Saturday, February 20, 2016


"x x x.

The Respondent respectfully submits that the failure of  her former counsel to introduced in the past pleadings prepared by him the exculpating supplemental evidence that are now being sought by the Respondent in this pleading to be admitted by this Honorable Office constituted gross negligence resulting in a grave miscarriage of justice and in a grave violation of the fundamental constitutional rights of the Respondent:

(a)    the right to procedural and substantive due process    of law,
(b)    the right to equal protection of the law, and
(c)    the right to competent and independent counsel 

-- which warrant a RE-OPENING of the preliminary investigation of this case to enable the Respondent, in the interest of truth and justice, to present crucial exculpating supplemental evidence, with the assistance of her new counsel (LASERNA CUEVA-MERCADER LAW OFFICES, Las Pinas City) for purposes of filing this particular pleading with this Honorable Office.

The Respondent is aware of the jurisprudence that, as a general rule, “a client is bound by the mistakes of his counsel”. (Villa Rhecar Bus vs. Dela Cruz, No. L-78936, January 7, 1988, 157 SCRA 13). 

However, jurisprudence allows an exception, that is, “x x x when the negligence of the counsel is so gross, reckless and inexcusable that the client is deprived of his day in court”. 

In such instance, “the remedy is to reopen the case and allow the party who was denied his day in court to adduce evidence”. (Producers Bank of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126620, April 17, 2002, 381 SCRA 185, 192). 

In the case of CALLANGAN VS. PEOPLE, G.R. NO. 153414, June 27, 2006, it was held, inter alia, that “the rule that the negligence of counsel binds the client admits of exceptions, to wit:

(a)                         where reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the client of due process of law,
(b)                        when its application will result in outright deprivation of the client’s liberty or property or
(c)                         where the interests of justice so require.”

The aforecited case of CALANGAN further held:

“x x x.

However, in view of the circumstances of this case, outright deprivation of liberty will be the consequence of petitioner’s criminal conviction based solely on the evidence for the prosecution. Thus, to prevent a miscarriage of justice and to
give meaning to the due process clause of the Constitution, the Court deems it wise to allow petitioner to present evidence in her defense.

The rule that the negligence of counsel binds the client admits of exceptions. The recognized exceptions are: (1) where reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the client of due process of law, (2) when its application will result in outright deprivation of the client’s liberty or property or (3) where the interests of justice so require. In such cases, courts must step in and accord relief to a party-litigant.

The omissions of petitioner’s counsel amounted to an abandonment or total disregard of her case. They show conscious indifference to or utter disregard of the possible repercussions to his client. Thus, the chronic inaction of petitioner’s counsel on important incidents and stages of the criminal proceedings constituted gross negligence.  

X x x.

In criminal cases, the right of the accused to be assisted by counsel is immutable. Otherwise, there will be a grave denial of due process. The right to counsel proceeds from the fundamental principle of due process which basically means that a person must be heard before being condemned.

X x x.

Petitioner was accorded grossly insufficient legal assistance by a counsel who did not devote himself to the defense of her cause. Counsel’s utter lack of action after the prosecution rested its case revealed an extreme shortcoming on his part. Such inaction definitely proved infidelity to and abandonment of petitioner’s cause.

Considering that this case involved personal liberty, the gross negligence of counsel shocks our sense of justice. It should not be allowed to prejudice petitioner’s constitutional right to be heard. The Court’s pronouncement in Reyes v. Court of Appeals, applies strongly in this case:

The judicial conscience certainly cannot rest easy on a conviction based solely on the evidence of the prosecution just because the presentation of the defense evidence had been barred by technicality. Rigid application of rules must yield to the duty of courts to render justice where justice is due – to secure to every individual all possible legal means to prove his innocence of a crime with which he or she might be charged.

 Otherwise, the likelihood of convicting and punishing an innocent man and of inflicting a serious injustice on him becomes great.

X x x.

Therefore, in consonance with the demands of justice and to prevent any outright deprivation of liberty, the Court deems it best to give petitioner a chance to present evidence in her defense. The case should be remanded to the MTC for acceptance and appraisal of petitioner’s evidence.

Petitioner does not seek her exoneration but the opportunity to present evidence in her defense. Considering the gross negligence of her counsel on whom she reposed her trust to protect her rights, justice demands that she be given that chance.

In sum, it is better to allow petitioner another occasion to present her evidence than to let her conviction stand based solely on the evidence of the prosecution. In accordance with Rule 121, Section 6 of the Rules of Court, the evidence of the prosecution shall be understood preserved, subject to the right of the prosecution to supplement it and/or to rebut the evidence which petitioner may present.

X x x.”

Finally, by analogy, the Respondent hereby cites the spirit of Sec. 24, Rule 119 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides that:

“x x x (A)t any time before finality of the judgment of conviction, the judge may, motu proprio or upon motion, with hearing in either case, REOPEN the proceedings to avoid a MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE x x x x”.

x x x."