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DISPOSITIVE:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated January 28, 2019 and September 17, 2019 in CA-G.R. SP. No. 158342 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

The Judgment dated September 12, 2018 and the concomitant orders of the Regional Trial Court-Branch 24, Naga City in Criminal Case No. 2016- 0935 are VOID for having been issued in grave abuse of discretion. The trial court is ORDERED to proceed with the criminal case against respondent Noel Sabater y Ulan with utmost dispatch.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

THE ACCUSED WANTED TO PLEA TO A LESSER OFFENSE (SECTION 12 IN LIEU OF SECTION 5 OF THE PROHIBITED DRUG LAW). PROSECUTOR OBJECTED. BUT COURT APPROVED THE PLEA. SUPREME COURT SAID THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. IT MUST NOT APPROVE PLEA BARGAINING IF ALL PARTIES DO NOT AGREE.

Where the prosecution withholds its consent, the trial court cannot proceed to approve a plea bargain. There is no meeting of the minds, hence, there can be no plea bargaining “agreement” to speak of. Should the trial court nevertheless approve the plea bargain over the prosecution’s objection, it would be doing so in grave abuse of discretion. Justice Zalameda further explained:

In choosing to respect the prosecution’s discretion to give or withhold consent, the Court is not surrende1ing any of its powers. Instead, it is an exercise of sound judicial restraint. Courts cannot forcefully insist upon any of the parties to plead in accordance with the Plea Bargaining Framework. To emphasize, when there is no unanimity between the prosecution and the defense, there is also no plea bargaining agreement to speak of. If a party refuses to enter a plea in conformity with the Plea Bargaining Framework, a court commits grave abuse of discretion should it unduly impose its will on the parties by approving a plea bargain and issuing a conviction based on the framework.

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DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The August 11, 2015 Decision and January 19, 2016 Resolution of the Court of Tax Appeals En Banc in CTA EB No. 1139 are hereby AFFIRMED.

So Ordered.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

BIR ASSESSED YUMEX PHILIPPINES FOR IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED EARNINGS TAX (IAET). SUPREME COURT SAID THIS IS WRONG BECAUSE BIR DID NOT FIRST ESTABLISH PRIMA FACIE WHY IT DEEMED SUCH EARNINGS AS IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED. BIR SHOULD EXPRESSLY DESCRIBE ANY OF THE PRIMA FACIE INSTANCES OF IMPROPERLY ACCUMULATED EARNINGS.

The BIR simply assessed respondent for IAET by imposing the ten percent (10%) IAET tax rate on all of the latter’s income from registered activities enjoying ITH without first establishing prima facie why it deemed such income as improperly accumulated. Respondent is clearly not a holding or investment company; and nowhere in the PAN, Details of Discrepancies, or the FLD/F AN did the BIR expressly describe any of the prima facie instances of improperly accumulated earnings and profits.

For its part, respondent was able to prove that it had accumulated its earnings from previous years for a reasonable business purpose. Respondent needed funds for a new project, i.e., the manufacture of Heat Run Oven[1]Controlled Rack, which started commercial operations in June 2007 and was also duly registered with the PEZA. Respondent had to acquire new machinery and equipment as well as a separate exclusive building space for the project. Petitioner did not cross-examine respondent’s witness on this matter or present evidence to refute that respondent’s accumulated income was actually for a reasonable need in its business operations.

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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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