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457 Phil. 785


[ G.R. No. 153845, September 11, 2003 ]




This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, which seeks to set aside the Order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 13 of Malolos, Bulacan, dated February 12, 2002, denying due course to petitioner Efren Salvan's Notice of Partial Appeal, and the Order of the same court, dated June 6, 2002, denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.[1] The petition also specifically prays for the issuance of an Order directing the trial court to give due course to the petitioner's Notice of Partial Appeal.[2]

Petitioner Efren Salvan, a bus driver, was charged with Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide for the death of John Barry Abogado, in Criminal Case No. 718-M-00 before the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 13.[3] At his arraignment, petitioner pleaded guilty to the charge.  The trial court then proceeded to receive evidence to determine the civil liability of petitioner.  During the course of the hearing, petitioner and private complainant Edna Abogado, the mother of the accused, agreed to amicably settle the civil aspect of the case.[4]

On October 23, 2001, the trial court promulgated its Decision, the decretal portion of which provides:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds the accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of simple negligence resulting in homicide as per the recitals in the information, punished under the second paragraph of Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor.  Accused is directed to pay to the heirs of the deceased the net sum of P100,000.00, representing the difference between the P100,000.00 earlier paid by way of amicable settlement herein and the sum of:

a)      P50,000.00 in actual damages;

b)      P50,000.00 in civil indemnity; and

c)      P100,000.00 in moral damages.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration praying for the deletion of the additional award of damages.[6] He also filed an Application for Probation on the same date.[7] On January 28, 2002, the trial court denied the petitioner's Motion for Partial Reconsideration, but gave due course to the petitioner's Application for Probation.[8]

Petitioner then filed a Notice of Partial Appeal on February 8, 2002.  On February 12, 2002, the trial court issued the first assailed Order, the dispositive portion of which states:
Considering that the application for probation of the accused was given due course as per the Order of this Court dated January 28, 2002, and the application for probation is deemed under the law to be a waiver of the right to appeal, the Notice of Appeal is hereby DENIED  due course.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied on June 6, 2002.[10]

Petitioner is now before us, alleging that:
In Rule 41 of the 1964 Rules of Court, the dismissal of appeals was governed by the following provisions:
SEC. 13.  Effect of failure to file notice, bond, or record on appeal. — Where the notice of appeal, appeal bond or record on appeal is not filed within the period of time herein provided, the appeal shall be dismissed.

SEC. 14.  Motion to dismiss appeal. — A motion to dismiss an appeal on any of the grounds mentioned in the preceding section, may be filed in the Court of First Instance prior to the transmittal of the record to the appellate court.
Rule 41, Section 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, provides for the grounds to dismiss appeals, to wit:
Sec. 13.  Dismissal of appeal. — Prior to the transmittal of the original record or the record on appeal to the appellate court, the trial court may motu proprio or on motion dismiss the appeal for having been taken out of time or for non-payment of the docket and other lawful fees within the reglementary period.[12]
The above-quoted rule limits the grounds for dismissal of appeals to very specific instances.  The filing of an application for probation is not one of them.

In the parallel case of Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco,[13] we held:
His Honor was apparently incognizant of the principle that dismissals of appeals from the judgment of a Regional Trial Court by the latter are authorized only in the instances specifically set forth in Section 13, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. The succeeding provision, Section 14 of said Rule 41, provides that "(a) motion to dismiss an appeal may be filed in the (Regional Trial) Court . . . prior to the transmittal of the record to the appellate court;" and the grounds are limited to those "mentioned in the preceding section," i.e., Section 13 to wit: where "the notice of appeal, appeal bond, or record on appeal is not filed within the period of time herein provided . . ."

These two (2) sections clearly establish "that. . . . (A) trial court may not dismiss an appeal as frivolous, or on the ground that the case has become moot and academic, such step devolving upon the appellate courts. Otherwise, the way would be opened for (regional trial) courts . . . to forestall review or reversal of their decisions by higher courts, no matter how erroneous or improper such decisions should be.[14]
Although the aforementioned ruling was made in a civil case, we see no reason why the principles enunciated therein cannot be applied, by analogy, to a criminal case, such as the one at bar.  Thus, aside from its competence to dismiss withdrawn appeals,[15] the Regional Trial Court's power to dismiss an appeal is limited to the instances provided for in Rule 41, Section 13.

Going now to the issue of probation, we recall that the law which governs all matters relating to probation is Presidential Decree No. 968, commonly known as the Probation Law, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1990.  The provision of the law that is pertinent to the current controversy reads:
SEC. 4. Grant of Probation. – Subject to the provisions of this Decree, the trial court may, after it shall have convicted and sentenced a defendant, and upon application by said defendant within the period for perfecting an appeal, suspend the execution of the sentence and place the defendant on probation for such period and upon such terms and conditions as it may deem best; Provided, That no application for probation shall be entertained or granted if the defendant has perfected the appeal from the judgment of conviction.

Probation may be granted whether the sentence imposes a term of imprisonment or a fine only.  An application for probation shall be filed with the trial court.  The filing of the application shall be deemed a waiver of the right to appeal.
An order granting or denying probation shall not be appealable.

Relying solely on the letter of the law, the filing of the application for probation should be deemed a waiver of the right to appeal.  However, in the case of Budlong v. Apalisok,[16] we had occasion to rule that the above provision of the Probation Law clearly provides only for the suspension of the sentence imposed on the accused by virtue of his application for probation. It has absolutely no bearing on civil liability.  This ruling was clarified in Salgado v. Court of Appeals,[17] wherein we ruled that, although the execution of sentence is suspended by the grant of probation, it does not follow that the civil liability of the offender, if any, is extinguished.

This intertwining of criminal and civil liability is best understood by analyzing the criminal act itself which, by its very nature, causes two (2) classes of injury.  The first is the social injury produced by the criminal act which is sought to be repaired thru the imposition of the corresponding penalty and the second is the personal injury caused to the victim of the crime which injury is sought to be compensated thru indemnity, which is civil in nature.[18] This has been codified in our criminal law, where every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable.[19] Thus, Article 113 of the Revised Penal Code provides that, except in case of extinction of civil liability, the offender shall continue to be obliged to satisfy the civil liability resulting from the crime committed by him, notwithstanding the fact that he has served his sentence consisting of deprivation of liberty or other rights, or has not been required to serve the same by reason of amnesty, pardon, commutation of sentence or any other reason.  Furthermore, this principle has found its way into our rules of criminal procedure, where it is provided that an action for recovery of civil liability is deemed instituted in the criminal action unless reserved by the offended party.[20] And yet it must be remembered that the civil liability of the accused is not part of the penalty for the crime committed: it is personal to the victim.[21]

The Probation Law prohibits a judge from entertaining or granting an application for probation if the defendant has perfected an appeal from the judgment of conviction.  The fact of conviction most certainly refers to the criminal liability of the accused, as a result of a finding made by a judge that he is guilty of the crime charged.  However, the appeal in this case involved only the civil aspect of the trial court's judgment.  Hence, we see no reason why, between the conjoined criminal and civil aspects of a felony, a line cannot be drawn marking where the one springs from the other. Even if by definition civil liability ex delicto arises from the criminal act, once its existence is established, it should be treated separately from the criminal liability. Indeed there is even categorical statutory basis to state that it subsists despite the extinguishment of the criminal liability from which it arose.  This was the finding in Budlong v. Apalisok and Salgado v. Court of Appeals.

Thus, we rule that, in an appeal from a judgment of conviction, the criminal liability and the civil liability ex delicto should be considered independently, each with its own corresponding effects.  In the present case, the law that bars an appeal of the judgment of conviction, as well as its corresponding criminal liability, should not bar an appeal of the civil aspect of the same judgment.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 13 of Malolos, Bulacan, dated February 12, 2002, and June 6, 2002 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.  Let this case be REMANDED to the court of origin which is ORDERED to give due course to the petitioner's Notice of Partial Appeal.


Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chaiman), Vitug, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
Azcuna, J., on official leave.

[1] Rollo, p. 42; penned by Judge Andres B. Soriano.

[2] Rollo, p. 17.

[3] Rollo, p. 24.

[4] Rollo, p. 11.

[5] Rollo, p. 27.

[6] Rollo, p. 37.

[7] Rollo, p. 38.

[8] Rollo, p. 39.

[9] Rollo, p. 42.

[10] Rollo, p. 49.

[11] Rollo, p. 13.

[12] As amended by A.M. No. 00-2-10-SC, 21 May 2000.

[13] G.R. No. 109645, 25 July 1994, 234 SCRA 455.

[14] Id., at 493-494.

[15] RULES OF COURT, Rule 122, Section 12.

[16] 207 Phil. 804 (1983).

[17] G.R. No. 89606, 30 August 1990, 189 SCRA 304.

[18] Ramos v. Gonong, G.R. No. 42010, 31 August 1976, 76 SCRA 559, cited in Budlong v. Apalisok, 207 Phil. 804 (1983).

[19] REVISED PENAL CODE, Art. 100, cited in Cruz v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123340, 29 August 2002.

[20] Rules of Court, Rule 111, Sec. 1, cited in Cruz v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123340, 29 August 2002.

[21] U.S. v. Neery, 25 Phil. 600, cited in Budlong v. Apalisok, 207 Phil. 804 (1983).

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