Basco v Judge Rapatalo; A.M. No. RTJ-96-1335; 05 Mar 1997; 269 SCRA 220

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One of the accused in a murder complaint filed a petition for bail. A hearing was set and reset several times but did not materialize. It was later discovered that bail had already been granted and a release order was issued.

Whether or not applications for bail must be heard.

YES. When bail is discretionary, a hearing, whether summary or otherwise in the discretion of the court, should first be conducted to determine the existence of strong evidence, or lack of it, against the accused to enable the judge to make an intelligent assessment of the evidence presented by the parties. Since the determination of whether or not the evidence of guilt against the accused is strong is a matter of judicial discretion, the judge is mandated to conduct a hearing even in cases where the prosecution chooses to just file a comment or leave the application for bail to the discretion of the court.

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