Abanado vs. Bayona, – A.M. No. MTJ-12-1804, July 30, 2012

Facts:
The case now sprang from Criminal Case entitled People of the Philippines v. Cresencio Palo, Sr. complainant City Prosecutor Armando P. Abanado filed the Information in the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Bacolod City, which was eventually raffled to Branch 7 thereof presided by respondent Judge Abraham A. Bayona.

On April 13, 2009, respondent issued the following order in Criminal Case in connection with the issuance of a warrant of arrest against the accused, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Bacolod City was ordered to present additional evidence, relevant records and documents to enable this Court to evaluate and determine the existence of probable cause among others, the Resolution of the Investigating Prosecutor on Record, Prosecutor Dennis S. Jarder (Jarder Resolution);

On April 29, 2009, the Office of the City Prosecutor submitted a copy of the Memorandum of Preliminary Investigation and informed respondent that the documents submitted by the parties for preliminary investigation were already appended to the complaint. With respect to Jarder Resolution, the complainant explained that there was no memorandum of transfer of the case from the investigating prosecutor, Assistant City Prosecutor (ACP) Dennis S. Jarder, to him.

Respondent was nonetheless dissatisfied with the explanation of the Office of the City Prosecutor. In an Order, respondent stated that the Jarder Resolution (dismissing the complaint) was part and parcel of the official records of the case and, for this reason, must form part of the records of the preliminary investigation. He further stated that because there was a conflict between Jarder’s and complainant’s resolutions, those documents were necessary in the evaluation and appreciation of the evidence to establish probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Palo.

In view of the foregoing order, the Office of the City Prosecutor again sent a letter explaining the impossibility of submitting the Jarder Resolution to the court. The letter stated that the Jarder Resolution was no longer part of the records of the case as it was disapproved by complainant.

Respondent did not accept the explanations made by the Office of the City Prosecutor and insisted instead that the Jarder Resolution should form part of the records of the case. Thus he required complainant to explain within five days from the receipt thereof why he should not be cited for contempt. Complainant received the aforementioned order and requested for a ten-day extension to comply with it.

Respondent denied the request of a ten-day extension and set the hearing for the contempt charges. He likewise ordered the Clerk of Court to issue a subpoena duces tecum ad testificandum to ACP Jarder directing him to testify on the existence of his resolution dismissing the case against Palo and to Office of the City Prosecutor’s Records Officer Myrna Vañegas to bring the entire record of the preliminary investigation of the Palo case.

Aggrieved, complainant immediately filed a motion for inhibition against respondent.

Issue:
Whether the resolution dismissing the filing of a case that was reversed is a mandatory document for the filing of the information to the court.

Held:
No, the SC find that there is nothing in the DOJ-NPS Manual requiring the removal of a resolution by an investigating prosecutor recommending the dismissal of a criminal complaint after it was reversed by the provincial, city or chief state prosecutor. Nonetheless, we also note that attaching such a resolution to an information filed in court is optional under the aforementioned manual. The DOJ-NPS Manual states that the resolution of the investigating prosecutor should be attached to the information only “as far as practicable.” Thus, such attachment is not mandatory or required under the rules.

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