DENNIS T. VILLAREAL, Petitioner, vs
CONSUELO C. ALIGA, Respondent.
G.R. No 166995 January 13, 2014
Who has the authority to appeal the criminal aspect of a case in case of an acquittal of the accused?
The authority to represent the State in appeals of criminal cases before the Supreme Court and the CA is solely vested in the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). In criminal cases, the acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case against him can only be appealed by the Solicitor General, acting on behalf of the State. The private complainant or the offended party may question such acquittal or dismissal only insofar as the civil liability of the accused is concerned.
As held in the case of People v. Santiago:
It is well settled that in criminal cases where the offended party is the State, the interest of the private complainant or the private offended party is limited to the civil liability. Thus, in the prosecution of the offense, the complainant’s role is limited to that of a witness for the prosecution. If a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal therefrom on the criminal aspect may be undertaken only by the State through the Solicitor General. Only the Solicitor General may represent the People of the Philippines on appeal. The private offended party or complainant may not take such appeal. However, the said offended party or complainant may appeal the civil aspect despite the acquittal of the accused.
May the complainant file a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 upon the acquittal of the accused? If so, what is/are the requirement(s)?
In a special civil action for certiorari filed under Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court wherein it is alleged that the trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction or on other jurisdictional grounds, the rules state that the petition may be filed by the person aggrieved. In such case, the aggrieved parties are the State and the private offended party or complainant. The complainant has an interest in the civil aspect of the case so he may file such special civil action questioning the decision or action of the respondent court on jurisdictional grounds. In so doing, complainant should not bring the action in the name of the People of the Philippines. The action may be prosecuted in the name of said complainant.
In the case at bar, the petition filed essentially assails the criminal, not the civil, aspect of the CA Decision. It must even be stressed that petitioner never challenged before the CA, and in this Court, the RTC judgment which absolved respondent Aliga from civil liability in view of the return of the P60,000.00 subject matter of the offense on October 30, 1996. Therefore, the petition should have been filed only by the State through the OSG. Petitioner lacks the personality or legal standing to question the CA Decision because it is only the OSG which can bring actions on behalf of the State in criminal proceedings before the Supreme Court and the CA.
What is the proper remedy to assail a judgment of acquittal?
A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules and NOT a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45.
The People may assail a judgment of acquittal only via petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules. If the petition, regardless of its nomenclature, merely calls for an ordinary review of the findings of the court a quo, the constitutional right of the accused against double jeopardy would be violated.