people-v-malunsing.doc - SECOND DIVISION[G.R No L-29015 THE...

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SECOND DIVISION[G.R. No. L-29015. April 29, 1975.]THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. FELIPE MALUNSING, ET AL.,defendants, MANUEL VILLEGAS, defendant-appellant.Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar, Assistant Solicitor General Isidro C. Borromeo and SolicitorDominador L. Quiroz for plaintiff-appellee.Pablito Pielago for defendant-appellant.D E C I S I O NFERNANDO, J p:It was the failure of the lower court to respect the constitutional right to counsel, 1 so it isalleged, that is the basis for seeking the reversal of a conviction for murder of appellant ManuelVillegas. 2 There is more than ample support in the records for the charge thus hurled. Astherein shown, Attorney Geronimo Pajarito explicitly manifested in the opening of the trial thatappellant intimated to him that he had his own lawyer. 3 There was an admission that he didappear for him in the preliminary investigation but only because there was no other counsel. 4Parenthetically, it may be observed that while in the original complaint there were two otheraccused with the same surname as the lawyer, Geremias Pajarito and Samuel Pajarito, aftersuch preliminary investigation, no doubt due to the efforts of this particular lawyer, possibly akinsman, they "were both discharged for lack of probable cause." 5 To resume, the lower courtat this stage then asked whether the appellant notified Attorney Pajarito about his change ofmind. When he answered in the negative, the Court stated: "All right, you have a lawyer who isappearing for you." 6 It is to the credit of such counsel that he had reservations about the matter,stating that as the accused had manifested that he had dispensed with his services, hisrepresentation might later on be questioned. 7 The court was not sufficiently impressed.Appellant was informed that "the Court will give you a lawyer. Atty. Pajarito is appointed ascounsel de oficio for you. We will proceed with the trial." 8 After marking it of record that he wasappointed as such counsel de oficio, the attorney was asked whether he wanted to confer withappellant. This was the answer: "I think I know the case." 9 The Court then immediatelyproceeded with the hearing, having the first witness called. 10 In the decision itself, there is thismeaningful admission by the court: "No evidence was presented for and in behalf of ManuelVillegas." 11 This is how the matter was characterized in the brief of appellant: "The prosecution during the trialpresented its witnesses, and likewise all the defendants, . . . except the appellant Manuel

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