Monday, May 24, 2010

Abdulla vs People

Convicted by the Sandiganbayan of the crime of illegal use of public funds, appellant Abdulla is before the Court on petition for review under Rule 45. Appellant’s co-accused, Aguil and Darkis, were both acquitted. Only appellant was found guilty and sentenced by the Sandiganbayan. Upon motion for reconsideration, the Sandiganbayan amended appellant’s sentence by deleting the temporary special disqualification imposed upon her. Still dissatisfied, appellant, now before this Court, persistently pleas innocence of the crime charged.

Issue: Is there a presumption of criminal intent in malversation cases?

Ruling: No. The presumption of criminal intent will not automatically apply to all charges of technical malversation because disbursement of public funds for public use is per se not an unlawful act. Here, appellant cannot be said to have committed an unlawful act when she paid the obligation of the Sulu State College to its employees in the form of terminal leave benefits such employees were entitled to under existing civil service laws. In the absence of any presumption of unlawful intent, the burden of proving by competent evidence that appellant’s act of paying the terminal leave benefits of employees of the Sulu State College was done with criminal intent rests upon the prosecution.

Tejada vs People

Petitioner was charged before the RTC with violation of Section 11, Article II of R.A. 9165. The trial court, convicted petitioner. His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner filed the present petition for review. Petitioner initially takes issue on the appellate court’s ruling that he waived any objection to his arrest when he entered a plea upon arraignment and actively participated in the trial. Underscoring that an appeal in a criminal case opens the whole case for review, petitioner reiterates his lament that he was arrested without a warrant.

Issue: Will presumption of innocence be sustained if the chain of custody rule has not been satisfied?

Ruling: Yes. The appellate court’s reliance on the presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions would not suffice to uphold petitioner’s conviction. Once challenged by evidence, such as in this case, the presumption of regularity cannot be regarded as binding truth and cannot prevail over the presumption of innocence of petitioner-accused. Although petitioner’s defense is denial which, standing alone is inherently weak, the Court has repeatedly stressed that the conviction of an accused must rest on the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and not on the weakness of his defense.

People vs Salas

On appeal is the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch 45, in Criminal Case No. 6656, finding appellant Elmer Salas y David guilty of Robbery with Homicide and imposing upon him the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

Issue: Is trial in absentia valid and constitutional?

Ruling: Yes. Only if the three following conditions concur: (1) accused has been arraigned; (2) notice of trial was duly served to him and properly returned; (3) his failure to attend is unjustified. The reason for this is that at arraignment that the accused is informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him and it is then the trial court acquires jurisdiction over the person.

People vs Jaime Ochoa

For allegedly diverting and collecting funds NPC intended for the purchase of US Dollars from the UCPB, respondents were indicted before the Sandiganbayan for the complex crime of Malversation through Falsification of Commercial Documents defined and penalized under Articles 217 and 171 (8), in relation to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code.

Issue: Will information charging the commission of the crime by means of deceit preclude a conviction on the basis of negligence?

Ruling: No. Malversation may be committed either through a positive act of misappropriation of public funds or property or passively through negligence by allowing another to commit such misappropriation. To sustain a charge of malversation, there must either be criminal intent or criminal negligence and while the prevailing facts of a case may not show that deceit attended the commission of the offense, it will not preclude the reception of evidence to prove the existence of negligence because both are equally punishable in Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code.

Go vs. BSP

Through the present petition for review on certiorari, petitioner assails the decision of the CA. The CA decision and resolution annulled and set aside the orders of the RTC which granted Go’s motion to quash the Information filed against him. In his petition, Go alleges that the appellate court legally erred in overturning the trial court’s orders. He insists that the Information failed to allege the acts or omissions complained of with sufficient particularity to enable him to know the offense being charged; to allow him to properly prepare his defense; and likewise to allow the court to render proper judgment.

Issue: What is the extent of the right to be informed under Section 15, Article III? What can the accused do if this right is violated? Can defective information be a ground to dismiss the case?

Ruling: Under the Constitution, a person who stands charged of a criminal offense has the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. Information must allege clearly and accurately the elements of the crime charged. The case may be dismissed if this right is violated.

Although the information may be defective because the facts charged do not constitute an offense, the dismissal of the case will not necessarily follow. The Rules specifically require that the prosecution should be given a chance to correct the defect; the court can order the dismissal only upon the prosecution’s failure to do so.

People vs Estrada

This is an automatic review of the death penalty imposed on accused-appellant by the Regional Trial Court. In his appeal, appellant assigns the following errors. That the lower court erred in finding accused appellant guilty of the crime charge, despite clear and convincing evidence of his insanity.

Issue: Is the rule barring the trial or sentence of an insane person for the protection of the accused or the public?

Ruling: The rule barring trial or sentence of an insane person is for the protection of the accused, rather than of the public. To put a legally incompetent person on trial or to convict and sentence him is a violation of the constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process of law. The accuracy of the proceedings may not be assured, as an incompetent defendant who cannot comprehend the proceedings may not appreciate what information is relevant to the proof of his innocence.

Malana vs People

The petitioners Dominador and Rodel, together with their acquitted co-accused Elenito, were charged with the crime of murder and multiple frustrated murder before the RTC. The charges stemmed from an incident that left Betty dead, and her daughter and granddaughter injured. The appellants pleaded not guilty during the arraignment.

Issue: What is the “equipoise” rule? When can this be invoked?

Ruling: This rule provides that where the evidence of the parties in a criminal case is evenly balanced, the constitutional presumption of innocence should tilt the scales in favor of the accused. There is, therefore, no equipoise if the evidence is not evenly balanced. Said rule is not applicable in the case before us because the evidence here presented is not equally weighty. The equipoise rule cannot be invoked where the evidence of the prosecution is overwhelming.

Republic vs Marcos

Before the court are motions of respondents Imelda R. Marcos, Irene Marcos-Araneta, Ma. Imelda Marcos and Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., respectively, seeking reconsideration of the court’s decision which ordered the forfeiture in favor of the Republic of the Philippines of the Swiss deposits in escrow at the PNB in the estimated aggregate amount of US$658,175,373.60 as of January 31, 2002. Respondent Imelda Marcos, in her motion for reconsideration, asks the Court to set aside the aforesaid decision.

Issue: Is the republic also entitled to speedy trial?

Ruling: Yes. The Republic has the right to a speedy disposition of this case. The people and the State are entitled to favorable judgment, free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays, the salutary objective being to restore the ownership of the Swiss deposits to the rightful owner, the Republic of the Philippines, within the shortest possible time.

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