[G.R. No. 145216. May 17, 2004]




Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated MAY 17 2004.

G.R. No. 145216 (People of the Philippines vs. Martin Fletcher.)

On March 21, 1995, an Information for estafa was filed against Martin Fletcher (accused) before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City Branch 140, docketed as Crim. Case No. 95-995. On May 11, 1995, a warrant of arrest was issued against him. After arraignment, he applied for and was granted bail. Pre-trial was set several times but the accused failed to appear. A warrant of arrest against him was issued on May 9, 1996 but was returned unserved with the notation "moved out of his suite ". Consequently, a hold departure order against him was filed and eventually approved by the trial court. Trial proceeded. On September 16, 1996, the trial court promulgated a decision finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment of twelve (12) years of prision mayor as minimum to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months of reclusion temporal as maximum, and to indemnify the private complainant in the sum of P102,235.56 as actual damages. The accused, however, failed to appear on the date of promulgation set on September 19, 1996, upon which the trial court issued an order requiring the recording of the decision dated June 24, 1996. A warrant of arrest against the accused was, likewise, issued.

On March 12, 1999, the trial court was informed that the accused was detained at the Pasay City Jail, to serve the sentence imposed on him by Hon. Judge Manuel P. Dumatol, of the RTC of Pasay City, Branch 112. Upon receipt of the September 19, 1996 order of the RTC of Makati, Branch 140, Judge Dumatol requested for a copy of the decision in Criminal Case No. 95-995 and for the issuance of a mittimus for his transfer to the Bureau of Corrections in Muntinlupa City. Upon the issuance of the mittimus on March 29, 1999, the accused was committed to the Bureau of Corrections in Muntinlupa City. The accused did not file an appeal.

On August 8, 2003, the accused filed a Petition For Habeas Corpus with the Office of the Solicitor General which was subsequently indorsed to the Court of Appeals and docketed as C.A.-G.R. SP No. 81492. On January 29, 2004, the Court of Appeals issued a resolution [1] cralaw dismissing the petition for habeas corpus for failure of the accused to comply with Section 3, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, as cited in Cruz vs. Court of Appeals. [2] cralaw

Dissatisfied, the accused filed on April 19, 2004, an Urgent Motion For Immediate Release of the Accused, before the Supreme Court, docketed as G.R. No. 145216. In a Resolution dated October 30, 2000, we dismissed the motion for being a wrong remedy under the Rules and for lack of verification as required by Section 3, Rule 102 of the Revised Rules of Court. [3] cralaw The subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied with finality in the Resolution of December 11, 2000. [4] cralaw Entry of judgment was, thus, made on January 31, 2001. [5] cralaw

Thereafter, the accused filed the following: a) motion for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus which the Court merely noted in a Resolution [6] cralaw dated January 28, 2002, considering that entry of judgment has already been made; b) motion for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus with prayer for sentence of reduction which the Court expunged from the records in the Resolution [7] cralaw of April 3, 2002; and, c) separate letters of the accused and his wife requesting investigation on the officials of the Bureau of Pardons and Parole which the Court noted without action in the Resolution [8] cralaw of November 13, 2002.

On May 3, 2004, the accused filed an Urgent Motion to Withdraw his April 19, 2004 Petition from the Second Division and Elevate the said motion to the Court En Banc.

The Court resolves to deny outright the motion.

The high prerogative writ of habeas corpus was devised and exists as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint. It is issued when one is deprived of liberty or is wrongfully prevented from exercising legal custody over another person. It extends to all cases of illegal confinement or detention, or by which the rightful custody of a person is withheld from the one entitled thereto. [9] cralaw The object of the writ is to inquire into the legality of one's detention and, if found illegal, to order the release of the detainee. [10] cralaw

However, it is equally well-settled that the writ will not issue where the person on whose behalf the writ is sought is out on bail, or is in the custody of an officer under process issued by a court or judge or by virtue of a judgment or order of a court of record, and that the court or judge had jurisdiction to issue the process, render the judgment, or make the order. [11] cralaw In the case at bar, the accused was already convicted by final judgment of the crime of estafa by the RTC of Makati City, Branch 140, on September 19, 1996. His conviction became final and executory upon his failure to appeal the same. Hence, the release of the accused from jail via a petition for habeas corpus can no longer be effected. There is, thus, no need for the Court to act on the said petition.

ACCORDINGLY, the motion of the accused to withdraw his April 19, 2004 petition from the Second Division and to elevate the same to the Court En Banc is DENIED outright.

Very truly yours,

Clerk of Court


[1] cralaw Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. with Associate Justices Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis and Hakim S. Abdulwahid, concurring.

[2] cralaw 322 SCRA 518 (2000).

[3] cralaw Rollo, p. 35.

[4] cralaw Id. at 65.

[5] cralaw Id. at 120.

[6] cralaw Id. at 130.

[7] cralaw Id. at 135.

[8] cralaw Id. at 146.

[9] cralaw Illusorio vs. Bildner, 332 SCRA 169 (2000).

[10] cralaw In Re: Azucena L. Garcia, 339 SCRA 292 (2000).

[11] cralaw Ibid.

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