The RTCs dismissal of petitioners special civil action for certiorari to review

The rtcs dismissal of petitioners special civil

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The RTC’s dismissal of petitioner’s special civil action for certiorari to review a pre-arraignment ancillary question on the applicability of the Due Process Clause to bar proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366 finds no basis under procedural rules and jurisprudence. The RTC’s reliance on People v. Esparas 9 undercuts the cogency of its ruling because Esparas stands for a proposition contrary to the RTC’s ruling. There, the Court granted review to an appeal by an accused who was sentenced to death for importing prohibited drugs even though she jumped bail pending trial and was thus tried and convicted in absentia. The Court in Esparas treated the mandatory review of death sentences under Republic Act No. 7659 as an exception to Section 8 of Rule 124. 10 The mischief in the RTC’s treatment of petitioner’s non-appearance at his arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366 as proof of his loss of standing becomes more evident when one considers the Rules of Court’s treatment of a defendant who absents himself from post- arraignment hearings. Under Section 21, Rule 114 11 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant’s absence merely renders his bondsman potentially liable on its bond (subject to cancellation should the bondsman fail to produce the accused within 30 days); the defendant retains his standing and, should he fail to surrender, will be tried in absentia and could be convicted or acquitted. Indeed, the 30-day period granted to the bondsman to produce the accused underscores the fact that mere non- appearance does not ipso facto convert the accused’s status to that of a fugitive without standing. Further, the RTC’s observation that petitioner provided "no explanation why he failed to attend the scheduled proceeding" 12 at the MeTC is belied by the records. Days before the arraignment, petitioner sought the suspension of the MeTC’s proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366 in light of his petition with the RTC in S.C.A. No. 2803. Following the MeTC’s refusal to defer arraignment (the order for which was released days after the MeTC ordered petitioner’s arrest), petitioner sought reconsideration. His motion remained unresolved as of the filing of this petition. Petitioner’s Conviction in Criminal Case No. 82367 Bars his Prosecution in Criminal Case No. 82366 The accused’s negative constitutional right not to be "twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense" 13 protects him from, among others, post-conviction prosecution for the same offense, with the prior verdict rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a valid information. 14 It is not disputed that petitioner’s conviction in Criminal Case No. 82367 was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a valid charge. Thus, the case turns on the question whether Criminal Case No. 82366 and Criminal Case No. 82367 involve the "same offense." Petitioner adopts the affirmative view, submitting that the two cases concern the same
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offense of reckless imprudence. The MeTC ruled otherwise, finding
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