Private respondents Carampatana, Oporto and Alquizola were charged, together with Christian John Lim, Emmanuel dela Cruz, Samuel Rudinas, Jansen Roda, Harold Batoctoy, and Joseph Villame, for allegedly raping AAA, a minor.
According to the prosecution, private respondents intoxicated AAA with a hard liquor and once intoxicated, brought AAA to Alquizola Lodging house, and once inside said lodging house, RAYMUND CARAMPATANA and JOEPHEL OPORTO took turns in having carnal knowledge against the will of AAA while accused MOISES ALQUIZOLA, with lewd designs, kissed her against her will and consent.
Meanwhile, the defense maintained that AAA consented to the sexual congress.
Upon arraignment, accused, assisted by their respective counsels, entered a plea of not guilty to the offense charged.
The RTC found private respondents Carampatana, Oporto and Alquizola guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape. It, however, acquitted Dela Cruz, Rudinas, Roda, Batoctoy, and Villame for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Aggrieved by the RTC Decision, private respondents brought the case to the CA. The appellate court rendered the assailed Decision reversing the trial court’s ruling and, consequently, acquitted private respondents.
AAA, through her private counsel, filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65, questioning the CA Decision and ardently contending that the same was made with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
Whether or not the filing of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 is violative of the rights of the accused against double jeopardy.
Whether or not the CA committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
Whether or not the private respondents’ right to be informed of the nature of the accusations against them was violated by the filing of a single Information which charged them of four (4) counts of rape.
As a general rule, the prosecution cannot appeal or bring error proceedings from a judgment rendered in favor of the defendant in a criminal case. The reason is that a judgment of acquittal is immediately final and executory, and the prosecution is barred from appealing lest the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy be violated.
Section 21, Article III of the Constitution provides:
Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.
Despite acquittal, however, either the offended party or the accused may appeal, but only with respect to the civil aspect of the decision. Or, said judgment of acquittal may be assailed through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court showing that the lower court, in acquitting the accused, committed not merely reversible errors of judgment, but also exercised grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, or a denial of due process, thereby rendering the assailed judgment null and void.
If there is grave abuse of discretion, granting petitioner’s prayer is not tantamount to putting private respondents in double jeopardy.
The CA decision is a patent nullity for lack of due process and for having been rendered with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
For the writ of certiorari to issue, the respondent court must be shown to have acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. An acquittal is considered tainted with grave abuse of discretion when it is shown that the prosecution’s right to due process was violated or that the trial conducted was a sham. The burden is on the petitioner to clearly demonstrate and establish that the respondent court blatantly abused its authority such as to deprive itself of its very power to dispense justice.
AAA claims in her petition that the CA, in evident display of grave abuse of judicial discretion, totally disregarded her testimony as well as the trial court’s findings of fact, thereby adopting hook, line, and sinker, the private respondents’ narration of facts.
The term “grave abuse of discretion” has a specific meaning. An act of a court or tribunal can only be considered as with grave abuse of discretion when such act is done in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. It must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility. There is grave abuse of discretion when the disputed act of the lower court goes beyond the limits of discretion thus effecting an injustice.
Finally, the Court notes that although the prosecution filed only a single Information, it, however, actually charged the accused of several rapes.
As a general rule, a complaint or information must charge only one offense, otherwise, the same is defective. The rationale behind this rule prohibiting duplicitous complaints or informations is to give the accused the necessary knowledge of the charge against him and enable him to sufficiently prepare for his defense. The State should not heap upon the accused two or more charges which might confuse him in his defense. Non-compliance with this rule is a ground for quashing the duplicitous complaint or information under Rule 117 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure and the accused may raise the same in a motion to quash before he enters his plea, otherwise, the defect is deemed waived.
The accused herein, however, cannot avail of this defense simply because they did not file a motion to quash questioning the validity of the Information during their arraignment. Thus, they are deemed to have waived their right to question the same.
Also, where the allegations of the acts imputed to the accused are merely different counts specifying the acts of perpetration of the same crime, as in the instant case, there is no duplicity to speak of.
There is likewise no violation of the right of the accused to be informed of the charges against them because the Information, in fact, stated that they “took turns in having carnal knowledge against the will of AAA” on March 25, 2004.