For An Acquittal To Be Considered Tainted With Grave Abuse Of Discretion, There Must Be A Showing That The Prosecution’s Right To Due Process Was Violated Or That The Trial Conducted Was A Sham…
Julieta (Ando) was charged with Falsification of Public Documents
for making it appear that Wille’s (Tee) father, Tee Ong, the owner of To
Suy Hardware, signed and executed a Deed of Sale, an Affidavit and a
Transfer of Rights on January 31, 1996, despite the fact that Tee Ong
was already dead at the time the allegedly falsified documents were
executed and notarised. After trial, the MTC convicted her as charged,
which decision was affirmed by the RTC. On appeal to the Court of
Appeals, however, the latter acquitted Julieta, holding that the
prosecution did not submit any expert witness to show that the
signatures and thumb mark of Tee Ong were indeed falsified. The lower
courts erred in concluding that the signatures were forged on the basis
that Tee Ong was already dead at the time of tits notarisation, and did
not eliminate the possibility that Tee Ong may have signed the documents
before his death, thus giving doubt to Julieta’s guilt. Tee then filed
a Petition for Certiorari to assail the CA’s acquittal of Julieta,
averring that the OSG joined him in the petition.
May the prosecution assail the acquittal of an accused via a
petition for certiorari without violating the right of accused against
The Court’s ruling:
Dismissal of this petition is inevitable in view of the principle of
double jeopardy, making it unnecessary to address and extrapolate on
the numerous factual issues raised by Tee against the CA’s Decision
dated July 28, 2011 and the procedural lapses Ando attributes to Tee.
The mere fact that the decision being brought for this Court’s review is
one for acquittal alerts one’s attention to a possible violation of the
rule against double jeopardy.
In People v. Hon. Tria-Tirona1,
this Court reiterated that mistrial is the only exception to the
well-settled, even axiomatic, principle that acquittal is immediately
final and cannot be appealed on the ground of double jeopardy. This
Court was categorical in stating that a re-examination of the evidence
without a finding of mistrial will violate the right to repose of an
accused, which is what is protected by the rule against double jeopardy.2
This petition does not allege a mistrial and the sole challenge
posed by Tee and the OSG against the validity of the CA’s disposition is
the latter’s supposed misappreciation of the evidence, which is an
error of judgment and not of jurisdiction or a manifestation of grave
abuse of discretion, hence, not correctible by a writ of certiorari.3
In People of the Philippines v. Hon. Sandiganbayan (Third Division),4
this Court clarified that for an acquittal to be considered tainted
with grave abuse of discretion, there must be a showing that the
prosecution’s right to due process was violated or that the trial
conducted was a sham.
Although the dismissal order is not subject to appeal, it is still reviewable but only through certiorari
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. For the writ to issue, the trial
court must be shown to have acted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction such as where the
prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or where the
trial was a sham thus rendering the assailed judgment void. The burden
is on the petitioner to clearly demonstrate that the trial court
blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as to deprive it of
its very power to dispense justice.5 (Citations omitted)
The petition is bereft of any allegation, much less, evidence that
the prosecution’s right to due process was violated or the proceedings
before the CA were a mockery such that Ando’s acquittal was a foregone
conclusion. Accordingly, notwithstanding the alleged errors in the
interpretation of the applicable law or appreciation of evidence that
the CA may have committed in ordering Ando’s acquittal, absent any
showing that the CA acted with caprice or without regard to the
rudiments of due process, the CA’s findings can no longer be reversed,
disturbed and set aside without violating the rule against double
jeopardy. As ruled in the above-cited Sandiganbayan case:
Nonetheless, even if the Sandiganbayan proceeded from an
erroneous interpretation of the law and its implementing rules, the
error committed was an error of judgment and not of jurisdiction.
Petitioner failed to establish that the dismissal order was tainted with
grave abuse of discretion such as the denial of the prosecution’s right
to due process or the conduct of a sham trial. In fine, the error
committed by the Sandiganbayan is of such a nature that can no
longer be rectified on appeal by the prosecution because it would place
the accused in double jeopardy6. (Citation omitted)
In fine, this petition cannot be given due course without running afoul of the principle against double jeopardy.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER, VS. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, FOURTH DIVISION AND JULIETA G. ANDO, RESPONDENTS.SECOND DIVISION, G.R. No. 198589, July 25, 2012,
Carpio, (Chairperson), Del Castillo,* Perez, and Sereno, JJ., concur.
1 502 Phil. 31 (2005).
2 People v. Hon. Velasco, 394 Phil. 517, 558.
3 People v. Sandiganbayan (Fifth Division), G.R. No. 173396, September 22, 2010, 631 SCRA 128, 133.