Political Law

Mayor Bayani Alonte vs Judge Maximo Savellano, NBI & People of the Philippines

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G.R. No. 131652 – 287 SCRA 245 – Political Law – Due Process in Criminal Proceedings – Waiver of Right to Due Process

Alonte was accused of raping JuvieLyn Punongbayan with accomplice Buenaventura Concepcion. It was alleged that Concepcion befriended Juvie and had later lured her into Alonte’s house who was then the mayor of Biñan, Laguna. The case was brought before RTC Biñan. The counsel and the prosecutor later moved for a change of venue due to alleged intimidation. While the change of venue was pending, Juvie executed an affidavit of desistance. The prosecutor continued on with the case and the change of venue was done notwithstanding opposition from Alonte. The case was raffled to the Manila RTC under J Savellano. Savellano later found probable cause and had ordered the arrest of Alonte and Concepcion. Thereafter, the prosecution presented Juvie and had attested the voluntariness of her desistance the same being due to media pressure and that they would rather establish new life elsewhere. Case was then submitted for decision and Savellano sentenced both accused to reclusion perpetua. Savellano commented that Alonte waived his right to due process when he did not cross examine Juvie when clarificatory questions were raised about the details of the rape and on the voluntariness of her desistance.

ISSUE: Whether or not Alonte has been denied criminal due process.

HELD: The SC ruled that Savellano should inhibit himself from further deciding on the case due to animosity between him and the parties. There is no showing that Alonte waived his right. The standard of waiver requires that it “”not only must be voluntary, but must be knowing, intelligent, and done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.”” Mere silence of the holder of the right should not be so construed as a waiver of right, and the courts must indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver. Savellano has not shown impartiality by repeatedly not acting on numerous petitions filed by Alonte. The case is remanded to the lower court for retrial and the decision earlier promulgated is nullified.


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