Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sierra vs. Lopez [Adm. Case No. 7549, August 29, 2008]

Facts: On July 27, 2006 and August 1, 2006, complainant Aurelio M. Sierra filed several cases before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila for Misrepresentation through Deceit and Syndicated Large Scale Fraud in Land Titling with Conspiracy, Land Grabbing, Falsification of Public Document and Economic Sabotage. 

These cases were first assigned to ACP Alexander T. Yap. The principal respondents therein, namely: Alfredo C. Ramos, Presentacion Ramos, George S.K. Ty, Atty. Emmanuel Leonardo, and a certain Mr. Cayaban, did not appear during the scheduled hearing. 

Because of ACP Yap’s failure to require the presence of respondents in said cases simultaneously with the complainant, Mr. Sierra asked for the prosecutor’s inhibition. The cases were then re-raffled to the respondent ACP Marlo Campanilla, then to ACP Armando Velasco who likewise did not require the presence of the respondents in the preliminary investigation. City Prosecutor Jhosep Y. Lopez and 1st ACP Eufrocino A. Sulla affirmed the correctness of the manner in which their investigating prosecutors handled the cases. 

On April 26, 2007, Sierra filed a complaint with the Supreme Court for dereliction of duty and gross ignorance of the law against City Prosecutor Lopez, 1st ACP Sulla, ACP Yap, ACP Campanilla, and ACP Velasco. 

Issues: 
(1) Whether the parties must appear together before the investigating prosecutor during preliminary investigation; 

(2) Whether the counter-affidavits of the respondents should be sworn to only before the investigating prosecutor; and 

(3) Whether the investigating prosecutor erred in denying the request of the complainant for clarificatory questioning. 

Held:

We find no merit in the petition. Preliminary investigation is ordinarily conducted through submission of affidavits and supporting documents, through the exchange of pleadings. 

Since confrontation between the parties is not imperative, it follows that it is not necessary that the counter-affidavit of respondent be sworn to before the investigating prosecutor himself. It can be sworn to before another prosecutor. In fact, this is specifically provided in paragraph (c) of Sec. 3, which states that the counter-affidavit shall be subscribed and sworn to and certified as provided in paragraph (a) of this section. 

Lastly, we hold that the investigating prosecutors did not abuse their discretion when they denied the request of the complainant for the conduct of clarificatory questioning. Under paragraph (e) of Section 3 above, the conduct of clarificatory questioning is discretionary upon the prosecutor. Indeed, we already held in Webb v. De Leon that the decision to call witnesses for clarificatory questions is addressed to the sound discretion of the investigator, and the investigator alone. 


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1 comments: on "Sierra vs. Lopez [Adm. Case No. 7549, August 29, 2008]"

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