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06 Solar Team Entertainment v. How (2000)

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  Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT ManilaTHIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 140863 August 22, 2000SOLAR TEAM ENTERTAINMENT, INC. an PEOPLE O! T E P ILIPPINES, petitioners, vs. ON. ROLAN#O O$, %n &%s 'a(a'%t) as P*+s%%ng ug+ o- t&+ R+g%ona T*%a Cou*t /*an'& 2 o- Pa*aau+ an MA. !E !. /ARREIRO, respondents.D  ! I S I O N GONAGA5REES, J.: The uestion raised in this instant petition for certiorari   and mandamus  is #hether or not the trial court can indefinitel$ suspend the arrai%n&ent of the accused until the petition for revie# #ith the Secretar$ of 'ustice (SO') has been resolved.The facts of this case are not disputed.On Ma$ *+, ---, the !it$ Prosecutor of Paraa ue filed an Infor&ation   for estafa a%ainst Ma. /e 0arreiro (private respondent) based on the co&plaint *  filed b$ Solar Tea& ntertain&ent, Inc. (petitioner). The case #as doc1eted as !ri&inal !ase No. --2345 entitled 6People of the Philippines vs. Ma. /e /. 0arreiro6 before the Re%ional Trial !ourt of Paraa ue !it$, 0ranch *37, presided b$ public respondent 'ud%e Rolando 8. Ho#.0efore the scheduled arrai%n&ent of private respondent on 9u%ust 3, --- could ta1e place, respondent court issued an Order  4  dated 'une *-, ---, resettin% the arrai%n&ent of private respondent on Septe&ber *, --- on the %round that private respondent had 6filed an appeal #ith the Depart&ent of 'ustice (DO')6. :  Private respondent &anifested in the sa&e Order that she #ould sub&it a certification fro& the DO' %rantin% due course to her appeal on or before the second scheduled arrai%n&ent. 3  On Septe&ber *:, ---, respondent court issued an Order  5  den$in% petitioner;s &otion for reconsideration of the order that previousl$ reset the arrai%n&ent of private respondent. Said order further rescheduled the arrai%n&ent of private respondent to Nove&ber +, ---.On Nove&ber <, ---, private respondent filed another 6Motion to Defer  9rrai%n&ent6. 7  On Nove&ber 3, ---, before the scheduled date of the arrai%n&entof private respondent and before the date set for the hearin% of private respondent;s 6Motion to Defer 9rrai%n&ent6, respondent court issued an Order  +  further deferrin% the arrai%n&ent of private respondent 6until such ti&e that the appeal #ith the said office (SO') is resolved6. -  Petitioner;s &otion for reconsideration of the order #as denied b$ respondent court on Nove&ber **, ---. < Petitioner be#ails the fact that si= &onths have elapsed since private respondent appeared or sub&itted herself to the >urisdiction of respondent court and up to no# she still has to be arrai%ned.   Respondent court alle%edl$ violated due process #henit issued the assailed order before petitioner received a cop$ of the 6Motion to Defer  9rrai%n&ent6 of private respondent and before the hearin% for the sa&e &otion couldbe conducted. *  Petitioner points out that despite the order of respondent court dated Septe&ber *5, --- #hich stated that the arrai%n&ent of private respondent on Nove&ber +, --- is 6intransferable6, respondent court, in utter disre%ard of its o#n order, issued the no# assailed order indefinitel$ suspendin% the arrai%n&ent of private respondent. 4 Petitioner is convinced that the t#in orders further dela$in% the arrai%n&ent of privaterespondent and den$in% the &otion for reconsideration of petitioner violate Section 7,of the Speed$ Trial 9ct of --+ (R9 +:-4) and Section *, Rule 5 of the Revised Rules on !ri&inal Procedure.Petitioner further sub&its that this instant petition raises 6a pure uestion of la# of first i&pression6 :  since 6it involves the application and interpretation of a la# of ver$ recent vinta%e, na&el$ Republic 9ct No. +:-4, other#ise 1no#n as the Speed$ Trial  9ct of --+6. 3  Petitioner &ainl$ relies on Section 7 of said la# that states that?6Section 7. Ti&e @i&it 0et#een /ilin% of Infor&ation and 9rrai%n&ent and 0et#een  9rrai%n&ent and Trial. A The arrai%n&ent of an accused shall be held #ithin thirt$ (4<) da$s fro& the filin% of the infor&ation, or fro& the date the accused has appeared before the >ustice, >ud%e or court in #hich the char%e is pendin%, #hichever date last occurs. ===60$ issuin% the assailed order, respondent court alle%edl$ co&&itted %rave abuse of discretion a&ountin% to lac1Be=cess of >urisdiction. 5  Hence, this petition for certiorari   and mandamus  to nullif$ and set aside the order of respondent court dated Nove&ber 3, ---.Petitioner li&its the issues to the follo#in%?I.RSPONDNT !OCRT RRD IN R/CSIN8 TO 9RR9I8N TH PRIV9T RSPONDNT DSPIT TH @9PS O/ TH TIM @IMIT O/ THIRT (4<) D9S M9ND9TORI@ IMPOSD 0 S!TION 7, O/ RPC0@I! 9!T NO. +:-4, OTHREIS FNOEN 9S 6TH SPD TRI9@ 9!T O/ --+6G 9ND 1  II.RSPONDNT !OCRT RRD IN D/IN8 S!TION *, RC@ 5, O/TH RVISD RC@S ON !RIMIN9@ PRO!DCR. 7 The instant petition is devoid of &erit.The po#er of the Secretar$ of 'ustice to revie# resolutions of his subordinates even after the infor&ation has alread$ been filed in court is #ell settled. In Marcelo vs. Court of Appeals , +  reiterated in Roberts vs. Court of Appeals , -  #e clarified that nothin% in Crespo vs. Mogul  *<  forecloses the po#er or authorit$ of the Secretar$ of 'ustice to revie# resolutions of his subordinates in cri&inal cases despite an infor&ation alread$ havin% been filed in court. * The nature of the 'ustice Secretar$;s po#er of control over prosecutors #as e=plained in Ledesma vs. Court of Appeals   **  in this #ise?6Decisions or resolutions of prosecutors are sub>ect to appeal to the secretar$ of  >ustice #ho, under the Revised 9d&inistrative !ode, *4  e=ercises the po#er of direct control and supervision over said prosecutorsG and #ho &a$ thus affir&, nullif$, reverse or &odif$ their rulin%s.Section 4-, !hapter +, 0oo1 IV in relation to Sections 3, +, and -, !hapter *, Title IIIof the !ode %ives the secretar$ of >ustice supervision and control over the Office of the !hief Prosecutor and the Provincial and !it$ Prosecution Offices. The scope of his po#er of supervision and control is delineated in Section 4+, para%raph , !hapter 7, 0oo1 IV of the !ode?J() Supervision and Control  . A Supervision and control shall include authorit$ to act directl$ #henever a specific function is entrusted b$ la# or re%ulation to a subordinateG direct the perfor&ance of dut$G restrain the co&&ission of actsG revie#, approve, reverse or &odif$ acts and decisions of subordinate officials or unitsG = = = =.;Supple&entin% the afore uoted provisions are Section 4 of R.9. 47+4 and Section 47of 9ct :<<7, #hich read?JSection 4. = = = =The !hief State Prosecutor, the 9ssistant !hief State Prosecutors, the Senior State Prosecutors, and the State Prosecutors shall = = = perfor& such other duties as &a$ be assi%ned to the& b$ the Secretar$ of 'ustice in the interest of public service.;= = = = = = = = =Section 47. The provisions of the e=istin% la# to the contrar$ not#ithstandin%, #henever a specific po#er, authorit$, dut$, function, or activit$ is entrusted to a chief of bureau, office, division or service, the sa&e shall be understood as also conferred upon the proper Depart&ent Head #ho shall have authorit$ to act directl$ in pursuance thereof, or to revie#, &odif$, or revo1e an$ decision or action of said chief of bureau, office, division or service.6JSupervision; and Jcontrol; of a depart&ent head over his subordinates have been defined in ad&inistrative la# as follo#s?JIn ad&inistrative la#, supervision &eans overseein% or the po#er or authorit$ of an officer to see that subordinate officers perfor& their duties. If the latter fail or ne%lect to fulfill the&, the for&er &a$ ta1e such action or step as prescribed b$ la# to &a1e the& perfor& such duties. !ontrol, on the other hand, &eans the po#er of an officer to alter or &odif$ or nullif$ or set aside #hat a subordinate officer had done in the perfor&ance of his duties and to substitute the >ud%&ent of the for&er for that of the latter.;Revie# as an act of supervision and control b$ the >ustice secretar$ over the fiscals and prosecutors finds basis in the doctrine of e=haustion of ad&inistrative re&edies #hich holds that &ista1es, abuses or ne%li%ence co&&itted in the initial steps of an ad&inistrative activit$ or b$ an ad&inistrative a%enc$ should be corrected b$ hi%her ad&inistrative authorities, and not directl$ b$ courts. 9s a rule, onl$ after ad&inistrative re&edies are e=hausted &a$ >udicial recourse be allo#ed.6 *: Procedurall$ spea1in%, after the filin% of the infor&ation, the court is in co&plete control of the case and an$ disposition therein is sub>ect to its sound discretion. *3  Thedecision to suspend arrai%n&ent to a#ait the resolution of an appeal #ith the Secretar$ of 'ustice is an e=ercise of such discretion. !onsistent #ith our rulin% in Marcelo , *5  #e have since then held in a nu&ber of cases that a court can defer to theauthorit$ of the prosecution ar& to resolve, once and for all, the issue of #hether or not sufficient %round e=isted to file the infor&ation. *7  This is in line #ith our %eneral pronounce&ent in Crespo *+  that courts cannot interfere #ith the prosecutor;s discretion over cri&inal prosecution. *-  Thus, public respondent did not act #ith %rave abuse of discretion #hen it suspended the arrai%n&ent of private respondent to a#aitthe resolution of her petition for revie# #ith the Secretar$ of 'ustice.In several cases, #e have e&phaticall$ cautioned >ud%es to refrain fro& arrai%nin% the accused precipitatel$ to avoid a &iscarria%e of >ustice. 4<  In Dimatulac vs. Villon , 4  the >ud%e in that case hastil$ arrai%ned the accused despite the pendin% appeal of the accused #ith the DO' and not#ithstandin% the e=istence of circu&stances indicatin% the probabilit$ of &iscarria%e of >ustice. Said >ud%e #as re&inded that he should have heeded our state&ent in Marcelo 4*  6that prudence, if not #isdo&, or at least respect for the authorit$ of the prosecution a%enc$, dictated that he (respondent >ud%e therein) should have #aited for the resolution of the appeal then pendin% #ith the DO'.6 44 2  It bears stressin% that the court is ho#ever not bound to adopt the resolution of the Secretar$ of 'ustice since the court is &andated to independentl$ evaluate or assessthe &erits of the case, and &a$ either a%ree or disa%ree #ith the reco&&endation of the Secretar$ of 'ustice. 4:  Reliance alone on the resolution of the Secretar$ of 'ustice #ould be an abdication of the trial court;s dut$ and >urisdiction to deter&ine  prima facie  case. 43 Petitioner insists that in vie# of the passa%e of the Speed$ Trial 9ct of --+, the revie# authorit$ of the Secretar$ of 'ustice after an infor&ation has been alread$ filed in court &a$ possibl$ trans%ress the ri%ht of a part$ to a speed$ disposition of his case, in li%ht of the &andator$ tenor of the Speed$ Trial 9ct of --+ re uirin% thatthe accused &ust be arrai%ned #ithin thirt$ (4<) da$s fro& the filin% of an infor&ationa%ainst hi&. Petitioner then i&presses upon this !ourt that there is a need to reconcile the revie# authorit$ of the Secretar$ of 'ustice and the Speed$ Trial 9ct of --+, and sub&its that 6the Secretar$ of 'ustice &ust revie# the appeal and rule thereon #ithin a period of thirt$ (4<) da$s fro& the date the infor&ation #as filed or fro& the date the accused appeared in court (surrendered or arrested)6 45  if onl$ to %ive &eanin% to the Speed$ Trial 9ct.Ee are not persuaded. The authorit$ of the Secretar$ of 'ustice to revie# resolutionsof his subordinates even after an infor&ation has alread$ been filed in court does notpresent an irreconcilable conflict #ith the thirt$2da$ period prescribed b$ Section 7 of the Speed$ Trial 9ct.!ontrar$ to the ur%in%s of petitioner, Section 7 of the Speed$ Trial 9ct of --+ prescribin% the thirt$2da$ period for the arrai%n&ent of the accused is not absolute. Infact, Section < of the sa&e la# enu&erates periods of dela$ that shall be e=cluded in co&putin% the ti&e #ithin #hich trial &ust co&&ence. The pertinent portion thereof provides that?6S!. <. Exclusions. - The follo#in% periods of dela$ shall be e=cluded in co&putin% the ti&e #ithin #hich trial &ust co&&ence?= = =6(f) 9n$ period of dela$ resultin% fro& a continuance %ranted b$ an$ >ustice or >ud%e  motu    propio  or on &otion of the accused or hisBher counsel or at the re uest of the public prosecutor, if the >ustice or >ud%e %ranted such continuance on the basis of hisBher findin%s that the ends of >ustice served b$ ta1in% such action out#ei%h the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speed$ trial. No such period of dela$ resultin% fro& a continuance %ranted b$ the court in accordance #ith this subpara%raph shall be e=cludable under this section unless the court sets forth, in the record of the case, either orall$ or in #ritin%, its reasons for findin% that the ends of >ustice served b$ the %rantin% of such continuance out#ei%h the best interests of the public and the accused in a speed$ trial.6 9ccordin%l$, the vie# espoused b$ petitioner that the thirt$2da$ period prescribed b$ Section 7 of the Speed$ Trial 9ct &ust be strictl$ observed so as not to violate its ri%ht to a speed$ trial finds no support in the la# itself. The e=ceptions provided in theSpeed$ Trial 9ct of --+ reflect the funda&entall$ reco%niKed principle that the concept of 6speed$ trial6 is 6a relative ter& and &ust necessaril$ be a fle=ible concept.6 47  In fact, in i&ple&entin% the Speed$ Trial 9ct of --+, this !ourt issued S! !ircular No. 4+2-+, Section * of #hich provides that?6Section *. Ti&e @i&it for 9rrai%n&ent and Pre2trial. A The arrai%n&ent, and the pre2trial if the accused pleads not %uilt$ to the cri&e char%ed, shall be held #ithin thirt$ (4<) da$s fro& the date the court ac uires >urisdiction over the person of the accused. The period of the pendenc$ of a &otion to uash, or for a bill of particulars, or oter causes !ustif ing suspension of arraignment sall be excluded  .6 (&phasis ours) 9s stated earlier, prudence and #isdo& dictate that the court should hold in abe$ance the proceedin%s #hile the Secretar$ of 'ustice resolves the petition for revie# uestionin% the resolution of the prosecutor. The dela$ in such a case is  >ustified because the deter&ination of #hether the dela$ is unreasonable, thus a&ountin% to a trans%ression of the ri%ht to a speed$ trial, cannot be si&pl$ reduced to a &athe&atical process. Hence, the len%th of dela$ is not the lone criterion to be considered, several factors &ust be ta1en into account in deter&inin% #hether or not the constitutional ri%ht to a speed$ trial has been violated. The factors to consider and balance are the duration of the dela$, reason thereof, assertion of the ri%ht or failure to assert it and the pre>udice caused b$ such dela$. 4+ The i&portance of the revie# authorit$ of the Secretar$ of 'ustice cannot be overe&phasiKedG as earlier pointed out, it is based on the doctrine of e=haustion of ad&inistrative re&edies that holds that 6&ista1es, abuses or ne%li%ence co&&itted inthe initial steps of an ad&inistrative activit$ or b$ an ad&inistrative a%enc$ should be corrected b$ hi%her ad&inistrative authorities, and not directl$ b$ courts.6 4- Ee are not un&indful of the principle that #hile the ri%ht to a speed$ trial secures ri%hts to the defendant, it does not preclude the ri%hts of public >ustice. :<  Ho#ever, in this case, petitioner as private co&plainant in the cri&inal case, cannot deprive private respondent, accused therein, of her ri%ht to avail of a re&ed$ afforded to an accused in a cri&inal case. The i&&ediate arrai%n&ent of private respondent #ould have then proscribed her ri%ht as accused to appeal the resolution of the prosecutor to the Secretar$ of 'ustice since Section : of DO' Order No. **4 of 'une 4<, --4 forestalls an appeal to the Secretar$ of 'ustice if the accusedBappellant has alread$ been arrai%ned. :  Hence, in this case, the order suspendin% the arrai%n&ent of private respondent &erel$ allo#ed private respondent to e=haust the ad&inistrative re&edies available to her as accused in the cri&inal case before the court could proceed to a full2blo#n trial. !onversel$, in case the resolution is for the dis&issal of the infor&ation, the offended part$ in the cri&inal case, herein petitioner, can appeal the adverse resolution to the Secretar$ of 'ustice. :*  In Marcelo vs. Court of Appeals# this !ourt aptl$ pointed out that? 3  6the trial court in a cri&inal case #hich ta1es co%niKance of an accused;s &otion for revie# of the resolution of the investi%atin% prosecutor or for reinvesti%ation and defers the arrai%n&ent until resolution of the said &otion &ust act on the resolution reversin% the investi%atin% prosecutor;s findin% or on a &otion to dis&iss based thereon only upon proof that such resolution is already final in that no appeal was taken therefrom to the Department of Justice .6 :4  (&phasis ours)The fact that public respondent issued the assailed order suspendin% the arrai%n&ent of private respondent before the 6Motion to Defer 9rrai%n&ent6 of privaterespondent could be heard is not tanta&ount to %rave abuse of discretion. It #as #ell#ithin the po#er of public respondent to %rant the continuance since Section < (f) of the Speed$ Trial 9ct of --+ clearl$ confers this authorit$.Public respondent substantiall$ co&plied #ith the re uire&ent of Section < (f) of theSpeed$ Trial 9ct #hen it stated its reasons for the defer&ent and eventual suspension of the arrai%n&ent of private respondent in its orders dated Septe&ber *:, --- ::  and Nove&ber **, --- :3  . In said orders, public respondent reasoned that the suspension of the arrai%n&ent of private respondent #as to %ive the opportunit$ to the accused to e=haust the procedural re&edies available, :5  to allo# the Secretar$ of 'ustice to revie# the resolution of the !it$ Prosecutor  :7  so as not to deprive the for&er of his po#er to revie# the action of the latter b$ a precipitate trial of the case, :+  and based on the discretionar$ po#er of the trial >ud%e to %rant or den$ the &otion to suspend the arrai%n&ent of the accused pendin% deter&ination of her petition for revie# at the Depart&ent of 'ustice. :-  Despite the absence of a la# or re%ulation prescribin% the period #ithin #hich the Secretar$ of 'ustice &ust dispose of an appeal, the presu&ption still holds true that in the re%ular perfor&ance of his functions, the Secretar$ of 'ustice #ill decide the appeal in the soonest possible ti&e. Recentl$, the Depart&ent of 'ustice issued Me&orandu& Order No. * dated 'ul$ 4, *<<< &andatin% that the period for the disposition of appealsBpetitions for revie# shall be 73 da$s. 3<  In vie# of this &e&orandu&, the indefinite suspension of proceedin%s in the trial court because of a pendin% petition for revie# #ith the Secretar$ of 'ustice is no# unli1el$ to happen.Section 5 of Rule < of the Rules of !ourt does entitle the offended part$ to intervene in the cri&inal case if he has not #aived the civil action or e=pressl$ reserved his ri%ht to institute it separatel$ fro& the cri&inal action. Ho#ever, the prosecution of the cri&inal case throu%h the private prosecutor is still under the direction and control of the public prosecutor  3  and such intervention &ust be #ith theper&ission of the public prosecutor . 3*  In this case, based on the po#er of control and supervision of the Secretar$ of 'ustice over public prosecutors, the pendenc$ of the appeal of private respondent #ith the Secretar$ of 'ustice should have i&pelled the public prosecutor to &ove for the suspension of the arrai%n&ent of private respondent. !onsiderin% that private respondent had alread$ infor&ed the court of her appeal #ith the Secretar$ of 'ustice and had &oved for the suspension of her arrai%n&ent, the public prosecutor should have desisted fro& opposin% the abe$ance of further proceedin%s.@astl$, petitioner;s ar%u&ent that the suspension of the arrai%n&ent in this case #as in violation of Section *, Rule 5 of the Revised Rules on !ri&inal Procedure is li1e#ise not tenable. Section *, Rule 5 of the Revised Rules on !ri&inal Procedure provides that?6Section *. Suspension of 9rrai%n&ent. A The arrai%n&ent shall be suspended, if at the ti&e thereof?(a) The accused appears to be sufferin% fro& an unsound &ental condition #hich effectivel$ renders hi& unable to full$ understand the case a%ainst hi& and to plead intelli%entl$ thereto. In such case, the court shall order his &ental e=a&ination and, if necessar$, his confine&ent for such purpose.(b) The court finds the e=istence of a valid pre>udicial uestion.6There is nothin% in the above2 uoted provision that e=pressl$ or i&pliedl$ &andates that the suspension of arrai%n&ent shall be li&ited to the cases enu&erated therein. Moreover, >urisprudence has clearl$ established that the suspension of arrai%n&ent is not strictl$ li&ited to the t#o situations conte&plated in said provision. 34  In fine, no %rave abuse of discretion attended the issuance of the assailed order suspendin% thearrai%n&ent of private respondent until her petition for revie# #ith the Secretar$ of 'ustice is resolved. $ ERE!ORE , the petition is DISMISSD for lac1 of &erit.SO ORDRD. 4

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Jul 23, 2017
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