Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Go vs. Dimagiba

Facts: Fernando Dimagiba issued to Susan Go thirteen checks which, when presented to the drawee bank for encashment or payment on the due dates, were dishonored for the reason “account closed.” Subqequently, Dimagiba was prosecuted for 13 counts of violation of BP 22 (An Act Penalizing the Making or Drawing and Issuance of a Check Without Sufficient Funds or Credit and for Other Purposes, approved on April 3, 1979). He was found guilty by the MTCC, was sentenced three months imprisonment, and was ordered to pay the offended party the amount he owed plus interest. On February 27, 2001, Dimagiba filed a Motion for Reconsideration and a Motion for the Partial Quashal of the Writ of Execution, praying for the recall of the Order of Arrest and the modification of the final decision. Citing SC-AC No. 12-2000, he pointed out that the penalty of fine only, instead of imprisonment also, should have been imposed on him. The MTCC denied the motion for reconsideration; Dimagiba was arrested and imprisoned for the service of his sentence. On October 9, 2001, Dimagiba filed with the RTC of Baguio city a petition for writ of habeas corpus which was granted by the said court after hearing the case. 

Issues: 
(1) Whether or not the petition for writ of habeas corpus is the proper remedy. 

(2) Whether or not SC-AC No. 12-2000 can be given retroactive application. 

Held:
(1) No. The respondent had previously sought the modification of his sentence in a Motion for Reconsideration and in a Motion for the Partial Quashal of the Writ of Execution. The remedy should have been an appeal of the MTCC Order denying these motions. His petition for writ of habeas corpus was clearly an attempt to reopen a case that had already become final and executory, an action deplorably amounting to forum shopping. 

(2)  No. The rule on retroactivity states that criminal laws may be applied retroactively if favorable to the accused. SC-AC No. 12-2000 cannot be given retroactive application for it is not a law that deletes the penalty of imprisonment. It is merely a rule of preference as to which penalty should be imposed under the peculiar circumstances of the case.

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