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Go vs. Judge Bongolan Case Digest


In resolving a motion for admission to bail, a bail hearing is mandatory to give the prosecution reasonable opportunity to oppose the application by showing that the evidence of guilt is strong.

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Facts:

Several accused were charged with the crime of kidnapping for ransom in an information filed in the sala of Judge Bongolan. Since kidnapping with ransom is punishable with reclusion perpetua to death, the prosecution recommended no bail for the provisional liberty of the accused. When trial commenced, the prosecution panel presented its witnesses. After the prosecution presented 5 witnesses, the counsel of one of the accused during the regular hearing on May 28, 1998, presented a “Motion for the Amendment of the Information and for the Fixing of the Bail” alleging that the evidence presented did not show that the kidnapping was for ransom and asking the prosecution to amend the information from kidnapping for ransom to simple kidnapping to bring it within the ambit of bailable offenses to enable accused to post bail as a matter of right. Judge Bongolan asked whether the prosecution would present additional evidence and the prosecution answered in the negative.

Subsequently, however, the prosecution changed its mind and filed an “Opposition to Motion to Bail.” They maintained that it has established that the accused committed kidnapping for ransom and that the motion to bail is prematurely filed since they are still in the process of presenting further evidence to prove that the crime had been committed by the accused. The next day, however, Judge Bongolan issued his order granting the application for bail, holding that the prosecution did not show that the evidence of guilt is strong.

An administrative case was filed against Judge Bongolan for having rendered an unjust order and ignorance of the law in granting bail without setting the hearing for the bail application. Judge Bongolan argued that no further hearing is necessary because in one of the hearings of the case, he asked the prosecution on whether they could offer additional evidence to support its opposition and the prosecution answered in the negative. Further, he contended that it is not necessary for the prosecution to present all its witnesses before he could resolve the motion for bail.


Issue:

Whether or not the grant of bail is proper.


Held:

The grant of bail is improper for failure to comply with the procedure in resolving a motion for admission to bail.  A bail hearing is mandatory to give the prosecution reasonable opportunity to oppose the application by showing that evidence of guilt is strong. If the prosecution is denied such an opportunity, there would be a violation of procedural due process. The records show that the prosecution was supposed to present its 6th and 7th witnesses on June 4, 1998 when Judge Bongolan prematurely resolved the motion. A bail application does not only involve the right of the accused to temporary liberty, but likewise the right of the State to protect the people and the peace of the community from dangerous element. These two rights must be balanced by a magistrate in the scale of justice, hence, the necessity for hearing to guide his exercise of discretion.

Judge Bongolan also fixed the bail at P50,000.00 without showing its reasonableness. In Tucay v. Domagas, we held that while the Provincial Prosecutor did not interpose an objection to the grant of bail, still, respondent judge should have set the petition for bail hearing for the additional reason of taking into account the guidelines for fixing the amount of bail. Thus, we fined the erring judge for gross ignorance of the law. (Go vs. Judge Bongolan, AM. No. RTJ-99-1464, July 26,1999)

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