to appear, the RTC
terminated the trial and, thereafter, promulgated the Joint Judgment of
During that time petitioner
was at large. She remains at large even while her counsel continues to file
various pleadings on her behalf before the RTC, the Court of Appeals and this
Under the Rules of Court, petitioner is barred from availing of
the remedies allowed by the rules against the judgment of the RTC, one of which
is the right to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals. The reason for this
rule is because once an accused escapes
from prison or confinement, or jumps bail or flees to a foreign country,
he loses his standing in court and unless he surrenders or submits to the
jurisdiction of the court, he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief
from the court.8 cralawred
Thus, having no right to appeal the RTC decision to the Court of
Appeals, the petition for mandamus cannot prosper. Mandamus will
only lie to compel the performance of a ministerial duty and the petitioner
must show a well-defined, clear and certain right to warrant the grant thereof.9 cralawred
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is DENIED and the Decision and Resolution
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 52906 are AFFIRMED.
Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
As amended by A. M. No. 00-5-03-SC on December
8 People v. Mapalao
, 197 SCRA 79 (1991).
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