MAXIMO V. SOLIVEN, ANTONIO V. ROCES, FREDERICK K. AGCAOLI, and GODOFREDO L. MANZANAS, petitioners, vs. THE HON. RAMON P. MAKASIAR, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 35, UNDERSECRETARY SILVESTRE BELLO III, of the Department of Justice, LUIS C. VICTOR, THE CITY FISCAL OF MANILA and PRESIDENT CORAZON C. AQUINO, respondents.
G.R. No. 82827 November 14, 1988
LUIS D. BELTRAN, petitioner,
THE HON. RAMON P. MAKASIAR, Presiding Judge of Branch 35 of the Regional Trial Court, at Manila, THE HON. LUIS VICTOR, CITY FISCAL OF MANILA, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE WESTERN POLICE DISTRICT, and THE MEMBERS OF THE PROCESS SERVING UNIT AT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, respondents.
G.R. No. 83979 November 14, 1988.
LUIS D. BELTRAN, petitioner,
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY CATALINO MACARAIG, SECRETARY OF JUSTICE SEDFREY ORDOÑEZ, UNDERSECRETARY OF JUSTICE SILVESTRE BELLO III, THE CITY FISCAL OF MANILA JESUS F. GUERRERO, and JUDGE RAMON P. MAKASIAR, Presiding Judge of Branch 35 of the Regional Trial Court, at Manila, respondents.
Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz for petitioners in G.R. No. 82585.
Perfecto V. Fernandez, Jose P. Fernandez and Cristobal P. Fernandez for petitioner in G.R. Nos. 82827 and 83979.
R E S O L U T I O N
In these consolidated cases, three principal issues were raised: (1) whether or not petitioners were denied due process when informations for libel were filed against them although the finding of the existence of a prima facie case was still under review by the Secretary of Justice and, subsequently, by the President; (2) whether or not the constitutional rights of Beltran were violated when respondent RTC judge issued a warrant for his arrest without personally examining the complainant and the witnesses, if any, to determine probable cause; and (3) whether or not the President of the Philippines, under the Constitution, may initiate criminal proceedings against the petitioners through the filing of a complaint-affidavit.
Subsequent events have rendered the first issue moot and academic. On March 30, 1988, the Secretary of Justice denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration and upheld the resolution of the Undersecretary of Justice sustaining the City Fiscal's finding of a prima facie case against petitioners. A second motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Beltran was denied by the Secretary of Justice on April 7, 1988. On appeal, the President, through the Executive Secretary, affirmed the resolution of the Secretary of Justice on May 2, 1988. The motion for reconsideration was denied by the Executive Secretary on May 16, 1988. With these developments, petitioners' contention that they have been denied the administrative remedies available under the law has lost factual support.
It may also be added that with respect to petitioner Beltran, the allegation of denial of due process of law in the preliminary investigation is negated by the fact that instead of submitting his counter- affidavits, he filed a "Motion to Declare Proceedings Closed," in effect waiving his right to refute the complaint by filing counter-affidavits. Due process of law does not require that the respondent in a criminal case actually file his counter-affidavits before the preliminary investigation is deemed completed. All that is required is that the respondent be given the opportunity to submit counter-affidavits if he is so minded.
The second issue, raised by petitioner Beltran, calls for an interpretation of the constitutional provision on the issuance of warrants of arrest. The pertinent provision reads:
Art. III, Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable...