Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act (RA 9262) as Explained in Cases

Ang vs. CA (GR 182835)

The principal issue in this case is whether or not accused Rustan sent Irish by cellphone message the picture with her face pasted on the body of a nude woman, inflicting anguish, psychological distress, and humiliation on her in violation of Section 5(h) of R.A. 9262.

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The Court cannot measure the trauma that Irish experienced based on Rustans low regard for the alleged moral sensibilities of todays youth. What is obscene and injurious to an offended woman can of course only be determined based on the circumstances of each case. Here, the naked woman on the picture, her legs spread open and bearing Irishs head and face, was clearly an obscene picture and, to Irish a revolting and offensive one. Surely, any woman like Irish, who is not in the pornography trade, would be scandalized and pained if she sees herself in such a picture. What makes it further terrifying is that, as Irish testified, Rustan sent the picture with a threat to post it in the internet for all to see. That must have given her a nightmare.

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R.A. 9262 provides in Section 3 that violence against women x x x refers to any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman x x x with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship. Clearly, the law itself distinguishes a sexual relationship from a dating relationship. Indeed, Section 3(e) above defines dating relationship while Section 3(f) defines sexual relations. The latter refers to a single sexual act which may or may not result in the bearing of a common child. The dating relationship that the law contemplates can, therefore, exist even without a sexual intercourse taking place between those involved.

Dolina vs. Vallecera (GR 182367)

This case is about a mothers claim for temporary support of an unacknowledged child, which she sought in an action for the issuance of a temporary protection order that she brought against the supposed father.

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Dolina evidently filed the wrong action to obtain support for her child. The object of R.A. 9262 under which she filed the case is the protection and safety of women and children who are victims of abuse or violence.  Although the issuance of a protection order against the respondent in the case can include the grant of legal support for the wife and the child, this assumes that both are entitled to a protection order and to legal support.

Dolina of course alleged that Vallecera had been abusing her and her child. But it became apparent to the RTC upon hearing that this was not the case since, contrary to her claim, neither she nor her child ever lived with Vallecera. As it turned out, the true object of her action was to get financial support from Vallecera for her child, her claim being that he is the father. He of course vigorously denied this.

Go-Tan vs. Sps. Tan (GR 168852)

Section 3 of R.A. No. 9262 defines ”violence against women and their children” as any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

While the said provision provides that the offender be related or connected to the victim by marriage, former marriage, or a sexual or dating relationship, it does not preclude the application of the principle of conspiracy under the RPC.

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With more reason, therefore, the principle of conspiracy under Article 8 of the RPC may be applied suppletorily to R.A. No. 9262 because of the express provision of Section 47 that the RPC shall be supplementary to said law.Thus, general provisions of the RPC, which by their nature, are necessarily applicable, may be applied suppletorily.

Thus, the principle of conspiracy may be applied to R.A. No. 9262. For once conspiracy or action in concert to achieve a criminal design is shown, the act of one is the act of all the conspirators, and the precise extent or modality of participation of each of them becomes secondary, since all the conspirators are principals.

 

How the Crime of Plunder is Defined and Penalized (Republic Act 7080)

Estrada vs. SandiganBayan (GR 148560)

As concisely delineated by this Court during the oral arguments on 18 September 2001, the issues for resolution in the instant petition for certiorari are: (a) The Plunder Law is unconstitutional for being vague; (b) The Plunder Law requires less evidence for proving the predicate crimes of plunder and therefore violates the rights of the accused to due process; and, (c) Whether Plunder as defined in RA 7080 is a malum prohibitum, and if so, whether it is within the power of Congress to so classify it.

On whether the Plunder law is unconstitutional for being vague:

The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines then have special application only to free speech cases. They are inapt for testing the validity of penal statutes.

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In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools developed for testing “on their faces” statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in American law, First Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is involved is a criminal statute.

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The thesis that Sec. 4 does away with proof of each and every component of the crime suffers from a dismal misconception of the import of that provision. What the prosecution needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt is only a number of acts sufficient to form a combination or series which would constitute a pattern and involving an amount of at least P50,000,000.00. There is no need to prove each and every other act alleged in the Information to have been committed by the accused in furtherance of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. To illustrate, supposing that the accused is charged in an Information for plunder with having committed fifty (50) raids on the public treasury. The prosecution need not prove allthese fifty (50) raids, it being sufficient to prove by pattern at least two (2) of the raids beyond reasonable doubt provided only that they amounted to at least P50,000,000.00.

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The legislative declaration in R.A. No. 7659 that plunder is a heinous offense implies that it is a malum in se. For when the acts punished are inherently immoral or inherently wrong, they are mala in se and it does not matter that such acts are punished in a special law, especially since in the case of plunder the predicate crimes are mainly mala in se. Indeed, it would be absurd to treat prosecutions for plunder as though they are mere prosecutions for violations of the Bouncing Check Law (B.P. Blg. 22) or of an ordinance against jaywalking, without regard to the inherent wrongness of the acts.

Organo vs. Sandiganbayan (133535)

In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to Salary Grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officers mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended.

This latest enactment collated the provisions on the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. It is a special law enacted to declog the Sandiganbayan of “small fry” cases. In an unusual manner, the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan as a trial court was made to depend not on the penalty imposed by law on the crimes and offenses within its jurisdiction but on the rank and salary grade of accused government officials and employees.

However, the crime of “plunder” defined in Republic Act No. 7080, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, was provisionally placed within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan “until otherwise provided by law.”  Republic Act No. 8429, enacted on February 5, 1997 is the special law that provided for the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan “otherwise” than that prescribed in Republic Act No. 7080.

Consequently, we rule that the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the crime of plunder unless committed by public officials and employees occupying the positions with Salary Grade “27” or higher, under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758) in relation to their office.

In ruling in favor of its jurisdiction, even though none of the accused occupied positions with Salary Grade 27 or higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), the Sandiganbayan incurred in serious error of jurisdiction, entitling petitioner to the relief prayed for.

Garcia vs. Sandiganbayan (GR 170122)

Nowhere in RA 7080 can we find any provision that would indicate a repeal, expressly or impliedly, of RA 1379( Unexplained wealth Act). RA 7080 is a penal statute which, at its most basic, aims to penalize the act of any public officer who by himself or in connivance with members of his family amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount of at least PhP 50 million. On the other hand, RA 1379 is not penal in nature, in that it does not make a crime the act of a public official acquiring during his incumbency an amount of property manifestly out of proportion of his salary and other legitimate income. RA 1379 aims to enforce the right of the State to recover the properties which were not lawfully acquired by the officer.

It has often been said that all doubts must be resolved against any implied repeal and all efforts should be exerted to harmonize and give effect to all laws and provisions on the same subject. To be sure, both RA 1379 and RA 7080 can very well be harmonized. The Court perceives no irreconcilable conflict between them. One can be enforced without nullifying the other.

 

 

The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165) Explained based on Supreme Court Decisions

The Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002 also known as RA 9165 repealed RA no. 6425. It was signed onto law by then President macapagal-Arroyo on June 7, 2002 and took effect on July 4, 2002.

Below are some of the Supreme Court Decisions applying and/or interpreting the provisions of RA 9165.

Asiatico vs. People (GR 195005)

For illegal possession of regulated or prohibited drugs, the prosecution must establish the following elements:

(1) the accused is in possession of an item or object, which is identified to be a prohibited or regulated drug;

(2) such possession is not authorized by law; and

(3) the accused freely and consciously possessed the drug.

All these elements were duly established by the prosecution. Rosana was found to have in her possession 0.05 gram of shabu. There was nothing in the records showing that she had authority to possess it. Jurisprudence also teaches Us that mere possession of a prohibited drug constitutes prima facie evidence of knowledge or animus possidendi sufficient to convict an accused in the absence of any satisfactory explanation. Rosana also failed to present contrary evidence to rebut her possession of the shabu.

People of the Phils. vs. Umipang (GR 190321)

Minor deviations from the procedures under R.A. 9165 would not automatically exonerate an accused from the crimes of which he or she was convicted. This is especially true when the lapses in procedure were recognized and explained in terms of [] justifiable grounds. There must also be a showing that the police officers intended to comply with the procedure but were thwarted by some justifiable consideration/reason.

However, when there is gross disregard of the procedural safeguards prescribed in the substantive law (R.A. 9165), serious uncertainty is generated about the identity of the seized items that the prosecution presented in evidence.  This uncertainty cannot be remedied by simply invoking the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties, for a gross, systematic, or deliberate disregard of the procedural safeguards effectively produces an irregularity in the performance of official duties.  As a result, the prosecution is deemed to have failed to fully establish the elements of the crimes charged, creating reasonable doubt on the criminal liability of the accused.

For the arresting officers failure to adduce justifiable grounds, we are led to conclude from the totality of the procedural lapses committed in this case that the arresting officers deliberately disregarded the legal safeguards under R.A. 9165. These lapses effectively produced serious doubts on the integrity and identity of the corpus delicti, especially in the face of allegations of frame-up. Thus, for the foregoing reasons, we must resolve the doubt in favor of accused-appellant, as every fact necessary to constitute the crime must be established by proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Pimentel vs. Comelec (GR 161658)

In essence, Pimentel claims that Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC Resolution No. 6486 illegally impose an additional qualification on candidates for senator. He points out that, subject to the provisions on nuisance candidates, a candidate for senator needs only to meet the qualifications laid down in Sec. 3, Art. VI of the Constitution, to wit: (1) citizenship, (2) voter registration, (3) literacy, (4) age, and (5) residency. Beyond these stated qualification requirements, candidates for senator need not possess any other qualification to run for senator and be voted upon and elected as member of the Senate. The Congress cannot validly amend or otherwise modify these qualification standards, as it cannot disregard, evade, or weaken the force of a constitutional mandate, or alter or enlarge the Constitution.

Pimentels contention is well-taken. Accordingly, Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 should be, as it is hereby declared as, unconstitutional. It is basic that if a law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is null and void and has no effect. The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution. In the discharge of their defined functions, the three departments of government have no choice but to yield obedience to the commands of the Constitution. Whatever limits it imposes must be observed.

SJS vs. DDB, PDEA (GR 157870)

Taking into account the foregoing factors, i.e., the reduced expectation of privacy on the part of the employees, the compelling state concern likely to be met by the search, and the well-defined limits set forth in the law to properly guide authorities in the conduct of the random testing, we hold that the challenged drug test requirement is, under the limited context of the case, reasonable and, ergo, constitutional.

Like their counterparts in the private sector, government officials and employees also labor under reasonable supervision and restrictions imposed by the Civil Service law and other laws on public officers, all enacted to promote a high standard of ethics in the public service. And if RA 9165 passes the norm of reasonableness for private employees, the more reason that it should pass the test for civil servants, who, by constitutional command, are required to be accountable at all times to the people and to serve them with utmost responsibility and efficiency.

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Laserna Petition:

We find the situation entirely different in the case of persons charged before the public prosecutors office with criminal offenses punishable with six (6) years and one (1) day imprisonment. The operative concepts in the mandatory drug testing are randomness and suspicionless. In the case of persons charged with a crime before the prosecutors office, a mandatory drug testing can never be random or suspicionless. The ideas of randomness and being suspicionless are antithetical to their being made defendants in a criminal complaint. They are not randomly picked; neither are they beyond suspicion.

When persons suspected of committing a crime are charged, they are singled out and are impleaded against their will. The persons thus charged, by the bare fact of being haled before the prosecutors office and peaceably submitting themselves to drug testing, if that be the case, do not necessarily consent to the procedure, let alone waive their right to privacy.  To impose mandatory drug testing on the accused is a blatant attempt to harness a medical test as a tool for criminal prosecution, contrary to the stated objectives of RA 9165.  Drug testing in this case would violate a persons right to privacy guaranteed under Sec. 2, Art. III of the Constitution. Worse still, the accused persons are veritably forced to incriminate themselves.

People vs. Fundales, Jr. (GR 184606)

Section 86 of RA No. 9165 deals with inter-agency relations of the PNP and other law enforcement agencies with the PDEA. It is an administrative provision designating the PDEA as the lead agency in dangerous drugs cases. We have already ruled that nothing in RA No. 9165 suggests that it is the intention of the legislature to make an arrest in drugs cases illegal if made without the participation of the PDEA. In the implementing rules and regulations of RA No. 9165, Section 86(a) clearly states:

“(a) Relationship/Coordination between the PDEA and Other Agencies. – The PDEA shall be the lead agency in the enforcement of the Act, while the PNP, the NBI and other law enforcement agencies shall continue to conduct anti-drug operations in support of the PDEA xxx Provided, finally, that nothing in this IRR shall deprive the PNP, the NBI, other law enforcement personnel and the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from effecting lawful arrests and seizures in consonance with the provisions of Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court.” 

Suffice it to state that in this case, the danger of abuse that the provision seeks to prevent is not present. We therefore see no reason why the non-participation of the PDEA would render the arrest illegal and the evidence obtained therein inadmissible considering that the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized prohibited substances and dangerous drugs have been properly preserved.

 

Meaning and Application of Stare Decisis Doctrine

ART. 8 of the Civil code states:

Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines.

This article is the legal anchor of the doctrine of stare decisis in the Philippines.

Ting vs. Velez-Ting (GR 166562)

The principle of stare decisis enjoins adherence by lower courts to doctrinal rules established by this Court in its final decisions. It is based on the principle that once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument. Basically, it is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same issues, necessary for two simple reasons: economy and stability. In our jurisdiction, the principle is entrenched in Article 8 of the Civil Code.

Ty vs.Banco Filipino (GR 188302)

G.R. No. 137533, as reiterated in G.R. Nos. 130088, 131469, 155171, 155201 and 166608, is binding and applicable to the present case following the salutary doctrine of stare decisis et non quieta movere, which means “to adhere to precedents, and not to unsettle things which are established.” Under the doctrine, when this Court has once laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle, and apply it to all future cases, where facts are substantially the same; regardless of whether the parties and property are the same.  The doctrine of stare decisis is based upon the legal principle or rule involved and not upon the judgment, which results therefrom. In this particular sense, stare decisis differs from res judicata, which is based upon the judgment.

Lazatin vs. Desierto (GR 147097)

The doctrine has assumed such value in our judicial system that the Court has ruled that [a]bandonment thereof must be based only on strong and compelling reasons, otherwise, the becoming virtue of predictability which is expected from this Court would be immeasurably affected and the public’s confidence in the stability of the solemn pronouncements diminished. Verily, only upon showing that circumstances attendant in a particular case override the great benefits derived by our judicial system from the doctrine of stare decisis, can the courts be justified in setting aside the same.

The right to Privacy of Communication and Correspondence

Zulueta vs. CA (GR 107383)

The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify any one of them in breaking the drawers and cabinets of the other and in ransacking them for any telltale evidence of marital infidelity. A person, by contracting marriage, does not shed his/her integrity or his right to privacy as an individual and the constitutional protection is ever available to him or to her.

The law insures absolute freedom of communication between the spouses by making it privileged. Neither husband nor wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse while the marriage subsists. Neither may be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage, save for specified exceptions. But one thing is freedom of communication; quite another is a compulsion for each one to share what one knows with the other. And this has nothing to do with the duty of fidelity that each owes to the other.

Ople vs. Torres (GR 127685)

The right to privacy is one of the most threatened rights of man living in a mass society. The threats emanate from various sources– governments, journalists, employers, social scientists, etc. In the case at bar, the threat comes from the executive branch of government which by issuing A.O. No. 308 pressures the people to surrender their privacy by giving information about themselves on the pretext that it will facilitate delivery of basic services.

Given the record-keeping power of the computer, only the indifferent will fail to perceive the danger that A.O. No. 308 gives the government the power to compile a devastating dossier against unsuspecting citizens. It is timely to take note of the well-worded warning of Kalvin, Jr., “the disturbing result could be that everyone will live burdened by an unerasable record of his past and his limitations. In a way, the threat is that because of its record-keeping, the society will have lost its benign capacity to forget.” Oblivious to this counsel, the dissents still say we should not be too quick in labelling the right to privacy as a fundamental right. We close with the statement that the right to privacy was not engraved in our Constitution for flattery.

Alejano vs. Cabuay (GR 160792)

That a law is required before an executive officer could intrude on a citizens privacy rights is a guarantee that is available only to the public at large but not to persons who are detained or imprisoned. The right to privacy of those detained is subject to Section 4 of RA 7438, as well as to the limitations inherent in lawful detention or imprisonment. By the very fact of their detention, pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners have a diminished expectation of privacy rights.

The detainees in the present case are junior officers accused of leading 300 soldiers in committing coup detat, a crime punishable with reclusion perpetua. The junior officers are not ordinary detainees but visible leaders of the Oakwood incident involving an armed takeover of a civilian building in the heart of the financial district of the country. As members of the military armed forces, the detainees are subject to the Articles of War.

SAbio vs. Gordon (GR 174340)

This goes to show that the right to privacy is not absolute where there is an overriding compelling state interest. In Morfe v. Mutuc, the Court, in line with Whalen v. Roe, employed the rational basis relationship test when it held that there was no infringement of the individuals right to privacy as the requirement to disclosure information is for a valid purpose, i.e., to curtail and minimize the opportunities for official corruption, maintain a standard of honesty in public service, and promote morality in public administration. In Valmonte v. Belmonte, the Court remarked that as public figures, the Members of the former Batasang Pambansa enjoy a more limited right to privacy as compared to ordinary individuals, and their actions are subject to closer scrutiny. Taking this into consideration, the Court ruled that the right of the people to access information on matters of public concern prevails over the right to privacy of financial transactions.

Under the present circumstances, the alleged anomalies in the PHILCOMSAT, PHC and POTC, ranging in millions of pesos, and the conspiratorial participation of the PCGG and its officials arecompelling reasons for the Senate to exact vital information from the directors and officers of Philcomsat Holdings Corporations, as well as from Chairman Sabio and his Commissioners to aid it in crafting the necessary legislation to prevent corruption and formulate remedial measures and policy determination regarding PCGGs efficacy. There being no reasonable expectation of privacy on the part of those directors and officers over the subject covered by Senate Res. No. 455, it follows that their right to privacy has not been violated by respondent Senate Committees.

Waterous Drug Corporation vs. NLRC (GR 113271)

As regards the constitutional violation upon which the NLRC anchored its decision, we find no reason to revise the doctrine laid down in People vs. Marti that the Bill of Rights does not protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures perpetrated by private individuals. It is not true, as counsel for Catolico claims, that the citizens have no recourse against such assaults. On the contrary, and as said counsel admits, such an invasion gives rise to both criminal and civil liabilities.

Magtolis vs. Salud (AM no. CA-05-20-P)

En Bnac:

The respondents claim that the admission of the text messages as evidence against him constitutes a violation of his right to privacy is unavailing. Text messages have been classified as ephemeral electronic communication under Section 1(k), Rule 2 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence, and shall be proven by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge thereof. Any question as to the admissibility of such messages is now moot and academic, as the respondent himself, as well as his counsel, already admitted that he was the sender of the first three messages on Atty. Madarangs cell phone.

Arrest, Search and Seizure Explained Part 3

People vs. Mariacos (GR 188611)

Over the years, the rules governing search and seizure have been steadily liberalized whenever a moving vehicle is the object of the search on the basis of practicality. This is so considering that before a warrant could be obtained, the place, things and persons to be searched must be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge a requirement which borders on the impossible in instances where moving vehicle is used to transport contraband from one place to another with impunity.

This exception is easy to understand.  A search warrant may readily be obtained when the search is made in a store, dwelling house or other immobile structure.  But it is impracticable to obtain a warrant when the search is conducted on a mobile ship, on an aircraft, or in other motor vehicles since they can quickly be moved out of the locality or jurisdiction where the warrant must be sought.

Given the discussion above, it is readily apparent that the search in this case is valid. The vehicle that carried the contraband or prohibited drugs was about to leave. PO2 Pallayoc had to make a quick decision and act fast. It would be unreasonable to require him to procure a warrant before conducting the search under the circumstances. Time was of the essence in this case. The searching officer had no time to obtain a warrant. Indeed, he only had enough time to board the vehicle before the same left for its destination.

People vs. Tudtud (GR 144037)

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Thus, notwithstanding tips from confidential informants and regardless of the fact that the search yielded contraband, the mere act of looking from side to side while holding ones abdomen, or of standing on a corner with ones eyes moving very fast, looking at every person who came near, does not justify a warrantless arrest under said Section 5 (a). Neither does putting something in ones pocket, handing over ones baggage, riding a motorcycle, nor does holding a bag on board a trisikad sanction State intrusion. The same rule applies to crossing the street per se.

People vs. Huang Zhen Hua (GR 139301)

Unannounced intrusion into the premises is permissible when;

(a) a party whose premises or is entitled to the possession thereof refuses, upon demand, to open it;

(b) when such person in the premises already knew of the identity of the officers and of their authority and persons;

(c) when the officers are justified in the honest belief that there is an imminent peril to life or limb; and

(d) when those in the premises, aware of the presence of someone outside (because, for example, there has been a knock at the door), are then engaged in activity which justifies the officers to believe that an escape or the destruction of evidence is being attempted. Suspects have no constitutional right to destroy evidence or dispose of evidence. However, the exceptions above are not exclusive or conclusive. At times, without the benefit of hindsight and ordinarily on the spur of the moment, the officer must decide whether or not to make an unannounced intrusion into the premises.

Although a search and seizure of a dwelling might be constitutionally defective, if the police officers entry was without prior announcement, law enforcement interest may also establish the reasonableness of an unannounced entry.

People vs. Aruta (GR 120915)

Justice Romero:

With the pervasive proliferation of illegal drugs and its pernicious effects on our society, our law enforcers tend at times to overreach themselves in apprehending drug offenders to the extent of failing to observe well-entrenched constitutional guarantees against illegal searches and arrests. Consequently, drug offenders manage to evade the clutches of the law on mere technicalities.

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Search warrants to be valid must particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The purpose of this rule is to limit the things to be seized to those and only those, particularly described in the warrant so as to leave the officers of the law with no discretion regarding what articles they shall seize to the end that unreasonable searches and seizures may not be made.

People vs. Encinada (GR 116720)

In acquitting the appellant, the Court reiterates the constitutional proscription that evidence (in this case, prohibited drugs) seized without a valid search warrant is inadmissible in any proceeding. A yield of incriminating evidence will not legitimize an illegal search. Indeed, the end never justifies the means.

People vs. Nuevas (GR 170233)

An object is in plain view if it is plainly exposed to sight. Where the object seized was inside a closed package, the object itself is not in plain view and therefore cannot be seized without a warrant. However, if the package proclaims its contents, whether by its distinctive configuration, its transparency, or if its contents are obvious to an observer, then the contents are in plain view and may be seized.

In other words, if the package is such that an experienced observer could infer from its appearance that it contains the prohibited article, then the article is deemed in plain view. It must be immediately apparent to the police that the items that they observe may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.

Paper Industries Corporation of the Phils. vs. Judge M. Asuncion (GR 122092)

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Chief Inspector Pascua was asked nothing else, and he said nothing more. In fact, he failed even to affirm his application. Contrary to his statement, the trial judge failed to propound questions, let alone probing questions, to the applicant and to his witnesses other than Bacolod (whose testimony, as will later be shown, is also improper). Obviously, His Honor relied mainly on their affidavits. This Court has frowned on this practice in this language:

Mere affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses are thus not sufficient. The examining Judge has to take depositions in writing of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce and attach them to the record. Such written deposition is necessary in order that the Judge may be able to properly determine the existence or non-existence of the probable cause, to hold liable for perjury the person giving it if it will be found later that his declarations are false.

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In the present case, the assailed search warrant failed to describe the place with particularity. It simply authorizes a search of the aforementioned premises, but it did not specify such premises. The warrant identifies only one place, and that is the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines, located at PICOP Compound, Barangay Tabon, Bislig[,] Surigao del Sur. The PICOP compound, however, is made up of 200 offices/buildings, 15 plants, 84 staff houses, 1 airstrip, 3 piers/wharves, 23 warehouses, 6 POL depots/quick service outlets and some 800 miscellaneous structures, all of which are spread out over some one hundred fifty-five hectares. Obviously, the warrant gives the police officers unbridled and thus illegal authority to search all the structures found inside the PICOP compound.

In their Opposition, the police state that they complied with the constitutional requirement, because they submitted sketches of the premises to be searched when they applied for the warrant. They add that not one of the PICOP Compound housing units was searched, because they were not among those identified during the hearing.

These arguments are not convincing. The sketches allegedly submitted by the police were not made integral parts of the search warrant issued by Judge Asuncion. Moreover, the fact that the raiding police team knew which of the buildings or structures in the PICOP Compound housed firearms and ammunitions did not justify the lack of particulars of the place to be searched. Otherwise, confusion would arise regarding the subject of the warrant the place indicated in the warrant or the place identified by the police. Such conflict invites uncalled for mischief or abuse of discretion on the part of law enforcers.

 

Arrest, Search, and Seizure Explained Part 2

Ong vs. People of the Philippines (PP) (GR 197788)

Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in order that he or she may be bound to answer for the commission of an offense. It is effected by an actual restraint of the person to be arrested or by that persons voluntary submission to the custody of the one making the arrest. Neither the application of actual force, manual touching of the body, or physical restraint, nor a formal declaration of arrest, is required. It is enough that there be an intention on the part of one of the parties to arrest the other, and that there be an intent on the part of the other to submit, under the belief and impression that submission is necessary.

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The following are the instances when a warrantless search is allowed: (i) a warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest; (ii) search of evidence in plain view; (iii) search of a moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless search; (v) customs search; (vi) a stop and frisk search; and (vii) exigent and emergency circumstances. None of the above-mentioned instances, especially a search incident to a lawful arrest, are applicable to this case.

It must be noted that the evidence seized, although alleged to be inadvertently discovered, was not in plain view. It was actually concealed inside a metal container inside petitioners pocket. Clearly, the evidence was not immediately apparent.

Neither was there a consented warrantless search. Consent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but shown by clear and convincing evidence. It must be voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal search; that is, the consent must be unequivocal, specific, intelligently given and uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. While the prosecution claims that petitioner acceded to the instruction of PO3 Alteza, this alleged accession does not suffice to prove valid and intelligent consent. In fact, the RTC found that petitioner was merely told to take out the contents of his pocket.

Castillo vs. People of the Phils. (GR 185128)

The requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: (1) probable cause is present; (2) such probable cause must be determined personally by the judge; (3) the judge must examine, in writing and under oath or affirmation, the complainant and the witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the applicant and the witnesses testify on the facts personally known to them; and (5) the warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be seized.

According to petitioner, there was no probable cause. Probable cause for a search warrant is defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused.

Probable cause demands more than bare suspicion; it requires less than evidence which would justify conviction. The judge, in determining probable cause, is to consider the totality of the circumstances made known to him and not by a fixed and rigid formula, and must employ a flexible, totality of the circumstances standard. The existence depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge conducting the examination.

This Court, therefore, is in no position to disturb the factual findings of the judge which led to the issuance of the search warrant. A magistrate’s determination of probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant is paid great deference by a reviewing court, as long as there was substantial basis for that determination. Substantial basis means that the questions of the examining judge brought out such facts and circumstances as would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed, and the objects in connection with the offense sought to be seized are in the place sought to be searched. A review of the records shows that in the present case, a substantial basis exists.

Silahis International vs. Soluta (GR 163087)

While it is doctrinal that the right against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right which may be waived expressly or impliedly, a waiver by implication cannot be presumed. There must be clear and convincing evidence of an actual intention to relinquish it to constitute a waiver thereof. There must be proof of the following:

(a) that the right exists;

(b) that the person involved had knowledge, either actual or constructive, of the existence of such right; and,

(c) that the said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right.

In other words, the waiver must be voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently made. The evidence shows otherwise, however.

People vs. Estella (GR 138539)

Never was it proven that appellant, who was the person to be arrested, was in possession of the subject prohibited drug during the search. It follows, therefore, that there was no way of knowing if he had committed or was actually committing an offense in the presence of the arresting officers. Without that knowledge, there could have been no search incident to a lawful arrest.

Assuming arguendo that appellant was indeed committing an offense in the presence of the arresting officers, and that the arrest without a warrant was lawful, it still cannot be said that the search conducted was within the confines of the law. Searches and seizures incident to lawful arrests are governed by Section 12, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which reads:

Section 12. Search incident to lawful arrest. A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.

However, the scope of the search should be limited to the area within which the person to be arrested can reach for a weapon or for evidence that he or she can destroy. The prevailing rule is that the arresting officer may take from the arrested individual any money or property found upon the latters person — that which was used in the commission of the crime or was the fruit of the crime, or which may provide the prisoner with the means of committing violence or escaping, or which may be used in evidence in the trial of the case.

People vs. Raquero (GR 186529)

What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable warrantless search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the articles procured.

xxxx

The long standing rule in this jurisdiction is that reliable information alone is not sufficient to justify a warrantless arrest. The rule requires, in addition, that the accused perform some overt act that would indicate that he has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense. We find no cogent reason to depart from this well-established doctrine.

xxxx

As in the above cases, appellant herein was not committing a crime in the presence of the police officers. Neither did the arresting officers have personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested had committed, was committing, or about to commit an offense.

At the time of the arrest, appellant had just alighted from the Gemini bus and was waiting for a tricycle. Appellant was not acting in any suspicious manner that would engender a reasonable ground for the police officers to suspect and conclude that he was committing or intending to commit a crime.

Were it not for the information given by the informant, appellant would not have been apprehended and no search would have been made, and consequently, the sachet of shabu would not have been confiscated.

 

Arrest, Search, and Seizure Explained Part 1

Article 3, section 2, of the 1987 constitution states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

There has been several questions poised and contradicting the methods applied by the police in apprehending drugs and criminal suspects upon the assumption into office by President Duterte. To understand better how section 2 of article 3 works, it is best to refer to our Supreme Court decisions.

Valdez vs. People (GR 170180)

Justice Tinga:

Drug addiction has been invariably denounced as an especially vicious crime,and one of the most pernicious evils that has ever crept into our society, for those who become addicted to it not only slide into the ranks of the living dead, what is worse, they become a grave menace to the safety of law-abiding members of society, whereas peddlers of drugs are actually agents of destruction. Indeed, the havoc created by the ruinous effects of prohibited drugs on the moral fiber of society cannot be underscored enough. However, in the rightfully vigorous campaign of the government to eradicate the hazards of drug use and drug trafficking, it cannot be permitted to run roughshod over an accused right to be presumed innocent until proven to the contrary and neither can it shirk from its corollary obligation to establish such guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

xxx

A final word. We find it fitting to take this occasion to remind the courts to exercise the highest degree of diligence and prudence in deliberating upon the guilt of accused persons brought before them, especially in light of the fundamental rights at stake. Here, we note that the courts a quo neglected to give more serious consideration to certain material issues in the determination of the merits of the case. We are not oblivious to the fact that in some instances, law enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence to extract information or even harass civilians. Accordingly, courts are duty-bound to be [e]xtra vigilant in trying drug cases lest an innocent person be made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses. In the same vein, let this serve as an admonition to police officers and public officials alike to perform their mandated duties with commitment to the highest degree of diligence, righteousness and respect for the law.

Pollo vs. David (GR 181881)

A search by a government employer of an employees office is justified at inception when there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that it will turn up evidence that the employee is guilty of work-related misconduct. Thus, in the 2004 case decided by the US Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit, it was held that where a government agency’s computer use policy prohibited electronic messages with pornographic content and in addition expressly provided that employees do not have any personal privacy rights regarding their use of the agency information systems and technology, the government employee had no legitimate expectation of privacy as to the use and contents of his office computer, and therefore evidence found during warrantless search of the computer was admissible in prosecution for child pornography.

Valeroso vs. Court of appeals (CA) (GR 164815)

Justice Nachura:

We would like to stress that the scope of the warrantless search is not without limitations. In People v. Leangsiri, People v. Cubcubin, Jr., and People v. Estella, we had the occasion to lay down the parameters of a valid warrantless search and seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest.

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapon that the latter might use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape. Otherwise, the officers safety might well be endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize any evidence on the arrestees person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction.

XXX

The arresting officers would have been justified in searching the person of Valeroso, as well as the tables or drawers in front of him, for any concealed weapon that might be used against the former. But under the circumstances obtaining, there was no comparable justification to search through all the desk drawers and cabinets or the other closed or concealed areas in that room itself.

It is worthy to note that the purpose of the exception (warrantless search as an incident to a lawful arrest) is to protect the arresting officer from being harmed by the person arrested, who might be armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent the latter from destroying evidence within reach. The exception, therefore, should not be strained beyond what is needed to serve its purpose. In the case before us, search was made in the locked cabinet which cannot be said to have been within Valerosos immediate control. Thus, the search exceeded the bounds of what may be considered as an incident to a lawful arrest.

Nor can the warrantless search in this case be justified under the plain view doctrine.

The plain view doctrine may not be used to launch unbridled searches and indiscriminate seizures or to extend a general exploratory search made solely to find evidence of defendants guilt. The doctrine is usually applied where a police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused, but nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating object.

XXX

Because a warrantless search is in derogation of a constitutional right, peace officers who conduct it cannot invoke regularity in the performance of official functions.

The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are stripped naked of their rights as human beings, democracy cannot survive and government becomes meaningless. This explains why the Bill of Rights, contained as it is in Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position of primacy in the fundamental law way above the articles on governmental power.

Nala vs. Judge Barroso (GR 153087)

Can petitioner be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosive allegedly seized from his house? Petitioner contends that said articles are inadmissible as evidence against him because they were not the same items specifically listed in the warrant. The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, on the other hand, claims that petitioner should be held liable because the items seized bear a direct relation to the offense of illegal possession of firearms. These arguments, however, become immaterial in view of the nullity of the search warrant which made possible the seizure of the questioned articles.

The settled rule is that where entry into the premises to be searched was gained by virtue of a void search warrant, prohibited articles seized in the course of the search are inadmissible against the accused. In Roan v. Gonzales, the prosecution sought to charge the accused with illegal possession of firearms on the basis of the items seized in a search through a warrant which the Court declared as void for lack of probable cause. In ruling against the admissibility of the items seized, the Court said

Prohibited articles may be seized but only as long as the search is valid. In this case, it was not because: 1) there was no valid search warrant; and 2) absent such a warrant, the right thereto was not validly waived by the petitioner. In short, the military officers who entered the petitioners premises had no right to be there and therefore had no right either to seize the pistol and bullets.

Conformably, the articles allegedly seized in the house of petitioner cannot be used as evidence against him because access therein was gained by the police officer using a void search and seizure warrant. It is as if they entered petitioners house without a warrant, making their entry therein illegal, and the items seized, inadmissible.

Moreover, it does not follow that because an offense is malum prohibitum, the subject thereof is necessarily illegal per se. Motive is immaterial in mala prohibita, but the subjects of this kind of offense may not be summarily seized simply because they are prohibited. A warrant is still necessary, because possession of any firearm becomes unlawful only if the required permit or license therefor is not first obtained.

So also, admissibility of the items seized cannot be justified under the plain view doctrine. It is true that, as an exception, the police officer may seize without warrant illegally possessed firearm, or any contraband for that matter, inadvertently found in plain view. However, said officer must have a prior right to be in the position to have that view of the objects to be seized. The plain view doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (a) the law enforcement officer in search of the evidence has a prior justification for an intrusion or is in a position from which he can view a particular area; (b) the discovery of the evidence in plain view is inadvertent; (c) it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.

The law enforcement officer must lawfully make an initial intrusion or properly be in a position from which he can particularly view the area. In the course of such lawful intrusion, he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The object must be open to eye and hand and its discovery inadvertent.

Appeal by Certiorari to the Supreme Court (Rule 45)

Cadena vs CSC (GR 191412)

Perusal of the case records, however, reveals that despite due notice of said resolution by the counsel for the petitioner on March 24, 2010, no compliance therewith has been filed with this Court. We reiterate that Rule 45, Section 5 provides that the failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the contents of and the documents which should accompany a petition shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof. Notably, the material dates appear crucial in this case, given that this petition was filed more than two months after the promulgation by the CA of its resolution denying the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration in CA-G.R. SP No. 103646. It has to be sufficiently established that the petition was timely filed within 15 days from the petitioner’s notice of the CA’s denial of her motion for reconsideration.

This Court, instead of dismissing the petition outright, granted the petitioner a reasonable opportunity to correct the deficiency on the material dates by issuing the March 16, 2010 resolution. Regrettably, the petitioner continued to defy this lawful order of the Court, thereby giving us all the more reason to deny the present petition.

Valdecantos vs. People (GR 148852)

Preliminarily, we find it necessary to give proper perspective to the instant petition. Originally filed as a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the same should be considered as a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court as there is nothing to review on the merits due to its outright dismissal by the CA, for being insufficient in form and substance.

Ordinarily, the proper recourse of an aggrieved party from a decision of the CA is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. However, if the error, subject of the recourse, is one of jurisdiction, or the act complained of was perpetrated by a court with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the proper remedy available to the aggrieved party is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the said Rules. Inasmuch as the present petition principally assails the dismissal of the petition on ground of procedural flaws involving the jurisdiction of the court a quo to entertain the petition, it falls within the ambit of a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

Mangahas vs. CA (GR173375)

Under Rule 45, only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari before this Court as we are not a trier of facts. Our jurisdiction in such a proceeding is limited to reviewing only errors of law that may have been committed by the lower courts. Consequently, findings of fact of the trial court and the Court of Appeals are final and conclusive, and cannot be reviewed on appeal. It is not the function of this Court to reexamine or reevaluate evidence, whether testimonial or documentary, adduced by the parties in the proceedings below. The preceding rule however, admits of certain exceptions and has, in the past, been relaxed when the lower courts findings were not supported by the evidence on record or were based on a misapprehension of facts, or when certain relevant and undisputed facts were manifestly overlooked that, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.

Agote vs. Lorenzo (GR 142675)

Considering that judgments of regional trial courts in the exercise of their original jurisdiction are to be elevated to the Court of Appeals in cases when appellant raises questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law,while appeals from judgments of the [same courts] in the exercise of their original jurisdiction must be brought directly to the Supreme Court in cases where the appellant raises only questions of law, petitioner should have appealed the trial courts ruling to this Court by way of a petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, pursuant to Rule 41, Section 2 (c) of the same Rules, viz:

SEC. 2. Modes of appeal.

(a) xxx xxx xxx

(b) xxx xxx xxx

(c) Appeal by certiorari. In all cases where only questions of law are raised or involved, the appeal shall be to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45.

By reason, then, of the availability to petitioner of the remedy of a petition for review under Rule 45, his right to resort to a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 was effectively foreclosed, precisely because one of the requirements for the availment of the latter remedy is that there should be no appeal, or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the remedies of appeal and certiorari being mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive.

Shimizu vs. Magsalin (GR 170026)

Preliminarily, we resolve the claim that the petition violates Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on the attachment of material portions of the record. We note that FGU Insurance fails to discharge its burden of proving this claim by not specifying the material portions of the record the petitioner should have attached to the petition. At any rate, after a careful perusal of the petition and its attachments, the Court finds the petition to be sufficient. In other words, we can judiciously assess and resolve the present petition on the basis of its allegations and attachments.

After due consideration, we resolve to grant the petition on the ground that the December 16, 2003 dismissal order is null and void for violation of due process. We are also convinced that the appeal to challenge the dismissal order was properly filed under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. We further find that the dismissal of Civil Case No. 02-488 for failure to prosecute is not supported by facts, as shown by the records of the case.

Artistica Cermica, Inc. vs. Ciudad del Carmen Homeowners ass’n., Inc (GR 167583-84)

Petitioners ask for leniency from this Court, asking for a liberal application of the rules. However, it is quite apparent that petitioners offer no explanation as to why they did not appeal under Rule 45. Petitioners Petition, Reply and Memorandum are all silent on this point, probably hoping that the same would go unnoticed by respondents and by this Court. The attempt to skirt away from the fact that the 15-day period to file an appeal under Rule 45 had already lapsed is made even more apparent when even after the same was raised in issue by respondents in their Comment and memorandum, petitioners did not squarely address the same, nor offer any explanation for such omission. In Jan-Dec Construction Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, this Court explained why a liberal application of the rules cannot be made to a petition which offers no explanation for the non-observance of the rules, to wit:

“While there are instances where the extraordinary remedy of certiorari may be resorted to despite the availability of an appeal, the long line of decisions denying the special civil action for certiorari, either before appeal was availed of or in instances where the appeal period had lapsed, far outnumbers the instances where certiorari was given due course. The few significant exceptions are:

(a) when public welfare and the advancement of public policy dictate;

(b) when the broader interests of justice so require;

(c) when the writs issued are null; and

(d) when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority.”

In the present case, petitioner has not provided any cogent explanation that would absolve it of the consequences of its failure to abide by the Rules. Apropos on this point are the Court’s observations in Duremdes v. Duremdes:

“Although it has been said time and again that litigation is not a game of technicalities, that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure so that issues may be properly presented and justly resolved, this does not mean that procedural rules may altogether be disregarded. Rules of procedure must be faithfully followed except only when, for persuasive reasons, they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure. Concomitant to a liberal application of the rules of procedure should be an effort on the part of the party invoking liberality to adequately explain his failure to abide by the rules.”

 

Appeal from MTC to RTC, How made

Sps. Morales vs. CA (GR 126196)

In an ejectment case, when a Municipal Trial Court receives evidence on the merits, but thereafter renders a decision erroneously dismissing the action on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, a Regional Trial Court on appeal may review the entire case on the merits and render judgment thereon as the proven facts and the law may warrant. This is in accord with the general principle that the Rules of Court must be construed to attain just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of an action or proceeding.

Sps. Badillo vs. Hon. Tayag (GR 143976)

In the present cases, the posting of a supersedeas bond is not necessary to stay the execution of the MTC Order. When a case involves provable rents or damages incurred by a government-owned or controlled corporation, the real party in interest is the Republic of the Philippines. When the State litigates, it is not required to put up a bond for damages or even an appeal bond — either directly or indirectly through its authorized officers — because it is presumed to be always solvent.

Thus, it would be unnecessary to ask the NHA to file a bond because to do so would be to indirectly require the government to submit the bond. And the State is not required to file a bond for the obvious reason that it is capable of paying its obligation. In any event, the NHA has already paid the appellate docket fees and filed the supersedeas bond as ordered by the RTC, albeit late.

Candido vs. Camacho (GR 136751)

In the case at bar, the remedy of the respondents is to file an appeal within the reglementary period after the issuance of the MTC decision. However, insofar as assailing the MTCs order of execution, we hold that the respondents appeal thereof would be too slow and inadequate to prevent the injurious effect of respondents imminent dispossession of the property. Thus, respondents filing of a petition for certiorari to assail the MTCs order for immediate execution of its decision is proper. However, we note that respondents petition for certiorari was not limited for said purpose as they likewise assailed the main decision of the MTC in the same petition. This is improper as appeal is still their appropriate remedy under the former Rules of Court (Section 1, Rule 40 — Appeal from Inferior Courts to Courts of First Instance). What compounded the matter is that the respondents had already a pending notice of appeal with the MTC to assail its decision in the forcible entry case. Clearly, by also assailing the decision of the MTC in the forcible entry case in their subsequent petition for certiorari, respondents are guilty of forum-shopping which carries the sanction of dismissal of both the petition for certiorari and the appeal filed by the respondents with the RTC.

Macadangdang vs. Gaviola (GR 156809)

The general rule is that a client is bound by the acts, even mistakes, of his counsel in the realm of procedural technique. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when the reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the client of due process of law, or when the application of the general rule results in the outright deprivation of one’s property through a technicality.

xxx

We find no reason to exempt respondents from the general rule. The cause of the delay in the filing of the appeal memorandum, as explained by respondents counsel, was not due to gross negligence. It could have been prevented by respondents counsel if he only acted with ordinary diligence and prudence in handling the case. For a claim of gross negligence of counsel to prosper, nothing short of clear abandonment of the clients cause must be shown. In one case, the Court ruled that failure to file appellants brief can qualify as simple negligence but it does not amount to gross neglience to justify the annulment of the proceedings below.

Sarmiento vs. Zaratan (GR 167471)

There are, indeed, reasons which would warrant the suspension of the Rules: (a) the existence of special or compelling circumstances, b) the merits of the case, (c) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of rules, (d) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, and (e) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby. Elements or circumstances (c), (d) and (e) exist in the present case.

 

The suspension of the Rules is warranted in this case. The motion in question does not affect the substantive rights of petitioner as it merely seeks to extend the period to file Memorandum. The required extension was due to respondents counsels illness, lack of staff to do the work due to storm and flood, compounded by the grounding of the computers. There is no claim likewise that said motion was interposed to delay the appeal. As it appears, respondent sought extension prior to the expiration of the time to do so and the memorandum was subsequently filed within the requested extended period.Under the circumstances, substantial justice requires that we go into the merits of the case to resolve the issue of who is entitled to the possession of the land in question.