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Digest: Anlud v. Ang

Anlud v. Ang
G.R. No. 182157, August 17, 2015


Petitioner lodged a Complaint for attempted estafa through falsification of commercial/private document against Alday, Dela Cruz, Paniergo, Bagaua, and respondent Ang. Subsequently, the Investigating Prosecutor caused the filing with the RTC of an Information for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code.

City Prosecutor's Office issued its Resolution on Reconsideration absolving respondent from the offense charged. It discussed that although he owned the trucks that carried the scrap materials, the theory of conspiracy had no foundation absent any proof that he had performed any overt act of estafa. 

Petitioner bewailed the dropping of respondent from the charge. Thus, it filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) a Petition for Review, which the latter granted. According to the DOJ, respondent could not be considered innocent of estafa, since (1) his denial was self-serving; (2) he owned the trucks used in loading the scrap materials; (3) he failed to adduce exculpatory evidence showing that it was Dela Cruz who had commanded the use of his trucks; (4) the drivers of the trucks were respondent's own; and (5) it can be inferred from the action of the truck drivers that they received instructions from him.

RTC dismissed the case against respondent for want of probable cause. It explained that mere ownership of the trucks did not make respondent a co-conspirator for estafa. For conspiracy to be appreciated against Ang, the trial court required proof showing that he knew of the crime, consented to its commission, or performed any of its elements.

Petitioner questioned the dismissal of Ang's criminal case before the CA. The CA gave due course to the Petition for Certiorari. However, the petition failed on the merits. Aggrieved, petitioner filed the instant petition before the Supreme Court and contended that the RTC had no jurisdiction to determine probable cause.


Whether or not the RTC has jurisdiction to determine probable cause


          Yes. though courts must respect the executive determination of probable cause, the trial courts may still independently determine probable cause. They are not irrevocably bound to the determination of probable cause by the prosecutor and the DOJ. The trial court actually has the following options upon the filing of a criminal information: (1) immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause; (2) issue a warrant of arrest if it finds probable cause; and (3) order the prosecutor to present additional evidence within five days from notice in case of doubt as to the existence of probable cause. These options are provided in Rule 112, Section 6 (a) of the Rules of Court.

          Indeed, the RTC is allowed to dismiss the charge of estafa against Ang notwithstanding the executive determination of probable cause by the prosecutor. If not, the basic principle that "once an information is filed in RTC, any disposition of the case rests already in the sound discretion of the court would be contradicted.


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