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[ GR No. L-10716, Sep 30, 1957 ]



102 Phil. 122

[ G. R. No. L-10716, September 30, 1957 ]




This is a paupers'   petition for a writ of certiorari.  The petitioners plead that they and  other  co-defendants were charged with trespass,  defined and punished under article  281 of the Revised Penal Code,  in the  Justice of the  Peace Court of Santa Maria,   Isabela,  where,  after trial,  they were  found guilty as charged and  sentenced to suffer 11 days of arresto meyor and to pay the proportionate  costs;  that they appealed to the Court of First  Instance  of Isabela where the  Provincial Fiscal filed the   corresponding information;  that they were released on bail pending appeal;   that  on 1 August 1955 in a verified motion they prayed that   the  Court issue an order: declaring that  they expressly waived their right to he present at the   trial of the case; that their presence was necessary and they could appear by counsel alone  at every of the  trial   (Annex A);  that  on 15 August 1955  the motion denied   (Annex B),  and on 7 March 1956 the motion for  resopideration was likewise denied;  and that  as the   Court  acted in excess of its  jurisdiction and/or with grave  abuse  of discretion in denying their motions and as  there was no appeal nor any  plain,  speedy and adequate remedy in the  ordinary course of law,   they pray that a writ issue  "declaring that the Orders of the  respondent  Judge are contrary to  law and  declaring further that  the  personal presence of the  accused, is not  indispensable  at all stages of the  trial of  Criminal Case No. 1622 of the   Court of First Instance of Isabela and  that they may appear by attorney alone at all stages of the   trial of said case;" and  ordering the respondent court  "to desist from * * * proceeding on the   case * * * until further order ,of this Honorable  Court,"

The Solicitor General admits "the allegations of fact as well as the  conclusions of law set forth in  the   petition;" concedes that  the   personal presence  of the petitioners either at the arraignment  or during the  trial proper  of their  case before the  Court  of First   Instance  of Isabela  is not necessary and may be waived;" and offers  "no objection to the granting of the  relief prayed, for."

Section 2,  Rule  112,  provides:
If the   charge is for  an  offense within the jurisdiction of the   Courts of First  Instance,  the defendant must  be  personally present at the arraignment,  and if for  a light  offense triable by the justice  of the  peace or any other inferior  courts of similar jurisdiction he may appear by attorney.
Section 3, Rule 114,  provides:
A plea of guilty can be put in only by the defendant himself in open court.
For light offenses triable by the  justice  of the peace any other inferior courts of similar jurisdiction,  the defendant  need not be present and may appear by attorney at the arraignment  if his plea  is not guilty.     On appeal to  the  Court of First Instance,  which is a continuation of the proceedings the  justice of the  peace court or municipal court, although e case is to be tried de novo, the defendant need not   also present and may appear by attorney at the arraignment  if his I plea is not guilty.

The  petitioners in the  case at bar were charged with and found, guilty  of trespass,  a light felony,  as defined and.  punished under article 281 of the  Revised Penal  Code,     In their motion filed on appeal in. the  Court of First  Instance of Isabela dated 1 August  1955,  they allege
6.  That  they have irrevocably decided to enter the  plea  of "NOT GUILTY" to the  charge and  desire to do  so through their undersigned counsel;
7.  That they desire to waive,  as  they hereby waive,   their right    to be present at all the  stages of the trial and to only appear  through counsel;
8.   That  they  sincerely believe that  their  presence in the.hearing of the   case is not  indispensable considering the  crime  they are  charged with and because  of the  circumstances above stated,   * * *.
(Annex A.)
and pray that the  respondent   court issue an order  declaring,
  1.   That the  accused have expressly waived their right to be  present  at the  hearing of this case;
  2.   That  they may appear by counsel alone at all stages of the  trial of this case;  and
  3.   That their  personal presence is not  indispensable.
The  order of the  respondent court assailed in. this proceedings is as follows:
Upon consideration, of the motion dated August 1, 1955 as well as that of August 10,  1955 filed by Mr. Ventura V.  Perez,   counsel for the accused,  and finding the reasons alleged therein not  to be well founded;
WHEREFORE,  said motions  should be,  as they are hereby,  denied.
In view of the  failure  of the   defendants  and their counsel to  appear today;
The trial, of this case is  hereby postponed ,until further assignment.     (Annex B.')
The'waiver by a defendant charged with a light  felony to be present at the arraignment  in the  inferior  court  or  in the Court of First  Instance  on appeal and a plea of not guilty to charge by  counsel need not be approved by the   Court for waiver and  plea are authorized by the rule.   He may lawfully do so without  leave  of  court.     Nevertheless,  in denying the petitioners motions,  the  respondent  court did  not   deprive them of the right" secured to them by law to waive their presence and enter a plea of not guilty by counsel at  the arraignment, nor did  it  compel them to appear  personally for arraignment and  trial.     The, arraignment and  trial  of the  petitioners and their co-defendants' were, continued for failure of defense counsel to appear.    Erroneous as the  view of the respondent 'court may be on the point, of personal appearance of the  petitioners and their  co-defendants at the  arraignment  to answer a charge of a light  felony,  yet the  orders of the  respondent for court complained of do not call and need no action by this Court in the exercise of its  supervisory power.

The petition is  denied,   without  pronouncement   as to

Bengzon ,Bautista Angelo , Concepcion, Reyes J. B. L., and Endencia, JJ., concur


FELIX,   JJ. :

I Concur in the  decision in this  case  penned by Mr.   Justice Sabino Padilla.      However,   and in so  far as  the  question of defendatns' waiver to appear  personally at  the hearing against  them is   concerned,  it is my opinion that  such waiver is  permissible provided that there presence in court at the hearing is not needed by the prosecution for identification of the offenders.     In other words,   defendants'  waiver simply acceptance  of their identity as the  offenders whenever names were  so mentioned by the witnesses  for the  prosecution.

Montemayor and Reyes, A., JJ., concur.