Pre-Bar Quizzer in Political Law – PART 2: Constitution of Liberty 101 – 120
101. What is the effect of the testimony of a witness who did not return to court for his cross examination? How about if there is only partial cross-examination?
A witness who did not return to court for his cross-examination would render his entire testimony inadmissible for being hearsay. It likewise violated the right of confrontation on the part of the accused. (Ortigas, JR. vs. Lufthansa, 64 SCRA 610) If the witness was partially examined, only the portion of his direct testimony where he was cross-examined shall be admissible as evidence.( P vs. Seneris, 99 SCRA 92)
102. What are the requisites of a valid Trial in Absentia? May an accused who jumped bail after arraignment be validly convicted by the trial court?
The requisites of a valid Trial in Absentia are the following:
- The accused was duly arraigned;
- The accused was notified of the hearing; and
- The accused’s absence [during the trial] is unjustifiable.
103. May an accused compel the trial court to issue subpoena to a Physician who is already working in the United States to testify on his treatment of the accused? Would the failure of said witness to appear and testify for the accused violates his right to subpoena witnesses and the production of evidence in his favor?
No. Such witness is beyond the jurisdiction of the Philippine Courts. Further, his right to subpoena witnesses and the production of evidence will not be violated since the hospital could produce said records and another physician could testify on the contents thereof. (Cavili vs. Hon. Florendo, 154 SCRA 610; Fajardo vs. Garcia, 98 SCRA 514)
104. May the accused be presented by the prosecution as the latter’s witness?
No. Such would violate the right of the accused against self-incrimination and if such happened, the proceedings shall be null and void. (Chavez vs. CA, 24 SCRA 663)
105. Generally, to what kind of evidence does the right against self-incrimination applies?
Generally, it applies only to “testimonial compulsion.” As such, forcing a person to give a sample of his urine to determine whether a woman is pregnant (Villaflor vs. Summers, 41 Phil. 62); whether a person is suffering from sexually transmitted disease (US vs. Tang Teng, 23 Phil. 145) or under the influence of prohibited drugs (PEOPLE VS. BANIHIT, G.R. NO. 132045, 339 SCRA 86, AUG. 25, 2000; PEOPLE VS. CONTINENTE, G.R. NOS. 100801- 02, 339 SCRA 1, AUG. 25, 2000) does not violate the person’s right against self-incrimination. Likewise forcing one to try a pair of shoes, pants or shirt does not fall under the above proscription.
106. How about forcing a person to give a sample of his handwriting?.
Though the same does not require testimonial compulsion, the right against self-incrimination will be violated by said act. This is so because it involves the use of the intelligence of the person. (Beltran vs. Samson, 50 Phil. 570)
107. Does the right against self-incrimination applicable to civil and administrative cases also?
Yes but unlike in criminal cases where the accused could not be presented by the prosecution and his right not to take the witness stand is absolute, an adverse party in a civil or administrative cases may be presented by the other party but could refuse to answer only if the question propounded calls for an incriminatory answer.
108. May a court stenographer who had resigned from the government be compelled to transcribe her notes under pain of contempt without violating her right against involuntary servitude?
Yes. This is so because the testimony was taken while she was still in the government and as such, it was her obligation to transcribe the same, having received her salary for the day when the testimony was taken. (Aclaracion vs. Gatmaitan, 64 SCRA 131)
109. Is the Death Penalty already abolished by the 1987 Constitution?
While the Supreme Court answered the same in the affirmative in the cases of P vs. Gavarra, 155 SCRa 327; P vs. Masangkay, 155 SCRA 113; P vs. Atencio, 156 SCRA 242; P vs. Intino, September 26, 1988 it held in People vs. Munoz, 170 SCRA 107 that it was merely suspended.
110. Is death as a penalty a cruel or unusual punishment?
No. (P vs. Estoista, 93 Phil. 647). It is only when the punishment is shocking to the conscience of the community and disproportionate to the offense charged that the penalty becomes cruel and unusual. In fact, the Supreme Court held in ECHEGARAY VS. SECRETARY OF JUSTICE that death through Lethal Injection is the most humane way of implementing the death penalty.
111. What are the requisites before an accused may validly invoke double jeopardy?
There is double jeopardy when there is:
 valid complaint of information;
 filed in a court of competent jurisdiction;
 the accused was validly arraigned; and
 the accused was convicted or acquitted, or the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express content of the accused. (PEOPLE VS. ALMARIO, 355 SCRA 1)
112. If the dismissal was with the express consent of the accused, may the dismissal result in double jeopardy?
Yes in two (2) instances.
As a general rule, if the dismissal is through the instance of the accused or with his express consent, there is no double jeopardy. However, this rule admits of two (2) exceptions:
1) the motion to dismiss is based on insufficiency of evidence; and
2) the motion to dismiss is based on the denial of the accused’s right to Speedy Trial. (PEOPLE VS. ALMARIO, 355 SCRA 1)
Double Jeopardy has set in. In these two (2) instances, the correct description of what happened is that the accused was “acquitted” and not “the case was dismissed with his consent”.
It must be pointed out, however, that in PEOPLE VS. TAMPAL, 244 SCRA 202 and PEOPLE VS. LEVISTE, 255 SCRA 238, the SC reversed the dismissal of the criminal case by the trial court based on “speedy trial” since the same was not predicated “on the clear right of the accused to speedy trial.” It is only when there is a clear violation of the accused’s right to speedy trial that the dismissal results in double jeopardy.
113. The accused was charged of theft of electricity based on the City Ordinance of Batangas City. After arraignment, the case was dismissed because it was found out that the same has prescribed because it was filed after more than 60 days. The Fiscal filed another information based on the Revised Penal Code. Has double jeopardy set in?
Yes. If the accused was charged of “theft of electricity” based on the City Ordinance of Batangas and not based on the Revised Penal Code and later on the case is dismissed by the judge due to the fact that the crime has prescribed, the government can no longer charge the accused of the same crime under the Revised Penal Code since double jeopardy has set in. If an act is punished by law and an ordinance, acquittal or conviction in one shall bar prosecution from the other. (People vs. Relova, 148 SCRA 292)
114. The accused was charged of grave coercion before the MTC and was duly arraigned. The Judge dismissed it without any motion form the accused because the case is allegedly outside the MTC’s jurisdiction. Another information for the same offense was filed with the RTC which was likewise dismissed because of lack of jurisdiction. As such, the Fiscal filed a 3rd information for grave coercion before the MTC. The accused pleaded double jeopardy. Is he correct?
Yes. Since the accused was already arraigned in the 1st information before the MTC which has jurisdiction over the same and the case was subsequently dismissed without his express consent, then double jeopardy has set in.
115. The accused was arraigned of homicide and entered a plea of guilty but prayed that he be given the chance to prove incomplete self-defense which the court granted. After presenting his evidence to prove “incomplete self-defense”, the court acquitted him because what was allegedly proven by him was complete self-defense. May the accused validly invoke double jeopardy if the Prosecutor moves for the reinstatement of the case for him to present the evidence of the prosecution?
No because one of the requisites of double jeopardy is missing. There was no valid arraignment. This is so because his plea was one of guilty and yet, he was acquitted. In this case, he has to be re-arraigned for him to enter a plea of “not guilty” in order that he could be validly acquitted.
116. The accused was convicted of frustrated murder. Within 15 days from promulgation, he filed a Motion for New Trial based on a “newly-discovered evidence” which was granted by the court. After the presentation of the alleged “newly-discovered evidence”, the accused was acquitted. May the prosecution appeal the acquittal since the evidence presented was not really a newly-discovered evidence but a forgotten one and that even assuming that the same is a newly-discovered evidence, it was insufficient to overturn the evidence of guilt as proven by the prosecution.
In the case of P vs. Judge Hernando, 108 SCRA 121, the Supreme Court held that indeed, the evidence presented was not “newly-discovered evidence” and that assuming it to be so, it was not sufficient to overturn the evidence of guilt as shown by the prosecution’s evidence. However, though the decision was erroneous, double jeopardy has set in and the government could no longer appeal the decision. So even if the court obviously erred in the appreciation of the evidence resulting in a decision of acquittal instead of conviction, appeal would put the accused in double jeopardy. (Mazo vs. Mun. Court, 113 SCRA 217)
117. May the government appeal a judgment of acquittal or for the increase of the penalty imposed?
No, since double jeopardy has set in. (PEOPLE VS. HON. VELASCO, G.R. NO. 127444, 340 SCRA 207, SEPT. 13, 2000). As mandated by the Constitution, statutes and cognate jurisprudence, an acquittal is final and unappealable on the ground of double jeopardy, whether it happens at the trial court of a judgment of acquittal brought before the Supreme Court on certiorari cannot be had unless there is a finding of mistrial, as in Galman vs. Sandiganbayan.
However, if the accused was the one who appealed the decision of the CFI convicting him of homicide (though he was charged of murder), the appellate court may convict him of murder if the evidence warrants and that the lower court mis-appreciated the evidence. This is so because if the accused appeals the decision, the same will be subject to a complete re-examination of the evidence on record.
118. What is the “Supervening Fact Doctrine.”
It simply provides that an accused’s conviction shall not be a bar to another prosecution for an offense which necessarily includes the offense charged in the former complaint or information when the graver offense developed due to supervening facts arising from the same act or omission constituting the former charge or that the facts constituting the graver charge became known only or were discovered after a plea was entered in the former complaint or information. (Section 7, Rule 117, 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure; P vs. Tarok, 73 Phil. 260; P vs. Villasis, 46 O.G. 268; Melo vs. People, 85 Phil. 766; P vs. Buling, 107 Phil. 712; P vs. Adil, 76 SCRA 462; P. vs. Tac-an, 182 SCRA 601; and P vs. City Court of Manila, 121 SCRA 637
119. When may the “ex-post facto law” rule be invoked?
Only if the law sought to be applied is a “criminal law or penal”. Otherwise, the same may not be invoked as when the questioned law involves the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan which is not a penal law. Ex post facto law prohibits the retrospectivity of penal laws. RA 8249 is not a penal law. It is a substantive law on jurisdiction which is not penal in character. (PANFILO M. LACSON VS. THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL., ROMEO ACOP & FRANCISCO ZUBIA, JR., G.R. No. 128096, January 20, 1999)
120. What are the different forms of ex-post facto law?
In order that a law is an ex post facto law, the same must be one —
- which makes an act done criminal before the passing of the law and which was innocent when committed, and punishes such action;
- which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than when it was committed;
- which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed;
- which alters the legal rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required a the time of the commission of the offense in order to convict the defendant;
- every law which, in relation to the offense or its consequences, alters the situation of a person to his disadvantage;
- that which assumes to regulate civil rights and remedies but in effect imposes a penalty or deprivation of a right which when done was lawful;
- deprives a person accused of a crime of some lawful protection to which he has become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or a proclamation of amnesty (KAY VILLEGAS KAMI, 35 SCRA 429; MEJIA VS. PAMARAN, 160 SCRA 457; TAN VS. BARRIOS, 190 SCRA 686; PEOPLE VS. SANDIGANBAYAN, 211 SCRA 241).
Pre-Bar Quizzer in Political Law (Doctrinal Rulings, Requisites and Definitions)
July, 2008 by Atty. Larry D. Gacayan
College of Law, University of the Cordilleras
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