G.R. No. Nos. L-61554-55 July 31, 1984
TOMASA VDA. DE JACOB Petitioner, vs. HON. RICARDO C. PUNO, in his capacity as Minister of Justice; and JORGE CENTENERA, TEODORO ALARCON, PABLO PAQUEO, JR., AMELIA LAMIT, ALFREDO SILVA, JOSE CEA, MIGUEL MOLL and OLYMPIO CLAPIS Respondents.
Benitor P. Favie for petitioner.chanrobles virtual law library
The Solicitor General and Ramon Quisumbing, Jr. for respondents.
The question raised if the petition is whether respondent Minister of Justice committed grave abuse of discretion in directing the Provincial Fiscal of Camarines Sur "to desist from filing in court the corresponding informations against respondents based on your resolution, or to move for their dismissal if they have already been filed, and to thereafter dismiss the twin complaints filed in your office under I.S. Nos. 1162 and 1163, reporting the action you have taken on this directive within ten days from receipt hereof." (p 35, Rollo) chanrobles virtual law library
The facts of this case are as follows :chanrobles virtual law library
Herein petitioner, Tomasa Vda. de Jacob, filed with the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Camarines Sur two (2) criminal complaint for falsification of public documents which purport to have been executed by her deceased husband, Dr. Alfredo E. Jacob, to wit:
In charging herein private respondents, namely: Jorge Centenera, Teodor Alarcon, Pablo Paqueo Jr., Amelia Lamit Alfredo Silva, Jose Cea, Miguel Moll and Olympio Clapis with falsification of public documents, petitioner Tomasa Vda. de Jacob who, since January 16, 1979, had been the court-appointed guardian of the then incompetent Dr. Alfredo Jacob, claims that respondents connived and confederated with each other in falsifying the two deeds of absolute sale aforementioned by making it appear therein that her husband participated in the execution thereof as seller when in truth and in fact he never did so participate in any manner as he was already seriously ill and practically bed ridden on October 20, 1976 and December 2, 1977 when the said documents appeared to have been executed.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
After preliminary investigation, Assistant Provincial Fiscal Ceferino P. Goce on May 15, 1979, issued separate resolutions in I.S. Nos. 1162 and 1163 recommending the filing in court of the corresponding informations for falsification of public documents by private individuals as defined and punished under Article 171, par. 2 in relation to Article 172, par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code ... (P.46,Rollo) chanrobles virtual law library
The private respondents appealed the aforementioned resolutions to the respondent Minister of Justice, who, on April 15, 1981, directed the Provincial Fiscal to desist from filing in court the corresponding informations against the respondents. Reasons for this directive are -
The first and second motions for reconsideration of the aforementioned order of respondent Minister of Justice were deed. Hence, this appeal by certiorari, petitioner arguing that respondent Minister "has transcended his authority to merely determine the existence of a prima facie case in pursuance of P.D. No. 911 and in so doing arrogated to himself the prerogatives or power vested in the courts." (pp. 28-29, Rollo) chanrobles virtual law library
It is apparent from the facts above-stated that certiorari does not lie.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The power of supervision and control by the Minister of Justice over the fiscals cannot be denied. As stated in Noblejas vs. Salas, 67 SCRA 47, "Section 79 (c) of the Revised Administrative Code defines the extent of a department secretary's power. The power of control therein contemplated means (the power of the department head) to alter, modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter.' 'The power of control . . . implies the right of the President (and, naturally, of his alter ego) to interfere in the exercise of such discretion as may be vested by law in the officers of the national government, as well as to act in lieu of such officers.' " For, while it is the duty of the fiscal to prosecute persons who, according to evidence received from the complainant, are shown to be guilty of a crime, the Minister of Justice is likewise bound by his oath of office to protect innocent persons from groundless false or serious prosecution. He would be committing a serious dereliction of duty if he orders or sanctions the filing of an information based upon a complaint where he is not convinced that the evidence would warrant the filing of the action in court. As he has the power of supervision and control over prosecuting officers, the Minister of Justice has the ultimate power to decide wich as between conflicting theories of the complainant and the respondents should be believed. "It should be realized that when a man is haled to court on a criminal charge, it brings in its wake problems not only for the accused but for his family as well. Therefore, it behooves a prosecutor to weigh the evidence carefully and to deliberate thereon to determine the existence of prima facie case before filing the information in Court. Anything less would be a dereliction of duty (Bernardo vs, Mendoza, 90 SCRA 214)." chanrobles virtual law library
The remedy of complainant in a case where the Minister of Justice would not allow the filing of a criminal complaint against an accused because it is his opinion that the evidence is not sufficient to sustain an information for the complaint with which the respondents are charged of, is to file a civil action as indicated in Article 35 of the Civil Code, which provides:
Further, Presidential Decree No. 911 specifically provides:
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, Abad Santos, Melencio- Herrera, Plana, Escolin, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente and Cuevas, JJ., concur.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Makasiar, J., concurs in the result.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Fernando, C.J.,and Teehankee, JJ., tokk no part.
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