Private complainant can't challenge bail, acquittal of accused — SC

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Private complainant can't challenge bail, acquittal of accused � SC
This file photo shows the Supreme Court of the Philippines in Manila.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) pointed out that a complainant in a criminal case cannot assail the bail and the acquittal granted in favor of the accused.

This has been said by the high court in a 10-page decision promulgated on Dec. 6, 2023 which affirmed the grant of bail and the acquittal ruling of Emmanuel Pascual. 

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Mario Lopez.

Pascual was charged with three counts of qualified theft under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for allegedly stealing money from PASDA Inc. (PASDA) by issuing company checks under his name and pocketing the proceeds. 

The amounts of money in the case are P1,065,000, P9,500,000, and P2,870,621.08.

Pascual was a former president of PASDA and at the time of the alleged incident, a member of its board of directors.

This prompted the firm to file a case against Pascual to which the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Tarlac then found him guilty of three counts of qualified theft.

However, the decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals acquitting Pascual of all charges.

The appellate court said that Pascual is authorized to issue and withdraw checks for PASDA.

Following the decision, PASDA filed a petition for certiorari before the SC to assail the CA’s decision to grant the bail and the acquittal judgment.

In response, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has asked the high court to dismiss the firm’s petition for lack of legal standing to question a criminal aspect of the case.

“The rationale behind this rule is that in a criminal case, the party affected by the dismissal of the criminal action is the State and not the private complainant,” the SC’s ruling read.

The high court also said that PASDA can only assail the civil liability of the accused because the criminal aspect of the case shall only be assailed with the OSG’s conformity.

“In the prosecution of the offense, the complainant's role is limited to that of a witness such that when a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal on the criminal aspect may be undertaken only by the State through the OSG…yet, PASDA did not request the OSG's conformity,” the high court’s decision read.

The SC also pointed out that double jeopardy has set in as Pascual was already convicted of qualified theft before the RTC and was acquitted before the CA beyond reasonable doubt.

The Constitution prohibits double jeopardy or the punishment of a person twice for the same offense.

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