Role of the OSG, the private prosecutor in criminal case appeals

In the appeal of criminal cases before the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, the authority to represent the People is vested solely in the [Office of the] Solicitor General (OSG). This power is expressly provided in Section 35, Book IV, Title III, Chapter 12 of the Revised Administrative Code.[1] Without doubt, the OSG is the appellate counsel of the People of the Philippines in all criminal cases.[2]

Jurisprudence has already settled that the interest of the private complainant is limited only to the civil liability arising from the crime. Thus, in Bautista v. Cuneta-Pangilinan,[3] the Supreme Court ruled:
Thus, the Court has definitively ruled that in a criminal case in which the offended party is the State, the interest of the private complainant or the private offended party is limited to the civil liability arising therefrom. If a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal of the criminal aspect may be undertaken, whenever legally feasible, only by the State through the solicitor general. As a rule, only the Solicitor General may represent the People of the Philippines on appeal. The private offended party or complainant may not undertake such appeal.[4]
In People v. Alapan (G.R. No. 199527. Jan 10, 2018), respondent was convicted of eight (8) counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 for which he was imposed the penalty of fine instead of imprisonment pursuant to Administrative Circulars No. 12-2000 and 13-2001. Thus, the penalty of fine and the imposition of subsidiary imprisonment in case of nonpayment thereof pertain to the criminal aspect of the case. On the other hand, the indemnification for the face value of the dishonored checks refers to the civil aspect of the case.

Consequently, petitioner could not appeal the imposition of fine as penalty which was not even questioned by the People through the OSG. "While a private prosecutor may be allowed to intervene in criminal proceedings on appeal in the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, his participation is subordinate to the interest of the People, hence, he cannot be permitted to adopt a position contrary to that of the Solicitor General. To do so would be tantamount to giving the private prosecutor the direction and control of the criminal proceeding, contrary to the provisions of law."[5][1] SECTION 35. Powers and Functions. - The Office of the Solicitor General shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of a lawyer. When authorized by the President or head of the office concerned, it shall also represent government-owned or controlled corporations. The Office of the Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the Government and, as such, shall discharge duties requiring the services of a lawyer. It shall have the following specific powers and functions:

(1) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; x x x

[2] Macasaet v. People, 492 Phil. 355, 375 (2005).

[3] 698 Phil. 111 (2012).

[4] Id. at 124.

[5] CariƱo v. De Castro, 576 Phil. 634, 640 (2008).

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