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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 115407 August 28, 1995


MIGUEL
P.
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

PADERANGA, petitioner,

REGALADO, J.:
The adverse decision in this case promulgated by respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 32233 on
November 24, 1993, as well as its resolution of April 26, 1994 denying the motion for reconsideration thereof, are
challenged by petitioner Miguel P. Paderanga in this appeal by certiorari through a petition which raises issues
centering mainly on said petitioner's right to be admitted to bail.
On January 28, 1990, petitioner was belatedly charged in an amended information as a co-conspirator in the
crime of multiple murder in Criminal Case No. 86-39 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18 of Cagayan de Oro
City for the killing of members of the Bucag family sometime in 1984 in Gingoog City of which petitioner was the
mayor at the time. The original information, filed on October 6, 1986 with the Regional Trial Court of Gingoog
City, 1 had initially indicted for multiple murder eight accused suspect, namely, Felipe Galarion, Manuel Sabit,
Cesar Sabit, Julito Ampo, Eddie Torion, John Doe, Peter Doe And Richard Doe as the alleged conspirators in the
indiscriminate slaying of the spouses Romeo and Juliet Bucag and their son, Romeo, Jr. However, only one of the
accused, Felipe Galarion, was apprehended, tried and eventually convicted. Galarion later escaped from prison.
The others have remained at large up to the present. 2
In a bizarre twist of events, one Felizardo ("Ely") Roxas was implicated in the crime. In an amended information
dated October 6, 1988, he was charged as a co-accused therein. As herein petitioner was his former employer
and thus knew him well, Roxas engaged the former's services as counsel in said case. Ironically, in the course of
the preliminary investigation therein, said accused, in a signed affidavit dated March 30, 1989 but which he later
retracted on June 20, 1990, implicated petitioner as the supposed mastermind behind the massacre of the Bucag
family. 3
Then, upon the inhibition of the City Prosecutor of Cagayan de Oro City from the case per his resolution of July 7,
1989, the Department of Justice, at the instance of said prosecutor, designated a replacement, State Prosecutor
Henrick F. Gingoyon, for purposes of both the preliminary investigation and prosecution of Criminal Case No. 8639. Pursuant to a resolution of the new prosecutor dated September 6, 1989, petitioner was finally charged as a
co-conspirator in said criminal case in a second amended information dated October 6, 1992. Petitioner assailed
his inclusion therein as a co-accused all the way to this Court in G.R. No. 96080 entitled "Atty. Miguel P.
Paderanga vs. Hon. Franklin M. Drilon, Hon. Silvestre H. Bello III, Atty. Henrick F. Gingoyon, Helen B. Canoy and
Rebecca B. Tan." In an en banc decision promulgated on April 19, 1991, the Court sustained the filing of the
second amended information against him. 4
Under this backdrop, the trial of the base was all set to start with the issuance of an arrest warrant for petitioner's
apprehension but, before it could be served on him, petitioner through counsel, filed on October 28, 1992 a
motion for admission to bail with the trial court which set the same for hearing on November 5, 1992. Petitioner
duly furnished copies of the motion to State Prosecutor Henrick F. Gingoyon, the Regional State Prosecutor's
Office, and the private prosecutor, Atty. Benjamin Guimong. On November 5, 1992, the trial court proceeded to
hear the application for bail. Four of petitioner's counsel appeared in court but only Assistant Prosecutor Erlindo
Abejo of the Regional State Prosecution's Office appeared for the prosecution. 5
As petitioner was then confined at the Cagayan Capitol College General Hospital due to "acute costochondritis,"
his counsel manifested that they were submitting custody over the person of their client to the local chapter

president of the integrated Bar of the Philippines and that, for purposes of said hearing of his bail application, he
considered being in the custody of the law. Prosecutor Abejo, on the other hand, informed the trial court that in
accordance with the directive of the chief of their office, Regional State prosecutor Jesus Zozobrado, the
prosecution was neither supporting nor opposing the application for bail and that they were submitting the same to
the sound discretion of the trail judge. 6
Upon further inquiries from the trial court, Prosecutor Abejo announced that he was waiving any further
presentation of evidence. On that note and in a resolution dated November 5, 1992, the trial court admitted
petitioner to bail in the amount of P200,000.00. The following day, November 6, 1992, petitioner, apparently still
weak but well enough to travel by then, managed to personally appear before the clerk of court of the trial court
and posted bail in the amount thus fixed. He was thereafter arraigned and in the trial that ensued, he also
personally appeared and attended all the scheduled court hearings of the case. 7
The subsequent motion for reconsideration of said resolution filed twenty (20) days later on November 26, 1992 by
Prosecutor Gingoyon who allegedly received his copy of the petition for admission to bail on the day after the hearing,
was denied by the trial court in its omnibus order dated March 29, 1993. On October 1, 1993, or more than six (6) months
later, Prosecutor Gingoyon elevated the matter to respondent Court of Appeals through a special civil action for certiorari.
Thus were the resolution and the order of the trial court granting bail to petitioner annulled on November 24, 1993, in the
decision now under review, on the ground that they were tainted with grave abuse of discretion. 8
Respondent court observed in its decision that at the time of petitioner's application for bail, he was not yet "in the
custody of the law," apparently because he filed his motion for admission to bail before he was actually arrested
or had voluntarily surrendered. It further noted that apart from the circumstance that petitioner was charged with a
crime punishable by reclusion perpetua, the evidence of guilt was strong as borne out by the fact that no bail was
recommended by the prosecution, for which reasons it held that the grant of bail was doubly improvident. Lastly,
the prosecution, according to respondent court, was not afforded an opportunity to oppose petitioner's application
for bail contrary to the requirements of due process. Hence, this appeal.
Petitioner argues that, in accordance with the ruling of this Court in Santiago vs. Vasquez etc., et al., 9 his filing of
the aforesaid application for bail with the trial court effectively conferred on the latter jurisdiction over his person.
In short, for all intents and purposes, he was in the custody of the law. In petitioner's words, the "invocation by the
accused of the court's jurisdiction by filing a pleading in court is sufficient to vest the court with jurisdiction over the
person of the accused and bring him within the custody of the law."
Petitioner goes on to contend that the evidence on record negates the existence of such strong evidence as
would bar his provisional release on bail. Furthermore, the prosecution, by reason of the waiver by Prosecutor
Abejo of any further presentation of evidence to oppose the application for bail and whose representation in court
in behalf of the prosecution bound the latter, cannot legally assert any claim to a denial of procedural due process.
Finally, petitioner points out that the special civil action for certiorari was filed in respondent court after an
unjustifiable length of time.
On the undisputed facts , the legal principles applicable and the equities involved in this case, the Court finds for
petitioner.
1. Section 1 of Rule 114, as amended, defines bail as the security given for the release of a person in custody of
the law, furnished by him or a bondsman, conditioned upon his appearing before any court as required under the
conditions specified in said Rule. Its main purpose, then, is to relieve an accused from the rigors of imprisonment
until his conviction and yet secure his appearance at the trial. 10 As bail is intended to obtain or secure one's
provisional liberty, the same cannot be posted before custody over him has been acquired by the judicial
authorities, either by his lawful arrest or voluntary surrender. 11 As this Court has put it in a case "it would be
incongruous to grant bail to one who is free." 12
The rationale behind the rule is that it discourages and prevents resort to the former pernicious practice whereby
an accused could just send another in his stead to post his bail, without recognizing the jurisdiction of the court by
his personal appearance therein and compliance with the requirements therefor. 13 Thus, inFeliciano
vs. Pasicolan, etc., et al., 14 where the petitioner who had been charged with kidnapping with murder went into
hiding without surrendering himself, and shortly thereafter filed a motion asking the court to fix the amount of the
bail bond for his release pending trial, the Supreme Court categorically pronounced that said petitioner was not
eligible for admission to bail.

As a paramount requisite then, only those persons who have either been arrested, detained, or other wise
deprived of their freedom will ever have occasion to seek the protective mantle extended by the right to bail. The
person seeking his provisional release under the auspices of bail need not even wait for a formal complaint or
information to be filed against him as it is available to "all persons" 15 where the offense is bailable. The rule is, of
course, subject to the condition or limitation that the applicant is in the custody of the law. 16
On the other hand, a person is considered to be in the custody of the law (a) when he is arrested either by virtue
of a warrant of arrest issued pursuant to Section 6, Rule 112, or by warrantless arrest under Section 5, Rule 113
in relation to Section 7, Rule 112 of the revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, or (b) when he has voluntarily
submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court by surrendering to the proper authorities. 17in this light, the
ruling, vis-a-vis the facts in Santiago vs. Vasquez, etc., et al., 18 should be explained.
In said case, the petitioner who was charged before the Sandiganbayan for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act, filed through counsel what purported to be an "Urgent Ex-parte Motion for Acceptance of Cash Bail
Bond." Said petitioner was at the time confined in a hospital recuperating from serious physical injuries which she
sustained in a major vehicular mishap. Consequently, she expressly sought leave "that she be considered as
having placed herself under the jurisdiction of (the Sandiganbayan) for purposes of the required trial and other
proceedings." On the basis of said ex-partemotion and the peculiar circumstances obtaining in that incident, the
Sandiganbayan authorized petitioner to post a cash bail bond for her provisional liberty without need of her
personal appearance in view of her physical incapacity and as a matter of humane consideration.
When the Sandiganbayan later issued a hold departure order against her, she question the jurisdiction of that
court over her person in a recourse before this Court, on the ground that "she neither been arrested nor has she
voluntarily surrendered, aside from the fact that she has not validly posted bail since she never personally
appeared before said court" In rejecting her arguments, the Court held that she was clearly estopped from
assailing the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan for by her own representations in the urgentex parte motion for bail
she had earlier recognized such jurisdiction. Furthermore, by actually posting a cash bail was accepted by the
court, she had effectively submitted to its jurisdiction over her person. Nonetheless, on the matter of bail, the
Court took pains to reiterate that the same cannot be posted before custody of the accused has been acquired by
the judicial authorities either by his arrest or voluntary surrender.
In the case of herein petitioner, it may be conceded that he had indeed filed his motion for admission to bail
before he was actually and physically placed under arrest. He may, however, at that point and in the factual
ambience therefore, be considered as being constructively and legally under custody. Thus in the likewise
peculiar circumstance which attended the filing of his bail application with the trail court, for purposes of the
hearing thereof he should be deemed to have voluntarily submitted his person to the custody of the law and,
necessarily, to the jurisdiction of the trial court which thereafter granted bail as prayed for. In fact, an arrest is
made either by actual restraint of the arrestee or merely by his submission to the custody of the person making
the arrest. 19 The latter mode may be exemplified by the so-called "house arrest" or, in case of military offenders,
by being "confined to quarters" or restricted to the military camp area.
It should be stressed herein that petitioner, through his counsel, emphatically made it known to the prosecution
and to the trail court during the hearing for bail that he could not personally appear as he was then confined at the
nearby Cagayan Capitol College General Hospital for acute costochondritis, and could not then obtain medical
clearance to leave the hospital. The prosecution and the trial court, notwithstanding their explicit knowledge of the
specific whereabouts of petitioner, never lifted a finger to have the arrest warrant duly served upon him. Certainly,
it would have taken but the slightest effort to place petitioner in the physical custody of the authorities, since he
was then incapacitated and under medication in a hospital bed just over a kilometer away, by simply ordering his
confinement or placing him under guard.
The undeniable fact is that petitioner was by then in the constructive custody of the law. Apparently, both the trial
court and the prosecutors agreed on that point since they never attempted to have him physically restrained.
Through his lawyers, he expressly submitted to physical and legal control over his person, firstly, by filing the
application for bail with the trail court; secondly, by furnishing true information of his actual whereabouts; and,
more importantly, by unequivocally recognizing the jurisdiction of the said court. Moreover, when it came to his
knowledge that a warrant for his arrest had been issued, petitioner never made any attempt or evinced any intent
to evade the clutches of the law or concealed his whereabouts from the authorities since the day he was charged
in court, up to the submission application for bail, and until the day of the hearing thereof.
At the hearing, his counsel offered proof of his actual confinement at the hospital on account of an acute ailment,
which facts were not at all contested as they were easily verifiable. And, as a manifestation of his good faith and

of his actual recognition of the authority of trial court, petitioner's counsel readily informed the court that they were
surrendering custody of petitioner to the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Misamis Oriental
Chapter. 20 In other words, the motion for admission to bail was filed not for the purpose or in the manner of the
former practice which the law proscribes for the being derogatory of the authority and jurisdiction of the courts, as
what had happened in Feliciano. There was here no intent or strategy employed to obtain bail in absentia and
thereby be able to avoid arrest should the application therefore be denied.
2. Section 13, Article III of the Constitution lays down the rule that before conviction, all indictees shall be allowed bail,
except only those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when the evidence of guilt is strong. In
pursuance thereof, Section 4 of Rule 114, as amended, now provides that all persons in custody shall, before conviction
by a regional trial court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, be admitted to bail
as a matter of right. The right to bail, which may be waived considering its personal nature 21 and which, to repeat, arises
from the time one is placed in the custody of the law, springs from the presumption of innocence accorded every accused
upon whom should not be inflicted incarceration at the outset since after trial he would be entitled to acquittal, unless his
guilt be established beyond reasonable doubt. 22
Thus, the general rule is that prior to conviction by the regional trial court of a criminal offense, an accused is entitled to be
released on bail as a matter of right, the present exceptions thereto being the instances where the accused is charged
with a capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment 23and the evidence of guilt is
strong. Under said general rule, upon proper application for admission to bail, the court having custody of the accused
should, as a matter of course, grant the same after a hearing conducted to specifically determine the conditions of the bail
in accordance with Section 6 (now, Section 2) of Rule 114. On the other hand, as the grant of bail becomes a matter of
judicial discretion on the part of the court under the exceptions to the rule, a hearing, mandatory in nature and which
should be summary or otherwise in the discretion of the court, 24 is required with the participation of both the defense and
a duly notified representative of the prosecution, this time to ascertain whether or not the evidence of guilt is strong for the
provisional liberty of the applicant. 25 Of course, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to show that the evidence meets
the required quantum. 26
Where such a hearing is set upon proper motion or petition, the prosecution must be give an opportunity to present, within
a reasonable time, all the evidence that it may want to introduce before the court may resolve the application, since it is
equally entitled as the accused to due process. 27 If the prosecution is denied this opportunity, there would be a denial of
procedural due process, as a consequence of which the court's order in respect of the motion or petition is void. 28 At the
hearing, the petitioner can rightfully cross-examine the witnesses presented by the prosecution and introduce his own
evidence in rebuttal. 29 When, eventually, the court issues an order either granting or refusing bail, the same should
contain a summary of the evidence for the prosecution, followed by its conclusion as to whether or not the evidence of
guilt is strong. 30 The court, though, cannot rely on mere affidavits or recitals of their contents, if timely objected to, for
these represent only hearsay evidence, and thus are insufficient to establish the quantum of evidence that the law
requires. 31
In this appeal, the prosecution assails what it considers to be a violation of procedural due process when the court below
allowed Assistant Prosecutor Erlindo Abejo of the Regional State Prosecutor's Office to appear in behalf of the
prosecution, instead of State Prosecutor Henrick P. Gingoyon who is claimed to be the sole government prosecutor
expressly authorized to handle the case and who received his copy of the motion only on the day after the hearing had
been conducted. Accordingly, the prosecution now insists that Prosecutor Abejo had no authority at all to waive the
presentation of any further evidence in opposition to the application for bail and to submit the matter to the sound
discretion of the trial court. In addition, they argue that the prosecution was not afforded "reasonable time" to oppose that
application for bail.
We disagree. Firstly, it is undisputed that the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor acted as the collaborating counsel,
with State Prosecutor Henrick Gingoyon, in Criminal Case No. 86-39 on the basis of an authority from then Chief State
Prosecutor Fernando de Leon which was sent through radio message on July 10, 1992 and duly received by the Office of
the Regional State Prosecutor on the same date. This authorization, which was to be continuing until and unless it was
expressly withdrawn, was later confirmed and then withdrawn only on July 12, 1993 by then Secretary of Justice Franklin
M. Drilon. This was done after one Rebecca Bucag-tan questioned the authority of Regional State Prosecutor Jesus
Zozobrado and State Prosecutor II Erlindo Abejo to enter their appearance as collaborating government prosecutors in
said criminal case. 32 It was in fact by virtue of this arrangement that the same Prosecutor Zozobrado and Prosecutor
Perseverando Arana entered their appearance as collaborating prosecutor in the previous hearing in said case. 33 Hence,
on the strength of said authority and of its receipt of the notice of the hearing for bail, the Regional State Prosecutor's
Office, through Prosecutor Abejo, could validly represent the prosecution in the hearing held on November 5, 1992.

Secondly, although it is now claimed that Prosecutor Abejo was allegedly not familiar with the case, he
nonetheless was explicitly instructed about the position of the Regional State Prosecutor's Office on the matter.
Prosecutor Zozobrado, whose office received its copy of the motion on the very day when it was sent, that is,
October 28, 1992, duly instructed Prosecutor Abejo to manifest to the court that the prosecution was neither
supporting nor opposing the application for bail and that they were submitting the matter to its sound discretion.
Obviously, what this meant was that the prosecution, at that particular posture of the case, was waiving the
presentation of any countervailing evidence. When the court a quosought to ascertain whether or not that was the
real import of the submission by Prosecutor Abejo, the latter readily answered in the affirmative.
The following exchanges bear this out:
PROSECUTOR ERLINDO ABEJO:
I was informed to appear in this case just now
Your Honor.

Yes, Your Honor. For the government, the


Regional State Prosecutor's Office represented
by State Prosecutor Erlindo Abejo.
COURT:

COURT:
Where is your Chief of Office? Your office
received a copy of the motion as early as
October 28. There is an element of urgency
here.

By that manifestation do you want the Court to


understand that in effect, at least, the
prosecution is dispensing with the presentation
of evidence to show that the guilt of the
accused is strong, the denial . . .

PROSECUTOR ABEJO:

PROSECUTOR ABEJO:

I am not aware of that, Your Honor, I was only


informed just now. The one assigned here is
State Prosecutor Perseverando Arena, Jr. who
unfortunately is in the hospital attending to his
sick son. I do not know about this but before I
came I received an instruction from our Chief
to relay to this court the stand of the office
regarding the motion to admit bail. That office
is neither supporting nor opposing it and we
are submitting to the sound discretion of the
Honorable Court.

I am amenable to that manifestation, Your


Honor.

COURT:
Place that manifestation on record. For the
record, Fiscal Abejo, would you like to formally
enter your appearance in this matter?
PROSECUTOR ABEJO:

COURT:
Final inquiry. Is the Prosecution willing to
submit the incident covered by this particular
motion for resolution by this court?
PROSECUTOR ABEJO:
Yes, Your Honor.
COURT:
Without presenting any further evidence?
PROSECUTOR ABEJO:
Yes, Your Honor. 34

It is further evident from the foregoing that the prosecution, on the instructions of Regional State prosecutor
Zozobrado, had no intention at all to oppose the motion for bail and this should be so notwithstanding the
statement that they were "neither supporting nor opposing" the motion. What is of significance is the manifestation
that the prosecution was "submitting (the motion) to the sound discretion of the Honorable Court." By that, it could
not be any clearer. The prosecution was dispensing with the introduction of evidence en contra and this it did at
the proper forum and stage of the proceedings, that is, during the mandatory hearing for bail and after the trial
court had fully satisfied itself that such was the position of the prosecution.
3. In Herras Teehankee vs. Director of Prisons, 35 it was stressed that where the trial court has reasons to believe
that the prosecutor's attitude of not opposing the application for bail is not justified, as when he is evidently

committing a gross error or a dereliction of duty, the court, in the interest of Justice, must inquire from the
prosecutor concerned as the nature of his evidence to determine whether or not it is strong. And, in the very
recent administrative matter Re: First Indorsement Dated July 21, 1992 of Hon. Fernando de Leon, Chief State
Prosecutor, Department of Justice; Alicia A. Baylon, City Prosecutor of Dagupan City vs. Judge Deodoro
Sison, 36 the Court, citing Tucay vs. Domagas, etc., 37 held that where the prosecutor interposes no objection to
the motion of the accused, the trial court should nevertheless set the application for hearing and from there
diligently ascertain from the prosecution whether the latter is really not contesting the bail application.
No irregularity, in the context of procedural due process, could therefore be attributed to the trial court here as
regards its order granting bail to petitioner. A review of the transcript of the stenographic notes pertinent to its
resolution of November 5, 1992 and the omnibus order of March 29, 1993 abundantly reveals scrupulous
adherence to procedural rules. As summarized in its aforementioned order, the lower court exhausted all means
to convince itself of the propriety of the waiver of evidence on the part of the prosecution. Moreover, the omnibus
order contained the requisite summary of the evidence of both the prosecution and the defense, and only after
sifting through them did the court conclude that petitioner could be provisionally released on bail. Parenthetically,
there is no showing that, since then and up to the present, petitioner has ever committed any violation of the
conditions of his bail.
As to the contention that the prosecutor was not given the opportunity to present its evidence within a reasonable
period of time, we hold otherwise. The records indicate that the Regional State Prosecutor's Office duly received
its copy of the application for bail on the very same day that the it was filed with the trial court on October 28,
1992. Counted from said date up to the day of the hearing on November 5, 1992, the prosecution had more than
one (1) week to muster such evidence as it would have wanted to adduce in that hearing in opposition to the
motion. Certainly, under the circumstances, that period was more than reasonable. The fact that Prosecutor
Gingoyon received his copy of the application only on November 6, 1992 is beside the point for, as already
established, the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor was authorized to appear for the People.
4. What finally militates against the cause of the prosecutor is the indubitably unreasonable period of time that
elapsed before it questioned before the respondent court the resolution and the omnibus order of the trial court
through a special civil action for certiorari. The Solicitor General submits that the delay of more than six (6)
months, or one hundred eighty-four (184) days to be exact, was reasonable due to the attendant difficulties which
characterized the prosecution of the criminal case against petitioner. But then, the certiorari proceeding was
initiated before the respondent court long after trial on the merits of the case had ensued in the court below with
the active participation of prosecution lawyers, including Prosecutor Gingoyon. At any rate, the definitive rule now
in that the special civil action for certiorari should not be instituted beyond a period of the three months, 38 the
same to be reckoned by taking into account the duration of time that had expired from the commission of the acts
complained to annul the same. 39
ACCORDINGLY, the judgment of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 32233, promulgated on November 24,
1993, annulling the resolution dated November 5, 1992 and the omnibus order dated March 29, 1993 of the Regional Trial
Court of Cagayan de Oro City, as well as said respondent court's resolution of April 26, 1994 denying the motion for
reconsideration of said judgment, are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The aforesaid resolution and omnibus order of
the Regional Trail Court granting bail to petitioner Miguel P. Paderanga are hereby REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Puno, Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 125297. June 6, 2003]


ELVIRA YU OH, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CR No.
16390, promulgated on January 30, 1996, affirming the conviction of petitioner Elvira Yu Oh by the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 99, Quezon City and the resolution dated May 30, 1996 which denied her motion for reconsideration.
The facts as borne by the records are as follows:
Petitioner purchased pieces of jewelry from Solid Gold International Traders, Inc., a company engaged in jewelry
trading. Due to her failure to pay the purchase price, Solid Gold filed civil cases [2] against her for specific performance
before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig. On September 17, 1990, petitioner and Solid Gold, through its general manager
Joaquin Novales III, entered into a compromise agreement to settle said civil cases. [3] The compromise agreement, as
approved by the trial court, provided that petitioner shall issue a total of ninety-nine post-dated checks in the amount
of P50,000.00 each, dated every 15th and 30th of the month starting October 1, 1990 and the balance of over P1 million to
be paid in lump sum on November 16, 1994 which is also the due date of the 99 th and last postdated check. Petitioner
issued ten checks at P50,000.00 each, for a total of P500,000.00, drawn against her account at the Equitable Banking
Corporation (EBC), Grace Park, Caloocan City Branch. Novales then deposited each of the ten checks on their
respective due dates with the Far East Bank and Trust Company (FEBTC). However, said checks were dishonored by
EBC for the reason Account Closed. Dishonor slips were issued for each check that was returned to Novales. [4]
On October 5, 1992, Novales filed ten separate Informations, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 92-26243 to 9236252 before the RTC of Quezon City charging petitioner with violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22, otherwise known
as the Bouncing Checks Law.[5] Except for the dates and the check numbers, the Informations uniformly allege:
That on or about the in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously make or draw and issue to JOAQUIN P. LOVALES III to apply on account or for value Equitable Banking Corp.
Grace Park Caloocan Branch Check No. dated payable to SOLID GOLD INTERNATIONAL TRADERS, INC. in the
amount of P50,000.00, Philippine Currency, said accused well knowing that at the time of issue she/he/they did not have
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which check
when presented for payment was subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds/Account Closed
and despite receipt of notice of such dishonor, said accused failed to pay said SOLID GOLD INTERNATIONAL
TRADERS, INC. the amount of said check or to make arrangement for full payment of the same within five (5) banking
days after receiving said notice.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[6]
The cases were consolidated and subsequently raffled to Branch 99 of the said RTC. Upon arraignment, accused
pleaded not guilty.[7] Trial then ensued. On December 22, 1993, the RTC rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused GUILTY of ten counts of violation of BP 22 and hereby sentences her to a
penalty of one year imprisonment for each count, or a total of ten years, to be served in accordance with the limitation
prescribed in par. 4, Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code and to indemnify complainant the amount of the checks in their
totality, or in the amount of P500,000.00.
SO ORDERED.[8]
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals alleging that: the RTC has no jurisdiction over the offense charged in the
ten informations; it overlooked the fact that no notice of dishonor had been given to the appellant as drawer of the
dishonored checks; it failed to consider that the reason of closed account for the dishonor of the ten checks in these
cases is not the statutory cause to warrant prosecution, much more a conviction, under B.P. Blg. 22; it failed to consider
that there is only one act which caused the offense, if any, and not ten separate cases; and it disregarded the definition of
what a check is under Sec. 185 of the Negotiable Instruments Law.[9]

Finding the appeal to be without merit, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court with costs against
appellant.
Hence, herein petition raising the following errors:
I
THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RESOLVING THE JURISDICTIONAL ISSUE IN FAVOR OF
THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT BY UNJUSTLY DEPRIVING HER OF THE LEGAL BENEFITS OF GIVING
RETROACTIVE EFFECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF R.A. NO. 7691 EXPANDING THE JURISDICTION OF
THE INFERIOR COURTS TO COVER THE OFFENSES INVOLVED IN THESE CASES PURSUANT TO ART.
22 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE, THUS IN EFFECT RENDERING THE JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION
PROMULGATED BY THE TRIAL COURT BELOW AND AFFIRMED BY THE COURT OF APPEALS PATENTLY
NULL AND VOID FOR HAVING BEEN RENDERED WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION.
II
THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RESOLVING IN FAVOR OF ACCUSED-APPELLANT THE
FACT THAT NO NOTICE OF DISHONOR HAD BEEN GIVEN HER AS DRAWER OF THE DISHONORED
CHECKS PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENT EXPRESSLY PROVIDED UNDER BATAS PAMBANSA
BILANG 22.
III
THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONSTRUING THE PROVISIONS OF BATAS PAMBANSA
BILANG 22 CONTRARY TO THE WELL-ESTABLISHED RULE OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION THAT
PENAL STATUTES, SUBSTANTIVE AND REMEDIAL OR PROCEDURAL, ARE, BY THE CONSECRATED
RULE, CONSTRUED STRICTLY AGAINST THE STATE, OR LIBERALLY IN FAVOR OF THE ACCUSED AND
THAT IT IS ALWAYS THE DUTY OF THE COURT TO RESOLVE THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF EVIDENCE
UPON A THEORY OF INNOCENCE RATHER THAN UPON A THEORY OF GUILT WHERE IT IS POSSIBLE
TO DO SO, AND IN SO DOING THE DECISION APPEALED FROM INDULGED ITSELF IN JUDICIAL
LEGISLATION TO FAVOR THE PROSECUTION AND TO WORK GRAVE INJUSTICE TO THE ACCUSED.
Simply worded, the issues of this case may be stated as follows: (1) whether or not the appellate court erred in not
granting retroactive effect to Republic Act No. 7691 [10] in view of Art. 22 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); (2) whether or
not notice of dishonor is dispensable in this case; and (3) whether or not the appellate court erred in construing B.P. Blg.
22.
We will resolve the first and third issues before considering the second issue.
First issue Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in not giving retroactive effect to R.A. 7690 in view of Article
22 of the RPC.
Petitioner argues that: the failure of the appellate court to give retroactive application to R.A. 7691 is a violation of
Art. 22 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that penal laws shall have retroactive effect insofar as they favor the
person guilty of the felony; R.A. 7691 is a penal law in the sense that it affects the jurisdiction of the court to take
cognizance of criminal cases; taken separately, the offense covered by each of the ten Informations in this case falls
within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court under Sec. 2 of R.A. 7691; and the Court of Appeals is
guilty of judicial legislation in stating that after the arraignment of petitioner, said cases could no longer be transferred to
the MTC without violating the rules on double jeopardy, because that is not so provided in R.A. 7691. [11]
The Solicitor General, in its Comment, counters that the arguments of petitioner are baseless contending that: penal
laws are those which define crimes and provides for their punishment; laws defining the jurisdiction of courts are
substantive in nature and not procedural for they do not refer to the manner of trying cases but to the authority of the
courts to hear and decide certain and definite cases in the various instances of which they are susceptible; R.A. No. 7691
is a substantive law and not a penal law as nowhere in its provisions does it define a crime neither does it provide a
penalty of any kind; the purpose of enacting R.A. No. 7691 is laid down in the opening sentence thereof as An Act
Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Circuit Trial Courts and the Metropolitan Trial Court
whereby it reapportions the jurisdiction of said courts to cover certain civil and criminal case, erstwhile tried exclusively by
the Regional Trial Courts; consequently, Art. 22 of the RPC finds no application to the case at bar; jurisdiction is
determined by the law in force at the time of the filing of the complaint, and once acquired, jurisdiction is not affected by
subsequent legislative enactments placing jurisdiction in another tribunal; in this case, the RTC was vested with
jurisdiction to try petitioners cases when the same were filed in October 1992; at that time, R.A. No. 7691 was not yet

effective;[12] in so far as the retroactive effect of R.A. No. 7691 is concerned, that same is limited only to pending civil
cases that have not reached pre-trial stage as provided for in Section 7 thereof and as clarified by this Court in People vs.
Yolanda Velasco[13], where it was held: [a] perusal of R.A. No. 7691 will show that its retroactive provisions apply only to
civil cases that have not yet reached the pre-trial stage. Neither from an express proviso nor by implication can it be
understood as having retroactive application to criminal cases pending or decided by the RTC prior to its effectivity. [14]
On this point, the Court fully agrees with the Solicitor General and holds that Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code
finds no application to the case at bar.
Said provision reads:
ART. 22. Retroactive effect of penal laws. Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the person
guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this Code, although at the
time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving sentence.
A penal law, as defined by this Court, is an act of the legislature that prohibits certain acts and establishes penalties
for its violations. It also defines crime, treats of its nature and provides for its punishment. [15] R.A. No. 7691 does not
prohibit certain acts or provides penalties for its violation; neither does it treat of the nature of crimes and its
punishment. Consequently, R.A. No. 7691 is not a penal law, and therefore, Art. 22 of the RPC does not apply in the
present case.
B. P. Blg. 22, which took effect on April 24, 1979, provides the penalty of imprisonment of not less than thirty days but
not more than one year or by a fine of not less than but not more then double the amount of the check which fine shall in
no case exceed P200,000.00, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
R.A. No. 7691 which took effect on June 15, 1994, amended B.P. Blg. 129, and vested on the Metropolitan, Municipal
and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts jurisdiction to try cases punishable by imprisonment of not more than six (6) years.
[16]
Since R.A. No. 7691 vests jurisdiction on courts, it is apparent that said law is substantive.[17]
In the case of Cang vs. Court of Appeals,[18] this Court held that jurisdiction being a matter of substantive law, the
established rule is that the statute in force at the time of the commencement of the action determines the jurisdiction of the
court.[19] R.A. No. 7691 was not yet in force at the time of the commencement of the cases in the trial court. It took effect
only during the pendency of the appeal before the Court of Appeals. [20] There is therefore no merit in the claim of
petitioner that R.A. No. 7691 should be retroactively applied to this case and the same be remanded to the MTC. The
Court has held that a law vesting additional jurisdiction in the court cannot be given retroactive effect. [21]
Third issue Whether or not the Court of Appeals erroneously construed B.P. Blg. 22.
Petitioner insists that: penal statutes must be strictly construed and where there is any reasonable doubt, it must
always be resolved in favor of the accused;[22] the Court of Appeals, in construing that B.P. Blg. 22 embraces cases of no
funds or closed accounts when the express language of B.P. Blg. 22 penalizes only the issuance of checks that are
subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit, has enlarged by implication the
meaning of the statute which amounts to judicial legislation; [23] a postdated check, not being drawn payable on demand, is
technically not a special kind of a bill of exchange, called check, but an ordinary bill of exchange payable at a fixed date,
which is the date indicated on the face of the postdated check, hence, the instrument is still valid and the obligation
covered thereby, but only civilly and not criminally; [24] the trial court also erroneously cited a portion in the case of Lozano
vs. Martinez[25] that the language of B.P. Blg. 22 is broad enough to cover all kinds of checks, whether present dated or
postdated, or whether issued in payment of pre-existing obligations or given in mutual or simultaneous exchange for
something of value, since the same is mere obiter dictum;[26] in the interpretation of the meaning of a check, where the
law is clear and unambiguous, the law must be taken as it is, devoid of judicial addition or subtraction. [27]
The Solicitor General counters that a postdated check is still a check and its being a postdated instrument does not
necessarily make it a bill of exchange payable at a fixed or determinable future time since it is still paid on demand on
the date indicated therein or thereafter just like an ordinary check. [28] It also points out that the doctrine laid down
in Lozano vs. Martinez was reiterated in People vs. Nitafan,[29] hence, it can no longer be argued that the statement in the
case of Lozano regarding the scope of checks is mere obiter dictum.
Again, we agree with the Solicitor General and find petitioners claim to be without merit.
The rationale behind B.P. Blg. 22 was initially explained by the Court in the landmark case of Lozano vs.
Martinez[30] where we held that:
The gravamen of the offense punished by B.P. Blg. 22 is the act of making and issuing a worthless check or a check that
is dishonored upon its presentation for payment The thrust of the law is to prohibit, under pain of penal sanctions, the
making or worthless checks and putting them in circulation. Because of its deleterious effects on the public interest, the

practice is proscribed by law. The law punished the act not as an offense against property, but an offense against public
order.[31]
...
The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcend the private interests of the parties directly involved in the
transaction and touches the interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee
or holder but also an injury to the public. The harmful practice of putting valueless commercial papers in circulation,
multiplied a thousandfold, can very well pollute the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and
eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest. [32]
The same is reiterated in Cueme vs. People[33] where we pronounced that:
. . . B.P. Blg. 22 was purposely enacted to prevent the proliferation of worthless checks in the mainstream of daily
business and to avert not only the undermining of the banking system of the country but also the infliction of damage and
injury upon trade and commerce occasioned by the indiscriminate issuances of such checks. By its very nature, the
offenses defined under B.P. Blg. 22 are against public interest. [34]
In Recuerdo vs. People, this Court also held that the terms and conditions surrounding the issuance of the checks
are irrelevant since its primordial intention is to ensure the stability and commercial value of checks as being virtual
substitutes for currency.[35]
Petitioners claim that cases of closed accounts are not included in the coverage of B.P. Blg. 22 has no merit
considering the clear intent of the law, which is to discourage the issuance of worthless checks due to its harmful effect to
the public. This Court, in Lozano vs. Martinez, was explicit in ruling that the language of B.P. Blg. 22 is broad enough to
cover all kinds of checks, whether present dated or postdated, or whether issued in payment of pre-existing obligations or
given in mutual or simultaneous exchange for something of value. [36]
In People vs. Nitafan,[37] the Supreme Court reiterated this point and held that:
B.P. Blg. 22 does not distinguish but merely provides that [a]ny person who makes or draws and issues any check
knowing at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank which check is
subsequently dishonored shall be punished by imprisonment Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemus.
But even if We retrace the enactment of the Bouncing Check Law to determine the parameters of the concept of check,
we can easily glean that the members of the then Batasang Pambansa intended it to be comprehensive as to include all
checks drawn against banks.[38]
In this light, it is easy to see that the claim of petitioner that B.P. Blg. 22 does not include postdated checks and
cases of closed accounts has no leg to stand on. The term closed accounts is within the meaning of the phrase does
not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank.
Anent the second issue: whether or not notice of dishonor is dispensable in the case at bar. Petitioner failed to show
any cogent reason for us to disturb the findings of the RTC and the Court of Appeals.
B.P. Blg. 22 or the Bouncing Checks Law seeks to prevent the act of making and issuing checks with the knowledge
that at the time of issue, the drawer does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the bank for payment and the checks
were subsequently dishonored upon presentment.[39] To be convicted thereunder, the following elements must be proved:
1.

The accused makes, draws or issues any check to apply to account or for value;

2.

The accused knows at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds in, or credit
with, the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its presentment; and

3.

The check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or it would
have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the
bank to stop payment.[40]

For liability to attach under B.P. Blg. 22, it is not enough that the prosecution establishes that checks were issued and
that the same were subsequently dishonored. The prosecution must also prove that the issuer, at the time of the checks

issuance, had knowledge that he did not have enough funds or credit in the bank of payment thereof upon its
presentment.[41]
Since the second element involves a state of mind which is difficult to establish, Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 created
a prima facie presumption of such knowledge, as follows:
SEC. 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. The making, drawing and issuance of a check payment of which is
refused by the drawee because of insufficient funds in or credit with such bank, when presented within ninety (90) days
from the date of the check, shall be prima facie evidence of knowledge of such insufficiency of funds or credit unless such
maker or drawer pays the holder thereof the amount due thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the
drawee of such check within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee.
Based on this section, the presumption that the issuer had knowledge of the insufficiency of funds is brought into
existence only after it is proved that the issuer had received a notice of dishonor and that within five days from receipt
thereof, he failed to pay the amount of the check or to make arrangement for its payment. [42] The presumption or prima
facie evidence as provided in this section cannot arise, if such notice of non-payment by the drawee bank is not sent to
the maker or drawer, or if there is no proof as to when such notice was received by the drawer, since there would simply
be no way of reckoning the crucial 5-day period. [43]
In this case, it is not disputed that checks were issued by petitioner and said checks were subsequently
dishonored. The question however is, was petitioner furnished a notice of dishonor? If not, is it sufficient justification to
exonerate petitioner from her criminal and civil liabilities for issuing the bouncing checks?
The trial court ruled that the second element is present because:
the accused knew at the time of issuance of the checks that she did not have sufficient funds in or credit with her
drawee bank for the payment of the checks in full upon their presentment [as] admitted by her in the Counter-Affidavit she
executed during the preliminary investigation of these criminal cases (itals. ours), to wit:
4.
That the time of the issuance of the said checks, due notice and information had been so given to Solid Gold
anent the actual status of the checks that the same might not be able to cover the amount of the said checks so stated
therein (Exhibit N, 1, underscoring supplied).
This fact became evident again during the cross-examination by the accuseds counsel of the prosecutions witness,
Joaquin Novales III:
ATTY. TAGANAS:
Q: And the reason you agreed to the terms and conditions for the issuance of post-dated checks because you
are also aware the particular time the accused Mrs. Elvira Yu Oh did not also have enough funds or money
in the bank within which to cover the amount of the checks?
A:

I am not aware, sir.

...
Q: To your knowledge when the accused had already admitted to you that she had not enough money to pay
you?
A:

That is the terms and promise and agreed upon, sir.

Q: But inspite of the fact that she already told you about that, that you never suspected that she did not have
enough money to cover the checks agreed upon and issued to you?
A:

Yes, sir.

Q: And inspite of the fact she told you you never suspected that she did not have enough money to cover
you . . .
Q: You still believe that although she does not have enough money she still issued checks to you?
A:

Yes, sir. (TSN, April 6, 1993, pp. 24-26)

At any rate, there is already prima facie evidence of knowledge of insufficiency of funds on the part of the accused from
her failure to pay the amount due on the checks or to make arrangements for payment in full by the drawee bank within

five banking days after she received notice of their dishonor, each of the checks having been presented within ninety days
from their respective dated (B.P. Blg. 22, Sec. 2). The defense did not controvert this evidence. (itals. ours)[44]
Although the trial court in its decision, mentioned that herein petitioner received notices of dishonor, nowhere in the
records is there proof that the prosecution ever presented evidence that petitioner received or was furnished a notice of
dishonor. The notices of dishonor that were presented in court and marked as Exhibits D-2, E-2, F-2, G-2, H-2, I2, J-2, K-2, L-2, C-2[45] were all sent to the private complainant, Solid Gold, and not to petitioner. In convicting
petitioner, the trial court, gave probative weight on the admission of petitioner in her Counter-Affidavit which she submitted
during the preliminary investigation that at the time of issuance of the subject checks, she was aware and even told
private complainant that the checks might not be able to cover the amount stated therein.
The Court of Appeals sustained the RTC, to wit:
. . . Neither can We agree that accused-appellant was still entitled to notice of dishonor of the bouncing checks as she had
no more checking account with the drawee bank at the time of the dishonor of the ten checks in question. Accusedappellant must have realized that by closing her checking account after issuing the ten postdated checks, all of said
checks would bounce. Knowing that she had already closed her checking account with the drawee bank, certainly
accused-appellant would not have expected, even in her wildest imagination, that her postdated checks would be honored
by the drawee bank. Thus, accused-appellant need not be notified anymore of the obvious dishonor of her rubber
checks. (itals. ours)[46]
Based on the law and existing jurisprudence, we find that the appellate court erred in convicting petitioner.
In cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, it is necessary that the prosecution prove that the issuer had received a notice of
dishonor. Since service of notice is an issue, the person alleging that the notice was served must prove the fact of
service. Basic also is the doctrine that in criminal cases, the quantum of proof required is proof beyond reasonable
doubt. Hence, for cases of B.P. Blg. 22 there should be clear proof of notice. [47]
Indeed, this requirement cannot be taken lightly because Section 2 provides for an opportunity for the drawer to
effect full payment of the amount appearing on the check, within five banking days from notice of dishonor. The absence
of said notice therefore deprives an accused of an opportunity to preclude criminal prosecution. In other words,
procedural due process demands that a notice of dishonor be actually served on petitioner. In the case at bar, appellant
has a right to demand and the basic postulate of fairness requires that the notice of dishonor be actually sent to and
received by her to afford her to opportunity to aver prosecution under B.P. Blg. 22. [48]
The Solicitor General contends that notice of dishonor is dispensable in this case considering that the cause of the
dishonor of the checks was Account Closed and therefore, petitioner already knew that the checks will bounce
anyway. This argument has no merit. The Court has decided numerous cases where checks were dishonored for the
reason, Account Closed[49] and we have explicitly held in said cases that it is essential for the maker or drawer to be
notified of the dishonor of her check, so she could pay the value thereof or make arrangements for its payment within the
period prescribed by law [50] and omission or neglect on the part of the prosecution to prove that the accused received
such notice of dishonor is fatal to its cause.[51]
A perusal of the testimony of the prosecution witness Joaquin Novales III, General Manager of complainant Solid
Gold, discloses that no personal demands were made on appellant before the filing of the complaints against her. [52] Thus,
absent a clear showing that petitioner actually knew of the dishonor of her checks and was given the opportunity to make
arrangements for payment as provided for under the law, we cannot with moral certainty convict her of violation of B.P.
Blg. 22. The failure of the prosecution to prove that petitioner was given the requisite notice of dishonor is a clear ground
for her acquittal.[53]
Moreover, as understood by the trial court itself in the herein aforequoted portion of its decision, General Manager
Novales knew of the non-availability of sufficient funds when appellant issued the subject checks to him. This Court has
held that there is no violation of B.P. 22 if complainant was told by the drawer that he has no sufficient funds in the bank. [54]
For these reasons, we reverse the ruling of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial courts conviction of petitioner for
violation of B.P. Blg. 22. This is without prejudice, however, to her civil liability towards private complainant Solid Gold in
the amount of P500,000.00 plus interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum from date of finality of herein judgment. [55]
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Petitioner Elvira Yu Oh is ACQUITTED of the offense of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 on ten counts for insufficiency of
evidence. However, she is ordered to pay complainant Solid Gold International Traders, Inc. the total amount of Five
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) with 12% interest per annum from date of finality of herein judgment.
SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.

JUAN G. RIVERA,

G.R. No. 163996


Petitioner,
Present:

- versus -

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Respondent.

Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman),


Quisumbing,
Ynares-Santiago,
Carpio, and
Azcuna, JJ.
Promulgated:

June 9, 2005
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assails the decision dated May 3, 2004 of
the Sandiganbayan,[1] which convicted petitioner of twelve counts of the crime of falsification by a public officer under
Article 171 and one count of the crime of malversation of public funds under Article 217 (4), both of the Revised Penal
Code and its resolution dated June 10, 2004,[2] denying reconsideration thereof and disallowing him to present evidence.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Petitioner Juan G. Rivera and Eric O. Garcia, municipal mayor and disbursement officer, respectively, of
Guinobatan, Albay, were charged before the Sandiganbayan with twelve counts of falsification of public documents and
one count of malversation of public funds involving the amount of P1,936,798.64 given to the Municipality of Guinobatan
as calamity fund for the victims of the Mayon volcanic eruption. Garcia died on August 25, 2001 and was accordingly
dropped from the amended information.
Upon arraignment,[3] petitioner entered a plea of not guilty to all thirteen cases. A pre-trial was conducted and
thereafter trial ensued. On various dates, the prosecution presented its witnesses and offered documentary exhibits.
Then, it rested its case.
The defense was scheduled to present evidence on September 29, 2003; however, during the hearing,
petitioners former counsel, Atty. Benjamin C. Belarmino, Jr., informed the court that they have not yet received the
resolution on the prosecutions Formal Offer of Exhibits, further manifesting that upon receipt of the resolution, they will
ask for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence.
Thereupon, the court directed Atty. Belarmino to file a demurrer to evidence even without leave of court but the
latter manifested that he would still discuss the matter with his collaborating counsel.
However, in the order issued by the Sandiganbayan on September 29, 2003, it was stated that petitioner, through
counsel, manifested that he would be filing a demurrer to evidence without leave of court within ten (10) days. [4]
On October 20, 2003, petitioner filed his Demurrer to Evidence [5] without leave of court to which the prosecution
filed its Opposition on October 27, 2003.
Pursuant to Section 23, Rule 119 of The Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Sandiganbayan considered the
right of petitioner to present evidence waived and deemed the case submitted for judgment on the basis of the evidence
for the prosecution. On May 3, 2004, the Sandiganbayan rendered the assailed decision finding petitioner guilty as
charged, the dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE:
A.

In Criminal Cases No. 26686 to 26697, the Court finds the accused Juan G.
Rivera GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for TWELVE (12) COUNTS of the crime of Falsification
by Public Officer defined under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, and is hereby sentenced
to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of, after applying the indeterminate sentence law, TWO (2)
YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS, and ONE (1) DAY of prisin correccional as minimum, up to TEN
(10) YEARS of prisin mayor, as maximum, for each count;
Fine of Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) for each count, or a total of TWENTY FOUR
THOUSAND PESOS (P24,000.00) for all twelve counts; and
All the accessory penalties provided for by law.

B.

In Criminal Case No. 26698, the Court finds the accused Juan G. Rivera GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds defined under Article 217(4) of the
Revised Penal Code, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of, after
applying
i)

the indeterminate sentence law, TWELVE (12) YEARS, FIVE (5) MONTHS, and ELEVEN
(11) DAYS of reclusion temporal as minimum, up to TWENTY (20) YEARS ofreclusion
temporal as maximum,

ii)

the penalty of perpetual special disqualification,

iii)

a fine of SEVEN HUNDRED NINETY FOUR THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FORTY


FIVE PESOS (P794,445.00).

By way of restitution, the accused is likewise ordered to indemnify the government in the same
amount of SEVEN HUNDRED NINETY FOUR THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FORTY FIVE
PESOS (P794,445.00); and
All the accessory penalties provided for by law.
SO ORDERED.[6]
On May 17, 2004, petitioner moved for reconsideration of the decision and further moved that he be allowed to
present evidence.[7] The same, however, was denied in a resolution dated June 10, 2004, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court is constrained to DENY the omnibus motion for
reconsideration.
SO ORDERED.[8]
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. [9]
The sole issue for resolution is whether or not the assailed decision and resolution of the Sandiganbayan should be
set aside to allow petitioner to present evidence despite the demurrer to evidence filed.
Petitioner prays that in the interest of justice he be allowed to present evidence in view of the severity of the
penalty imposed on him which is imprisonment of about 140 years. He asserts that he was unaware of the consequences
of the action taken by his former counsel when he manifested that they were opting to file a demurrer to evidence. He
also claims that the Sandiganbayan made no searching inquiry to determine whether he fully understood the legal
ramifications of filing a demurrer to evidence without leave of court. He submits that by its filing, he was totally unaware
and did not comprehend that he was in effect waiving his constitutional right to present evidence and be heard.
The petition is meritorious.

We recognize the importance of procedural rules in insuring the effective enforcement of substantive rights
through the orderly and speedy administration of justice. [10] However, the rules of procedure ought not to be applied in a
very rigid technical sense, as they are used only to help secure, not override substantial justice. If a technical and rigid
enforcement of the rules is made, their aim would be defeated. [11] That the Court has the power to set aside its own rules
in the higher interests of justice is well-entrenched in our jurisprudence. [12]
The adjudication of cases involving the transcendental matter of life and liberty of a person, requires our utmost
consideration.[13] The Constitution ordains that due process must be observed in cases involving a possible deprivation of
life, liberty, or property.[14]
In the case at bar, the extreme penalty of more than a double-life sentence was imposed. No less than his liberty
is at stake here.[15] Consequently, this case deserves to be deliberated upon, moreso because after the initial assessment
by the Sandiganbayan, petitioners only and last resort is with this Court.
A demurrer to evidence is defined as an objection by one of the parties in an action, to the effect that the
evidence which his adversary produced is insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain
the issue.[16] The party demurring challenges the sufficiency of the whole evidence to sustain a verdict. [17] In passing
upon the sufficiency of the evidence raised in a demurrer, the court is merely required to ascertain whether there is
competent or sufficient proof to sustain the indictment or to support a verdict of guilt. [18]
The transcript of stenographic notes taken during the hearing held on September 29, 2003 is reproduced herein,
to wit:
CHAIRMAN:
Call the cases.
INTERPRETER:
Criminal Cases Nos. 26686-97 and 26698 entitled, People versus Juan Rivera, for trial.
PROSECUTOR:
Respectfully appearing for the People, your Honor.
COUNSEL:
Same appearance for the accused, your Honor.
CHAIRMAN:
Ready? Its your turn now to present evidence (referring to defense counsel).
COUNSEL:
Your Honor please, last week, we received a telegram from this Court, wherein we were notified
that the prosecutions Formal Offer of Exhibits has been resolved. But we have not received the
final Resolution, your Honor.
CHAIRMAN:
Will that be a justification for asking for a postponement? Dont you think of preparing for todays
hearing?
COUNSEL:
I dont intend, your Honor, to request for postponement, however, we have thought that upon
receipt of said Resolution, we will be asking for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence.
CHAIRMAN:
You file your demurrer to evidence, just file it without leave of court.

COUNSEL:
I will have to discuss this matter yet with my collaborating counsel, your Honor.
CHAIRMAN:
You do that, since you are the lead counsel.
Where is the accused?
COUNSEL:
He is in court, your Honor.
CHAIRMAN:
Okay, just tell us if you are not ready, but do not say you are still going to confer with the accused.
If you will tell us you are not ready yet, so that you will have time to intelligently prepare for it, by
all means, we will agree to that.
COUNSEL:
Thank you, your Honor.
CHAIRMAN:
ORDER.
When these cases were called for hearing this morning, counsel for the accused
manifested that he will be filing a demurrer to evidence even without leave of court.
WHEREFORE, as prayed for, the defense is hereby granted a period of ten (10) days
within which to file the said demurrer, furnishing the prosecution a copy thereof, who asked for the
same period to file its comment/opposition thereto. Thereafter, this incident shall be deemed
submitted for resolution of this Court.
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied)
It appears from the aforequoted TSN of the hearing on September 29, 2003, that counsel for accused, Atty.
Belarmino, asked for leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence but was curtly ordered to file the same even without
leave of court. When Atty. Belarmino inquired about the resolution on the prosecutions Formal Offer of Exhibits, the
Sandiganbayan thought that it was only an excuse to request for postponement, and that he was not prepared for the
hearing.
The order dated September 29, 2003,[19] inaccurately stated that Atty. Belarmino manifested that he will be filing a
demurrer to evidence even without leave of court when the records show no such manifestation was made. On the
contrary, the records show that Atty. Belarmino asked for leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence and for time to
discuss the same with his co-counsel but was instead ordered by the court to file the same without leave of court within
ten days.
In addition, we note that Atty. Belarmino did not cite any ground when he moved for leave of court to file demurrer
to evidence; neither did the Sandiganbayan make any inquiry thereon before issuing the September 29, 2003 order,
directing the petitioner to file a demurrer to evidence even without leave of court. This is contrary to the provisions of
Section 23, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which specifically instructs that the motion for leave of
court to file demurrer to evidence shall specifically state its grounds.
Also, the records show that petitioner was not consulted nor did his counsel confer with him and ask whether he
understood the significance of filing a demurrer to evidence. In fact, Atty. Belarmino was not given the opportunity to
discuss with petitioner the consequences of filing a demurrer to evidence without leave of court.
In People v. Bodoso,[20] the accused was charged with raping his fourteen-year old daughter. After the
prosecution rested its case, the counsel de oficio of accused manifested that the defense was not intending to present any
evidence and was resting its case. There was no clear showing that accused agreed to the waiver and intended to
relinquish his right to be heard as manifested by his counsel. We held thus, to wit:
Henceforth, to protect the constitutional right to due process of every accused in a capital
offense and to avoid any confusion about the proper steps to be taken when a trial court comes face to
face with an accused or his counsel who wants to waive his clients right to present evidence and be

heard, it shall be the unequivocal duty of the trial court to observe, as a prerequisite to the validity of such
waiver, a procedure akin to a searching inquiry as specified in People v. Aranzado when an accused
pleads guilty, particularly
1.
The trial court shall hear both the prosecution and the accused with their respective
counsel on the desire or manifestation of the accused to waive the right to present evidence and be
heard.
2.
The trial court shall ensure the attendance of the prosecution and especially the accused
with their respective counsel in the hearing which must be recorded. Their presence must be duly
entered in the minutes of the proceedings.
3.

During the hearing, it shall be the task of the trial court to

a.
ask the defense counsel a series of question to determine whether he
had conferred with and completely explained to the accused that he had the right to
present evidence and be heard as well as its meaning and consequences, together with
the significance and outcome of the waiver of such right. If the lawyer for the accused
has not done so, the trial court shall give the latter enough time to fulfill this professional
obligation.
b.
inquire from the defense counsel with conformity of the accused whether
he wants to present evidence or submit a memorandum elucidating on the contradictions
and insufficiency of the prosecution evidence, if any, or in default theory, file a demurrer
to evidence with prior leave of court, if he so believes that the prosecution evidence is so
weak that it need not even be rebutted. If there is a desire to do so, the trial court shall
give the defense enough time to this purpose.
c.
elicit information about the personality profile of the accused, such as his
age, socio-economic status, and educational background, which may serve as a
trustworthy index of his capacity to give a free and informed waiver.
d.
all questions posed to the accused should be in a language known and
understood by the latter, hence, the record must state the language used for this purpose
as well as reflect the corresponding translation thereof in English.
In passing, trial courts may also abide by the foregoing procedure even when the waiver of the
right to be present and be heard is made in criminal cases involving non-capital offenses. After all, in
whatever action or forum the accused is situated, the waiver that he makes if it is to be binding and
effective must still be exhibited in the case records to have been validly undertaken, that is, it was done
voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely
consequences. As a matter of good court practice, the trial court would have to rely upon the most
convenient, if not primary, evidence of the validity of the waiver which would amount to the same thing as
showing its adherence to the step-by-step process outlined above. [21] (Emphasis supplied)
Similarly, in People v. Flores,[22] counsel for accused manifested that Flores was waiving his right to present
evidence and requested for time to file a demurrer to evidence. The records were bereft of any indications that accused
voluntarily waived his right to present evidence and with full comprehension. In that case, we ruled thus:
The lower court, in view of the severity of the imposable penalty, ought to have inquired into the
voluntariness and full knowledge of the consequences of accused-appellants waiver. Though the Rules
require no such inquiry to be undertaken by the court for the validity of such waiver or any judgment made
as result of the waiver, prudence, however, requires the Court to ascertain the same to avoid any grave
miscarriage of justice. Although accused-appellants waiver amazed the lower court, nevertheless, the
record is devoid of any facts which would indicate that the lower court took steps to assure itself of
accused-appellants voluntariness and full knowledge of the consequences of their waiver.
Besides, counsels waiver should have put the court on guard. Any lawyer worth his salt ought to
know that the filing of a demurrer to evidence with leave of court as was done below, has the beneficial
effect of reserving the movants right to present evidence if the demurrer is denied by the court. Thus, a
counsel who files a demurrer with leave of court, but at the same time expressly waives his right to
present evidence should put a judge on guard that said counsel may not entirely comprehend the

consequences of the waiver. The trial court should have exercised prudence by warning counsel about
the prejudicial effects of their waiver, that with such a waiver, the case would be deemed submitted for
decision, and their leave to file motion for demurrer to evidence will have no effect. [23]
Finally, the evidence on record of the instant case do not clearly show where and to whom the allegedly malversed
money were given after it was encashed. What is clear is that the calamity fund was released to Almeda O. Lim, the
Municipal Treasurer of Guinobatan, Albay to which Official Receipt No. 8749242H was issued. Thereafter, checks bearing
her signature and that of Riveras were personally encashed by her while she was allegedly accompanied by Garcia.
Witnesses who owned the forged receipts testified that they handed the blank receipts to Garcia and not to petitioner.
Then, after receipt of the cash, the disbursement vouchers and other forms required to liquidate the amount were
allegedly prepared by Almeda O. Lim and thereafter, transmitted to Rivera for approval, and finally to the provincial
Government. It has not been satisfactorily established whether petitioner has appropriated, taken or misappropriated, or
has consented to the taking by another person, of such funds.
Due to the precipitate filing by the defense of the demurrer to evidence, the Sandiganbayan determined petitioners
guilt based only on the prosecutions evidence. To our mind, the presentation of evidence by the defense would resolve
any doubt as to petitioners complicity and avoid possible miscarriage of justice. Clearly, when transcendental matters
like life, liberty or State security are involved, suspension of the rules is likely to be welcomed more generously. [24] The
Rules on procedure are merely tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. When they are rigid and strict in
application, resulting in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote justice, the Court is empowered to suspend
the rules.[25]
In the interest of substantial justice, we are therefore constrained to remand the case to the Sandiganbayan for
further proceedings.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision dated May 3, 2004 and the resolution dated June 10, 2004
of the Sandiganbayan are hereby SET ASIDE. Let the records of Criminal Case Nos. 26686-98 be REMANDED to the
Sandiganbayan for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.

ANNA LERIMA PATULA,


Petitioner,

G.R. No. 164457


Present:
CORONA,C.J.,Chairperson,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR.,JJ.

-versus-

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Respondent.

Promulgated:

April 11, 2012


x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

In the trial of everycriminal case, a judge must rigidlytest the States evidence of guilt in order to ensure that such
evidenceadheres to the basic rules of admissibility before pronouncing an accused guilty of the crime charged upon such
evidence. Nothing less is demanded of the judge; otherwise, the guarantee of due process of law is nullified.The accused
need notadduceanythingto rebut evidence that is discredited for failing the test.Acquittal should then follow.
Antecedents
Petitioner was charged withestafaunder an informationfiled in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in DumagueteCitythat
averred:
That on or about and during the period from March 16 to 20, 1997 and for sometime prior thereto, in
the City of Dumaguete, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused,
being then a saleswoman of Footluckers Chain of Stores, Inc., Dumaguete City, having collected and
received the total sum of P131,286.97 from several customers of said company under the express
obligation to account for the proceeds of the sales and deliver the collection to the said company, but far
from complying with her obligation and after a reasonable period of time despite repeated demands
therefore, and with intent to defraud the said company, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously fail to deliver the said collection to the said company but instead, did, then and there willfully
unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert the proceeds of the sale to her own use
and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said company in the aforesaid amount of P131,286.97.
Contrary to Art. 315, par 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code. [1]
Petitioner pled not guiltyto the offense charged in the information. At pre-trial, no stipulation of factswas had, and
petitioner did not avail herself of plea bargaining. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
The Prosecutions first witness was Lamberto Go, who testified that he was the branch manager of Footluckers
Chain of Stores, Inc. (Footluckers) in Dumaguete City since October 8, 1994; that petitioner was an employee of
Footluckers, starting as a saleslady in 1996 until she became a sales representative; that as a sales representative she
was authorized to take orders from wholesale customers coming from different towns (like Bacong, Zamboanguita,
Valencia, Lumbangan and Mabinay in Negros Oriental, and Siquijor), and to collect payments from them; that she could
issue and sign official receipts of Footluckers for the payments, which she would then remit; that she would then submit
the receipts for the payments for tallying and reconciliation; that at first her volume of sales was quite high, but later on

dropped, leading him to confront her; that she responded that business was slow; that he summoned the accounting clerk
to verify; that the accounting clerk discovered erasures on some collection receipts; that he decided to subject her to an
audit by company auditor Karen Guivencan; that he learned from a customer of petitioners that the customers
outstanding balance had already been fully paid although that balance appeared unpaid in Footluckers records; and that
one night later on, petitioner and her parents went to his house to deny having misappropriated any money of Footluckers
and to plead for him not to push through with a case against her, promising to settle her account on a monthly basis; and
that she did not settle after that, but stopped reporting to work. [2]
On March 7, 2002, Gos cross examination, re-direct examination and re-crossexamination were completed.
The only other witness for the Prosecution was Karen Guivencan, whomFootluckers employed as its store
auditor since November 16, 1995 until her resignation on March 31, 2001. She declared that Go had requested her to
audit petitioner after some customers had told him that they had already paid their accounts but the office ledger had still
reflected outstandingbalances for them; that she first conducted her audit by going to the customers in places from
Mabinay to Zamboanguitain Negros Oriental, and then in Siquijor; thatshe discovered in the course of her audit that the
amounts appearing on the original copies of receipts in the possession of around 50 customers varied from the amounts
written on the duplicate copies of the receipts petitioner submitted to the office; that upon completing her audit, she
submittedto Go a written report denominated as List of Customers Covered by Saleswoman LERIMA PATULA w/
Differences in Records as per Audit Duly Verified March 16-20, 1997 marked as Exhibit A; and that based on the report,
petitioner had misappropriated the total amount ofP131,286.92.[3]
During Guivencans stint as a witness, the Prosecution marked the ledgers of petitioners various customers
allegedly with discrepancies as Exhibits B to YYand their derivatives, inclusive. Each of the ledgers had a first column that
contained the dates of the entries, a second that identified the invoices by the number, a third that statedthe debit, a fourth
that noted the credit (or the amounts paid), and a fifth that summed the balances (debit minus credit).Only 49 of
theledgerswere formally offered and admitted by the RTC because the 50thledger could no longer be found.
In the course of Guivencansdirect-examination,petitioners counsel interposed a continuing objection on the
ground that the figuresentered in Exhibits B to YYand their derivatives, inclusive, were hearsay because the persons who
had made the entries were not themselves presented in court. [4]With that, petitioners counsel did not anymore crossexamine Guivencan, apparently regarding her testimony to be irrelevant because she thereby tended to prove
falsification, an offense not alleged in the information.
TheProsecution thenformally offered its documentary exhibits, including Exhibits B to YYand their derivatives (like
the originals and duplicates of the receipts supposedly executed and issued by petitioner), inclusive, the confirmation
sheets used by Guivencan in auditing the accounts served by petitioner, and Guivencans so-called Summary (Final
Report) of Discrepancies.[5]
After the Prosecution rested its case, the Defense decided not to file a demurrer to evidence although it had
manifested the intention to do so, and instead rested itscase.The Prosecution and Defense submitted their respective
memoranda, and submitted the case for decision.[6]
On January 28, 2004, the RTC, stating that inasmuch as petitioner had opted not to present evidence for her
defense the Prosecutions evidence remained unrefuted and uncontroverted, [7]rendered its decision finding petitioner
guilty of estafa, to wit:
Wherefore, in the light of the foregoing facts and circumstances, the Court finds ANNA LERIMA
PATULA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa under Art. 315 par (1b) of the Revised
Penal Code and accordingly, she is hereby sentenced to suffer an INDETERMINATE PENALTY of
imprisonment of 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 18 years and 4 months of reclusion
temporal as maximum with all the accessory penalties provided by law and to indemnify private
complainant the amount of P131,286.92 with interest at 12% per annum until fully paid and to pay the
costs.
Pursuant to Sec. 2, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the cash bail put up by
the accused shall be effective only until the promulgation of this judgment.
SO ORDERED.[8]
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, butthe RTC denied the motion on May 7, 2004.[9]
Issues

Insisting that the RTCs judgment grossly violated [her] Constitutional and statutory right to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation against her because, while the charge against her is estafa under Art. 315, par. 1 (b)
of the Revised Penal Code, the evidence presented against her and upon which her conviction was based, was
falsification, an offense not alleged or included in the Information under which she was arraigned and pleaded not guilty,
and that said judgment likewise blatantly ignored and manifestly disregarded the rules on admission of evidence in that
the documentary evidence admitted by the trial court were all private documents, the due execution and authenticity of
which were not proved in accordance with Sec. 20 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, petitioner has directly
appealed to the Court via petition for review on certiorari, positing the following issues, to wit:
1. WHETHER THE ACCUSED OR ANY ACCUSED FOR THAT MATTER , CHARGED
OF ESTAFA UNDER ART. 315, PAR. 1 (B) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE CAN BE CONVICTED
UPON OR BY EVIDENCE OF FALSIFICATION WHICH IS EVEN (SIC) NOT ALLEGED IN THE
INFORMATION.
2. WHETHER THE ACCUSEDS CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY RIGHT TO BE
INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HER WAS VIOLATED
WHEN SHE WAS CONVICTED UPON OR BY EVIDENCE OF FALSIFICATION CONSIDERING THAT
THE CHARGE AGAINST HER IS ESTAFATHROUGH MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER ART. 315, PAR. 1
(B) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE.
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING IN EVIDENCE, EXHIBITS
B TO YY-YY-2, ALL PRIVATE DOCUMENTS, THE DUE EXECUTION AND AUTHENTICITY OF
WHICH WERE NOT PROVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SEC. 20, RULE 132 OF THE SAID REVISED
RULES ON EVIDENCE ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT SAID EXHIBITS TEND TO PROVE
FALSIFICATION BY THE ACCUSED, A CRIME NEITHER CHARGED NOR ALLEGED IN THE
INFORMATION.
4. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING THE TESTIMONY OF
KAREN GUIVENCAN DESPITE THE OBJECTION THAT SAID TESTIMONY WHICH TRIED TO PROVE
THAT THE ACCUSED FALSIFIED EXHIBITS B TO YY-YY-2INCLUSIVE VIOLATED THE
ACCUSEDS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND CAUSE OF THE
ACCUSATION AGAINST HER, FOR BEING IRRELEVANT AND IMMATERIAL SINCE THE CHARGE
AGAINST THE ACCUSED IS ESTAFA UNDER ART. 315, PAR. 1 (B) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE.
5. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE EVIDENCE
OF THE PROSECUTION REMAINS UNREFUTED AND UNCONTROVERTED DESPITE ACCUSEDS
OBJECTION THAT SAID EVIDENCE IS IMMATERIAL AND IRRELEVANT TO THE CRIME CHARGED.
6. WHETHER OR NOT THE DEFENSES NOT CROSS-EXAMINING KAREN GUIVENCAN
FOR THE REASON THAT HER TESTIMONY IS IMMATERIAL AND IRRELEVANT AS IT TENDED TO
PROVE AN OFFENSE NOT CHARGED IN INFORMATION RESULTED IN THE ADMISSION OF SAID
TESTIMONY AS BEING UNREFUTED AND UNCONTROVERTED, AND WHETHER OR NOT THE
DEFENSES OBJECTION WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED WAIVED IF THE DEFENSE CROSSEXAMINED SAID WITNESS.
7. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT EXHIBIT A, WHICH IS
THE LIST OF CUSTOMERS COVERED BY SALESWOMAN LERIMA PATULA WITH DIFFERENCE IN
RECORD IS NOT HEARSAY AND SELF-SERVING.[10]
The foregoing issues are now restatedas follows:
1.

Whether or not the failure of the information for estafa to allege the falsification of the duplicate
receipts issued by petitioner to her customersviolated petitioners right to be informed of the nature
and cause of the accusation;

2.

Whether or not the RTC gravely erred in admitting evidence of the falsification of the duplicate
receiptsdespite the information not alleging the falsification;

3.

Whether or not the ledgers and receipts (Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive) were
admissible as evidence of petitioners guilt for estafaas chargeddespite their not being duly
authenticated;and

4.

Whether or not Guivencanstestimony onthe ledgers and receipts (Exhibits B to YY, and their
derivatives, inclusive) to prove petitioners misappropriation or conversion wasinadmissible for being
hearsay.

Ruling
The petition is meritorious.
I
Failure of information to allege falsification
did not violate petitioners right to be informed
of thenatureand cause of the accusation
Petitioner contends that the RTC grossly violated her Constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause
of the accusation when: (a) it held that the information did not have to allege her falsification of the duplicate receipts, and
(b) when it convicted her of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Codeby relying on the evidence
on falsification.
The contentionof petitioner cannot be sustained.
The Bill of Rights guaranteessome rightsto every person accused of a crime, among them the right to be informed
of the nature and cause of the accusation, viz:
Section 14. (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process
of law.
(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is
proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the
witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the
production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the
absence of the accused provided that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.
Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court, the rule then in effect when the information was filed in the RTC,
contained the following provisions on the proper manner of alleging the nature and cause of the accusation in the
information, to wit:
Section 8.Designation of the offense. Whenever possible, a complaint or information should state
the designation given to the offense by the statute, besides the statement of the acts or omissions
constituting the same, and if there is no such designation, reference should be made to the section or
subsection of the statute punishing it. (7)
Section 9.Cause of accusation. The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense
must be stated in ordinary and concise language without repetition, not necessarily in the terms of the
statute defining the offense, but in such form as is sufficient to enable a person of common understanding
to know what offense is intended to be charged, and enable the court to pronounce proper judgment. (8)
The importance of the proper manner of alleging the nature and cause of the accusation in the informationshould
never be taken for granted by the State. An accused cannot be convicted of an offense that is not clearly charged in the
complaint or information. To convict him of an offense other than that charged in the complaint or information would be
violative of the Constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation. [11] Indeed, the accused
cannot be convicted of a crime, even if duly proven, unless the crime is alleged or necessarily included in the information
filed against him.
The crime of estafacharged against petitioner was defined and penalized by Article 315, paragraph 1 (b), Revised
Penal Code, viz:
Article 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means
mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum
period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such
amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum
period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed
shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may
be imposed under the provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion
temporal, as the case may be.
2nd. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if the amount of the
fraud is over 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos;
3rd. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum
period if such amount is over 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000 pesos; and
4th. By arresto mayor in its maximum period, if such amount does not exceed 200 pesos, provided
that in the four cases mentioned, the fraud be committed by any of the following means:
xxx
1. With

unfaithfulness

or

abuse

of

confidence,

namely:

xxx
(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any
other personal property received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration,
or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same, even
though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having received
such money, goods, or other property.
xxx
The elements of the offense charged were as follows:
(a) That the offender received money, goods or other personal property in trust, or on commission, or for
administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the
same;
(b) That the offender misappropriated or converted such money, goods or other personal property, or
denied his part in its receipt;
(c) That the misappropriation or conversion or denial was to the prejudice of another; and
(d) That the offended party made a demand on the offender for the delivery or return of such money,
goods or other personal property.[12]
According to the theory and proof of the Prosecution, petitioner misappropriated or converted the sums paid by her
customers, and later falsified the duplicates of the receipts before turning such duplicates to her employer to show that the
customers had paid less than the amounts actually reflected on the original receipts. Obviously, she committed the
falsification in order to conceal her misappropriation or conversion. Considering that the falsificationwas not an offense
separate and distinct from theestafacharged against her, the Prosecution could legitimately prove her acts of falsification
as its means of establishing her misappropriation or conversion as an essential ingredient of the crime duly alleged in the
information. In that manner, her right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against her was not
infringed or denied to her.
We consider it inevitable to conclude that the information herein completely pleaded the estafa defined and
penalized under Article 315, paragraph 1 (b), Revised Penal Codewithin the context of the substantive lawand the rules.
Verily, there was no necessity for the information to allege the acts of falsification by petitioner because falsification was
not an element of the estafacharged.
Not surprisingly,the RTC correctly dealt in its decision with petitioners concern thuswise:

In her Memorandum, it is the contention of [the] accused that [the] prosecutions evidence utterly
fails to prove the crime charged. According to the defense, the essence of Karen Guivencans testimony
is that the accused falsified the receipts issued to the customers served by her by changing or altering the
amounts in the duplicates of the receipts and therefore, her testimony is immaterial and irrelevant as the
charge is misappropriation under Art. 315, paragraph (1b) of the Revised Penal Code and there is no
allegation whatsoever of any falsification or alteration of amounts in the [i]nformation under which the
accused was arraigned and pleaded NOT GUILTY. Accused, thus, maintains that the testimony of Karen
Guivencan should therefore not be considered at all as it tended to prove an offense not charged or
included in the [i]nformation and would violate [the] accuseds constitutional and statutory right to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against her. The Court is not in accord with such
posture of the accused.
It would seem that the accused is of the idea that because the crime charged in the
[i]nformation is merely [e]stafa and not [e]stafa [t]hru [f]alsification of documents, the prosecution
could not prove falsification. Such argumentation is not correct. Since the information charges
accused only of misappropriation pursuant to Art. 315, par. (1b) of the Revised [P]enal Code, the
Court holds that there is no necessity of alleging the falsification in the Information as it is not an
element of the crime charged.
Distinction should be made as to when the crimes of Estafa and Falsification will constitute
as one complex crime and when they are considered as two separate offenses. The complex
crime of Estafa Through Falsification of Documents is committed when one has to falsify certain
documents to be able to obtain money or goods from another person. In other words, the
falsification is a necessary means of committing estafa. However, if the falsification is committed
to conceal the misappropriation, two separate offenses of estafa and falsification are committed.
In the instant case, when accused collected payments from the customers, said collection which
was in her possession was at her disposal. The falsified or erroneous entries which she made on
the duplicate copies of the receipts were contrived to conceal some amount of her collection
which she did not remit to the company xxx.[13]
II
Testimonial and documentary evidence,being hearsay,
did not prove petitioners guilt beyond reasonable doubt
Nonetheless, in all criminal prosecutions, the Prosecution bears the burden to establish the guilt of the accused
beyond reasonable doubt. In discharging this burden, the Prosecutions duty is to prove each and every element of the
crime charged in the information to warrant a finding of guilt for that crime or for any other crime necessarily included
therein.[14] The Prosecution must further prove the participation of the accused in the commission of the offense. [15]In doing
all these, the Prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence, and not anchor its success upon the weakness of
the evidence of the accused. The burden of proof placed on the Prosecution arises from the presumption of innocence in
favor of the accused that no less than the Constitution has guaranteed. [16]Conversely, as to his innocence, the accused
has no burden of proof,[17]that he must then be acquitted and set free should the Prosecution not overcome the
presumption of innocence in his favor.In other words, the weakness of the defense put up by the accused is
inconsequential in the proceedings for as long as the Prosecution has not discharged its burden of proof in establishing
the commission of the crime charged and in identifying the accused as the malefactor responsible for it.
Did the Prosecution adduce evidence that proved beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of petitioner for
the estafa charged in the information?
To establish the elements of estafaearlier mentioned, the Prosecution presented the testimonies of Go and
Guivencan, and various documentsconsisting of: (a) the receipts allegedly issued by petitioner to each of her customers
upon their payment, (b) the ledgers listing the accounts pertaining to each customer with the corresponding notations of
the receipt numbers for each of the payments, and (c) the confirmation sheets accomplished by Guivencan herself. [18]The
ledgers and receipts were marked and formally offered as Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive.
On his part, Go essentially described for the trial court the various duties of petitioner as Footluckers sales
representative. On her part, Guivencan conceded having no personal knowledge of the amounts actually received by
petitioner from the customersor remitted by petitioner to Footluckers.This means that persons other than Guivencan
prepared Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives, inclusive,and that Guivencan based her testimony on the entries found in
the receipts supposedly issued by petitioner and in the ledgers held by Footluckers corresponding to each customer, as

well as on the unsworn statements of some of the customers. Accordingly, her being the only witness who testified on the
entries effectively deprived the RTC of the reasonable opportunity to validate and test the veracity and reliability of the
entries as evidence of petitioners misappropriation or conversion through cross-examination by petitioner. The denial of
that opportunity rendered theentire proof of misappropriation or conversion hearsay, and thus unreliable and untrustworthy
for purposes of determining the guilt or innocence of the accused.
To elucidate why the Prosecutions hearsay evidence was unreliable and untrustworthy, and thus devoid of
probative value, reference is made toSection 36 of Rule 130,Rules of Court, a rule that states that a witness can testify
only to those facts that she knows of her personal knowledge; that is, which are derived from her own perception, except
as otherwise provided in the Rules of Court. The personal knowledge of a witness is a substantive prerequisite for
accepting testimonial evidence that establishes the truth of a disputed fact. A witness bereft ofpersonal knowledge of the
disputed fact cannot be called upon for that purpose because her testimony derives its value not from the credit accorded
to her as a witness presently testifying but from the veracity and competency of the extrajudicial source of her information.
In case a witness is permitted to testify based on what she has heard another person say about the facts in
dispute, the person from whom the witness derived the information on the facts in dispute is not in court and under oath to
be examined and cross-examined. The weight of such testimony thendepends not upon theveracity of the witness but
upon the veracity of the other person giving the information to the witness without oath. The information cannot be tested
because the declarant is not standing in court as a witness andcannot, therefore, be cross-examined.
It is apparent, too, that a person who relates a hearsay is not obliged to enter into any particular, to answer any
question, to solve any difficulties, to reconcile any contradictions, to explain any obscurities, to remove any ambiguities;
and that she entrenches herself in the simple assertion that she was told so, and leaves the burden entirely upon the dead
or absent author.[19] Thus, the rule against hearsay testimony rests mainly on the ground that there was no opportunity to
cross-examine the declarant.[20] The testimony may have been given under oath and before a court of justice, but if it is
offered against a party who is afforded no opportunity to cross-examine the witness, it is hearsay just the same. [21]
Moreover, the theory of the hearsay rule is that when a human utterance is offered as evidence of the truth of the
fact asserted, the credit of the assertor becomes the basis of inference, and, therefore, the assertion can be received as
evidence only when made on the witness stand, subject to the test of cross-examination. However, if an extrajudicial
utterance is offered, not as an assertion to prove the matter asserted but without reference to the truth of the matter
asserted, the hearsay rule does not apply. For example, in a slander case, if a prosecution witness testifies that he heard
the accused say that the complainant was a thief, this testimony is admissible not to prove that the complainant was really
a thief, but merely to show that the accused uttered those words. [22] This kind of utterance ishearsay in character but is not
legal hearsay.[23]The distinction is, therefore, between (a) the fact that the statement was made, to which the hearsay rule
does not apply, and (b) the truth of the facts asserted in the statement, to which the hearsay rule applies. [24]
Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court is understandably not the only rule that explains why testimony that is
hearsay should be excluded from consideration. Excluding hearsay also aims to preserve the right of the opposing party
to cross-examine the originaldeclarant claiming to have a direct knowledge of the transaction or occurrence. [25]If hearsay is
allowed, the right stands to be denied because the declarant is not in court. [26]It is then to be stressed that the right to
cross-examine the adverse partys witness,
being the only means of testing the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies, is essential to the administration of
justice.
To address the problem of controlling inadmissible hearsay as evidence to establish the truth in a dispute while
also safeguardinga partys right to cross-examine her adversarys witness,the Rules of Court offers two
solutions. The firstsolution is to require that allthe witnesses in a judicial trial or hearing be examined only in courtunder
oath or affirmation. Section 1, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court formalizes this solution,viz:
Section 1. Examination to be done in open court. - The examination of witnesses presented in a
trial or hearing shall be done in open court, and under oath or affirmation. Unless the witness is
incapacitated to speak, or the question calls for a different mode of answer, the answers of the witness
shall be given orally. (1a)
The secondsolution is to require that all witnesses besubject to the cross-examination by the adverse party. Section 6,
Rule 132 of the Rules of Courtensuresthis solutionthusly:
Section 6. Cross-examination; its purpose and extent. Upon the termination of the direct
examination, the witness may be cross-examined by the adverse party as to any matters stated in the

direct examination, or connected therewith, with sufficient fullness and freedom to test his accuracy and
truthfulness and freedom from interest or bias, or the reverse, and to elicit all important facts bearing upon
the issue. (8a)
Although the second solution traces its existence to a Constitutional precept relevant to criminal cases, i.e., Section 14,
(2), Article III, of the 1987 Constitution,which guarantees that: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall xxx enjoy the
right xxx to meet the witnesses face to face xxx, the rule requiring the cross-examination by the adverse party equally
applies to non-criminal proceedings.
We thus stress that the rule excluding hearsay as evidence is based upon serious concerns about the
trustworthiness and reliability of hearsay evidence due to its not being given under oath or solemn affirmation and due to
its not being subjected to cross-examination by the opposing counsel to test the perception, memory, veracity and
articulateness of the out-of-court declarant or actor upon whose reliability the worth of the out-of-court statement depends.
[27]

Based on the foregoing considerations, Guivencans testimony as well as Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives,
inclusive, must be entirely rejected as proof of petitioners misappropriation or conversion.
III
Lack of their proper authentication rendered
Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives
inadmissible as judicial evidence
Petitioner also contends that the RTC grossly erred in admitting as evidence Exhibits B to YY, and their
derivatives, inclusive, despite their being private documents that were not duly authenticated as required by Section 20,
Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.
Section 19, Rule 132 of the Rules of Courtdistinguishes between a public document and a private document for
the purpose of their presentation in evidence, viz:
Section 19. Classes of documents. For the purpose of their presentation in evidence,
documents are either public or private.
Public documents are:
(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies
and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign country;
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills and testaments, and
(c)
therein.

Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required by law to be entered

All other writings are private.


The nature of documents as either public or private determines how the documents may be presented as
evidence in court. A public document, by virtue of its official or sovereign character, or because it has been acknowledged
before a notary public (except a notarial will) or a competent public official with the formalities required by law, or because
it is a public record of a private writing authorized by law, is self-authenticating and requires no further authentication in
order to be presented as evidence in court.In contrast, a private document is any other writing, deed, or instrument
executed by a private person without the intervention of a notary or other person legally authorized by which some
disposition or agreement is proved or set forth. Lacking the official or sovereign character of a public document, or the
solemnities prescribed by law, a private document requires authentication in the manner allowed by law or the Rules of
Court before its acceptance as evidence in court. The requirement of authentication of a private document is excused only
in four instances, specifically: (a) when the document is an ancient one within the context of Section 21, [28] Rule 132 of
the Rules of Court; (b) when the genuineness and authenticity of an actionable document have not been specifically
denied under oath by the adverse party; [29](c) when thegenuineness and authenticity of the document
have been admitted;[30] or (d) when the document is not being offered as genuine. [31]

There is no question that Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives were private documents because private
individuals executed or generated them for private or business purposes or uses. Considering that none of the exhibits
came under any of the four exceptions, they could not be presented and admitted as evidence against petitioner without
the Prosecution dutifully seeing to their authentication in the manner provided in Section20 of Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court,viz:
Section 20. Proof of private documents. Before any private document offered as authentic is
received in evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be proved either:
(a)

By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or

(b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the maker.


Any other private document need only be identified as that which it is claimed to be.
The Prosecutionattempted to have Go authenticate the signature of petitioner in various receipts, to wit:
ATTY. ABIERA:
Q.
Now, these receipts which you mentioned which do not tally with the original receipts, do you have
copies of these receipts?
A.
Yes, I have a copy of these receipts, but its not now in my possession.
Q.
But when asked to present those receipts before this Honorable Court, can you assure this
(Next Page)
ATTY ABIERA (continuing):
Honorable Court that you will be able to present those receipts?
A.
Yes.
Q.
You are also familiar with the signature of the accused in this case, Anna Lerima Patula?
A.
Yes.
Q.
Why are you familiar with the signature of the accused in this case?
A.
I used to see her signatures in the payroll and in the receipts also.
Q.
Okay, I have here a machine copy of a receipt which we would present this,or offer the same as
soon as the original receipts can be presented, but for purposes only of your testimony,
Im going to point to you a certain signature over this receipt number FLDT96 20441, a
receipt from Cirila Askin, kindly go over the signature and tell the Honorable Court
whether you are familiar with the signature?
A.
Yes, that is her signature.
INTERPRETER:
Witness is pointing to a signature above the printed word collector.
(Next Page)
ATTY. ABIERA:
Q.
Is this the only receipt wherein the name, the signature rather, of the accused in this case
appears?
A.
That is not the only one, there are many receipts.
ATTY. ABIERA:
In order to save time, Your Honor, we will just be presenting the original receipts Your Honor,
because its quite voluminous, so we will just forego with the testimony of the witness but we
will just present the same using the testimony of another witness, for purposes of
identifying the signature of the accused. We will request that this signature which has
been identified to by the witness in this case be marked, Your Honor, with the reservation to
present the original copy and present the same to offer as our exhibits but for the meantime,
this is only for the purposes of recording, Your Honor, which we request the same, the receipt
which has just been identified awhile ago be marked as our Exhibit A You Honor.
COURT:
Mark the receipt as Exhibit A.
ATTY. ABIERA:
And the signature be bracketed and be marked as Exhibit A-1.
(Next Page)

COURT:
Bracket the signature &mark it as Exh. A-1. What is the number of that receipt?
ATTY. ABIERA:
Receipt No. 20441 dated August 4, 1996 the statement that: received from Cirila Askin.[32]
xxx
As the excerpts indicate, Gos attempt at authentication of the signature of petitioner on the receipt with serial
number FLDT96 No. 20441 (a document that was marked as Exhibit A, while the purported signature of petitioner thereon
was marked as Exhibit A-1) immediately fizzled out after the Prosecution admitted that the document was a
meremachinecopy, not the original. Thereafter, as if to soften its failed attempt, the Prosecution expressly promised to
produce at a later date the originalsof the receipt with serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 and other receipts. But that
promise was not even true, because almost in the same breath the Prosecution offered to authenticate the signature of
petitioner on the receiptsthrougha different witness (though then still unnamed). As matters turned out in the end, the
effort to have Go authenticate both themachinecopy of the receiptwith serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 and the signature
of petitioner on that receipt was wasteful because the machine copy was inexplicablyforgotten and was no longer
evenincluded in the Prosecutions Offer of Documentary Evidence.
It is true that the original of the receipt bearing serial number FLDT96 No. 20441was subsequentlypresented as
Exhibit Bthrough Guivencan. However,the Prosecution did not establishthat the signature appearing on Exhibit B was the
same signature that Go had earliersought to identify to be the signature of petitioner (Exhibit A-1) on the machine copy
(Exhibit A). This is borne out by the fact that the Prosecution abandoned Exhibit A as the marking nomenclature for the
machine copyof the receipt bearing serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 for all intents and purposes of this case, and used
the same nomenclature to referinstead toan entirely differentdocument entitled List of Customers covered by ANA
LERIMA PATULA w/difference in Records as per Audit duly verified March 16-20, 1997.
In her case, Guivencans identification of petitioners signature on two receipts based alone on the fact that the
signatures contained the legible family name of Patula was ineffectual, and exposed yet another deep flaw infecting the
documentary evidence against petitioner. Apparently, Guivencan could not honestly identify petitioners signature on the
receipts either because she lacked familiarity with such signature, or because she had not seen petitioner affix her
signature on the receipts, as the following excerpts from her testimony bear out:
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:
Q.
There are two (2) receipts attached here in the confirmation sheet, will you go over these
Miss witness?
A.
This was the last payment which is fully paid by the customer. The other receipt is the one
showing her payment prior to the last payment.
COURT:
Q.
Where did you get those two (2) receipts?
A.
From the customer.
Q.
And who issued those receipts?
A.
The saleswoman, Miss Patula.
ATTY. ZERNA:
We pray, Your Honor, that this receipt identified be marked as Exhibit B-3, receipt number 20441.
(Next Page)
COURT:
Mark it.
ATTY. ZERNA:
The signature of the collector be marked as
Q.
By the way, there is a signature above the name of the collector, are your familiar with that
signature? (shown to witness)
A.
Yes.
Q.
Whose signature is that?
A.
Miss Patula.
Q.
How do you know?
A.
It can be recognized because of the word Patula.
Q.
Are you familiar with her signature?
A.
Yes.

ATTY. ZERNA:
We pray that the signature be bracketed and marked as Exhibit B-3-a
COURT:
Mark it.
ATTY. ZERNA:
The other receipt number 20045 be marked as Exhibit B-4 and the signature as Exhibit B-4-a.
COURT:
Mark it.[33]
xxx
ATTY. ZERNA:
Q. Ms. Witness, here is a receipt colored white, number 26603 issued to one Divina Cadilig. Will you
please identify this receipt if this is the receipt of your office?
A.Yes.
Q.There is a signature over the portion for the collector. Whose signature is this?
A.Ms. Patula.
Q.How do you know that this is her signature?
A.Because we can read the Patula.[34]
We also have similar impressions of lack of proper authentication as to the ledgers the Prosecution presented to
prove the discrepancies between the amountspetitioner hadallegedly received from the customers and the amounts she
had actually remitted to Footluckers. Guivencanexclusively relied on the entries of the unauthenticated ledgersto support
her audit report on petitioners supposed misappropriation or conversion, revealing her lack of independent knowledge of
the veracity of the entries, as the following excerpts of her testimony show:
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:
Q.
What is your basis of saying that your office records showed that this Cecilia Askin has an
account of P10,791.75?
ATTY. DIEZ:
The question answers itself, You Honor, what is the basis, office record.
COURT:
Let the witness answer.
WITNESS:
A.
I made the basis on our ledger in the office. I just copied that and showed it to the customers
for confirmation.
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:
Q.
What about the receipts?
COURT:
Make a follow-up question and what was the result when you copied that amount in the ledger
and you had it confirmed by the customers, what was the result when you had it confirmed by
the customers?
WITNESS:
A.
She has no more balance but in our office she has still a balance of P10,971.75.
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:
Q.
Do you have a-whats the basis of saying that the balance of this customer is still P10,971.75
(Next Page)
ATTY. ZERNA (continuing):
[i]n your office?
COURT:
That was already answered paero, the office has a ledger.
Q.
Now, did you bring the ledger with you?
A.
No, Maam.[35]
(Continuation of the Direct Examination of
Karen Guivencan on August 13, 2002)
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:

Q.
A.

Okay, You said there are discrepancies between the original and the duplicate, will you please
enlighten the Honorable Court on that discrepancy which you said?
Like in this case of Cirila Askin, she has already fully paid. Her ledger shows a zero
balance she has fully paid while in the original

(Next page)
WITNESS (continuing):
[r]eceipt she has a balance of Ten Thousand Seven hundred Ninety-one Pesos and
Seventy-five Centavos (10,791.75).
COURT:
Q.
What about the duplicate receipt, how much is indicated there?
A.
The customer has no duplicate copy because it was already forwarded to the Manila Office.
Q.
What then is your basis in the entries in the ledger showing that it has already a zero balance?
A.
This is the copy of the customer while in the office, in the original receipt she has still a balance.
xxx
ATTY. ZERNA:
The confirmation sheet --COURT:
The confirmation sheet was the one you referred to as the receipt in your earlier testimony? Is
that what you referred to as the receipts, the original receipts?
A.
This is what I copied from the ledger.
Q.
So where was that(sic) original receipt which you said showed that that particular customer still
has a balance of Ten Thousand something?
A.
The receipt is no longer here.
Q.
You mean the entry of that receipt was already entered in the ledger?
A.

Yes.[36]

In the face of the palpable flaws infecting the Prosecutions evidence, it should come as no surprise that petitioners
counsel interposed timely objections. Yet, the RTC mysteriously overruled the objections and allowedthe Prosecutionto
present the unauthenticated ledgers, as follows:
(Continuation of the Direct Examination of
Witness Karen Guivencan on September 11, 2002)
ATTY. ZERNA:
CONTINUATION OF DIRECT-EXAMINATION
Q
Ms. Witness, last time around you were showing us several ledgers. Where is it now?
A
It is here.
Q
Here is a ledger of one Divina Cadilig. This Divina Cadilig, how much is her account in your office?
ATTY. DIEZ:
Your Honor please before the witness will proceed to answer the question, let me interpose
our objection on the ground that this ledger has not been duly identified to by the
person who made the same. This witness will be testifying on hearsay matters
because the supposed ledger was not identified to by the person who made the same.
COURT:
Those ledgers were already presented in the last hearing. I think they were already duly identified
by this witness. As a matter of fact, it was she who brought them to court
(Next Page)
COURT (cont.):
because these were the ledgers on file in their office.
ATTY. DIEZ

That is correct, Your Honor, but the person who made the entries is not this witness, Your
Honor. How do we know that the entries there is (sic) correct on the receipts submitted
to their office.
COURT:
Precisely, she brought along the receipts also to support that. Let the witness answer.
WITNESS:
A
Its the office clerk in-charge.
COURT:
The one who prepared the ledger is the office clerk.
ATTY. ZERNA:
She is an auditor, Your Honor. She has been qualified and she is the auditor of Footluckers.
COURT:
I think, I remember in the last setting also, she testified where those entries were taken. So, you
answer the query of counsel.
xxx
ATTY. DIEZ:
Your Honor please, to avoid delay, may I interpose a continuing objection to the questions
profounded(sic) on those ledgers on the ground that, as I have said, it is hearsay.
COURT:
Okey(sic). Let the continuing objection be noted.
Q
A

(To Witness) The clerk who allegedly was the one who prepared the entries on those
ledgers, is she still connected with Footluckers?
She is no longer connected now, Your Honor,

COURT:
Alright proceed.
(Next Page)
ATTY. ZERNA:
Your Honor, these are entries in the normal course of business. So, exempt from the
hearsay rule.
COURT:
Okey(sic), proceed.[37]
The mystery shrouding the RTCs soft treatment of the Prosecutions flawed presentation was avoidable simply by
the RTC adhering to the instructions of the rules earlier quoted, as well as withSection 22 of Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court,which contains instructions on how to prove the genuineness of a handwriting in a judicial proceeding, as follows:
Section 22. How genuineness of handwriting proved. The handwriting of a person may be proved
by any witness who believes it to be the handwriting of such person because he has seen the person
write, or has seen writing purporting to be his upon which the witness has acted or been
charged, and has thus acquired knowledge of the handwriting of such person. Evidence respecting the
handwriting may also be given by a comparison, made by the witness or the court, with writings
admitted or treated as genuine by the party against whom the evidence is offered, or proved to be
genuine to the satisfaction of the judge. (Emphases supplied)
If it is already clear that Go and Guivencan had not themselves seen the execution or signing of the
documents,the Prosecution surely did not authenticate Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives conformably with the
aforequoted rules. Hence, Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive, were inescapably bereft of probative value as
evidence. That was the onlyfair and just result, as the Court held in Malayan Insurance Co., Inc. v. Philippine Nails and
Wires Corporation:[38]
On the first issue, petitioner Malayan Insurance Co., Inc., contends that Jeanne Kings
testimony was hearsay because she had no personal knowledge of the execution of the
documents supporting respondents cause of action, such as the sales contract, invoice, packing list,
bill of lading, SGS Report, and the Marine Cargo Policy. Petitioner avers that even though King was

personally assigned to handle and monitor the importation of Philippine Nails and Wires Corporation,
herein respondent, this cannot be equated with personal knowledge of the facts which gave rise to
respondents cause of action. Further, petitioner asserts, even though she personally prepared the
summary of weight of steel billets received by respondent, she did not have personal knowledge of the
weight of steel billets actually shipped and delivered.
At the outset, we must stress that respondents cause of action is founded on breach of insurance
contract covering cargo consisting of imported steel billets. To hold petitioner liable, respondent has to
prove, first, its importation of 10,053.400 metric tons of steel billets valued at P67,156,300.00, and
second, the actual steel billets delivered to and received by the importer, namely the respondent. Witness
Jeanne King, who was assigned to handle respondents importations, including their insurance coverage,
has personal knowledge of the volume of steel billets being imported, and therefore competent to testify
thereon. Her testimony is not hearsay, as this doctrine is defined in Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of
Court.However, she is not qualified to testify on the shortage in the delivery of the imported steel
billets. She did not have personal knowledge of the actual steel billets received. Even though she
prepared the summary of the received steel billets, she based the summary only on the receipts
prepared by other persons. Her testimony on steel billets received was hearsay. It has no
probative value even if not objected to at the trial.
On the second issue, petitioner avers that King failed to properly authenticate
respondents documentary evidence. Under Section 20, Rule 132, Rules of Court, before a private
document is admitted in evidence, it must be authenticated either by the person who executed it,
the person before whom its execution was acknowledged, any person who was present and saw it
executed, or who after its execution, saw it and recognized the signatures, or the person to whom
the parties to the instruments had previously confessed execution thereof. In this
case, respondent admits that King was none of the aforementioned persons. She merely made
the summary of the weight of steel billets based on the unauthenticated bill of lading and the SGS
report. Thus, the summary of steel billets actually received had no proven real basis, and Kings
testimony on this point could not be taken at face value.
xxx Under the rules on evidence, documents are either public or private. Private documents are
those that do not fall under any of the enumerations in Section 19, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.Section
20of the same law, in turn, provides that before any private document is received in evidence, its due
execution and authenticity must be proved either by anyone who saw the document executed or written,
or by evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the maker. Here, respondents
documentary exhibits are private documents. They are not among those enumerated in Section
19, thus, their due execution and authenticity need to be proved before they can be admitted
in evidence.With the exception concerning the summary of the weight of the steel billets imported,
respondent presented no supporting evidence concerning their authenticity. Consequently, they
cannot be utilized to prove less of the insured cargo and/or the short delivery of the imported
steel billets. In sum, we find no sufficient competent evidence to prove petitioners liability.
That the Prosecutions evidence was left uncontested because petitioner decided not to subject Guivencan to
cross-examination, and did not tender her contrary evidencewas inconsequential. Although the trial court had overruled
the seasonable objections to Guivencans testimony bypetitioners counsel due to the hearsay character, it could not be
denied thathearsay evidence, whether objected to or not, had no probative value. [39]Verily, the flaws of the Prosecutions
evidence were fundamental and substantive, not merely technical and procedural, and were defects that the adverse
partys waiver of her cross-examination or failure to rebutcould not set right or cure. Nor did the trial courts overruling of
petitioners objections imbue the flawed evidence with any virtue and value.
Curiously, the RTC excepted the entries in the ledgers from the application of the hearsay rule by also
terselystating that the ledgers were prepared in the regular course of business. [40]Seemingly, the RTC applied Section
43, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
Section 43. Entries in the course of business. Entries made at, or near the time of the
transactions to which they refer, by a person deceased, or unable to testify, who was in a position to know
the facts therein stated, may be received as prima facie evidence, if such person made the entries in his
professional capacity or in the performance of duty and in the ordinary or regular course of business or
duty.

This was another grave error of the RTC.The terse yet sweeping mannerof justifying the application of Section 43
was unacceptable due to the need to show the concurrence of the several requisites before entries in the course of
business could be excepted from the hearsay rule. The requisites are as follows:
(a) The person who made the entry must be dead or unable to testify;
(b) The entries were made at or near the time of the transactions to which they refer;
(c) The entrant was in a position to know the facts stated in the entries;
(d) The entries were made in his professional capacity or in the performance of a duty, whether legal,
contractual, moral, or religious;
(e) The entries were made in the ordinary or regular course of business or duty.[41]

The Court has to acquit petitioner for failure of the State to establish her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The Court
reiterates that in the trial of every criminal case, a judge must rigidly test the States evidence of guilt in order to ensure
that such evidence adhered to the basic rules of admissibility before pronouncing an accused guilty of the crime charged
upon such evidence. The failure of the judge to do so herein nullified the guarantee of due of process of law in favor of the
accused, who had no obligation to prove her innocence. Heracquittal should follow.
IV
No reliable evidence on damage
Conformably with finding the evidence of guilt unreliable, the Court declares that the disposition by the RTC
ordering petitioner to indemnify Footluckers in the amount of P131,286.92 with interest of 12% per annum until fully paid
was not yet shown to be factually founded. Yet, she cannot now be absolved of civil liability on that basis. Heracquittal has
to bedeclared as without prejudice to the filing of a civil action against her for the recovery of any amount that she may still
owe to Footluckers.
WHEREFORE, the Court SETS ASIDE ANDREVERSESthe decision convicting ANNA LERIMA
PATULAof estafa as charged, and ACQUITS her for failure of the Prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable
doubt, without prejudice to a civil action brought against her for
the recoveryof any amount still owing in favor of Footluckers Chain of Stores, Inc.
No pronouncement on costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 198554

July 30, 2012

MAJOR GENERAL CARLOS F. GARCIA, AFP (RET.), Petitioner,


vs.
THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, representing the OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT; THE SECRETARY OF NATIONAL
DEFENSE VOLTAIRE T. GAZMIN; THE CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, GEN. EDUARDO
SL. OBAN, JR., and LT. GEN. GAUDENCIO S. PANGILINAN, AFP (RET.), DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF
CORRECTIONS, Respondents.
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
For resolution of this Court is the Petition for Certiorari dated September 29, 2011 under Rule 65, Section 1 of the Revised
Rules of Civil Procedure which seeks to annul and set aside the Confirmation of Sentence dated September 9, 2011,
promulgated by the Office of the President.
The facts, as culled from the records, are the following:
On October 13, 2004, the Provost Martial General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Col. Henry A. Galarpe,
by command of Vice-Admiral De Los Reyes, issued a Restriction to Quarters 1 containing the following:
1. Pursuant to Article of War 70 and the directive of the Acting Chief of Staff, AFP to the undersigned dtd 12
October 2004, you are hereby placed under Restriction to Quarters under guard pending investigation of your
case.
2. You are further advised that you are not allowed to leave your quarters without the expressed permission from
the Acting Chief of Staff, AFP.
3. In case you need immediate medical attention or required by the circumstance to be confined in a hospital, you
shall likewise be under guard.
Thereafter, a Charge Sheet dated October 27, 2004 was filed with the Special General Court Martial NR 2 presided by
Maj. Gen. Emmanuel R. Teodosio, AFP, (Ret.), enumerating the following violations allegedly committed by petitioner:
CHARGE 1: VIOLATION OF THE 96TH ARTICLE OF WAR (CONDUCT UNBECOMING AN OFFICER AND
GENTLEMAN).
SPECIFICATION 1: In that MAJOR GENERAL CARLOS FLORES GARCIA 0-5820 ARMED FORCES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, person subject to military law, did, on or about 16 March 2004, knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully fail to
disclose/declare all his existing assets in his Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth for the year 2003 as
required by Republic Act No. 3019, as amended in relation to Republic Act 6713, such as the following: cash holdings with
the Armed Forces Police Savings and Loans Association, Inc. (AFPSLAI) in the amount of six million five hundred
[thousand] pesos (P6,500,000.00); cash dividend received from AFPSLAI from June 2003 to December 2003 in the
amount of one million three hundred sixty-five thousand pesos (P1,365,000.00); dollar peso deposits with Land Bank of
the Philippines, Allied Banking Corporation, Banco de Oro Universal Bank, Bank of Philippine Islands, United Coconut
Planter's Bank and Planter's Development Bank; motor vehicles registered under his and his wifes names such as 1998
Toyota Hilux Utility Vehicle with Plate Nr. WRY-843, Toyota Car with Plate Nr. PEV-665, Toyota Previa with Plate Nr. UDS195, 1997 Honda Civic Car with Plate Nr. FEC 134, 1997 Mitsubishi L-300 Van with Plate Nr. FDZ 582 and 2001 Toyota
RAV 4 Utility Vehicle with Plate Nr. FEV-498, conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
SPECIFICATION 2: In that MAJOR GENERAL CARLOS FLORES GARCIA 0-5820 ARMED FORCES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, person subject to military law, did, on or about 11 March 2003, knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully fail to
disclose/declare all his existing assets in his Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net worth for the year 2002 as
required by Republic Act No. 3019, as amended in relation to Republic Act 6713, such as the following: his cash holdings
with the Armed Forces Police Savings and Loans Association, Inc. (AFPSLAI) in the amount of six million five hundred
[thousand] pesos (P6,500,000.00); cash dividend received form AFPSLAI in June 2002 and December 2002 in the total

amount of one million four hundred thirty-five thousand pesos (1,435,000.00), dollar and peso deposits with Land Bank of
the Philippines, Allied Banking Corporation, Banco de Oro Universal Bank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, United Coconut
Planter's Bank and Planter's Development Bank; motor vehicles registered under his and his wifes names such as 1998
Toyota Hilux Utility Vehicle with Plate Nr. WRY-843, Toyota Car with Plate Nr. PEV-665, Toyota Previa with Plate Nr. UDS195, 1997 Honda Civic Car with Plate Nr. FEC-134, 1997 Mitsubishi L-300 Van with Plate Nr. FDZ-582, and 2001 Toyota
RAV 4
Utility Vehicle with Plate Nr. FEV-498, conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
SPECIFICATION 3: In that MAJOR GENERAL CARLOS FLORES GARCIA 0-5820 ARMED FORCES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, person subject to military law, did, while in the active military service of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully violate his solemn oath as a military officer to uphold the Constitution and
serve the people with utmost loyalty by acquiring and holding the status of an immigrant/permanent residence of the
United
States of America in violation of the State policy governing public officers, thereby causing dishonor and disrespect to the
military professional and seriously compromises his position as an officer and exhibits him as morally unworthy to remain
in the honorable profession of arms.
CHARGE II: VIOLATION OF THE 97TH ARTICLE OF WAR (CONDUCT PREJUDICIAL TO GOOD ORDER AND
MILITARY DISCIPLINE).
SPECIFICATION 1: In that MAJOR GENERAL CARLOS FLORES GARCIA 0-5820 ARMED FORCES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, person subject to military law, did, on or about 16 March 2004, knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully make
untruthful statements under oath of his true assets in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net worth for the year
2003 as required by Republic Act No. 3019, as amended in relation to Republic Act 6713, conduct prejudicial to good
order and military discipline.
SPECIFICATION NO. 2: In that MAJOR GENERAL CARLOS FLORES GARCIA 0-5820 ARMED FORCES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, person subject to military law, did, on or about 11 March 2003, knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully make
untruthful statements under oath of his true assts in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net worth for the year
2002 as required by Republic Act No. 3019, as amended in relation to Republic Act 6713, conduct prejudicial to good
order and military discipline.
Petitioner, upon arraignment on November 16, 2004, pleaded not guilty on all the charges.
The Office of the Chief of Staff, through a Memorandum 2 dated November 18, 2004, directed the transfer of confinement
of petitioner from his quarters at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo to the ISAFP Detention Center. On the same day,
petitioner, having reached the age of fifty-six (56), compulsorily retired from military service after availing of the provisions
of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1650,3 amending Sections 3 and 5 of P.D. 1638, which establishes a system of
retirement for military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Pursuant to a Resolution4 dated June 1, 2005 of the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan, petitioner was transferred
from the ISAFP Detention Center to the Camp Crame Custodial Detention Center.
After trial, at the Special General Court Martial No. 2, on December 2, 2005, the findings or the After-Trial Report 5of the
same court was read to the petitioner. The report contains the following verdict and sentence:
MGEN CARLOS FLORES GARCIA 0-5820 AFP the court in closed session upon secret written ballot 2/3 of all the
members present at the time the voting was taken concurring the following findings. Finds you:
On Specification 1 of Charge 1 Guilty except the words dollar deposits with Land Bank of the Phils, dollar peso deposits
with Allied Bank, Banco de Oro, Universal Bank, Bank of the Philippine Island, United Coconut Planters Bank and
Planters Development Bank.
On Specification 2 of Charge 1 Guilty except the words dollar deposits with Land Bank of the Phils, dollar peso deposits
with Allied Bank, Banco de Oro, Universal Bank, Bank of the Philippine Island, United Coconut Planters Bank and
Planters Development Bank.

On Specification 3 of Charge 1 Guilty


On Specification 1 of Charge 2 Guilty
On Specification 2 of Charge 2 Guilty
And again in closed session upon secret written ballot 2/3 all the members are present at the time the votes was taken
concurrently sentences you to be dishonorably [discharged] from the service, to forfeit all pay and allowances due and to
become due and to be confined at hard labor at such place the reviewing authority may direct for a period of two (2)
years. So ordered. (Emphases supplied)
Afterwards, in a document6 dated March 27, 2006, the Staff Judge Advocate stated the following recommended action:
IV. RECOMMENDED ACTION:
The court, after evaluating the evidence, found accused: GUILTY on Charge 1, GUILTY on Specification 1 on Charge 1
except the words dollar deposits with Land Bank of the Philippines, dollar and peso deposits with Allied Banking
Corporation, Banco de Oro Universal Bank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, United Coconut Planter's Bank and Planter's
Development Bank; GUILTY on Charge 1, Specification 2 except the words dollar deposits with Land Bank of the
Philippines, dollar and peso deposits with Allied Banking Corporation, Banco de Oro Universal Bank, Bank of the
Philippine Islands, United Coconut Planters Bank and Planter's Development Bank; GUILTY on Specification 3 of Charge
1; GUILTY on Charge 2 and all its specifications. The sentence imposed by the Special GCM is to be dishonorably
discharged from the service, to forfeit all pay and allowances due and to become due; and to be confined at hard labor at
such place the reviewing authority may direct for a period of two (2) years. As it is, the sentence is proper and legal.
Recommend that the sentence be approved. The PNP custodial facility in Camp Crame, Quezon City, is the appropriate
place of confinement. The period of confinement from 18 October 2004 shall be credited in his favor and deducted from
the two (2) years to which the accused was sentenced. Thus, confinement will expire on 18 October 2006. Considering
that the period left not served is less than one (1) year, confinement at the National Penitentiary is no longer appropriate.
4. To carry this recommendation into effect, a draft "ACTION OF THE REVIEWING AUTHORITY" is hereto attached.
In an undated document,7 the AFP Board of Military Review recommended the following action:
8. RECOMMENDED ACTION:
A. Only so much of the sentence as provides for the mandatory penalty of dismissal from the military service and
forfeiture of pay and allowances due and to become due for the offenses of violation of AW 96 (Conduct
Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman) and for violation of AW 97 (Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and
Military Discipline) be imposed upon the Accused.
B. The records of the instant case should be forwarded to the President thru the Chief of Staff and the Secretary
of National Defense, for final review pursuant to AW 47, the Accused herein being a General Officer whose case
needs confirmation by the President.
C. To effectuate the foregoing, attached for CSAFP's signature/approval is a proposed 1st
Indorsement to the President, thru the Secretary of National Defense, recommending approval of the attached prepared
"ACTION OF THE PRESIDENT."
After six (6) years and two (2) months of preventive confinement, on December 16, 2010, petitioner was released from the
Camp Crame Detention Center.8
The Office of the President, or the President as Commander-in-Chief of the AFP and acting as the Confirming Authority
under the Articles of War, confirmed the sentence imposed by the Court Martial against petitioner. The Confirmation of
Sentence,9 reads in part:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, do hereby confirm the sentence imposed by the Court Martial in the case of People of the Philippines versus
Major General Carlos Flores Garcia AFP:

a) To be dishonorable discharged from the service;


b) To forfeit all pay and allowances due and to become due; and
c) To be confined for a period of two (2) years in a penitentiary.
FURTHER, pursuant to the 48th and 49th Articles of War, the sentence on Major General Carlos Flores Garcia AFP shall
not be remitted/mitigated by any previous confinement. Major General Carlos Flores Garcia AFP shall serve the foregoing
sentence effective on this date.
DONE, in the City of Manila, this 9th day of September, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Eleven.
Consequently, on September 15, 2011, respondent Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin, issued a
Memorandum10 to the Chief of Staff, AFP for strict implementation, the Confirmation of Sentence in the Court Martial Case
of People of the Philippines Versus Major General Carlos Flores Garcia AFP.
On September 16, 2011, petitioner was arrested and detained, and continues to be detained at the National Penitentiary,
Maximum Security, Bureau of Corrections, Muntinlupa City.11
Aggrieved, petitioner filed with this Court the present petition for certiorari and petition for habeas corpus, alternatively.
However, this Court, in its Resolution 12 dated October 10, 2011, denied the petition for habeas corpus. Petitioner filed a
motion for reconsideration13 dated November 15, 2011, but was denied14 by this Court on December 12, 2011.
Petitioner enumerates the following grounds to support his petition:
GROUNDS
A.
THE JURISDICTION OF THE GENERAL COURT MARTIAL CEASED IPSO FACTO UPON THE RETIREMENT OF
PETITIONER, FOR WHICH REASON THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION IN
ISSUING THE CONFIRMATION OF SENTENCE, AND PETITIONER'S ARREST AND CONFINEMENT PURSUANT
THERETO IS ILLEGAL, THUS WARRANTING THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS.
B.
EVEN ASSUMING FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT THAT PETITIONER REMAINED AMENABLE TO COURT MARTIAL
JURISDICTION AFTER HIS RETIREMENT, THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN IMPOSING THE SENTENCE OF TWO (2) YEARS CONFINEMENT WITHOUT ANY LEGAL BASIS,
FOR WHICH REASON PETITIONER'S ARREST AND CONFINEMENT IS ILLEGAL, THUS WARRANTING THE WRIT
OF HABEAS CORPUS.
C.
EVEN ASSUMING FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT THAT THE PENALTY OF TWO (2) YEARS CONFINEMENT MAY
BE IMPOSED IN ADDITION TO THE PENALTIES OF DISMISSAL AND FORFEITURE, THE SENTENCE HAD BEEN
FULLY SERVED IN VIEW OF PETITIONER'S PREVENTIVE CONFINEMENT WHICH EXCEEDED THE 2-YEAR
SENTENCE, AND THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT HAS NO AUTHORITY TO REPUDIATE SAID SERVICE OF
SENTENCE, FOR WHICH REASON PETITIONER'S ARREST AND CONFINEMENT DESPITE FULL SERVICE OF
SENTENCE IS ILLEGAL, THUS WARRANTING THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS. 15
In view of the earlier resolution of this Court denying petitioner's petition for habeas corpus, the above grounds are
rendered moot and academic. Thus, the only issue in this petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Civil
Procedure, which was properly filed with this
Court, is whether the Office of the President acted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction, in issuing the Confirmation of Sentence dated September 9, 2011.

In its Comment16 dated October 27, 2011, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) lists the following counter-arguments:
I.
PETITIONER'S DIRECT RECOURSE TO THE HONORABLE COURT VIOLATES THE DOCTRINE OF HIERARCHY OF
COURTS; HENCE, THE PETITION SHOULD BE OUTRIGHTLY DISMISSED.
II.
THE GENERAL COURT MARTIAL RETAINED JURISDICTION OVER PETITIONER DESPITE HIS RETIREMENT
DURING THE PENDENCY OF THE PROCEEDINGS AGAINST HIM SINCE THE SAID TRIBUNAL'S JURISDICTION
HAD ALREADY FULLY ATTACHED PRIOR TO PETITIONER'S RETIREMENT.
III.
THE CONFIRMATION ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT DIRECTING PETITIONER TO BE CONFINED
FOR TWO (2) YEARS IN A PENITENTIARY IS SANCTIONED BY C. A. NO. 408 AND EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 178,
PURSUANT TO THE PRESIDENT'S CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY AS THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE AFP.
IV.
PETITIONER'S RIGHT TO A SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF HIS CASE WAS NOT VIOLATED IN THIS CASE.
V.
THE IMPOSITION OF THE PENALTY OF TWO (2) YEARS CONFINEMENT ON PETITIONER BY THE GCM, AND AS
CONFIRMED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES, IS VALID.
VI.
ACCORDINGLY, PUBLIC RESPONDENTS DID NOT ACT WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN ISSUING AND
IMPLEMENTING THE CONFIRMATION OF SENTENCE.17
Petitioner, in his Reply18 dated January 20, 2012, disagreed with the arguments raised by the OSG due to the following:
(A)
THE CONFIRMATION OF THE COURT MARTIAL SENTENCE IS AN ACT BY THE PRESIDENT, AS THE
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, AND NOT MERELY AS THE HEAD OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. THEREFORE, THE
HONORABLE COURT IS THE ONLY APPROPRIATE COURT WHERE HIS ACT MAY BE IMPUGNED, AND NOT IN THE
LOWER COURTS, I.E., REGIONAL TRIAL COURT ("RTC") OR THE COURT OF APPEALS ("CA"), AS THE OSG
ERRONEOUSLY POSTULATES.
(B)
ALTHOUGH THE GENERAL COURT MARTIAL ("GCM") RETAINED JURISDICTION "OVER THE PERSON" OF
PETITIONER EVEN AFTER HE RETIRED FROM THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES ('AFP"), HOWEVER,
HIS RETIREMENT, CONTRARY TO THE STAND OF THE OSG, SEVERED HIS "JURAL RELATIONSHIP" WITH THE
MILITARY, THEREBY PLACING HIM BEYOND THE SUBSTANTIVE REACH OF THE AFP'S COURT MARTIAL
JURISDICTION.
(C)
UNDER ART. 29, REVISED PENAL CODE ("RPC"), PETITIONER'S COURT MARTIAL SENTENCE OF TWO (2) YEARS
IN CARCERATION HAD ALREADY BEEN SERVED IN FULL SINCE HE HAD ALREADY SUFFERED PREVENTIVE
IMPRISONMENT OF AT LEAST SIX (6) YEARS BEFORE THE SENTENCE COULD BE CONFIRMED, WHICH MEANS
THAT THE PRESIDENT HAD NO MORE JURISDICTION WHEN HE CONFIRMED IT, THEREBY RENDERING THE

"CONFIRMATION OF SENTENCE" A PATENT NULLITY, AND, CONSEQUENTLY, INVALIDATING THE OSG'S


POSITION THAT THE PRESIDENT STILL HAD JURISDICTION WHEN HE CONFIRMED THE SENTENCE. 19
Petitioner raises the issue of the jurisdiction of the General Court Martial to try his case. According to him, the said
jurisdiction ceased ipso facto upon his compulsory retirement. Thus, he insists that the Office of the President had acted
without jurisdiction in issuing the confirmation of his sentence.
This Court finds the above argument bereft of merit.
Article 2 of the Articles of War20 circumscribes the jurisdiction of military law over persons subject thereto, to wit:
Art. 2. Persons Subject to Military Law. - The following persons are subject to these articles and shall be understood as
included in the term "any person subject to military law" or "persons subject to military law," whenever used in these
articles:
(a) All officers and soldiers in the active service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or of the Philippine
Constabulary; all members of the reserve force, from the dates of their call to active duty and while on such active
duty; all trainees undergoing military instructions; and all other persons lawfully called, drafted, or ordered into, or
to duty or for training in, the said service, from the dates they are required by the terms of the call, draft, or order
to obey the same;
(b) Cadets, flying cadets, and probationary second lieutenants;
(c) All retainers to the camp and all persons accompanying or serving with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in
the field in time of war or when martial law is declared though not otherwise subject to these articles;
(d) All persons under sentence adjudged by courts-martial.
(As amended by Republic Acts 242 and 516).
It is indisputable that petitioner was an officer in the active service of the AFP in March 2003 and 2004, when the alleged
violations were committed. The charges were filed on October 27, 2004 and he was arraigned on November 16, 2004.
Clearly, from the time the violations were committed until the time petitioner was arraigned, the General Court Martial had
jurisdiction over the case. Well-settled is the rule that jurisdiction once acquired is not lost upon the instance of the parties
but continues until the case is terminated. 21 Therefore, petitioner's retirement on November 18, 2004 did not divest the
General Court Martial of its jurisdiction. In B/Gen. (Ret.) Francisco V. Gudani, et al. v. Lt./Gen. Generoso Senga, et
al.,22 this Court ruled that:
This point was settled against Gen. Gudani's position in Abadilla v. Ramos, where the Court declared that an officer whose
name was dropped from the roll of officers cannot be considered to be outside the jurisdiction of military authorities when
military justice proceedings were initiated against him before the termination of his service. Once jurisdiction has been
acquired over the officer, it continues until his case is terminated. Thus, the Court held:
The military authorities had jurisdiction over the person of Colonel Abadilla at the time of the alleged offenses. This
jurisdiction having been vested in the military authorities, it is retained up to the end of the proceedings against Colonel
Abadilla. Well-settled is the rule that jurisdiction once acquired is not lost upon the instance of the parties but continues
until the case is terminated.
Citing Colonel Winthrop's treatise on Military Law, the Court further stated:
We have gone through the treatise of Colonel Winthrop and We find the following passage which goes against the
contention of the petitioners, viz.
3. Offenders in general Attaching of jurisdiction. It has further been held, and is now settled law, in regard to military
offenders in general, that if the military jurisdiction has once duly attached to them previous to the date of the termination
of their legal period of service, they may be brought to trial by court-martial after that date, their discharge being
meanwhile withheld. This principle has mostly been applied to cases where the offense was committed just prior to the
end of the term. In such cases the interests of discipline clearly forbid that the offender should go unpunished. It is held
therefore that if before the day on which his service legally terminates and his right to a discharge is complete,

proceedings with a view to trial are commenced against him as by arrest or the service of charges, the military
jurisdiction will fully attach and once attached may be continued by a trial by court-martial ordered and held after the end
of the term of the enlistment of the accused x x x
Thus, military jurisdiction has fully attached to Gen. Gudani inasmuch as both the acts complained of and the initiation of
the proceedings against him occurred before he compulsorily retired on 4 October 2005. We see no reason to unsettle the
Abadilla doctrine. The OSG also points out that under Section 28 of Presidential Decree No. 1638, as amended, "an
officer or enlisted man carried in the retired list of the Armed Forces of the Philippines shall be subject to the Articles of
War x x x" To this citation, petitioners do not offer any response, and in fact have excluded the matter of Gen. Gudani's
retirement as an issue in their subsequent memorandum. 23
It is also apt to mention that under Executive Order No. 178, or the Manual for Courts-Martial, AFP, the jurisdiction of
courts-martial over officers, cadets, soldiers, and other military personnel in the event of discharge or other separation
from the service, and the exceptions thereto, is defined thus:
10. COURT-MARTIAL Jurisdiction in general Termination General Rules The general rule is that court-martial
jurisdiction over officers, cadets, soldiers and others in the military service of the Philippines ceases on discharge or other
separation from such service, and that jurisdiction as to any offense committed during a period of service thus terminated
is not revived by a reentry into the military service.
Exceptions To this general rule there are, however, some exceptions, among them the following:
xxxx
In certain case, where the person's discharge or other separation does not interrupt his status as a person belonging to
the general category of persons subject to military law, court-martial jurisdiction does not terminate. Thus, where an officer
holding a reserve commission is discharged from said commission by reason of acceptance of a commission in the
Regular Force, there being no interval between services under the respective commissions, there is no terminating of the
officer's military status, but merely the accomplishment of a change in his status from that of a reserve to that of a regular
officer, and that court-martial jurisdiction to try him for an offense (striking enlisted men for example) committed prior to the
discharge is not terminated by the discharge. So also, where a dishonorable discharged general prisoner is tried for an
offense committed while a soldier and prior to his dishonorable discharge, such discharge does not terminate his
amenability to trial for the offense. (Emphases supplied.)
Petitioner also asserts that the General Court Martial's continuing jurisdiction over him despite his retirement holds true
only if the charge against him involves fraud, embezzlement or misappropriation of public funds citing this Court's ruling in
De la Paz v. Alcaraz,et al. 24 and Martin v. Ve r.25 However, this is not true. The OSG is correct in stating that in De la
Paz,26 military jurisdiction over the officer who reverted to inactive status was sustained by this Court because the violation
involved misappropriation of public funds committed while he was still in the active military service, while in
Martin,27 military jurisdiction was affirmed because the violation pertained to illegal disposal of military property. Both cited
cases centered on the nature of the offenses committed by the military personnel involved, justifying the exercise of
jurisdiction by the courts-martial. On the other hand, in the present case, the continuing military jurisdiction is based on
prior attachment of jurisdiction on the military court before petitioner's compulsory retirement. This continuing jurisdiction is
provided under Section 1 of P.D. 1850,28 as amended, thus:
Section 1. Court Martial Jurisdiction over Integrated National Police and Members of the Armed Forces. - Any provision of
law to the contrary notwithstanding (a) uniformed members of the Integrated National Police who commit any crime or
offense cognizable by the civil courts shall henceforth be exclusively tried by courts-martial pursuant to and in accordance
with Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended, otherwise known as the Articles of War; (b) all persons subject to military
law under article 2 of the aforecited Articles of War who commit any crime or offense shall be exclusively tried by courtsmartial or their case disposed of under the said Articles of War; Provided, that, in either of the aforementioned situations,
the case shall be disposed of or tried by the proper civil or judicial authorities when court-martial jurisdiction over the
offense has prescribed under Article 38 of Commonwealth Act Numbered 408, as amended, or court-martial jurisdiction
over the person of the accused military or Integrated National Police personnel can no longer be exercised by virtue of
their separation from the active service without jurisdiction having duly attached beforehand unless otherwise provided by
law: Provided further, that the President may, in the interest of justice, order or direct, at any time before arraignment, that
a particular case be tried by the appropriate civil court. (Emphasis supplied.)

Having established the jurisdiction of the General Court Martial over the case and the person of the petitioner, the
President, as Commander-in-Chief, therefore acquired the jurisdiction to confirm petitioner's sentence as mandated under
Article 47 of the Articles of War, which states:
Article 47. Confirmation When Required. - In addition to the approval required by article forty-five, confirmation by the
President is required in the following cases before the sentence of a court-martial is carried into execution, namely:
(a) Any sentence respecting a general officer;
(b) Any sentence extending to the dismissal of an officer except that in time of war a sentence extending to the
dismissal of an officer below the grade of brigadier general may be carried into execution upon confirmation by
the commanding general of the Army in the field;
(c) Any sentence extending to the suspension or dismissal of a cadet, probationary second lieutenant; and
(d) Any sentence of death, except in the case of persons convicted in time of war, of murder, mutiny, desertion, or
as spies, and in such excepted cases of sentence of death may be carried into execution, subject to the
provisions of Article 50, upon confirmation by the commanding general of the Army in the said field.
When the authority competent to confirm the sentence has already acted as the approving authority no additional
confirmation by him is necessary. (As amended by Republic Act No. 242). (Emphasis supplied.)
In connection therewith, petitioner argues that the confirmation issued by the Office of the President directing him to be
confined for two (2) years in the penitentiary had already been fully served in view of his preventive confinement which
had exceeded two (2) years. Therefore, according to him, the Office of the President no longer has the authority to order
his confinement in a penitentiary. On the other hand, the OSG opines that petitioner cannot legally demand the deduction
of his preventive confinement in the service of his imposed two-year confinement in a penitentiary, because unlike our
Revised Penal Code29 which specifically mandates that the period of preventive imprisonment of the accused shall be
deducted from the term of his imprisonment, the Articles of War and/or the Manual for Courts-Martial do not provide for the
same deduction in the execution of the sentence imposed by the General Court Martial as confirmed by the President in
appropriate cases.
On the above matter, this Court finds the argument raised by the OSG unmeritorious and finds logic in the assertion of
petitioner that Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code can be made applicable in the present case.
The OSG maintains that military commissions or tribunals are not courts within the Philippine judicial system, citing
Olaguer, et al. v. Military Commission No. 4,30 hence, they are not expected to apply criminal law concepts in their
implementation and execution of decisions involving the discipline of military personnel. This is misleading. In Olaguer, the
courts referred to were military commissions created under martial law during the term of former President Ferdinand
Marcos and was declared unconstitutional by this Court, while in the present case, the General Court Martial which tried it,
was created under Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended, and remains a valid entity.
In Marcos v. Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, 31 this Court ruled that a court-martial case is a criminal case
and the General Court Martial is a "court" akin to any other courts. In the same case, this Court clarified as to what
constitutes the words "any court" used in Section 17 32 of the 1935 Constitution prohibiting members of Congress to appear
as counsel in any criminal case in which an officer or employee of the Government is accused of an offense committed in
relation to his office. This Court held:
We are of the opinion and therefore hold that it is applicable, because the words "any court" includes the General CourtMartial, and a court-martial case is a criminal case within the meaning of the above quoted provisions of our Constitution.
It is obvious that the words "any court," used in prohibiting members of Congress to appear as counsel "in any criminal
case in which an officer or employee of the Government is accused of an offense committed in relation to his office,"
refers, not only to a civil, but also to a military court or a Court-Martial. Because, in construing a Constitution, "it must be
taken as established that where words are used which have both a restricted and a general meaning, the general must
prevail over the restricted unless the nature of the subject matter of the context clearly indicates that the limited sense is
intended." (11 American Jurisprudence, pp. 680-682).

In the case of Ramon Ruffy vs. Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army,* 43 Off. Gaz., 855, we did not hold that the word
"court" in general used in our Constitution does not include a Court-Martial; what we held is that the words "inferior courts"
used in connection with the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to "review on appeal certiorari or writ of error, as
the law or rules of court may provide, final judgments of inferior courts in all criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is
death or life imprisonment," as provided for in section 2, Article VIII, of the Constitution, do not refer to Courts-Martial or
Military Courts.
Winthrop's Military Law and Precedents, quoted by the petitioners and by this Court in the case of Ramon Ruffy et al vs.
Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army, supra, has to say in this connection the following:
Notwithstanding that the court-martial is only an instrumentality of the executive power having no relation or connection, in
law, with the judicial establishments of the country, it is yet, so far as it is a court at all, and within its field of action, as fully
a court of law and justice as is any civil tribunal. As a court of law, it is bound, like any court, by the fundamental principles
of law, and, in the absence of special provision of the subject in the military code, it observes in general the rules of
evidence as adopted in the common-law courts. As a court of justice, it is required by the terms of its statutory oath, (art.
84.) to adjudicate between the U.S. and the accused "without partiality, favor, or affection," and according, not only to the
laws and customs of the service, but to its "conscience," i.e. its sense of substantial right and justice unaffected by
technicalities. In the words of the Attorney General, court-martial are thus, "in the strictest sense courts of justice.
(Winthrop's Military Law and Precedents, Vol. 1 and 2, 2nd Ed., p. 54.)
In re Bogart, 3 Fed. Cas., 796, 801, citing 6 Op. Attys. Gen. 425, with approval, the court said:
In the language of Attorney General Cushing, a court-martial is a lawful tribunal existing by the same authority that any
other exists by, and the law military is a branch of law as valid as any other, and it differs from the general law of the land
in authority only in this: that it applies to officers and soldiers of the army but not to other members of the body politic, and
that it is limited to breaches of military duty.
And in re Davison, 21 F. 618, 620, it was held:
That court-martial are lawful tribunals existing by the same authority as civil courts of the United States, have the same
plenary jurisdiction in offenses by the law military as the latter courts have in controversies within their cognizance, and in
their special and more limited sphere are entitled to as untrammelled an exercise of their powers.
And lastly, American Jurisprudence says:
SEC. 99. Representation by Counsel. It is the general rule that one accused of the crime has the right to be
represented before the court by counsel, and this is expressly so declared by the statues controlling the procedure in
court-martial. It has been held that a constitutional provision extending that right to one accused in any trial in any court
whatever applies to a court-martial and gives the accused the undeniable right to defend by counsel, and that a courtmartial has no power to refuse an attorney the right to appear before it if he is properly licensed to practice in the courts of
the state. (Citing the case of State ex rel Huffaker vs. Crosby, 24 Nev. 115, 50 Pac. 127; 36 American Jurisprudence 253)
The fact that a judgment of conviction, not of acquittal, rendered by a court-martial must be approved by the reviewing
authority before it can be executed (Article of War 46), does not change or affect the character of a court-martial as a
court. A judgment of the Court of First Instance imposing death penalty must also be approved by the Supreme Court
before it can be executed.
That court-martial cases are criminal cases within the meaning of Section 17, Article VI, of the Constitution is also evident,
because the crimes and misdemeanors forbidden or punished by the Articles of War are offenses against the Republic of
the Philippines. According to section 1,
Rule 106, of the Rules of Court, a criminal action or case is one which involves a wrong or injury done to the Republic, for
the punishment of which the offender is prosecuted in the name of the People of the Philippines; and pursuant to Article of
War 17, "the trial advocate of a general or special court-martial shall prosecute (the accused) in the name of the People of
the Philippines."
Winthtrop, in his well known work "Military Law and Precedents' says the following:

In regard to the class of courts to which it belongs, it is lastly to be noted that the court-martial is strictly a criminal court. It
has no civil jurisdiction whatever; cannot enforce a contract, collect a debt, or award damages in favor of an individual. . . .
Its judgment is a criminal sentence not a civil verdict; its proper function is to award punishment upon the ascertainment of
guilt. (Winthrop's Military Law and Precedents, Vols. 1 & 2, 2nd Ed., p. 55.)
In N. Y. it was held that the term "criminal case," used in the clause, must be allowed some meaning, and none can be
conceived, other than a prosecution for a criminal offense. Ex parte Carter. 66 S. W. 540, 544, 166 No. 604, 57 L.R.A.
654, quoting People vs. Kelly, 24 N.Y. 74; Counselman vs. Hitchcock, 12 S. Ct. 195; 142 U.S. 547, L. Ed. 111o. (Words
and Phrases, Vol. 10, p. 485.)
Besides, that a court-martial is a court, and the prosecution of an accused before it is a criminal and not an administrative
case, and therefore it would be, under certain conditions, a bar to another prosecution of the defendant for the same
offense, because the latter would place the accused in jeopardy, is shown by the decision of the Supreme Court of the
United States in the case of Grafton vs. United States, 206 U. S. 333; 51 Law. Ed., 1088, 1092, in which the following was
held:
If a court-martial has jurisdiction to try an officer or soldier for a crime, its judgment will be accorded the finality and
conclusiveness as to the issues involved which attend the judgments of a civil court in a case of which it may legally take
cognizance; x x x and restricting our decision to the above question of double jeopardy, we judge that, consistently with
the above act of 1902, and for the reasons stated, the plaintiff in error, a soldier in the Army, having been acquitted of the
crime of homicide, alleged to have been committed by him in the Philippines, by a military court of competent jurisdiction,
proceeding under the authority of the United States, could not be subsequently tried for the same offense in a civil court
exercising authority in that territory.33 (Emphasis supplied.)
Hence, as extensively discussed above, the General Court Martial is a court within the strictest sense of the word and acts
as a criminal court. On that premise, certain provisions of the Revised Penal Code, insofar as those that are not provided
in the Articles of War and the Manual for Courts-Martial, can be supplementary. Under Article 10 of the Revised Penal
Code:
Art. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this Code. - Offenses which are or in the future may be punishable under
special laws are not subject to the provisions of this Code. This Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless the
latter should specially provide the contrary.
A special law is defined as a penal law which punishes acts not defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code. 34 In
the present case, petitioner was charged with and convicted of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman (96th
Article of War) and Violation of the 97th Article of War, or Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline, both
of which are not defined and penalized under the Revised Penal Code. The corresponding penalty imposed by the
General Court Martial, which is two (2) years of confinement at hard labor is penal in nature. Therefore, absent any
provision as to the application of a criminal concept in the implementation and execution of the General Court Martial's
decision, the provisions of the Revised Penal Code, specifically Article 29 should be applied. In fact, the deduction of
petitioner's period of confinement to his sentence has been recommended in the Staff Judge Advocate Review, thus:
x x x Recommend that the sentence be approved. The PNP custodial facility in Camp Crame, Quezon City, is the
appropriate place of confinement. The period of confinement from 18 October 2004 shall be credited in his favor and
deducted from the two (2) years to which the accused was sentenced. Thus, confinement will expire on 18 October 2006.
Considering that the period left not served is less than one (1) year, confinement at the National Penitentiary is no longer
appropriate.35 (Emphasis supplied.)
The above was reiterated in the Action of the Reviewing Authority, thus:
In the foregoing General Court-Martial case of People of the Philippines versus MGEN. CARLOS F. GARCIA 0-5820 AFP
(now Retired), the verdict of GUILTY is hereby approved.
The sentence to be dishonorably discharged from the service; to forfeit all pay and allowances due and to become due;
and to be confined at hard labor at such place as the reviewing authority may direct for a period of two (2) years is also
approved.
Considering that the Accused has been in confinement since 18 October 2004, the entire period of his confinement since
18 October 2004 will be credited in his favor. Consequently, his two (2) year sentence of confinement will expire on 18
October 2006.

The proper place of confinement during the remaining unserved portion of his sentence is an official military detention
facility.1wphi1 However, the Accused is presently undergoing trial before the Sandiganbayan which has directed that
custody over him be turned over to the civilian authority and that he be confined in a civilian jail or detention facility
pending the disposition of the case(s) before said Court. For this reason, the Accused shall remain confined at the PNP's
detention facility in Camp Crame, Quezon City. The Armed Forces of the Philippines defers to the civilian authority on this
matter.
Should the Accused be released from confinement upon lawful orders by the Sandiganbayan before the expiration of his
sentence adjudged by the military court, the Provost Marshal General shall immediately take custody over the Accused,
who shall be transferred to and serve the remaining unserved portion thereof at the ISAFP detention facility in Camp
General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.36 (Emphasis supplied.)
Nevertheless, the application of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code in the Articles of War is in accordance with the Equal
Protection Clause of the 1987 Constitution. According to a long line of decisions, equal protection simply requires that all
persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed. 37 It
requires public bodies and institutions to treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner. 38 The purpose of the equal
protection clause is to secure every person within a state's jurisdiction against intentional and arbitrary discrimination,
whether occasioned by the express terms of a statute or by its improper execution through the state's duly-constituted
authorities.39 In other words, the concept of equal justice under the law requires the state to govern impartially, and it may
not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental
objective.40 It, however, does not require the universal application of the laws to all persons or things without distinction.
What it simply requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. Indeed, the equal
protection clause permits classification. Such classification, however, to be valid must pass the test of reasonableness.
The test has four requisites: (1) the classification rests on substantial distinctions; (2) it is germane to the purpose of the
law; (3) it is not limited to existing conditions only; and (4) it applies equally to all members of the same
class.41 "Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification." 42 In the present case, petitioner belongs to the class
of those who have been convicted by any court, thus, he is entitled to the rights accorded to them. Clearly, there is no
substantial distinction between those who are convicted of offenses which are criminal in nature under military courts and
the civil courts. Furthermore, following the same reasoning, petitioner is also entitled to the basic and time-honored
principle that penal statutes are construed strictly against the State and liberally in favor of the accused. 43 It must be
remembered that the provisions of the Articles of War which the petitioner violated are penal in nature.
The OSG is correct when it argued that the power to confirm a sentence of the President, as Commander-in-Chief,
includes the power to approve or disapprove the entire or any part of the sentence given by the court martial. As provided
in Article 48 of the Articles of War:
Article 48. Power Incident to Power to Confirm. - The power to confirm the sentence of a court-martial shall be held to
include:
(a) The power to confirm or disapprove a finding, and to confirm so much only of a finding of guilty of a particular
offense as involves a finding of guilty of a lesser included offense when, in the opinion of the authority having
power to confirm, the evidence of record requires a finding of only the lesser degree of guilt;
(b) The power to confirm or disapprove the whole or any part of the sentence; and
(c) The power to remand a case for rehearing, under the provisions of Article 50. (Emphasis supplied.)
In addition, the President also has the power to mitigate or remit a sentence. Under Article 49 of the Articles of War:
Article 49. Mitigation or Remission of Sentence. - The power to order the execution of the sentence adjudged by a courtmartial shall be held to include, inter alia, the power to mitigate or remit the whole or any part of the sentence.
Any unexpected portion of a sentence adjudged by a court-martial may be mitigated or remitted by the military authority
competent to appoint, for the command, exclusive of penitentiaries and Disciplinary Barracks of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines or Philippine Constabulary, in which the person under sentence is held, a court of the kind that imposed the
sentence, and the same power may be exercised by superior military authority; but no sentence approved or confirmed by
the President shall be remitted or mitigated by any other authority, and no approved sentence of loss of files by an officer
shall be remitted or mitigated by any authority inferior to the President, except as provided in Article 52.

When empowered by the President to do so, the commanding general of the Army in the field or the area commander
may approve or confirm and commute (but not approve or confirm without commuting), mitigate, or remit and then order
executed as commuted, mitigated, or remitted any sentence which under those Articles requires the confirmation of the
President before the same may be executed. (As amended by Republic Act No. 242).
Thus, the power of the President to confirm, mitigate and remit a sentence of erring military personnel is a clear
recognition of the superiority of civilian authority over the military. However, although the law (Articles of War) which
conferred those powers to the President is silent as to the deduction of the period of preventive confinement to the penalty
imposed, as discussed earlier, such is also the right of an accused provided for by Article 29 of the RPC.
As to petitioner's contention that his right to a speedy disposition of his case was violated, this Court finds the same to be
without merit.
No less than our Constitution guarantees the right not just to a speedy trial but to the speedy disposition of
cases.44 However, it needs to be underscored that speedy disposition is a relative and flexible concept. A mere
mathematical reckoning of the time involved is not sufficient. Particular regard must be taken of the facts and
circumstances peculiar to each case.45 In determining whether or not the right to the speedy disposition of cases has been
violated, this Court has laid down the following guidelines: (1) the length of the delay; (2) the reasons for such delay; (3)
the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4) the prejudice caused by the delay.46
In this case, there was no allegation, whatsoever of any delay during the trial. What is being questioned by petitioner is
the delay in the confirmation of sentence by the President. Basically, the case has already been decided by the General
Court Martial and has also been reviewed by the proper reviewing authorities without any delay. The only thing missing
then was the confirmation of sentence by the President. The records do not show that, in those six (6) years from the time
the decision of the General Court Martial was promulgated until the sentence was finally confirmed by the President,
petitioner took any positive action to assert his right to a speedy disposition of his case. This is akin to what happened in
Guerrero v. Court of Appeals,47 where, in spite of the lapse of more than ten years of delay, the Court still held that the
petitioner could not rightfully complain of delay violative of his right to speedy trial or disposition of his case, since he was
part of the reason for the failure of his case to move on towards its ultimate resolution. The Court held, inter alia:
In the case before us, the petitioner merely sat and waited after the case was submitted for resolution in 1979. It was only
in 1989 when the case below was reraffled from the RTC of Caloocan City to the RTC of Navotas-Malabon and only after
respondent trial judge of the latter court ordered on March 14, 1990 the parties to follow-up and complete the transcript of
stenographic notes that matters started to get moving towards a resolution of the case. More importantly, it was only after
the new trial judge reset the retaking of the testimonies to November 9, 1990 because of petitioner's absence during the
original setting on October 24, 1990 that the accused suddenly became zealous of safeguarding his right to speedy trial
and disposition.
xxxx
In the present case, there is no question that petitioner raised the violation against his own right to speedy disposition only
when the respondent trial judge reset the case for rehearing. It is fair to assume that he would have just continued to
sleep on his right a situation amounting to laches had the respondent judge not taken the initiative of determining the
non-completion of the records and of ordering the remedy precisely so he could dispose of the case. The matter could
have taken a different dimension if during all those ten years between 1979 when accused filed his memorandum and
1989 when the case was reraffled, the accused showed signs of asserting his right which was granted him in 1987 when
the new constitution took effect, or at least made some overt act (like a motion for early disposition or a motion to compel
the stenographer to transcribe stenographic notes) that he was not waiving it. As it is, his silence would have to be
interpreted as a waiver of such right.
While this Court recognizes the right to speedy disposition quite distinctly from the right to a speedy trial, and although this
Court has always zealously espoused protection from oppressive and vexatious delays not attributable to the party
involved, at the same time, we hold that a party's individual rights should not work against and preclude the people's
equally important right to public justice. In the instant case, three people died as a result of the crash of the airplane that
the accused was flying. It appears to us that the delay in the disposition of the case prejudiced not just the accused but
the people as well. Since the accused has completely failed to assert his right seasonably and inasmuch as the
respondent judge was not in a position to dispose of the case on the merits due to the absence of factual basis, we hold it
proper and equitable to give the parties fair opportunity to obtain (and the court to dispense) substantial justice in the
premises.48

Time runs against the slothful and those who neglect their rights. 49 In fact, the delay in the confirmation of his sentence
was to his own advantage, because without the confirmation from the President, his sentence cannot be served.
Anent petitioner's other arguments, the same are already rendered moot and academic due to the above
discussions.1wphi1
Grave abuse of discretion means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. It must be grave abuse of discretion, as when the power is exercised
in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and so gross as to
amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation
of law.50 Thus, applying, the earlier disquisitions, this Court finds that the Office of the President did not commit any grave
abuse of discretion in issuing the Confirmation of Sentence in question.
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari dated September 29, 2011 of Major General Carlos F. Garcia, AFP (Ret.) is
hereby DISMISSED. However, applying the provisions of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, the time within which the
petitioner was under preventive confinement should be credited to the sentence confirmed by the Office of the President,
subject to the conditions set forth by the same law.
SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Plaintiff-Appellee,
- versus
JOSEPH ASILAN y TABORNAL,
Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:


This is an appeal filed by the accused-appellant Joseph Asilan y Tabornal (Asilan) to challenge the February 25,
2009 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02686, which affirmed in toto his Murder conviction,
rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 20 of the City of Manila on January 8, 2007, inCriminal Case No. 06243060.
On March 31, 2006, Asilan was charged with the complex crime of Direct Assault with Murder in an Information,
[2]

the pertinent portion of which reads:


That on or about March 27, 2006, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring,
and confederating with another whose true name, real identity and present whereabouts are still unknown
and mutually helping each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault
and use personal violence upon the person of PO1 RANDY ADOVAS y PE-CAAT, a member of the
Philippine National Police assigned at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig, MM, duly qualified,
appointed, and acting as such, and therefore an agent of a person in authority, which fact was known to
the said accused, while PO1 RANDY ADOVAS y PE-CAAT was in the performance of his official duty,
that is, while handcuffing the at-large co-conspirator for illegal possession of deadly weapon, herein
accused suddenly appeared and with intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation, attack, assault,
and use personal violence upon said police officer by then and there repeatedly stabbing the latter with
a fan knife then grabbing his service firearm and shooting him, thereby inflicting upon the said PO1
RANDY ADOVAS y PE-CAAT mortal stab and gunshot wounds which were the direct and immediate
cause of his death thereafter.

Asilan pleaded not guilty upon his arraignment [3] on April 10, 2006. Pre-Trial Conference followed on April 26,
2006, where the counsels agreed to stipulate that Asilan, who was at that time present in the RTC, was the same Asilan
named in the Information, and that the victim, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Randy Adovas y Pe-caat (Adovas), was a police
officer in active duty at the time of his death.[4] Trial on the merits ensued after the termination of the pre-trial conference.
Below is the prosecutions version, as succinctly summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) from
the testimony of Joselito Binosa (Binosa)[5]:
In the evening of March 27, 2006, around 10:00 oclock, Joselito Binosa, a jeepney
barker/carwash boy while chatting with his friends at the El Nio Bakery along Teresa Street, Sta. Mesa,
Manila, heard a gunshot nearby. He then went to the place where the sound came and from where he
was standing which was about three (3) to four (4) meters away, he saw a uniformed policeman, who
seemed to be arresting someone and ordering the latter to lay on the ground.

The police officer pushed the man to the wall, poked the gun on him and was about to handcuff
the latter when another man, herein appellant Asilan arrived, drew something from his back and stabbed
the police officer on his back several times until the latter fell to the ground.
The man who was being arrested by the police officer held the latters hand while he was being
stabbed repeatedly by [Asilan]. The man who was being arrested then took the officers gun and shot the
latter with it.
The fellow barker of Joselito Binosa then threw stones at the malefactors who subsequently left
the place.
Joselito Binosa secretly followed [Asilan] and his companion who walked towards the railroad
track taking Teresa St., Sta. Mesa, Manila. [Asilan] entered an alley and thereafter returned to the place
of the incident. The other man walked on to the tracks.
At that moment, a policeman passed by and Binosa pointed [Asilan] to him. [Asilan] was arrested
and the knife which was used in the
stabbing was confiscated by the policeman.[6] (Citations omitted.)
The above narration of events was largely corroborated by Pol Justine San Diego (San Diego), a student, who
also witnessed the events that transpired on March 27, 2006. [7]
The prosecution also submitted as evidence Medico Legal Report No. M-219-06, [8] accomplished and testified to
by Dr. Vladimir V. Villaseor. The pertinent portion of the Medico Legal Report states:
SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:
Cadaver of Randy Pe-caat Adovas, 29 y/o male, married, a policeman, 167 cm in height and a
resident of 19 West Bank Road, Floodway, Rosario Pasig City.
PURPOSE OF LABORATORY EXAMINATION:
To determine the cause of death.
FINDINGS:
Body belongs to a fairly nourished, fairly developed male cadaver in rigor mortis with postmortem
lividity at the dependent portions of the body. Conjunctivae, lips and nailbeds are pale. With exploratory
laparotomy incision at the anterior abdominal wall, measuring 29 cm long, along the anterior midline.
Trunk & Upper Extremity:
1)
Stab wound, right axillary region, measuring 6 x 4 cm, 16 cm from the anterior midline.
2)
Stab wound, right hypochondriac region, measuring 2.3 x 0.7 cm, 2cm right of the anterior
midline, 9 cm deep, directed posteriorwards, downwards & medialwards, lacerating the right lobe of the
liver.
-overCONCLUSION:
Cause of death is MULTIPLE STAB WOUNDS & GUNSHOT WOUND OF THE TRUNK AND
UPPER EXTREMITIES.

Meanwhile, Asilan, in his Appellants Brief,[9] summed up his defense as follows:


On March 27, 2006, at around 10:00 oclock p.m. JOSEPH ASILAN [Asilan] was on board a
passenger jeepney on his way to Mandaluyong. As he had to transfer to another jeepney, [Asilan]
alighted at Old Sta. Mesa and waited for a jeep bound for Pasig City. Suddenly, three (3) motorcycles
stopped in front of him, the passengers of which approached and frisked him. He was thereafter brought

to the police station and in a small room, he was forced to admit to the stabbing of a police
officer. Thereafter, he was brought to a nearby hospital and was medically examined. Then he was again
taken to the police station where he was confronted with the knife which was allegedly used in stabbing
PO1 Adovas. He was mauled for refusing to confess to the stabbing of the said policeman. Afterwards,
he was presented to alleged eyewitnesses. However, the supposed eyewitnesses were not the ones
presented by the prosecution in court.[10]

The RTC convicted Asilan of Murder in its Decision [11] dated January 8, 2007, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the Prosecution to have failed to establish
and prove beyond reasonable doubt the offense of direct assault. Where a complex crime is charged and
the evidence fails to support the charge as to one of the component, the accused can be convicted of the
other (People v. Roma, 374 SCRA 457).
WHEREFORE, his guilt having been proven beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of murder
with the qualifying circumstance of treachery, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Joseph Asilan
y Tabornal GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and is hereby imposed the penalty of
reclusion perpetua. He is hereby ordered to pay the heirs of PO1 Randy Adovas y Pe-Caat the sum
of 84,224.00 as actual damages, 25,000.00 for moral damages and 50,000.00 civil indemnity.[12]

The RTC, in acquitting Asilan of Direct Assault, held that while it was confirmed that Adovas was in his police
uniform at the time of his death, the prosecution failed to establish convincingly that he was in the performance of his duty
when he was assaulted by Asilan. The RTC explained that there was no evidence to show that Adovas was arresting
somebody at the time Asilan stabbed him.[13] The RTC added:
What the framers of the law wanted was to know the reason of the assault upon a person in
authority or his agents. The prosecution failed to show why the victim was pushing the man on the wall or
why he poked his gun at the latter. That the victim was assaulted while in the performance of his duty or
by reason thereof was not conclusively proven.[14]
In convicting Asilan of Murder, the RTC held that his defense of denial could not be accorded more weight than
the categorical assertions of the witnesses who positively identified him as the man who suddenly appeared from behind
[Adovas] and stabbed the latter repeatedly. [15] Moreover, Asilan admitted that he was at the scene of the crime when he
was arrested, that he could not give any reason for the witnesses to falsely testify against him, and that he did not know
them.
Anent the aggravating circumstances, the RTC found that the killing of Adovas was proven to be attended with
treachery since Adovas was attacked from behind, depriving him of the opportunity to defend himself. [16] However, the
RTC declared that the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation could not be appreciated x x x absent evidence
that [Asilan] planned or prepared to kill [Adovas] or of the time when the plot was conceived. [17]
As to the damages, the RTC found the prosecutions evidence, which consisted of Adovass wifes testimony, and
the receipts of the expenses she incurred in Adovass hospitalization, wake, and burial, sufficient to award moral and
actual damages.
On January 19, 2007, Asilan appealed[18] his conviction to the Court of Appeals, mainly on the ground that the
prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He subsequently filed a Motion to Litigate as a
Pauper, [19] which on February 28, 2007, was granted in an Order[20] by the RTC.
On February 25, 2009, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision, affirming in toto the RTCs ruling.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision dated 08 January 2007 of the Court a
quo in Criminal Case No. 06-243060, finding Accused-Appellant JOSEPH ASILAN Y TABORNAL guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of Murder, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.[21]

The Court of Appeals rejected Asilans arguments and averred that his denial and bare attempt at exculpation by
trying to destroy the credibility of the candid, categorical, and trustworthy testimonies of the witnesses must fail.
Aggrieved, Asilan is now appealing[22] his case to this Court, with the same assignment of errors he posited before
the Court of Appeals:
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE OFFENSE CHARGED BY RELYING ON THE INCONSISTENT AND
UNNATURAL TESTIMONY OF THE ALLEGED EYEWITNESS.
II
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF THE
CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.
III
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF
TREACHERY.[23]
Discussion
Asilan was convicted of the crime of Murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code:
Art. 248. Murder. Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill
another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death, if committed with
any of the following attendant circumstances:
1.
2.

With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or
employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity;
In consideration of a price, reward, or promise;

3.

By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment


or assault upon a railroad, fall of an airship, by means of motor vehicles, or with the use of
any other means involving great waste and ruin;

4.

On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an


earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic, or any other public
calamity;

5.
6.

With evident premeditation;


With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, or
outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse.

Asilan claims that the testimonies of the witnesses were not only filled with inconsistencies, they were also
incredible for being contrary to the common experience and observation that mankind can approve as probable under the
circumstance.[24]
Asilan insists that the testimony of Binosa should not be given credence as he was selective in his recollection of
the events. Asilan claimed that Binosa seemed to have recalled more details on cross-examination, thus improving on
the version he gave during his direct examination. Asilan further claims that Binosas suggestion that Asilan returned to

the scene of the crime after he committed the alleged crime is very unlikely. Asilan avers that San Diegos testimony was
likewise not credible as it was clearly only a more refined version of Binosas account of the events. Moreover, Asilan
says that San Diegos testimony is too good to be true as he is unlikely to have a detailed recollection of an event, which
according to him happened within a span of two minutes. [25]
Credibility of Witnesses
It is a well-settled rule that the assessment of the trial court regarding the credibility of witnesses will generally not
be disturbed on appeal. The rationale for this doctrine is that the trial court is in a better position to decide the issue, as it
heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. [26] The only
exceptions to this rule are the following:
1. When patent inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses are ignored by the trial court; or
2. When the conclusions arrived at are clearly unsupported by the evidence. [27]
This Court sees no reason to apply the above exceptions and disturb the findings of the RTC, which were affirmed
by the Court of Appeals.
Our perusal of the records showed that the RTC was vigilant in its duty to ascertain the truth. The RTC itself
propounded clarificatory questions to Binosa and San Diego while they were testifying. At the end of the trial, the RTC
found these witnesses credible, and believed their eyewitness accounts because they were categorical in their
identification of Asilan as one of Adovass assailants. The RTC also pointed out that it could not find any dubious reason
for Binosa and San Diego to falsely implicate Asilan in a heinous crime. [28]
Alleged Inconsistencies
The alleged inconsistency in Binosas testimony does not render his testimony fictitious. The fact that he was able
to provide more details of the events only during cross-examination is not unusual, and on the contrary tends to buttress,
rather than weaken, his credibility, since it shows that he was neither coached nor were his answers contrived. [29] After all,
[w]itnesses are not expected to remember every single detail of an incident with perfect or total recall. [30]
As for San Diegos testimony, it is not unnatural for him to have a detailed recollection of the incident. Different
persons have different reactions to similar situations. There is no typical reaction to a sudden occurrence.[31] It is worthy
to note that San Diego was only sixteen years old when he witnessed the stabbing of Adovas. It was his first time to
witness a person being stabbed right before his very eyes. He testified that three months after that night, the events were
still vividly imprinted in his mind. [32] It is thus not improbable that he could, with certainty, identify Asilan as the man who
stabbed Adovas that fateful night.
Likewise, our scrutiny of the so-called inconsistencies relied upon by Asilan showed that they only referred to minor
details, which did not affect the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. [33] In People v. Albarido,[34] this Court said:
It is elementary in the rule of evidence that inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses
with respect to minor details and collateral matters do not affect the substance of their declaration nor the
veracity or weight of their testimony. In fact, these minor inconsistencies enhance the credibility of the
witnesses, for they remove any suspicion that their testimonies were contrived or rehearsed. In People
vs. Maglente, this Court ruled that inconsistencies in details which are irrelevant to the elements of the
crime are not grounds for acquittal. x x x. [35]

Credibility of the evidence


Asilan further asseverates that it is perplexing how none of the witnesses, who were present during the incident,
warned Adovas of the impending danger to his life. He contends that for evidence to be believed, it must not only
proceed from the mouth of a credible witness, but must be credible in itself such as the common experience and
observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstance. [36]

This Court would like to reiterate that no standard form of behavior is expected of an individual who witnesses
something shocking or gruesome like murder. This is especially true when the assailant is near. It is not unusual that
some people would feel reluctant in getting involved in a criminal incident. [37]
In the same manner, it is also not surprising that Asilan returned to the scene of the crime after stabbing
Adovas. His failure to flee and the apparent normalcy of his behavior subsequent to the commission of the crime do not
imply his innocence.[38] This Court, elucidating on this point, declared:
Flight is indicative of guilt, but its converse is not necessarily true. Culprits behave differently and even
erratically in externalizing and manifesting their guilt. Some may escape or flee -- a circumstance strongly
illustrative of guilt -- while others may remain in the same vicinity so as to create a semblance of
regularity, thereby avoiding suspicion from other members of the community.[39]
Defense of Denial
Unfortunately, Asilans bare denial, when juxtaposed with the prosecution witnesses positive declarations, is not
worthy of credence. Denial, which is the usual refuge of offenders, is an inherently weak defense, and must be buttressed
by other persuasive evidence of non-culpability to merit credibility. The defense of denial fails even more when the
assailant, as in this case, was positively identified by credible witnesses, against whom no ulterior motive could be
ascribed.[40]
Asilan not only admitted that he was at the scene of the crime when he was arrested by the police authorities, he
also admitted that he did not know any of the prosecution witnesses prior to his trial. Moreover, he had filed no case
against the police officers whom he accused of mauling him to make him admit to the stabbing of Adovas. Asilans selfserving statements deserve no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the testimony of the
witnesses who testified on positive points.[41]
Qualifying Circumstance of Treachery
Asilan pleads that treachery cannot be appreciated in the present case as the prosecution failed to establish that he
had consciously or deliberately adopted or chosen the mode of attack employed upon Adovas to deprive him of an
opportunity to defend himself or retaliate. Asilan argues that mere suddenness of the attack is not enough to constitute
treachery. He further posits that while it may be true that he allegedly came from behind, the mode of attack could have
occurred in a spur of the moment.[42]
The RTC correctly appreciated the qualifying circumstance of treachery in the killing of Adovas.
The prosecution was able to sufficiently establish the attendance of treachery in the case at bar. It is basic in our
penal law that treachery is present when the offender employs means, methods or forms which tend directly and
especially to insure the execution of the crime, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party
might make.[43] In People v. Tan,[44] this Court expounded on the concept of treachery as follows:
The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack, without the slightest provocation
on the part of the person attacked. Treachery is present when the offender commits any of the crimes
against persons, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof, which tend directly and
especially to insure its execution, without risk arising from the defense which the offended party might
make. In the case at bar, the attack on Magdalino Olos was treacherous, because he was caught off
guard and was therefore unable to defend himself, as testified to by the prosecution witnesses and as
indicated by the wounds inflicted on him.[45]
Both eyewitnesses testified on how Asilan attacked Adovas from behind. Adovas could not have defended
himself because Asilan stabbed him at his back repeatedly sansprovocation or warning. The deciding factor is that
Asilans execution of his attack made it impossible for Adovas to defend himself or retaliate. [46]

Sufficiency of the Information


Asilan also claims that his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him
was infringed when he was convicted for Murder, since the manner by which he carried out the killing with the qualifying
circumstance of treachery was not alleged in the Information against him. Thus, he asserts, he was effectively only
charged with Homicide.[47]
This Court does not find merit in Asilans contention that he cannot be convicted of murder because his acts of
treachery were not alleged with specificity in the Information. Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure
states:
Sec. 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. A complaint or information is sufficient if it
states the name of the accused; the designation of the offense by the statute; the acts or omissions
complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate time of the
commission of the offense; and the place wherein the offense was committed.
When the offense is committed by more than one person, all of them shall be included in the
complaint or information.
This Court held that [u]nder Section 6, the Information is sufficient if it contains the full name of the accused, the
designation of the offense given by the statute, the acts or omissions constituting the offense, the name of the offended
party, the approximate date, and the place of the offense. [48] The Information herein complied with these
conditions. Contrary to Asilans contention, the qualifying circumstance of treachery was specifically alleged in the
Information. The rule is that qualifying circumstances must be properly pleaded in the Information in order not to violate
the accuseds constitutional right to be properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. [49] Asilan
never claimed that he was deprived of his right to be fully apprised of the nature of the charges against him due to the
insufficiency of the Information.
This Court completely agrees with the Court of Appeals pronouncement that since treachery was correctly
alleged in the Information and duly established by the prosecution, x x x [Asilan]s conviction for the crime of murder is
proper.[50]
In any case, it is now too late for Asilan to assail the sufficiency of the Information on the ground that there was
failure to specifically allege therein how treachery was carried out. Section 9, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 9. Failure to move to quash or to allege any ground therefor.- The failure of the accused to
assert any ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or information, either because
he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said motion, shall be deemed a waiver of
any objections except those based on the grounds provided for in paragraphs (a), (b), (g), and (i) of
section 3 of this Rule.
Moreover, in People v. Candaza,[51] this Court held that [a]n Information which lacks essential allegations may still
sustain a conviction when the accused fails to object to its sufficiency during the trial, and the deficiency was cured by
competent evidence presented therein.[52] In this case, Asilan not only failed to question the sufficiency of the Information
at any time during the pendency of his case before the RTC, he also allowed the prosecution to present evidence, proving
the elements of treachery in the commission of the offense. Asilan is thus deemed to have waived any objections against
the sufficiency of the Information.[53]
Pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence, [54] this Court is increasing the award of civil indemnity from Fifty Thousand
Pesos (50,000.00) to Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (75,000.00), and the moral damages from Twenty-Five Thousand
Pesos (25,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (50,000.00). Moreover, in view of the presence of the qualifying
circumstance of treachery, an additional award of Thirty Thousand Pesos ( 30,000.00), as exemplary damages, in
accordance with Article 2230 of the Civil Code,[55]should be awarded to the heirs of Adovas. [56]
As to actual damages, Adovass widow, Irene Adovas, presented the receipts showing that she paid 25,224.00
to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Inc., as hospital expenses, [57] 35,000.00 to Marulas Memorial Homes, [58] and
20,000.00 to Funeraria Saranay as funeral expenses,[59] or a total of 80,224.00.

Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals failed to consider that under Article 2206 of the Civil Code, Asilan is also
liable for the loss of the earning capacity of Adovas, and such indemnity should be paid to his heirs [60]:
Art. 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least
three thousand pesos, even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition:
(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity
shall be paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in every case be assessed and awarded by the
court, unless the deceased on account of permanent physical disability not caused by the defendant, had
no earning capacity at the time of his death;
Irene Adovas testified[61] on the amount her husband received as police officer and presented documentary
evidence to show that Adovas, who was only 29 years old when he died, [62] earned 8,605.00 a month[63] at the time of
his death.
The following are the factors in computing the amount of damages recoverable for the loss of earning capacity of
the deceased:
1) The number of years on the basis of which the damages shall be computed. This is based on the formula (2/3
x 80 age of the deceased at the time of his death = life expectancy), which is adopted from the American Expectancy
Table of Mortality; and
2) The rate at which the losses sustained by the heirs of the deceased should be fixed. [64]
Net income is arrived at by deducting the amount of the victims living expenses from the amount of his gross
income.[65] The loss of earning capacity of Asilan is thus computed as follows:
Net Earning Capacity = life expectancy x [gross annual income living expenses] [66]
= 2/3 [80-age at time of death] x [gross annual income 50% of gross annual income]
= 2/3 [80-29] x [103,260.00 51,630.00]
= 34 x 51,630.00
= 1,755,420.00
WHEREFORE, the decision dated February 25, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02686 is
hereby AFFIRMED insofar as it found accused-appellant Joseph Asilan y Tabornal guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of MURDER and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, with MODIFICATION as to the damages. Asilan
is hereby ordered to indemnify the heirs of Randy Adovas y Pe-caat the following: (a) 75,000.00 as civil indemnity; (b)
50,000.00 as moral damages; (c) 30,000.00 as exemplary damages; (d) 80,224.00 as actual damages; (e)
1,755,420.00 as loss of earning capacity; and (f) interest on all damages awarded at the rate of 6% per annum from the
date of finality of this judgment.
SO ORDERED.