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Mercado v People 2002

Petitioners: Marvin Mercado


Respondents: People of the Philippines
Bellosillo, J
Rattio and Obiter Dictum
SUMMARY: Mercado was sentenced to 17y,4 mos to 30years because he was found guilty of
carnapping. He assailed the CAs decision as it should have been brought to SC as the prison
term is that of reclusion perpetua and that CA erred in the ruling. SC affirmed and reduced the
sentence (17y, 4mos to 30 years 17y, 4mos, to 22 years) as the carnapping was NOT
committed with violence or intimidation of a person.
FACTS:

May 26, 1996: Leonardo Bhagwani parked Isuzu tropper in front of his house.
May 27: reported the loss to Makati Police Station
May 31: Bhagwanis neighbor, Alvarez, disclosed he learned from his daughter that the
accused stole the trooper
o Evening: Cummins, Flores, Bertumen and Flores admitted they took the vehicle
and used it to go to Laguna, La union and Baguio
o They alleged that Bhagwani knew of this and even lent him the keys to the
trooper
Marvin Mercado (w Rommel Flores, Michael Cummins, Mark Vasques and Enile
Bertumen) was charged with and convicted of violation of RA 6538 or The AntiCarnapping Act of 1972
Prison term: (reclusion temporal)
o MIN:12 years, one day
o MAX: 17 years, 4 months
Court of Appeals increased prison term of 17 years, 4 months to 30 years
Mercado raised that 30 years is already reclusion perpetua (according to Sec 13, Rule
124 of Criminal Procedure), thus he argues that the case should be brought to the
SC as they are the court that hears cases for reclusion perpetua, death or life
imprisonment
SC and Court of appeals denied. The penalty must be at least reclusion perpetua for
Sec 13 rule 124 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure to be applicable.

ISSUE/S:

WoN CA erred in its ruling


No. CA followed People v Omotoy. n Footnote 16 of the decision, it was observed -

The appeal was taken directly to this Tribunal for the reason no doubt that the penalty
of reclusion perpetua is involved, albeit joined to prision mayor in its maximum period in
accordance with the Indeterminate Sentence Law. Actually, the appeal should have gone
to the Court of Appeals since strictly speaking, this Court entertains appeals in
criminal cases only where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher (Sec.
5[2](d), Article VIII, Constitution), i.e., the penalty is at least reclusion perpetua (or life
imprisonment, in special offenses). The lapse will be overlooked so as not to delay the
disposition of the case. It is of slight nature, the penalty of reclusion perpetua having in fact
been imposed on the accused, and causes no prejudice whatsoever to any party.
The jurisprudence that was followed however was not in the decision or the body itself. It
was in the footnotes. SC held that: The substance of the Footnote may not be the ratio
decidendi of the case, but it still constitutes an important part of the decision since it
enunciates a fundamental procedural rule in the conduct of appeals. That this rule is stated
in a Footnote to a decision is of no consequence as it is merely a matter of style.
Furthermore the act of carnapping was not included in the Penal Code but in a special
RA, RA 6538, which had its own prescribed sentence
NOTES:
Sec. 13. Quorum of the court; certification of appeal of cases to Supreme Court. -x x x
Whenever the Court of Appeals finds that the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life
imprisonment should be imposed in a case, the court, after discussion of the evidence
and the law involved, shall render judgment imposing the penalty of death, reclusion
perpetua, or life imprisonment as the circumstances warrant. However, it shall refrain
from entering the judgment and forthwith certify the case and elevate the entire record
thereof to the Supreme Court for review.
[3]

Sec. 14. Penalty for Carnapping. - Any person who is found guilty of carnapping, as this term
is defined in Section Two of this Act, shall irrespective of the value of the motor vehicle
taken, be punished by imprisonment for not less than fourteen years and eight months
and not more than seventeen years and four months, when the carnapping is committed
without violence or intimidation of persons, or force upon things; and by imprisonment for
not less than seventeen years and four months and not more than thirty years, when the
carnapping is committed by means of violence against or intimidation of any person, or
force upon things; and the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death shall be imposed when
the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped motor vehicle is killed or raped in the
course of the commission of the carnapping or on the occasion thereof (as amended by
RA 7659).