CASE BRIEF 2015-0874

CASE: People of the Philippines vs. Jesus A. Arrojado [G.R. No. 207041, November 09, 2015]

PONENTE: Peralta, J.:

SUBJECT:

  1. Remedial Law:
    i. Information – Meaning;
    ii. Rule 65 – Grave Abuse of Discretion; meaning
  2. MCLE Certificate of Compliance

“An information is a pleading since the allegations therein, which charge a person with an offense, is basically the same as a complaint in a civil action which alleges a plaintiffs cause or cause of action.”

FACTS: In an Information, Jesus Arrojado was charged with the crime of murder by the Office of the City Prosecutor of Roxas City, Capiz. 

Arrojado filed a Motion to Dismissthe Information filed against him on the ground that the investigating prosecutor who filed the said Information failed to indicate therein the number and date of issue of her Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Certificate of Compliance, as required by Bar Matter No. 1922 (B.M. No. 1922) which was promulgated by this Court via an En Banc Resolution dated June 3, 2008.

The People of the Philippines (The People), represented by the office of the City Prosecutor, filed its Comment/Oppositionto Arrojado’s Motion to Dismiss.

The RTC dismissed the subject Information without prejudice. The People filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the trial court denied.

The People then filed a petition for certiorari and/or mandamus with the CA.

The CA denied The People’s petition and affirmed the questioned RTC Orders.  Hence, he filed a petition for review on certiorari in the Supreme Court .

The People contends that: (1) the term “pleadings” as used in B.M. No. 1922 does not include criminal Informations filed in court; (2) the failure of the investigating prosecutor to indicate in the Information the number and date of issue of her MCLE Certificate of Compliance is a mere formal defect and is not a valid ground to dismiss the subject Information which is otherwise complete in form and substance.

ISSUES:
A) Whether the term “pleadings” does not include criminal Information filed in court;

B) Whether the failure of the of the investigating prosecutor to indicate in the Information the number and date of issue of her MCLE Certificate of Compliance is a valid ground to dismiss the subject Information.

C) Whether or not the Regional Trial Court gravely abused its discretion in dismissing the Information.

RULING:

A) The term “pleadings” include Informations.

Pertinent portions of B.M. No. 1922, provide as follows:

“x x x x
The Court further Resolved, upon the recommendation of the Committee on Legal Education and Bar Matters, to REQUIRE practicing members of the bar to INDICATE in all pleadings filed before the courts or quasi-judicial bodies, the number and date of issue of their MCLE Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Exemption, as may be applicable, for the immediately preceding compliance period. Failure to disclose the required information would cause the dismissal of the case and the expunction of the pleadings from the records.
x x x”

Section 1, Rule 6 of the Rules of Court, as amended, defines pleadings as the written statements of the respective claims and defenses of the parties submitted to the court for appropriate judgment. Among the pleadings enumerated under Section 2 thereof are the complaint and the answer in a civil suit. On the other hand, under Section 4, Rule 110 of the same Rules, an information is defined as an accusation in writing charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the prosecutor and filed with the court. In accordance with the above definitions, it is clear that an information is a pleading since the allegations therein, which charge a person with an offense, is basically the same as a complaint in a civil action which alleges a plaintiffs cause or cause of action.

An information is, for all intents and purposes, considered an initiatory pleading because it is a written statement that contains the cause of action of a party, which in criminal cases is the State as represented by the prosecutor, against the accused. Like a pleading, the Information is also filed in court for appropriate judgment. Undoubtedly then, an Information falls squarely within the ambit of Bar Matter No. 1922, in relation to Bar Matter 850.


B) Failure of the investigating prosecutor to indicate in the subject Information the number and date of issue of her MCLE Certificate of Compliance is a valid ground to dismiss such Information.

Suffice it to state that B.M. No. 1922 categorically provides that “failure to disclose the required information would cause the dismissal of the case and the expunction of the pleadings from the records.”

C) There was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Regional trial Court. Grave abuse of discretion means such capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. To justify the issuance of the writ of certiorari, the abuse of discretion must be grave, as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all, in contemplation of law, as to be equivalent to having acted without jurisdiction. Since the trial court’s dismissal of the subject Information was based on a clear and categorical provision of a rule issued by this Court, the court a quo could not have committed a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment nor did it exercise its discretion in an arbitrary or despotic manner.


***Note:

While the Supreme Court, in this case, affirmed the dismissal of the Information due to the failure of the investigating prosecutor to indicate the number and date of issue of his MCLE Certificate of Compliance, it noted that B.M. No. 1922 has been amended on January 14, 2014 when the Court promulgated an En Banc Resolution repealing the phrase “Failure to disclose the required information would cause the dismissal of the case and the expunction of the pleadings from the records” and replacing it with “Failure to disclose the required information would subject the counsel to appropriate penalty and disciplinary action.”. This is to avoid inordinate delays in the disposition of cases brought about by a counsel’s failure to indicate in his or her pleadings the number and date of issue of his or her MCLE Certificate of Compliance.
Thus, under the amendatory Resolution, the failure of a lawyer to indicate in his or her pleadings the number and date of issue of his or her MCLE Certificate of Compliance will no longer result in the dismissal of the case and expunction of the pleadings from the records. Nonetheless, such failure will subject the lawyer to the prescribed fine and/or disciplinary action.
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THINGS DECIDED:

A)       An information is a pleading since the allegations therein, which charge a person with an offense, is basically the same as a complaint in a civil action which alleges a plaintiffs cause or cause of action.

B)       To justify the issuance of the writ of certiorari, the abuse of discretion must be grave, as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all, in contemplation of law, as to be equivalent to having acted without jurisdiction.

C)      The failure of a lawyer to indicate in his or her pleadings the number and date of issue of his or her MCLE Certificate of Compliance will no longer result in the dismissal of the case and expunction of the pleadings from the records. Nonetheless, such failure will subject the lawyer to the prescribed fine and/or disciplinary action.

 ‘Stand by things decided’ ~ Stare Decisis


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