Remedy vs. denial of motion to quash; certiorari petition

As a rule, a denial of a motion to quash filed by an accused is not appealable, since an appeal from an interlocutory order is not allowed under Section 1(b), Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. Neither can it be a proper subject of a petition for certiorari, which is filed only in the absence of an appeal or any other adequate, plain, and speedy remedy. In a denial of a motion to quash information, the plain and speedy remedy is to proceed to trial.[1]In the usual course of procedure, a denial of a motion to quash filed by an accused results in the continuation of the trial and the determination of his guilt or innocence. If a judgment of conviction is rendered and the lower court's decision of conviction is appealed, the accused can raise the denial of his motion to quash, not only as an error committed by the trial court, but as an added ground to overturn the latter's ruling.[2]

Thus, a direct resort to the Supreme Court via a special civil action for certiorari is an exception rather than the rule, and is a recourse that must be firmly grounded on compelling reasons.[3]

In meritorious cases, however, the Supreme Court has recognized certiorari as an appropriate remedy to assail interlocutory orders, specifically pertaining to denials of motions to quash. These instances are: (a) when the court issued the order without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion; (b) when the interlocutory order is patently erroneous and the remedy of appeal would not afford adequate and expeditious relief; (c) in the interest of a more enlightened and substantial justice; (d) to promote public welfare and public policy; and (e) when the cases have attracted nationwide attention, making it essential to proceed with dispatch in the consideration thereof.[4]

Certiorari is the appropriate remedy in grave abuse of discretion cases, if the petitioner can establish that the lower court issued the judgment or order without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion, and the remedy of appeal would not afford adequate and expeditious relief. The writ of certiorari serves to keep an inferior court within the bounds of its jurisdiction or to prevent it from committing such grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction, or to relieve parties from arbitrary acts of courts which courts have no power or authority in law to perform. The burden is on the petitioner to show that the circumstances warrant the resort to certiorari.[5]

In one case, the Supreme Court found that the RTC Pasig City acted with grave abuse of discretion in denying accused-petitioners' motion to quash the Information which warrants the resort to the filing of a petition for certiorari.[6]

By definition, the special civil action of certiorari, as provided for under Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, is an extraordinary remedy that is available only upon showing that a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of excess of jurisdiction.

As it was held in De Lima v. City of Manila:[7]
The writ is designed to correct grave errors of jurisdiction — which means either that the judicial or quasi-judicial power was exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, or that the respondent judge, tribunal or board evaded a positive duty, or virtually refused to perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation of law, such as when such judge, tribunal or board exercising judicial or quasi-judicial powers acted in a capricious or whimsical manner as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.

In Non v. Ombudsman[8], respondent judge refused to grant the Motion to Quash filed by petitioners despite the clear wording of R.A. No. 10660 that cases falling under the jurisdiction of the RTC under Section 4, as amended, shall be tried in a judicial region other than where the official holds office. Hence, the Supreme Court entertained the petitioner for certiorari despite the interlocutory nature of the order of denial and proceeded with the resolution of the legal issues presented.

[1] Galzote v. Briones, 673 Phil. 165, 172 (2011).

[2] Maximo v. Villapando, Jr.; 809 Phil. 843, 870 (2017).

[3] Id. at 871.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 871, 873.


[7] G.R. No. 222886, October 17, 2018.