134) De Los Santos-Dio v Caguioa.docx

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CRIMPRO DIGESTS G01 TOPIC: When and how warrant issued - “Only when evidence plainly fails to establish probable cause.” ATTY. ARNO V. SANIDAD AUTHOR: MONTAÑER 134) DE LOS SANTOS-DIO V. CAGUIOA 7) Two criminal information
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  CRIMPRO DIGESTS G01 TOPIC: When and how warrant issued - “O nly when evidence plainly fails to establish probable cause.”   ATTY. ARNO V. SANIDAD AUTHOR: MONTAÑER 134) DE LOS SANTOS-DIO V. CAGUIOA G.R. No. 178947& G.R. No. 179079, June 26, 2013 Perlas-Bernabe, J. [ G.R. No. 178947, June 26, 2013 ] Virginia De Los Santos Dio, As  Authorized Representative Of H.S. Equities, Ltd., And Westdale Assets, Ltd., Petitioner, vs. CA, Judge Ramon S. Caguioa, In His Capacity As Presiding Judge Of Branch 74, Regional. Trial Court, Olongapo City, And Timothy J. Desmond, Respondents. & [G.R. No. 179079]   People Of Philippines, Petitioner, vs.   Timothy J. Desmond, Respondent. ISSUE: Whether the CA erred in finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC when it dismissed the subject information for lack of probable cause. -  YES FACTS: 1) Petitioner Virginia De Los Santos-Dio (Dio),  the majority stockholder of H.S. Equities, Ltd. (HS Equities) and authorized representative of Westdale Assets, Ltd. (Westdale), was introduced to respondent Desmond , the Chairman and CEO of the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (SBMEI), and the authorized representative of Active Environments, Inc. and JV China, Inc., the majority shareholder of SBMEI. 2) After some discussion on possible business ventures, Dio, on behalf of HS Equities, decided to invest a total of US$1,150,000.00   in SBME I’s Ocean  Adventure Marine Park, a theme park to be constructed at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. 3) Dio, this time on behalf of Westdale, invested another $1M in a separate business venture, called the Miracle Beach Hotel Project. 4) Dio claimed that she found out that, contrar  y to Desmond’s representations, SBMEI actually had no capacity to deliver on its guarantees. Dio discovered that, without her knowledge and consent, Desmond made certain disbursements from Westdale’s special account, meant only  for Miracle Beach expenditures. 5) Dio was ousted as Director and Treasurer of SBMEI, she then filed two criminal complaints   for estafa (a) with unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence through misappropriation or conversion under Article 315(1)(b) of RPC; and (b) through false pretenses under Article 315(2)(a), both against Desmond. 6) City Prosecutor issued a Resolution finding probable cause against Desmond: o   The elements of the crimes charged were thus established in these cases, namely Dio parted with her money upon the prodding and enticement of respondent on the false pretense that he had the capacity and resources for the proposed project. In the end, Dio was not able to get her money back, thus causing her damage and prejudice. Moreover, such defraudation or misappropriation having been committed by Desmond through his company SBMEI involving funds solicited from Dio as a member of the general public in contravention of the public interest, the probable cause clearly exists to indict Desmond for the crime of Estafa. 7) Two criminal information were filed with RTC where it ruled in favor of Desmond and declared that no probable cause exists for the crimes charged against him since the elements of estafa were not all present. 8) City prosecutor filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus before the CA on the ground of grave abuse of discretion. CA upheld the RTC’s authority to dismiss a criminal case if in the process of determining probable cause for issuing a warrant of arrest, it also finds the evidence on record insufficient to establish probable cause. 9) MRs filed by City prosecutor and Dio were denied. Hence, the instant petitions. HELD: Determination of probable cause may be either executive or judicial. The EXECUTIVE is made by the public prosecutor, during a preliminary investigation, where he is given broad discretion to determine whether probable cause exists for the purpose of filing a criminal information in court. While, the JUDICIAL is one made by the judge to ascertain whether a warrant of arrest should be issued against the accused. The  judge must satisfy himself that, on the basis of the evidence submitted, there is a necessity for placing the accused under custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice. If the judge finds no probable cause, the judge cannot be forced to issue the arrest warrant. While a judge’s determination of probable cause is generally confined to the limited purpose of issuing arrest warrants, Section 5(a), Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure  explicitly states that a judge may immediately dismiss a case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause. RTC’s immediate dismissal, as affirmed by the CA, was improper   as the standard of clear lack of probable cause was not observed.  In this case, records show that certain essential facts —  namely, (a) whether or not Desmond committed false representations that induced Dio to invest in Ocean Adventure; and (b) whether or not Desmond utilized the funds invested by Dio solely for the Miracle Beach Project for purposes different from what was agreed upon —  remain controverted hence, it cannot be said that the absence of the elements of the crime of estafa under Article 315(2)(a) and 315(1)(b) of the RPC had already been established, thereby rendering the RTC’s immediate dismissal of the case highly improper.  A judge's discretion to dismiss a case immediately after the filing of the information in court is appropriate only when the failure to establish probable cause can be clearly inferred from the evidence presented and not when its existence is simply doubtful. Given that the lack of probable cause had not been clearly established in this case, the CA erred, and the RTC gravely abused its discretion, by ruling to dismiss Criminal Cases. These cases must stand the muster of a full-blown trial where the parties could be given, as they should be given, the opportunity to ventilate their respective claims and defenses, on the basis of which the court a quo can properly resolve the factual disputes therein. WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED. The trial court is directed to proceed with the arraignment of the accused and the trial of the case with dispatch.  CRIMPRO DIGESTS G01 TOPIC: When and how warrant issued - “O nly when evidence plainly fails to establish probable cause.”   ATTY. ARNO V. SANIDAD AUTHOR: MONTAÑER NOTES:   Once the information is filed with the court and the judge proceeds with his primordial task of evaluating the evidence on record, he may either: (a) issue a warrant of arrest, if he finds probable cause; (b) immediately dismiss the case, if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause; and (c) order the prosecutor to submit additional evidence, in case he doubts the existence of probable cause.   Art. 315. Swindling (estafa) . —  Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow xxx: 1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely: xxx (b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other personal property received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having received such money, goods, or other property. xxx 2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud: (a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other similar deceits. xxx   2 basic elements of Estafa: (a) Fraud; and (b) Resulting damage or intent to cause damage capable of pecuniary estimation.
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