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Go vs. Bongolan, AM 99-1464, 26 July 1999
On November 10, 1997, in the province of Abra, Balmores, Reynaldo, PO1 Molina, Cacal, and three other John Does, allegedly kidnapped and detained Samuel Go. The vehicle he was in during his transport from Abra to Ilocos Sur was intercepted by the PNP wherein Go was recovered.
A case was filed against the accused for kidnapping with ransom. The prosecution recommended no bail for the accused as the penalty for the crime allegedly committed is punishable with reclusion perpetua to death.
Balmores filed a motion, asking for the amendment of the information from kidnapping with ransom to simple kidnapping, alleging that the evidence presented did not show that the kidnapping was for ransom. Respondent Judge Benjamin Bongolan of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) denied Balmores’ motion, holding that it is the State that determines the contents of the information and it is the State's responsibility to prove its allegation contained in the information under the principle of `allegata et probata'.
Molina and Cacal, as allowed by the RTC, filed their separate memorandum for motion for bail, reiterating the claim that prosecution failed to prove kidnapping for ransom. The prosecution asserted that the motion was prematurely filed since they are still in the process of presenting further evidence to prove the commission of the crime.
Judge Bongolan subsequently granted the motions for bail, holding that the prosecution did not show that the evidence of guilt is strong. He, however, gave the prosecution 10 days to file its motion for reconsideration.
Before such motion could be filed, the accused were already released, through the order by Judge Alberto Banesa, the designated pairing judge of Judge Bongolan, which he issued based on seeing that Judge Bongolan already approved the motion for bail. Judge Bongolan was unaware of the accused release since he was in the hospital. Subsequently, Judge Bongolan denied the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration.
Whether or not Judge Bongolan correctly granted the accused motion for bail before hearing the bail application.
No. Judge Bongolan incorrectly granted the accused motion for bail. Complaints involving irregular approval of bailbond and issuance of order release appear to be a common offense of judges. A bail hearing is necessary to give the prosecution reasonable opportunity to oppose the application by showing that the evidence of guilt is strong.
It is true that when asked by Judge Bongolan whether the prosecution would present additional evidence, Prosecutor Gayao responded in the negative. Subsequently, however, the prosecution changed its mind when it stated in its Opposition that a resolution of the Motion for admission to bail would be premature since it has additional witnesses to present. In his Comment, Judge Bongolan contends that it is not necessary for the prosecution to present all its witnesses before he could resolve the motion for bail. The stance cannot be sustained.
In Borinaga v. Tamin, the Court ruled that the prosecution must be given an opportunity to present its evidence within a reasonable time whether the motion for bail of an accused who is in custody for a capital offense be resolved in a summary proceeding or in the course of a regular trial. If the prosecution is denied such an opportunity, there would be a violation of procedural due process. The records show that the prosecution was supposed to present its 6th and 7th witnesses on June 4, 1998 when Judge Bongolan prematurely resolved the motion. A bail application does not only involve the right of the accused to temporary liberty, but likewise the right of the State to protect the people and the peace of the community from dangerous elements. These two rights must be balanced by a magistrate in the scale of justice, hence, the necessity for hearing to guide his exercise of discretion.