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Ferrer Jr., v.

People
G.R. 240209. June 10, 2019

Division; Perlas-Bernabe

Definition of Gross Negligence vis-a-vis Section 3(e) of RA 3019

Gross Negligence has been defined as negligence characterized by the want of even slight
care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently
but wilfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences in so far as other
persons may be affected. It is the omission of that care which even inattentive and
thoughtless men never fail to take on their own property.

Dominador Ferrer, as Administrator of the Intramuros Administration, was charged before


the Sandiganbayan with violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 for giving unwarranted benefits
to Offshore Construction and Development Company (OCDC for brevity). On trial it was
proven that Ferrer allowed OCDC to construct new structures on top of the Intramuros Walls
without the needed building permit or clearance as required under the Intramuros Charter,
the National Building Code. The Sandiganbayan convicted Ferrer, thus prompting an appeal
to the Supreme Court.

Does the allowance of the construction of new structures despite the lack of building permit
or clearance amount to violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.

Yes. The Court primarily upheld the findings of the Sandiganbayan that Ferrer’s actions were
in performance of his administrative and official functions as Intramuros’s Administrator and
that his actions created unwarranted benefits to a private party to the detriment of the
public. On the element of gross negligence, the Court defined the concept as essentially
acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently
but wilfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences in so far as other
persons may be affected. Thus, the Court opined that the Ferrer committed gross
negligence considering that despite knowing the requirements and conditions precedent
mandated by law, he knowingly allowed OCDC to proceed with construction without such
permits or clearances to the prejudice of the public. Hence, the Court concluded that Ferrer
violated Section 3(e) of RA 3019.
People v Lito Paming y Javier
G.R. 241091, January 14, 2019
DIVISION, PERLAS-BERNABE

Required Witnesses during inventory of seized items under RA 9165, as amended

If apprehension was prior to the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640, a representative


from the media AND the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
official; or (b) if after the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640, an elected public official
and a representative of the National Prosecution Service OR the media.

Lito Paming was accused for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. On trial, it was proven
that Paming was arrested incidental to a buy-bust operation. The operation yielded a
transparent plastic sachets that were later identified as shabu. Initially, Paming was brought
to a nearby billiard hall for the marking of the confiscated drugs but due to the increasing
number of people they transferred to the police station to continue the marking. The seized
items were turned over to the Desk Officer and Investigator who instructed the poseur-
buyer to put markings on the items. The trial court convicted the accused of the charge
noting that the conduct of the buy-bust was proper notwithstanding the procedural lapses of
the buy-bust team in complying with procedure under RA 9165. The court also pronounced
that the integrity and evidentiary value of the illegal drugs were duly preserved under the
chain of custody rule.

Did the buy-bust comply with the requirements set-forth under RA 9165

No. In examining the validity of the inventory of the seized items, the Court ruled that the
process should be attended by the accused or the person from whom the items were seized,
or his representative or counsel, as well as certain required witnesses, namely:
(a) if prior to the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 106401, a representative from the
media AND the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
official; or (b) if after the amendment of RA 9165 by RA 10640, an elected public official
and a representative of the National Prosecution Service OR the media. The Court
concluded that the inventory was improper as the required witnesses were not present
during the same. The Court reversed the trial court’s decision and acquitted Paming.

1 RA 10640 took effect on July 23, 2014 (see OCA Circular No. 77-2015)
Badio y Dicampung v. People
G.R. 236023, February 20, 2019
DIVISION, PERLAS-BERNABE

Exception to the required witness rule under RA 9165

Anent the witness requirement, non-compliance may be permitted if the prosecution proves
that the apprehending officers exerted genuine and sufficient efforts to secure the presence
of such witnesses, albeit they eventually failed to appear. While the earnestness of these
efforts must be examined on a case-to-case basis, the overarching objective is for the Court
to be convinced that the failure to comply was reasonable under the given circumstances

Badio was apprehended after a surveillance operation by policemen. The arrest resulted
from the fact that Badio was showing transparent plastic sachets containing white crystalline
substance to buyers. Upon arrest, the confiscated sachets were inventoried and
photographed in the presence of Badio and a media representative. The trial court convicted
Badio and upheld the validity of the arrest noting that there was an unbroken chain of
custody over the dangerous drugs seized from his possession.

Does the inventory of the seized sachet compliant with the requirements under RA 9165 ?

No. The Court has recognized that due to varying field conditions, strict compliance with the
chain of custody procedure may not always be possible. As such, the failure of the
apprehending team to strictly comply with the requirements under RA 9165, as amended,
would not ipso facto render the seizure and custody over the items as invalid, provided that
the prosecution satisfactorily proves that: (a) there is a justifiable ground for non-
compliance; and (b) the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly
preserved.

With respect to the required witness requirement, non-compliance may be permitted if the
prosecution proves that the apprehending officers exerted genuine and sufficient efforts to
secure the presence of such witnesses, albeit they eventually failed to appear. In the
present case, there was a deviation from the witness requirement as the conduct of
inventory and photography was not witnessed by an elected public official and a DOJ
representative 2. The non-compliance was not excused by the court as the apprehending
officers did not made attempts to secure the presence of the other required witnesses, and
merely offered justifiable reasons as to why they failed to contact them. Thus, the Court
acquitted the accused.

2 Arrest occurred prior to the effecitivty of RA 10640


Lucman v. People
G.R. 238815, March 18, 2019
DIVISION, PERLAS-BERNABE

Imposition of penalty in convictions under Special Penal Laws

Indeterminate Sentence Law, states that "in imposing a prison sentence for an offense
punished by acts of the Philippine Legislature, otherwise than by the Revised Penal Code,
the court shall order the accused to be imprisoned for a minimum term, which shall not be
less than the minimum term of imprisonment provided by law for the offense, and for a
maximum term which shall not exceed the maximum fixed law.

Lucman, as the Regional Executive Director of the DENR, was charged with the violation of
Section 3(c) of RA 3019 for assisting certain individuals in the processing and approval of
Free Patent Titles over lands in General Santos. After trial, the Sandiganbayan convicted
Lucman and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for a period of six (6)
years and one (1) month with perpetual disqualification to hold public office.

Will the conviction and sentence of Lucman be upheld

The Court primarily held that there was no reversible error on the Sandiganbayan’s decision
to convict Lucman. However, the penalty imposed was seen as erroneous. The violation of
Section 3(c) of RA 3019 is punishable with imprisonment for a period of six (6) years and
one (1) month to fifteen (15) years and perpetual disqualification from public office. The
Supreme Court opined that since RA 3019 is a special law, the court should have ordered
the accused to be imprisoned for a minimum term, which shall not be less than the
minimum term of imprisonment provided by law for the offense, and for a maximum term
which shall not exceed the maximum fixed law.

As such the Supreme Court modified Lucman's sentence to imprisonment for an


indeterminate period of six (6) years and one (1) month, as minimum, to nine (9) years, as
maximum, with perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
Trinidad y Bersamin v. People
G.R. 239957, February 18, 2019
DIVISION, PERLAS-BERNABE

Judicial Notice Rule in related criminal actions

As a general rule, courts do not take judicial notice of the evidence presented in other
proceedings, even if these have been tried or are pending in the same court or before the
same judge. However, courts have also taken judicial notice of proceedings in other cases
that are closely connected to the matter in controversy. These cases “may be so closely
interwoven, or so clearly interdependent”.

Trinidad was apprehended in flagrante delicto for his participation in the sale of illegal drugs.
Accused was frisked and a revolver and live ammunitions were also recovered from his
person. Thereafter, Trinidad was prosecuted for violations of both Dangerous Drugs Act and
for Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunition under RA 10591. When the suit for
violation of illegal possession of firearms was heard, Trinidad pleaded that he should be
acquitted invoking the prior dismissal of the drugs charges due to the “failure of the
prosecution to prove that Trinidad was validly arrested thru a legitimate buy-bust operation
”. The trial court sustained Trinidad’s conviction from Illegal Possession of Firearms noting
that the acquittal from the drug charges were immaterial to the same as it was not based
on neither unlawful arrest nor unlawful search and seizure but on the procedural flaw in the
chain of custody of the dangerous drugs.

Will the acquittal from the drugs charges result would also result to the acquittal from the
charge of illegal possession of fire-arms.

Yes. The Supreme Court ruled that it is not precluded from taking judicial notice of Trinidad’s
acquittal from the drug charge. As an exception to the rule, a Court is not prevented from
taking judicial notice of findings of evidence and apply them altogether for the judicious
resolution of the same issue which was duly raised. In the present case, the interwoven and
interdependent nature of the cases was manifested by the fact that the subject fire arm and
drugs were simultaneously seized in a singular instance, the buy-bust operation. Thus, a
prior finding of illegality on the buy-bust may be considered as to have materially affected
the proceedings of the subsequent case for illegal possession of firearms.

Considering that the seized drugs were inadmissible, the Court likewise ruled the firearm
and ammunition were also inadmissible. Hence, Trinidad was acquitted.