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Payumo v. Sandiganbayan
The petitions stem from the facts of Criminal Case No. 4219 involving a shooting incident that occurred on February 26, 1980 at around 5:30 o'clock in the afternoon in Sitio Aluag, Barangay Sta. Barbara, Iba, Zambales. A composite team of Philippine Constabulary (PC) and Integrated National Police (INP) units allegedly fired at a group of civilians instantly killing one and wounding several others. The accused were indicted for Murder with Multiple Frustrated and Attempted Murder before the Sandiganbayan. After four years of trial, the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan rendered its Decision dated October 5, 1984, convicting the accused as co-principals in the crime of Murder with Multiple Frustrated and Attempted Murder. On January 11, 1985, the accused filed their Motion for New Trial, which was denied. The accused elevated the case to the Supreme Court, which set aside the October 5, 1984 Decision of the Sandiganbayan and remanding the case for a new trial. Thus, Criminal Case No. 4219 was remanded to the Sandiganbayan and was raffled to the First Division. Accordingly, the First Division received anew all the evidence of the parties, both testimonial and documentary. Later, with the creation of the Fourth and Fifth divisions, Criminal Case No. 4219 was transferred to the Fifth Division. On February 23, 1999, the Fifth Division promulgated judgment, convicting the accused of the crime of Murder with Multiple Attempted Murder. The accused filed their Omnibus Motion to Set Aside Judgment and for New Trial. Since the Fifth Division could not reach unanimity in resolving the aforesaid omnibus motion, a Special Fifth Division was constituted pursuant to Section 1 (b) of Rule XVIII of the 1984 Revised Rules of the Sandiganbayan. On September 27, 2001, Special Fifth Division, voting 3-2, issued the subject Resolution promulgated on October 24, 2001, setting aside the November 27, 1998 Decision and granting a second new trial of the case. The Special Fifth Division pronounced among others that a second new trial would enable it to allow the accused to adduce pertinent evidence including the records of the Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO), Armed Forces of the Philippines, to shed light on the "serious allegations"
Whether the Sandiganbayan acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it granted a new trial of Criminal Case
Yes. The Court finds and so rules that the Sandiganbayan Special Fifth Division acted in excess of its jurisdiction. The Court finds the issue to be devoid of any legal and factual basis. Rule 121, Section 2(b) of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides that: new and material evidence has been discovered which the accused could not with reasonable diligence have discovered and produced at the trial and which if introduced and admitted would probably change the judgment, as one of the grounds to grant a new trial. The records of the JAGO relative to the February 26, 1980 incident do not meet the criteria for newly discovered evidence that would merit a new trial. A motion for new trial based on newly-discovered evidence may be granted only if the following requisites are met: (a) that the evidence was discovered after trial; (b) that said evidence could not have been discovered and produced at the trial even with the exercise of reasonable diligence; (c) that it is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative or impeaching; and (d) that the evidence is of such weight that, if admitted, would probably change the judgment. It is essential that the offering party exercised reasonable diligence in seeking to locate the evidence before or during trial but nonetheless failed to secure it. In this case, however, such records could have been easily obtained by the accused and could have been presented during the trial with the exercise of reasonable diligence. Hence, the JAGO records cannot be considered as newly discovered evidence. There was nothing that prevented the accused from using these records during the trial to substantiate their position that the shooting incident was a result of a military operation. Accordingly, the assailed Resolution dated October 24, 2001 must be set aside.