,

ChanRobles Virtual Law Library






CHANROBLES VIRTUAL LAW LIBRARY






On-Line Bar Review

cralaw_chanroblesbar

MCLE:

cralaw_lawnet

DebtKollect

cralaw_debkollect

Intellectual Property

cralaw_iplaw
Chan Robles Virtual Law Library


Bookmark and Share

 

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS



 

chanrobles.com - PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS - ON-LINE

cralaw_scdecisions_separator.NHAD



EN BANC



Please click here to read full text of the following:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Main Decision
Bellosillo, J., see separate opinion, concurring.
Puno, J., see dissenting opinion.
Vitug, J., see separate (dissenting) opinion.
Quisumbing, J., in the result, concur with J. Bellosillo’s opinion.
Ynares-Santiago, J.,  join the dissent, of J. Puno and J. Gutierrez.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., dissent, please see dissenting opinion.



PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE,
DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE,
CHIEF STATE PROSECUTOR JOVENCITO ZUÑO,
STATE PROSECUTORS PETER L. ONG and RUBEN A. ZACARIAS;
2ND ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR CONRADO M. JAMOLIN AND
CITY PROSECUTOR OF QUEZON CITY CLARO ARELLANO,
                        Petitioners,

G.R. No. 149453
April 1, 2003
- versus -
 

PANFILO M. LACSON,
     Respondent.

DISSENTING OPINION

PUNO, J.:

 

Our Resolution of May 28, 2002 was the result of a long and exhaustive, nay, exhausting discussion of the meaning of section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. As summed up in the new ponencia of Mr. Justice Callejo, the Court ruled that section 8, Rule 117 is applicable to the case at bar. Nonetheless evidence has to be adduced by the parties to prove certain facts which shall determine whether said section can be beneficially invoked by respondent Lacson. These vital facts, to quote the new ponencia, are (1) whether the provisional dismissal of the cases had the express consent of the accused; (2) whether notices to the offended parties were given before the cases of respondent Lacson were dismissed by then Judge Agnir, Jr.; (3) whether there were affidavits of desistance executed by the relatives of the three (3) other victims; (4) whether the 2-year period to revive the cases has already lapsed; (5) whether there is any justification for the re-filing of the cases beyond the 2-year period; (6) whether the reckoning date of the 2-year bar shall be from the date of the order of then Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissing the cases, or from the dates of receipt thereof by the various offended parties, or from the date of effectivity of the new rule; and (7) if the cases were revived only after the 2-year bar, the State must justify its failure to comply with the said time-bar. Thus, the case at bar was remanded to the RTC-Quezon City, Branch 81 to enable the parties to adduce evidence on these factual issues. On the basis of the evidence to be presented, the trial court will rule on the applicability of section 8, Rule 117 to respondent Lacson. chan robles virtual law library
   chan robles virtual law library
It is noteworthy that except for JJ Melo and Carpio, who inhibited themselves, the resolution was a unanimous one. The new ponencia now seeks to reverse the unanimous resolution of this Court. The Court has four new members and the passage of time has put a mist on some of the themes and sub-themes considered in the discussion of section 8, Rule 117. I wish therefore to restate my humble understanding of section 8, Rule 117, as chairman of the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court that drafted the said rule. chan robles virtual law library

I start with the statement that the Committee was confronted with the following problem:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library

A complaint or information has been filed with a court of competent jurisdiction; chan robles virtual law library

The prosecution after a number of settings cannot proceed with the case for some reasons but usually due to the unavailability of the complainant or witnesses to testify; chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
1. The accused is ready to proceed but cannot move to dismiss the case and invoke his right to speedy trial because the delay of the prosecution is not yet unreasonable; chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
2. As a half-way measure and to relieve himself of the heavy burden of a pending criminal case, the accused agrees to a provisional dismissal of the complaint or information against him; chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
3. Under the rules and case-law prior to year 2000, the provisional dismissal of a criminal case is open-ended. The case can be revived by the prosecution without any time limit except when it is already barred by prescription. It is not unusual for the case to be frozen for an unreasonable length of time. It remains in the docket of the court and contributes to its clogging. Worse, it hangs like a sword of Damocles over the head of the accused. It can fall principally depending on the predilection and prejudice of the prosecutor. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
First. It was this undesirable situation that the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court addressed when it designed section 8, Rule 117 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Court en banc found no difficulty appreciating the rationale of the new rule for it approved the rule with but a minor amendment. The amendment lengthened the time within which the prosecution can revive the provisionally dismissed case in offenses punishable by more than six (6) years of imprisonment. The time to revive was stretched to two (2) years after a survey was made of offenses punishable by imprisonment of six (6) years or more and a study of its probable adverse impact on the government campaign against crimes. In promulgating the new rule, the Court en banc struck a fine balance between the sovereign right of the State to prosecute crimes and the inherent right of the accused to be protected from the unnecessary burdens of criminal litigation. The timeline within which provisionally dismissed cases can be revived forms the crux of the delicate balance. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
Second. Section 8, Rule 117 is a rule that gives an accused a new right that is distinct from, among others, the right to speedy trial and the right against double jeopardy. The resistance to recognize this new right and the effort to unnecessarily link it with other rights of the accused are the main causes of its misunderstanding. Thus, section 8, Rule 117 should not be confused with Rule 119 [1] which is the rule of procedure that implements the constitutional right of an accused to speedy trial. The confusion can obliterate the difference in the time requirements in the two rules. The right to speedy trial is determined by a flexible time standard. We resolve claims of denial of the right to speedy trial by balancing the following factors: (1) the duration of the delay, (2) the reason thereof, (3) the assertion of the right or failure to assert it by the accused, and (4) the prejudice caused by such delay. On the other hand, the timeline that restricts the right of the State to revive a case in a section 8, Rule 117 situation is inflexible if it is shown that it has slept on its right without reason. Section 8, Rule 117 should not also be confused with section 3(i), Rule 117 which is the rule of procedure that protects the constitutional right of an accused against double jeopardy. Again, the two rules are distinct, hence, it is not proper to require the element of prior plea in double jeopardy cases in a section 8, Rule 117 situation. In fine, section 8, Rule 117 is a new rule that is complete by itself and should not be construed in light of rules implementing other rights of an accused. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
Third. The provisional dismissal under section 8 of Rule 119 becomes permanent after the lapse of one or two years depending on the gravity of the offense involved. There can be no hedging on the meaning of the word permanent for the new rule used the word without a bit of embroidery. To be emphatic, the lapse of the one (1) or two (2) years time puts a period to the provisionally dismissed case and not a mere comma. It is true that during the deliberations of the Committee, the provision was originally worded as follows: "The corresponding order shall state that the provisional dismissal shall become permanent and amount to acquittal one (1) year after its issuance without the case having been revived." In the final version of the provision, however, the phrase "amount to acquittal" was deleted. The deletion was dictated by the belief that the phrase was a redundancy in light of the clear and unequivocal import of the word "permanent." The deletion cannot be distorted to mean that a case permanently dismissed can still be revived. For if that were the intent, the rule could have easily stated that the accused whose case has been permanently dismissed could nevertheless be prosecuted for the same offense.  chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
Fourth. The permanent dismissal of an unrevived case under section 8, Rule 117 does not unduly shorten the prescriptive period of offenses provided for in Articles 90 and 91 of the Revised Penal Code. The new rule merely regulates the conduct of the prosecution of an offense once the case is filed in court. It cannot be doubted that after a case is filed in court, its conduct by the prosecution can be regulated by rules of procedure which are within the exclusive power of this Court to promulgate. More specifically, the new rule regulates the time when the State must complete the prosecution of a pending case after its provisional dismissal. It provides the consequence when the State sleeps on its duty to revive a provisionally dismissed case. If the State loses the right to continue the prosecution of an offense already filed in court, it is not because the rule has amended the prescriptive period of the crime provided by our substantive law. Rather, it is a simple case where the State forfeited its right to prosecute by its own inaction, an inaction that unless justified cannot be allowed to further impair the rights of an accused.
chan robles virtual law library
Fifth. The permanent dismissal under section 8, Rule 117 precludes the prosecution of the accused for the same offense under a new information. Again, it is true that we have rulings to the effect that a trial court may, in the interest of justice, dismiss a case provisionally but without prejudice to reinstating it before the order of dismissal becomes final or without prejudice to the subsequent filing of a new information for the same offense. But note should be taken of the important fact that these rulings were handed down before section 8, Rule 117 came into being. Section 8, Rule 117 changed the old rule that dismissals which are provisional in character lack the imprimatur of finality, hence, they do not bar the revival of the offense charged or the filing of a new information for the same offense. The old rule was precisely jettisoned by the Committee and by this Court because of its unfairness to the accused. Again, I respectfully submit that the new rule would be useless if it would leave unfettered the discretion of the prosecutor in reviving the same offense under the fig leaf of a new information. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
Sixth. I do not share the thesis that the re-filing of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-01-101102 to Q-01-101112 is not a revival of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689. There cannot be any dispute on the meaning of the word revival in section 8, Rule 117. Revival means reanimating or renewing the case that has become dormant because of its provisional dismissal. The cases that were provisionally dismissed for lack of probable cause refer to the eleven (11) Informations for murder filed against the respondent, et al., allegedly for the summary execution of some members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang. Without doubt, these are the same cases re-filed against the respondent after another preliminary investigation with the principal difference that respondent is now charged as a principal and no longer as an accessory.  chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
I respectfully submit that the test to determine whether a case can be revived is not whether a new preliminary investigation has been conducted by the prosecution. That test, if allowed, would torture out of context the intent of section 8, Rule 117. The new rule speaks of "case" and "offenses." It clearly prohibits the revival of the case against an accused which has been provisionally dismissed for failure of the State to continue its prosecution without any justification. I like to underscore that the prohibition against revival is not a free gift by the State to an accused. The right against revival is the result of a trade-off of valuable rights for the accused can exercise it only if he surrenders his right to an early permanent dismissal of the case against him due to the inability of the State to prosecute. In so doing, the accused suffers a detriment for he gives the State one to two years to revive a case which has already been frozen for failure to prosecute. During this waiting period, the accused cannot move to dismiss the charge against him while the State can locate its missing witnesses, secure them if they are threatened and even gather new evidence. In exchange for this period of grace given to the State, the rule sets a timeline for the prosecutors to revive the case against the accused. The timeline is fixed for the accused has suffered an indubitable detriment and the trade-off for this detriment is the duty imposed on the prosecution either to continue or discontinue with the case within the 1 or 2-year grace period. We cannot allow the undue extension of this detriment unless the State can show compelling reasons to justify its failure to prosecute. The open-ended practice under the old rule which makes provisional dismissal permanently provisional is precisely the evil sought to be extirpated by section 8, Rule 117. chan robles virtual law library
   chan robles virtual law library
Seventh, I wish to stress the bigger reason for section 8, Rule 117. The new rule does enhance the constitutional rights of an accused to speedy trial and speedy disposition of the case(s) against him but it is much more than that. More broadly, the new rule was designed to achieve one of the end-goals of the criminal process - to minimize the burdens of accusation and litigation. This end-goal is well explained by La Fave and Israel, conceded authorities in Criminal Procedure, viz: [2]
chan robles virtual law library
"(d) Minimizing the Burdens of Accusation and Litigation. Even though eventually acquitted, an innocent person charged with a crime suffers substantial burdens. The accusation casts a doubt on the person’s reputation that is not easily erased. Frequently, the public remembers the accusation and still suspects guilt even after an acquittal. Moreover, even where an acquittal is accepted as fully vindicating the accused, it hardly remedies other costs suffered in the course of gaining that verdict. The period spent by the accused awaiting trial commonly is filled with a substantial degree of anxiety and insecurity that disrupts the daily flow of his life. That disruption is, of course, even greater if he is incarcerated pending trial. The accused also must bear the expense and ordeal of the litigation process itself."
chan robles virtual law library
This end-goal is by no means novel. We have various rules of criminal procedure to minimize the burdens of litigation. Our rules on bail, venue, double jeopardy, speedy trial, speedy disposition of cases, etc., are among them. In fine, we have been promulgating rules to minimize the burdens of litigation for a long, long time.
chan robles virtual law library
Let me also underscore that section 8, Rule 117 was promulgated in the exercise of the expanded power of this Court to enact rules of procedure under section 5(5) of the 1987 Constitution, viz:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library

"SEC. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library

x x x x x x x x x chan robles virtual law library

(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court." chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
This provision [3] expanded the rule making power of this Court for (1) it extended its power not only to cover pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, admission to the practice of law and the integration of the Bar but also to encompass the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights and legal assistance to the underprivileged, and (2) it no longer contained the restriction that said rules "may be repealed, altered or supplemented by the Batasang Pambansa." [4] As aforediscussed, section 8, Rule 117 was designed to diminish the burdens of litigation by fixing a timeline on provisional dismissal of cases beyond which they cannot be revived. The regulation of the conduct of a criminal case once filed in court, including the time within which it must be terminated, is inherent in judicial power. Section 8, Rule 117 is an exercise of this power, a power that this Court has exercised without any question since the 1935 Constitution. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library

II

The dismissal of the cases against respondent Lacson bears his express consent. chan robles virtual law library

This Court did not err when it ruled "that the provisional dismissal of the case against respondent Lacson bears his express consent." chan robles virtual law library

The records will show that respondent Lacson filed before then Judge Agnir, Jr. who was to try Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689, a motion for judicial determination of probable cause. The motion contained the following prayer:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library

"x x x x x x x x x

(1) a judicial determination of probable cause pursuant to section 2, Article III of the Constitution be conducted by this Honorable Court, and for this purpose, an order be issued directing the prosecution to present the private complainants and their witnesses at a hearing scheduled therefore; and chan robles virtual law library
(2) warrants for the arrest of the accused-movants be withheld, or, if issued recalled in the meantime until the resolution of this incident. chan robles virtual law library

Other equitable reliefs are also prayed for." [5] chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
In ruling that the dismissal of the cases against respondent Lacson did not bear his consent, the ponencia states that "x x x respondent merely filed a motion for judicial determination of probable cause x x x." [6] It emphasizes that no motion for provisional dismissal of the cases was filed. With due respect, the effort to distinguish the two motions is futile for it is seeking a distinction when there is no difference. The essence of both motions is the lack of probable cause of the Informations. If the motions succeed, there is only one course of action for the judge to take --- to dismiss the Informations. For all intents and purposes, a motion for judicial determination of probable cause can be treated as a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause. Thus, Judge Agnir, Jr. prefaced the resolution of respondent Lacson’s motion in this wise:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
"Before the Court are five (5) separate but identical motions filed thru their respective counsel by the twenty-six (26) accused in the above numbered cases, praying the Court to (1) make a judicial determination of the existence of probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest, (2) to hold in abeyance the issuance of warrants in the meantime, and (3) to dismiss the cases should the court find lack of probable cause." chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
Prescinding from this understanding, then Judge Agnir, Jr. issued his Resolution dismissing Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689, viz:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
chan robles virtual law library
"As already seen, the documents attached to the Informations in support thereof have been rendered meaningless, if not absurd, with the recantation of the principal prosecution witnesses and the desistance of the private complainants. There is no more evidence to show that a crime has been committed and that the accused are probably guilty thereof. Following the doctrine above-cited, there is no more reason to hold the accused for trial and further expose them to an open and public accusation. It is time to write finis to these cases and lay to rest the ghost of the incident of May 18, 1995 so that all those involved--- the accused, the prosecution witnesses and the private complainants alike--- may get on with their lives. chan robles virtual law library

The Court is not unmindful of the admonition in the recent case of People vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 126005, January 21, 1999) where the Supreme Court said that the general rule is that ‘if the Information is valid on its face and there is no showing of manifest error, grave abuse of discretion or prejudice on the part of the public prosecutor, courts should not dismiss it for want of evidence, because evidentiary matters should be presented and heard during the trial’, and that the ruling in Allado vs. Diokno ‘is an exception to the general rule and may be invoked only if similar circumstances are clearly shown to exist.’ chan robles virtual law library

This Court holds that the circumstances in the case at bench clearly make an exception to the general rule. chan robles virtual law library

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds no probable cause for the issuance of the warrants of arrest against the accused or to hold them for trial. Accordingly, the Informations in the above-numbered cases are hereby ordered dismissed." chan robles virtual law library

SO ORDERED. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
To justify his ruling, the ponente insists that "respondent did not pray for the dismissal, provisional or otherwise, of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689, neither did he ever agree, impliedly or expressly, to a mere provisional dismissal of the case." [7] With due respect, the specific prayer demanded by the ponente is unnecessary. Under Rule 112, section 6 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure, the judge may "immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause." Likewise, the motion for judicial determination of probable cause prayed for "other equitable reliefs." Similarly, there need not be any agreement on the provisional character of the dismissal of the said cases. The cases were dismissed not on the merits but for lack of probable cause and before the arraignment of respondent Lacson. Their dismissal was provisional by operation of our rules. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
The ponencia then cites certain judicial "admissions" by the counsel of respondent Lacson to the effect that they did not move to dismiss the Informations against said respondent nor agree to their provisional dismissal. Again with due respect, these so called "admissions" should be taken in their proper context. These "admissions" were made in the course of the proceedings before the Court of Appeals. The parties then were arguing that the re-filing of the cases will violate the rule on double jeopardy. Naturally, respondent Lacson took the position that his right against double jeopardy would be violated, hence, he was insisting that the dismissal of the cases was without his express consent. Naturally too, the petitioner took the opposite view that the rule on double jeopardy would not be breached because respondent consented to their dismissal. If the ponencia will hold respondent Lacson to his "admission" that he did not consent to the dismissal of his cases, it should similarly hold petitioner to its "admission" that respondent consented to the dismissal of the cases against him. In truth, the evidentiary rule on admission governs the act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact and should not be applied on arguments of parties. The issue in the case at bar is the nature and effect of a motion for judicial determination of probable cause, i.e., whether or not it can be treated by a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of probable cause. The issue is basically legal, and should be resolved in accordance with our laws and not on the basis of the arguments of parties which are often twisted to serve their peculiar interests. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library

III

It is not clear whether the offended parties had knowledge of the dismissal of their Informations against respondent Lacson. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
In our resolution under reconsideration, we explained why there is uncertainty on the factual issue of whether notices were sent to the offended parties, viz:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
chan robles virtual law library
"x x x chan robles virtual law library
The records of the case, however, do not reveal with conclusiveness whether notices to the offended parties were given before the cases against the respondent Lacson were dismissed by Judge Agnir. It appears from the resolution of Judge Agnir that the relatives of the victims who desisted did not appear during the hearing. Their affidavits of desistance were only presented by Atty. Godwin Valdez who testified that he assisted the private complainants in preparing their affidavits and he signed them as a witness. It also appears that only seven (7) persons submitted their affidavits of desistance, namely:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library

   a. Myrna Abalora, mother of the victims Sherwin Abalora and Rey Abalora;
   b. Carmelita Elcamel, wife of Wilbur Elcamel; chan robles virtual law library
   c. Leonora Amora, mother of victim Joel Amora; chan robles virtual law library
   d. Nenita Alap-ap, wife of victim Carlito Alap-ap; chan robles virtual law library
   e. Imelda Montero, wife of victim Manuel Montero; chan robles virtual law library
   f. Margarita Redillas, mother of victim Hilario Jevy Redillas; and
   g. Rolando Siplon  chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
From the records of the case before us, it cannot be determined whether there were affidavits of desistance executed by the relatives of the three (3) other victims, namely: Meleubren Soronda, Pacifico Montero, Jr., and Alex Neri. The same records do not show whether they were notified of the hearing or had knowledge thereof. To be sure, it is not fair to expect the element of notice to be litigated before then Judge Agnir for Section 8, Rule 117 was yet inexistent at that time.
chan robles virtual law library
The fact of notice to the offended parties was not raised either in the petition for prohibition with application for temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction filed by respondent Lacson in the RTC of Manila, presided by Judge Pasamba, to enjoin the prosecutors from reinvestigating the said cases against him. The only question raised in said petition is whether the reinvestigation will violate the right of respondent Lacson against double jeopardy. Thus, the issue of whether or not the reinvestigation is barred by Section 8, Rule 117 was not tackled by the litigants. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
Nor was the fact of notice to the offended parties the subject of proof after the eleven (11) informations for murder against respondent Lacson and company were revived in the RTC of Quezon City presided by Judge Yadao. There was hardly any proceeding conducted in the case for respondent Lacson immediately filed a petition for certiorari in the appellate court challenging, among others, the authority of Judge Yadao to entertain the revived informations for multiple murder against him. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
This is not to be wondered at. The applicability of Section 8, Rule 117 was never considered in the trial court. It was in the Court of Appeals where respondent Lacson raised for the first time the argument that Section 8, Rule 117 bars the revival of the multiple murder cases against him. But even then, the appellate court did not require the parties to elucidate the crucial issue of whether notices were given to the offended parties before Judge Agnir ordered the dismissal of the cases against respondent Lacson and company. To be sure, there is a statement in the Decision of the appellate court to the effect that "records show that the prosecution and the private offended parties were notified of the hearing x x x." It is doubtful whether this finding is supported by the records of the case. It appears to be contrary to Judge Agnir’s finding that only seven (7) of the complainants submitted affidavits of desistance." chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
The ponencia will reverse this ruling on the following ratiocination:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
"In the case at bar, even if the respondent’s motion for a determination of probable cause and examination of witnesses may be considered for the nonce, as his motion for a provisional dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689, however, the heirs of the victims were not notified thereof prior to the hearing on said motion on May 22, 1999. It must be stressed that the respondent filed his motion only on May 17, 1999 and set it for hearing on May 22, 1999 or barely five days from the filing thereof. Although the public prosecutor was served with a copy of the motion, the records do not show that notices thereof were separately given to the heirs of the victims or that subpoenae were issued to and received by them including those who executed their affidavits of desistance who were residents of Dipolog City or Piñan, Zamboanga del Norte or Palompon, Leyte. There is as well no proof in the records that the public prosecutor notified the heirs of the victims of said motion or of the hearing thereof on May 22, 1999. Although Atty. Valdez entered his appearance as private prosecutor, he did so only for some but not all the close kins of the victims, namely, Nenita Alap-ap, Imelda Montero, Margarita Redillas, Rufino Siplon, Carmelita Elcamel, Myrna Abalora, and Leonora Amora who (except for Rufino Siplon) executed their respective affidavits of desistance. There was no appearance for the heirs of Alex Neri, Pacifico Montero, Jr. and Meleubren Sorronda. In fine, there never was any attempt on the part of the trial court, the public prosecutor and/or the private prosecutor to notify all the heirs of the victims of the respondent’s motion and the hearing thereon. The said heirs were thus deprived of their right to be heard on the respondent’s motion and to protect their interests."
chan robles virtual law library
Again, I beg to disagree. The ponencia cites the records of the cases to justify its conclusion that notices were not sent to the offended parties. I cannot be as dogmatic as the ponente. As stated in our Resolution, section 8, Rule 117 was not yet in existence when then Judge Agnir, Jr. resolved respondent Lacson’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause. It is, therefore, unrealistic to look only at the records of the cases to determine compliance with yet an inexistent rule. To my mind, what ought to be done is to determine whether the offended parties had knowledge of respondent Lacson’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause. They may have such knowledge despite lack of formal notice from the court or notice from the public and private prosecutors. It ought to be beyond argument that such a formal notice is only one source of knowledge of the offended parties. Moreover, there is the unresolved question of who are the "offended" parties in the case at bar. It will be noted that in some of the criminal cases dismissed by then Judge Agnir, Jr., those who executed affidavits of desistance were the wives, or the mothers of the victims. Are they the only "offended" parties or should the other "heirs" be included? Should all of them be notified? These and other questions should first be resolved by the trial court, hence, our resolution to remand.  chan robles virtual law library

IV

Section 8, Rule 117 of the Rules of Criminal Procedureapplies retroactively chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
The ponencia correctly holds that section 8, Rule 117 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure is not a statute of limitations. As postulated in the précis, the one-year or two-year bar is a special procedural rule qualifying the right of the State to prosecute cases already filed in court. The time-bar under the new rule does not curtail the periods under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code. The State retains the full period under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code within which to secure the necessary evidence and file the appropriate criminal cases against the accused. But once the State files a criminal case and involves the courts, the constitutional power of this Court to set the rules of procedure for the prosecution of cases cannot be doubted. The power belongs to this Court alone and there are no uncertain umbras and penumbras in its parameters which other branches of the government can claim. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
To emphasize, the time-bar for the revival of provisionally dismissed cases was adopted for the purpose, among others, of (1) discouraging hasty and baseless filing of criminal cases; and (2) penalizing the State for its inexcusable delay in prosecuting cases already filed in court. The non-revival of provisionally dismissed cases after the lapse of the one-year or two-year period creates a disputable presumption of inexcusable delay on the part of the State in prosecuting the case. But this does not mean that the mere passage of the one-year or two-year period bars the State from reviving the provisionally dismissed cases. The State has the right to present compelling reasons to justify the revival of the cases beyond the one-year or two-year time bar. The reservation of this right should remove any charge of unfairness to the State. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
Regrettably, the ponencia concedes that section 8, Rule 117 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure is a procedural rule but holds that it could not be applied retroactively. It is unreasonably struck by the fear that its retroactive application would cause "injustice or hardship to the State and adversely affect the administration of justice in general and of criminal laws in particular." It contends that the period from March 30, 1999 to November 30, 1999 should be excluded in the computation of the two-year period because the new rule prescribing it was then not yet in effect.  chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
Again, I beg to disagree. Jurisprudence that has resisted the tempest of time teaches us that statutes and rules should be construed in the light of the purposes to be achieved and the evils sought to be remedied. The unerring principle that ought to guide any attempt to construe them should be their intended scope and purpose. [8] In the case at bar, it is crystal clear that the new rule is intended to apply to all provisionally dismissed cases before its passage. It is a remedial measure to check the continuing inaction on the part of the State to prosecute pending cases in court. Its purpose is to press the State to act on cases it has inexcusably put in deep slumber in our courts of justice. It provides relief to the accused who are prejudiced when the cases filed in court against them remain dormant for an unreasonable length of time. In fine, the new rule is a remedial rule that looks back even as it looks forward. It reaches both the past and the future. It is both retrospective and prospective. chan robles virtual law library
chan robles virtual law library
To be sure, there is nothing novel in the new rule when it reaches the past. Under the ruling case law, statutes regulating the procedure of courts are applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of its passage. [9] The retroactive application of procedural rules cannot be challenged as violative of any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected. The reason is that as a general rule, no vested right may attach to, nor give rise from, procedural laws. [10]
chan robles virtual law library
The only conceivable exception to this general rule is if the retroactive application of the procedural rule "would not be feasible or would work injustice." [11] As amply demonstrated, however, the new rule will not impair the right of the State to prosecute criminals. The State is not prejudiced by the time-bar if it can justify its delay in the prosecution of cases. If it cannot justify its delay, it cannot complain of unfairness. No government can claim the right to prosecute at its perpetual pleasure. It cannot file a criminal case and sleep on it. It is self-evident that inexcusable delays in the prosecution of a case deny an accused the right to a fair trial.
chan robles virtual law library
With due respect, I submit that the ponencia sends a wrong message in batting only for the prospective application of the new rule. To hold that the State could not be faulted for not reviving the case within two years simply because the new rule was not yet in effect implies that this Court sanctions delays in the prosecution of cases, however inexcusable the delays were. Pushed to the extreme, the majority in effect bars the application of the new rule to cases provisionally dismissed five or ten years ago on the simple reason that during the interregnum, the new rule was not yet in effect. Let us not half pause in applying the new rule for it addresses inexcusable delays in the prosecution of cases already filed in court. Devoid of legalese, it tells the State not to sleep on its job. If we cannot tell the prosecution to do its job within a reasonable time frame, we might as well close shop. chan robles virtual law library

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, I vote to DENY petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration.  chan robles virtual law library
 
 
 


____________________________

Endnotes:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

[1] Rule 119 was taken from RA No. 8493 entitled "An Act to Insure a Speedy Trial of All Criminal Cases Before the Sandiganbayan, Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court" which became effective on September 15, 1998. chan robles virtual law library
[2] Criminal Procedure, Hornbook Series, p. 27, 1988 edition. chan robles virtual law library
[3] Section 5 (5) of The 1973 Constitution provides:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library
"x x x chan robles virtual law library
(5) Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, and the integration of the Bar, which, however, may be repealed, altered, or supplemented by the Batasang Pambansa. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights." chan robles virtual law library
[4] Commenting on the change, author Nolledo observed:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary chan robles virtual law library
"The rule-making power of the Supreme Court has been made exclusive to it. The power of the Congress to alter the rules promulgated by the Highest Court has been removed. For the Congress to interfere with the Supreme Court promulgated within the competence of the Highest Tribunal is unconstitutional and now violative of the separation of powers. Even the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cannot be enlarged without the consent of the latter." chan robles virtual law library
(The New Constitution of the Philippines chan robles virtual law library
Annotated 690 [1990]) chan robles virtual law library
[5] RTC Records, Vol. X, p. 232. chan robles virtual law library
[6] Resolution, p. 8. chan robles virtual law library
[7] Id. at 9. chan robles virtual law library
[8] Paat v. Court of Appeals, 266 SCRA 167 (1997). chan robles virtual law library
[9] Tan, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136368, January 16, 2002.
[10] Billones v. Court of Industrial Relations, 14 SCRA 674, 681 (1965).
[11] Greogoria v. CA, 26 SCRA 229 (1968). chan robles virtual law library