Sunday, September 30, 2007

Judicial determination of probable cause: policing the investigating prosecutors

In one case, I filed an "OMNIBUS MOTION : FOR JUDICIAL DETERMINATION OF PROBABLE CAUSE; FOR THE DEFERMENT OF THE ISSUANCE OF WARRANT OF ARREST; FOR SUSPENSION OF PROCEEDINGS; FOR PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION", invoking the judicial power of review in a falsification case. Below are some citations which may be useful to the readers.

x x x.

In GIAN PAULO VILLAFLOR, petitioner, vs. DINDO VIVAR y GOZON, respondent. G.R. No. 134744, January 16, 200, it was held that although the absence of a preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of an information or render it defective or affect the jurisdiction of the court or constitute a ground for quashing the information, the Court should hold the proceeding in abeyance and order the public prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation, because a preliminary investigation is "an inquiry or proceeding to determine whether sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial"; that it is “a component part of due process in criminal justice, a statutory and substantive right accorded to the accused before trial”; and that “to deny their claim to a preliminary investigation would be to deprive them of the full measure of their right to due process”.

On the issue of lack of probable cause in the instant case, the herein accused-movant respectfully refers the Court to the case of “SUSANA B. CABAHUG, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SANDIGANBAYAN, 3rd Division, and OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, respondents”, G.R. No. 132816. February 5, 2002, it was held:

· that “the very purpose of a preliminary investigation is to shield the innocent from precipitate, spiteful and burdensome prosecution”;

· that the prosecutors “are duty-bound to avoid, unless absolutely necessary, open and public accusation of crime not only to spare the innocent the trouble, expense and torment of a public trial, but also to prevent unnecessary expense on the part of the State for useless and expensive trials”; and

· that “when at the outset the evidence cannot sustain a prima facie case or that the existence of probable cause to form a sufficient belief as to the guilt of the accused cannot be ascertained, the prosecution must desist from inflicting on any person the trauma of going through a trial.”