Category: LATEST SUPREME COURT CASES


CASE 2014-0025: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner – versus- HENRYT.GO, Respondent. (GR. No. 168539, 25 MARCH 2014, PERALTA, J.) (BRIEF TITLE: PEOPLE VS. HENRY T. GO)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated June 2, 2005, granting respondent’s Motion to Quash, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Sandiganbayan is forthwith DIRECTED to proceed with deliberate dispatch in the disposition of Criminal Case No. 28090.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SCD-2014-0025-MAR 2014-HENRY T. GO

 

CASE 2014-0024: SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY, INC., DEAN ELIZABETH FE- DACANAY, ATTY. ARNULFO SORIANO, DR. ROBERTO LEGASPI, DR. ANASTACIO AQUINO, LOURDES JACINTO, DR. JOHN ANTHONY DOMANTA Y, and NORA PO NOC, Petitioners, – versus – BABY NELLIE lVI. OLAIREZ, SHIERYL A. REBUCAL, JENNY RIZA A. BANTA, BRANDO B. BADECAO, and COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents. (G.R. NO. 162299); BABY NELLIE M. OLAIREZ, SHI ERYL A. REBUCAL, JENNY RIZA A. BANTA, and BRANDO B. BADECAO, Petitioners, – versus – SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY, INC., DEAN ELIZABETH FE- DACANA Y, ATTY. ARNULFO SORIANO, DR. ROBERTO LEGASPI, DR. ANASTACIO AQUINO, LOURDES JACINTO, DR. JOHN ANTHONY (G.R. NO. 174758) (21 MARCH 2014, MENDOZA, J) SUBJECT/S: INDIRECT CONTEMPT – GROUNDS, PURPOSE, NEED FOR HEARING; MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AS REQUIREMENT IN FILING CERTIORARI PROCEEDINGS; THREE-DAY NOTICE RULE.  (BRIEF TITLE: SLU ET AL VS. OLAIREZ ET AL.)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, in G.R. No. 162299, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the Resolutions, dated November 18, 2003 and February I 0, 2004, of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. No. SP 78127, are AFFIRMED.

In G.R. No. 174758, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the April 7, 2006 Decision and the September 11, 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CR No. 27861, are AFFIRMED.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

CA DISMISSED THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI OF SLU FOR HAVING BEEN FILED WITHOUT A PRIOR MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. WAS CA CORRECT?

 

YES. THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION IS A CONDITION SINE QUA NON FOR THE FILING OF A PETITION FOR CERTIORARI.

 

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WHAT IS THE REASON FOR SUCH RULE?

 

TO GRANT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE COURT TO CORRECT ANY ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED ERROR ATTRIBUTED TO IT BY THE RE-EXAMINATION OF THE LEGAL AND FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE.

 

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ARE THERE EXCEPTIONS TO SUCH RULE?

 

YES. THE EXCEPTIONS ARE:

 

(a) where the order is a patent nullity, as where the court a quo had no jurisdiction;

 

(b) where the questions raised in the certiorari proceeding have been duly raised and passed upon by the lower court, or are the same as those raised and passed upon in the lower court;

 

(c) where there is an urgent necessity for the resolution of the question and any further delay would prejudice the interests of the Government or of the petitioner or the subject matter of the action is perishable;

 

(d) where, under the circumstances, a motion for reconsideration would be useless;

 

(e) where petitioner was deprived of due process and there is extreme urgency for relief;

 

(f) where, in a criminal case, relief from an order of arrest is urgent and the granting of such relief by the trial court is improbable;

 

(g) where the proceedings in the lower court are a nullity for lack of due process;

 

(h) where the proceedings were ex parte, or in which the petitioner had no opportunity to object; and

 

(i)where the issue raised is one purely of law or where public interest is involved.

 

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IS SLU’S EXPLANATION SUFFICIENT FOR THE APPLICATION OF THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE?

 

NO. PETITIONERS MAY NOT ARROGATE TO THEMSELVES THE DETERMINATION OF WHETHER A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION IS NECESSARY OR NOT.

 

Under the circumstances, the Court is not convinced that SLU’s explanation constitutes sufficient ground for the application of the exception to the rule. In the same vein, petitioners may not arrogate to themselves the determination of whether a motion for reconsideration is necessary or not.

 

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CAN SLU CORRECTLY INVOKE THE DOCTRINE OF LIBERAL INTERPRETATION OF TECHNICAL RULES?

 

NO. SUCH DOCTRINE WAS NEVER INTENDED TO FORGE A BASTION FOR ERRING LITIGANTS TO VIOLATE THE RULES WITH IMPUNITY. APPLYING SUCH DOCTRINE WILL JUST RESULT TO WANTON DISREGARD OF THE RULES OR CAUSE NEEDLESS DELAY IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.

 

It should be emphasized that procedural rules are tools designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases. Courts and litigants alike are, thus, enjoined to abide strictly by the rules. Although the Court, in some cases, permits a relaxation in the application of the rules, this was never intended to forge a bastion for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity. It is true that litigation is not a game of technicalities, but it is equally true that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure to insure an orderly and speedy administration of justice.

 

In this case, a liberality in the application of the rules of procedure may not be invoked if it will result in the wanton disregard of the rules or cause needless delay in the administration of justice. For it is equally settled that, except for the most persuasive of reasons, strict compliance is enjoined to facilitate the orderly administration of justice.

 

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THE CA RULED THAT SLU OFFICIALS WERE DENIED DUE PROCESS IN THE CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD. WAS CA CORRECT?

 

YES. IN INDIRECT CONTEMPT, THE COURT SHALL DETERMINE THE GOOD FAITH OR LACK OF IT OF THE CONTEMNOR. HE MUST THEREFORE BE GIVEN THE CHANCE TO EXPLAIN HIS SIDE.

 

In contempt, the intent goes to the gravamen of the offense.51 Thus, the good faith or lack of it, of the alleged contemnor is considered.52 Where the act complained of is ambiguous or does not clearly show on its face that it is contempt, and is one which, if the party is acting in good faith, is within his rights, the presence or absence of a contumacious intent is, in some instances, held to be determinative of its character.53 A person should not be condemned for contempt where he contends for what he believes to be right and in good faith institutes proceedings for the purpose, however erroneous may be his conclusion as to his rights.54 To constitute contempt, the act must be done wilfully and for an illegitimate or improper purpose.55

 

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WHAT IS THE LEGAL PROVISION ON INDIRECT CONTEMPT?

 

INDIRECT CONTEMPT IS DEFINED BY AND PUNISHED UNDER SECTION 3, RULE 71 OF THE RULES OF COURT, WHICH PROVIDES:

 

Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. — After a charge in writing has been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment thereon within such period as may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for indirect contempt:

 

(a)               Misbehavior of an officer of a court in the performance of his official duties or in his official transactions;

 

(b)  Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, or judgment of a court, including the act of a person who, after being dispossessed or ejected from any real property by the judgment or process of any court of competent jurisdiction, enters or attempts or induces another to enter into or upon such real property, or in any manner disturbs the possession given to the person adjudged to be entitled thereto;

 

(c)  Any abuse of or any unlawful interference with the processes or proceedings of a court not constituting direct contempt under section 1 of this Rule;

 

(d)  Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice;

 

(e)  Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court, and acting as such without authority;

 

(f)   Failure to obey a subpoena duly served;

 

(g)  The rescue, or attempted rescue, of a person or property in the custody of an officer by virtue of an order or process of a court held by him.

 

But nothing in this section shall be so construed as to prevent the court from issuing process to bring the respondent into court, or from holding him in custody pending such proceedings.

 

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THE OLAIREZ GROUP VISITED THE SCHOOL ON JULY 17, 2003 TO DEMAND COMPLIANCE OF COURT DECISION. SLU DID NOT COMPLY. WAS SLU’S CONDUCT CONTUMACIOUS, TENDING TO HINDER THE IMPLEMENTATION OF JUDGMENT?

 

NO. SLU WAS WELL WITHIN ITS RIGHTS TO APPEAL THE DECISION AND NOT IMMEDIATELY HEED THE DEMAND OF THE OLAIREZ GROUP.

 

The supposed inaction of the SLU and its officials when the Olairez group visited the school on July 17, 2003 to demand their compliance with the decision was not borne out of a contumacious conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to hinder the implementation of a judgment. A conduct, to be contumacious, implies willfulness, bad faith or with deliberate intent to cause injustice, which is clearly not the case here. On the contrary, SLU was well within its rights to appeal the decision and not immediately heed the demand of the Olairez group.

 

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WAS THERE PROPER HEARING ON THE CONTEMPT MOTION OF THE OLAIREZ GROUP?

 

NONE. THE OLAIREZ GROUP VIOLATED THE THREE DAY NOTICE RULE. THEY SCHEDULED THE HEARING ON THEIR “VERY URGENT MOTION TO CITE DEFENDANTS IN CONTEMPT” ON JULY 18, 2003 OR JUST ONE DAY AFTER THEY FILED THE SAID PLEADING ON JULY 17, 2003. HEARING WAS RESET TO JULY 22, 2003. BUT OPPOSING COUNSELS RECEIVED COPIES OF THE MOTION ONLY ON JULY 21, 2003.

 

Records reveal that the Olairez group violated the three-day notice rule on hearing of motions as provided in Section 4,56 Rule 15 of the Rules of Court when they scheduled the hearing on their “Very Urgent Motion to Cite Defendants In Contempt” on July 18, 2003 or just one day after they filed the said pleading on July 17, 2003.

 

………

 

Under the attendant circumstances, there was no substantial compliance with procedural due process because although the hearing on the said motion was reset to July 22, 2003, the disputed writ of execution was actually issued on July 18, 2003 and served on SLU and its officials on July 19, 2003 before the rescheduled hearing date. while their counsels on record received their copies on July 21, 2003. In due process, the parameter required is the presence of an opportunity to be heard, as well as the time to study the motion and meaningfully oppose or controvert the grounds upon which it is based.61 This was not properly afforded to SLU.

 

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WHAT IS THE THREE DAY NOTICE RULE?

 

IT IS PROVIDED UNDER SECTION 4, RULE 15 OF THE RULES OF COURT. AS A RULE, ANY MOTION THAT DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF RULE 15 SHOULD NOT BE RECEIVED FOR FILING AND, IF FILED, IS NOT ENTITLED TO JUDICIAL COGNIZANCE.

 

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IS THERE AN EXCEPTION?

 

YES. SUCH AS WHERE A RIGID APPLICATION OF THE RULE WILL RESULT IN A MANIFEST FAILURE OR MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE59 OR IF THERE WAS SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE.

 

As a rule, any motion that does not comply with the requirements of Rule 15 should not be received for filing57 and, if filed, is not entitled to judicial cognizance,58 subject only to some exceptions, such as where a rigid application of the rule will result in a manifest failure or miscarriage of justice59 or if there was substantial compliance.

 

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WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE POWER TO DECLARE A PERSON IN CONTEMPT OF COURT?

 

TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE DIGNITY OF THE COURT, THE SOLEMNITY OF THE PROCEEDINGS THEREIN AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE FROM CALLOUS MISBEHAVIOR, OFFENSIVE PERSONALITIES AND CONTUMACIOUS REFUSAL TO COMPLY WITH COURT ORDERS. NOT FOR RETRIBUTION OR VINDICATION.

 

The power to declare a person in contempt of court and in dealing with him accordingly is an inherent power lodged in courts of justice, to be used as a means to protect and preserve the dignity of the court, the solemnity of the proceedings therein and the administration of justice from callous misbehavior, offensive personalities and contumacious refusal to comply with court orders. This contempt power, plenary it may seem, however, must be exercised judiciously and sparingly with highest self- restraint with the end in view of utilizing the same for correction and preservation of the dignity of the court, not for retribution or vindication.63 It should not be availed of unless necessary in the interest of justice.

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

 SCD-2014-0024-MAR 2014-SLU

CASE 2014-0023: RAUL H. SESBRENO, Petitioner, -versus- HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, JUAN I. COROMINA (SUBSTITUTED BY ANITA COROMINA, ELIZABETH COROMINA and ROSIEMARIE COROMINA), VICENTE E. GARCIA (SUBSTITUTED BY EDGAR JOHN GARCIA), FELIPE CONSTANTINO, RONALD ARCILLA, NORBETO ABELLANA, DEMETRIO BALICHA, ANGELITA LHUILLIER, JOSE E. GARCIA, AND VISAY AN ELECTRIC COMPANY (VECO), Respondents. (G.R. No. 160689, 26 MARCH 2014, BERSAMIN, J.) SUBJECT/S: ABUSE OF RIGHTS. (BRIEF TITLE: SESBRENO VS. C.A.)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the pet1t1on for review on certiorari; AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on March 10, 2003; and DIRECTS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

THE VISAYAN ELECTRIC COMPANY (VECO) SENT A TEAM TO INSPECT PETITIONER’S RESIDENCE FOR ALLEGED ELECTRIC METER TAMPERING. PETITIONER ARGUED THAT SINCE THE TEAM DID NOT HAVE A SEARCH WARRANT THEY VIOLATED SECTION 2, ART 111 OF THE 1987 CONSTITUION WHICH GUARANTEES THE RIGHT OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES. WHAT DOES SECTION 2 PROVIDES?

 

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

 

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PETITIONER STATES THAT A VIOLATION OF THIS CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTY RENDERED VECO AND ITS VOS TEAM LIABLE TO HIM FOR DAMAGES BY VIRTUE OF ARTICLE 32 (9) OF THE CIVIL CODE, WHICH PERTINENTLY PROVIDES:

 

Article 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another person shall be liable to the latter for damages:   x x x x   (9) The right to be secured in one’s person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures;   x x x x.  

 

IS PETITIONER’S CONTENTION CORRECT?

 

NO.

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEE APPLIES ONLY IF THE SEARCH WAS DONE BY THE GOVERNMENT. VECO AND ITS TEAM ARE NOT GOVERNMENT AGENTS. NOT BEING AGENTS OF THE STATE, THEY DID NOT HAVE TO FIRST OBTAIN A SEARCH WARRANT TO DO SO.  

 

 

The constitutional guaranty against unlawful searches and seizures is intended as a restraint against the Government and its agents tasked with law enforcement. It is to be invoked only to ensure freedom from arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of State power. The Court has made this clear in its pronouncements, including that made in People v. Marti,17 viz:

 

If the search is made upon the request of law enforcers, a warrant must generally be first secured if it is to pass the test of constitutionality. However, if the search is made at the behest or initiative of the proprietor of a private establishment for its own and private purposes, as in the case at bar, and without the intervention of police authorities, the right against unreasonable search and seizure cannot be invoked for only the act of private individual, not the law enforcers, is involved. In sum, the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures cannot be extended to acts committed by private individuals so as to bring it within the ambit of alleged unlawful intrusion by the government.

 

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BUT BALICHA A TEAM MEMBER WAS A POLICEMAN. DID HIS PRESENCE NOT MAKE THE SEARCH AS A SEARCH BY GOVERNMENT AGENT?

 

NO. HIS ROLE THERE WAS NOT TO SEARCH BUT ONLY TO PROVIDE SECURITY FOR THE TEAM.

 

Balicha’s presence participation in the entry did not make the inspection a search by an agent of the State within the ambit of the guaranty. As already mentioned, Balicha was part of the team by virtue of his mission order authorizing him to assist and escort the team during its routine inspection.19 Consequently, the entry into the main premises of the house by the VOC team did not constitute a violation of the guaranty.

 

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WHAT IS THE CONCEPT OF ABUSE OF RIGHTS.

 

IT PRESCRIBES THAT THAT A PERSON SHOULD NOT USE HIS RIGHT UNJUSTLY OR IN BAD FAITH; OTHERWISE, HE MAY BE LIABLE TO ANOTHER WHO SUFFERS INJURY.

 

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WHAT IS THE RATIONALE FOR SUCH CONCEPT?

 

TO PRESENT SOME BASIC PRINCIPLES TO BE FOLLOWED FOR THE RIGHTFUL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMAN BEINGS AND THE STABILITY OF SOCIAL ORDER.

 

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WHEN DOES SUCH ABUSE OF RIGHTS END?

 

WHEN THE RIGHT DISAPPEARS, AND IT DISAPPEARS WHEN IT IS ABUSED, ESPECIALLY TO THE PREJUDICE OF OTHERS[;] IT CANNOT BE SAID THAT A PERSON EXERCISES A RIGHT WHEN HE UNNECESSARILY PREJUDICES ANOTHER.”

 

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WHAT ARE THE STANDARDS TO BE OBSERVED IN THE EXERCISE OF ONE’S RIGHTS AND IN THE PERFORMANCE OF ONE’S DUTIES?

 

ACCORDING TO ART. 19 OF THE CIVIL CODE THE STANDARDS ARE:

 

(A) TO ACT WITH JUSTICE;

 

(B) TO GIVE EVERYONE HIS DUE; AND

 

(C) TO OBSERVE HONESTY AND GOOD FAITH. THE LAW THEREBY RECOGNIZES THE PRIMORDIAL LIMITATION ON ALL RIGHTS – THAT IN THE EXERCISE OF THE RIGHTS, THE STANDARDS UNDER ARTICLE  MUST BE OBSERVED.

 

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MUST THE ACT BE ILLEGAL IN ORDER THAT THERE BE ABUSE OF RIGHTS?

 

ALTHOUGH THE ACT IS NOT ILLEGAL, LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES MAY ARISE SHOULD THERE BE AN ABUSE OF RIGHTS, LIKE WHEN THE ACT IS PERFORMED WITHOUT PRUDENCE OR IN BAD FAITH.

 

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IN ORDER THAT LIABILITY MAY ATTACH UNDER THE CONCEPT OF ABUSE OF RIGHTS, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS THAT MUST BE PRESENT?

 

THE FOLLOWING ELEMENTS MUST BE PRESENT:

 

(A) THE EXISTENCE OF A LEGAL RIGHT OR DUTY,

 

 

(B) WHICH IS EXERCISED IN BAD FAITH, AND

 

(C) FOR THE SOLE INTENT OF PREJUDICING OR INJURING ANOTHER.

 

THERE IS NO HARD AND FAST RULE THAT CAN BE APPLIED TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER OR NOT THE PRINCIPLE OF ABUSE OF RIGHTS IS TO BE INVOKED. THE RESOLUTION OF THE ISSUE DEPENDS ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH CASE.

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 Clearly, Sesbreño did not establish his claim for damages if the respondents were not guilty of abuse of rights. To stress, the concept of abuse of rights prescribes that a person should not use his right unjustly or in bad faith; otherwise, he may be liable to another who suffers injury. The rationale for the concept is to present some basic principles to be followed for the rightful relationship between human beings and the stability of social order.21 Moreover, according to a commentator, 22 “the exercise of right ends when the right disappears, and it disappears when it is abused, especially to the prejudice of others[;] [i]t cannot be said that a person exercises a right when he unnecessarily prejudices another.” Article 19 of the Civil Code23 sets the standards to be observed in the exercise of one’s rights and in the performance of one’s duties, namely: (a) to act with justice; (b) to give everyone his due; and (c) to observe honesty and good faith. The law thereby recognizes the primordial limitation on all rights – that in the exercise of the rights, the standards under Article 19 must be observed.24  

 

Although the act is not illegal, liability for damages may arise should there be an abuse of rights, like when the act is performed without prudence or in bad faith. In order that liability may attach under the concept of abuse of rights, the following elements must be present, to wit: (a) the existence of a legal right or duty, (b) which is exercised in bad faith, and (c) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another.25 There is no hard and fast rule that can be applied to ascertain whether or not the principle of abuse of rights is to be invoked. The resolution of the issue depends on the circumstances of each case.

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

SCD-2014-0023-APR 2014-SESBRENO

 

 

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