RIGHT TO SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF CASE; It is the duty of the prosecutor to speedily resolve the complaint, as mandated by the Constitution, regardless of whether the parties thereto did not object to the delay or that the delay was with their acquiescence provided that it was not due to causes directly attributable to them.
FACTS: On March 6, 1986, one Pedro Almendras filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan (predecessor of the Ombudsman) a sworn complaint against Alejandro Tapang for falsification of complainant's "salaysay" alleging that Tapang made complainant sign a piece of paper in blank on which paper a "salaysay" was later inscribed stating that complainant had been paid his claim, which was not true. Pedro Almendras mentioned that he sought the help of petitioner Elpidio Cervantes who worked as analyst in the office of labor arbiter Teodorico Ruiz. More than six years after the filing of the initiatory complaint with the Tanodbayan, Special Prosecutor Officer Luz Quinones-Marcos filed with the Sandiganbayan, an information charging Tapang, together with Teodorico Ruiz and petitioner Cervantes with violation of sec. 3(e), R.A. 3019. Thereafter, petitioner filed with the Sandiganbayan a motion to defer arraignment due to pendency of reinvestigation or motion to quash on the ground that the filing of the information against petitioner over six years after the initial complaint with the Tanodbayan violated his right to speedy disposition of the case. The Ombudsman denied petitioner's motion, hence this petition.
ISSUE: Whether or not the Sandiganbayan acted with grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioner's motion to quash for violation of his right to speedy disposition of the case.
HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. It took the Special Prosecutor six years from the filing of the initiatory complaint before he decided to file an information for the offense with the Sandiganbayan. It is the duty of the prosecutor to speedily resolve the complaint, as mandated by the Constitution, regardless of whether the petitioner did not object tot he delay or that the delay was with his acquiescence provided that it was not due to causes directly attributable to him. [Cervantes vs. Sandiganbayan; G.R. No. 108595; May 18, 1999; First Division--- Pardo, J.]
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO COUNSEL; The right to counsel means that the accused is amply accorded legal assistance extended by a counsel who commits himself to the case for the defense and acts accordingly. The right assumes an active involvement by the lawyer in the proceeding particularly at the trial of the case, his bearing constantly in mind of the basic rights of the accused, his being well-versed on the case, and his knowing the fundamental procedures, essential laws and existing jurisprudence.
FACTS: Rufino Mirandilla Bermas was charged with the crime of rape committed against his daughter Manuela Bermas. On the basis of the evidence of the prosecution, the Regional Trial Court of Paranaque rendered its decision finding the accused guilty of rape and sentenced him to suffer the extreme penalty of death. Hence, this automatic review. In this instant appeal, the defense alleged that the accused was denied of his constitutional right to effective and vigilant counsel. It appeared that on the day scheduled for his arraignment, the accused was brought before the trial court without counsel. The court thereupon assigned Atty. Rosa Elmira C. Villamin of the Public Attorney's Office to be the counsel de officio. Thereafter, the complainant testified on direct examination with hardly any participation by defense counsel, who inexplicably later waived the cross-examination and then asked the court that she be relieved of her duty as counsel de officio. Consequently, Atty. Roberto Gomez was appointed the new counsel de officio. While Atty. Gomez was ultimately allowed to cross-examine the complainant, it should be quite evident, however, that he barely had time to prepare therefor. Moreover, on the scheduled reception of the defense evidence, Atty. Gomez failed to appear. Hence, the court was constrained to appoint another counsel de officio in the name of Atty. Nicanor Lonzame. However, for one reason or another, Atty. Lonzame ceased to appear for and in behalf of the accused-appellant.
ISSUE: Whether or not accused-appellant was properly and effectively accorded his right to counsel.
HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. The right to counsel must be more than just the presence of a lawyer in the courtroom or the mere propounding of standard questions and objections. The right to counsel means that the accused is amply accorded legal assistance extended by a counsel who commits himself to the case for the defense and acts accordingly. The right assumes an active involvement by the lawyer in the proceeding particularly at the trial of the case, his bearing constantly in mind of the basic rights of the accused, his being well-versed on the case, and his knowing the fundamental procedures, essential laws and existing jurisprudence. In the case at bar, accused-appellant has not properly and effectively been accorded the right to counsel. The right to counsel proceeds from the fundamental principle of due process which basically means that a person must be heard before being condemned. The due process requirement is a part of a person's basic rights; it is not a mere formality that may be dispensed with or performed perfunctorily. [Peop1e vs. Bermas; G. R. No. 120420; April21, 1999; EN BANC--- Vitug, J.]
GRAVE MISCONDUCT; The dismissal of the criminal case does not warrant the dismissal of an administrative case arising from the same set of facts, since the quantum of evidence that is required in the latter is only substantial evidence, and not proof beyond reasonable doubt that is required in criminal cases.
FACTS: On October 20, 1992 in an entrapment plan, respondent Anastacio Diaz, then Clerk of Court of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Aborlan-Kalayaan, Palawan, was caught in the act of receiving money from Anita Taguno. The latter has a case pending before said MCTC and from whom Diaz allegedly demanded money earlier on. Consequently, a complaint for direct bribery under Art. 210 of the Revised Penal Code was filed against respondent with the office of the provincial prosecutor. Meanwhile, this Court upon the recommendation of Deputy Court Administrator Reynaldo Suarez, directed the Office of the Court Administrator to file the appropriate administrative complaint against respondent for grave misconduct and for violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act; and, consequently, preventively suspended respondent from the service. Respondent, for her part, while denying that she demanded money from the complainant, admitted having received sums of money from the complainant, but for the purpose of delivering the same to other persons for whom the amounts were allegedly intended. Subsequently thereafter, the above-mentioned criminal case against respondent was dismissed by the MCTC, on the ground that complainant Taguno had executed an Affidavit of Desistance. However, despite the dismissal of said case, the Office of the Court Administrator submitted its report with the recommendation that respondent Diaz be found guilty of grave misconduct.
HELD: The fact that the criminal case against respondent was dismissed is of no moment. The dismissal of the criminal case against respondent does not warrant the dismissal of an administrative case arising from the same set of facts, since the quantum of evidence that is required in the latter is only substantial evidence, and not proof beyond reasonable doubt that is required in criminal cases. In the present case, there is no doubt that respondent actually received money from the complainant. As noted by the Office of the Court Administrator, respondent's claim that the amounts received were intended for a lawyer does not inspire belief, for the litigants could have handed them directly to the lawyer concerned and not through an employee of the court. The fact that respondent received money from litigants is enough basis for sanctioning her for grave misconduct. A court employee should at all times detach himself or herself from taking special interests in cases pending before the court. By taking special interests in such cases, the court employee concerned commits an act of misconduct which is an administrative offense punishable under civil service law. [Office of the Court Administrator vs. Diaz; AM No. P-93-794; February 18, 1999---FIRST DIVISION; Kapunan, J.]