CASE BRIEF 2019-0003

CASE: Angela Usares vs. People of the Philippines [G.R. No. 209047, January 07, 2019]

PONENTE: Perlas-Bernabe, J.:

SUBJECT: Bail Bond; Section 8 Rule 124 (Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to prosecute)

FACTS:
Section 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court provides:

“Section 8. Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to prosecute. – The Court of Appeals may, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio and with notice to the appellant in either case, dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file his brief within the time prescribed by this Rule, except where the appellant is represented by a counsel de oficio.

The Court of Appeals may also, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio, dismiss the appeal if the appellantescapes from prison or confinement, jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the pendency of the appeal.”

The RTC found Usares guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide. At the same day the said RTC Decision was promulgated, the lawyer of Usares manifested in open court that they “intend to file a Notice of Appeal” and moved that Usares be “released under the same bond x x x.” 

The RTC granted the said motion.

Usares subsequently filed a Notice of Appeal.

When the case was now in the CA, someone filed a Motion for the Issuance of Warrant of Arrest,praying that the warrant be issued against Usares to enforce the RTC Decision.


In a Resolutionthe CA dismissed Usares’ appeal and referred the Motion for the Issuance of Warrant of Arrest to the RTC for its appropriate action. According to the CA, despite the judgment of conviction against her and the cancellation of her bail bond, Usares nonetheless continued to enjoy her liberty during the pendency of the appeal proceedings without a valid bail bond having been posted and approved by the court. As such, she is considered to have jumped bail, and thus, her appeal should be dismissed in accordance with Section 8, Rule 124 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.

The CA Resolution became final and executory, and was thereby recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgments.

Aggrieved, Usares, through Atty. Bernardo Q. Cuaresma (Atty. Cuaresma), moved for reconsideration, pointing out, among others, that during the promulgation of the RTC Decision, counsel for Usares moved that she be allowed to be released under the same bond, which the RTC granted.

The CA denied Usares’s motion for reconsiderationas it was already considered filed out of time.

ISSUE:

(A) Whether the CA is correct in considering Usares to have jumped bail?

(B) Whether the CA is correct in dismissing the motion for reconsideration for being filed out of time?

RULING:

(A) The CA incorrect.

Under Section 8, Rule 124 ofthe Rules of Court, theCA is authorized to dismiss an appeal, whether upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio, once it is determined that the appellant, among others, jumps bail, viz.:

“Section 8. Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to prosecute. – The Court of Appeals may, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio and with notice to the appellant in either case, dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file his brief within the time prescribed by this Rule, except where the appellant is represented by a counsel de oficio.

The Court of Appeals may also, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio, dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes from prison or confinement, jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the pendency of the appeal.”

In People v. Mapalao, the Court explained that:

“The reason for this rule is x x x once an accused escapes from prison or confinement or jumps bail or flees to a foreign country, he loses his standing in court and unless he surrenders or submits to the jurisdiction of the court he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court.

According to the CA, Usares was “considered at-large following the judgment of conviction and cancellation of her bail bond, and [yet] enjoys liberty pending appeal without a valid a bail bond having been posted and approved by the court even untl now.” As such, it deemed Usares to have jumped bail, and hence, dismissed her appeal pursuant to Section 8, Rule 124.

However, records reveal that Usares, through her counsel, had manifested in open court during the promulgation of the RTC Decision, that she intended to appeal and further moved that she be released under the same cash bail bond. Under Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, when the RTC, after the conviction of the accused, grants the latter’s application for bail based on its discretion, the accused-appellant may be allowed to continue on provisional liberty during the pendency of the appeal under the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman, viz.:

“Section 5. Bail, when discretionary. – Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail is discretionary. The application for bail may be filed and acted upon by the trial court despite the filing of a notice of appeal, provided it has not transmitted the original record to the appellate court. However, if the decision of the trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail can only be filed with and resolved by the appellate court.

Should the court grant the application, the accused may be allowed to continue on provisional liberty during the pendency of the appeal under the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman.
x x x x”

At this juncture, it deserves mentioning that what Usares posted was a cash bail bond which to date remained in the government coffers. The Certificationdated October 22, 2013 issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff Jennifer H. Dela Cruz-Buendia confirms this fact and further certifies that as of its date, the “cash bond has not yet been withdrawn.” The Certificationdated October 24, 2013 issued by the Clerk of Court of the CA further validates Usares’ posting of a cash bond as it certifies that a “CERTIFIED photocopy of the ‘WAIVER/UNDERTAKING’ with attached Official Receipt Nos. 7595717 K, 7330732 A, 7596909 K and Legal Fees Form dated February 11, 2008”

Verily, the cash bond and Usares’s written undertaking executed pursuant to the Rules-which the RTC approved-stood as sufficient security for her release during the appeal proceedings. As long as the amount deposited remains in the government coffers, the same sufficiently secures her continued provisional liberty during the entire appeal proceedings upon the RTC’s approval of her bail application, following Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court. This is in contrast with the other types of securities given for the temporary release of an accused which require the participation of a third party, i.e., the surety or bondsman (either corporate surety or property surety), whose qualification must first be ascertained by the court.

Thus, considering that Usares has an existing cash bail bond- which the CA should have known had it reviewed more carefully the records of this case – she cannot be considered to have jumped bail, which thus renders erroneous the dismissal of her appeal on the said ground.

(B)     Notably, while it appears that Usares belatedly filed her motion for reconsideration before the CA, which resulted in the issuance of an entry of judgment against her, the Court finds it proper to relax such technicalities in the interest of substantial justice given that there was, in the first place, no cogent basis for the dismissal of her appeal.

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THINGS DECIDED:

A)      The Court of Appeals may, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio, dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes from prison or confinement, jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the pendency of the appeal.

B)       Under Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, when the RTC, after the conviction of the accused, grants the latter’s application for bail based on its discretion, the accused-appellant may be allowed to continue on provisional liberty during the pendency of the appeal under the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman.

C)      As long as the amount (of cash bail bond) deposited remains in the government coffers, the same sufficiently secures his continued provisional liberty during the entire appeal proceedings upon the RTC’s approval of his bail application, following Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court.

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