G.R. No. 183014, August 07, 2013 - THE LAW FIRM OF CHAVEZ MIRANDA AND ASEOCHE, REPRESENTED BY ITS FOUNDING PARTNER, FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, Petitioner, v. ATTY. JOSEJINA C. FRIA, Respondent.
G.R. No. 183014, August 07, 2013
THE LAW FIRM OF CHAVEZ MIRANDA AND ASEOCHE, REPRESENTED BY ITS FOUNDING PARTNER, FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, Petitioner, v. ATTY. JOSEJINA C. FRIA, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
The undersigned 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor accuses ATTY. JOSEJINA C. FRIA of the crime of Viol. of Article 231 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:cralawlibraryBased on the records, the undisputed facts are as follows:cralawlibrary
That on or about the 2nd day of February, 2006, or on dates subsequent thereto, in the City of Muntinlupa, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public officer she being the Branch Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court Branch 203, Muntinlupa City, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously refused openly, without any legal justification to obey the order of the said court which is of superior authority, for the issuance of a writ of execution which is her ministerial duty to do so in Civil Case No. 03-110 entitled Charles Bernard Reyes, doing business under the name and style CBH Reyes Architects vs. Spouses Cesar and Mely Esquig and Rosemarie Papas, which has become final and executory since February 2, 2006, despite requests therefor, if only to execute/enforce said decision dated July 29, 2005 rendered within the scope of its jurisdiction and issued with all the legal formalities, to the damage and prejudice of the plaintiff thereof.Contrary to law.
Muntinlupa City, July 31, 2006.6cralaw virtualaw library
Sec. 5. When warrant of arrest may issue. – (a) By the Regional Trial Court. – Within ten (10) days from the filing of the complaint or information, the judge shall personally evaluate the resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting evidence. He may immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause. If he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order if the accused has already been arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by the judge who conducted preliminary investigation or when the complaint or information was filed pursuant to section 6 of this Rule. In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to present additional evidence within five (5) days from notice and the issue must be resolved by the court within thirty (30) days from the filing of the complaint of information. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)It must, however, be observed that the judge’s power to immediately dismiss a criminal case would only be warranted when the lack of probable cause is clear. In De Los Santos-Dio v. CA,31 the Court illumined that a clear-cut case of lack of probable cause exists when the records readily show uncontroverted, and thus, established facts which unmistakably negate the existence of the elements of the crime charged, viz:
While a judge’s determination of probable cause is generally confined to the limited purpose of issuing arrest warrants, Section 5(a), Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure explicitly states that a judge may immediately dismiss a case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause x x x.Applying these principles to the case at bar would lead to the conclusion that the MTC did not gravely abuse its discretion in dismissing Criminal Case No. 46400 for lack of probable cause. The dismissal ought to be sustained since the records clearly disclose the unmistakable absence of the integral elements of the crime of Open Disobedience. While the first element, i.e., that the offender is a judicial or executive officer, concurs in view of Atty. Fria’s position as Branch Clerk of Court, the second and third elements of the crime evidently remain wanting.
In this regard, so as not to transgress the public prosecutor’s authority, it must be stressed that the judge’s dismissal of a case must be done only in clear-cut cases when the evidence on record plainly fails to establish probable cause – that is when the records readily show uncontroverted, and thus, established facts which unmistakably negate the existence of the elements of the crime charged. On the contrary, if the evidence on record shows that, more likely than not, the crime charged has been committed and that respondent is probably guilty of the same, the judge should not dismiss the case and thereon, order the parties to proceed to trial. In doubtful cases, however, the appropriate course of action would be to order the presentation of additional evidence.
In other words, once the information is filed with the court and the judge proceeds with his primordial task of evaluating the evidence on record, he may either: (a) issue a warrant of arrest, if he finds probable cause; (b) immediately dismiss the case, if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause; and (c) order the prosecutor to submit additional evidence, in case he doubts the existence of probable cause.32 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is DENIED. x x x The Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa City, Branch 203 is PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from proceeding with Civil Case No. 03-110 and all the proceedings therein are DECLARED NULL AND VOID. x x x The Presiding Judge of the Regional trial Court of Muntinlupa City, Branch 203 is further DIRECTED to dismiss Civil Case No. 03-110 for lack of jurisdiction.33 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)Hence, since it is explicitly required that the subject issuance be made within the scope of a superior authority’s jurisdiction, it cannot therefore be doubted that the second element of the crime of Open Disobedience does not exist. Lest it be misunderstood, a court – or any of its officers for that matter – which has no jurisdiction over a particular case has no authority to act at all therein. In this light, it cannot be argued that Atty. Fria had already committed the crime based on the premise that the Court’s pronouncement as to Branch 203’s lack of jurisdiction came only after the fact. Verily, Branch 203’s lack of jurisdiction was not merely a product of the Court’s pronouncement in Reyes. The said fact is traced to the very inception of the proceedings and as such, cannot be accorded temporal legal existence in order to indict Atty. Fria for the crime she stands to be prosecuted.
1Rollo, pp. 31-61.
2 Id. at 9-10. Penned by Acting Presiding Judge Romulo SG. Villanueva.
3 Id. at 27-28.
4 Id. at 243.
5 Article 231 of the RPC reads:cralawlibrary
ART. 231. Open Disobedience. – Any judicial or executive officer who shall openly refuse to execute the judgment, decision, or order of any superior authority made within the scope of the jurisdiction of the latter and issued with all the legal formalities, shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor in its medium period to prisión correccional in its minimum period, temporary special disqualification in its maximum period and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos.
6Rollo, p. 243.
7 Id. at 34.
8 Id. at 36.nadcralawlibrary
9 Id. at 36-37.redcralaw
10 Id. at 192-200.
11 Id. at 202-208.
12 Id. at 204-205.
13 Id. at 206.
14 Id. at 237-242. Issued by 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Leopoldo B. Macinas and approved by City Prosecutor Edward M. Togonon.
15 Id. at 246-250.
16 Id. at 264-281. See Opposition dated October 10, 2006.
17 Id. at 282-286.
18 G.R. No. 168384, August 7, 2006, 498 SCRA 186.
19 Id. at 196-197.
20Rollo, pp. 287-294. Filed on December 21, 2006.
21 Id. at 296-304. Penned by Presiding Judge Paulino Q. Gallegos.
22 Id. at 302.
23 Id. at 303.
24 Id. at 305-319. Motion for Reconsideration dated February 19, 2007.red cralawlibrary
25 Id. at 295 and 330.
26 Id. at 335-366.
27 Id. at 9-10.
28 Id. at 10. Dated January 30, 2008.
29 Id. at 11-26
30 Id. at 27-28.
31 G.R. Nos. 178947 and 179079, June 26, 2013.
33 Supra note 18, at 197.
34Rollo, pp. 303-304.
35Yu v. Reyes-Carpio, G.R. No. 189207, June 15, 2011, 652 SCRA 341, 348.