Criminal Law, Remedial Law

PEOPLE vs. FIDEL TAN G.R. No. L-21805 February 25, 1967 Jurisdiction, Double Jeopardy, Execution or Satisfaction of Judgment

FACTS:

Fidel Tan was sentenced by the CFI of Samar to suffer — an indeterminate penalty ranging from TWO (2) YEARS and FOUR (4) MONTHS, as minimum, to FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS, as maximum, both of prision correccional, with the accessory penalties provided by law.

His appeal was dismissed before the CA on 1 August 1958.
The sentence having become final, the accused was committed to the Director of Prisons, on 2 March 1959, through the provincial warden.


The provincial warden did not, however, commit the prisoner to the national penitentiary but retained him in the Samar provincial jail.


Thereafter, the warden took it upon himself to apply the provisions of Articles 97 and 99 of the RPC, as well as Act No. 2489, and credited the prisoner with good conduct time allowance.

After the prisoner’s actual confinement in jail for 2 years, 8 months and 21 days, the warden released him on 23 November 1961.

On 6 September 1962, the provincial fiscal moved for the re-arrest of the accused and to order him recommitted to the national penitentiary, on the ground that the provincial warden had no authority to release him.


Acting on the motion, the court required the warden to answer the fiscal’s allegation.


The warden explained that the computation made by him was correct according to my interpretation in good faith of the aforementioned provision based on the maximum term of sentence of 4 years, 2 months.

The court below denied the fiscal’s motion for the rearrest of the Tan on the following grounds:
(a) that when the accused-appellee commenced serving his sentence and was committed to the warden, the court lost jurisdiction over the prisoner’s “person with respect to his imprisonment”;
(b) that to re-arrest him after his release would amount to double jeopardy or deprive him of his liberty without due process of law; and
(c) that the accused abided by the judgment and served it in good faith, even if the act of the jailer was irresponsible and erroneous.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the lower court has lost jurisdiction over the person of the accused.

Whether the re-arrest of Tan would constitute double jeopardy.

RULING:

We agree with the Solicitor General that the lower court had already lost jurisdiction to amend or alter its judgment of conviction, but not over its execution or satisfaction. The court’s jurisdiction was not terminated by the commitment of the convict to the jail authorities — the commitment was but the start in carrying out of the court’s decision. It is the prerogative of the court meting out the punishment to see to it that the punishment be served until, by act of lawfully authorized administrative agencies of the state the convict is pardoned or paroled or, on lawful grounds, set at liberty sooner than the expiration of the sentence imposed.

The prisoner’s re-arrest would not place him twice in jeopardy because his re-incarceration is merely a continuation of the penalty that he had not completely served due to the erroneous act of the warden, it is not a new or subsequent conviction. Neither would his re-arrest deprive him of liberty without due process of law, because he was not yet entitled to liberty at the time he was released. Service of penalties and allowance for good conduct are specifically, even elaborately, governed by the Penal Code and do not depend upon the good faith of the warden and of the prisoner.

The appealed order was reversed and the SC ordered the re-arrest, and the continuance of the imprisonment of Fidel Tan, for one (1) year, five (5) months and eleven (11) days more.

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