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PEOPLE vs. TARUC 579 SCRA 118
In November 1998 accused-appellant Francisco Taruc was charged before the RTC of Bataan with the crime of murder in connection with the death of Emelito Sualog. RTC found Taruc guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal by direct participation of the crime of MURDER and with the attending aggravating circumstance of treachery, was sentenced to suffer the penalty of DEATH. The case was brought to the Court of Appeals for automatic review pursuant to A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC. However, the PAO lawyer concerned informed the Court of Appeals that accused-appellant escaped from prison on 23 August 2002. Said PAO lawyer claimed that he had no means of knowing the current whereabouts of the accusedappellant. Thereupon, the PAO lawyer asked the Court of Appeals to direct the Warden of the Provincial Jail in Balanga, Bataan, to file a certification as to the accused-appellant’s escape. The Court of Appeals granted PAO’s Motion for Extension of Time to File Appellant’s Brief in view of the ruling of the Supreme Court in People v. Flores, making the review of death penalty cases mandatory. The Court of Appeals rendered a Decision affirming with modification of penalty from death to reclusion perpetua. Accused-appellant appealed on questions of law and fact. Hence, this petition.
Whether or not, the accused-appellant has right to appeal his conviction even when he escaped from jail and eluded arrest.
No. The Supreme Court held that by escaping prison, accused-appellant impliedly waived his right to appeal. Although Rule 124, Section 8 particularly applies to the Court of Appeals, it has been extended to the Supreme Court by Rule 125, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.There are certain fundamental rights which cannot be waived even by the accused himself, but the right of appeal is not one of them. This right is granted solely for the benefit of the accused. He may avail of it or not, as he pleases. He may waive it either expressly or by implication. When the accused flees after the case has been submitted to the court for decision, he will be deemed to have waived his right to appeal from the judgment rendered against him. The accused cannot be accorded the right to appeal unless he voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction of the court or is otherwise arrested within 15 days from notice of the judgment against him. While at large, he cannot seek relief from the court, as he is deemed to have waived the appeal. Thus, having escaped from prison or confinement, he loses his standing in court; and unless he surrenders or submits to its jurisdiction, he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court. Accused-appellant, in the case at bar, has remained at large for most of the proceedings before the RTC, as well as for the entirety of the pendency of his appeal before the Court of Appeals, and even until now when his appeal is pending before this Court. He cannot so audaciously hope that his appeal before this Court would succeed.