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People vs. Grey Case Digest


The personal examination of the complainant and his witnesses is not mandatory and indispensable in the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. The necessity arises only when there is an utter failure of the evidence to show the existence of probable cause. Otherwise, the judge may rely on the report of the investigating prosecutor, provided that he likewise evaluates the documentary evidence in support thereof.



Facts: 

Joseph Grey, former Mayor of San Jorge, Samar, his son, Francis Grey, and two others were charge of the crime of murder for the death of Rolando Diocton. Judge Bandal denied the motion for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. She directed the prosecution to present, within five days, additional evidence but later, she inhibited. Judge Navidad continued the proceedings of the case.
After finding that probable cause was supported by the evidence on record, he issued warrants of arrest against respondents.

The CA held that Judge Navidad failed to abide by the constitutional mandate for him to personally determine the existence of probable cause. According to the CA, nowhere in the assailed Order did Judge Navidad state his personal assessment of the evidence before him and the personal justification for his finding of probable cause. It found that the judge extensively quoted from the Joint Resolution of the Provincial Prosecutor and the Resolution of the Secretary of Justice, and then adopted these to conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support the finding of probable cause. The CA held that the Constitution commands the judge to personally determine the existence of probable cause before issuing warrants of arrest.


Issue:

Did Judge Navidad fail to personally determine the existence of probable cause?


Held:

No. The duty of the judge to determine probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest is mandated by Article III, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution. In Soliven v. Makasiar, the Court explained that this constitutional provision does not mandatorily require the judge to personally examine the complainant and her witnesses. Instead, he may opt to personally evaluate the report and supporting documents submitted by the prosecutor or he may disregard the prosecutors report and require the submission of supporting affidavits of witnesses. 

What the law requires as personal determination on the part of a judge is that he should not rely solely on the report of the investigating prosecutor. This means that the judge should consider not only the report of the investigating prosecutor but also the affidavit and the documentary evidence of the parties, the counter-affidavit of the accused and his witnesses, as well as the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the preliminary investigation, if any, submitted to the court by the investigating prosecutor upon the filing of the Information.

The Court has also ruled that the personal examination of the complainant and his witnesses is not mandatory and indispensable in the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. The necessity arises only when there is an utter failure of the evidence to show the existence of probable cause. Otherwise, the judge may rely on the report of the investigating prosecutor, provided that he likewise evaluates the documentary evidence in support thereof.

Contrary to respondents claim, Judge Navidad did not gravely abuse his discretion in issuing the same. Judge Navidads Order reads:

In this separate, independent constitutionally-mandated Inquiry conducted for the purpose of determining the sufficiency of the evidence constituting probable cause to justify the issuance of a Warrant of Arrest, the Court perforce, made a very careful and meticulous and (sic) review not only of the records but also the evidence adduced by the prosecution, particularly the sworn statements/affidavits of Mario Abella, Uriendo Moloboco and Edgar Pellina. 

It was only through a review of the proceedings before the prosecutor that could have led Judge Navidad to determine that the accused were given the widest latitude and ample opportunity to challenge the charge of Murder which resulted, among others, (in) a filing of a counter-charge of Perjury. Likewise, his personal determination revealed no improper motive on the part of the prosecution and no circumstance which would overwhelm the presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions. Thus, he concluded that the previous Order, denying the motion for the issuance of warrants of arrest, was not correct. These statements sufficiently establish the fact that Judge Navidad complied with the constitutional mandate for personal determination of probable cause before issuing the warrants of arrest. (People vs. Grey, G.R. No. 180109, July 26, 2010)

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