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670 Phil. 448


[ G.R. No. 172110, August 01, 2011 ]


[G.R. NO. 181804]




These two cases were consolidated as they arose from the same factual milieu and assail the same decision of the Court of Appeals.

Minda Villamor and Glicerio Vios, Jr. (petitioners), along with Nicolas Caballero, Ricardo Tormis, and Jeffrey Cutab, were charged with frustrated murder before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lanao del  Norte, Branch 4, Iligan City, docketed as Criminal Case No. 4-7450.  The accusatory portion of the Amended Information dated February 2, 1999 filed against them reads:

That on or about January 7, 1999, in the City of Iligan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping each other, by means of treachery, evident premeditation and inconsideration of a price or reward, armed with a bladed weapon and with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, stab and wound one Jean V. Jumawan thereby inflicting upon her the following physical injuries, to wit:

Multiple stab wounds, abdomen.

thus performing all the acts of execution which should have produced the crime of Murder as a consequence, but nevertheless did not produce it by reason of causes independent of their will.[1] (Underscoring in the original)

When arraigned, all the accused pleaded not guilty.

Soon after, accused Ricardo Tormis changed his previous plea to guilty, was sentenced, and then committed to the San Ramon Penal Colony and Farm in Zamboanga City to serve his sentence.[2]  Accused Nicolas Caballero was subsequently discharged as an accused, as he was utilized as a state witness.[3]  The case against accused Jeffrey Cutab was later dismissed after his Demurrer to Evidence was granted by the RTC.[4]

The facts established by the evidence of the prosecution, as summarized by the Solicitor General in the People’s Brief, are as follows:

About 1:00 P.M. of January 7, 1999, victim Jean Jumawan, a public school teacher, was resting inside her classroom No. 11 at Iligan City East Central School, Tambo, Hinaplanon, Iligan City when Ricardo Tormis and Nicolas Caballero arrived. Immediately thereafter, Caballero stepped out of the classroom while Tormis handed Jumawan an envelope, saying that it came from Minda Villamor and Glicerio Vios, Jr. (TSN, Aug. 18, 1999, p. 7). When Jumawan was about to open the envelope, Tormis suddenly stabbed her successively, hitting the different parts of her body (TSN, id., pp. 7-8). When she parried Tormis’ assault, Jumawan’s hand likewise sustained injuries. She fell down to the floor. Tormis continued his assault but missed because Jumawan, who was then lying on the floor, kicked him, causing him to stagger backward. Jumawan stood up and shouted for help while Tormis fled (TSN, id., p. 9).

Bloodied and weak, Jumawan was carried and brought to the Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital where Dr. Anastacio Gayao and Dr. Elfred Solis performed surgery on her major multiple stab wounds x x x. Dr. Gayao issued her a medical certificate (Exh. “B,” rollo, p. 188), x x x.

On February 4 to 12, 1999, because of her inability to move her wounded right hand fingers, Jumawan likewise underwent surgery under Dr. Agustin Morales at the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital, Cebu City. Dr. Morales and Dr. Manuel Juanillo, her other attending physician, issued her a medical certificate (Exh. “C,” rollo, p. 190), x x x.

x x x Until now, despite medical intervention, [Jumawan] cannot write with the use of her right hand. She now uses her left hand, but still with difficulty (TSN, Aug. 18, 1999, p. 12). She cannot anymore move easily and feels anxious that she is no longer the same person as she used to be.

She was absent from her school work for about four (4) months due to her hospital confinement and rehabilitation. Hence, she received no salary.

Jumawan presented numerous receipts of her medical expenses due to the injuries she sustained (Exhs. “Q” to “Q-14”). x x x  In prosecuting this case, Jumawan hired the services of Atty. Providencio Abragan, her private prosecutor, and agreed to pay P30,000.00 as acceptance fee and P1,000.00 as appearance fee.

Prior to the stabbing incident, or on October 27, 1990, when Jumawan, Vios, and Villamor were still teaching colleagues at the Luinab Elementary School, Iligan City, Jumawan and her mother filed an administrative complaint against Vios before the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) (TSN, Dec. 7, 1999, p. 12).

x x x x

Likewise, prior to the stabbing incident, Jumawan filed a case for Grave Oral Defamation against Minda Villamor who was thereafter convicted by the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 5, Iligan City in its Decision dated April 30, 1998 in Case No. (29570-AF) I-5776. On appeal, the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte, Branch 5, Iligan City, in its Order dated March 3, 1999, affirmed the lower court’s decision of conviction. The case is now pending review by the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 23519.

x x x x

Nicolas Caballero x x x who, upon motion by the prosecution, was discharged [as an accused] and utilized as a state witness, affirmed his sworn statement dated January 11, 1999 (Exhs. “A” & “A-1,” rollo, pp. 186-187).

According to Caballero, Vios and Minda Villamor were the ones who planned the stabbing of Jumawan on January 7, 1999. Upon instruction by Vios and Villamor, he looked for a killer and got Ricardo Tormis to do the job. Unlike Caballero, Vios, Minda Villamor and Jumawan were all from Luinab, Iligan City, while Tormis was a resident of Ladid, Digkilaan, Iligan City. He was promised that Vios and Villamor would take care of him while the killer would be given P10,000.00 to be shouldered equally by the two (TSN, July 26, 1999, pp. 10-11).

The plot was first hatched at about 7:00 P.M. of January 2, 1999 in the house of Vios, with Caballero, Vios, Villamor and Michael Quiapo in attendance (TSN, ibid., p. 10). On January 3, 1999, they met again at the house of Villamor, who told Vios to make it fast because she was very angry with Jumawan (TSN, id., p. 11). When Caballero asked her the reason of their hatred against Jumawan, Vios replied that Jumawan implicated him in the burning of her car, while Villamor stated that she had a case with Jumawan (TSN, id.).

At 5:50 P.M. of January 6, 1999, Caballero brought Tormis, who agreed to do the “job,” to Vios and Villamor who instructed the former to kill Jumawan saying, “Kami nay bahala ninyo pagkahuman” (TSN, id., p. 12).

About 12:45 P.M. of January 7, 1999, Caballero, as planned, escorted Ricardo Tormis to the classroom of Jumawan. When inside, Caballero left Tormis and went back to the school gate where he left the bicycle they used, and waited. Shortly thereafter, Tormis, carrying a knife, went out of Jumawan’s classroom. Caballero and Tormis boarded the bicycle and fled to Tambo, Bayug, Iligan City (TSN, id., p. 14).

Both the knife used by Tormis to stab Jumawan and the bicycle used by Caballero and Tormis were provided by Vios, x x x.

x x x in the late afternoon of January 7, 1999, Caballero and Tormis returned to the house of Vios. Villamor was fetched from her house just across the street. Vios and Villamor gave Tormis P1,000.00 and was told to come back for the balance of P9,000.00 (TSN, id., p. 15).

For his participation, Caballero was handed P400.00 and was advised to hide somewhere because he was identified (TSN, id.). He took refuge for four (4) days in Marawi City but, on January 11, 1999, he went back to Iligan City where he voluntarily related the incident to the barangay captain, and then in the police precinct, with the assistance of a counsel (Exhs. “A” and “A1,” rollo, pp. 181-187).[5]

Petitioners denied having committed the crime charged.

Invoking the defense of alibi, petitioner Glicerio Vios, Jr. claimed that at the time the crime was committed, he was in his classroom conducting classes when he noticed some pupils running, and then a co-teacher informed him that Jean Jumawan was stabbed inside her classroom.  It was only on January 11, 1999 when he first met Nicolas Caballero during the investigation of this incident at the prosecutor’s office.  He did not harbor any ill-feelings towards private complainant Jean Jumawan, since the administrative case she (and her mother) filed against him before the DECS was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. He contradicted himself, though, when he stated during cross-examination that there was no DECS order dismissing the said administrative case.

For her part, petitioner Minda Villamor testified that she and her brother Ernesto Lura were in Libonan, Bukidnon from January 1, 1999 until dawn of January 4, 1999 to visit their old sick father.  She thus could not have met Nicolas Caballero, as he claimed, at petitioner Vios’ house in the evening of January 2, 1999 and at her house the following day where they (petitioners) supposedly discussed with him the plan to kill Jean Jumawan.  It was only during the investigation of the stabbing incident that she first met Caballero and Ricardo Tormis.  She admitted that she and Jean Jumawan had once an altercation which led to the filing of grave oral defamation by Jumawan and her mother against her (Minda Villamor). She denied, however, that she was angry at the two since, she had already forgotten about that case.

Finding credible and trustworthy the positive and categorical testimonies of prosecution witnesses who have no ill motive in testifying against the petitioners, the RTC, by Decision[6] dated July 7, 2003, convicted the latter of frustrated murder as principals by inducement, thus:

WHEREFORE, premises all considered, the Court finds both accused, Glicerio Vios, Jr. and Minda Villamor, guilty of Frustrated Murder beyond reasonable doubt. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, each of them is hereby meted the penalty of Prision Mayor Maximum of 10 years and 1 day, as minimum, to Reclusion Temporal Medium of 17 years and 4 months, as maximum.

Further, accused Glicerio Vios, Jr. and Minda Villamor, as well as Ricardo Tormis, are hereby ordered to pay Jean Jumawan, jointly and solidarily, the following:

a) the sum of  P207,279.85 as actual and compensatory damages;
b) the amount of P59,320.00 as loss of earning capacity;
c) the sum of P100,000.00 as moral damages;
d) the amount of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
e) the sum of P45,000.00 as attorney’s fees.[7]

The petitioners seasonably filed separate Notices of Appeal.

The Court of Appeals (CA), Cagayan de Oro City rendered a Decision[8] dated October 27, 2005 in CA-G.R. CR No. 27667, the dispositive portion of which reads:

FOR THE REASONS STATED, We DISMISS the appeal of accused-appellant Glicerio Vios, Jr. and AFFIRM the appealed decision with respect to the accused-appellant Minda Villamor. The award of damages is MODIFIED and the accused-appellants, together with the accused Ricardo Tormis, are ordered to pay, jointly and severally, the victim Jean Jumawan the following amounts:

1)  P207,279.85 as actual and compensatory damages;
2)  P25,000.00 as temperate damages;
3)  P50,000.00 as moral damages;
4)  P25,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
5)  P25,000.00 as attorney’s fees.[9]

The appeal of Glicerio Vios, Jr. was dismissed, since his appeal brief was filed too late without even a motion for extension of time to file the same having been made.

His motion for reconsideration of the CA Decision having been denied,[10] Glicerio Vios, Jr. filed the present Petition for Review on Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 181804.  Essentially, he alleged that the CA erred in dismissing his appeal by mere technicality, and in affirming the factual findings of the trial court.[11]

Minda Villamor’s  motion for reconsideration of the CA Decision was also denied for being late.  She admitted that a copy of the CA Decision was received by her counsel, Atty. Elpidio N. Cabasan, on November 16, 2005; hence, the last day to file her motion for reconsideration was on December 1, 2005.  On November 30, 2005, however, her new counsel, Atty. David Warren G. Lim, filed a Motion For Extension of Time to File Motion for Reconsideration (with Notice of Appearance), praying for a 30-day extension of time from December 1, 2005, or until December 31, 2005, within which to file the said motion for reconsideration as Atty. Cabasan was suffering from “prostate illness [with] diabetic complication.”[12]

It was only on December 28, 2005 that Atty. Lim filed a motion for reconsideration[13] of the CA Decision, way beyond the reglementary period.

Expectedly, the CA denied both motions, holding that “no motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration is allowed pursuant to Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japson, 142 SCRA 208 (May 30, 1986).”[14]

Minda Villamor then filed the present Petition for Review on Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 172110, alleging in essence that the CA erred in affirming the findings of the trial court, particularly on the credibility of witnesses.[15]

In its separate Comments, the Office of the Solicitor General prays for the denial of both petitions for lack of merit.

The present petitions must fail.

It is axiomatic that the “Rules of Court, promulgated by authority of law, have the force and effect of law. More importantly, rules prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done, or certain proceedings taken, are absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delays and the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business. Strict compliance with such rules is mandatory and imperative. Only strong considerations of equity will lead us to allow an exception to the procedural rule in the interest of substantial justice.”[16]

As regards Minda Villamor’s petition (G.R. No. 172110), suffice it to say that the CA properly denied her motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration of the assailed CA decision as such motion is clearly proscribed in Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japson. Thus, the subsequent filing of her motion for reconsideration of the CA decision way beyond the reglementary period has rendered the said decision final and executory.

With respect to the petition of Glicerio Vios, Jr. (G.R. No. 181804), he admits that “he failed to file his appellant’s brief within the reglementary period.”[17]  He submits, though, that the CA “erred in dismissing his appeal for such technical deficiency.”[18] He justified the late filing of his Appeal Brief in this wise:

x x x the reason of x x x the delayed filing of petitioner’s appeal brief was because of a shooting incident that took place in the law firm of petitioner’s counsel wherein one of the lawyers in the said firm was shot. For this reason, the law office was x x x temporarily closed for fear of possible attack to the lawyers in the said law firm. Threats were so high since then that the law office was able to regularly function only sometime in June 2004. With such justifiable reason, a strict application of Rule 124, Section 8 of the Rules of Court is not ideal because it will obviously deprive therein petitioner from substantial justice.”[19]

We are not persuaded.

In dismissing the appeal of Glicerio Vios, Jr., the CA noted that despite several months had lapsed from the time the Notice to File Brief dated November 28, 2003 was sent to the appellants and their counsels, he belatedly filed his appeal brief only on June 22, 2004 without previously filing a motion for extension of time to file the same. In fact, as further observed by the CA, his Appeal Brief “makes no mention of any good or sufficient cause explaining the delay of its filing.[20]  Thus, the CA ruled:

Vios x x x filed his Brief on June 22, 2004 without filing a motion for extension of time to file appellant’s brief. The OSG maintained in its second Appellee’s Brief that Vios’ failure to file his brief within the reglementary period warrants the dismissal of his appeal.

We dismiss Vios’ appeal for his failure to file the same within the time allowed by the Rules of Court. Rule 124, Section 8 of the said Rules provides: “x x x. The Court of Appeals may, upon motion of the appellee or motu propio 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 the Rule, except where the appellant is represented by a counsel de oficio. x x x.”

Under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (Section 3, Rule 124), the appellant must file his brief within thirty (30) days from receipt by the appellant or his counsel of the notice from the clerk of court of this Court that evidence, oral and documentary, is already attached to the record.

The record reveals that a Notice to File Brief dated November 28, 2003 was sent to the appellants as well as to their counsels. x x x. Vios did not file any motion for extension of time to file brief despite the fact that several months had lapsed from the time the notice to file brief was sent to the appellants and their counsels. Vios’ appeal brief makes no mention of any good or sufficient cause explaining the delay in its filing. The dismissal of his appeal, therefore, is proper under the Rules, considering that the trial court’s judgment of conviction has become final as to him.[21]

The belated explanation proffered by petitioner Vios’ counsel to justify his delay in filing the Appeal Brief was well rejected by the CA. Indeed, if the alleged shooting incident at his counsel’s law firm was the cause of the delay, it is highly unimaginable why such bizarre episode – which supposedly prompted the temporary closure of the law firm for fear of possible follow-up attacks to the lawyers therein – was not mentioned at all in his Appeal Brief.  Strangely, such incident was totally concealed from the CA.

Having failed to show compelling reason to warrant the relaxation of the application of the Rules in his favor, Vios’ petition must perforce be denied.

The unjustified failure of both petitioners herein to observe very elementary rules of procedure in the observance of reglementary periods undermines the stability of the judicial process.  Thus, their appeal for liberal application of the Rules “in the interest of substantial justice” cannot be successfully invoked.  Besides, their petitions, as shown earlier, commonly raise factual issues relative to the trial court’s findings on the sufficiency of evidence to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt – a matter beyond the province of this Court to review.

WHEREFORE, these consolidated petitions are DENIED and the assailed Decision and Resolutions of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED.


Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Brion,* Abad, and Sereno,** JJ., concur.

* Designated as an additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, per Special Order No. 1056 dated July 27, 2011.

** Designated as an additional member, per Special Order No. 1028 dated June 21, 2011.

[1] Records, pp. 33-34.

[2] Id. at 81-82.

[3] Id. at 84, 98, 101.

[4] Id. at 342-343.

[5] Rollo (G.R. No. 172110), pp. 96-102.

[6] Records, pp. 454-478.

[7] Id. at 478.

[8] Penned by Associate Justice Edgardo A. Camello, with Associate Justices Normandie B. Pizarro and Ricardo R. Rosario, concurring; CA rollo, pp. 246-262.

[9] Id. at 262.

[10] CA Resolution dated January 25, 2008, id. at 506-510.

[11] Rollo (G.R. No. 181804), p. 32.

[12] CA rollo, pp. 267-269.

[13] Id. at 279-289.

[14] Resolution dated March 8, 2006, id. at 390.

[15] Rollo (G.R. No. 172110), pp. 27-28.

[16] Bago v. People, G.R. No. 135638, January 20, 2003, 395 SCRA 404, 405-406.

[17] Rollo (G.R. No. 181804), p. 295.

[18] Id. at 295-296.

[19] Id. at 33-34.

[20] CA rollo, p. 254.

[21] Id. at 253-255.  (Emphasis supplied.)

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