JOSE M. VALERO CORPORATION (JMV) agreed to grant an accommodation in favor of Maria Nympha Mandagan by allowing her to use its corporate name and account for a car loan intended for her personal use. The accommodation was extended to Mandagan when she still enjoyed the good graces of company director, Mrs. Rosie V. Gutierrez (RVG), being her client. Upon full payment of [the] car, the Mandagan would in turn purchase the same from JMV Corporation.
On July 28, 2001, JMV Corporation entered into a lease-to-own arrangement with BPI Leasing Corporation covering a 2001 Kia Rio sedan. Under the lease-to-own arrangement, BPI Leasing Corporation will remain the registered owner of the vehicle until full payment by JMV Corporation.
JMV paid the down payment, guarantee deposit, initial rental and notarial fee. JMV gave the possession and use of the Kia vehicle to Mandagan, who in turn, issued and delivered to JMV thirty four (34) postdated checks against her bank account. Said checks were all payable to JMV representing Mandagan’s monthly payment. In addition, Mandagan explicitly agreed that ownership over the Kia vehicle will only be transferred to her after full payment of the costs of the vehicle to JMV.
Eleven (11) checks, when deposited on their respective due dates were dishonored for reason drawn against insufficient funds or account closed. BPI advised JMV’s Treasury Head, every time the checks were dishonored, who in turn immediately communicated the dishonor of said checks to Mandagan and demanded for payment which were all unheeded by Mandagan.
JMV’s counsel demanded from Mandagan the payment of the eleven (11) checks that were dishonored plus 12.75% or to return the Kia vehicle, plus the amount of Php119,434.67 to cover depreciation costs. Mandagan was given five (5) days to comply with the demands of JMV. This was unheeded, however.
Thus JMV was constrained to institute the corresponding legal action against Mandagan for eight (8) counts of Violation of B.P. 22.
The MeTC found petitioner Mandagan guilty of eight (8) counts of violation of B.P. 22.
On appeal, the RTC reversed the MeTC Decision and acquitted petitioner Mandagan of all criminal charges but, at the same time, held her civilly liable to respondent JMV Corporation.
Meanwhile, the CA granted the petition for certiorari filed by JMV, annulled the RTC Decision, and reinstated the MeTC Decision.
A motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Mandagan was denied by the CA.
Hence, this Petition.
Whether the CA committed reversible error in annulling the RTC judgment of acquittal.
The Petition is meritorious.
In criminal cases, no rule is more settled than that a judgment of acquittal is immediately final and unappealable.
Such rule proceeds from the accused’s constitutionally-enshrined right against prosecution if the same would place him under double jeopardy.
Thus, a judgment in such cases, once rendered, may no longer be recalled for correction or amendment — regardless of any claim of error or incorrectness.
The Court is not unaware that, in some situations, it had allowed a review from a judgment of acquittal through the extraordinary remedy of a Rule 65 petition for certiorari.
A survey of these exceptional instances would, however, show that such review was only allowed where the prosecution was denied due process or where the trial was a sham.
In People v. Court of Appeals, the Court made the following rulings:
x x x [F]or an acquittal to be considered tainted with grave abuse of discretion, there must be a showing that the prosecution’s right to due process was violated or that the trial conducted was a sham.
Although the dismissal order is not subject to appeal, it is still reviewable but only through certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. For the writ to issue, the trial court must be shown to have acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction such as where the prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or where the trial was a sham thus rendering the assailed judgment void. The burden is on the petitioner to clearly demonstrate that the trial court blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice.
The petition is bereft of any allegation, much less, evidence that the prosecution’s right to due process was violated or the proceedings before the CA were a mockery such that Ando’s acquittal was a foregone conclusion. Accordingly, notwithstanding the alleged errors in the interpretation of the applicable law or appreciation of evidence that the CA may have committed in ordering Ando’s acquittal, absent any showing that the CA acted with caprice or without regard to the rudiments of due process, the CA’s findings can no longer be reversed, disturbed and set aside without violating the rule against double jeopardy. x x x
Thus, the Court therein stressed that a re-examination of the evidence without a finding of mistrial will violate the right of an accused as protected by the rule against double jeopardy.