Abdula v. Guiani, 326 SCRA 1 (2000)
A complaint for murder was filed before the Criminal Investigation Service Command, ARMM Regional Office XII against Mayor Bai Unggie D. Abdula and Odin Abdula and six other persons in connection with the death of a certain Abdul Dimalen, the former COMELEC Registrar of Kabuntalan, Maguindanao. The complaint alleged that the Abdulas paid the 6 other persons the total amount of P200,000.00 for the death of Dimalen. Acting on this complaint, the Provincial Prosecutor of Maguindanao, Salick U. Panda, in a Resolution dated 22 August 1994, dismissed the charges of murder against the Abdulas and five other respondents on a finding that there was no prima facie case for murder against them. Prosecutor Panda, however, recommended the filing of an information for murder against one of the respondents, a certain Kasan Mama. Pursuant to this Resolution, an information for murder was thereafter filed against Kasan Mama before the sala of Judge Japal M. Guiani. In an Order dated 13 September 1994, the Judge ordered that the case, be returned to the Provincial Prosecutor for further investigation. In this Order, the judge noted that although there were 8 respondents in the murder case, the information filed with the court "charged only 1 of the 8 respondents in the name of Kasan Mama without the necessary resolution required under Section 4, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Court to show how the investigating prosecutor arrived at such a conclusion." As such, the judge reasons, the trial court cannot issue the warrant of arrest against Kasan Mama. Upon the return of the records of the case to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for Maguindanao, it was assigned to 2nd Assistant Prosecutor Enok T. Dimaraw for further investigation. In addition to the evidence presented during the initial investigation of the murder charge, two new affidavits of witnesses were submitted to support the charge of murder against the Abdulas and the other respondents in the murder complaint. Thus, Prosecutor Dimaraw treated the same as a re-filing of the murder charge and pursuant to law, issued subpoena to the respondents named therein.
On 6 December 1994, the Abdulas submitted and filed their joint counter-affidavits. After evaluation of the evidence, Prosecutor Dimaraw, in a Resolution dated 28 December 1994, found a prima facie case for murder against the Abdulas and 3 other respondents. He thus recommended the filing of charges against the Abdulas, as principals by inducement, and against the 3 others, as principals by direct participation. Likewise in this 28 December 1994 Resolution, Provincial Prosecutor Salick U. Panda, who conducted the earlier preliminary investigation of the murder charge, added a notation stating that he was inhibiting himself from the case and authorizing the investigating prosecutor to dispose of the case without his approval. The reasons he cited were that the case was previously handled by him and that the victim was the father-in-law of his son. On 2 January 1995, an information for murder dated 28 December 1994 was filed against the Abdulas and Kasan Mama, Cuenco Usman and Jun Mama before Branch 14 of the Regional Trial Court of Cotabato City, then the sala of Judge Guiani. This information was signed by investigating prosecutor Enok T. Dimaraw. A notation was likewise made on the information by Provincial Prosecutor Panda, which explained the reason for his inhibition. The following day, the judge issued a warrant for the arrest of the Abdulas. Upon learning of the issuance of the said warrant, the Abdulas filed on 4 January 1995 an Urgent Ex-parte Motion for the setting aside of the warrant of arrest on 4 January 1995. In this motion, the Abdulas argued that the enforcement of the warrant of arrest should be held in abeyance considering that the information was prematurely filed and that the Abdulas intended to file a petition for review with the Department of Justice. A petition for review was filed by the Abdulas with the Department of Justice on 11 January 1995. Despite said filing, the judge did not act upon the Abdulas' pending Motion to Set Aside the Warrant of Arrest.
The Abdulas filed the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with the Supreme Court.
Whether the judge may rely upon the findings of the prosecutor in determining probable cause in the issuance of search or arrest warrant.
No. The 1987 Constitution requires the judge to determine probable cause "personally," a requirement which does not appear in the corresponding provisions of our previous constitutions. This emphasis evinces the intent of the framers to place a greater degree of responsibility upon trial judges than that imposed under previous Constitutions. Herein, the Judge admits that he issued the questioned warrant as there was "no reason for (him) to doubt the validity of the certification made by the Assistant Prosecutor that a preliminary investigation was conducted and that probable cause was found to exist as against those charged in the information filed." The statement is an admission that the Judge relied solely and completely on the certification made by the fiscal that probable cause exists as against those charged in the information and issued the challenged warrant of arrest on the sole basis of the prosecutor's findings and recommendations. He adopted the judgment of the prosecutor regarding the existence of probable cause as his own. Clearly, the judge, by merely stating that he had no reason to doubt the validity of the certification made by the investigating prosecutor has abdicated his duty under the Constitution to determine on his own the issue of probable cause before issuing a warrant of arrest.
Hence, the warrant of arrest should be declared null and void.