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Lavides vs. CA, GR 129670, 1 February 2000
Manolet Lavides was arrested on April 3, 1997 for child abuse under R.A. No. 7610 and that his arrest was made without a warrant as a result of an entrapment conducted by the police. Based on the sworn statement of complainant and the affidavits of the arresting officers, which were submitted at the inquest, an information for violation of Art. III, §5(b) of R.A. No. 7610 was filed on April 7, 1997 against petitioner in the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City
On April 10, 1997, Lavides filed an "Omnibus Motion (1) For Judicial Determination of Probable Cause; (2) For the Immediate Release of the Accused Unlawfully Detained on an Unlawful Warrantless Arrest; and (3) In the Event of Adverse Resolution of the Above Incident, Herein Accused be Allowed to Bail as a Matter of Right under the Law on Which He is Charged
On April 29, 1997, nine more informations for child abuse were filed against Lavides by the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office by the same complainant, Lorelie San Miguel, and by three other minor children, Mary Ann Tardesilla, Jennifer Catarman, and Annalyn Talingting
No bail was recommended for the cases. Nonetheless, Lavides filed separate applications for bail in the nine cases. The court resolved the Omnibus Motion on May 16, 1997 wherein it allowed Lavides to post bail amounting to Php 80,000.00 per case for a total of Php 800,000.00 subject to the following conditions to wit:
a) The accused shall not be entitled to a waiver of appearance during the trial of these cases. He shall and must always be present at the hearings of these cases;
b) In the event that he shall not be able to do so, his bail bonds shall be automatically cancelled and forfeited, warrants for his arrest shall be immediately issued and the cases shall proceed to trial in absentia;
c) The hold-departure Order of this Court dated April 10, 1997 stands; and
d) Approval of the bail bonds shall be made only after the arraignment to enable this Court to immediately acquire jurisdiction over the accused;
3. Let these cases be set for arraignment on May 23, 1997 at 8:30 o'clock in the morning.
On May 20, 1997, petitioner filed a motion to quash the informations against him, except those filed in Criminal Case No. Q-97-70550 or Q-97-70866. Pending resolution of his motion, he asked the trial court to suspend the arraignment scheduled on May 23, 1997.Then on May 22, 1997, he filed a motion in which he prayed that the amounts of bail bonds be reduced to P40,000.00 for each case and that the same be done prior to his arraignment.
On June 2, 1997, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari (CA-G.R. SP No. 44316) in the Court of Appeals, assailing the trial court's order, dated May 16, 1997, and its two orders, dated May 23, 1997, denying his motion to quash and maintaining the conditions set forth in its order of May 16, 1997, respectively.
While the case was pending in the Court of Appeals, two more informations were filed against petitioner, bringing the total number of cases against him to 12, which were all consolidated.
The appellate court eventually invalidated the first two conditions imposed in the May 16, 1997 order for the grant of bail to petitioner but ruled that the issue concerning the validity of the condition making arraignment a prerequisite for the approval of petitioner's bail bonds to be moot and academic.
Whether the court should impose the condition that the accused shall ensure his presence during the trial of these cases before the bail can be granted.
In cases where it is authorized, bail should be granted before arraignment, otherwise the accused may be precluded from filing a motion to quash. For if the information is quashed and the case is dismissed, there would then be no need for the arraignment of the accused. In the second place, the trial court could ensure the presence of petitioner at the arraignment precisely by granting bail and ordering his presence at any stage of the proceedings, such as arraignment. Under Rule 114, §2(b) of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, one of the conditions of bail is that "the accused shall appear before the proper court whenever so required by the court or these Rules," while under Rule 116, §1(b) the presence of the accused at the arraignment is required.
On the other hand, to condition the grant of bail to an accused on his arraignment would be to place him in a position where he has to choose between (1) filing a motion to quash and thus delay his release on bail because until his motion to quash can be resolved, his arraignment cannot be held, and (2) foregoing the filing of a motion to quash so that he can be arraigned at once and thereafter be released on bail. These scenarios certainly undermine the accused's constitutional right not to be put on trial except upon valid complaint or information sufficient to charge him with a crime and his right to bail.