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CASE 2019-0029: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. MARIA CRISTINA P. SERGIO AND JULIUS L. LACANILAO (G.R. NO. 240053, 09 OCTOBER 9, 2019, HERNANDO, J.) (BRIEF TITLE: PEOPLE VS SERGIO ET AL.)

  

DISPOSITIVE:

  

“WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the instant petition. The December 13, 2017 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 149002 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The August 16, 2016 Resolution of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 88 of Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija, is REINSTATED and AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the deposition will be taken before our Consular Office and officials in Indonesia pursuant to the Rules of Court and principles of jurisdiction.

 

The recommendation by the Office of the Solicitor General for this Court to promulgate a set of rules for the guidance of the Bench and the Bar in transnational cases that may arise in the future, where a prosecution’s vital witness in a criminal proceeding is unavailable for reasons other than those listed in Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure vis-a-vis the enforcement of the accused’s constitutional right to confront witnesses faceto-face is NOTED and REFERRED to this Court’s Committee on Revision of the Rules for its appropriate action.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

 SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

Lastly, the guidelines enable the trial court judge to observe her demeanor as a witness and assess her credibility.

 

Finally, it must be mentioned that a “dying declaration” is one of the recognized exceptions to the right to confrontation.44 In the case at bar, it will not be amiss to state that Mary Jane’s deposition through written interrogatories is akin to her dying declaration. There is no doubt that Mary Jane will be answering the written interrogatories under the consciousness of an impending death – or execution by a firing squad to be exact. To stress, Mary Jane has been convicted by final judgment and sentenced to death by firing squad. Mary Jane has already availed of all available legal remedies and there is no expectation that her conviction will be overturned by the Indonesian authorities. The only purpose for the grant of the reprieve was for Mary Jane to assist the prosecution in erecting its case against her recruiters and traffickers. There was nary any mention that the outcome of the legal proceedings here in the Philippines will have a concomitant effect in Mary Jane’s conviction by the Indonesian authorities. That Mary Jane is facing impending death is undisputed considering the nature of her reprieve which is merely temporary. It is therefore not a stretch of imagination to state that Mary Jane’s declarations in her deposition “are made in extremity, [ she being] at the point of death, and x x x every hope of this world is gone; when every motive to falsehood is silenced and the mind is induced by the most powerful considerations to speak the truth,”45 to vindicate oneself, and to secure justice to her detractors.

 

All told, the Court finds reversible error in the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals. It erred when it gave due course to the Petition for  Certiorari of Cristina and Julius considering that the errors ascribed therein were mere errors of judgment which do not lie in a certiorari proceeding.

 

More importantly, the trial court did not gravely abuse its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it granted the taking of testimony of Mary Jane by way of deposition through written interrogatories in light of the conditions of Mary Jane’s reprieve and her imprisonment in Indonesia. These are compelling reasons to liberally construe the procedural rules and apply suppletorily the Rules on Civil Procedure. Yet still, the fundamental rights, not only of the State, but also of the accused Cristina and Julius have been fully and equally protected and preserved in the pursuit of justice.

 

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SCD-2019-0029-People of the Philippines Vs. Maria Cristina P. Sergio and Julius L. Lacanilao

 

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CASE 2019-0027: OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR VS. TEODORO G. SIDRO, ET AL. (A.M. NO. P-17-3655. AUGUST 20, 2019, PER CURIAM) (SUBJECT/S: MISCONDUCT; CONDUCT PREJUDICIAL TO THE INTEREST OF THE SERVICE) (BRIEF TITLE: OCA VS SIDRO)

  

DISPOSITIVE:

 

WHEREFORE, Teodoro G. Sidro, Sheriff III, Branch 84, Metropolitan Trial Court, Caloocan City is hereby found GUILTY of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, and hereby DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all benefits except accruedleave credits, with prejudice to re-employment in the government or any of its agencies and instrumentalities including government-owned or controlled corporations.

 

Rolly S. Ocampo, Sheriff III, Branch 53, Metropolitan Trial Court, Caloocan City is hereby found GUILTY of simple misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service, and hereby SUSPENDED for ONE (1) YEAR.

 

Leonelle E. Mendoza, Clerk III, Branch 53, Metropolitan Trial Court, Caloocan City is hereby found GUILTY of simple negligence and hereby FINED in the amount equivalent to his ONE (1) MONTH SALARY.

 

Further, Rolly S. Ocampo and Leonelle E. Mendoza are STERNLY WARNED that commission of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

 

RECEIPT OF SEVERAL AFFIDAVITS WAS ANTEDATED. INVESTIGATION SHOWS THAT COURT PERSONNEL WERE INVOLVED.

 

WHAT IS MISCONDUCT?

 

Misconduct is defined as any unlawful conduct on the part of a person concerned in the administration of justice prejudicial to the rights of parties or to the right detennination of the cause. It generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose22 that tends to threaten the very existence of the system of administration of justice, 23 and should relate to or be connected with the performance of the official functions and duties of a public officer.

 

WHEN IS AN ACT INTIMATELY CONNECTED WITH THE OFFICE?

 

An act is intimately connected to the office of the offender if it is committed as the consequence of the performance of the office by him, or if it cannot exist without the office even if public office is not an element of the crime in the abstract.25

 

WHEN IS MISCONDUCT GRAVE?

 

The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules, which must be established by substantial evidence. Otherwise, the misconduct is simple.

 

WHEN IS CONDUCT PREJUDICIAL TO THE INTEREST OF THE SERVICE?

 

On the other hand, conduct is prejudicial to the interest of the service if it violates the norm of public accountability and diminishes-or tends to diminish-the people’s faith in the Judiciary.

 

WHY DOES ANTEDATING OF COURT DOCUMENTS SMACKS OF MISCONDUCT?

 

The rules provide that the basis for timeliness of filing of pleadings is the date of actual receipt which must be reflected in the document. 28 Antedating a document filed before the court, therefore, is a deliberate act to commit dishonesty substantially affects the rule on the seasonable filing of pleadings and ultimately, the resolution of cases.

 

Antedating also constitutes the offense of making false entries in public documents, an act considered as conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.29 It undoubtedly tarnishes the image and integrity of the office to which the offender belongs.

 

WHAT IS THE STANDARD OF SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE?

 

The standard of substantial evidence is satisfied when there is reasonable ground to believe that a person is responsible for the misconduct complained of, even if such evidence might not be overwhelming or even preponderant.

 

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR MISCONDUCT AND CONDUCT PREJUDICIAL TO THE SERVICE?

 

Grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service are grave offenses punishable by dismissal from the service for the first offense and suspension of six ( 6) months and one ( 1) day to one ( 1) year for the first offense, respectively; whereas simple misconduct is a less grave offense punishable by suspension of one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months for the first offense.36

 

ADMONITION OF THE COURT:

 

Time and again, this Court has emphasized the heavy burden and responsibility of court personnel. They have been constantly reminded that any impression of impropriety, misdeed or negligence in the performance of their official functions must be avoided. Thus, the Court does not hesitate to condemn and sanction such improper conduct, act or omission of those involved in the administration of justice that violates the norm of public accountability and diminishes or tends to diminish the faith of the public in the Judiciary.42

 

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SCD-2019-0027-Office of the Court Administrator Vs. Teodoro G. Sidro, et al.

 

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CASE 2019-0008: CHARBEN DUARTE Y OLIVEROS VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (G.R. NO. 238971. AUGUST 28, 2019, PERLAS-BERNABE, J.) (SUBJECT/S: DRUGS; HOW TO GET ACQUITTAL) (BRIEF TITLE: DUARTE VS PEOPLE)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the petit10n is GRANTED. The Decision dated September 7, 201 7 and the Resolution dated April 4, 2018 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 39090 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, petit10ner Charben Duarte y Oliveros is ACQUITTED of the crime of violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to cause his immediate release, unless he is being lawfully held in custody for any other reason.

 

SO ORDERED.”

  

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

 

THE INVENTORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY OF THE ITEMS SEIZED FROM DUARTE WERE NOT CONDUCTED IN THE PRESENCE OF REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE DOJ AND THE MEDIA.

 

THUS THE CASE WAS DISMISSED.

 

 In this case, it appears that the inventory and photography of the items seized from Duarte were not conducted in the presence of representatives from the DOJ and the media, as evinced from the Receipt of Physical Inventory,44 which only showed a signature from an elected public official, i.e., Kgd. Ulderico, contrary to the mandatory procedure laid down in RA 9165. This is confirmed by the testimony of PO 1 Galauran on crossexamination, . . . . .

 

…………

 

As earlier stated, it is incumbent upon the prosecution to account for the aforesaid witnesses’ absence by presenting a justifiable reason therefor, or at the very least, by showing that genuine and sufficient efforts were exerted by the apprehending officers to secure their presence. Here, the defense lawyer, through the cross-examination of POI Galauran, had already pointed out that only an elected public official was present during the inventory and photography of the seized items. At this point, the prosecution should have already noted the absence of the representatives from the DOJ and the media and interrogated PO 1 Galauran, or any other witness for that matter, on whether or not earnest efforts were exerted in ensuring the presence of all the required witnesses during the conduct of the inventory and photography. Absent any determination of earnest efforts, the Court is constrained to hold that there was an unjustified deviation from the chain of custody rule, resulting in the conclusion that the integrity and evidentiary value of the items purportedly seized from Duarte were compromised. Perforce, his acquittal is warranted under these circumstances.

  

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SCD-2019-0026-Charben Duarte y Oliveros Vs. People of the Philippines

 

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