PSBank v. Bermoy G.R. No. 151912, September 26, 2005

Facts: That on or about May 11, 1994, the said accused, defraud the Philippine Savings Bank thru falsification of a public document. Upon arraignment, respondent spouses pleaded not guilty to the charge. The trial court set the pre-trial and After the hearing on that day, the trial court issued the following Order. When the case was called for hearing, private prosecutor and defense counsel, appeared and upon their stipulation, they admitted the jurisdiction of the Court and the identities of the accused. Upon motion of private prosecutor, joined by public prosecutor without objection let the initial hearing for the reception of the evidence for the prosecution be set on June 18, 1997 at 8:30 a.m., as previously scheduled. The minutes of the hearing, which respondent spouses signed, bore the following handwritten notation under the heading remarks: Postponed. Upon joint agreement of counsels. This was the only notation made under remarks. Nowhere in the one-page minutes of the hearing did it state that any of the accused made any stipulation or admission. During the hearings the prosecution presented the testimonies of the manager of petitioners and an employee of petitioner. After presenting the testimonies of Crisostomo and Caluag, the prosecution rested its case. Instead of presenting its evidence, the defense filed, with leave of court, a demurrer to evidence on the ground that the prosecution failed to identify respondent spouses as the accused in Criminal Case. The prosecution, through the private prosecutor, opposed the motion claiming that Crisostomo and Calang had identified respondent spouses. The prosecution also pointed out that as borne by the 11 June 1997 Order, respondent spouses stipulated on their identity during the pre-trial. The Ruling of the Trial Court granted respondent spouses motion, dismissed Criminal Case, and acquitted respondent spouses. The basic issues to resolve here boils down on (sic) the determination of whether the accused were identified by the prosecution witnesses as the perpetrators of the act complained of during the trial of the case and whether they admitted their identities as the accused named in the information.

Issue: Whether the reviewed either on appeal or on petition for certiorari would violate the right of the accused against double jeopardy

Held: Yes, the court are more than convinced that the trial court was correct in granting the demurrer to evidence for insufficiency of evidence on account of lack of proper identification of the accused. But even assuming that the trial court erred, the acquittal of the accused can no longer be reviewed either on appeal or on petition for certiorari for it would violate the right of the accused against double jeopardy. It is clear that this petition seeks to review the judgment of the trial court, which already had jurisdiction over the subject matter and of the persons of this case. The trial court had jurisdiction to resolve the demurrer to evidence filed by the accused, either by denying it or by dismissing the case for lack of sufficient evidence. If the demurrer is granted, resulting in the dismissal of the criminal case and the acquittal of the accused, this can no longer be reviewed unless it can be shown that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction. In this case, assuming the trial court committed an error, the petitioner has not shown that it committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. The error, if any, is merely an error of judgment.

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