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.

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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.

 

New Trial or Reconsideration in Civil Procedure

Castro vs. Guevarra (GR 192737)

New trial is a remedy that seeks to temper the severity of a judgment or prevent the failure of justice. The effect of an order granting a new trial is to wipe out the previous adjudication so that the case may be tried de novo for the purpose of rendering a judgment in accordance with law, taking into consideration the evidence to be presented during the second trial. Consequently, a motion for new trial is proper only after the rendition or promulgation of a judgment or issuance of a final order.

A motion for new trial is only available when relief is sought against a judgment and the judgment is not yet final. Verily, in the case at bench, the filing by Spouses Guevarra of a motion for new trial was premature and uncalled for because a decision has yet to be rendered by the trial court in Civil Case No. 2187-00. Let it be underscored that the December 22, 2003 Decision of Judge Espaol was effectively set aside by the December 15, 2004 Omnibus Order of Judge Mangrobang. Hence, there is technically no judgment which can be the subject of a motion for new trial.

Yu vs. Samson-Tatad (GR 170979)

The Fresh period rule

The raison dtre for the fresh period rule is to standardize the appeal period provided in the Rules and do away with the confusion as to when the 15-day appeal period should be counted. Thus, the 15-day period to appeal is no longer interrupted by the filing of a motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration; litigants today need not concern themselves with counting the balance of the 15-day period to appeal since the 15-day period is now counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration or any final order or resolution.

PNB vs. Hon. Paneda (GR 149236)

The main question is whether petitioners Motion for New Trial and Reconsideration is pro forma and, hence, it did not suspend the running of the period for appeal.

xxx

The subject Motion actually consists of two motions, a Motion for New Trial and a Motion for Reconsideration. While the Court agrees that the Motion for New Trial lacks merit for the reason that the documents sought to be presented are not newly discovered evidence, the Court does not agree that the Motion for Reconsideration is pro forma.

Balayan vs. Acorda (GR 153537)

a motion for reconsideration must first be filed with the lower court prior to resorting to the extraordinary writ of certiorari since a motion for reconsideration is still considered an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. The rationale for the filing of a motion for reconsideration is to give an opportunity to the lower court to correct its imputed errors. Generally, only when a motion for reconsideration has been filed and subsequently denied can petitioner avail of the remedy of the writ of certiorari.

Fernandez vs. CA (GR 131094)

It is without question that Fernandez received a copy of the RTC Decision on 28 June 1994. Fourteen (14) days after the receipt of the decision or specifically on 12 July 1994, he filed a motion for reconsideration. This motion was denied by the RTC and the Order of denial was received by Fernandez on 29 November 1994. Applying Rule 37, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court, he had only one (1) day left to file a motion for new trial since a motion for new trial should be filed within the period to appeal, that is, within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment. The motion for new trial suspends the running of the period to appeal but does not extend the time within which an appeal must be perfected. Hence if denied, a movant, like Fernandez in this case has only the balance of the reglementary period within which to appeal. It bears repeating that Fernandez received a copy of the RTC decision on 28 June 1994. Applying Rule 41, Section 3 of the Revised Rules of Court, he had fifteen (15) days from receipt of the RTC decision to file a motion for new trial or reconsideration. He filed a motion for reconsideration fourteen (14) days after receipt of the decision. The motion was denied and he had only the remaining one (1) day to file a motion for new trial which day fell on 01 December 1994. Since 30 November 1994 was a holiday, Fernandez had up to 01 December 1994 to file the motion for new trial. Extant from the records, instead of a motion for new trial, he filed before the Court of Appeals on 01 December 1994 the motion for extension of time to file petition for review. Thereafter, and pending the resolution of his motion before the Court of Appeals, Fernandez went back to the RTC and filed on 09 December 1994 a motion for new trial.

Applying the foregoing, Fernandezs motion for new trial was filed out of time. The fifteen (15)-day period for filing a motion for new trial cannot be extended. As early as the case of Habaluyas v. Japzon, cited in Naguiat v. Intermediate Appellate Court, and reiterated in Tung Chin Hui v. Rodriguez,  motions for extension of time to file a motion for new trial or reconsideration may no longer be filed before all courts, lower than the Supreme Court. The rule in Habaluyas applies even if the motion is filed before the expiration of the period sought to be extended because the fifteen (15) days period for filing a motion for new trial or reconsideration with said court is non-extendible. Thus, motions for extension of time to file a motion for new trial or reconsideration may be filed only in connection with cases pending before the Supreme Court, which may in its sound discretion either grant or deny the extension requested. No such motion may be filed before any lower courts.

IN SUM, considering that a motion for new trial must be filed during the period for filing an appeal and that such period cannot be extended, Fernandez, by filing his motion for new trial beyond the period to appeal, had unwittingly sealed his fate and stripped himself of any further relief.

Barnes vs. Hon. Padilla (GR 160753)

As early as the 1986 case of Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. vs. Japson, the Court has consistently held that the fifteen-day reglementary period for appealing or for filing a motion for reconsideration or new trial cannot be extended, except in cases pending with the Supreme Court as a court of last resort which may in its sound discretion either grant or deny the extension requested.

While the Court notes that the IRCA does not explicitly provide that the period of filing a motion for reconsideration is non-extendible, which was expressly stated in the Revised Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals (RIRCA) that was in effect prior to the IRCA, it is noteworthy that the afore-quoted Section 1, Rule VII proviso in the IRCA is substantially the same provision in the RIRCA.

Thus, the IRCA simply reiterates that only a motion for reconsideration or new trial or an appeal shall stay the finality of a CA decision. A motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration therefore continues to be a prohibited pleading which cannot toll the running of the fifteen-day reglementary period. Neither jurisprudence nor the procedural rules provide for an exception.

Judgment on the Pleadings and Summary Judgment Differentiated

Sunbanun vs. Go (GR 163280)

Petitioner, in moving for a judgment on the pleadings without offering proof as to the truth of her own allegations and without giving respondent the opportunity to introduce evidence, is deemed to have admitted the material and relevant averments of the complaint, and to rest her motion for judgment based on the pleadings of the parties.

Basbas vs. Sayson (GR 172660)

Petitioners principally assail the CAs affirmance of the RTCs Order granting respondents Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and/or Summary Judgment.

In Tan v. De la Vega, citing Narra Integrated Corporation v. Court of Appeals, the court distinguished summary judgment from judgment on the pleadings, viz:

The existence or appearance of ostensible issues in the pleadings, on the one hand, and their sham or fictitious character, on the other, are what distinguish a proper case for summary judgment from one for a judgment on the pleadings. In a proper case for judgment on the pleadings, there is no ostensible issue at all because of the failure of the defending party’s answer to raise an issue.

On the other hand, in the case of a summary judgment, issues apparently exist i.e. facts are asserted in the complaint regarding which there is as yet no admission, disavowal or qualification; or specific denials or affirmative defenses are in truth set out in the answer but the issues thus arising from the pleadings are sham, fictitious or not genuine, as shown by affidavits, depositions, or admissions. x x xx.

Simply stated, what distinguishes a judgment on the pleadings from a summary judgment is the presence of issues in the Answer to the Complaint. When the Answer fails to tender any issue, that is, if it does not deny the material allegations in the complaint or admits said material allegations of the adverse partys pleadings by admitting the truthfulness thereof and/or omitting to deal with them at all, a judgment on the pleadings is appropriate.

On the other hand, when the Answer specifically denies the material averments of the complaint or asserts affirmative defenses, or in other words raises an issue, a summary judgment is proper provided that the issue raised is not genuine. A genuine issue means an issue of fact which calls for the presentation of evidence, as distinguished from an issue which is fictitious or contrived or which does not constitute a genuine issue for trial.

Wood Technology Corporation vs. Equitable Banking Corp. (GR 153867)

Applying the requisites of a judgment on the pleadings vis–vis a summary judgment, the judgment rendered by the RTC was not a judgment on the pleadings, but a summary judgment. Although the Answer apparently raised issues, both the RTC and the Court of Appeals after considering the parties pleadings, petitioners admissions and the documents attached to the Complaint, found that the issues are not factual ones requiring trial, nor were they genuine issues.

First Leverage and Services Group vs. Solid Builders, Inc. (GR 155680)

Summary judgment is a procedural device resorted to in order to avoid long drawn out litigations and useless delays where the pleadings on file show that there are no genuine issues of fact to be tried. A genuine issue is such issue of fact which requires the presentation of evidence as distinguished from a sham, fictitious, contrived or false claim. There can be no summary judgment where questions of fact are in issue or where material allegations of the pleadings are in dispute. A party who moves for summary judgment has the burden of demonstrating clearly the absence of any genuine issue of fact, or that the issue posed in the complaint is so patently unsubstantial as not to constitute a genuine issue for trial, and any doubt as to the existence of such an issue is resolved against the movant.

 

Demurrer to Evidence, How made

SPS. Gonzales vs. Bugaay (GR 173008)

The Court has previously explained the nature of a demurrer to evidence in the case of Celino v. Heirs of Alejo and Teresa Santiago as follows:

A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence and is presented after the plaintiff rests his case. It is an objection by one of the parties in an action, to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced is insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain the issue. The evidence contemplated by the rule on demurrer is that which pertains to the merits of the case.

In passing upon the sufficiency of the evidence raised in a demurrer, the court is merely required to ascertain whether there is competent or sufficient proof to sustain the judgment. Being considered a motion to dismiss, thus, a demurrer to evidence must clearly be filed before the court renders its judgment.

Choa vs. Choa (GR 143376)

A demurrer to evidence is defined as an objection or exception by one of the parties in an action at law, to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced is insufficient in point of law (whether true or not) to make out his case or sustain the issue. The demurrer challenges the sufficiency of the plaintiffs evidence to sustain a verdict. In passing upon the sufficiency of the evidence raised in a demurrer, the court is merely required to ascertain whether there is competent or sufficient proof to sustain the indictment or to support a verdict of guilt.

Casent Realty Dev. Corp vs. PHILBANKING (GR 150731)

What should be resolved in a motion to dismiss based on a demurrer to evidence is whether the plaintiff is entitled to the relief based on the facts and the law. The evidence contemplated by the rule on demurrer is that which pertains to the merits of the case, excluding technical aspects such as capacity to sue.

However, the plaintiffs evidence should not be the only basis in resolving a demurrer to evidence.The facts referred to in Section 8 should include all the means sanctioned by the Rules of Court in ascertaining matters in judicial proceedings. These include judicial admissions, matters of judicial notice,stipulations made during the pre-trial and trial, admissions, and presumptions, the only exclusion being the defendants evidence.

Celino vs. Heirs of Santiago (GR 161817)

A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence and is presented after the plaintiff rests his case. It is an objection by one of the parties in an action, to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced is insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain the issue. The evidence contemplated by the rule on demurrer is that which pertains to the merits of the case.

Thus, as correctly held by the Court of Appeals, lack of legal capacity to sue is not a proper ground for a demurrer to evidence, pertaining as it does to a technical aspect, and it having nothing to do with the evidence on the merits of the complaint. Consequently, petitioners Demurrer to Evidence and Motion for Reconsideration should be denied, as the trial court did.

Salazar vs. People (GR 151931)

In criminal cases, the demurrer to evidence partakes of the nature of a motion to dismiss the case for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In a case where the accused files a demurrer to evidence without leave of court, he thereby waives his right to present evidence and submits the case for decision on the basis of the evidence of the prosecution. On the other hand, if the accused is granted leave to file a demurrer to evidence, he has the right to adduce evidence not only on the criminal aspect but also on the civil aspect of the case if his demurrer is denied by the court.

If demurrer is granted and the accused is acquitted by the court, the accused has the right to adduce evidence on the civil aspect of the case unless the court also declares that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist. If the trial court issues an order or renders judgment not only granting the demurrer to evidence of the accused and acquitting him but also on the civil liability of the accused to the private offended party, said judgment on the civil aspect of the case would be a nullity for the reason that the constitutional right of the accused to due process is thereby violated.

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The petitioner was granted leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence. The court issued an order granting the demurrer on its finding that the liability of the petitioner was not criminal but only civil. However, the court rendered judgment on the civil aspect of the case and ordered the petitioner to pay for her purchases from the private complainant even before the petitioner could adduce evidence thereon. Patently, therefore, the petitioner was denied her right to due process.

Uy vs. Chua (GR 183965)

The essential question to be resolved in a demurrer to evidence is whether petitioner has been able to show that she is entitled to her claim, and it is incumbent upon RTC-Branch 24 to make such a determination. A perusal of the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of RTC-Branch 24 in Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB shows that it is barren of any discussion on this matter. It did not take into consideration any of the evidence presented by petitioner. RTC-Branch 24 dismissed Special Proceedings No. 12562-CEB on the sole basis of res judicata, given the Decision dated 21 February 2000 of RTC-Branch 9 in Special Proceeding No. 8830-CEB, approving the Compromise Agreement between petitioner and respondent.

Hence, the Resolution dated 25 June 2008 of RTC-Branch 24 should be deemed as having dismissed Special Proceeding No. 12562-CEB on the ground of res judicata rather than an adjudication on the merits of respondents demurrer to evidence. Necessarily, the last line of Section 1, Rule 33 of the Rules of Court should not apply herein and respondent should still be allowed to present evidence before RTC-Branch 24 in Special Proceedings No. 12562-CEB.

Heirs of Pasag vs. SPS. Parocha (GR 155483)

A demurrer to evidence is an instrument for the expeditious termination of an action; thus, abbreviating judicial proceedings. It is defined as an objection or exception by one of the parties in an action at law, to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced is insufficient in point of law (whether true or not) to make out his case or sustain the issue. The demurrer challenges the sufficiency of the plaintiffs evidence to sustain a verdict. In passing upon the sufficiency of the evidence raised in a demurrer, the court is merely required to ascertain whether there is competent or sufficient proof to sustain the indictment or to support a verdict of guilt.

The Mysteriuos Aberratio Ictus

Talampas Vs. People of the Phils. (GR 180219)

The fact that the target of Talampas assault was Eduardo, not Ernesto, did not excuse his hitting and killing of Ernesto. The fatal hitting of Ernesto was the natural and direct consequence of Talampas felonious deadly assault against Eduardo. Talampas poor aim amounted to aberratio ictus, or mistake in the blow, a circumstance that neither exempted him from criminal responsibility nor mitigated his criminal liability. Lo que es causa de la causa, es causa del mal causado (what is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil caused). Under Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability is incurred by any person committing a felony although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended.

People vs. Gemoya (GR 132633)

The two accused-appellants herein are liable for the crime resulting from Gemoya’s act of releasing the second “indian pana”, which accidentally hit Rosalie. Although Rosalie may not have been their intended victim, accused-appellants, acting in conspiracy with one another as we have earlier discussed, are liable for the consequences of their felonious act (see: Paragraph 1, Article 4, Revised Penal Code). Mistake in the identity of the victim, which may either be (a) “error in personae” (mistake of the person), or (b) “aberratio ictus” (mistake in the blow), is neither exempting nor mitigating (People vs. Gona, 54 Phil. 605 [1930]). Accused-appellants, therefore, cannot escape the criminal liability resulting from the injury suffered by Rosalie.

People vs. Flora (GR 125909)

Coming now to the criminal responsibility of appellants. In the present case, when Hermogenes Flora first fired his gun at Ireneo, but missed, and hit Emerita Roma and Flor Espinas instead, he became liable for Emeritas death and Flors injuries. Hermogenes cannot escape culpability on the basis of aberratio ictus principle. Criminal liability is incurred by any person committing a felony, although the wrongful act be different from that which he intended.