G.R. No. 190217, July 06, 2010

EN BANC

[ G.R. No. 190217, July 06, 2010 ]

DATU ANDAL AMPATUAN, SR., ET AL., PETITIONER, V. HON. AGNES DEVANADERA, ET AL., RESPONDENT.


Sirs/Mesdames:

Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a Resolution dated JULY 6, 2010, which reads as follows:

"G.R. No. 190217 - DATU ANDAL AMPATUAN, SR., ET AL., petitioner, v. HON. AGNES DEVANADERA, ET AL., respondent.

RESOLUTION

For consideration of the Court are: (1) the May 24, 2010 Comment filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to the March 31, 2010 letter of then Department of Justice Secretary Alberto C. Agra; (2) the June 16, 2010 Motion filed by petitioners for the clarification of the April 27, 2010 resolution issued in the case; and (3) the June 29, 2010 Comment filed by the OSG to petitioners' Motion for Clarification.The record shows that, on March 31, 2010, Secretary Agra wrote a letter addressed to Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, reiterating an earlier request dated February 17, 2010 from then DOJ Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera for the transfer of venue of the trial of the multiple murder cases filed against petitioners, among others, from Quezon City to Taguig City.[1] In the resolution dated April 6, 2010 issued in the case, the parties were directed to file their comment to said letter within 10 days from notice.[2]

On April 13, 2010 petitioners filed a manifestation, seeking the withdrawal of their petition on the ground that the same had been rendered moot and academic by the ensuing developments in the case.[3] On April 19, 2010, petitioners also wrote a letter to then Chief Justice Reynato Puno, requesting for the transfer of venue of said criminal cases from the Quezon City RTC to the Taguig City RTC for reasons of security and economy.

On April 27, 2010, the Court issued a resolution granting petitioners' manifestation for the withdrawal of their petition and declaring the case CLOSED and TERMINATED.[4] On the same date, however, petitioners filed their comment to Secretary Agra's letter, in compliance with the April 6, 2010 resolution as aforesaid. In said comment, petitioners argued that a further transfer of the venue of the subject multiple murder cases from the Quezon City RTC to the Taguig City RTC is even more practical and economical.[5] In a 1st Indorsement dated April 20, 2010, the letter was referred to Atty. Ma. Luisa D. Villarama, Clerk of Court, En Banc, for inclusion in the agenda.

On May 25, 2010, the OSG filed its comment to Secretary Agra's letter requesting for the transfer of venue for the trial of the subject multiple murder cases. While interposing no objection thereto, the OSG called attention to the fact that the transfer of the venue for the trial of the same cases had already been effected pursuant to a Resolution dated April 13, 2010 issued by this Court in A.M. No. 09-12-507-RTC. In said resolution, Judge Jocelyn A. Solis-Reyes of Branch 221 of the Quezon City RTC was directed to conduct hearings of said cases at the BJMP premises in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City.

On June 16, 2010, petitioners filed a motion for clarification of the Court's April 27, 2010 resolution declaring the case at bench closed and terminated, on the ground that a pronouncement has yet to be made on their request for transfer of venue which would effectively transfer the jurisdiction over the subject multiple murder cases from the Quezon City RTC to the Taguig RTC. In its June 29, 2010 comment to the foregoing motion, the OSG argued that jurisdiction over said cases had already been transferred from the Cotabato City RTC to the Quezon City RTC; and, that the concerns underlying petitioners' request were already addressed in Secretary Agra's letter as well as the grant thereof in the April 13, 2010 resolution issued in A.M. No. 09-12-507-RTC.

It bears stressing that the case has already been considered CLOSED and TERMINATED at the instance of petitioners who sought the withdrawal of their petition on the ground that the same had been rendered moot and academic by the ensuing developments in the case. As also correctly pointed out by the OSG, the March 31, 2010 letter of Secretary Agra had been mooted by the April 13, 2010 resolution in A.M. No. 09-12-507-RTC which pertinently resolved as follows:
  1. To GRANT the request of Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera, Department of Justice, for the transfer of the conduct of hearing of Criminal Case Nos. SL-195 to 214 [should be Criminal Case Nos. SL-171 to 195 per Court's Resolution dated December 15, 2009] and Criminal Case No. 09-162667 from the PNCO Clubhouse at Camp Crame, Quezon City to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City;
x x x x

  1. To DIRECT Presiding Judge Jocelyn A. Solis-Reyes, Regional Trial Court, Branch 221, Quezon City to CONDUCT hearings with dispatch in Criminal Case Nos. SL-171 to 195 and Criminal Case No. 09-162667 at the BJMP premises in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City; and

  2. To DIRECT the Office of the Court Administrator to ensure the proper implementation of this Resolution.
Given that the reasons advanced therefor had already been addressed in the foregoing resolution, petitioners' request for the further transfer of the jurisdiction over the subject multiple murder cases from the Quezon City RTC to the Taguig City has also been rendered moot and academic. Taking into consideration pragmatic reasons and security concerns similar to those raised by petitioners, the Court ordered the transfer of the venue for the trial but not the venue for said cases which would only serve to further delay the proceedings the same criminal cases, which was not the intention of the Court. At any rate, petitioners also appear to have already moved for the inhibition of Judge Jocelyn A. Solis-Reyes from said cases.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court RESOLVES to:
  1. REITERATE the Resolution dated April 27, 2010 declaring the case CLOSED and TERMINATED;

  2. NOTE WITHOUT ACTION the Office of the Solicitor General's Comment to the March 31, 2010 letter of erstwhile DOJ Secretary Alberto C. Agra; and

  3. DENY petitioners' request for transfer of venue (jurisdiction) over Criminal Case Nos. SL-171 to 195 and Criminal Case No. 09-162667 from the Regional Trial Court, Branch 221, Quezon City to the Regional Trial Court of Taguig City."
Very truly yours,

MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA
Clerk of Court

By:

(Sgd.) FELIPA B. ANAMA
Assistant Clerk of Court


[1] Rollo, pp. 1427-1428.

[2] Id. at 1429-1430.

[3] Id. at 1435-1436.

[4] Id. at 1442-1443.

[5] Id. at 1446-1450.

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