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631 Phil. 82


[ G.R. No. 183467, March 29, 2010 ]




Evelyn Barredo (petitioner) was charged for perjury before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Butuan City, docketed as Criminal Case No. 24149, allegedly for making an untruthful statement in her affidavit-complaint for usurpation of authority and illegal detention against Atty. Ricardo D. Gonzalez, the private complainant, before the prosecutor's office.

The statement in petitioner's affidavit-complaint which offended the private complainant was that he "usurped police functions" by instructing the police to impound her truck loaded with sacks of rice and illegally detain her truck helpers following a vehicular mishap on September 12, 1998 which involved her truck.[1]

Rejecting petitioner's defense that she executed her affidavit-complaint in good faith as the technical words used therein were made by her lawyer who prepared it, Branch 1 of the MTCC rendered Judgment[2] of October 10, 2006 convicting her of perjury. Thus the trial court disposed:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Evelyn Barredo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Perjury as defined and penalized under Art. 183 of the Revised Penal Code, and hereby sentences her to suffer an indefinite prison term of two (2) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional, as maximum, there being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances which attended the commission of the said offense.

Further, as to civil liability, said accused is hereby ordered to pay complainant Atty. Ricardo D. Gonzales the sum of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND P100,000 PESOS, Philippine Currency, as moral damages.[3] (emphasis and italics in the original)

On appeal by petitioner, Branch 3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Butuan City, by Decision[4] of October 30, 2007, affirmed the trial court's decision.

On petitioner's petition for review, the Court of Appeals, Cagayan de Oro City, by Resolution[5] of January 30, 2008, dismissed the petition outright on technical ground - failure to attach thereto a copy of the MTCC decision.

Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied, hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari.

Petitioner contends that her petition before the appellate court merits reinstatement since she attached thereto a carbon original of the RTC decision which affirmed the trial court's decision, and which restated verbatim the findings of facts of the trial court.

In his Comment, the private complainant claimed that "no persuasive reason" was given by petitioner to justify her failure to append to her petition a copy of the MTCC decision.[6]

For its part, the People of the Philippines, thru then Solicitor General Agnes VST Devanadera, filed a Manifestation (In Lieu of Comment)[7] praying that, in the interest of substantial justice, the Court of Appeals resolutions be set aside and petitioner's appeal before it be reinstated and resolved on the merits, stressing that "[j]udicial review on the merits has been the standard of substantial justice recognized by this Honorable Court insofar as criminal convictions are concerned where the liberty of the accused is at stake."[8]

The private complainant thereafter filed a Motion to Dismiss[9] stating that he "ha[d] the intention to end this case as an act of benevolence towards the [petitioner] and her family," and "he [was] willing to forego this Complaint in both Criminal and Civil aspects thereof sans any consideration, except the commitment of the [petitioner] . . . that she will not file any suit of whatever nature before any tribunal in connection herewith."

Respecting the private complainant's motion to dismiss, suffice it to state that it is not really a motion[10] but a mere scrap of paper as it: (a) does not contain a prayer for the relief sought to be obtained, (b) simply expresses respondent's "intention" and "willing[ness]" "to forego this Complaint in both Criminal and Civil aspects thereof," and (c) sets conditions for his motion to become effective, namely, that petitioner shall commit "not [to] file any suit of whatever nature before any tribunal in connection herewith."

The Court finds that the Court of Appeals committed reversible error in dismissing petitioner's petition for review.

While Rule 42, Section 2(d) of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, requires that, inter alia, the petition shall "be accompanied by clearly legible duplicate original or true copies of the judgments or final orders of both lower courts," the cited deficiency in petitioner's petition does not make it insufficient in form and substance since it is the decision of the RTC, not that of the MTCC, which is the subject of her appeal. What is important is that in her petition, she attached thereto the original copy of the RTC decision which quoted extensively the findings of the MTCC, including its discussion on the application of the law, that were affirmed in toto.

Silverio v. Court of Appeals[11] enlightens:

x x x [A] party-litigant should be given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of his complaint or defense. He ought not to lose life, liberty, honor or property on technicalities. Rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application based on technicalities will only frustrate rather than promote substantial justice. x x x.

In the case at bar, it was inappropriate for the Court of Appeals to deny the petition on the ground alone that the petitioner failed to attach to the said petition a duplicate original or true copy of the MTC decision because it was supposed to review the decision not of the MTC but of the RTC, notwithstanding that the latter affirmed in toto the judgment of the MTC. In short, the failure to attach the MTC decision did not adversely affect the sufficiency of the petition because it was, in any event, accompanied by the RTC decision sought to be reviewed.[12] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

WHEREFORE, the assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals, Cagayan de Oro City are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

The petition of petitioner, Evelyn Barredo, in CA-G.R. CR No. 00484-MIN is REINSTATED. The Court of Appeals is directed to appropriately act thereon with dispatch. No costs.


Leonardo-De Castro, Peralta,** Bersamin, and Abad,*** JJ., concur.

* Per Special Order No. 828.

** Per Special Order No. 825.

*** Additional member per Special Order No. 829.

[1] Information, quoted in the Judgment of the MTCC (Branch 1), rollo, p. 87.

[2] Id. at 94; 171-178.

[3] Id. at 94.

[4] Id. at 95-105; 179-190.

[5] Penned by Associate Justice Elihu A. Ybanez with concurrence by Associate Justices Romulo V. Borja and Mario V. Lopez; id. at 119-121.

[6] Id. at 217.

[7] Id. at 287-291.

[8] Id. at 289. Citing Banguilan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 165815, April 27, 2007, 522 SCRA 644; De Guzman v. People, G.R. No. 167492, March 22, 2007, 518 SCRA 767; Tamayo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 147070, February 17, 2004, 423 SCRA 175.

[9] Id. at 305.

[10] A "motion" is defined as "an application for relief other than by a pleading" (Rule 15, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended).

[11] G.R. No. 143395, July 24, 2003, 407 SCRA 240.

[12] Id. at 245.

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