Appalled saw that the front row economy seats were not occupied and being a frequent traveler and a regular passenger of PAL for the last 30 years, he knew that passengers are allowed to occupy vacant seats, so he sat at seat no. 31 E. , instead of his assigned seat number, without informing any of the flight attendants. A crew member approached him and asked him to go back to his assigned seat. Appalled refused. He was then informed that seat no. 31 E is a choice economy seat and is subject to the payment of additional charges. Appalled claims that the steward was arrogant and demanded him to vacate the seat.
When he refused and asked to be shown the policy of PAL from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines or from any appropriate government agency authorizing additional charges, the steward called the attention f other flight attendants saying in a loud and threatening voice “Wall an Yuan. Off load an Sissy due to security risk. ” Thereafter, he heard the pilot announce, over the public system, that there is a trouble maker on board the aircraft. Suddenly, the door of the aircraft opened and two (2) police officers came to remove him from the plane to be brought to a police station.
He pleaded with a stewardess and asked how much he should pay for seat no. 31 E. The latter arrogantly replied, “Sorry, it is no longer our business. You are now under police custody. We are now turning you over to police for investigation and detention. Appellants, on the other hand, claimed that appalled was politely approached by flight attendant Patricia Anne Rooney (“appellant Rooney’), and was requested to occupy his assigned Page – 3 seat. Appalled, instead of heeding the request, tauntingly and insultingly retorted to flight purser Ana Gazing (“appellant Gazing”).
The appalled followed appellant Rooney and threatened to have her terminated at the same time pointing a finger at her. Appellants Rooney and Gazing explained to the appalled that seat no. 31 E is a choice economy seat and has additional charges. Appalled became more unreasonable and asked why he should pay the additional fee. He demanded to see the policy of PAL from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines or from any appropriate government agency authorizing additional charges. He started shouting and threatening to have the cabin crews terminated.
At this point the commander of the aircraft, Captain Charles Eden, Jar. (“appellant Captain”), was informed of the situation. The latter went out of the cockpit, approached appalled and asked him what the problem was. Appalled arrogantly retorted Mimi are the problem, all of you! ” Due to complainant’s behavior, the aircraft was stalled and the flight delayed, infuriating other passengers, who started shouting “Get out, get out! ” It is not true that appellant Captain ordered for the arrest of the appalled nor did he announce over the public system that there is a trouble maker on board.
He merely apologized to the passengers for the delay and informed them there is a security problem on board. Since the appalled was unreasonable and could not be pacified, it left appellant Captain no other choice but to have security disembark the appalled. In fact, the appalled refused to return to his signed seat even when the Airport Police and Philippines National Police entered the aircraft. It was the growing impatience of the other passengers, who were still shouting “Get out, get out! ” that finally made the appalled stand up and leave, causing the economy passengers to clap and cheer. Afterwards, appellant Captain executed a Journal Report for PAL Flight 306, also signed by appellant Gazing, narrating the incident that transpired. Subsequently, appalled filed a complaint with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Papas City accusing appellants of committing various crimes, among which was the rime of grave coercion, alleging that appellants forced him to leave the plane and delivered him to the authorities.
In a Resolution dated February 4, 2011, the Investigating Page – 4 Prosecutor, with the conformity of the Assistant City Prosecutor and the City Prosecutor, dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause. Appalled filed a motion for reconsideration and it was granted in a Resolution dated May 19, 2011. Hence, an Information was filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Papas (Meet), against the appellants, charging them with the crime of grave coercion.
Appellants filed a motion for Judicial determination of probable cause and to dismiss. 1 On June 26, 2011, the appalled filed an opposition/comment. On August 1, 2011, the appalled filed a motion asking for a period of 1 5 days within which to file a supplemental opposition/comment to the said mooted by the Meet’s Resolution promulgated on the same date granting appellants’ motion to dismiss because”Under Article Ill, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, and citing the Jurisprudence in Load vs…
Domino, there is a need for the trial court to conduct a personal determination of probable cause, and until then, no arrant of arrest should be issued, and if one had been issued the warrant should be recalled. Under Rule 112, Section 6 (b) in relation to paragraph (a) of the same section of the Rules of Court, the trial court has the power to dismiss the complaint against the accused when on its face it clearly fails to establish probable cause.
All told, it is plain and clear that there is no sufficient evidence on record to sustain the finding of probable cause to hold the accused for trial for the crime of Grave Coercion. The case must be dismissed. ” Aggrieved, appalled elevated the case to the trial court via a petition for certiorari intending that the Meet committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of Jurisdiction in dismissing the Information on the ground of lack of probable cause.
He claimed he was denied of his Constitutional right to due process when the Meet dismissed the complaint without trial on the merits. 1 Records, up. 192-206. Page – 5 The Trial Court’s Ruling On March 12, 2012, the trial court issued the first assailed Order, biz “A careful examination of the above orders, to wit: June 2; July 29, 2011 and Resolution dated August 29, 2011 were issued without petitioner’s time to comment and/or oppose and as an outright affront on petitioner’s right to due process.
Suffice it to say that parties, prosecution and defense, were not able to present their evidence as the same was struck down by the questioned orders of the Public respondent. ” Appellants’ subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this appeal. Issue Whether or not the trial court erred in granting apple’s petition for certiorari on the ground that apple’s right to due process had been violated.
This Court’s Decision A special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court may be resorted o only where there is a clear showing that the court had acted without or in excess of Jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility. The trial court erred in granting apple’s petition for certiorari on the ground that apple’s right to due process was violated. 2 Pyongyang vs… Pyongyang, G. R. No. 158642, December 10, 2004. Page – 6 There is no question that the essence of due process is a hearing before conviction and before an impartial and disinterested tribunal but due process as a constitutional precept does not always, and in all situations, require a trial-type proceeding. The essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of one’s defense. To be heard” does not only mean verbal arguments in court; one may be heard also through pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there is no denial of procedural due process. Appalled filed a comments to appellants’ motion for Judicial determination of probable cause and to dismiss dated June 22, 2011 on June 26, 2011. Clearly then, appalled was given the opportunity to be heard and there was no denial of due process.
Rule 1 12, Section 6 (b) in relation to paragraph (a) of the same section of the Rules of Court, provides that the trial court has the power to dismiss the complaint against the accused when on its face it clearly fails to establish probable cause. In addition, this issue had been settled in the case of Creeps vs.. Moguls, to wit “Once complaint or information is filed in Court any disposition of the case as its dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in the sound discretion of the Court.
Although the fiscal retains the direction and control of the prosecution of criminal cases even while the case is already in Court he cannot impose his opinion on the trial court. The Court is the best and sole Judge on what to do with the case before it. The determination of the case is within its exclusive Jurisdiction and competence. A motion to dismiss the case filed by the fiscal should be addressed to he Court who has the option to grant or deny the same.
It does not matter if this is done before or after the arraignment of the accused or that the motion was filed after a reinvestigation or upon instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records of the investigation. ” Verily, it bears reiterating that the trial court is not bound to 3 4 Records, up. 218-235. Page – 7 adopt the resolution of the Secretary of Justice, since it is mandated to independently evaluate or assess the merits of the case and it may either agree or disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice.
Reliance on the resolution of the Secretary of Justice alone would be an abdication of the trial court’s duty and jurisdiction to determine a prima facie case. This was precisely what the Meet did when it granted appellants’ motion to dismiss, and it correctly did so. The Meet made an independent assessment of the merits of the case based on the affidavits and counter-affidavits, documents, or evidence appended to the Information. This assessment should be embodied in the written order disposing of the motion to dismiss or the motion to withdraw the information. A reading of the Resolution of the Meet dated August 1, 2011 6 shows that its assessment of the merits of the case was clearly embodied therein. Certainly, no abuse of discretion was committed by the Meet when it issued the aforesaid resolution. Judge Elise B. You did not commit a patent, gross and prejudicial error of law or fact that would amount to a grave abuse of discretion or lack of Jurisdiction. Neither did she capriciously disregard a settled law and Jurisprudence. We agree with the Meet that the dismissal of the case is warranted because there is no probable cause.
We went over the records of the case and found that there is indeed absolute lack of evidence to support the presence of probable cause for grave coercion. The elements of grave coercion are as follows – 1) that a person is prevented by another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compelled to do something against his will, be it right or wrong; 2) that the prevention or compulsion is effected by violence, threats, or 5 6 coerce vs… People,G. R. NO. 185230, June 1, 2011. Records, up. 57-79.
Page – 8 intimidation; and 3) that the person who restrains the will and liberty of another has no right to do so, or in other words, that the restraint is not made under authority of away or in the exercise of any lawful right. 7 The foregoing elements are not present in the case at bar. It is not disputed that appalled purchased an ordinary economy seat, but instead of room, without paying its additional charges. His act of refusing to transfer, when asked to do so, triggered the events that followed.
His continued disobedience, not only from the request of the attendants but of the Captain himself, caused trouble and flight delay. No one was spared from his arrogant attitude. He refused to heed even the request of the Airport Police Department and the Philippine National Police or him to disembark. It was only after the other passengers started shouting did he obey. While it is true that the appalled was prevented from boarding flight PR 306 because of the disembarkation order of appellant Captain, the second and third elements are missing.
We find that violence, threat or intimidation were not committed by the appellants and appellant Captain had every right to ask appalled to leave aircraft. We agree with the Meet that “First, the complaint-affidavit is unsubstantiated by any direct evidence. It consisted of mere allegations of private complainant Chant Guys ATA. Xx Second, the complaint-affidavit did not specify who commit the alleged acts of grave coercion as stated in the information as none of the herein accused were ever identified and named therein. Xx Third, all the elements of Grave Coercion under Article 286 of the Revised Penal Code are not established Xx. There was reasonable cause to believe that it was complainant who caused disturbance inside the aircraft. He took a different seat from his boarding pass. In doing this, he violated the PAL’S SEES policy. Xx “He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil caused” applies to the herein complainant as to why he was refused 7 Nava vs… Office of the Ombudsman, G. R. No. 176291, December 4, 2009. Page – 9 to be boarded by PAL.
His presence in the aircraft, causing a public disturbance and delaying the flight, is inimical to the interest of both the other passengers and the plane. Therefore, it was Justified that he be off loaded which he did not protest at all. Xx His complaint and the affidavit of his witnesses did not state the attendance of force, violence or intimidation by herein accused to make them liable for grave coercion. They failed to adduce evidence that said complainant was prevented by all he accused from doing something not prohibited by law or was compelled to do something against his will, be it right or wrong.
Neither is there evidence that all the accused restrained the will and liberty of complainant. The alleged acts of the unidentified PAL steward, stewardess and pilot are Justified and proper under PAL’S Choice Economy Seat Surcharge (SEES) policy duly approved by Aeronautics Board and PAL’S Operations Manual. Xx Lastly, complainant alleged that he is bound for Hong Kong meeting and to close and sign two (2) contracts in the amount of Ten Million Dollars ND Fifteen Million Dollars ($1 yet this court observes that he bought the economy class ticket.
Common observation and experience dictate that a big shot businessman who will sign Fifteen Million Dollars ($1 5,000,000. 00) contracts will board either a business or first class plane accommodation, and not go to an economy class then take a choice Economy Seat without prior permission, much more without payment and when asked for transfer of seat with alternative to pay, will argue with the steward and demand the document authorizing additional charges. This casts doubt as to the credibility of the nonmilitant. “There is no standard by which the weight of conflicting evidence can be ascertained.
We have to test the truth of human testimony to our knowledge, observation, and experience. ” We would like to stress that the purpose of the mandate of the Judge to first determine probable cause is to insulate from the very start those falsely charged with crimes from the tribulations, expenses and anxiety of a public trial. 8 All told, the dismissal of the information is clearly warranted.