Category: LATEST SUPREME COURT CASES


DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated 01 June 2018 rendered by the Court of Appeals, Division of Five, and Resolution dated 26 February 2019 rendered by the Court of Appeals, Special Division of Five, Special Former Third Division, in CA-G.R. SP No. 150941 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the Decision dated 21 October 2016 of Branch 95, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, as well as all issuances rendered pursuant thereto, are declared NULL and VOID.

The case is hereby REMANDED to Branch 95, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for further proceedings. The presiding judge of the said court is mandated to issue anew the required summons to petitioner corporation and proceed with the trial of the case with dispatch.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT IS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION?

Grave abuse of discretion means such capnc10us or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave, as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and the abuse must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all, in contemplation of law, as to be equivalent to having acted without jurisdiction. 105

WHY WAS THERE GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN THIS CASE?

THE CASE WAS ONLY FOR SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE FOR PAYMENT OF CGT AND DST AND TURN OVER OF POSSESSION OF SUBJECT PROPERTY. YET THE WRIT OF EXECUTION DIRECTED THE CANCELLATION OF DERIVATIVE TITLES EMANATING FROM TCT NO 185260 AND ISSUANCE OF NEW TITLE IN NAME OF RESPONDENT. ALSO SUMMONS WAS ALLOWED BY PUBLICATION LEADING TO DEFAULT OF PETITIONER.

If only to emphasize the gravity of the abuse of discretion committed, petitioner corporation was stripped of, not only the possession of the subject property, but likewise, title thereto. To reiterate, the writ of execution included the cancellation of its derivative titles emanating from TCT No. 185260 and the issuance of a new title in the name of respondent. This, despite the fact that the case is simply one for specific performance for the payment of CGT and DST and the turn over of possession of the subject property.

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The manifest abuse of discretion exhibited by Judge Bellosillo in allowing the service of summons through publication,. which led to the issuance of judgment of default against petitioner corporation and in expanding the dispositive portion of the Decision dated 16 October 2016 by issuing a writ of execution containing terms neither appearing in said decision nor in the complaint for specific performance, must not be countenanced. Moreso, the wanton disregard of basic procedural requirements led to the deprivation of due process of law on the part of petitioner corporation.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated August 16, 2019 and the Resolution dated August 24, 2020 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 41782 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, petitioner Joel David y Mangio is ACQUITTED of the crime charged. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to: (a) cause the immediate release of petitioner, unless heis being lawfully held in custody for any other reason; and (b) inform the Court of the action taken within five (5) days from receipt of this Decision.

 Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

IN CASE THERE IS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY PROCEDURE THE PROSECUTOR MUST PROVE THAT THE APPREHENDING OFFICERS EXERTED GENUINE AND SUFFICIENT EFFORTS TO SECURE THE PRESENCE OF THE REQUIRED WITNESSES.

As a general rule, compliance with the chain of custody procedure is strictly enjoined as the same has been regarded “not merely as a procedural technicality but as a matter of substantive law.”28 Nonetheless, anent the witness requirement, non-compliance may be permitted if the prosecution proves that the apprehending officers exerted genuine and sufficient efforts to secure the presence of such witnesses, albeit they eventually failed to appear. While the earnestness of these efforts must be examined on a case-to-case basis, the overarching objective is for the Court to be convinced that the failure to comply was reasonable under the given· circumstances.29 Thus, mere statements of unavailability, absent actual serious attempts to contact the required witnesses, are unacceptable as justified grounds for non[1]compliance. 30 These considerations arise from the fact that police officers are ordinarily given sufficient time – beginning from the moment they have received the information about the activities of the accused until the time of his arrest – to prepare for a buy-bust operation, and consequently, make the necessary arrangements beforehand, knowing fully well that they would have to strictly comply with the chain of custody rule. 31

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IN THIS CASE PO3 FLORES DID NOT OFFER ANY JUSTIFICATION FOR THE EVENTUAL ABSENCE OF A DOJ REPRESENTATIVE.

However, as earlier stated, it is incumbent upon the prosecution to account for these witnesses’ absence by presenting a justifiable reason therefor or, at the very least, by showing thaf genuine and sufficient efforts were exerted by the apprehending officers to secure their presence. Here, while PO3 Flores did attempt to secure all three witnesses, he did not offer any justification for the eventual absence of the DOJ representative, much less any explanation or detail as to the exact efforts exerted to secure their presence. In view of this unjustified deviatio1:1 from the chain of custody rule, the Court is therefore constrained to conclude that the integrity and evidentiary value of the item purportedly seized from David were compromised, which consequently warrants his acquittal.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is GRANTED. The March 22, 2017 Decision and the August 16, 201 7 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-CR No. 02397, which affirmed the July 23, 2012 Joint-Decision of the Regional Trial Court, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Virgilio Evardo y Lopena is ACQUITTED of the charges of violating Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

For their information, copies of this Decision shall be furnished to the Police General of the Philippine National Police and the Director General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Regional Trial Court is directed to tum over the seized sachets of shabu to the Dangerous Drugs Board for destruction in accordance with law.

Let entry of judgment be issued immediately.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

IN THIS CASE THE ARRESTING OFFICERS’ SEARCH AND SUBSEQUENT SEIZURE WERE HELD INVALID. THUS, THE CONFISCATED DRUGS CANNOT BE USED AS EVIDENCE. WITHOUT EVIDENCE THE CASE HAS TO BE DISMISSED.

In cases involving drugs, the confiscated article constitutes the corpus delicti of the crime charged. Under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, the essence of the crime is the sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of prohibited drugs, and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals. The act of transporting the drugs, as in this case, must be duly proven by the prosecution, along with how a particular person is the perpetrator of that act. The seized drug, then, becomes the corpus delicti of the crime charged. The entire case of the prosecution revolves around that material.

In drugs cases where the allegedly confiscated drug is excluded from admissible evidence – as when it was acquired through an invalid warrantless search – the prosecution is left without proof of corpus delicti. Any discussion on whether a crime has been committed becomes an exercise in futility. Acquittal is then inexorable.

Thus, here, the arresting officers’ search and subsequent seizure are invalid. As such, the two (2) sacks of marijuana supposedly being transported in the pickup cannot be admitted in evidence.

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