Monday, December 05, 2011

Heirs of the Late Nestor Tria vs. Atty. Epifania Obias, G.R. No. 175887, November 24, 2010

Jurisdiction; Office of the President. The Office of the President (“OP”) did not err in taking cognizance of the appeal of respondent, and the Court of Appeals (“CA”) likewise had jurisdiction to pass upon the issue of probable cause in a petition challenging the OP’s ruling. Memorandum Circular No. 58, provides, among others: “No appeal from or petition for review of decisions/orders/resolutions of the Secretary of Justice on preliminary investigations of criminal cases shall be entertained by the Office of the President, except those involving offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua to death wherein new and material issues are raised which were not previously presented before the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and were not ruled upon in the subject decision/order/resolution, in which case the President may order the Secretary of Justice to reopen/review the case, provided, that, the prescription of the offense is not due to lapse within six (6) months from notice of the questioned resolution/order/decision, and provided further, that, the appeal or petition for review is filed within thirty (30) days from such notice. Henceforth, if an appeal or petition for review does not clearly fall within the jurisdiction of the Office of the President, as set forth in the immediately preceding paragraph, it shall be dismissed outright and no order shall be issued requiring the payment of the appeal fee, the submission of appeal brief/memorandum or the elevation of the records to the Office of the President from the Department of Justice. If it is not readily apparent from the appeal or petition for review that the case is within the jurisdiction of the Office of the President, the appellant/petitioner shall be ordered to prove the necessary jurisdictional facts, under penalty of outright dismissal of the appeal or petition, and no order to pay the appeal fee or to submit appeal brief/memorandum or to elevate the records of the case to the Office of the President shall be issued unless and until the jurisdictional requirements shall have been satisfactorily established by the appellant/petitioner.” 

Jurisdiction; Office of the President. In this case, the offense for which respondent was charged is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death, which is clearly within the jurisdiction of the Office of the President (“OP”) in accordance with Memorandum Circular No. 58. Respondent’s appeal was initially dismissed when Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Waldo Q. Flores issued the Resolution dated June 27, 2003 affirming in toto the appealed resolutions of the Secretary of Justice and adopting the latter’s findings and conclusions. However, subsequent to her filing of a motion for reconsideration of the said June 27, 2003 Resolution, respondent filed a Supplemental Pleading and Submission of Newly Discovered Evidence. The arguments of respondent in support of her motion for reconsideration were duly considered by the OP in reexamining the appealed resolutions. As the word “may” in the second paragraph of Memorandum Circular No. 58 signifies, it is not mandatory for the President to order the DOJ to reopen or review respondent’s case even if it raised “new and material issues” allegedly not yet passed upon by the DOJ. Hence, the OP acted well within its authority in reexamining the merits of respondent’s appeal in resolving the motion for reconsideration. Heirs of the Late Nestor Tria vs. Atty. Epifania Obias, G.R. No. 175887, November 24, 2010

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