"x x x.
While it is true that an appeal is perfected upon the mere filing of a notice of appeal and that the trial court thereupon loses jurisdiction over the case, this principle presupposes that the party filing the notice of appeal could validly avail of the remedy of appeal and had not lost standing in court. In this case, petitioners have lost their standing in court by their unjustified failure to appear during the trial and, more importantly, during the promulgation of judgment of conviction, and to surrender to the jurisdiction of the RTC.
Petitioners insist that their failure to attend the promulgation of judgment was due to the lack of notice of the date thereof, allegedly because they were transferred to another police station. Notably, however, petitioners did not proffer any documentary and convincing proof of their supposed transfer, not even to inform the court as to which police station they were transferred. In contrast, their fellow accused PO3 Macalinao submitted to the RTC a Certification issued by P/Insp. Ricardo Tibay Tangunan, Chief of the Philippine National Police Administrative Section, evidencing his transfer from Police Station (PS-1), Raxa Bago, Tondo Manila to Police Station 11, Meisic in Binondo, Manila. Petitioners were duty bound to inform the RTC of their transfer, assuming its truth, so that notices may be sent to their respective new mailing addresses.They were remiss in the discharge of this responsibility.
Petitioners contend that their act of filing notices of appeal was already substantial compliance with the requirements of Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court.
We differ. Said provision states
Sec. 6. Promulgation of judgment.The judgment is promulgated by reading it in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which it was rendered. However, if the conviction is for a light offense, the judgment may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative. When the judge is absent or outside the province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the clerk of court.
If the accused is confined or detained in another province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the executive judge of the Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the place of confinement or detention upon request of the court which rendered the judgment. The court promulgating the judgment shall have the authority to accept the notice of appeal and to approve the bail bond pending appeal; provided, that if the decision of the trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail can only be filed and resolved by the appellate court.
The proper clerk of court shall give notice to the accused personally or through his bondsman or warden and counsel, requiring him to be present at the promulgation of the decision. If the accused was tried in absentia because he jumped bail or escaped from prison, the notice to him shall be served at his last known address.
In case the accused fails to appear at the scheduled date of promulgation of judgment despite notice, the promulgation shall be made by recording the judgment in the criminal docket and serving him a copy thereof at his last known address or thru his counsel.
If the judgment is for conviction and the failure of the accused to appear was without justifiable cause, he shall lose the remedies available in these rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest. Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of judgment, however, the accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of said remedies within fifteen (15) days from notice.
Thus, the accused who failed to appear at the promulgation of the judgment of conviction shall lose the remedies available under the Rules of Court against the judgment(a) the filing of a motion for new trial or reconsideration (Rule 121), and (b) an appeal from the judgment of conviction (Rule 122). However, the Rules allow the accused to regain his standing in court in order to avail of these remedies by: (a) his surrender, and (b) his filing of a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies, stating therein the reasons for his absence, within 15 days from the date of promulgation of judgment. If the trial court finds that his absence was for a justifiable cause, the accused shall be allowed to avail of the said remedies within 15 days from notice or order finding his absence justified and allowing him the available remedies against the judgment of conviction.
Thus, petitioners mere filing of notices of appeal through their new counsel, therein only explaining their absence during the promulgation of judgment, cannot be considered an act of surrender, despite the fact that said notices were filed within 15 days from September 28, 2007, the purported date when their new counsel personally secured a copy of the judgment of conviction from the RTC. The term surrender under Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court contemplates an act whereby a convicted accused physically and voluntarily submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court to suffer the consequences of the verdict against him. The filing of notices of appeal cannot suffice as a physical and voluntary submission of petitioners to the RTCs jurisdiction. It is only upon petitioners valid surrender, and only after proper motion, that they can avail of the remedy of appeal. Absent compliance with these requirements, their notices of appeal, the initiatory step to appeal from their conviction, were properly denied due course.
Even if petitioners notices of appeal were given due course, the CA would only be constrained to dismiss their appeal. This is because petitioners, who had standing warrants of arrest but did not move to have them lifted, are considered fugitives from justice. Since it is safe to assume that they were out on bail during trial, petitioners were deemed to have jumped bail when they failed to appear at the promulgation of their sentence. This is a ground for dismissal of an appeal under Section 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court, which provides
Sec. 8. Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to prosecute.The Court of Appeals may, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio and with notice to the appellant in either case, dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file his brief within the time prescribed by this Rule, except where the appellant is represented by a counsel de officio.
The Court of Appeals may also, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio, dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes from prison or confinement, jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the pendency of the appeal.
Once an accused escapes from prison or confinement, jumps bail (as in the case of petitioners), or flees to a foreign country, he loses his standing in court. Unless he surrenders or submits to the jurisdiction of the court, he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court.
What is more, the judgment of conviction against petitioners had already acquired finality. Under Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court, they had only 15 days from the date of promulgation of judgment within which to surrender and to file the required motion for leave of court to avail of the remedies against the judgment. As the judgment was promulgated on September 3, 2007, petitioners had only until September 18, 2007 to comply with the mandatory requirements of the said rule.
This Court has invariably ruled that the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part of due process. It is merely a statutory privilege, and, as such, may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. The party who seeks to avail of the same must comply with the requirements of the Rules. Failing to do so, the right to appeal is lost.
x x x."
EDWARD GARRICK VILLENA and PERCIVAL DOROJA,
- versus -
PEOPLE OF THE
G.R. No. 184091
January 31, 2011