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Metrobank vs Sandoval (G.R. No. 169677 February 18, 2013)

Metrobank vs Sandoval
G.R. No. 169677 February 18, 2013

Facts: On July 17, 1987, the Republic brought a complaint for reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages in the Sandiganbayan against Andres V. Genito, Jr., Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos and other defendants. The action was obviously to recover allegedly ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, their nominees, dummies and agents. Among the properties subject of the action were two parcels of commercial land located in Tandang Sora (Old Balara), Quezon City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 266423 and TCT No. 266588 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City registered in the names of Spouses Andres V. Genito, Jr. and Ludivina L. Genito. On February 5, 2001, the Republic moved for the amendment of the complaint in order to implead Asian Bank as an additional defendant. The Sandiganbayan granted the motion. It appears that Asian Bank claimed ownership of the two parcels of land as the registered owner by virtue of TCT No. N-201383 and TCT No. N-201384 issued in its name by the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City. Asian Bank was also in possession of the properties by virtue of the writ of possession issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon City. When the Republic was about to terminate its presentation of evidence against the original defendants in Civil Case No. 0004, it moved to hold a separate trial against Asian Bank.

Issue: Whether or not a motion for separate trial is proper.

Held: No. The rule on separate trials in civil actions is found in Section 2, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court, which reads:

Section 2. Separate trials. – The court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, may order a separate trial of any claim, crossclaim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party complaints or issues.

The text of the rule grants to the trial court the discretion to determine if a separate trial of any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party complaints or issues should be held, provided that the exercise of such discretion is in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice to any party.

Further, Corpus Juris Secundum makes clear that neither party had an absolute right to have a separate trial of an issue; hence, the motion to that effect should be allowed only to avoid prejudice, further convenience, promote justice, and give a fair trial to all parties.

Exceptions to the general rule are permitted only when there are extraordinary grounds for conducting separate trials on different issues raised in the same case, or when separate trials of the issues will avoid prejudice, or when separate trials of the issues will further convenience, or when separate trials of the issues will promote justice, or when separate trials of the issues will give a fair trial to all parties. Otherwise, the general rule must apply.

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People vs Mendoza (GR No. 186387 August 31, 2011)

People of the Philippines vs Mendoza
GR No. 186387 August 31, 2011

Facts: An information was received that a certain Juan Mendoza is selling illegal drugs, shabu specifically in the City of Baguio. A buy-bust operation to entrap the accused was set, Police officer Antolin was the buyer to meet the accused at the stairs of the Cresencia Barangay hall along Bokaw Kan Road at around 2:00 pm when the signal was given by Antolin upon the end of the transaction, the accused was searched and was take under custody where other sachets of shabu were seized from him. The said items were then tested positive of menthamphetamine hydrochloride. The same pieces of evidence were transmitted to the crime laboratory and was later on presented to the court.

Issue: Whether or not the items seized were admissible as evidence to convict the accused for violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Held: Yes. In crimes involving sale of illegal drugs, two essential elements must be satisfied:

  1. Identities of the Buyer, the Seller, the object and the consideration; and
  2. The delivery of the thing sold and the payment for it.

In the prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, on the other hand, it must be shown that:

  1. The accused is in possession of an item or an object identified to be prohibited or a regulated drug;
  2. Such possession is not authorized by law;
  3. The accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug.

In this case, all these elements were satisfactorily proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt through testimonial, documentary and object evidence presented during the trialm PO2 Antolin, the designated poseur-buyer, testified as the circumstances surrounding the apprehension of the accused, and the seizure and marking of the illegal drugs recovered from the accused. Then, SPO4 Sison corroborated PO2 Antolin’s testimony and confirmed that all the confiscated items recovered from the accused were turned over to him as team leader.

The compliance with the chain of custody rule was sufficiently established.

In the chain of custody in a buy-bust situation, the following links must be established: first, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug received from the accused by the apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized from the forensic chemist to the court.