May 2004 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
Salazar v. Callejo Sr : 151068 : May 21, 2004 : J. Callejo Sr : Second Division : Resolution
[G.R. NO. 151068 : May 21, 2004]
BENITO C. SALAZAR, Petitioner, v. HON. TOMAS R. ROMAQUIN, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Br. 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Kalibo, Aklan, THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by AKLAN PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR HON. LOURDES QUIMPO-MAYOR, HEIRS OF RAYMUNDO RODRIGUEZ, and JODEL B. RENTILLO, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a Petition for Review of the Resolution1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 67252 denying due course and dismissing the Petition for Certiorari of petitioner Benito Cortez Salazar, on the ground that he served a copy of his petition on the respondent People of the Philippines, through the Provincial Prosecutor, and not through the Office of the Solicitor General; and, the resolution of the appellate court denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration of the said resolution.
On May 12, 2001, the Provincial Prosecutor of Aklan filed an Information in the Regional Trial Court of Kalibo, Aklan, charging the petitioner with murder.The accusatory portion reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
That on or about 8:30 oclock in the morning of April 26, 2001, in Barangay Dumaguit, Municipality of New Washington, Province of Aklan, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a gun, with treachery and use of superior strength, with intent to kill and without any justifiable cause, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot one RAYMUNDO RODRIGUEZ, hitting the latter on the different parts of his body which caused his instantaneous death. Xeroxed copy of the Post-Mortem Examination is hereto attached as Annex A and made an integral part of this information.
By reason of the unlawful acts of the accused, the family of the victim suffered P100,000.00 actual damages.
CONTRARY TO LAW.2 cralawred
The Provincial Prosecutor recommended no bail in this case, docketed as Criminal Case No. 6002.
Barely three hours after filing the Information, the Provincial Prosecutor filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Issuance of Warrant of Arrest in the said case alleging, inter alia, that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
There is an urgent need for the issuance of Warrant of Arrest against the accused as the lives of some people are in danger considering that the motive is political and with the election day on May 14, 2001, there is an urgent need to protect the public from anymore bloodshed and as wrongly or intentionally design by the accused, if the motive is infidelity, to protect the life of her wife, Noli Marie Salazar, who is residing on the same address in Dumaguit, New Washington, Aklan.3 cralawred
On May 12, 2001, Executive Judge Sheila Martelino-Cortes issued an Order granting the motion.4 On the same day, the trial court issued a warrant for the petitioners arrest.5 However, the petitioner was nowhere to be found, and as such, the police officers failed to serve the warrant on him.The case was later raffled to Branch 2 of the court, presided by Judge Tomas R. Romaquin.
On May 15, 2001, the petitioner received a copy of the Joint Resolution of the Investigating Prosecutor finding probable cause for murder against him which formed the basis for the filing of the Information.
On May 16, 2001, the petitioner filed in the RTC an Urgent Motion to Suspend Proceedings and to Lift Warrant of Arrest.The petitioner alleged, inter alia, that he had filed a Petition for Review of the Joint Resolution of the Investigating Prosecutor finding probable cause for murder against him in the Office of the Secretary of Justice.The petitioner cited Rule 112, Section 4 of the Rules of Court and the ruling of this Court in Roberts, Jr. v. Court of Appeals ,6 to support his plea for the suspension of the proceedings.To justify his motion for the lifting of the warrant of arrest issued against him, the petitioner alleged, thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
... He further submits that this motion is in consonance with his constitutional presumption of innocence and will not prejudice anyone.Accused is a person of good moral standing, a member of the bar and an officer of the court, a noted businessman, and had served the Philippine government until April 2001, as President of the Food Terminal, Inc.He is innocent of the charges in this case and has no intention whatsoever to avoid the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court and the proceedings in this case.7 cralawred
The provincial prosecutor opposed the motion, contending that the filing of a Petition for Review of the investigating prosecutors resolution in the Office of the Secretary of Justice was not a justification for the suspension of the enforcement of the warrant of arrest issued by the court.The petitioner, the Provincial Prosecutor averred, cannot rely on the ruling in Roberts, Jr. v. Court of Appeals8 because the facts therein are different from those in the case before the court.Moreover, the Provincial Prosecutor averred, the petitioner had not yet been arrested; hence, the court had not yet acquired jurisdiction over his person.The prosecution asserted that the petitioners filing of a motion for the lifting of the warrant of arrest against him did not constitute a voluntary appearance before the court.
The petitioner filed on May 29, 2001 a supplement to his motion, alleging that since Executive Judge Martelino-Cortes was the aunt of the wife of the deceased, it was illegal for her to have acted on the provincial prosecutors motion for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against him, and to thereafter grant the motion and issue the said warrant.Hence, according to the petitioner, the Executive Judge was disqualified to act on the motion, viz:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
4.Finally, the Honorable Executive Judge is related within the fifth degree of consanguinity to Vivien Y. Bontogon-Rodriguez, wife of the deceased, Raymundo Rodriguez.Vivien is the daughter of her first cousin Angela Yap-Bontogon, and therefore, a niece of the Honorable Executive Judge.In view of this relationship, the Honorable Executive Judge is disqualified to sit in any case or in any proceedings involving the death of Raymundo Rodriguez.She should have refused to act on Prosecutor Mayors motion for issuance of the warrants of arrest.9 cralawred
The provincial prosecutor disagreed with the petitioner and averred in his reply to the supplement to the petition that the petitioner failed to prove the relationship of the Executive Judge to the wife of the deceased.He asserted that the matter of the inhibition of the judge should have been addressed to her, and that even with her disqualification, the warrant of arrest and the order she issued were valid.
On August 10, 2001, Judge Tomas R. Romaquin, who presided over Branch 2 of the court, issued an Order granting the petitioners motion to suspend the proceedings.However, the petitioners motion to lift warrant of arrest was denied.The petitioner filed a motion for partial reconsideration of the order, but the court denied the same.The trial court declared that the issues raised by the petitioner had become moot and academic since the Secretary of Justice had denied his Petition for Review and affirmed the joint resolution of the investigating prosecutor finding probable cause against him.
The petitioner forthwith filed a Petition for Certiorari in the Court of Appeals on November 5, 2001, assailing the orders of the RTC.However, the petitioner failed to submit proof of service of copies of his petition on the respondent RTC, the People of the Philippines and Jodel Rentillo.
On November 12, 2001, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution denying due course and dismissing the petition, on the ground that the petitioner failed to show proof of service of the petition on the respondents, as mandated by Rule 46, Section 3 in relation to Rules 65 and 13 of the 1997 Rules of Court, as amended.
On November 20, 2001, the Court of Appeals received a Manifestation and Submission which the petitioner filed through registered mail on November 5, 2001 alleging that, on the latter date, copies of the petition were served on the respondents through registered mail, as evidenced by the affidavit of service executed by Danilo B. Elardo, the messenger in the law office of the petitioners counsel.The petitioner also filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution of the Court of Appeals, on the ground that he had substantially complied with the requirements of the Rules of Court, as amended.
On December 13, 2001, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution denying the said motion, on the ground that the petitioner failed to serve a copy of his petition on the Solicitor General, the counsel of the respondent People of the Philippines.
In his petition at bar, the petitioner contends that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS DEPARTED FROM THE USUAL COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS, AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A MANNER NOT IN ACCORD WITH SECTION 1 OF RULE 6, AND SECTION 4 OF RULE 46, OF THE RULES OF COURT, AS WELL AS SECTION 35(1), CHAPTER 12, TITLE III OF BOOK IV OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF 1987, AND APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT, WHEN IT IGNORED THE IMPORTANT AND SUBSTANTIVE LEGAL ISSUES RAISED BY PETITIONER, AND REFUSED TO SET ASIDEITS DISMISSAL OF THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI PETITIONER FILED EVEN AFTER IT FOUND THAT A COPY OF THAT SERVICE OF THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI HAD BEEN MADE UPON THE PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR WHO HAD REPRESENTED THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES IN THE PROCEEDINGS WHICH GAVE RISE TO THE PETITION.10 cralawred
The petitioner avers that the exclusive authority of the Solicitor General to represent the People of the Philippines in the Court of Appeals and in the Supreme Court under Section 35(1), Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of the 1987 Revised Administrative Code, comes into being only when the appellate court has already acquired jurisdiction over the case which, in turn, takes place only upon the service on the State of the order or resolution of the appellate court indicating its initial action on the petition, or by the respondents voluntary submission to such jurisdiction as provided for in Rule 46, Section 4 of the Rules of Court, as amended, which reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SEC. 4. Jurisdiction over the person of respondent, how acquired. The court shall acquire jurisdiction over the person of the respondent by the service on him of its order or resolution indicating its initial action on the petition or by his voluntarysubmission to such jurisdiction.
Before then, the petitioner submits, service of a copy of his petition on the respondent People of the Philippines may be effected through the Provincial Prosecutor who appeared as its counsel in the trial court, conformably to Rule 13, Section 2 of the Rules of Court, as amended.
The Courts Ruling
The contention of the petitioner is devoid of merit.
The authority of the Provincial Prosecutor to appear for and represent the respondent People of the Philippines is confined only to the proceedings before the trial court.This is based on Section 5, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which provides, viz:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SEC. 5. Who must prosecute criminal actions. All criminal actions commenced by a complaint or information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the prosecutor. However, in Municipal Trial Courts or Municipal Circuit Trial Courts when the prosecutor assigned thereto or to the case is not available, the offended party, any peace officer, or public officer charged with the enforcement of the law violated may prosecute the case. This authority shall cease upon actual intervention of the prosecutor or upon elevation of the case to the Regional Trial Court.
The pleadings of the accused and copies of the orders or resolutions of the trial court are served on the People of the Philippines through the Provincial Prosecutor.However, in appeals before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court either (a) by writ of error; (b) via Petition for Review; (c) on automatic appeal; or, (d) in special civil actions where the People of the Philippines is a party, the general rule is that the Office of the Solicitor General is the sole representative of the People of the Philippines.This is provided for in Section 35 (1) Chapter 12, Title III of Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code, viz:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
(1) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; represent the Government and its officers in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and all other courts or tribunals in all civil actions and special proceedings in which the Government or any officer thereof in his official capacity is a party.
A copy of the petition in such action must be served on the People of the Philippines as mandated by Section 3, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court, through the Office of the Solicitor General.11 The service of a copy of the petition on the People of the Philippines, through the Provincial Prosecutor would be inefficacious.The petitioners failure to have a copy of his petition served on the respondent, through the Office of the Solicitor General, shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition as provided in the last paragraph of Section 3, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court.Unless and until copies of the petition are duly served on the respondent, the appellate court has no other recourse but to dismiss the petition.
The purpose of the service of a copy of the petition on the respondent in an original action in the appellate court prior to the acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of the respondent is to apprise the latter of the filing of the petition and the averments contained therein and, thus, enable the respondent to file any appropriate pleading thereon even before the appellate court can act on the said petition, or to file his comment thereon if so ordered by the appellate court.But if a copy of the petition is served on the Provincial Prosecutor who is not authorized to represent the People of the Philippines in the appellate court, any pleading filed by the said Prosecutor for and in behalf of the People of the Philippines is unauthorized, and may be expunged from the records.
On the petitioners plea that we brush aside his procedural lapse and order the appellate court to take cognizance of and act on his Petition for Certiorari, we are not persuaded.As gleaned from his petitions in the Court of Appeals and in this Court, the petitioner contends that the assailed order of Executive Judge Martelino-Cortes dated May 12, 2001 and the warrant of arrest issued by her are null and void, considering that she was the aunt of Vivien Bontogon-Rodriguez, the wife of the deceased Raymundo Rodriguez, as Angela (Urgino) Yap-Bontogon, Vivien Rodriguez mother, is her first cousin.Thus, the Executive Judge was disqualified to take cognizance of Criminal Case No. 6002 and to grant the motion of the provincial prosecutor.However, we have reviewed the pleadings of the parties in the Court of Appeals and in this Court, and find that the petitioner failed to adduce preponderant evidence in the trial court to prove the said relationship of the Executive Judge to the deceased and the latters wife, let alone append in his petition in the Court of Appeals and in this Court, documents to prove such relationship.The barefaced fact that the provincial prosecutor or the private prosecutor did not specifically and categorically deny the petitioners allegations in his supplement to his motion for reconsideration, that the Executive Judge and the deceased and his wife are related, did not relieve the petitioner of his burden to prove the same with the requisite quantum of evidence.Such allegation should have been proven during the hearing of the petitioners motion to suspend proceedings and to lift the warrant of arrest, and of his supplement to the said motion for reconsideration.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED due course for lack of merit.
Quisumbing, (Acting Chairman), Austria-Martinez, and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Puno, (Chairman), J., on official leave.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Marina L. Buzon, with Associates Justices Buenaventura J. Guerrero and Alicia L. Santos concurring.
2 Rollo, p. 54.
3 Id. at 56.
4 Id. at 57.
5 Id. at 58.
6 254 SCRA 307 (1996).
7 CA Rollo, p. 60.
8 Supra, at note 6.
9 Id. at 67.
10 Id. at 34.