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Pantillo III vs. Judge Canoy Case Digest


Sec. 17, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure allows that any person in custody who is not yet charged in court may apply for bail with any court in the province, city or municipality where he is held.


Facts: 

Pantillo is the brother of the homicide victim in a pending criminal case under the sala of  Judge Canoy. When Pantillo attended the criminal case’s inquest proceedings, he was informed  that  the accused,  Ronald  Perocho  was  released from detention. Pantillo  proceeded to the City Police station and was informed that Perocho posted  bail and was released based on a verbal order of Judge  Canoy. The  latter ordered  the Clerk of Court to accept as deposit the  amount  of  bail and to earmark its official receipt. Consequently, Pantillo went to the Office of the Clerk of Court to request  for  the  copy of  the  information which served as basis for the approval of bail  but was informed that no information has yet been filed in court. Hence, Pantillo filed a letter-complaint with the Office of the Court Administrator against Judge Canoy for gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of authority and appearance of  impropriety. In his defense, Judge Canoy invoked the constitutional right of the accused to bail and Section 17(c),  Rule  114 of  the  Revised  Rules  of Criminal  Procedure, which does not require that a person be charged in court before he or she may apply for bail. To his mind, there was already a constructive bail given that only the papers were needed to formalize it. It would be unreasonable and unjustifiable to further delay the release of the accused.

The Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez issued his evaluation and recommendation on the case. In his evaluation, the Court Administrator found that respondent judge failed to comply with the documents required by the rules to discharge an accused on bail. Hence, this petition was filed.


Issue:

May a judge verbally grant bail (“constructive bail”) to the accused who is not yet charged and did not file an application or petition for its grant?


Held:

No. Sec. 17, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure allows that any person in custody who is not yet charged in court may apply for bail with any court in the province, city or municipality where he is held. In the case at bar, Melgazo did not file any application or petition for the grant of bail with the Surigao City RTC, Branch 29. Despite the absence of any written application, respondent judge verbally granted bail to Melgazo. This is a clear deviation from the procedure laid down in Sec. 17 of Rule 114.

Also, Melgazo or any person acting in his behalf did not deposit the amount of bail recommended by Prosecutor Gonzaga with the nearest collector of internal revenue or provincial, city or municipal treasurer. In clear departure from Sec. 14 of Rule 114, Judge Canoy instead verbally ordered Clerk IV Suriaga of the Surigao City RTC, Office of the Clerk of Court, to accept the cash deposit as bail, to earmark an official receipt for the cash deposit, and to date it the following day. Worse, respondent judge did not require Melgazo to sign a written undertaking containing the conditions of the bail under Sec. 2, Rule 114 to be complied with by Melgazo. Immediately upon receipt by Suriaga of the cash deposit of PhP 30,000 from Melgazo, Judge Canoy ordered the police escorts to release Melgazo without any written order of release. In sum, there was no written application for bail, no certificate of deposit from the BIR collector or provincial, city or municipal treasurer, no written undertaking signed by Melgazo, and no written release order.

As regards the insistence of Judge Canoy that such may be considered as constructive bail, there is no such species of bail under the Rules. Despite the noblest of reasons, the Rules of Court may not be ignored at will and at random to the prejudice of the rights of another.

Procedural rules have their own wholesome rationale in the orderly administration of justice. Justice has to be administered according to the Rules in order to obviate arbitrariness, caprice, or whimsicality. In other words, [r]ules of procedure are intended to ensure the orderly administration of justice and the protection of substantive rights in judicial and extrajudicial proceedings. In this case, the reason of Judge Canoy is hardly persuasive enough to disregard the Rules. (Pantillo III vs. Judge Canoy, A.M. No. RTJ-11-2262, February 9, 2011,)

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