We agree with the CA that the Secretary, in this case, calibrated the evidentiary weight of the NBI opinion vis-a-vis the autopsy report, as well as Edna’s complaint-affidavit vis-à-vis the affidavit of Jovita, and in so doing, already went into the strict merits of Villanueva’s defenses.
We note that the NBI opinion was procured at Villanueva’s instance and was based on the documents and in response to the questions Villanueva posed,15 while Jovita was unable to recall the events that transpired relative to Renato’s death when asked during the preliminary investigation.
Whether the alternative scenario on the cause of Renato’s injuries and death (as supported by Jovita’s affidavit and the NBI opinion and which Villanueva proposed by way of defense) is more credible and more likely than the narrations of Edna in her complaint-affidavit, in the affidavit of her witness, and the NBI autopsy reportshould best be left for the trial court to determine after a full- blown trial on the merits.
When the Secretary made a determination based on his own appreciation of the pieces of evidence for and against Villanueva, he effectively assumed the function of a trial judge in the evaluation of the pieces of evidence and, thereby, acted outside his jurisdiction.
x x x."
G.R. No. 190969, January 30, 2013, BARON A. VILLANUEVA AND THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE PETITIONERS, VS. EDNA R. CAPARAS, RESPONDENT.