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[EDUARDO CUISON v. CA](http://lawyerly.ph/juris/view/c8bc1?user=fbGU2WFpmaitMVEVGZ2lBVW5xZ2RVdz09)
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DIVISION

[ GR No. 128540, Apr 15, 1998 ]

EDUARDO CUISON v. CA +

DECISION

351 Phil. 1089

FIRST DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 128540, April 15, 1998 ]

EDUARDO CUISON, PETITIONER, VS. COURT OF APPEALS AND THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENTS.

D E C I S I O N

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The constitutional proscription of double jeopardy is not violated by a Court of Appeals order requiring the trial court to promulgate a decision sentencing the accused to imprisonment even if, earlier, the same decision has been promulgated in regard only to the payment of the modified civil indemnity arising from the same criminal act. Otherwise stated, the promulgation of only one part of the decision, i.e., the liability for civil indemnity, is not a bar to the subsequent promulgation of the other part, the imposition of the criminal accountability.

The Case

This is the gist of this Court's resolution of the petition for review on certiorari , assailing the November 5, 1996 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals[2] in CA-GR SP No. 41096. The dispositive portion of the said Decision, which set aside the April 12, 1996 Resolution[3] of the Regional Trial Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan, Branch 39,[4] reads as follows:

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Resolution dated April 12, 1996 of the respondent Judge is hereby SET ASIDE and he is ordered to set anew the promulgation of the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the judgment of conviction and sentencing the accused to serve imprisonment for the duration stated in the decision of the said respondent Court dated February 7, 1989. The order for the payment of the civil liabilities has been promulgated earlier.
SO ORDERED."[5]

The RTC Resolution, set aside by the Court of Appeals, disposed:

"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the Court finds that the "Urgent Motion to Set Aside Promulgation" filed by the accused thru counsel, is meritorious and accordingly, the same is hereby granted."

The Facts

The undisputed facts of this case, as narrated by the Court of Appeals, are reproduced below:

"On February 7, 1989, respondent Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan (Branch 39) rendered a Joint Decision in Criminal Cases Nos. L-3553 and L-3554, the dispositive portion of which is as follows:

'WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Eduardo Cuison guilty of the crime of double homicide, beyond reasonable doubt and therefore sentences him to suffer imprisonment from 6 years and 1 day of [p]rision [m]ayor as [m]inimum to 12 years and 1 day of [r]eclusion [t]emporal as [m]aximum, for each offense, with the accessories provided by law and to pay the costs. Accused is also ordered to indemnify the heirs of Rafael Sapigao the amount of P30,000.00 and the heirs of Rulo Castro also the amount of P30,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.'

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the said decision was affirmed with the modification that the civil indemnity was increased to P50,000.00. The dispositive portion of said Decision of this Court dated July 30, 1991 reads:

'PREMISES CONSIDERED, the joint decision appealed from is hereby MODIFIED by ordering accused Eduardo Cuison to indemnify the heirs of Rafael Sapigao the amount of P50,000.00 and the heirs of Rulo Castro also the amount of P50,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.'

The accused elevated the decision on a petition for review docketed as G.R. Nos. 108985-86 but the Supreme Court denied the said petition on December 1, 1993.
The case was remanded to the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan (Br. 39) for promulgation of the decision. However, respondent Judge promulgated [on April 4, 1995] the decision of [the Court of Appeals] only with respect to the modified civil liability of the accused but did not commit the accused to jail to commence service of his sentence.
Asst. City Prosecutor Abraham L. Ramos II reported the matter to the Solicitor General and requested that a motion for clarification be filed with this Court to clarify the decision dated July 30, 1991. On July 7, 1995, the Solicitor General filed a Motion to Clarify Decision. On August 17, 1995, [the Court of Appeals] rendered a Resolution which states in pertinent portions thereof:

'In the dispositive portion of this Court's decision, We simply modified the appealed decision of the court a quo in one respect only - the increase of the indemnity to be paid by the appellant to the heirs of the victims from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00 as ruled in various cases including that cited in Our decision, People vs. Sison, 189 SCRA 643, 646.

In view of the foregoing, it is ineluctable that the penalty imposed by the lower court was not touched on at all by this Court especially in the light of [o]ur [o]bservation in the said decision, as follows:

'After a careful review of the evidence on records, this Court entertains no doubt as to the participation of the accused-appellant in the shooting of Sapigao and Rulo Castro. The court a quo has expressed the following findings in its decision, to which findings this Court accords the great weight and respect such findings of the trial court are entitled to:

Conspiracy . . . was proven by the following circumstances:

        xxx                                       xxx                                       xxx

The following circumstances showing the sequence of events, the mode or manner in which the offenses were perpetrated taken together indicated that the assailants cooperated and helped each other in the attainment of the same aim. (Memorandum, pp. 20-21) (CA Decision, pp. 14-16; Rollo, pp. 127-129)"

Acting on the afore-cited motion to clarify decision, this Court hereby declares that this Court had affirmed the decision of the court a quo with regard to the penalty of imprisonment imposed in the said trial court's decision.'

Respondent Judge then set the promulgation of the decision anew. The accused, however, filed a Motion to Set Aside Promulgation on the following grounds:

"1.             That the judgment in said case was already promulgated on 4 April 1995 and therefore there is nothing to promulgate anymore.

2.              To pursue with [sic] the scheduled promulgation will violate the accused's constitutional right against jeopardy."

In a Resolution dated April 12, 1996, the respondent Judge granted the aforestated motion holding:

"Now, the question is: May the resolution of the Honorable Court of Appeals promulgated on 17 August 1995 which 'clarified' the dispositive portion of its original decision, be considered as an amendment, alteration or modification of the decision? Here, we must not forget the basic rule that in the execution of the judgment, it is the dispositive portion of the decision which controls. We cannot also forget that, as already mentioned above, we have already promulgated the said decision by reading to the accused the dispositive portion, and that to the best of our knowledge, he had already complied therewith by paying the damages which were awarded. It may be relevant at this point in time, to cite the decision of the Honorable Supreme Court in the case of Heirs of George Bofill vs. Court of Appeals, 237 SCRA 393 that

"Had the Court of Appeals been more accurate and precise in quoting data from the records, it would have arrived at the right conclusion"

The Honorable Court of Appeals cited the decision of the Honorable Supreme Court in the case of Partola-Jo vs. CA, 216 SCRA 692, that:

"Where there is an ambiguity caused by an omission or mistake in the dispositive portion of the decision, the Supreme Court may clarify such ambiguity by an amendment even after the judgment has become final. (emphasis supplied)'

The above decision is in consonance with the decision of the Honorable Supreme Court in the case of Buan vs. Court of Appeal, et al., 235 SCRA 424 wherein the Supreme Court said:

'x x x Thus the respondent Court stated, 'it is undisputed that the Decision of the Court of Appeals x x x had become final and executory.' Taken in this light the respondent court apparently did not err in leaving the issue unresolved, a final decision being unreviewable and conclusive.

But judging from the facts presented by this case, it is beyond doubt that serious injustice will be committed if strict adherence to procedural rules were to be followed. It should be remembered that rules of procedure are but mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice, such that when rigid application of the rules would tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, this Court is empowered to suspend its operation. (emphasis supplied)'

It would seem from the above pronouncements of the Honorable Supreme Court therefore, that it may suspend the operation of the rules of procedure by virtue of its rule-making power. Certainly if the Honorable Supreme Court has the power to promulgate the Rules of Court, then it has the power to suspend its operation in order to promote substantial justice. Unquestionably, however, the Honorable Court of Appeals does not have that rule[-] making authority. Therefore it may not suspend the operation of the Rules of Court.

Moreover, the above discussion refers to civil cases. Will the same doctrines apply to criminal cases as in the cases before us? The accused thru his counsels raised the issues of the effect of a promulgation already once made arguing in the process that another promulgation can no longer be legally feasible if the constitutional right of the accused against double jeopardy will not be violated.

We are not unmindful of the injunction upon lower courts, which the Honorable Supreme Court has imposed, i.e., to accept with modesty the orders and decisions of the appellate courts. However, we feel that we must equate this with another injunction, that trial judges must keep abreast with the jurisprudence or run the risk of being found to be grossly ignorant of the law. In short, this Court finds itself in the horns of a dilemma. Since the very jurisprudential authority relied upon by the Honorable [Court] of Appeals refers to the power of the Supreme Court to clarify an ambiguity, may not this Court therefore conclude that the Honorable Court of Appeals does not have the power to clarify the dispositive portion of the decision which has not only become final, but has already been previously promulgated?

Finally, it appears to this Court that there is validity to the observation made by counsel for the accused in paragraph 4 of their motion which we quote:

'4.    It appears, therefore, that there is nothing to promulgate as the same had already been promulgated on April 4, 1995. Besides, there is, likewise, nothing to promulgate in the Court of Appeals Resolution dated February 2, 1996 and much less in the alluded August 17, 1995 Resolution of the Court of Appeals.'

Indeed, the said Resolution did not authorize nor did it direct this Court to re-promulgate the Decision.

On June 28, 1996, the Solicitor General, representing the People of the Philippines, filed [before the Court of Appeals a] petition for certiorari and mandamus contending that the respondent Judge seriously erred and gravely abused his discretion in refusing to execute the penalty of imprisonment in spite [the Court of Appeals'] Decision of July 30, 1991 and Resolution of August 17, 1995. He prays that the Order dated April 12, 1996 of respondent Judge be nullified and the penalty of imprisonment rendered against the accused be enforced."[6]

Ruling of the Appellate Court

In ruling for the People, the Court of Appeals ratiocinated in this way:

"Obviously, respondent Judge was of the belief that the penalty of imprisonment was not affirmed by [the Court of Appeals] although it increased the civil liability from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00. He failed to recognize the fact that the only modification made by [the Court of Appeals] on the decision [was] to increase the civil liability, which would not have been imposed if the accused was not found guilty of the charge. Had he looked carefully into the text of the decision he would have found that [the Court of Appeals] affirmed the decision of conviction, as borne out by the following portions of said decision:

'After a careful review of the evidence on record, this Court entertains no doubt as to the participation of the accused-appellant in the shooting of Sapigao and Rulo Castro. The Court a quo has expressed the following findings in its decision, to which findings this Court accords the great weight and respect such findings of the trial court are entitled to:

Conspiracy ... was proven by the following circumstances:

1. Accused Eduardo Cuison was seen together occupying the same table with Sgt. Bustarde and Sgt. Castro drinking beer at the terrace upon the arrival of Leo Petete and his companions;

2. They left the terrace of the Tropical Hut about 10 to 15 minutes after the arrival of Rulo Castro, Rafael Sapigao, Leo Petete and Agardo Reyes and boarded the same yellow car owned and driven by accused Eduardo Cuison.

3. Accused Eduardo Cuison was seen by Ronald Ligayo, a resident of Poblacion, Bugallon, Pangasinan, a disinterested witness in the evening of May 27, 1986 infront (sic) of the house of said accused Eduardo Cuison in Poblacion, Bugallon, Pangasinan. Accused Eduardo Cuison alighted from his car, proceeded to his house and after coming out of his house was seen holding a 45 (sic) caliber and a carbine pistol. Eduardo Cuison called for his brother Warling to whom he handed the carbine pistol and received by the latter.

Eduardo Cuison sent Domy Cuison to call for Bot Cuison. When Bot Cuison arrived, he, Warling, Domy, Eduardo Cuison and two others inside the car proceeded towards the north. Obviously, these two were Sgt. Castro and Sgt. Bustarde.

4. Upon arrival of accused Eduardo Cuison, Bot Cuison, Warling Cuison, Domy Cuison, Sgt. Bustarde and Sgt. Castro at the driveway of the Tropical Hut on board the car of accused Eduardo Cuison, each of them with the use of their respective firearms simultaneously fired several shots in the air;

5. Sgt. Castro and Sgt. Bustarde pulled and poked their guns to [sic] Sapigao. Then Sgt. Castro fired the fatal shot to [sic] Sapigao;

6. After Sapigao fell down, Sgt. Castro, Warling Cuison, Eduardo Cuison, Bot and Domy Cuison turned at [sic] Sapigao obviously to see to it and make sure Sapigao was already dead;

7. After ascertaining that Sapigao was shot dead, accused Eduardo Cuison called for Rulo Castro to come outside the restaurant and when Rulo Castro emerged at the door, accused Eduardo Cuison, Warling Cuison, Bot Cuison, Domy Cuison and Sgt. Bustarde simultaneously pointed their guns and shot at Rulo Castro hitting the latter;

8. Accused Eduardo Cuison and Warling Cuison are brothers and uncles of Bot and Domy Cuison. Eduardo Cuison being a kagawad enjoyed moral influence upon his brother Warling and his two nephews Bot and Domy;

9. Sgts. Bustarde and Castro and Kagawad Cuison knew each other before the incident;

10.After shooting the victims to death, the accused Cuisons went away from the scene of the crime on board the same car.

The following circumstances showing the sequence of events, the mode o[r] manner in which the offenses were perpetrated taken together indicated that the assailants cooperated and helped each other in the attainment of the same aim. (Memorandum, pp. 20-21)

As held by the Supreme Court in the case of People vs. Colman, et al. 55 O.G. 2392 (cited in Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, '88 ed., Vol. 2, p. 560),

Conspiracy need not be established by direct evidence of the acts charged, but may and generally must be proved by a number of indefinite acts, conditions and circumstances which vary according to the purpose to be accomplished. If it be proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence of sentiment, a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them for concerted means is proved (People vs. Colman, et. al., 55 O.G. 2393).

In the appealed decision, the trial court had ordered the accused-appellant 'to indemnify the heirs of Rafael Sapigao [in] the amount of P30,000.00 and to [sic] the heirs of Rulo Castro also the amount of P30,000.00' (Decision, p. 24). In accordance with the new policy of the Supreme Court on this matter, the above-specified amount of P30,000.00 should be increased to P50,000.00 (People vs. Sison, 189 SCRA 643, 646).'

It is absurd to conclude that [the Court of Appeals] increased the civil liability in accordance with new rulings of the Supreme Court without finding that the accused [was] guilty of the offense of homicide. Thus, the promulgation of the civil liability only and omission of the criminal liability is an error.
Furthermore, [the Court of Appeals] has clarified the ambiguity in the dispositive portion through its Resolution dated August 17, 1995 which categorically stated that the court affirmed the decision of the respondent court with respect to the penalty of imprisonment imposed upon the accused.
This clarification is not an amendment, modification, correction or alteration to an already final decision. It is conceded that such cannot be done anymore. The Court of Appeals simply stated in categorical terms what it obviously meant in its decision - - that the conviction of the accused is affirmed with the modification that the civil liability is increased. The dispositive portion of the decision may not have used the exact words but a reading of the decision can lead to no other conclusion.
It certainly would be ridiculous to allow the accused to go scot-free after paying the heirs the civil indemnity imposed by the Court for his participation in the act of killing the two (2) victims in these cases, because of a wrong interpretation of a decision."[7]'

Hence, this appeal.[8]

The Issues

In this appeal, Petitioner Eduardo Cuison raises the following "assignment of errors":

"I.       The Respondent Court seriously erred and gravely abused its discretion in not holding that the Solicitor General failed to establish the requisites for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of certiorari .
II.        The Respondent Court seriously erred and gravely abused its discretion in not holding that the Solicitor General failed to show the existence of the elements for the issuance of a Writ of Mandamus.
III.       The Respondent Court seriously erred and gravely abused its discretion in not holding that the promulgation of April 4, 1995 cannot be modified, over objection of the accused.
IV.      The Respondent Court seriously erred and gravely abused its discretion in not holding that the filing of the Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus dated June 28, 1995 by the Solicitor General violates the constitutional right of the accused against double jeopardy.
V.      The Respondent Court seriously erred and gravely abused its discretion in deciding as it did and in denying herein petitioner's motion for reconsideration."[9]

Simply put, petitioner raises the following issues: (1) whether the writs of certiorari and mandamus were properly issued by the Court of Appeals, and (2) whether petitioner's right against double jeopardy was violated.

The Court's Ruling

The petition is utterly unmeritorious.

First Issue: Certiorari and Mandamus Justified

A petition for certiorari is allowed under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, provided the following requisites are present: (1) the writ is directed against a tribunal, a board or an officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (2) such tribunal, board or officer has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.[10] Grave abuse of discretion " x x x implies such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or, in other words where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law."[11]

Petitioner points out that the solicitor general's petition for certiorari and mandamus before the Court of Appeals failed to show grave abuse of discretion in the assailed April 12, 1996 Resolution of the trial court. In the said Resolution, the trial court declined to order the incarceration of petitioner and, thus, effectively refused to promulgate the August 17, 1995 CA Decision which, in turn, clarified that the CA's earlier Decision dated July 30, 1991 merely increased the amount of indemnity but did not delete the penalty of imprisonment. In justifying its said Order, the trial court insisted that it had already promulgated the July 30, 1991 CA Decision when it ordered petitioner to pay the increased amount of indemnity. Petitioner argues that the trial court's Order, "far from being whimsical, capricious or malevolent, [was] valid and substantial, to say the least, and the impugned [R]esolution was issued after a careful deliberation and weighing of the facts, issues and points of applicable law."[12]

We disagree. While its language may have been a little faulty, it is still quite obvious that the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's Decision convicting Petitioner Eduardo Cuison of double homicide. The dispositive portion of the CA Decision, therefore, cannot be construed to mean that the appellate court merely imposed an indemnity and deleted the penalty of imprisonment. The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals' Decision in no way communicated that the appealed Decision of the trial court was modified only in regard to the amount of indemnity. Nowhere could it be gleaned that the penalty of imprisonment was deleted. In fact, the CA Decision and the entire records of this case contain no legal or factual basis for acquitting petitioner or dismissing the criminal cases against him.

In granting petitioner's motion, the trial court judge capriciously and arbitrarily decided not to promulgate the Court of Appeals' July 30, 1991 Decision.[13] He had no discretion to refuse; his refusal was thus a glaring transgression of his jurisdiction.

We must also emphasize that we dismissed the petition questioning the Court of Appeal's July 30, 1991 Decision, thereby affirming the conviction of petitioner. The trial court's assailed April 12, 1996 Resolution was therefore "tantamount to overruling a judicial pronouncement of the highest Court of the land affirming the judgment of conviction of respondent Court" and "unmistakably a very grave abuse of discretion."[14]

Manifestly erroneous then is the trial judge's justification that he has previously promulgated the Court of Appeals' Decision on April 4, 1995. As already stated, the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals was imprisonment plus a higher amount of civil indemnity. In ordering only the payment of the indemnity, the trial court failed to execute the CA Decision in its entirety. Notwithstanding the subsequent CA Decision clarifying -- and this Court's dismissal of the petition questioning -- the said earlier CA Decision, the trial court still adamantly refused to do so. The persistent refusal of the trial court is a clear display of grave abuse of discretion.

We find misleading the claim of petitioner that the Court of Appeals itself acknowledged that the latter's July 30, 1991 Decision was "ambiguous and obscure."[15] Such claim is bereft of factual basis. Nowhere in its Resolution[16] did the CA so describe its previous Decision. It merely restated the import of its July 30, 1991 Decision. Evidently, this was either misunderstood or distorted by the trial court, which stated that "it is ineluctable that the penalty imposed by the lower court was not touched on at all by [the Court of Appeals] x x x."[17]

Furthermore, the Court of Appeals cannot be faulted for issuing a writ of mandamus, in view of the trial court's refusal to perform its ministerial duty of promulgating the appellate court's Decision in its entirety. Under Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, a petition for mandamus is warranted "[w]hen any tribunal, corporation, board, or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station x x x." [18] Obedience to a superior court's order is a ministerial duty of lower courts.

Lastly, petitioner contends that the petition for certiorari filed before the Court of Appeals was improper, because the People had not filed a motion for reconsideration of the assailed trial court Order.[19] This contention is bereft of merit. A motion for reconsideration need not precede a petition for certiorari where the questioned resolution was a patent nullity, as in this case.[20]

Second Issue: Promulgation of Conviction

Not Barred by Double Jeopardy

Petitioner submits that the trial court's promulgation of the CA Decision on April 4, 1995 "cannot be set aside and a second promulgation be ordered"[21] because to do so would contravene the prohibition against double jeopardy.[22] He contends that the judgment as promulgated on April 4, 1995 has become final[23] and that courts have thus lost jurisdiction over the case.[24]

To substantiate a claim of double jeopardy, the following must be proven:

" x x x (1) a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy must have been validly terminated; (3) the second jeopardy must be for the same offense, or the second offense includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the first information, or is an attempt to commit the same or is a frustration thereof (citations omitted).
And legal jeopardy attaches only: (a) upon a valid indictment; (b) before a competent court; (c) after arraignment; (d) [when] a valid plea [has] been entered; and (e) the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused (citation omitted)."[25]

Petitioner contends that "the promulgation by Judge Ramos on April 4, 1995 of the Respondent Court's decision of June 30, 1991 by reading its dispositive portion has effectively terminated the criminal cases against the petitioner x x x."[26] In other words, petitioner claims that the first jeopardy attached at that point.

The Court is not persuaded. As a rule, a criminal prosecution includes a civil action for the recovery of indemnity.[27] Hence, a decision in such case disposes of both the criminal as well as the civil liabilities of an accused. Here, trial court promulgated only the civil aspect of the case, but not the criminal.

As earlier observed, the promulgation of the CA Decision was not complete. In fact and in truth, the promulgation was not merely incomplete; it was also void. In excess of its jurisdiction, the trial judge rendered a substantially incomplete promulgation on April 4, 1995, and he repeated his mistake in his April 12, 1996 Order. We emphasize that grave abuse of discretion rendered the aforementioned act of the trial court void.[28] Since the criminal cases have not yet been terminated, the first jeopardy has not yet attached. Hence, double jeopardy cannot prosper as a defense.[29]

We must stress that Respondent Court's questioned Decision did not modify or amend its July 30, 1991 Decision. It merely ordered the promulgation of the judgment of conviction and the full execution of the penalty it had earlier imposed on petitioner.

Cases Cited Not Applicable

People vs. Hernando, Ramos vs. Hodges and Republic vs. Court of Appeals, cited by petitioner, are not applicable because they refer either to the lower court's proceeding that is not void or to errors of judgment, not to lack or excess or abuse of jurisdiction. Thus, in People vs. Hernando,[30] the Court ruled that the questioned proceedings of the court a quo "were not an absolute nullity as to render the judgment of acquittal null and void," considering that the prosecution was not denied due process. In Ramos vs. Hodges[31] the Court found that the trial judge's erroneous conclusion merely constituted "errors of fact or of law," and not of jurisdiction. Lastly, in Republic vs. Court of Appeals[32] the Court held that the lower court committed merely "an error of judgment and not an error of jurisdiction as there was no clear showing [that it] exercised its power in [an] arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, or that its act was so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion or a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation of law."

Epilogue

This Court takes this occasion to remind members of the bench to be precise in their ponencias, most especially in the dispositions thereof. Accuracy and clarity in substance and in language are revered objectives in decision-making.

Having said that, we also lament the trial court's convoluted attempt at sophistry, which obviously enabled the petitioner to delay the service of his imprisonment and to unnecessarily clog the dockets of this Court and of the Court of Appeals. His Honor's expressed desire "to accept with modesty the orders and decisions of the appellate court" was, in truth and in fact, merely a sarcastic prelude to his veiled rejection of the superior court's order modifying his earlier decision. His sophomoric justification of his refusal to obey for fear of "being found to be grossly ignorant of the law" does not deserve one whit of sympathy from this Court. Lady Justice may be blindfolded but she is neither blind nor naive. She can distinguish chicanery from wisdom, fallacious argument from common sense.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. Double costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr. (Chairman), Bellosillo, Vitug, and Quisumbing , JJ., concur.




[1]Rollo, pp. 36-45,

[2]Fifteenth Division, composed of J. Salome A. Montoya, chairman and ponente, and JJ. Godardo A. Jacinto and Maximiano C. Asuncion, concurring.

[3]Rollo, pp. 83-88.

[4]Penned by Judge Eugenio G. Ramos.

[5]Decision, pp. 10-11; Rollo, pp. 44-45.

[6]Ibid., pp. 1-6; Rollo, pp. 36-41.

[7]Ibid., pp. 7-10; Rollo, pp. 42-44.

[8]The case was deemed submitted for resolution on January 22, 1998 upon receipt by this Court of Public Respondent's Memorandum. Petitioner's Supplemental Memorandum is not a required pleading.

[9]Petition pp. 6-7; Rollo, pp. 14-15.

[10]§1, Rule 65, Rules of Court. See Sanchez vs. Court of Appeals, p. 20, GR No. 108947, September 29, 1997.

[11]See Esguerra vs. Court of Appeals, pp. 20-21, GR No. 119310, February 3, 1997, per Panganiban, J., quoting Alafriz vs. Nable, 72 Phil. 278, p.280 (1941); citing Leung Ben vs. O'Brien, 38 Phil. 182 (1918), Salvador Campos y Cia vs. Del Rosario, 41 Phil. 45 (1920), Abad Santos vs. Province of Tarlac, 38 Off. Gaz. 830, and Tavera-Luna, Inc. vs. Nable, 38 Off. Gaz. 62. See also San Sebastian College vs. Court of Appeals, 197 SCRA 444, 458, March 20, 1991; Sinon vs. Civil Service Commission, 215 SCRA 410, November 5, 1992; Bustamante vs. Commission on Audit, 216 SCRA 134, 136, November 27, 1992; Zarate vs. Olegario, GR No. 90655, October 7, 1996.

[12]Ibid., p. 6; Rollo, p. 142.

[13]See record, pp. 53-69.

[14]People vs. Court of Appeals, 101 SCRA 450, 465, November 28, 1990, per Melencio-Herrera, J.

[15]Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 8; Rollo, p. 144.

[16]Record, pp. 71-73.

[17]Ibid., p. 72.

[18]See also Go vs. Court of Appeals, 252 SCRA 564, 567, January 29, 1996 and Tangonan vs. Paño, 137 SCRA 245, 254-255, June 27, 1985.

[19]Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 9; Rollo, p. 145.

[20]National Electrification Administration vs. Court of Appeals, 126 SCRA 394, 400, December 29, 1983.

[21]Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 14; Rollo, p. 170.

[22]Ibid., pp. 12-14; Rollo, pp. 168-170.

[23]Ibid., p. 14; Rollo, p. 170.

[24]Ibid.

[25]Guerrero vs. Court of Appeals, 257 SCRA 703, 712, June 28, 1996, per Panganiban, J., citing People vs. Puno, 208 SCRA 550, 557, May 8, 1992; People vs. Asuncion, 208 SCRA 231, 239, April 22, 1992; Gorion vs. Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Br. 17, 213 SCRA 138, 148, August 31, 1992; and Martinez vs. Court of Appeals, 237 SCRA 575, 581, October 13, 1994. See also People vs. Tampal, 244 SCRA 202, 208, May 22, 1995.

[26]Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 15; Rollo, p. 171. Underscoring found in the original.

[27]§ 1, Rule 111, Rules of Court.

[28]People vs. Montesa, supra , p. 653; People vs. Court of Appeals, supra , p. 467; and People vs. Pablo, 98 SCRA 289, 301, June 25, 1980, citing People vs. Cabero, 61 Phil. 121; People vs. Surtida, 43 SCRA 29; and People vs. Navarro, 63 SCRA 264.

[29]Ibid.

[30]Supra , p. 131.

[31]Supra , p. 219.

[32]Supra , pp. 537-536.

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