JOWETT K. GOLANGCO, G.R. No. 157952
PUNO, CJ., Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO,
LEONARDO- DE CASTRO,
JONE B. FUNG, Promulgated:
Respondent. September 8, 2009
D E C I S I O N
We have before us a petition for review
on certiorari seeking the review of the
C.A.-G.R. SP No. 66616 was a special civil action for certiorari commenced by the petitioner to assail the order issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 53, in Manila in Criminal Case No. 95-145703 entitled People v. Jone B. Fung, whereby the RTC declared the Prosecution to have terminated the presentation of further evidence and required the Prosecution to file a written offer of evidence within 20 days, furnishing a copy of the offer to the accused who in turn had to comment on the offer within 15 days from receipt.
Criminal Case No. 95-145703, a
prosecution for libel initiated by the petitioner as the complainant against
the respondent, was commenced in 1995. Allegedly,
the respondent had issued an office memorandum dated
After almost 6 years, the Prosecution
had presented only two witnesses in Criminal Case No. 95-145703. On
the case was called for hearing, the accused is in court with his lawyer Atty.
Benigno Palamos. Private prosecutor Atty. Agripino Baybay is in court but he
has no witnesses today. He manifested
that he has to present Atty. Oscar Ramos, but since the last hearing on
February 20, to this date he has not asked for any subpoena. Defense counsel moves to terminate the
presentation of prosecution evidence in view of the failure of the prosecution
to present witnesses despite numerous postponements. The private prosecutor asks for another
continuance. The records show that on
The prosecution is given 20 days from today to make its formal offer with copy furnished the defense counsel who is given 15 days from receipt to make his comment and thereafter the offer will be deemed submitted for resolution.
The petitioner, by his lonesome, assailed
on certiorari in the Court of Appeals
the order dated
In its decision dated
Axiomatically, any request for a subpoena to a witness must indicate the date and time when the witness must appear in court to give his or her testimony. It is on the basis of that request that the court personnel prepares the subpoena indicating the title of the case, the date and time for the appearance of the intended witness. This is where petitioner fell into error. His urgent request for subpoena (Annex A) failed to contain the date and time when the intended witness, Atty. Oscar Ramos, must appear in court to testify.
then, granting that the subpoena issued for
the case was last heard on
again, as correctly observed by the court a quo, from
Hence, this appeal.
The issue is whether the Court of Appeals correctly ruled on the petition for certiorari of the petitioner.
Ruling of the Court
We find no reversible error on the part of the Court of Appeals.
Before dealing with the petition for review, we point out the gross procedural misstep committed by the petitioner in the Court of Appeals.
The petitioner did not join the
People of the
The petitioner did not also obtain the consent of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to his petition for certiorari. At the very least, he should have furnished a copy of the petition for certiorari to the OSG prior to the filing thereof, but even that he did not do. Thereby, he violated Section 35(l), Chapter 12, Title III of Book IV of Executive Order No. 292 (The Administrative Code of 1987), which mandates the OSG to represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; represent the Government and its officers in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and all other courts or tribunals in all civil actions and special proceedings in which the Government or any officer thereof in his official capacity is a party.
Although the petition for certiorari bore the conformity of the
public prosecutor (i.e., Assistant
City Prosecutor Danilo Formoso of
Even on the merits, the petition for review fails.
The criminal case had been pending since 1995 and the petitioner as the complainant had presented only two witnesses as of the issuance of the assailed order. The trial court had not been wanting in giving warnings to the Prosecution on the dire consequences should the Prosecution continue to fail to complete its evidence. The Prosecution had retained the duty to ensure that its witnesses would be present during the trial, for its obligation to the administration of justice had been to prove its case sans vexatious and oppressive delays. Yet, the warnings of the trial court had gone unheeded. Instead, the Prosecution would deflect the responsibility for the delays to the failure of the trial court to issue the subpoena to its proposed witness and to cause the subpoena to be served. Such attitude of the Prosecution, which included the petitioner as the complainant, manifested a lack of the requisite diligence required of all litigants coming to the courts to seek redress.
We find that the trial judge did not act capriciously, arbitrarily or whimsically in issuing the assailed order. Thus, the Court of Appeals properly dismissed the petition for certiorari. The petitioner now needs to be reminded that certiorari is an extraordinary remedy to correct a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when an appeal, or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law is not available. In this regard, grave abuse of discretion implies a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment that is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction whenever the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion, prejudice or personal aversion amounting to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all in contemplation of law.
Also, it does not escape our notice that the trial courts assailed order terminating the Prosecutions presentation of evidence was merely interlocutory. This fact surely adds justification to the Court of Appeals rejection of the petition for certiorari, because it is the settled rule that certiorari does not lie to review an interlocutory order, but only a final judgment or order that terminates the proceedings. Certiorari will be refused where there has been no final judgment or order and the proceeding for which the writ is sought is still pending and undetermined in the lower court. Indeed, a writ of certiorari is not intended to correct every controversial interlocutory ruling unless the ruling is attended by grave abuse of discretion or tainted by whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, for the function of certiorari is limited to keeping an inferior court within its jurisdiction and to relieving persons from its arbitrary acts acts that courts or judges have no power or authority in law to perform.
Instead, the proper remedy for the petitioner was to proceed in the action until judgment, which, once rendered, might then be reviewed on appeal, along with the assailed interlocutory order. As long as the trial court acted within its jurisdiction, its alleged error committed in the exercise of its jurisdiction amounted to nothing more than an error of judgment that was reviewable by a timely appeal, not by a special civil action of certiorari.
WHEREFORE, we affirm the decision dated
Costs of suit to be paid by the petitioner.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
REYNATO S. PUNO
ANTONIO T. CARPIO TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice Associate Justice
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
* Additional member per raffle list of
 Rollo, pp. 20-25.
 Mangahas v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 173375, September 25, 2008; Salazar v. Romaquin, G.R. No. 151068, May 21, 2004, 429 SCRA 41, 47-48.
 Urbanes, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 117964, March 28, 2001, 355 SCRA 537, 538-539.
 Denso (Phils.), Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, L-75000, February 27, 1987, 148 SCRA 280; Investments, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 60036, Jan. 27, 1987, 147 SCRA 334.
 Refugia v.
Alejo, G.R. No. 138674,