Ocampo v Abando

September 20, 2017 | Author: evgciik | Category: Prosecutor, Probable Cause, Acquittal, Double Jeopardy, Complaint
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Saturnino Ocampo v. Hon. Ephrem S. Abando, Cesar Merin, approving prosecutor, Rosulo Vivero, investigating prosecutor, Raul M. Gonzalez, Secretary of Department of Justice Sereno, CJ February 11, 2014 G.R. No. 176830


A preliminary investigation is "not a casual affair." It is conducted to protect the innocent from the embarrassment, expense and anxiety of a public trial. In the context of a preliminary investigation, the right to due process of law entails the opportunity to be heard. It serves to accord an opportunity for the presentation of the respondent’s side with regard to the accusation. Afterwards, the investigating officer shall decide whether the allegations and defenses lead to a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed, and that it was the respondent who committed it. Otherwise, the investigating officer is bound to dismiss the complaint.



Petitioners were charged with the murder of the victims found in a mass graveyard and with the crime of rebellion as leaders of the CPP/NPA/NPDF. They claimed that copies of the subpoena, the complaint and other supporting documents never reached them so that they were denied due process during the preliminary investigation, but the Court held that efforts were made by sending these to their addresses. Also, the judge complied with the Constitutional requirements in his determination of probable cause for the issuance of the warrants of arrest.

Facts R


A mass graveyard was found at Sitio Sapang Daco, Barangay Kaulisihan, Inopacan, Leyte by the 43rd Infantry Brigade containing 67 skeletal remains of those believed to be victims of “Operation Venereal Disease (VD)” by the Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NPDF) of the Philippines. This was done to purge their ranks of suspected military informers. Members of the Scene of the Crime Operation team conducted forensic crime analysis to identify the bodies by way of DNA sample. The initial report of the PNP Crime Laboratory on their identities remained inconclusive, but, in a Special Report, the Case Secretariat of the Regional and National Inter-Agency Legal Action Group came up with ten names of possible victims after comparing the testimonies of relatives and witnesses. Police Chief Inspector George L. Almaden and Staff Judge Advocate Captain Allan Tiu sent undated letters to Pros. Vivero, requesting for legal action on the twelve attached complaintaffidavits. These were from relatives of the alleged victims of Operation VD who all swore that their relatives had been abducted or last seen with members of the CPP/NPA/NDFP. Charging them with murder, the affidavits were directed to 71 named members of the group, including the petitioners. Namely, the petitioners were Ocampo, Echanis, Baylosis and Ladlad who were all pointed out to be members of the Central Committee that ordered the campaign to be carried out in 1985. On this basis, Pros. Vivero issued a subpoena requiring them to submit their counter-affidavits and Ocampo complied. However, Echanis and Baylosis did not do so because allegedly they were not served the copy of a subpoena. As for Ladlad, though his counsel made formal appearance during the preliminary investigation, he also did not submit for the same reason as the two. Pros. Vivero, in a resolution, directed the filing of information for 15 counts of multiple murder against the 54 named members, including the petitioners. He also caused some respondents to be used as state witnesses for their testimony is vital to the prosecution. Said information was filed before RTC Hilongos, Leyte branch 18 presided by Judge Abando. Prior to receiving the resolution, Ocampo filed an Ex Parte Motion to Set Case for Clarificatory Hearing. Judge Obando found probable cause and ordered the issuance of warrants of arrest against them with no recommended bail. Ocampo went to the Supreme Court by way of special civil action for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 and asked for the abovementioned order and the prosecutor’s resolution to be annulled. He said that a case for rebellion against him and 44 others was then already pending before RTC Makati and so, the crime of murder was absorbed by the rebellion in line with the political offense doctrine. The Court ordered the Solicitor General to comment on the issue and also ordered the parties to submit their memoranda. From the oral arguments, the Court found that the single Information










charging them all of 15 counts of murder was defective. The prosecution moved to admit amended and new information, but Judge Abando suspended the proceedings during the pendency of the case before the Court. - Meanwhile, Echanis was arrested and he, along with Baylosis, filed a Motion for Judicial Reinvestigation/ Determination of Probable Cause with Prayer to Dismiss the Case Outright and Alternative Prayer to Recall/ Suspend Service of Warrant, but it was dismissed by Judge Abando. Around this time, Ladlad filed a Motion to Quash/Dismiss with the RTC Manila. - Echanis and Baylosis moved to reconsider but it was not acted because, as per request of the DOJ Secretary to change the venue of the trial, the records were transmitted to RTC Manila. Echanis and Baylosis continued to seek relief from the Supreme Court in response to Judge Abando’s orders. Echanis also prayed for his release. - Both Ocampo and Echanis were granted provisional release by the Supreme Court under cash bonds. - As to Ladlad’s Motion to Quash, it was denied by respondent judge and the same happened to his Motion for Reconsideration. Ladlad sought to annul the latter’s orders by way of special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65. - As to their bail, Ladlad filed an Urgent Motion to Fix Bail whereas Baylosis filed a Motion to Allow Petitioner to Post Bail which were granted, with no opposition from the OSG (bec. they’re consultants of the NDFP negotiating team, then having talks with the GRP peace panel). 1. Whether or not the petitioners’ right to due process was violated (NO) See doctrine. The essence of due process is reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit evidence in support of one's defense. Thus, one who has been afforded a chance to present one’s own side of the story cannot claim denial of due process. a) Echanis and Baylosis: We were not given a copy of the complaint and the attached documents or evidence! COURT: Section 3(d), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, allows Prosecutor Vivero to resolve the complaint based on the evidence before him if a respondent could not be subpoenaed. As long as efforts to reach a respondent were made, and he was given an opportunity to present countervailing evidence, the preliminary investigation remains valid. It was only because a majority of them could no longer be found at their last known addresses that they were not served copies.The rule was meant to foil underhanded attempts of a respondent to delay the prosecution of offenses. b) Ladlad: I was not served with the subpoena because of the false address in those undated letters. Even though my counsels filed their formal entry of appearance, still no receipt of the subpoena. COURT: The subpoena was sent to his wife in the same address, yet she was able to have submitted her counter-affidavit. Also, because his counsels filed the formal entry of appearance, Pros. Vivero had reason to believe he received the subpoena. Ladlad had the opportunity to secure copies of the complaint and other documents, but litigants represented by counsel should not expect that all they need to do is sit back, relax and await the outcome of their case. c) Ocampo: Pros. Vivero colluded with Almaden and Tiu in inserting the Supplemental Affidavit of Zacarias Piedad in the records of the case without giving me a copy. Said affidavit alleged that I was the one who presided the meeting where the operation vd was launched in 1984. How can I be there when I was in military custody from 1976 until my escape in 1985? Prosecutor Vivero also delayed the service of his resolution by 19 days, denying me my right to due process. COURT: i. Nothing surreptitious about the Supplemental Affidavit since it clearly alludes to an earlier affidavit and admits the mistake committed regarding the date of the alleged meeting, thus making it clear that this was executed after Ocampo submitted his counter-affidavit. ii. The case of the prosecution does not rest on Zacarias’ supplemental affidavit so Ocampo can’t claim that his right to due process was infringed just because he wasn’t able to receive it. In fact, his indictment was based on the collective affidavits of other witnesses, says the OSG. iii. The period for filing a motion for reconsideration or an appeal to the Secretary of Justice is counted from the date of the receipt, not from the date of the resolution. This is provided in Section 3 of the 2000 National Prosecution Service Rule on Appeal: 2. Whether or not Judge Abando complied with the requirements of the Constitution in finding the

existence of probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest (YES) a) Although the Constitution provides that probable cause shall be determined by the judge after an examination under oath or an affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses, we have ruled that a hearing is not necessary for its determination. b) It is enough that the judge personally evaluates the prosecutor’s report and supporting documents showing the existence of probable cause for the indictment and then issue a warrant of arrest. Or, if he finds no probable cause, he can require submission of additional affidavits of the witnesses. c) The judge’s review of the Information and other supporting documents was clearly set forth in his order. d) Such issues are questions of fact and are not within the purview of a petition for certiorari. 3. Whether or not the political offense may be used as the grounds to dismiss the charge prior to determination by the trial court that the murders were committed in the furtherance of rebellion (NO) a) Under this doctrine, common crimes committed in the furtherance of a political offense, are divested of its common character and assume the political complexion of the main crime. Thus, when the killing was is done in furtherance of a rebellion, it assumes the political complexion of a rebellion and it must be prosecuted as rebellion alone. b) Petitioners say that records show the murders were done in furtherance of rebellion and that the political motivation can be seen from the charge against the group’s top leaders as co-conspirators. The burden of proof is on the defense and this must be adduced during the trial. c) If they were able to prove it, then the remedy is provided by Sec. 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court on the amendment or substitution of a complaint or information.1 When this is done before plea and it downgrades the nature of the offense, it can only be done upon motion of the prosecutor with notice to the offended party and leave of court. d) If at any time before judgement, it is shown that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense, the court shall dismiss the original complaint upon filing of the new one, as long as the accused is not placed in double jeopardy. e) In this case, however, though they were charged with an Information for rebellion before RTC Makati, petitioners already filed a petition before this Court to seek the nullification of the Orders of the DOJ denying their motion for the inhibition of the members of the prosecution panel due to lack of impartiality and independence. Also, they filed supplemental petitions to enjoin the prosecution of the criminal case so that they were never arraigned. The Court finally dismissed the rebellion case. f) The requisites for double jeopardy were that a first jeopardy attached; it has been validly terminated; and a second jeopardy is for the same offense as in the first2. The first jeopardy attaches only after the accused has been acquitted or convicted, or the case has been dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent, by a competent court in a valid indictment for which the accused has entered a valid plea during arraignment. g) With the petitioners having never been arraigned, the first jeopardy does not attach in this case.


Instant consolidated petitions are dismissed. Petitioner Saturnino C. Ocampo shall remain on temporary liberty under the same bail granted by this Court until the termination of the proceedings before the RTC Manila. Petitioners Randall B. Echanis, Rafael G. Baylosis and Vicente P. Ladlad shall remain on temporary liberty under the same bail granted by this Court until their actual participation as CPP-NDF consultants in the peace negotiations with the government are concluded or terminated, or until the termination of the proceedings before the RTC Manila, whichever is sooner.


SECTION 14. Amendment or substitution. — A complaint or information may be amended, in form or in substance, without leave of court, at any time before the accused enters his plea. After the plea and during the trial, a formal amendment may only be made with leave of court and when it can be done without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused. 2

Section 7, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court – Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. — When an accused has been convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for the offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information.

Prepared by: Eunice V. Guadalope

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