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THIRD DIVISION Not long after, SPOI Jose Bangcado and SPOI Rivera Dayap, members of the La Trinidad
[G.R. No. 138553. June 30, 2005] Police under Inspector Leygo were conducting patrol aboard a police car somewhere at
ENRIQUE TOTOY RIVERA Y DE GUZMAN, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE Km. 6, La Trinidad, Benguet when they observed a truck loaded with chicken dung
PHILIPPINES, respondent. proceeding towards Shilan, La Trinidad, Benguet. Having in mind the instructions of La
Trinidad Mayor Edna C. Tabanda and their Commanding Officer Inspector Leygo to
DECISION Implement Ordinance No. I-91, the two policemen followed and stopped the truck at Cruz,
La Trinidad, Benguet. Immediately they called Inspector Leygo on the radio and informed
GARCIA, J.: him that they stopped a truck carrying chicken dung. Inspector Leygo ordered them to
restrain the truck, as he would be proceeding to the area.
Assailed and sought to be set aside in this petition for review on certiorari are the
[1] [2]
October 16, 1998 decision and April 5, 1999 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA- Knowing that the truck being restrained by the two policemen was the same truck which
G.R. CR No. 17284, which respectively affirmed in toto an earlier decision of the Regional they had escorted earlier from Shilan, La Trinidad, Benguet, Inspector Leygo felt ignored
Trial Court of La Trinidad, Benguet convicting herein petitioner Enrique Totoy Rivera of the and insulted. He immediately called SPO4 Justino Tiwtiwa, SPO1 Baldwin Ngolab and
crime of direct assault, and denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. SPO1 Joseph Basquial and the group sped to Cruz, La Trinidad, Benguet.

On May 6, 1993, in the Regional Trial Court at La Trinidad, Benguet an


[3] Meanwhile, back at Cruz, La Trinidad, Benguet, the accused arrived before the group of
information for direct assault was filed against petitioner, allegedly committed, as follows:
Inspector Leygo did and ordered the driver not to obey the policemen but instead obey
th
him, as he (accused) was the boss. The truck driver followed the accuseds order and
That on or about the 20 day of March, 1993, at Tomay, Shilan, Municipality of La drove the truck towards Shilan, La Trinidad, Benguet with the accused following closely
Trinidad, Province of Benguet, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable behind in his vehicle.
Court, the above-named accused, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
attack, employ force and seriously resist one Lt. EDWARD M. LEYGO, knowing him to be
Inspector Leygo and his group arrived in time to see the truck pulling away and so they
a policeman, by then and there challenging the latter to a fistfight and thereafter grappling
gave chase. The police were able to overtake and stop the truck at Dengsi, Tomay, La
and hitting the said policeman on his face, thus injuring him in the process while the latter
Trinidad, Benguet. Inspector Leygo confronted the truck driver and asked him why he still
was actually engaged in the performance of his official duties.
insisted on proceeding to Shilan to unload chicken manure despite the fact that he was
ordered to go back earlier in the evening. The truck driver stated that he was just following
Contrary to law. the orders of the accused. Immediately, Inspector Leygo turned around to see the
accused who had at that time alighted from his vehicle behind the truck. Inspector Leygo
On arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of Not Guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued. asked the accused why he insisted on defying the ban on the unloading and loading of
chicken manure. Instead of answering however, the accused pointed a finger on the
To prove its case, the prosecution presented in evidence the testimonies of the policeman and uttered words like Babalian kita ng buto (Ill break your bones). Ilalampaso
victim himself, Lt. Edward Leygo, and the two alleged eyewitnesses to the incident, SPO1 kita (Ill scrub you). Pulis lang kayo (you are only policemen) and other unsavory and
Jose Bangcado and Brenda Dup-et. For its part, the defense presented the petitioner insulting words. Inspector Leygo who was a little bit angry warned the accused to stop
himself and one Alfredo Castro. uttering further insulting words and cautioned him to take it easy and then informed him
that he was being arrested for violation of the chicken dung ordinance. The accused
As summarized by the trial court and adopted by the Court of Appeals in the decision removed his jacket, placed it inside the vehicle, assumed a fighting stance and challenged
[4]
herein assailed, the Peoples version is, as follows:
the policeman. Inspector Leygo then approached the accused and warned him anew that
he was being arrested. The accused responded by punching Inspector Leygo on his face,
On March 20, 1993 at around 8:00 oclock in the evening, Police Inspector Edward M. particularly on his lip. The two then grappled as Inspector Leygo tried to hold the accused.
Leygo, Deputy Chief of Police for Operation and Patrol of the La Trinidad Police Station, Finally, with the help of Policemen Dayap and Bongcado, the accused was subdued. The
La Trinidad, Benguet and SPO1 Joseph Basquial were conducting routinary patrol on accused was then pushed into one of the police cars but he resisted until Alfredo Castro,
board a police car somewhere in Shilan, La Trinidad, Benguet when they came upon a one of the chicken dung dealers in the area, boarded the police car to accompany him.
truck unloading sacks of chicken dung at the stall of accused Enrique Totoy Rivera which
was located along the Halsema Highway at Shilan, La Trinidad, Benguet. Inspector Leygo The accused was brought to the police headquarters where Inspector Leygo immediately
advised the driver to stop unloading the manure as it violates La Trinidad Municipal called Mayor Tabanda who arrived at about 10:00 oclock that same evening. She
Ordinance No. I-91 (Exhibit C) which prohibits, among others, the loading and unloading
confronted the two protagonists and at the same time admonished the accused for
of chicken manure along the sidewalks or road shoulders or within 15 meters from the
violating Ordinance No. I-91. Mayor Tabanda then accompanied the accused and
center of the Halsema Highway located at La Trinidad, Benguet. The driver complied with Inspector Leygo to the Benguet General Hospital where both were examined by Dr.
the police directive. The policemen then escorted the truck back to Poblacion, La Trinidad, Antonio T. Carino. In the medico-legal certificate (Exhibit A) of Inspector Leygo, his injury
Benguet and proceeded to the police headquarters.
described as contusion with 0.5 laceration, upper lip, left side with healing period from 5 to
7 days. Subsequently, this present case was filed against the accused.
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Reproduced from the same decision of the appellate court, the defenses healing period is from 3 to 5 days. With him sustaining this injury, the accused now
[5]
version runs: wonders why this charge was filed against him.

At about 8:00 oclock in the evening of March 20, 1993, while the accused was at the After weighing the parties respective versions of the incident, the trial court found
[6]
Trading Post at Km. 5, La Trinidad, Benguet, the driver reported to him that he was that of the People more credible. Accordingly, in its decision of April 22, 1994, it
prevented by the police from unloading chicken manure at Shilan, La Trinidad, Benguet. convicted petitioner of the crime of direct assault and sentenced him, thus:
The accused reminded the driver that he should have brought the chicken manure to
Acop, Tublay, Benguet where dealers sell it when prevented from unloading within the WHEREFORE, the guilt of the accused having been proven beyond reasonable doubt, the
municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet. As it would be more expensive to return the chicken Court hereby renders judgment finding the accused Enrique Totoy Rivera GUILTY and
dung to Batangas where it came from, the accused told the driver to bring the chicken sentences him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of Four (4) Months and One (1) Day
dung to Acop, Tublay, Benguet. The driver expressed his fear that the police might stop of arresto mayor as MINIMUM to One (1) Year, One (1) Month and Eleven (11) Days
him along the way and so the accused ordered the driver to proceed and gave him the of prision correccional as MAXIMUM. He is likewise ordered to pay a fine of FIVE
assurance that he (accused) would follow later. HUNDRED PESOS (P500.00) and to pay the costs.

The truck then proceeded as instructed and the accused following after a short while. SO ORDERED.
Arriving at Cruz, La Trinidad, Benguet, the accused noticed that the truck was stopped at
the side of the road while a police vehicle and three policemen were across the road.
Thinking that the policemen were there trying to extort money from the driver, the accused With his motion for reconsideration having been denied by the trial court, petitioner
told the truck driver to proceed. The truck driver complied and the accused tailed along. then went on appeal to the Court of Appeals whereat his recourse was docketed as CA-
G.R. CR No. 17284.
[7]
When the truck and the accused reached Dengsi, Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet, he heard As stated at the outset hereof, the appellate court, in its decision of October 16,
a police siren from behind. Immediately, a police vehicle overtook the truck, another police 1998, affirmed in toto that of the trial court, to wit:
vehicle was running along side the accuseds vehicle and a third police vehicle was right
behind them. Thus, the truck and the accused had no recourse but to stop. WHEREFORE, premises considered the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed in
toto.
Inspector Leygo alighted from one of the police vehicles and angrily uttered so many
words at the accused. The policeman then held the collar of accuseds jacket and forced SO ORDERED,
the latter to get out of his vehicle while shouting Ang tigas ng ulo mo. Sige, bumunot ka.
(You are very stubborn. Go ahead, draw your gun.) The accused explained that he had no [8]
gun to draw while removing his jacket and raising his hands to show that there was no gun and denied petitioners motion for reconsideration in its resolution of April 5, 1999.
on his body. Inspector Leygo then held the left hand of the accused and tried to put Hence, this petition for review on certiorari, submitting for our consideration the
handcuffs on him. The accused tried to resist, pleading that he had no fault and at the
principal issue of whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the judgment of
same time asking what infraction of law he committed. Inspector Leygo answered by
conviction rendered by the trial court.
uttering insulting words and pointing his left forefinger on the accuseds face while his right
hand was poking a gun on the accused. The accused noticed that the policeman smelled We AFFIRM.
of liquor.
Direct assault, a crime against public order, may be committed in two ways: first, by
any person or persons who, without a public uprising, shall employ force or intimidation for
A crowd started to gather around the scene. Sensing that the onlookers were on his side,
the attainment of any of the purposes enumerated in defining the crimes of rebellion and
the accused stated that he was going to get his camera inside his vehicle. As he was
sedition; and second, by any person or persons who, without a public uprising, shall
opening the door, Inspector Leygo suddenly slapped and boxed him in the stomach
attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate or resist any person in authority or any of his
causing the accused to feel dizzy. This assault weakened him and so he did not resist
agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties, or on occasion of such
when the police pushed him inside the police vehicle. Inspector Leygo then ordered his [9]
performance.
men to bring the accused to the police headquarters. The accused recognized Alfredo
Castro among the onlookers and because he (accused) knew him to be one of the Unquestionably, petitioners case falls under the second mode, which is the more
chicken dung dealers, asked him (Castro) to accompany him to the police headquarters common form of assault and is aggravated when: (a) the assault is committed with a
for fear that something might happen. weapon; or (b) when the offender is a public officer or employee; or (c) when the offender
[10]
lays hand upon a person in authority.
At the police station, the accused suggested that Inspector Leygo should undergo medical
In this recourse, petitioner argues that the appellate court, like the trial court, erred in
examination to determine if the policeman was positive of alcoholic breath. The accused,
finding the testimony of complainant Lt. Leygo as clear and convincing. In an attempt to
however, was examined ahead and was issued a medical certificate (Exhibit 4) which
impugn the latters credibility, petitioner contends that Lt. Leygo was mumbling while giving
described his injury as erythema, lip left side face and contusion-midepigastric area. The
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his testimony, adding that the latter failed to identify which of his (petitioner) hands was In any event, this Court has said time and again that the assessment of the credibility
used and the precise distance between them when he punched the police lieutenant. of witnesses and their testimonies is best undertaken by the trial court, what with reality
that it has the opportunity to observe the witnesses first-hand and to note their demeanor,
Admittedly, the record shows that the trial judge had to call Lt. Leygos attention for conduct, and attitude while testifying. Its findings on such matters, absent, as here, of any
testifying in such a low voice while on the witness box. Evidently, however, this did not arbitrariness or oversight of facts or circumstances of weight and substance, are final and
prevent the trial court into believing his testimony and from according it full faith and credit. conclusive upon this Court and will not to be disturbed on appeal.
[14]
As it is, the witness was able to narrate and communicate the events that transpired. Both
the trial court and the Court of Appeals found the witness to have clearly and adequately Petitioner also asserts that the testimonies of prosecution witnesses SPO1 Jose
recounted how the incident happened, and we find no valid reason to discredit the truth Bangcado and Brenda Dup-et did not corroborate Lt. Leygos testimony. For, while SPO1
and veracity of his narration. We quote: Bangcado merely testified during direct examination that petitioner punched Lt. Leygo, this
witness failed to reiterate said testimony during cross-examination. As regards
Q Now, you said that Mr. Rivera faced you, when he faced you after he prosecution witness Brenda Dup-et, petitioner alleged that this witness never testified that
removed his jacket what did you do? petitioner boxed Lt. Leygo.
A He positioned himself in a fighting stance, sir. The imputed shortcomings in the testimonies of said two (2) prosecution witnesses
Q What do you mean in the fighting stance? are not of their own making. A witness is supposed to confine his answers only to
questions propounded of him. Here, the defense counsel focused his line of questioning
A He raised his fist. (Witness raised his hands with his clenched fist in front of on what the two protagonists were doing immediately prior to the punching incident, and
him). the answer correctly received by counsel was that both petitioner and Leygo were pushing
each other. There is no showing that counsel asked the witness as to what happened after
Q How about you, what did you do when Mr. Rivera did that? the pushing incident, as what the public prosecutor did of SPO1 Bangcado during the
latters direct examination, to wit:
A I informed him that I am arresting him.
PROS. BOTENGAN:
Q How far were you when he faced you at first?
Q And what happened when they faced each other?
A At first before I went near him is about 6 feet, sir.
A Totoy Rivera was shouting at Lt. Leygo, sir.
Q Now, you said you approached him, is that correct?
Q What was he shouting?
A Yes, sir.
A Bakit ninyo ako tinutugis, hindi ako criminal. Magbabayad kayo rito. Hindi
Q What did you do when you approached him?
ninyo ako kaya, pulis lang kayo. And some other words but I cannot
A I told him that I am arresting him, sir. remember them all, sir.

Q And what was his response? Q What else, if any, did he say?

A He punched me at my face, sir. COURT:

Q You said he punched you, with what hand did Mr. Rivera punch you? He said he cannot remember the other words.
[11] WITNESS:
A I think it is his left hand, sir.
Nor is Lt. Leygos credibility any less diminished by the circumstance that he failed to There is one thing more, sir. Ilalampaso kita. Babalian kita ng buto. And others,
categorically identify which of petitioners hands was used in punching him, and the exact sir.
distance between them at that time. In all likelihood, this police officer was not expecting a
PROS. BOTENGAN:
physical attack by the petitioner as he was just confronting the latter about the prohibited
unloading of chicken dung when petitioner laid hand on him. Under this scenario, any Q To whom was Mr. Rivera saying this?
person, like Lt. Leygo, cannot be expected to remember every single detail of the incident
[12]
with perfect recall. For sure, far from adversely affecting Lt. Leygos credibility, his failure A To Lt. Leygo, sir.
to recall every minute detail of what transpired even fortifies it. We have thus held that the
failure of a witness to recall each and every detail of an occurrence may even serve to Q What was Mr. Rivera doing when he said these?
strengthen rather than weaken his credibility because it erases any suspicion of a A He was pointing to the face of Lt. Leygo and they are becoming closer and
[13]
coached or rehearsed testimony. What is vital in Lt. Leygos testimony is the fact that closer with each other, sir.
petitioner punched him on his face, about which he was steadfast and unflinching.
Q At that time, what was Lt. Leygo doing?
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A What I saw was they were pushing to one another and after that Totoy Rivera anger started to burst when the truck driver reported to him that Lt. Leygo prohibited the
boxed Lt. Leygo, sir. unloading of the chicken dung and ordered him to return, such that when the same
delivery truck was again intercepted by Lt. Leygos group, petitioners anger was too much
Q You said they were pushing one another, what part of their body were they for him to contain. We quote with approval what the trial court has said in its decision:
holding?
A At the breast, sir. The accused, however, denies that he ever laid hands on the cop. But the bigger question
is, how then did the policeman sustain his injuries? It is highly improbable, if not absurd,
Q So each one was holding each others breast, is that what you mean? for the policeman to inflict it on himself. It is also very unlikely that his co-policemen would
punch him just to make it appear that the accused did it. The accused admits of being at
A Yes, sir.
the place. He admits having been confronted by the policeman but he denies that he ever
Q How long did they push each other? lifted a finger against the policeman. Yet all the witnesses both for the prosecution and the
defense are in accord in saying that it was only the accused who was in confrontation with
A Seven to ten seconds, sir. the policeman. The only logical conclusion that can be derived from this is that it is indeed
the accused who punched the policeman. Evidence to be believed must not only proceed
Q And was Lt. Leygo saying anything?
from the mouth of the credible witness but it must be credible in itself. No better test has
A He was trying to arrest Totoy Rivera, sir. yet been found to measure the value of the testimony of a witness than its conformity to
the knowledge and common experience of mankind (People vs. Maspil, Jr., 186 SCRA
Q You said that he was trying to arrest Totoy Rivera, did you hear him if he 751).
says anything?
A He was convincing Totoy Rivera to go to the Municipal Hall, sir. That the other police officers did not retaliate is no basis for us to share petitioners
submission that Lt. Leygo was the aggressor. In the nature of things, they naturally
Q You said Totoy Rivera boxed Lt. Leygo, what part of the body of Lt. Leygo reacted the way they should, i.e. placed petitioner under arrest when ordered by Lt.
was hit? Leygo.
A His face, sir. Petitioner next contends that Lt. Leygo was not in the performance of his official
duties as a police officer and as Deputy Chief of Police for Operation and Patrol at the
Q What part of his face? time he was attacked.
A Here, sir. (Witness referring to his lower lip. Witness is holding his lower lip). Again, We disagree.
Q What happened when Lt. Leygo was hit? It is a matter of record that at the time of the assault, Lt. Leygo was engaged in the
A He ordered us to arrest Totoy Rivera, so were able to subdue Totoy Rivera actual performance of his official duties. He was wearing the designated police uniform
and placed him in the car, sir.
[15] and was on board a police car conducting a routinary patrol when he first came upon the
truck unloading chicken manure. Because the unloading of chicken dung was a violation
But even assuming, in gratia argumente, that Lt. Leygos testimony was not of La Trinidad Municipal Ordinance No. 1-91, the lieutenant ordered the truck driver to
corroborated by the two (2) other prosecution witnesses during their cross-examinations, return from where he came, but petitioner, in defiance of such lawful order, commanded
still the day cannot be saved for the petitioner. Well-settled is the rule in this jurisdiction the truck driver to return to Shilan, the place where the truck was first intercepted, and on
that the testimony of a single witness, if straightforward and categorical, is sufficient to being informed that the same truck had returned, the lieutenant had every reason to
convict. After all, witnesses are weighed, not numbered, and evidence are assessed in assume it did return for the purpose of unloading its cargo of chicken dung, thus stopped it
terms of quality, not quantity. It is not uncommon, then, to reach a conclusion of guilt on from doing so.
the basis of the testimony of a lone witness. Corroborative evidence is deemed necessary
only when there are reasons to warrant the suspicion that the witness falsified the truth or Under the circumstances, it simply defies reason to argue that Lt. Leygo was not in
[16]
that his observations had been inaccurate. Unfortunately for the petitioner, the trial court the performance of his lawful duties as a police officer when the assault upon him was
found nothing to indicate that Lt. Leygo falsified the truth or that his observations had been perpetrated by the petitioner.
inaccurate. Nor are we impressed by petitioners submission that the prosecutions failure to
Petitioner theorizes that he could not have hit Lt. Leygo, what with the circumstance present the doctor, who examined Lt. Leygo, proved disastrous to the Peoples case,
that his co-policemen were present at the scene of the incident, and he finds it unusual arguing that the alleged injury of Lt. Leygo cannot be proved without the testimony of the
that none of them retaliated if he really hit Lt. Leygo. attending physician.

We are not persuaded. The evidence on record clearly bears out that it was Lt. That Dr. Antonio T. Carino did not testify on the medical certificate he issued is of no
Leygo who was attacked by petitioner, not the other way around, as petitioner would want moment. If ever, the medical certificate is only corroborative in character and is not an
us to believe. Both the witnesses for the prosecution and the defense are one in saying indispensable element of the crime of direct assault filed against petitioner. The
that it was only petitioner who was in confrontation with Lt. Leygo. Evidently, petitioners unequivocal piece of evidence against petitioner is no less Lt. Leygos credible and
consistent testimony that he was punched on his face by the petitioner.
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Lastly, petitioner puts the Court of Appeals to task for sustaining the trial courts That the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of the accused has not been
observation that he exuded an aura of arrogance and defiance of authorities. satisfactorily overcome by the prosecution evidence in the case at bar where the
conviction of petitioner for falsification of public documents was based principally on the
We have consistently ruled that the trial court judge is in the best of position to see mere assumption that as possessor of the falsified documents, he is presumed to be the
and observe the demeanor, actuation and countenance of a witness, matters which are author of the falsification, is stoutly raised in this appeal by certiorari. Since there is no
not normally expressed in the transcripts of his testimony. We see no reason, therefore, to direct proof showing that accused-appellant, being then the Provincial Plant Industry
disturb the following observations of the trial court in its decision: Officer with many subordinate employees and personnel under him engaged in
agricultural field work and assigned in the rural areas like the complainant Rodrigo
The demeanor of the accused on the witness stand also shows that he is the kind who is Ducusin, had personally and actually falsified the public documents in question (Timebook
impatient with authority. His manner of answering questions bespeaks of one who has and Payroll, Exhibit "A"; Daily Time Record, Exhibit "B"; and Certification, Exhibit "C")
trouble abiding with authority. He portrayed a very aggressive manner and his answers which under normal office procedures pass through numerous hands at several
were always on the defensive as if he had every right in this world to do and say whatever government offices for typing, attestations, funding, accounting, and payment of the check
he wanted to. Over all, he exuded an aura of arrogance and defiance of authority. for P225.00, the legal issue thus raised merits Our careful consideration and resolution, in
the face of accused-appellant's vigorous denial.
In closing, let it be noted that the attention of this Court has not been called to of any
ulterior or improper motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses to falsely testify The information filed against the accused-appellant reads as follows: têñ.£îhqwâ£
against petitioner. Absence such a motive, the presumption is that they were not so
[17]
moved, and their testimonies are entitled to full faith and credit. The undersigned Special Prosecutor accuses NICASIO BORJE of the
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED, and the assailed decision and crime of FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENT committed as
resolution of the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED in toto. follows:

Costs against petitioner. That on or about the period from January, February and March, 1977,
SO ORDERED. and sometime thereafter, in the Municipality of San Fernando, Province
of La Union, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales, Court, the above-named accused, being then the Provincial Plant
JJ., concur. Industry Officer of Bureau of Plant Industry, Provincial Office at San
Fernando, La Union and in relation by his performance of the duties of
his office, taking advantage of his position as such, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify the Timebook and Payroll of
his office for the periods January to March, 1977, Daily Time Record for
the same period of Rodrigo Ducusin and Certification for P225.00 by
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT causing it to appear in the said documents that Rodrigo Ducusin have
participated in the same and affixed his signatures thereon when in truth
Manila
and in fact he did not so sign the said documents nor otherwise
participated in their execution to the damage and prejudice of the and
EN BANC Rodrigo Ducusin and the Republic.

G.R. No. L-55436 November 25, 1983 CONTRARY to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to
P.D. 1606.
NICASIO BORJE, petitioner,
vs. Manila, August 31, 1979.
SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
(SGD.) FRANCISCO M. TEJANO Special Prosecutor
Salonga, Ordoñez, Yap, Corpuz & Padlan Law Offices and Nicodemo T. Ferrer for
petitioner.
APPROVED: têñ.£îhqwâ£

The Solicitor General for respondents


(SGD.) VICENTE ERICTA
TANODBAYAN

GUERRERO, J.:ñé+.£ªwph!1
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The accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the crime charged and the trial commenced (Exhibit C) and the corresponding Daily Time Records for said months
on August 7, 1980 after the. case was reinvestigated by the Tanodbayan on petition of (Exhibit D) which appeared to have been all signed by him. Actually,
said accused-appellant, herein petitioner. however, he did not sign the said payroll, certification and time records
nor did he authorize anybody to sign for him. Ducusin referred the
On October 23, 1980, the respondent court rendered a decision promulgated on October aforesaid falsification to the accused in the last week of February 1978
29, 1980, finding the petitioner guilty as per the dispositive portion thereof, to and accused, confessing to him that he got the money, repeatedly
wit: têñ.£îhqw⣠offered him Two Hundred Twenty Five (P225.00) Pesos to cover his
incentive pay but he remained silent and refused to receive the amount.
He finally brought the matter to Regional Director Manuel Varquez who
WHEREFORE, accused is hereby found guilty beyond reasonable assigned Olivares to investigate the case. But inasmuch as no further
doubt as principal for the crane of Falsification of Public Documents as action was taken, he brought the case to the attention of the President
defined and penalized under Article 171, paragraph 2, of the Revised and the Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry. Ducusin likewise
Penal Code, and there being no modifying circumstance to consider, the submitted his written resignation to the Regional Director (Exhibit E) on
Court hereby sentences him to an indeterminate imprisonment ranging April 28, 1978 because he felt 'utterly' demoralized because of
from two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision undesirable actuations which he recently discovered ... On May 18,
correccional as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision 1978, he received a reply from Regional Director Varquez dated May
mayor as maximum, to pay a fine of P2,500.00 and to pay the costs. 15, 1978 (Exhibit F) stating that his aforesaid letter of resignation had
been endorsed to the accused and attached therewith was the reply of
SO ORDERED.1äwphï1.ñët the latter (Exhibit F-1).

Manila, Philippines, October 23, 1980. Similarly, the decision condensed the evidence of the defense in the following
manner: têñ.£îhqwâ£
The decision appealed from recites the evidence for the government as
follows: têñ.£îhqw⣠On the other hand, accused, in brief, claimed that Ducusin was one of
those involved in the Program for the months of January, February and
The gist of the evidence of the prosecution, which consist of the March 1977 as shown in Special Order No. 172 of the Bureau of Plant
testimonies of Ducusin, Edgardo Olivares, 43 years old, married, Industry Director Domingo E. Panganiban (Exhibits 6 and 6-A) and
agronomist and Provincial Plant Officer, Manuel Varquez, 45 years old, actually paid of his incentive pay and that it is not true that he received
married and Regional Director and Remedios Lorenzo, 47 years old, the payroll (Exhibit A) and the corresponding checks from Remedios
married and Cashier, all of the Bureau of Plant Industry in San Lorenzo for delivery to the persons whose names appear in said payroll.
Fernando, La Union, shows that Ducusin was employed as Plant Pest Accused denied that he instigated the filing of two cases of falsification
Officer with the Bureau of Plant Industry stationed in San Fernando, La against Ducusin and to bolster said denial accused presented Jacinto
Union from February 2, 1975 up to his resignation on April 30, 1978. Costales, 54 years old, married and Second Assistant Provincial Fiscal
From February 2, 1975 up to December 1976, he was detailed as of La Union.
production technician in the Program of the Bureau of Plant Industry
and the Bureau of Agricultural Extension receiving incentive pay from In fairness to the accused, We are constrained to include hereunder the more detailed
the National Food and Agricultural Council (NFAC) during said period. statement of facts submitted by him in his Brief, viz. têñ.£îhqwâ£
In 1977, however, Ducusin was no longer entitled to the NFAC incentive
pay as he was detailed to the Surveillance Team of the Bureau of Plant The Province of La Union undertook as one of its projects the program
Industry on January 1977 up to April 30, 1978. known as the Gulayan sa Kalusugan and Masagana '99 Program, the
implementation of which became a joint program of its Bureau of Plant
Before one can receive his NFAC incentive pay, he must prepare his Industry and its Bureau of Agricultural Extension. Government
Daily Time Record (CS Form 48) for the month and a certification that employees detailed as production technicians in the Gulayan Program
he is detailed with the Program. In February 1978, Ducusin was received incentive allowances from the NFAC during the covered
informed by one Roberto Castro that he is supposed to receive NFAC period. Their detail as production technicians of the said program was
incentive pay because his name is included in the special order effected only by a special order emanating from the Bureau of Plant
enumerating those included in the program. This prompted Ducusin to Industry Door; and before the employee received his incentive pay, he
go to the Accounting Division of the Bureau of Plant Industry, Region I was required to prepare his Daffy Time Record for the particular month
in San Fernando, La Union to verify the information relayed to him by and submit a Certification attesting to the fact that he was detailed to the
Castro and there he discovered that in the payroll for January, February program.
and March 1977 (Exhibit A) his name and signature appeared. Attached
to said payroll were a certification that he was detailed to the Program
7

In the case-at-bar, complainant Rodrigo Ducusin, an employee of the The defense disclaims the authenticity of the prosecution's Exhibit H which is purportedly
Bureau of Plant Industry, was detailed to the program from February the original Borje reply letter to BPI Regional Director Varquez' endorsement of Ducusin's
2,1975 up to December 1977, his assignment of work being contained resignation letter. Instead, Exhibit 8 was presented in evidence as the genuine carbon
in the NFAC Order captioned 'Detail and Designation of Personnel to copy of Borje's signed letter reply dated May 5,1978 in response to Varquez'
NFAC, in connection with the Gulayan Program where his name memorandum of May 3, 1978 wherein petitioner recommended disapproval of Ducusin's
appeared opposite item 60 thereof. (Exhibit 6) resignation in order that Ducusin could face the charges against him in connection with his
work with the Gulayan Program. (TSN, Aug. 27,1980, pp. 56- 58,90).
Making it appear that he was surprised to learn that he was supposed to
receive his NFAC incentive pay for the months of January, February The Sandiganbayan in its decision formulated two issues determinative of the innocence
and March 1977 because he was not entitled thereto as he was not or guilt of the accused, to wit: (1) Whether or not the Time Book and Payroll (Exhibit A),
anymore connected with the Gulayan Program; and falsely making it the certification (Exhibit C) and the Daily Time Records (Exhibit D) in support of said
appear that some person other than himself received his incentive pay payroll were falsified, and (2) If they were, the liability of the accused, if any. As indicated
by allegedly forging his signature on the Daily Time Records, the Payroll earlier, the accused- appellant was found guilty by respondent court.
and the Certification required and submitted — complainant Rodrigo
Ducusin caused to be filled a complaint against the petitioner, Nicasio Hence, the instant appeal by way of certiorari.
Borje, supervising agronomist of the Bureau of Plant Industry, Region I,
before the Tanodbayan ...
Petitioner submits the following assignment of errors: têñ.£îhqwâ£
Accused-appellant contends that complainant Ducusin was paid his incentive pay for the
months of January to March, 1977 in the total sum of P225.00 as Ducusin was included in I. The respondent court erred in holding that the petitioner is guilty of the
the payroll since he has worked with the Program as shown by Special Order No. 72 offense of falsification of public documents, the same not having began
issued by the BPI Director and concurrent Executive Director of NFAC, Domingo established by proof beyond reasonable doubt, considering
Panganiban, and that said Special Order, Exhibit 6 entitled "Detail and Designation of BPI that: têñ.£îhqwâ£
Personnel to NFAC in Connection with the Masagana '99 Program effective January to
December 1977" and dated May 17, 1977, included the name Rodrigo Ducusin, herein A. the originals of the alleged falsified documents
complainant, opposite item No. 60 in page 2 of the Exhibit and marked Exhibit 6-A (TSN, were not presented in court and, hence, the corpus
Aug. 27, 1980, pp. 43-46). He confirms substantially the official procedure in the delicti has not been established as held in the case
preparation of the payroll and subsequent payment of the incentive pay to the production of U S. vs. Gregorio
technicians as described by witness Remedios Lorenzo, disbursing officer and cashier for
the BPI office in San Fernando, La Union. However, he vigorously denies having received B. There is no iota of evidence that the petitioner
the payroll and the corresponding checks from witness Lorenzo as his participation in the falsified the complainant's signature on the alleged
preparation of the said payroll ended with his signing thereof after which the payroll goes falsified documents;
to the disbursing officer for the preparation and issuance of the checks to the payees.

C. The testimony of complainant's witness, Remedios


The defense also presented in evidence certified true copies of two (2) criminal Lorenzo, was sufficiently impeached by her own
informations for falsification dated August 13, 1979 filed by Assistant Provincial Fiscal conflicting testimony previously given before the
Jacinto Costales against complainant Ducusin before the Court of First Instance of La Tanodbayan;
Union, Branch III, Agoo, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. A-893 (Exhibit 1) and A-894
(Exhibit 2). The accused contends that the instant case against him was initiated by
Ducusin to get even with the petitioner as the complainant admitted in cross-examination D. The respondent court erred in finding as a fact that
that he believes that Borje instigated said two criminal cases against him (TSN, Aug. complainant was not entitled to the NFAC incentive
25,1980, pp. 21-27). pay, in total disregard to the documentary evidence
proving that he was doing dual work, both with the
Gulayan Program as wen as the SEWS and
Further contending that complainant Ducusin was doing dual work from July, 1976 up to therefore, still entitled to the NFAC allowance.
December, 1977, the defense presented Exhibits 5 to 5-C which is Memorandum Order
No. 56, Series of 1976, dated June 11, 1976, issued by BPI Director Panganiban for the
implementation of the Plant Pest and Disease Surveillance and Early Warning Monitoring II. The respondent court erred in not holding that complainant falsely
Project under the Philippine-German Crop Protection Program which shows that ascribed the offense to the petitioner, there being proof that complainant
complainant Ducusin was included in the list of personnel assigned to the Surveillance was possessed of ill motives against petitioner.
and Early Warning System SEWS team as Plant Pest Control Officer. The accused-
appellant declared that although Ducusin was named to this SEWS team, he continued Before resolving the above assigned errors, We find it imperative and compelling to
working with the Gulayan Program as production technician during said work. describe and detail the nature and contents of the vital documentary exhibits of the
8

prosecution alleged to have been falsified by the accused-appellant. These are official
forms and they are (1) Exhibit A, Timebook and Payroll of accused-appellant's office for
the period January to March 1977; (2) Exhibit D, Daily Time Record for the same period of
Rodrigo Ducusin; and (3) Exhibit C, Certification that Ducusin was detailed to the
Program.

As appearing on the face of these exhibits, the act or participation of the petitioner thereon
is indicated below: têñ.£îhqwâ£
Exhibit C (Certification) indicates no participation whatsoever of appellant Borje. It simply
In Exhibit A (Timebook and Payroll), the printed certification below states, thus:
which the signature of petitioner is affixed, reads thus:
CERTIFICATION
2. I certify that this roll is correct; every person whose name appears
hereon rendered service for the nine and at the rates stated under my I hereby certify that the amount of two hundred twenty five
general supervision, and I approve payment of this roll pesos (P225.00) herein claimed is only in reimbursement of
representation and transportation expenses (excepting trips from home
CERTIFIED CORRECT: to office and vice-versa) actually incurred by me in the performance of
my official duties as Production technician while on detailed with the
National Food and Agriculture Council, during the period from Jan. 1977
(SGD.) NICACIO B. BORJE NFAC, Prov'l Chairman to March 1977 that I did not use any government vehicle or
transportation furnished paid by the government nor did I collect similar
In Exhibit D (Daily Time Record, Service Form No. 18), the signature of transportation and representation expenses from my mother
the accused-appellant appears below the following words: organization Bureau of Plant Industry during the period.

Certified true copy of the original: Certified true copy of the original:

Verified as to the prescribed office hours. têñ.£îhqwâ£

(
S
G
D
.
)

N
I
C
A
C
I
O

B
O
R
J
E

I
n
9

According to complainant Ducusin,g he was no longer connected with the Masagana


Program during the period of January n to March 1977 because his assignment thereto had
been terminated. But he was a asked this question by the Sandiganbayan,
thus: têñ.£îhqw⣠t
u
JUSTICE ESCAREAL: r
e
)
Q — What evidence do you have that you were
removed in 1977 and you were no longer performing
R
your duties as technician?
O
D
R — It is only verbal. (TSN, p. 47, Aug. 25, 1980)
A
I
The alleged verbal order is doubtful G for under normal and usual official procedure, a
O
written special order issued by a government office is cancelled, amended or modified
only by another written special order, not only for purposes of record on file but also to
prevent conflict and confusion in Dgovernment operations. Moreover, under the best
evidence rule, Section 2, Rule 130U of the Rules of Court, the supposed verbal order
C Order No. 172 stated above.
cannot prevail over the written Special
U
Respondent Sandiganbayan, however, S justified the conviction of the accused on the basis
of the testimony of witness Remedios I Lorenzo, Regional Disbursing Officer and Cashier,
to the effect that she delivered the Npayroll and checks to petitioner accused- appellant,
relying further on the presumption that as possessor of the document, accused-appellant
is presumed to have falsified it.
(
P
But reviewing the testimony of witness
r Lorenzo, the records disclose that her original
testimony at the reinvestigation of the
i case before the Tanodbayan was favorable to the
accused, saying that she delivered the
n payroll and the checks to the complainant Ducusin,
even Identifying the genuine signature
t of Ducusin on the payroll. We quote hereunder
excerpts of her testimony: têñ.£îhqwâ£
N
Prosecutor Ferrer: a
m
e
Q: What is your SOP in the preparation of timebook and payroll, do you have to
)
sign as Regional Disbursing Officer?

On the face of the above documentary evidence, Exh. "A" and "D", the liability of petitioner
A: I don't sir. It is only the Budget Officer who prepares the payroll. After the
as head of the office who had signed the certification and verification printed thereon must
budget officer has prepared it will go to the accounting for funding and after the
be limited to the contents of said verification and certification for which he does not
accounting it will go to my office.
necessarily incur criminal responsibility if the entries, data or statements certified and
verified turn out not to be true in which case the employee or personnel making the
entries, data or statements as to his services and attendance is solely and separately Q: All in all how many signatures are to be signed in the payroll for its validity
responsible therefor. In the instant case, since there is the Special Order No. 172 of under your standard operation procedure?
Executive Director Domingo Panganiban, concurrently BPI Director, marked Exh. 6,
"Detail and Designation of BPI personnel to NFAC in connection with the Masagana-99 A: There are four, sir. The provincial officer, the accountant for funding, then the
Program effective January to December, 1977" listing complainant for the assignment and Director and after the signed it, it will go to my office.
detail, the inclusion of Ducusin's name in the payroll was not irregular. Besides, the payroll
is prepared by the Budget Office based on the Special Order and not by the petitioner's
xxx xxx xxx
office.
10

xxx xxx xxxtêñ.£îhqw⣠Q: You are the same time cashier?

Q: Under your standard operating procedure who win sign first the payroll. The A: Yes, sir. My item is Cashier I.
payee or the provincial plant officer?
Q: So, do you have any participation in this Exhibit "X" by way of issuing the
A: Provincial plant officer. check to corresponding payee in this timebook and payroll?

Q: After the Provincial Plant Officer, the payroll will go to the regional accountant, A: In the preparation of the check, sir.
is that correct?
Q: Who delivers the check to the payee?
A: Yes, sir.
A: After we have prepared the check, they will just go to my office to get the
Q: And after the Regional accountant it will go to the Director? check and that is the nine they will affix their signature.

A: Yes, sir. Q: And they sign their names after delivering to them their respective checks?

Q: And after the Regional Director, it will go to the Disbursing Officer? A: Yes, sir.

A Yes, sir. Q: Are you familiar with any of these signatures appearing in this timebook and
payroll, particularly that of Mr. Ducusin?
Q: And that will be the time that the payee will receive the amount, is that
correct? PROSECUTOR FERRER:

A: We prepare the check for them. Q: By the way, before you answer that question do you know personally Mr.
Rodrigo Ducusin?
Q: When do the payee affix their signatures in the payroll if you know?
A: Yes, sir.
A: When I will issue them the check that is the time that they affix their signatures
in the payroll. Q: Why do you know him?

Q: So after that the check will go back to the Provincial Plant Officer? A: He is also our employee in the office. He is one of the technicians under M-99.

A: It will not go back to the Provincial Plant Officer. Q: Since when have you known Mr. Rodrigo Ducusin ?

Q: After the Provincial Plant Officer has fixed his signature he has no further A: I could not exactly remember, sir. Because I have come across their names
participation in this payroll? when they got their checks from me.

A: No more, sir. Q: But before January 1977, you have already known him?

Q: Now, Mrs. Lorenzo, you also brought with you . . . . . . . . By the way, who is A: Yes, sir.
supposed to sign first this timebook and payroll under your Standard Operation
Procedure. Is it the Provincial Plant Officer? Q: How long before January 1977 have you been a cashier or Regional
Disbursing Officer?
A: Yes, sir. Then after that it will go to the office of the Regional Accountant, and
after the regional accountant have signed, it will go to the regional director for A: I was already a cashier since 1976, July 1975.
approval, and from there it win go to my office.
Q: As a cashier since that time, are you f with the signature of Mr. Ducusin?
11

A: I could not remember their signatures because there are plenty of personnel in personnel in the Accounting Services Unit and further signed by the Regional Accountant
the Bureau of Plant Industry. and for the Regional Director. All of these persons were at one time or another in
possession of the document, all of them had the same opportunity impliedly imputed to the
Q: Were you the one who issued the check to the complainant? accused, The payroll must have been carried and passed by messengers and other
employees from one office to another, from one desk to another for purposes of typing,
funding, initialling, verification, certification, accounting, recording, drawing of the check
A: Yes, sir. and finally, issuing of the check. In Our view, the respondent court's reliance on the
presumption which is only presumptive, is misplaced and unwarranted, there being no
Q: In issuing the checks did you issue them individually to the personnels in the sufficient reason to apply the same.
BPI?
The defense contends that the prosecution, having presented xerox copies only of the
A: Yes, sir. As soon as we pay the check to anyone, they have to affix their falsified documents, Exhs. "D" and "C", fatted to prove the corpus delicti of the crime
signature first. charged, citing the case of U.S. vs. Gregorio, 17 Phil. 522. In this case of Gregorio, the
Supreme Court held: têñ.£îhqwâ£
Q: Where do you deliver the checks to the payees?
In a criminal case for the falsification of a document, it is indispensable
A: In my office. that the judges and the courts have before them the document alleged
to have been simulated, counterfeited or falsified, in order that they may
find, pursuant to the evidence produced at the trial, whether or not the
Q: At San Fernando, La Union? crime of falsification was actually committed; in the absence of the
original document, it is improper to conclude, with only a copy of the
A: Yes, sir. said original in view, that there has been a falsification of a document
which was neither found nor exhibited, because, in such a case, even
the existence of such original document may be doubted.
(TSN December 21, 1979, pp. 5-14, Tanodbayan, Emphasis supplied.)

Reacting to the defense contention, the Sandiganbayan held that "(a)ccused's claim that
The contradictory and conflicting testimonies of this witness only proves her unreliability
in the absence of the original documents it is improper to conclude that there is
and unworthiness in respect to the sanctity of the witness' oath. Although she tried to
falsification of document in accordance with the case of U.S. vs. Gregorio, 17 Phil. 522, is
explain her complete "turn-about" by saying during the Sandiganbayan hearing: "They told
sleazy for the case referred to is not in point," and then attempted to differentiate said
me that if I win testify against them, I will be accessory and I don't want to be involved in
case with the case at bar by holding that "(h)ad the issue confronting the Court been one
the case because I am not the one really who delivered the checks to the production
of alteration or superimposition of signatures or word or figure, then the issue of bringing
technician, sir." (TSN, p. 18, Aug. 27, 1980), the conclusion of the respondent court that
out the original may have relevance. " The Sandiganbayan further added: "At any rate, it is
she was intimidated to testify in favor of the accused during the reinvestigation is not
worthwhile to note that with the development of modem copying devices which virtually
warranted, considering that the witness herself is a high regional official, being the
eliminate the possibility of error in reproduction of the original, the relevancy of the
Regional Disbursing Officer and Cashier and not subordinate to but perhaps co-equal in
doctrine in U.S. vs. Gregorio is now open to question.
rank to the petitioner and, therefore, may not be so easily intimidated by the accused who
was in no position or power to include her as accessory in the case. Lorenzo's testimony
given at the Sandiganbayan hearing is not worthy of belief and must be rejected. We do not agree with the respondent court. Firstly the Gregorio ruling makes no
distinction for the doctrine itself applies in criminal proceedings for the falsification of a
document, whether simulated, counterfeited, or falsified. Secondly, the Gregorio doctrine
We also reject respondent court's reliance on the presumption that as possessor of the
is still tenable notwithstanding modern copying devices for a falsified document, passed
document, the accused is presumed to be the author of the falsification. In the first place,
off as an original can also be duplicated by xeroxing and thereafter, certified as true copy
the factual basis which is the Lorenzo testimony which We have reviewed as doubtful and
of the original as in Exh. "D". And thirdly, considering that in the case at bar, the xeroxing
variable, cannot be credited. Petitioner has denied vigorously the testimony of Lorenzo
was done or caused to be done by complainant Ducusin (TSN, pp. 189-191, Aug. 25,
that he received the payroll and the checks from her. He said that his participation in the
1980) after taking out the original documents without the official authority and permission
preparation of the payroll ended with his signing thereof after which the payroll goes to the
of the Disbursing Officer and Cashier, Remedios Lorenzo, who was then out on rural
Disbursing Officer for the preparation and issuance of the checks to the payees at which
service and thereafter the originals were lost, misplaced and are now missing, the failure
time the payee affix their signatures on the payroll, which is substantially corroborated by
to present the originals is suspicious for complainant had ulterior and ill motives in
the original testimony of the witness Lorenzo during the reinvestigation of the case before
accusing the petitioner as will be shown hereunder.
the Tanodbayan.

The ill motives of the complainant in falsely accusing the accused-appellant is easily
In the second place, Exhibit "A" appears to be also signed by ten (10) other production
discernible herein. There is presented Exhibit " 1 ", certified true copy of the information
technicians fisted in the payroll, besides complainant Ducusin. It is initialled by three (3)
filed against complainant Rodrigo Ducusin in Criminal Case No. A-893, CFI, Agoo, La
12

Union, for falsification committed on or about July 24, 1975 in relation to the grant of Letters of Appreciation and has been recommended for promotion on
farmer's loan under the Gulayan Sa Kalusugan Food Production Program when the basis of known honesty and integrity ...
complainant was assigned to the Agoo Rural Bank, and a similar information for
falsification against Ducusin in Criminal Case No. A-894, Exh. "2". Referring to these two in sustaining the innocence of the accused, petitioner also prays for his acquittal.
(2) cases, Ducusin declared that petitioner Borje motivated the filing of the cases; that in
the filing of the case in the Fiscal's Office in San Fernando, La Union, there is an affidavit
of Mr. Nicasio Borje and that because of that affidavit, it was Mr. Borje who motivated the The record and services of the accused-appellant is, indeed praiseworthy and
filing of the charge against him. (TSN, pp. 26-27, Aug. 25, 1980). There is also the refusal commendable. But an accused is not entitled to an acquittal simply because of his
of the petitioner to recommend acceptance of the resignation of Ducusin until he shall previous good moral character and exemplary conduct if the court believes he is guilty
have cleared matters with the Rural Bank of Agoo, La Union considering that the total beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. The affirmance or reversal of his
amount of P52,047.73 is involved. (Exhibit "8"). conviction must be resolved on the basic issue of whether the prosecution has discharged
its duty of proving his guilt beyond peradventure of doubt, of convincing the court as to the
moral certainty of his guilt.
The rule is established that the absence of evidence as to an improper motive actuating
the offended party and the principal prosecution witness tends to sustain the conclusion
that no such improper motive existed and that their testimonies are worthy of full faith and Considering that, on the whole, the evidence presented against the accused in the case at
credit. (People vs. Amiscua 37 SCRA 813; People vs. Mercado, 38 SCRA 168; People vs. bar is not clear, competent and convincing, and considering further that there is
Valdemoro, 102 SCRA 170). Conversely, where there is showing as to improper motives, jurisprudence which, by analogy, supports the defense in U.S. vs. Balais, 17 Phil. 503
as in the case at bar, the testimony of complainant Ducusin is unworthy of faith and credit wherein We held: têñ.£îhqwâ£
and, therefore, deserves scant consideration. And since the prosecution theory is built or
based on such testimony, the cause of the prosecution collapses or falls with it. The municipal treasurer who 'certifies that the official payroll he signs is
correct, that the services have been rendered and the payments made
According to respondent court, its conclusion that the accused falsified or caused to be as stated,' does not pervert the truth in the narration of the facts, if the
falsified the document in question is further supported by the following facts: (1) that the persons certified as municipal secretary and clerk to the municipal
accused confessed to him that he was the one who got the money and offered president were duly appointed and qualified as such municipal secretary
immediately to Ducusin the sum of P225.00 to cover the incentive pay so that Ducusin will and clerk to the municipal president, discharging the duties of their
just keep silent but Ducusin did not accept the money; and (2) that in his reply to the letter respective offices, the services certified having been rendered at the
of Ducusin denouncing the forging of his signature that he received his incentive pay from time referred to in the payroll, and both persons having received their
January to March, 1977, the accused tried to justify the falsification of the time record as respective salaries from the municipal treasurer certifying the payroll.
shown in the portion of said reply, Exhibit "H". Nor can it be taken as proving the falsification of the document if it is
subsequently discovered that the services were really not rendered by
the aforementioned persons themselves but by substitutes; for it is not
In the light of the ill-motives of the complainant as shown above, this particular assertion the mission of the municipal treasurer to take upon himself to
of Ducusin which is uncorroborated is sleazy, that is, flimsy, shabby, cheap or investigate whether the persons accredited to him as secretary and
unsubstantial. Moreover, petitioner's reply marked Exh. "H" is not an admission of the clerk, by the municipal council and whom he, in turn, acknowledges and
accused that he falsified or caused to be falsified the documents in question. In fact, pays their monthly salary, really or apparently perform the duties of such
examining Exh. "H", it says that "his Ducusin daily time record (was) prepared by other offices,
employees in order to justify such payment. The authenticity of Exh. "H" is denied by the
petitioner who presented Exh. "8" as the real and correct copy duly received and initialed
by the Regional Office, and therein, he wrote: "I therefore deny knowledge of the alleged in resume Our review of the case at bar concludes that the prosecution failed in
forgery of the signature of Mr. Ducusin in the same payroll." discharging its sworn duty to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It
has not overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of the accused.
Consequently, accused-appellant must be acquitted.
Finally, the defense puts forth the exemplary and distinguished record of the petitioner as
a public servant, having been in the government service for more than twenty (20) years
and multi-awarded and commended for meritorious services, among them as scholar WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment of the Sandiganbayan
under the Colombo Plan specializing in pest management in England; Diploma of Merit as convicting the accused is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. We find the accused-
Most Outstanding Employee in Ilocos Sur; Award as one of the Most Outstanding Green appellant NOT GUILTY. No costs.
Revolutionist in the Philippines, 1976; and Award as one of the Most Outstanding Bureau
of Plant Industry Employees, 1978. And citing the case of Manero vs. Court of Appeals, Judgment reversed.
102 SCRA 817 wherein the Supreme Court said: têñ.£îhqwâ£
SO ORDERED.1äwphï1.ñët
(T)he petitioner exhibited an exemplary record as a policeman; he was
thrice cited by his superiors for refusing to accept a bribe, was
commended for minimizing armed robberies, was twice the recipient to
13

FIRST DIVISION After conducting a few days earlier a surveillance on appellant Teresita Suson's
house located at S. Duterte St., Suba, Danao City, the Narcotics Team of Cebu
G.R. No. 152848 July 12, 2006 City, in coordination with the Danao City Police Station, proceeded to the said
house in the afternoon of April 12, 1996 in order to make a "buy-bust" operation.
SPO2 Alicia Patiño, a member of the Narcotics Team who met Suson on April
TERESITA SUSON y BANZON and ANTONIO FORTICH y SILANG, petitioners, 10, 1996 in order to buy shabu and who was told by the latter to come back on
vs. April 12, 1996, posed as the poseur-buyer.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
SPO2 Patiño, who was then positioned outside the gate of Suson's house, called
DECISION the latter in order to buy shabu. Answering the call, Suson went out of the house
and, after receiving the total sum of P2,400.00 in marked bills, went back inside.
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Moments later, appellant Antonio Fortich approached SPO2 Patiño and handed
to her three (3) packs of shabu.
Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, which
1
seeks the reversal of the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 30 October 2001 in CA- Subsequently, Fortich went across the street and joined other persons who were
G.R. CR No. 22775 which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch playing mahjong. On the other hand, after SPO2 Patiño had made a pre-
2
25, Danao City, in Criminal Case No. DNO-1532, and its Resolution dated 26 February arranged signal, the police authorities accompanying her rushed towards Fortich
2002 denying petitioners Teresita B. Suson and Antonio S. Fortich's Motion for and arrested him.
Reconsideration.
The packs of shabu which were handed to SPO2 Patiño were submitted to the
On 16 April 1996, petitioners Teresita B. Suson and Antonio S. Fortich, a.k.a. Jojo Muslim, PNP Crime Laboratory which, after examining the same, found that the said
were charged with Violation of Section 15, Article III, in relation to Section 21, Article 4 of items were "positive" of the regulated drug known as Methampetamine
3
Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. An Hydrochloride.
4
Amended Information was filed on 2 May 1996. On 2 July 1996, a Second Amended
5
Information was filed, the accusatory portion of which reads: Later in the afternoon of the same date, and after the police authorities were able
to secure a Search Warrant (for the search of shabu from the house of Suson)
That on or about April 12, 1996 at 3:30 o'clock in the afternoon more or less in S. from the trial court, said search warrant was implemented and the police
Duterte St., Suba, Danao City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this companions of SPO2 Patiño, searched, in the presence of the barangay captain
Honorable Court, the above-named accused in a buy bust operation, conspiring, in the area, Suson's house. Thereupon, Suson was apprehended. The police
confederating together and mutually helping one another, did then and there was also able to recover, among others, the marked bills amounting to P1,180.00
8
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell and deliver three (3) packs of white from Suson's possession.
crystalline substance containing metamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly
known as "shabu," a regulated drug, weighing .7 grams to informant decoy SPO2 Petitioners contend that no buy-bust operation occurred and that the evidence -
Alicia A. Patiño for a total consideration of P2,400, without any permit from the shabu and firearm - allegedly confiscated in their home was planted evidence.
6
proper authorities.
On 30 September 1998, the trial court rendered its decision convicting petitioners of the
The case was filed before Branch 25 of the RTC of Danao City and docketed as Criminal crime of illegal sale of shabu in Criminal Case No. DNO-1532, while acquitting petitioner
Case No. DNO-1532. Suson and Andres Camargo of the crimes of illegal possession of shabu and firearm in
Criminal Cases No. DNO-1533 and No. DNO-1534. The decretal portion of the Decision
Petitioner Suson, together with Andres Camargo, was also charged with Illegal reads:
Possession of Shabu and Firearm in Criminal Cases No. DNO-1533 and No. DNO-1534
before the same court. WHEREFORE, for proof beyond reasonable doubt, the Court finds accused
Antonio Fortich and Teresita Suson in Criminal Case No. DNO-1532 GUILTY
When arraigned, petitioners, assisted by counsel de oficio, pleaded "Not beyond reasonable doubt for Violation of Section 15, Article III, in relation to
7
Guilty." Thereafter, the three cases were tried jointly. Section 21, Article IV of Republic Act 6425, as amended, and in conformity with
Supreme Court doctrine in Pp. vs. Simon, 234 SCRA 555, each accused is
The facts which we find supported by evidence, are summarized by the Office of the hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS and
Solicitor General and are quoted by the Court of Appeals: ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional as minimum to SIX (6) YEARS of prision
correccional as maximum. The amount of P1,180 being the fruit of a crime is
hereby confiscated in favor of the government
14

For lack of sufficient evidence, the Court hereby ACQUITS accused Andres that the factual findings and conclusions of the lower courts leading to his conviction must
15
Camargo and Teresita Suson from the crime of illegal possession of shabu and satisfy the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
firearm, as charged in Crim. Case Nos. DNO-1533 and 1534. The amount
of P34,770 and one (1) cellular phone marked "SIEMEN" are hereby ordered Petitioners ask us to review the findings of fact made by the trial court alleging that their
9
returned to said accused Teresita Suson. conviction was not supported by, and even contrary to, the evidence per its own findings
of facts.
The trial court declared that petitioners, by their concerted action, sold shabu powder to
poseur-buyer SPO2 Alicia Patiño for P2,400.00, and that an hour after the sale, SPO3 In showing the error of the lower court, petitioners quoted the Transcript of Stenographic
Alejandro Biñan confiscated or recovered from petitioner Suson marked money used in Notes and its findings contained in its decision. It quoted part of the testimony of SPO2
the buy-bust operation amounting to P1,180.00 whose serial numbers corresponded to Patiño as follows:
the serial numbers recorded in the log book kept by SPO3 Biñan as marked money used
in said operation.
A There was somebody, a male person who got outside and later I identified that
male person named Jojo who was the one who delivered the thing to me.
On 29 October 1998, petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals via a Notice of
10
Appeal.
Q What was the thing delivered by Jojo to you?
On 30 October 2001, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the RTC's decision in Criminal
11
Case No. DNO-1532 and dismissed, for lack of merit, petitioners' appeal. The Motion for A Three (3) packs of shabu.
12 13
Reconsideration filed by petitioners was denied on 26 February 2002.
Q Then after that, what did Jojo tell you, if any?
Petitioners appeal their conviction before this Court grounded on the following:
A The gate was already opened when he delivered to me the shabu and after he
1. THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPELAS AS WELL AS delivered the shabu to me he went across [the road], and I asked him, where are
16
ITS RESOLUTION DENYING A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION THEREOF you going, and he answered to me that he will play mahjong. . .
IN CA-GR. CR NO. 22775 AND SUBJECT HEREOF IS A TOTAL DEPARTURE
FORM (sic) ESTABLISHED DOCTRINES, EXPRESS LEGAL PROVISIONS The lower court's decision partially reads:
AND PRINCIPLES OF LAW; THUS SAID APPELLATE COURT, IN
SUSTAINING THE FINAL ORDER OF THE TRIAL COURT, GRAVELY ABUSED Prosecution would want to show that after surveillance conducted on April 8,
ITS DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO A WANT, IF NOT A TOTAL LACK, OF 1996 in the residence of accused Antonio Fortich and Teresita Suson the
JURISDICTION; Narcom in coordination with the Danao City Police conducted a buy-bust
operation on accused. That with SPO2 Alicia Patino acting as poseur/buyer, a
2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ALSO REVERSIBLY ERRED AND pre-arranged signal in the manner of combing her hair was agreed when actual
GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN IGNORING AND DEFYING THE bust-buying of shabu is consummated. That said Alicia Patino agreed to
OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE FOR PETITIONERS (ACCUSED-APPELLANTS buy shabu from accused Teresita Suson who received the amount of P2,400.00
THEREAT) OR A LACK OF EVIDENCE TO PROVE THE GUILT OF THE and a few minutes thereafter said accused Teresita Suson came back with a
ACCUSED (HEREIN PETITIONERS) BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT WHICH male companion named Antonio Fortich who delivered to Alicia Patino three (3)
SHOW THE GLARING VIOLATION OF SAID COURT IN ITS DECISION OVER packs of shabu. Said accused Antonio Fortich then crossed the street towards
THE BASICS OF HEREIN PETITIONERS; THUS AN OTHERWISE where mahjong was played about 40 meters away. Upon the agreed signal,
EVIDENTIARY ASPECT OF THE CASE IS IN QUESTION, THE JUDGEMENT SPO3 Eduardo Misa proceeded to where Antonio Fortich was located and
(sic) UNSUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE IF NOT CONTRARY THERETO, arrested him. Then followed by other raiding companions to the house of Andres
17
BECOMES NOW A LEGAL QUESTION THAT CALLS FOR THE Camargo where accused Teresita was located and arrested her. . .
INTERVENTION OF THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT.
After going over the Transcript of Stenographic Notes and the Decision of the RTC, it
The Supreme Court accords, as a general rule, conclusiveness to a lower court's findings behooves us to have a second look on the evidence on record. It appears that the RTC's
of fact except when: (1) the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, finding as to who delivered the shabu to SPO2 Patiño contradicts, or is not in accord with,
surmise and conjecture; (2) the inference made is manifestly an error or founded on a SPO2 Patiño's testimony. From the testimony of SPO2 Patiño, it is clear that it was only
mistake; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on petitioner Fortich who delivered to her the 3 packs of shabu. On the other hand, the RTC
misapprehension of facts; and (5) the findings of fact are premised on a want of evidence narrated that after petitioner Suson received the payment for the shabu and went inside
14
and/or contradicted by evidence on record. Especially in criminal cases where the her home, she came back out with petitioner Fortich who delivered or handed over
accused stands to lose his liberty by virtue of his conviction, the Court must be satisfied the shabu to SPO2 Patiño. Petitioner would like to capitalize on the RTC's gaffe in making
its findings of fact.
15

The question is: Can this inadvertence on the part of the RTC exonerate petitioners and A: At about 3:30 p.m. we proceeded to the house of Tessie and our back up were
cause the reversal of their conviction? positioned on strategic places and I went to the gate of Tessie and I called her
up.
We do not think so.
Q: After you called up Tessie, were you able to have a conversation with her?
It must be made clear that what controls are the statements in the Transcript of
Stenographic Notes and not the findings of fact which is merely taken from the Transcript A: She went outside the gate and we have our conversation.
of Stenographic Notes and from other documentary exhibits. This Court is not prevented
from going into the Transcript of Stenographic Notes to verify if the statements made by Q: What did you tell Tessie if any?
the witnesses are correctly integrated in the decision. If there are inaccuracies, this Court
can rectify the same and be the basis of our decision.
A: I told her I wanted now to buy shabu because she told me to return on that
very day.
In the case at bar, petitioners were convicted for Violation of Section 15 (Sale), Article III,
in relation to Section 21 (Conspiracy), Article IV of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended.
Many times, this Court has already ruled that a buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment Q: Did you tell her, how much are you going to buy?
which has repeatedly been accepted to be a valid means of arresting violators of the
18
Dangerous Drugs Law. In every prosecution for illegal sale of prohibited or regulated A: I told her I will buy shabu worth P2,400 and then she told me that the pack
drugs, the following elements must be established: (1) the identity of the buyer and seller, worth P800.00 each.
the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment
19
therefor. In proving that the sale was consummated, the prosecution presented the Q: Then after that, what did Tessie tell you if any?
poseur buyer - SPO2 Patiño.

A: She received the money and she told me to just wait for a while and she went
The testimony of SPO2 Patiño on the sale of the shabu is as follows: inside her house and I just waited for her.

PROSECUTOR GEROMO: continues Q: After you waited for her, what happened next?

Q: After the briefing on April 12, 1996, what happened next? A: There was somebody, a male person who got outside and later I identified that
male person named Jojo who was the one who delivered the thing to me.
A: After our lunch we proceeded here in Danao City all narcom Officers.
Q: What was the thing delivered by Jojo to you?
Q: Can you tell the Court about how many were you who came here in Danao
City? A: Three (3) packs of shabu.

A: Maybe ten (10) or twelve personnel. Q: Then after that, what did Jojo tell you, if any?

Q: After that, what happened next? A: The gate was already opened when he delivered to me the shabu and after he
delivered the shabu to me he went across, and I asked him, where are you
A: We contacted Major Castro. going, and he answered to me that he will play mahjong game.

Q: Did you have a conference with Major Castro at that time? Q: What made you [ask] that question to Jojo?

A: We have a conference but it was not done at the headquarters. We had our A: My purpose in asking Jojo is to be sure that at the time of the arrest he will be
conference but it was not done at the headquarters, we had our conference on a there and he could be located.
secret place.
Q: How far was the place where Jojo went across from the house where you
Q: Now after your conference with Major Castro on April 12, 1996, what were at the time?
happened after that?
A: Just across the street where the house is situated when he played mahjong.
16

Q: After Jojo told you that he will play mahjong, what did you do? COURT:

A: I opened my bag and I placed the shabu inside the bag and I took my comb No, no. Whom did you see first?
and I comb my hair because that was our pre-arranged signal.
PROSECUTOR GEROMO:
Q: Now after giving your pre-arranged signal, what happened?
Whom did you see first?
A: My companions rushed towards Jojo.
WITNESS continues:
Q: Was Jojo arrested?
A It was Tessie, sir.
20
A: Yes, sir, we let Jojo return to the house and got inside the house.
COURT (TO WITNESS):
From the categorical and straightforward testimony of SPO2 Patiño, the elements of the
crime charged have been sufficiently established. Her testimony was corroborated on Q From where?
material points by SPO3 Eduardo Misa who acted as a back-up during the buy-bust
operation. SPO3 Misa testified:
A From the house of a certain "Camargo."
Q What did you do in order to effect the buy bust operation?
COURT continues:
A After the selling and buying were consummated, Alicia Patiño made a pre-
arranged signal, and on that occasion I was not the only back-up. We were Q She came from the house of Camargo?
many, including the PNP of Danao City.
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q At about what time was the buy bust operation conducted?
COURT (TO PROSECUTOR GEROMO):
A More or less, at 3:30 o'clock in the afternoon, sir.
Proceed.
Q Were you able to see the accused in this instance?
PROSECUTOR GEROMO continues:
A Yes, sir.
Q From the place where you were positioned, did you see also the poseur-buyer,
Q Who of the two accused did you see first? Alicia Patiño?

ATTORNEY CAÑETE: A Yes, sir, they were talking to each other.

I object, Your Honor, there is no showing that it's either the two accused Q After they were talking to each other, can you tell the Court what transpired
who gave. next?

COURT: A Alicia Patiño gave money to her and she went to the house, and it was Jojo
who delivered the shabu to Alice.
Saw, saw. Whom did you see.
Q After that shabu was delivered, what happened next?
ATTORNEY CAÑETE:
WITNESS continues:
Whom did you give the money?
17

A Jojo went away and went across the road, and thereafter, Alicia Patiño gave To further cast doubts on the validity and regularity of the buy-bust operation, petitioners
the pre-arranged signal. argue that the marked money allegedly used in the buy-bust was not officially marked
since the same was merely recorded in a private logbook.
PROSECUTOR GEROMO continues:
Such argument will not help petitioners get out of the predicament they are in. The
Q After that pre-arranged signal. . . by the way, what was that pre-arranged recording of marked money used in a buy-bust operation is not one of the elements for the
signal? prosecution of sale of illegal drugs. The recording or non-recording thereof in an official
record will not necessarily lead to an acquittal as long as the sale of the prohibited drug is
adequately proven. In the case at bar, SPO2 Patiño, the poseur-buyer, testified on the
A By combing her hair, sir. circumstances regarding the sale of the shabu for which petitioners were charged and
convicted. Settled is the rule that in the prosecution for the sale of dangerous drugs, the
Q After you saw that pre-arranged signal given by Alicia Patiño, what did you do? absence of marked money does not create a hiatus in the evidence for the prosecution as
long as the sale of dangerous drugs is adequately proven and the drug subject of the
A We immediately approached Jojo who at that time was in the mahjong place transaction is presented before the court. Neither law nor jurisprudence requires the
24
because they wanted to play mahjong, but they were not able to play mahjong presentation of any money used in the buy-bust operation. What is material to a
because we arrested him.
21 prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale
actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti as
25
evidence. In the instant case, both were sufficiently shown by the prosecution.
The testimonial evidence was supported by the physical evidence on record. The three
22
packs -- containing a white crystalline substance weighing .7 gram -- which were
received from petitioner Fortich, were turned over to the PNP Crime Laboratory, Camp Petitioners deny that a buy-bust operation took place and claim that the evidence against
Sotero Cabahug, Cebu City, for analysis. During trial, these three packs were submitted them is planted evidence.
and marked in evidence. Police Inspector Myrna Areola, PNP Forensic Analyst, testified
that the substance contained in the packs were positive for Methamphetamine We are not convinced. The defense of denial or frame-up, like alibi, has been viewed with
Hydrochloride or shabu. Said finding was indicated in Physical Science Report No. C-263- disfavor for it can easily be concocted and is a common defense ploy in most prosecutions
23 26
96. for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. Denial is a weak form of defense, particularly
when it is not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence just like in the case before
Petitioners contend that the RTC decision is contrary to law and jurisprudence. They claim us.
that despite the failure of the raiding/searching team to submit an inventory of the
confiscated articles to the court which issued the search warrant, the court still considered All told, the illegal sale of drugs having been established beyond reasonable doubt, we are
the shabu in convicting them. constrained to uphold petitioners' conviction.

This contention is untenable. Finally, we determine the proper imposable penalty. The proper penalty to be imposed for
the illegal sale of 0.7 gram of shabu would be a prision correcional, pursuant to the
The instant case involves the sale of shabu (Crim. Case No. DNO-1532) which is separate second paragraph of Section 20 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Section 17 of
and distinct from Criminal Cases No. DNO-1533 and No. DNO-1534 involving Illegal Republic Act No. 7659 and in consonance with the doctrine laid down in People v.
27
Possession of Shabu and Firearm. In the two latter cases, petitioner Suson and accused Simon. Further, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the imposable penalty should
Camargo were acquitted. It is in this case for illegal possession of shabuthat the court be the indeterminate sentence of SIX (6) MONTHS OF ARRESTO MAYOR, as the
stated that the raiding team allegedly did not make an inventory of the confiscated drugs. minimum, to FOUR (4) YEARS AND TWO (2) MONTHS OF PRISION CORRECCIONAL,
Nowhere in the decision did the court say that the lack of inventory referred to the case for as the maximum.
the sale of shabu (Criminal Case No. DNO-1532). In the case for the sale of shabu which
is now pending before this Court, no inventory or return of search warrant is required WHEREFORE, the decision of the trial court in Criminal Case No. DNO-1532 convicting
because the shabu involved was not confiscated by virtue of a search warrant; same was petitioners Teresita B. Suson and Antonio S. Fortich for the sale of 0.7 gram of "shabu" is
obtained by the poseur- buyer because it was delivered to her by petitioner Fortich after hereby AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATIONthat the penalty of imprisonment to be
payment was made to petitioner Suson. As previously discussed, the shabu sold to the imposed should be the indeterminate sentence of SIX (6) MONTHS OF ARRESTO
poseur-buyer was subjected to laboratory examination and presented in court as evidence MAYOR, as minimum, to FOUR (4) YEARS AND TWO (2) MONTHS OF PRISION
which clearly proves the identity of the drug. Thus, petitioners' reliance on the statement of CORRECCIONAL, as maximum.
the RTC that grave doubt is entertained as to the genuineness of the specimen for the
searching team's failure to submit an inventory thereof, is misplaced. SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., J.J., concur.


18

th
That, on or about the 28 day of September, 1995, in the City of
Tagbilaran, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused being then a public official connected
with the Bureau of Internal Revenue as its Group Supervising
Examiner, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and
with intent of personal gain, directly demand and extort from a certain
Mrs. Maria Angeles Ramasola Cesar the amount of TWENTY
THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00), Philippine Currency, in connection,
in consideration and in exchange for the release of the certification of
her payment of the capital gains tax for the land purchased by the
Ramasola [Superstudio] Inc. from one Catherine Corpuz Enerio, a
transaction wherein the aforesaid accused has to intervene in his
official capacity, and to which the said Mrs. Maria Angeles Ramasola
Cesar reluctantly agreed but upon prior consultation with the military
authorities particularly the elements of the 702nd Criminal Investigation
Command [CIC] who set up the accused for a possible entrapment
resulting to (sic) his being caught in the act of receiving an envelope
supposedly containing the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS
(P20,000.00) but consisting only of four (4) marked one hundred peso
bills and the rest all bogus (paper) monies, to the damage and
prejudice of the said Mrs. Maria Angeles Ramasola Cesar in particular
and the public and the government in general in the amount to be
FIRST DIVISION proved during the trial of the case.

JUANITO T. MERENCILLO, G.R. Nos. 142369-70 Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Section 3(b) of [RA]
[7]
Petitioner, 3019.
Present:
On the other hand, the information for direct bribery penalized under Article 210
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, of the Revised Penal Code in Criminal Case No. 9483 charged:
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, th
- v e r s u s - CORONA, That, on or about the 28 day of September, 1995 in the City of
Tagbilaran, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
AZCUNA and
GARCIA, JJ. Court, the above-named accused being then a public official connected
with the performance of official duty as its Group Supervising Examiner,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and with intent of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
* personal gain, demand, extort and agree to perform an act constituting a
Respondent. Promulgated: crime, an act which is in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
April 13, 2007 Act, that is that the certification for payment of the capital gains tax
relative to the land purchased by the Ramasola Superstudio Incorporated
x------------------------------------------x from Catherine Corpus Enerio be released by him only upon payment of
an additional under the table transaction in the amount of TWENTY
DECISION THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00), Philippine Currency, which Mrs.
CORONA, J.: Maria Angeles Ramasola Cesar reluctantly agreed, but upon prior
consultation with the military authorities particularly the elements of the
nd
[1] [2]
This petition for review assails the June 18, 1999 decision of the Sandiganbayan in 702 Criminal [Investigation] Command (CIC) who set up the accused
[3] [4] for a possible entrapment resulting to (sic) his being caught in the act of
A.R. Case Nos. 004-005 affirming the omnibus decision of the Regional Trial Court
receiving an envelope supposedly containing the amount of TWENTY
(RTC) of Tagbilaran City, Branch 47, in Criminal Case Nos. 9482-83 finding petitioner
[5] [6] THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00) but, consisting only of four (4) marked
Juanito T. Merencillo guilty of violating Section 3(b) of RA 3019 and Article 210 of the
Revised Penal Code. one hundred pesos bills and the rest all bogus (paper) monies, an act
The information charging petitioner for violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 in performed by the accused in his official capacity as Group Supervising
Examiner of the BIR, to the damage and prejudice of Mrs. Maria Angeles
Criminal Case No. 9482 read:
19

Ramasola Cesar in particular and the public and the government in Cesar was instructed to prepare two bundles of bogus money by putting a one-hundred
general in the amount to be proved during the trial of the case. peso bill on each side of each of the two bundles to make it appear that the two bundles
amounted to P10,000 each or a total of P20,000. After the serial numbers of the four one-
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 210 of the Revised hundred peso bills were recorded, the entrapment was set for September 28, 1995.
[8]
Penal Code of the Philippines.
On the appointed day, Cesar called petitioner and pleaded for the release of the
Petitioner pleaded not guilty to both charges when arraigned. Thereafter trial CAR as well as for the reduction of petitioners demand. Petitioner cautiously told Cesar
ensued and the cases were tried jointly. not to talk about the matter on the phone and asked her to see him instead. Cesar went to
petitioners office with the two bundles of bogus money inside a white envelope.

THE FACTS ESTABLISHED Petitioner was entertaining a lady visitor when Cesar arrived. The members of
BY THE PROSECUTION the PNP entrapment team were already in petitioners office posing as civilians. On seeing
Cesar, petitioner handed the CAR to her and, as she was signing the acknowledgment for
In the morning of September 13, 1995, Lucit Estillore went to the Bureau of the release of the CAR, he informed her that he was going down to the second floor.
Internal Revenue (BIR) office in Tagbilaran City to ask for the computation of taxes due on Cesar took this as a cue for her to follow.
the sale of real property to Ramasola Superstudio, Inc. and to apply for a certificate
[9]
authorizing registration (CAR). At the BIR office, she was entertained by revenue As petitioner left his office, he held the door open for Cesar to follow. On
examiner Lourdes Fuentes who computed the documentary stamp tax (P37,500) and reaching the third floor lobby, petitioner uttered Here only. Cesar handed the envelope
capital gains tax (P125,000) due on the transaction. The computation was approved by containing the two bundles of marked money to petitioner who, upon receiving it, asked
petitioner in his capacity as group supervisor. Estillore paid the taxes in the bank and Why is this thick? Before Cesar could answer, a member of the PNP entrapment team
returned to apply for a CAR. She submitted the application together with relevant photographed petitioner holding the envelope. Petitioner panicked, hid the envelope
documents to Fuentes for processing. Fuentes prepared the revenue audit reports and behind his back and turned towards the window at the back of the BIR building. On seeing
submitted them together with the application for the CAR to petitioner for preliminary that the window was closed, he turned around towards the open window facing the street.
approval. [The application was to be forwarded thereafter to the Revenue District Officer He threw the envelope towards the window but it hit the ceiling instead, bounced and fell
[11]
(RDO) for final approval.] Fuentes advised Estillore that the CAR would be released after to the first floor of the BIR building. The PNP entrapment team then introduced
seven days. themselves to petitioner and invited him to go with them to their headquarters.

At around 10:00 a.m. of the same day, private complainant Maria Angeles Charges were filed against petitioner. During the trial, petitioners evidence
[10]
Ramasola Cesar (Cesar) received a call from Estillore. She was told that petitioner consisted of nothing more than a general denial of the charges against him. He claimed
wanted to see her for some negotiation. She proceeded to petitioners office where the that he never asked for money and that the allegations of demand for money existed only
latter demanded P20,000 in exchange for the approval of the CAR. Cesar replied that she in Cesars mind after she was told that there was a misclassification of the asset and
needed to confer with her two brothers who were her business associates. additional taxes had to be paid. He was surprised when policemen suddenly arrested him
as soon as Cesar handed him a white envelope the contents of which he suspected to be
The following day, on September 14, 1995, Cesar received a call from petitioner money.
who was following up his demand. Later that day, Cesar received another call from
petitioner who told her that she could get the CAR after four or five days. After trial, the RTC found petitioner guilty as charged. The dispositive portion of the
decision read:
Cesar was able to return to the BIR only on September 20, 1995. When
petitioner saw her, he repeated his demand for P20,000 although the CAR had in fact WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the accused
been signed by RDO Galahad Balagon the day before, on September 19, 1995, and was Juanito T. Merencillo, guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal by
therefore ready for release. On Cesars inquiry, the releasing clerk, Susan Cabangon, direct participation, defined and penalized by Section 3(b) of [RA]
informed Cesar that she (Cabangon) was still waiting for petitioners go signal to release 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
the document. and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of
On September 22, 1995, Cesar visited RDO Balagon and complained about imprisonment for eight (8) years and one (1) month as minimum to
petitioners refusal to release the CAR unless his demand was met. RDO Balagon assured fifteen (15) years as maximum, there being aggravating
Cesar that he would look into her complaint. Subsequently, Cesar received a call from circumstances considered under Section 3(e) and Section (f) of [RA]
petitioner informing her that she could get the CAR but reminded her of his demand. He 3019 in relation to Article 14(1) and (11) of the [RPC] in the sense
told her that he was willing to accept a lesser amount. It was at this point that Cesar that the offender have taken advantage of his public position, and
decided to report the matter to the authorities. She sought the help of the Provincial that the crime was committed in consideration of a price or promise,
Director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bohol, Senior Superintendent Dionaid without any mitigating or extenuating circumstances to neutralize or
Baraguer. offset any of the aggravating circumstances, with perpetual
disqualification from public office, and the Court further finds the
The following day, Sr. Supt. Baraguer referred Cesars complaint to the chief of accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal by direct
police of Tagbilaran City who coordinated with Cesar for the entrapment of petitioner. participation, for the crime of Direct Bribery defined and penalized by
20

Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code and sentences him to suffer any arbitrariness in the trial courts findings and evaluation of evidence tending to show
the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and one (1) day as that it overlooked certain material facts and circumstances, its findings and evaluation of
[19]
minimum to eight (8) years of prision mayor as maximum and a fine evidence should be respected on review. The presiding judge of the trial court had the
of Sixty Thousand (P60,000.00) Pesos, all as mandated by law. The opportunity to actually observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses on the witness
accused Juanito T. Merencillo likewise is ordered to indemnify stand on direct examination by the prosecution, cross-examination by the defense as well
[20]
private complainant [Cesar] to pay moral damages in the amount as during clarificatory questioning by the trial judge himself. Between the trial judge and
of P50,000.00 and attorneys fees in the amount of Five Thousand this Court, the former was concededly in a better position to determine whether or not a
[21]
(P5,000.00) Pesos. Costs shall also be taxed against the accused. witness was telling the truth. Based on the records, we find no reason to disagree with
the trial courts assessment and to discredit the prosecutions witnesses.
[12]
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Contrary to petitioners contention, the RTC and the Sandiganbayan considered
Petitioner appealed the RTC decision to the Sandiganbayan. The the alleged inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Both courts,
Sandiganbayan, however, denied the appeal and affirmed the RTC decision with however, ruled that the inconsistencies referred only to minor details that did not detract
modification reducing the penalty of imprisonment for violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 from the truth of the prosecutions testimonial evidence. We agree.
to an indeterminate sentence of six years and one month of prision mayor, as minimum, to Witnesses testifying on the same event do not have to be consistent in each and every
[13]
ten years of prision mayor, as maximum. Thus, this petition. detail. Differences in the recollection of the event are inevitable and inconsequential
Petitioner basically raises two points: (1) the Sandiganbayans refusal to believe variances are commonly regarded as signs of truth instead of falsehood. Inconsistencies
his evidence over that of the prosecutions and (2) the Sandiganbayans failure to in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses with respect to minor details and collateral
recognize that he was placed in double jeopardy. matters do not affect either the substance of their declaration, their veracity or the weight
[22]
of their testimony. In fact, such minor flaws may even enhance the worth of a testimony
[23]
Petitioner faults the Sandiganbayan for affirming the RTC decision and for they guard against memorized falsities.
disregarding his evidence. He claims that, had the RTC and the Sandiganbayan not
[14]
ignored the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecutions witnesses, he would Minor discrepancies or inconsistencies do not impair the essential integrity of the
[24]
have been acquitted. He also asserts that he was placed twice in jeopardy when he was prosecutions evidence as a whole or reflect on the witnesses honesty. The test is
prosecuted for violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 and for direct bribery. whether the testimonies agree on essential facts and whether the respective versions
corroborate and substantially coincide with each other so as to make a consistent and
[25]
Petitioner is wrong. coherent whole. Thus, inconsistencies and discrepancies in details which are irrelevant
[26]
to the elements of the crime cannot be successfully invoked as grounds for acquittal.

TRIAL COURTS The RTC and the Sandiganbayan correctly ruled that the inconsistencies pointed
EVALUATION OF out by petitioner were neither material nor relevant to the elements of the offenses for
EVIDENCE WILL NOT BE DI which he was charged. For instance, whether or not it was petitioner himself who handed
STURBED the CAR to private respondent was immaterial. The fact was that petitioner demanded and
received money in consideration for the issuance of the CAR.
PETITIONER WAS
Both the RTC and the Sandiganbayan found the testimonies of the prosecutions NOT PLACED
witnesses (that petitioner demanded and received money from private complainant Cesar IN DOUBLE JEOPARDY
for the release of the CAR) sufficient and credible enough to sustain conviction.

This notwithstanding, petitioner now asks this Court to review the entire evidence Section 3 of RA 3019 begins with the following statement:
anew, re-evaluate the credibility of witnesses and make another factual determination of
the case a course of action clearly improper given the nature of the instant
[15]
petition. Questions of fact cannot generally be raised for the consideration of this Court. Sec. 3. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers
already penalized by existing law, the following [acts] shall constitute
The calibration of evidence and the relative weight thereof belongs to the appellate corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared
[16]
court. Its findings and conclusions cannot be set aside by this Court unless there is no unlawful:
[17]
evidence on record to support them. In this case, however, the findings of fact of the
Sandiganbayan, affirming the factual findings of the RTC, were amply supported by xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied)
evidence and the conclusions therein were not against the law and jurisprudence. There is
no reason to disturb the congruent findings of the trial and appellate courts.
One may therefore be charged with violation of RA 3019 in addition to a felony under the
Moreover, findings and conclusions of the trial court on the credibility of Revised Penal Code for the same delictual act, that is, either concurrently or subsequent
[27]
witnesses enjoy the respect of appellate courts because trial courts have the distinct to being charged with a felony under the Revised Penal Code. There is no double
[18]
advantage of observing the demeanor of witnesses as they testify. In the absence of
21

jeopardy if a person is charged simultaneously or successively for violation of Section 3 of (1) the offender is a public officer;
RA 3019 and the Revised Penal Code.
(2) the offender accepts an offer or promise or receives a gift or
The rule against double jeopardy prohibits twice placing a person in jeopardy of present by himself or through another;
[28]
punishment for the same offense. The test is whether one offense is identical with the
other or is an attempt to commit it or a frustration thereof; or whether one offense (3) such offer or promise be accepted or gift or present be received
necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the other, as provided in Section 7 of by the public officer with a view to committing some crime, or in
[29]
Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. An offense charged necessarily includes that which is consideration of the execution of an act which does not constitute
proved when some of the essential elements or ingredients of the former, as alleged in the a crime but the act must be unjust, or to refrain from doing
complaint or information, constitute the latter; and an offense charged is necessarily something which it is his official duty to do and
included in the offense proved when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or
[30]
form a part of those constituting the latter. (4) the act which the offender agrees to perform or which he executes
[32]
is connected with the performance of his official duties.
A comparison of the elements of the crime of direct bribery defined and punished
under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code and those of violation of Section 3(b) of RA
3019 shows that there is neither identity nor necessary inclusion between the two
offenses. Clearly, the violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 is neither identical nor
necessarily inclusive of direct bribery. While they have common elements, not all the
Section 3(b) of RA 3019 provides: essential elements of one offense are included among or form part of those enumerated in
the other. Whereas the mere request or demand of a gift, present, share, percentage or
Sec. 3. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers benefit is enough to constitute a violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019, acceptance of a
already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt promise or offer or receipt of a gift or present is required in direct bribery. Moreover, the
practices of any public officer and are hereby declared unlawful: ambit of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 is specific. It is limited only to contracts or transactions
involving monetary consideration where the public officer has the authority to intervene
xxx xxx xxx under the law. Direct bribery, on the other hand, has a wider and more general scope: (a)
performance of an act constituting a crime; (b) execution of an unjust act which does not
(b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, constitute a crime and (c) agreeing to refrain or refraining from doing an act which is his
present, share percentage or benefit, for himself or for official duty to do.
any other person, in connection with any contract or
transaction between the Government and any other Although the two charges against petitioner stemmed from the same transaction,
party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity the same act gave rise to two separate and distinct offenses. No double jeopardy attached
[33]
has to intervene under the law. since there was a variance between the elements of the offenses charged. The
constitutional protection against double jeopardy proceeds from a second prosecution for
[34]
xxx xxx xxx the same offense, not for a different one.

The elements of the crime penalized under Section 3(b) of RA 3019 are: WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The June 18, 1999 decision of the
(1) the offender is a public officer; Sandiganbayan in A.R. Case Nos. 004-005 is AFFIRMED.

(2) he requested or received a gift, present, share, percentage Costs against petitioner.
or benefit; SO ORDERED.

(3) he made the request or receipt on behalf of the offender or any


other person;

(4) the request or receipt was made in connection with a contract or


transaction with the government and RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
(5) he has the right to intervene, in an official capacity under the law,
in connection with a contract or transaction has the right to WE CONCUR:
[31]
intervene.

On the other hand, direct bribery has the following essential elements: REYNATO S. PUNO
22
[2]
Chief Justice insolvency, and to suffer perpetual disqualification from holding any public office, and to
[3]
Chairperson pay the costs, and resolution denying reconsideration.

The Charge
ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
Associate Justice Associate Justice On April 19, 1991, Special Prosecution Officer I Gregorio G. Pimentel, Jr., Office of
the Ombudsman filed with the Sandiganbayan an information charging petitioner Juan A.
CANCIO C. GARCIA
Rueda, Jr., with malversation of public funds, defined and penalized under Article 217 of
Associate Justice the Revised Penal Code, to wit:

CERTIFICATION That on or about the period of February 8, 1989 to September 20, 1989, in Tigaon,
Camarines Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, a public officer, being then the Municipal Treasurer of Tigaon, Camarines
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the Sur, and as such was accountable for all public funds collected and received by him by
conclusions in the above decision had been reached in consultation before the case was reason of the duties of his office, taking advantage of his official position and with grave
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division. abuse of confidence, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
misappropriate, embezzle and convert to his own personal use and benefit the total sum
of P107,299.02, Philippine Currency, to the damage and prejudice of the Philippine
[4]
government in the amount aforesaid.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice Upon arraignment on November 29, 1991, petitioner entered a plea of not
[5]
guilty. Trial ensued.
[6]
EN BANC The facts, as found by the Sandiganbayan, are as follows:
At times material hereto, petitioner Rueda was the municipal treasurer of Tigaon,
Camarines Sur. On September 20, 1989, a team of state auditors, headed by Amparo O.
Albeus, conducted an audit examination of the accountabilities of petitioner Rueda as
[G.R. No. 129064. November 29, 2000] municipal treasurer of Tigaon, Camarines Sur, covering the period February 8, 1989 to
September 20, 1989.As a result of the audit, it was assumed that petitioner had a cash
shortage of P107,299.02 (Exh. A-2). The corresponding report of cash examination was
thereafter accomplished. When confronted therewith, petitioner affixed his signature (Exh.
JUAN A. RUEDA, JR., petitioner, vs. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE A-1) on the certification on the dorsal portion of the report to the effect that his
OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. accountability for the funds of the municipal government of Tigaon, Camarines Sur was
correctly stated.
DECISION On October 3, 1989, the auditors sent a formal written demand to petitioner Rueda,
requiring him to immediately produce the sum of P107,299.02, representing the shortage
PARDO, J.: on his accountabilities as municipal treasurer of Tigaon, Camarines, Sur, and to explain in
writing within seventy-two (72) hours why the shortage occurred (Exh. B). Notwithstanding
receipt of the letter (Exh. B-1), petitioner failed to have the said amount forthcoming or to
tender his written explanation why the shortage occurred.
The Case
In his defense, petitioner Rueda disclaimed any criminal liability on the ground that
[1]
the assumed shortage was the result of unliquidated cash advances made by several
The case is an appeal via certiorari from the decision of the Sandiganbayan finding municipal officials and employees of Tigaon, Camarines Sur, spanning the period covered
petitioner Juan A. Rueda, Jr. guilty of malversation of public funds, and sentencing him to by the audit as evidenced by various chits or vales (Exhs. 11-15), and expenses of the
an indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, municipal government of Tigaon as evidenced by several disbursement vouchers (Exhs.
to seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27,28, 29 and 30).
maximum, to pay a fine of P107,299.02 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
Petitioner Rueda declared that the municipal officials and employees took the cash
advances from the cash collections of the municipal collectors before the cash collections,
23

in the total amount of P41,234.71, were turned over to him as municipal treasurer. What 8. Official Receipt No. 4833595 (P) dated 7/11/90 for
they turned over to him were the chits and vales evidencing such cash P5,014.06
advances. Although he never tolerated the practice and had verbally warned the municipal Total P107,299.02
[7]
officials and employees from making those cash advances, they continued to do so.
A certification dated July 11, 1990, signed by Mr. Francisco N. Briguera, in-charge-of
Petitioner Rueda stressed that the cash advances were made with the consent of the office of the municipal treasurer of Tigaon, Camarines Sur, and verified and found correct
municipal mayor, and had been the practice in the municipality of Tigaon long before he by Melanio C. Alarcon, state auditing examiner (Exh. 9), showed that petitioner Rueda had
assumed office as municipal treasurer. He would later on deduct the cash advances made fully restituted the cash shortage discovered during the cash examination. As such,
[9]
from their respective salaries in installment, and after they were paid, he would turn over petitioner claimed innocence and therefore must be acquitted.
the amount to the office of the municipal treasurer. With respect to the subject chits and
vales, petitioner Rueda declared that after the same were paid, he turned over the amount On March 19, 1996, the Sandiganbayan (Third Division) promulgated its decision
to the office of the municipal treasurer who then credited those payments as restitution of finding petitioner Rueda guilty beyond reasonable doubt of malversation of public funds,
[8]
the shortage on his total cash accountability. Thus, the debtors themselves liquidated defined and penalized under Article 217 (4) of the Revised Penal Code, the dispositive
the cash advances and petitioners accountabilities had been fully restituted before the portion of which reads as follows:
start of the preliminary investigation in the office of the Ombudsman.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, finding the accused GUILTY beyond
A day before the state auditors from the Commission on Audit conducted an audit reasonable doubt, of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds, under paragraph 4 of
examination of his cash accountabilities, the internal auditors from the provincial Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code and considering the mitigating circumstance of full
treasurers office conducted a similar examination. This group of internal auditors advised restitution of the amount malversed, and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, this
him not to bring the matter about vales or cash advances to the COA audit team because Court hereby sentences the accused to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment
they would only disallow them for lack of supporting documents. This is the reason why he for a period of TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor, as minimum, to
did not present the disbursement vouchers in the course of the audit conducted by the SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY reclusion temporal, as
State Auditors on September 20, 1989. maximum; to pay a fine of P107,299.02 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
After the audit of September 20, 1989, petitioner Rueda began completing the insolvency, and to suffer perpetual special disqualification from holding any public office;
supporting documents of those disbursement vouchers. Upon completion of those vales and to pay the costs.
and chits as supporting documents, he submitted the same together with the
disbursement vouchers to the in-charge-of office of the municipal treasurer, who credited SO ORDERED.
the amounts reflected on those disbursement vouchers as restitution of the shortage on
his total accountability. Manila, Philippines, January 25, 1996.
[10]

Consequently, petitioner Rueda stated that as of July 11, 1990, before the start of
the preliminary investigation in the Office of the Ombudsman, all his financial On March 29, 1996, petitioner filed with the Sandiganbayan a motion for
[11]
accountabilities had been fully restituted. The cash advances, in the form of chits and reconsideration of the decision.
vales amounting to P41,234.71, had been wholly paid or redeemed by their respective
debtors. The disbursement vouchers of P53,700.00 representing various legitimate However, on May 07, 1997, the Sandiganbayan found the motion not meritorious
[12]
expenses of the municipality of Tigaon, Camarines Sur and the collection deposits in the and denied the same.
amount of P12,384.06 were all liquidated.The in-charge-of office of the municipal treasurer
of Tigaon, Camarines Sur issued eight official receipts, for various amounts received from
petitioner Rueda, to wit:
The Appeal
1. Official Receipt No. 0382089 dated 12/14/89 for
P65,000.00
[13]
2. Official Receipt No. 0129158 (O) dated 12/29/89 for Hence, this appeal.
P618.56
3. Official Receipt No. 0382090 (N) dated 1/08/90 for
P6,000.00
4. Official Receipt No. 0382091 (N) dated 1/08/90 for Issues
P12,000.00
5. Official Receipt No. 0382095 (N) dated 4/02/90 for
P15,000.00 (1) Is petitioner liable for malversation of public funds due to a shortage of
6. Official Receipt No. 0382100 (N) dated 5/31/90 for P107,299.02 which consisted of chits and vales evidencing cash advances from cash
P3,000.00 collections of the municipal collectors before these were turned over to petitioner
7. Official Receipt No. 4846890 (P) dated 7/09/90 for municipal treasurer as part of his accountability?
P666.40
24

(2) Is he presumed to have put the missing public funds to his personal use or pursuant to the last paragraph of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code that he had put
allowed others to take such funds when it is an admitted fact that the cash advances were such missing funds to personal use.
given by the municipal collectors from their cash collections, not from funds in the custody
of petitioner? We disagree. Petitioner did not admit any shortage. The mere fact that he signed
the dorsal side of the report of cash examination is not an admission of shortage. His
Petitioner submits that the Sandiganbayan erred: signature was only evidence that he received a copy of the report. Thus, it is incorrect to
say that petitioner admitted his shortage when he signed the audit report prepared by the
(1) In finding that the rulings in Villacorta v. People, 145 SCRA 425 [1986] and Quizo [18]
audit team. For one thing, he was made to sign it right away; for another, his signature
v. Sandiganbayan, 149 SCRA 108 [1987] do no apply to the case at bar as they have only meant an acknowledgment that a demand from him to produce all his cash, money
been reversed by the pronouncement in Meneses v. Sandiganbayan, 232 SCRA 441 and paid vouchers had been made. It did not mean that he admitted any shortage. In fact,
[1994] which relied on the ruling in Cabello v. Sandiganbayan, 197 SCRA 94 [1991]; subsequent events showed that he had fully explained his accountability. Thus, he
[19]
(2) In rejecting petitioners submission that the evidence must be appreciated under satisfactorily explained the shortage. In other words, there was no direct evidence or
[20]
the rulings in Villacorta and Quizo, as the events occurred when the prevailing doctrines proof that he put public funds to personal use. When absence of funds was not due to
[21]
were the rulings in Villacorta and Quizo; personal use, the presumption is completely destroyed. The taking or conversion of
[22]
public funds for personal use must be affirmatively proved. When there is no shortage,
[23]
(3) In not finding that he succeeded to overthrow the prima facie evidence of taking, appropriation, conversion or loss, there is no malversation.
conversion/misappropriation under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code;
The crime of malversation of public funds is defined and penalized as follows:
(4) In rejecting petitioners explanation as regards the disbursement vouchers and
[14]
collection deposits such that they do not make out a criminal offense. ART. 217. Malversation of public funds or property - Presumption of malversation.- Any
Actually, the issues really boil down to whether or not petitioner has incurred a public officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is accountable for public funds or
shortage in his cash accountability as municipal treasurer of the municipality of Tigaon, property, shall appropriate the same, or shall take or misappropriate or shall consent, or
through abandonment or negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public
Camarines Sur.
funds or property, wholly or partially, or shall otherwise be guilty of the misappropriation or
malversation of such funds or property, xxx.

The Courts Ruling xxx xxx xxx

The failure of the public officer to have duly forthcoming such public funds or property,
We sustain petitioners submissions primarily because he did not take or upon demand by a duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put
misappropriate or through abandonment or negligence, permit any other person to take or such missing funds or property to personal use.
[24]
malverse public funds or property in his custody for which he is accountable. He did not
put public funds to his personal use. He was able to properly explain and account fully for
his cash accountability of public funds upon demand by the auditors. The assumed The elements of malversation, essential for the conviction of an accused, under the
shortage does not exist and in any event has been restituted in full. above penal provision are that:

Generally, the factual findings of the Sandiganbayan are conclusive on the (a) the offender is a public officer;
Court. However, there are established exceptions to that rule, such as, sans preclusion,
(b) he has the custody or control of funds or property by reason of the duties of
when (1) the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmise and
his office;
conjecture; (2) the inference made is manifestly an error or founded on a mistake; (3)
there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts; (c) the funds or property involved are public funds or property for which he is
and (5) the findings of fact are premised on the absence of evidence and are contradicted accountable; and
[15]
by evidence on record. In these instances, this Court is bound to review the facts in
[16]
order to avoid a miscarriage of justice. The instant case falls within such exceptions. (d) he has appropriated, taken or misappropriated, or has consented to, or
through abandonment or negligence permitted, the taking by another
[25]
Considering the evidence on record, we find that the Sandiganbayan convicted person of, such funds or property.
[17]
petitioner on probabilities and conjecture, not on hard facts duly established. We are
thus justified to re-examine, as we do, the evidence. The felony involves breach of public trust, and whether it is committed
through dolo or culpa the law makes it punishable and prescribes a uniform penalty
After an assiduous scrutiny, we find petitioner not guilty of malversation of public therefor. Even when the information charges willful malversation, conviction for
finds. The Sandiganbayan found that petitioner admitted his accountability and failed to malversation through negligence may still be adjudged if the evidence ultimately proves
[26]
have duly forthcoming his cash shortage in the amount of P107,299.02 with which he is that mode of commission of the offense.
chargeable, and that he did not tender the required written explanation as to why the
shortage was incurred.His failure to do so instantly created a prima facie evidence Concededly, the first three elements are present in this case. It is the last
element, i.e., whether or not petitioner really has misappropriated public funds, where the
25
[30]
instant petition focuses itself. In convicting petitioner, the Sandiganbayan cites the Shortage P107,229.02
presumption in Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code that the failure of a public officer to
have duly forthcoming any public funds with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any The auditors finding of a cash shortage is definitely wrong. In fact and under
duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds accounting principles, there is no cash shortage. The cash and other valid cash items
or property to personal uses. The presumption is, of course, rebuttable. Accordingly, if were produced by petitioner and counted by the auditors in the total amount of
the accused is able to present adequate evidence that can nullify any likelihood that he P170,195.26. The amount is intact in cash. The assumed shortage of P107,229.02
had put the funds or property to personal use, then that presumption would be at an end represented vales, chits and disbursement vouchers considered as part of the general
and the prima facie case is effectively negated. This Court has repeatedly said that when fund. This is an auditing error. It is a generally accepted auditing principle that cash means
the absence of funds is not due to the personal use thereof by the cash on hand or in bank. Standard text in accounting defines Cash as consisting of those
accused, the presumption is completely destroyed; in fact, the presumption is deemed items that serve as a medium of exchange and provide a basis for accounting
never to have existed at all.
[27] measurement. To be reported as cash, an item must be readily available and not
restricted for use in the payment of current obligations. A general guideline is whether an
The prosecution, upon whose burden was laden the task of establishing by item is acceptable for deposit at face value by a bank or other financial institution.
proof beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner had committed the offense charged,
mainly relied on the statutory presumption aforesaid and failed to present any substantial Items that are classified as cash include coin and currency on hand, and unrestricted
piece of evidence to indicate that petitioner had used the funds for personal gain. The funds available on deposit in a bank, which are often called demand deposits since they
evidence submitted, just to the contrary, would point out that not a centavo of the so-called can be withdrawn upon demand. Petty cash funds or change funds and negotiable
missing funds was spent for personal use x x x.
[28] instruments, such as personal checks, travelers checks, cashiers checks, bank drafts, and
money orders are also items commonly reported as cash. The total of these items plus
[29] th
In Salamera v. Sandiganbayan, we emphatically declared that the 4 element undeposited coin and currency is sometimes called cash on hand. Interest-bearing
requires that a public officer must take public funds, money or property, and accounts, or time deposits, also are usually classified as cash, even though a bank legally
misappropriate it to his own private use or benefit. There must be asportation of public can demand prior notification before a withdrawal can be made. In practice, banks
funds or property, akin to the taking of anothers property in theft. The funds, money or generally do not exercise this legal right.
property taken must be public funds or private funds impressed with public attributes or
character for which the public officer is accountable. Deposits that are not immediately available due to withdrawal or other restrictions
require separate classification as restricted cash or temporary investments. They are not
[31]
We are convinced that the evidence in this case has not proved beyond reasonable cash.
doubt that petitioner is guilty of malversation of public funds.
In short, there was no shortage on petitioners cash accountability. Evidence of
We explain why. To begin with, there was no evidence of cash shortage. The letter shortage is necessary before there could be any taking, appropriation, conversion,
[32]
of demand dated October 3, 1989 (Exh. B-1) to petitioner for him to produce immediately or loss of public funds that would amount to malversation. The law requires that
the missing funds in the total amount of P107,299.02 and to submit within seventy-two the shortage must be clearly established as a fact that over and above the funds found by
hours why the shortage occurred, states: the auditors in the actual possession of the accountable officers, there is an additional
amount which could not be produced or accounted for at the time of audit.
x x x It was found that your cash was short of P107,229.02.
In this case, there was absolutely no shortage as to petitioners cash
This shortage was arrived at as follows: accountability. The auditors mistakenly included as cash items collectibles in the form of
vales and chits and disbursement vouchers for legitimate expenses of the municipality.
Accountability:
An accountable officer under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code must receive
money or property of the government which he is bound to account for. It is the
Balance per audit as of Sept. 20, 1989 nature of the duties of, not the nomenclature used for, or the relative significance of the
Certified correct by you. title to, the position, which controls in that determination.
[33]

General Fund P165,078.78 Based on this definition, to be held accountable the public officer must receive the
Infrastructure Fund 39,904.77 money or property, and later fails to account for it. When a public officer is asked to
Special Education account for the cash in his accountability, this necessarily means that he has to produce
Fund 28,398.29 the cash in bills and coins and other cash items that he received. It does not include
Trust Fund 10,983.84 collectibles and receivables or even promissory notes.
Balgu Fund 33,128.60 P277,494.28 Petitioner Rueda did not receive the money (cash), which he was supposed to
[34]
produce or account for at the time of the audit. In fact, the audit team found that sum of
Credit to accountability: P170,195.26 intact in bills and notes. Nonetheless, the auditors declared a
shortage because petitioner Rueda could not produce as cash items the collectibles and
Cash and valid cash items produced receivables in the form of chits and vales and disbursement vouchers for legitimate
by you and counted by us P170,195.26 expenses of the municipality. This is an auditing error because the collectibles and
26

receivables are not cash items. The money did not reach the hands of Supreme Court for the RTC, Branch 30, at Tigaon, Cam. Sur; one voucher is for
petitioner. Therefore, it is not part of his cash accountability. Kagawad Redito Clario, cash advance for seminar workshop for the municipal
kagawad at Los Baos, Laguna; another voucher is for Orlando Asiado, cash advance
The amount of P107,299.02, was divided as follows: (1) P41,234.71 representing the for supporting the athletic uniform of the municipal team for the Summer Basketball
chits and vales taken by the municipal officials and employees from the municipal Tournament; next voucher is for Hector Bongat, cash advance for constructing 50
collections prior to the remittance of these cash collections to petitioner; (2) P53,700.00 pieces market stalls, and, next is Leo Cea, a cash advance for the summer basketball
representing the legitimate expenses of the municipality subject to liquidation; and (3) tournament referees; next voucher is for Mayor Eleonor Lelis, cash advance in going to
P12,384.06 unsettled cash collections. Manila, with the INP Station Commander and 3 Patrolmen to get our Fire truck for the
With regard to the P41,234.71 cash advances, petitioner did not receive the cash nor municipality; next voucher is for Leonida Peaflor, a cash advance for the terminal leave
gave the cash advances for they were taken from the cash collections of the municipal of her deceased husband, my assistant municipal treasurer, Domingo Peaflor; next
collectors before the cash collections were turned over to him. voucher is for Arturo Pascua, cash advance for delivering sand and gravel for the
cementing of a municipal street and the last is for Iigo Zape, cash advance for
Q: The cash collections of the municipal collectors from which the chits and vales, COLA. These were the unsubmitted vouchers, sir.
from which the amount represented by the chits and vales are made by the municipal
employees and officials, from the amount covered by those chits and vales were Q: You said, you did not present these vouchers during the audit by the COA team
already turned over to you or not yet, when the chits and vales were made? because these lack supporting documents and you were advised by the internal audit
team not to present them anymore because there will be, for sure, is lacking. [sic] Can
A: They were not yet turned over to me, sir. The employees have their cash advances you still recall what supporting documents were lacking to these vouchers, for which
from the municipal collectors before their cash collections were turned over to me. So, reason you did not present them, if you can still recall the supporting documents
[35]
I got only the chits or vales; the cash was not yet turned over to me. lacking?

Clearly, petitioner Rueda did not receive the above-mentioned amount at the time of A: Some of them lacks the canvass paper; some of them were partially paid but also
[36] [40]
the audit. In fact, no cash was ever given or turned over to petitioner. At any rate, the lacking supporting papers, sir.
respective debtors, not the petitioner, wholly redeemed the cash advances and vales
amounting to P41,234.71, to wit:
[37] After the audit, petitioner prepared the supporting documents that these vouchers
lacked and turned them over to the in-charge-of office who replaced him, Mr. Francisco
[41]
Q: Where are now those chits and/or vales covering those cash advances? Briguera.

A: Those chits and vales were redeemed by the employees and then, some of them Petitioner satisfactorily explained the unsettled cash collection deposits in the
were redeemed by the employees and then, as I accumulated the amount, I turned it amount of P12,384.06. This amount represented the cash collections of the market
over, the cash, I turned it over to the In-Charge of Office and then, issued an official collectors, which had been turned over to the invoicing officer of the treasury, Mrs.
[38]
receipt for the amount and credited against my shortage as restitution. Delicias Galvante. During the audit examination, this amount had been reflected as
[39]
unaccounted because it lacked some requirements, such as the labor payroll. It was only
As heretofore stated, in Salamera vs. Sandiganbayan, we ruled that one essential after the audit examination that the invoicing officer turned over the labor payroll
element of malversation is that a public officer must take public funds, money or property, corresponding to the amount of P6,000.00. The remainder of the P12,384.06 was given as
and misappropriate it to his own private use or benefit. There must be asportation of public cash advances in the form of chits and vales, which had been taken from the collections,
funds or property, akin to the taking of anothers property in theft. Hence, how can there be again, prior to its remittance to petitioner.
taking or misappropriation when the funds did not even reach the hands or custody of
petitioner Rueda? Hence, petitioner satisfactorily explained the cash shortages found in his
accountability at the time of the audit examination. No portion of his cash accountability
As regards the amount of P P53,700.00, these referred to legitimate expenses of the [42]
has been malversed by him or put to his personal use.
municipality. At the time of the audit, petitioner failed to present the vouchers for these
[43]
legitimate expenses because they lacked documents in support of the vouchers, to wit: In Meneses vs. Sandiganbayan, the Court reiterated an earlier ruling in Cabello v.
[44]
Sandiganbayan, that the practice of disbursing public funds under the vale system is
Q: You mentioned about these vouchers. What are these vouchers that you not a meritorious defense in malversation cases. The grant of loans through the vale
mentioned? system is a clear case of an accountable officer consenting to the improper or
unauthorized use of public funds by other persons, which is punishable by law. To tolerate
A: May I refer to my list, Your Honor.
such a practice is to give a license to every disbursing officer to conduct a lending
AJ DEL ROSARIO: operation with the use of public funds.

The witness may refresh his memory. However, the ruling in Cabello and Meneses cannot be applied to the case at
bar. The circumstances obtaining in those cases are not present in the case at bar. An
WITNESS: These vouchers, there are 11 of them, from the Will Print, one voucher important moiety in the instant case is that petitioner did not grant the cash advances or
from the printing realty taxes, tax declaration, I mean; and, another two vouchers from vales to the municipal officials. They took the cash advances from the collections of the
the same Will Print, for printing also the Real Tax Declaration; third voucher is from municipal collectors. However, they restored or liquidated the amounts prior to the conduct
Angel Bongulto, cash advance for Manila to get the law books and references from the of preliminary investigation before the office of the Ombudsman. The liquidation was done,
27

not by petitioner, but by the respective debtors. Liquidation simply means the settling of The prosecution must overthrow the presumption of innocence with proof
[45]
indebtedness. of guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The proof against him must survive the
[55]
test of reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment. Even if
Liquidation does not necessarily signify payment, and to liquidate an account, can the defense is weak, the case against the accused must fail if the prosecution is even
mean to ascertain the balance due, to whom it is due, and to whom it is payable; hence, weaker, for the conviction of the accused must rest not on the weakness of the defense
an account that has been liquidated can also mean that the item has been made certain but on the strength of the prosecution.
[56]
[46]
as to what, and how much, is deemed to be owing.
In order to convict an accused, the circumstances of the case must exclude all and
Neither can petitioner Rueda be considered guilty of passive malversation. He did each and every hypothesis consistent with his innocence.
[57]
not tolerate the practice of making cash advances by the municipal officials and
employees. He warned them about the illegality of such practice. However, he was In conclusion, we find that the guilt of the petitioner has not been proved beyond
helpless about the situation because it was done with the consent of the municipal mayor. reasonable doubt. The petitioner must be acquitted. Every accused is presumed innocent
They were not indicted for malversation. Why? The prosecution did not explain. The until the contrary is proved; that presumption is solemnly guaranteed by the Bill of
Sandiganbayan did not even inquire. Instead of the cash collections being remitted to Rights. The contrary requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that degree of proof,
petitioner, pieces of paper called chits or vales were given as evidence of the cash which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. Short of this, it is not only the right of
[58]
advances. He never had the opportunity to disburse public funds under the vale system, the accused to be freed; it is even the constitutional duty of the court to acquit him.
for in the first place, the public funds were not turned over to him.
Consequently, the prima facie evidence that public funds have been put to the
personal use of petitioner has been obliterated by the fact that he did not receive the The Fallo
[47]
money as municipal treasurer. In Zambrano v. Sandiganbayan, we said that if the
accused did not receive the public funds, there was no malversation. In Diaz vs.
[48]
Sandiganbayan, we held that when the absence of funds is not due to the personal use WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the decision of respondent
thereof by the accused, the presumption is completely destroyed; in fact, the presumption SANDIGANBAYAN promulgated on March 19, 1996 and the resolution adopted on May 7,
is deemed never to have existed at all. 1997 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner JUAN A. RUEDA, JR. is hereby
ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt of the charge of malversation of public funds, defined
In malversation, it is necessary to prove that the accused received public funds, and
and penalized under Article 217 (4) of the Revised Penal Code. His bail bond is ordered
that he could not account for them and did not have them in his possession and that he
[49] cancelled.
could not give a reasonable excuse for the disappearance of the same. In this case, the
prosecution failed to establish this important element of malversation. In fact, it did not Costs de oficio.
really exist.Petitioner gave a reasonable and satisfactory explanation of his cash
accountability of public funds that were duly liquidated. The Court must not reject SO ORDERED.
[50]
arbitrarily an explanation consistent with the presumption of innocence.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban,
[51]
In Narciso v. Sandiganbayan, we said that where there is no evidence whatever Quisumbing, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
that over and above the funds found by the auditors in his actual possession, Narciso had De Leon, Jr., No part. Ponente of Sandiganbayan decision.
received the additional amount of P14,500.00, which he could no longer produce or
account for at the time of the audit, there being no shortage, there has been no taking,
appropriation, conversion, or loss of public funds; there is no malversation. We could very
well be speaking of the case of petitioner Rueda.
In our criminal justice system, the overriding consideration is not whether the court
doubts the innocence of the accused but whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to THIRD DIVISION
his guilt. This determinant, with the constitutional presumption of innocence which can be
overthrown only by the strength of the prosecutions own evidence proving guilt beyond
[52]
reasonable doubt, irresistibly dictate an exoneration in this case.
The evidence against petitioner is not enough to engender moral certainty of his [G.R. Nos. 147706-07. February 16, 2005]
guilt. This moral certainly is that which convinces and satisfies the conscience of those
[53]
who are to act upon it.
Accordingly, the presumption of innocence which the Constitution guarantees the
petitioner has remained untarnished in this case for want of proof to the contrary. It is PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN
safely entrenched in our jurisprudence that unless the prosecution discharges its burden (Fifth Division) and EFREN L. ALAS, respondents.
to prove the guilt of an accused beyond reasonable doubt, the latter need not even offer
[54]
evidence in his behalf. DECISION
28

CORONA, J.: organized as subsidiaries of government-owned or controlled corporation under the


general corporation law.
Does the Sandiganbayan have jurisdiction over presidents, directors or trustees, or
managers of government-owned or controlled corporations organized and incorporated In Philippine National Oil Company Energy Development Corporation vs. Leogardo, 175
under the Corporation Code for purposes of the provisions of RA 3019, otherwise known SCRA 26, the Supreme Court emphasized that:
as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act? The petitioner, represented by the Office of
the Special Prosecutor (OSP), takes the affirmative position in this petition The test in determining whether a government-owned or controlled corporation is subject
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Respondent Efren L. Alas contends to the Civil Service Law is the manner of its creation such that government corporation
otherwise, together with the respondent court. created by special charter are subject to its provision while those incorporated under the
Pursuant to a resolution dated September 30, 1999 of the Office of the Ombudsman, general corporation law are not within its coverage.
[1]
two separate informations for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019, otherwise known as
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, were filed with the Sandiganbayan on November Likewise in Davao City Water District vs. Civil Service Commission, 201 SCRA 601 it was
17, 1999 against Efren L. Alas. The charges emanated from the alleged anomalous held that by government-owned or controlled corporation with original charter we mean
advertising contracts entered into by Alas, in his capacity as President and Chief government-owned or controlled corporation created by a special law and not under the
Operating Officer of the Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB), with Bagong Buhay Corporation Code of the Philippines while in Llenes vs. Dicdican, et al., 260 SCRA 207, a
Publishing Company which purportedly caused damage and prejudice to the government. public officer has been ruled, as a person whose duties involve the exercise of discretion
in the performance of the function of government.
On October 30, 2002, Alas filed a motion to quash the informations for lack of
jurisdiction, which motion was vehemently opposed by the prosecution. After considering
the arguments of both parties, the respondent court ruled that PPSB was a private Clearly, on the basis of the foregoing pronouncements of the Supreme Court, the accused
corporation and that its officers, particularly herein respondent Alas, did not fall under herein cannot be considered a public officer. Thus, this Court may not exercise jurisdiction
[2]
Sandiganbayan jurisdiction. According to the Sandiganbayan: over his act.

After a careful consideration of the arguments of the accused-movant as well as of that of Dissatisfied, the People, through the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), filed
[3]
the prosecution, we are of the considered opinion that the instant motion of the accused is this petition arguing, in essence, that the PPSB was a government-owned or controlled
well taken. Indeed, it is the basic thrust of Republic Act as well as (sic) Presidential corporation as the term was defined under Section 2(13) of the Administrative Code of
[4]
Decree No. 1606 as amended by President Decree No. 1486 and Republic Act No. 7975 1987. Likewise, in further defining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, RA 8249 did
and Republic Act No. 8249 that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction only over public not make a distinction as to the manner of creation of the government-owned or controlled
officers unless private persons are charged with them in the commission of the offenses. corporations for their officers to fall under its jurisdiction. Hence, being President and Chief
Operating Officer of the PPSB at the time of commission of the crimes charged,
respondent Alas came under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.
The records disclosed that while Philippine Postal Savings Bank is a subsidiary of the
Philippine Postal Corporation which is a government owned corporation, the same is not Quoting at length from the assailed resolution dated February 15, 2001, respondent
created by a special law. It was organized and incorporated under the Corporation Code Alas, on the other hand, practically reiterated the pronouncements made by the
which is Batas Pambansa Blg. 68. It was registered with the Securities and Exchange respondent court in support of his conclusion that the PPSB was not created by special
[5]
Commission under SEC No. AS094-005593 on June 22, 1994 with a lifetime of fifty (50) law, hence, its officers did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.
years. Under its Articles of Incorporation the purpose for which said entity is formed was
primarily for business, xxx We find merit in the petition.
[6]
Section 2(13) of EO 292 defines government-owned or controlled corporations as
Likewise, a scrutiny of the seven (7) secondary purposes of the corporation points to the follows:
conclusion that it exists for business. Obviously, it is not involved in the performance of a
particular function in the exercise of government power. Thus, its officers and employees Sec. 2. General Terms Defined Unless the specific words of the text or the context as a
are not covered by the GSIS and are under the SSS law, and actions for reinstatement whole or a particular statute, shall require a different meaning:
and backwages are not within the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission but by the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
xxx xxx xxx
The Supreme Court, in the case of Trade Unions of the Philippines and Allied Services vs.
National Housing Corp., 173 SCRA 33, held that the Civil Service now covers only (13) government owned or controlled corporations refer to any agency organized as a
government owned or controlled corporations with original or legislative charters, those stock or non-stock corporation vested with functions relating to public needs whether
created by an act of Congress or by special law, and not those incorporated under and governmental or proprietary in nature, and owned by the government directly or indirectly
pursuant to a general legislation. The Highest Court categorically ruled that the Civil or through its instrumentalities either wholly, or where applicable as in the case of stock
Service does not include government-owned or controlled corporation which are corporations to the extent of at least 51% of its capital stock: provided, that government
owned or controlled corporations maybe further categorized by the department of the
29

budget, the civil service commission and the commission on audit for the purpose of the a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the
exercise and discharge of their respective powers, functions and responsibilities with Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and
respect to such corporations. Chapter II, Section, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where
one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following
From the foregoing, PPSB fits the bill as a government-owned or controlled positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim
corporation, and organized and incorporated under the Corporation Code as a subsidiary capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense,
of the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHILPOST). More than 99% of the authorized capital
stock of PPSB belongs to the government while the rest is nominally held by its (1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of
incorporators who are/were themselves officers of PHILPOST. The creation of PPSB was regional director, and higher, otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher,
expressly sanctioned by Section 32 of RA 7354, otherwise known as the Postal Service of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act
Act of 1992, for purposes of, among others, to encourage and promote the virtue of thrift No. 6758) specifically including:
and the habit of savings among the general public, especially the youth and the
marginalized sector in the countryside xxx and to facilitate postal service by receiving xxx xxx xxx
[7]
collections and making payments, including postal money orders.
It is not disputed that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over presidents, directors (g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of
or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations with original government-owned or controlled corporations, state
charters whenever charges of graft and corruption are involved. However, a question universities or educational institutions or foundations. (Italics
arises whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the same officers in government- ours)
owned or controlled corporations organized and incorporated under the Corporation Code
in view of the delimitation provided for in Article IX-B Section 2(1) of the 1987 Constitution The legislature, in mandating the inclusion of presidents, directors or trustees, or
which states that: managers of government-owned or controlled corporations within the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan, has consistently refrained from making any distinction with respect to the
SEC. 2. (1) The Civil Service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and manner of their creation.
agencies of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with
original charters. The deliberate omission, in our view, clearly reveals the intention of the legislature to
include the presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of both types of corporations
within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan whenever they are involved in graft and
It should be pointed out however, that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is corruption. Had it been otherwise, it could have simply made the necessary distinction.
separate and distinct from the Civil Service Commission. The same is governed by Article But it did not.
XI, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that the present anti-graft court
known as the Sandiganbayan shall continue to function and exercise its jurisdiction as It is a basic principle of statutory construction that when the law does not distinguish,
now or hereafter may be provided by law. This provision, in effect, retained the jurisdiction we should not distinguish. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. Corollarily,
of the anti-graft court as defined under Article XIII, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution Article XI Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution, on the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman (the
which mandated its creation, thus: governments prosecutory arm against persons charged with graft and corruption),
includes officers and employees of government-owned or controlled corporations, likewise
Sec. 5. The Batasang Pambansa shall create a special court, to be known as without any distinction.
Sandiganbayan, which shall have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases involving graft [10]
In Quimpo v. Tanodbayan, this Court, already mindful of the pertinent provisions
and corrupt practices and such other offense committed by public officers and of the 1987 Constitution, ruled that the concerned officers of government-owned or
employees, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations, in relation to controlled corporations, whether created by special law or formed under the Corporation
their office as may be determined by law. (Italics ours) Code, come under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan for purposes of the provisions of
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Otherwise, as we emphasized therein, a major
On March 30, 1995, Congress, pursuant to its authority vested under the 1987 policy of Government, which is to eradicate, or at the very least minimize, the graft and
[8]
Constitution, enacted RA 7975 maintaining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over corruption that has permeated the fabric of the public service like a malignant social
presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled cancer, would be seriously undermined. In fact, Section 1 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
corporations without any distinction whatsoever. Thereafter, on February 5, 1997, Practices Act embodies this policy of the government, that is, to repress certain acts not
[9]
Congress enacted RA 8249 which preserved the subject provision: only of public officers but also of private persons constituting graft or corrupt practices or
which may lead thereto.
Section 4, Jurisdiction. The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in The foregoing pronouncement has not outlived its usefulness. On the contrary, it has
all cases involving: become even more relevant today due to the rampant cases of graft and corruption that
erode the peoples faith in government. For indeed, a government-owned or controlled
corporation can conceivably create as many subsidiary corporations under the
30

Corporation Code as it might wish, use public funds, disclaim public accountability and The prosecution established the following facts:
escape the liabilities and responsibilities provided by law. By including the concerned
officers of government-owned or controlled corporations organized and incorporated On 8 November 1991, at the police station in Carmen, Bohol, SPO1 Placido Flores
under the Corporation Code within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the legislature sought permission from PO3 Gregorio Alimpolos to go to the house of appellant with
evidently seeks to avoid just that. trustee-prisoner Ellorde Galacio at around 1:00 a.m.. It was the birthday of appellants wife,
Sinforiana and Flores was bringing along Elorde to help roast the Amamangpangs pig that
[2]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the was earlier butchered.
assailed resolution dated February 15, 2001 of the respondent court is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. On their way to appellants residence abroad the victims patrol jeep, Flores and
Galacio passed Manuel Noculan who was walking towards his carinderia at the public
SO ORDERED. market to see to the newly harvested palay he had deposited there. Flores stopped and
[3]
asked Noculan to Accompany them to appellant house.
Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio-Morales, and Garcia,
JJ., concur. Upon reaching the Amamangpang residence, Flores and Galacio entered the house
of Noculan. Noculan followed and upon entering saw Flores sitting on the stairs with his
head resting on the edge of a table. Noculan seated himself outside the house while
Galacio stood beside the door. Appellant was then standing near Sinforiana who was
[4]
cooking in the kitchen.
Suddenly, from inside the house, Noculan heard a child shout. Father! Dont! Noculan
THIRD DIVISION immediately stood up and, peering through the door, saw appellant holding a scythe and
about to strike Flores who was still wearing his fatigue pants and a white T-shirt with PNP
emblem. Appellants daughter, Genalyn had her arms around his (appellants)
[5]
waist. Shocked by what he had witnessed, Noculan ran and hid. While running, he heard
[6]
[G.R. No. 108491. July 2, 1998] several gunshots.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. plaintiff-appellee, vs. SERGIO At the police station around 250 meters away from the Amamangpang residence,
AMAMAMPANG, accused-appellant. PO3 Alimpolos heard two gun shots followed by a rapid succession of four shots, alerting
him and another patrolman. Thereafter, appellant, in bloody clothes and accompanied by
his daughter, arrived at the police station and surrendered himself to Alimpolos. He
DECISION admitted to the latter that he had killed Flores but gave no reason why. Appellant
[7]
surrendered a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver and empty shells.
KAPUNAN, J.:
Thereafter, police officers Jovencio Ybaez, Alfredo Llongas and Magdaleno Dano
In the early morning of 8 November 1991, SPO1 Placido Flores, a member of the were dispatched to investigate the incident. At appellants house, they retrieved the
[8]
Philippine National Police in Carmen, Bohol, was fatally hacked with a scythe and shot scythe.
with a .38 caliber revolver in the home of appellant Sergio Amamangpang in Guadalupe,
Dr. Amalia G. Aana, municipal health officer of Carmen, Bohol, who was summoned
Carmen, Bohol. On 17 January 1992, appellant was charged with the murder of Flores in
to the crime scene, found the lifeless body of the victim lying in appellants bedroom at the
an information which read, thus: [9]
second storey of his house. Her postmortem report reveals the following findings:
th
That on or about the 8 day of November, 1991, in the municipality of Carmen,
province of Bohol, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Cause of Death:
Court, the above-named accused, with treachery and evident premeditation,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attacked, assault and
A. Incised wounds multiple at the ff:
strike with a scythe and then shoot with the use of the service handgun which
the accused wrested from the victim, SPO1 Placido Flores, who was unaware th
of the attack, thereby inflicting mortal injuries on the vital parts of the victims 1. 6 x 4 inches at the nape; base of the neck; 7 rib, right axillary
body which resulted in the death of the said SPO1 Placido Flores; to the region.
damage and prejudice of the heirs of the deceased in the amount to be proved
during the trial. 2. 6 x inch mid-lateral forearm, right upper extremity
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 248 of the Revised Penal
[1]
Code, as amended. 3. 5 x 1 inch at the upper lip slicing the tip of the nose.

Upon the arraignment, appellant entered a plea of not guilty.


B gunshot wounds, multiple at the ff:
31

1. inch right naso-maxillary bone 2 inches below the right eyeball; the forehead. Flores retraced his way and fell down. Because of his anger, appellant
[16]
right parietal bone, 3 in number. consumed all the guns bullets on the fallen Flores.
Corroborating appellants story, his wife, Sinforiana, testified that after supper she
2. inch- entrance wound at the right posterior costal 7-rib, 4 inches drank a little tuba with her husband, Flores and Galacio. At midnight, her husband
from the spinal column. followed the advice of Flores to spend the night in their store. After her husband, Flores
and Galacio left, she went to sleep with her daughter.
The body was supine position (sic) with stretched upward outward upper
extremities. The body from the waist up to his head was all covered with Sinforiana was awakened when Flores tried to abuse her. At first, Flores held her,
blood. The mat, floor, blanket and clothes were soaked with blood. The telling that he wanted to borrow money. She told him that she had no money as they had
underwear at his ankle pants beside the left foot and the blanket underneath just made purchases for their store. Responding to what she said, Flores told her that he
the body. The room was lighted with a small kerosene lamp near the Sto. Nio had long developed his love foe her. She thus retorted, Pre, are you not foolish? We are
image. The body was found 1-1/2 meters from the lamp and the image.
[10] close friends, why are you doing this to me? But Flores removed his pants and briefs and
embraced her. When Sinforiana tried to resist, Flores threatened to kill her. While Flores
In support of its theory that the appellant killed Flores in a fit of jealousy, the was on top of her, and embracing her, appellant arrived, unsheathed his scythe and
[17]
prosecution presented Margarita Flores (the wife of Placido Flores) who brought a hacked Flores. Freed from his embrace, Sinforiana ran away followed by her daughter.
[11]
certification issued by the barangay captain of Guadalupe, Carmen, Bohol, showing that
a complaint had been lodged against appellant resulting from physical injuries he had Twelve-year-old Genalyn Amamangnpang testified that she was awakenend by a
inflicted upon a certain Simon Betonio on suspicion that Betonio and appellants wife were noise and her mother saying, Pre, why are you still here when in fact you already went
having an affair, but that the parties settled the case amicably after appellant shouldered home? She saw her manimoy (godfather) Flores completely naked. She told him,
the medical expenses incurred by Betonio. maninoy, what are you going to do with my mother? Flores answered, Keep quiet there
Genalyn because if you will not, I will shot you. (sic) Just then, her father arrived and
For his part, appellant admitted killing Flores but claimed that he did it in defense of pulled out his scythe. Genalyn ran outside to fetch a policeman as her father
his wifes honor. As an alternative defense, appellant contended that his action was instructed. She ran towards the public market but, not seeing any policeman, she went
justified under Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code. After he caught his wife, Sinforiana back home. Upon her arrival, her father told her to go with him to surrender and, together,
[18]
and Flores engaged in the sexual act on that fateful day. He narrated the events as they proceeded to the municipal building where the police station was located.
follows:
On 8 October 1992, the RTC of Bohol, Branch 1 Tagbilaran City rendered a decision
In the evening of 7 November 1991, in honor of his wifes birthday the next day, convicting appellant of murder. The trial court ruled that appellants act of emptying the
appellant butchered a pig with the assistance of Flores and Galacio. When his wife, bullets of the gun on the body of the victim, even when the latter was already helpless and
Sinforiana and his daughter, Genalyn arrived, the former prepared their supper. After severely wounded on the nape constituted treachery. Likewise, the trial court appreciated
eating, Genalyn went to bed and rest (appellant, Flores, Gelacio and Sinforiana) drank nighttime as a generic aggravating circumstance and imposed the penalty of reclusion
tuba until midnight. Subsequently, Flores prodded appellant to sleep in his (appellants) perpetua upon appellant. The dispositive portion of the decision reads, thus:
store at the public market with Galacio o guard the store against robbers. At first, appellant
refused because he had to wake up early to roast the butchered pig. However, he PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court finds the accused SERGIO
changed his mind when Flores assured him that he would wake him up at dawn when he AMAMANGPANG guilty of the crime of Murder punished under Article 248 of
(Flores) reported for duty.
[12] the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer an imprisonment
of Reclusion Perpetua, with the accessories of law and to pay the cost.
That settled, Flores, Galacio and appellant boarded the patrol jeep. After dropping off
the two men at the public market, Flores proceeded home. Appellant, however, The accused SERGIO AMAMANGPANG is further ordered to indemnify the
discovered that he left his store key at home. He tried to force open the padlock but the surviving spouse Margarita Flores and the children of the late Placido Flores in
effort proved futile. Resigned, he sat beside Galacio who was sleeping on the bamboo the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) representing
bed near the store. Minutes later, however, appellant felt cold, so he woke up Galacio and indemnity and THIRTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P35,000.00) representing
they decided to go home.
[13] burial expenses and in both instances without subsidiary imprisonment in case
of insolvency.
Upon reaching appellants house, Galacio excused himself to answer the call of
nature. When appellant entered through the unfinished door at the back of his house, he The Smith and Wesson (sic) revolver with Serial Number .335516 is ordered
heard a noise (kasikas). He proceeded upstairs and lighted a match. To his astonishment, returned to the government through the PNP authorities.
he saw the half-naked Flores on top of his wife who still had her clothes on. Thereupon, SO ORDERED.
[19]
appellant unsheathed his scythe and hacked the victim on the neck. He attempted to
strike a second time but the handle of the scythe broke off. Flores was then lying face In this appeal, appellant raises the following issues:
[14]
down in a crawling position. Appellant jumped on Flores back who tried to draw his
[15]
gun. The two grappled for possession thereof. After wresting the gun from Flores, STATEMENT OF ISSUES
appellant ran downstairs. Flores pursued him.Appellant then faced Flores and shot him on
32

I. WHETHER OR NOT THE KILLING IS JUSTIFIED AS AN ACT OF Appellants contention hardly deserves consideration. As testified to by Dr. Aana, the
DEFENSE OF HONOR. picture taken by the investigators, unfortunately, turned out black meaning the image did
not come out. Hence, there was no sense in presenting said pictures as
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE KILLING HAS THE CHARACTER OF exhibits. Nevertheless, it cannot be asserted with certainty that Flores body, as discovered
DEATH UNDER EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES AS by Dr. Aana when she arrived at the scene of the crime, was in exactly the same position
PROVIDED FOR PROVIDED FOR UNDER ARTICLE 247 OF where he had actually fallen and died from his wounds. The position of the body as
THE REVISED PENAL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES. described by Dr. Aana contradicts the testimony of prosecution witness Noculan that when
his attention was roused by the shout of appellants daughter, he saw appellant holding a
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS scythe and was about to strike Flores who was lying prostrate on the ground, fully clothed,
with blood oozing from his neck. After everybody ran and hid during the commotion,
1. The trial court erred in finding the presence of the element of nighttime appellant was left in the house. Therefore had the opportunity to move the body of the
in appreciating it as aggravating circumstance. victim from the ground floor to the second-storey bedroom and strip him of his lower
garments to make it appear that the victim intended to have sexual intercourse with his
2. The trial court erred in finding that accused emptied the bullets of the (appellants) wife.
firearm in killing the victim who was already helpless and severely
wounded in the nape. Appellant also questions the failure of the prosecution to present the investigators
and Galacio as witnesses.
3. The trial court erred in convicting the accused of the crime of murder
and the subsequent application of the penalty of reclusion Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court expressly provides that all criminal actions
perpetua.
[20] shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal. Under this provision, the
defense may not dictate on the prosecution the choice of the latters witnesses as it is the
[22]
Before going to the main defense, we shall first resolve the preliminaries raised by prerogative of each party to determine which evidence to submit.
appellant.
Appellant further claims that it was Galacios role to ensure that he (appellant) would
Appellant contends that the pictures taken by the investigators, depicting the victims stay at the market while Flores went back to appellants house to perpetrate his lascivious
body lying naked in the bedroom floor, were tampered with and suppressed by the scheme.If this was their theory, then, it should have been the defense which presented
prosecution. In support, appellant cites the following testimony of Dr. Aana: Galacio as witness, not the prosecution.

Q: Among those policeman who came to you, do you know if any pictures were Proceeding to his main defense, appellant invokes the justifying circumstance of
taken by them or any of your companions in your direction? defense of relative under Article 11 (2) of the Revised Penal Code:

A: There was. ART. 11. Justifying circumstance. -- The following do not incur any liability:

Q: Where is the picture now?


1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights provided that the following
A: I told the policeman to get a picture, the body of the victim did not appear in the circumstances concur:
picture.
First. Unlawful aggression
Q: How many pictures were honestly taken by the policeman?
A: One or two shots. Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it;
Q: When the picture was taken by the policeman, that was the time when the body of
the victim was naked and lying face up/ Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.

A: Yes, sir.
2. Anyone who acts in defense of the person or rights of his spouse, ascendants,
Q: You said that the picture was blurred because you were told by the policeman? descendants, or legitimate, natural or adopted, brothers or sisters, or of his relatives by
affinity in the same degrees, and those by consanguinity within the fourth civil degrees,
A: I think it was Alfredo Luengas who said it was blurred. I went to the police station I provided that the first and second requisites prescribed in the next preceding
saw the picture, it was black. circumstance are present, and the further requisite, in case the provocation was given by
the person attacked, that the one making defense had no part therein.
Q: Could it be possible that it could be a negative of another shot not necessarily the
shot taken at the time of the incident?
In cases of self-defense and defense of relatives where the accused has admitted
[21]
A: It could be. the killing, we observe the time-honored rule that [h]aving made the admission, it is, thus
incumbent upon the accused to proved the justifying circumstances to the satisfaction of
the court in order to be relieved of any criminal liability. In such instances, the accused
33

must proffer strong, clear and convincing evidence of self-defense and depend not on the remove the pants, strip the underwear down to the ankles and concoct the story of
infirmity of the prosecution, for even if the latter was weak, the plea of self-defense cannot defending his wife from the lecherous intentions of Flores.
[23]
prosper especially so where the accused himself has admitted the killing.
The alternative defense presented by appellant is Art. 247 of the revised Penal Code
In the case at bar, appellant miserably failed to hurdle this test. His claim is belied by which provides:
the physical evidence on record. First, appellants contention that he found Flores with his
wife in the bedroom at the second floor of the house (the place where he cleaved Flores ART. 247. Death of physical injuries inflicted under exceptional circumstances.-
with his scythe) is negated by the fact that blood was found splattered on the table, the -Any legally married person who, having surprised his spouse in the act of
bamboo floor and the stairs in the first floor of the house as unmistakably shown in the committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or
[24]
pictures taken by amateur photographer Wilberto Dag-um. We find incredulous both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any
appellants explanation that after wrestling the gun from Flores he ran downstairs with serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro.
Flores in pursuit and when he turned and shot Flores on the forehead the latter was able If he shall inflict upon them physical injuries of any other kind, he shall be
to retrace his way to the bedroom on the second floor of the house before falling down. It exempt from punishment.
must be recalled that Flores was already severely wounded at the nape. Coupled with the
gunshots wound on his forehead, which as testified to by Dr. Aana, was enough to have x x x.
[25]
caused instantaneous death, it is, therefore, inconceivable that he was still able to climb
back up the stairs and finally collapse in the bedroom. He asserts that his action was the result of anger and passion after discovering his wife
and his friend, Flores, engaged in sexual intercourse in his own home.
On the contrary, the pictures are consistent with Noculans testimony that he saw the
bloodied Flores prostrate on the ground in the first floor of the house and appellant poised Appellants assertion is unmeritorious. His two bases for exoneration are markedly
[26] inconsistent with each other. On one hand, he claims that he was defending his wife from
to strike Flores again.
Flores who was trying to force himself upon her. On the other, he gives the implication that
Second, appellants contention that he cut Flores only once with his scythe is his wife and Flores were having an illicit affair. Such contradictory theories are a manifest
repudiated by Dr. Aana findings that the victims body bore three (3) incised wounds: at the indication that appellants defenses are nothing but mere concoctions. Besides, appellants
nape and upper lip. alternative defense is inconsistent with the testimonies of his wife (Sinforiana) and
daughter (Genalyn) that Flores threatened to kill them if they refused to accede to his
Third, Dr, Aana testified that the trajectory of the bullet wounds was downward, wishes.
[34]
[27]
hence the assailant must be higher in position than the victim. She opined that the
[28]
victim may have been shot while already lying prostrate on the floor. The trial court, however, erred in finding that the crime was committed with
[29] treachery. Treachery, which should be proven as clearly as the crime itself to be
Finally, the testimony of appellants daughter that Flores was completely naked. Is [35]
considered a qualifying circumstance, was not conclusively established in this
materially inconsistent with the findings of Dr. Aana that Flores was wearing a shirt and case. According to prosecution eyewitness Noculan, when he was alerted to the assault
[30]
was naked only from the waist down. It also contradicts appellants own testimony that by the warning shout of appellants daughter and he peeped inside the house, he saw the
when he was being pursued by Flores, the latter was only half-naked wearing a t-short but victim already prostrate on the bamboo floor, blood oozing form his neck and about to be
[31]
no brief and trousers. struck by the appellant. Since the lone eyewitness failed to witness the initial attack
[36]
From the foregoing. We find more credible the theory of the prosecution that Flores inflicted upon the victim, treachery cannot be considered a qualifying circumstance.
was killed in the first floor of the house, as testified to by Noculan. His body, however, was In People v. Beltran,
[37]
we reiterated the rule that:
subsequently carried upstairs to the bedroom and was stripped of his pants and
underwear to make it appear that appellant caught Flores in the act of abusing his wife. x x x. There is treachery when, in the commission of the crime, the offender
employs means, methods and forms which directly and specially insure the
Appellants story, as previously discussed, is full of material discrepancies. Appellant execution thereof without risk to himself arising from any defense the offender
testified that he caught Flores on top of his wife in their bedroom on the second floor and party might make. The essence of treachery is the swift and unexpected attack
that he reacted by hacking Flores with his scythe. But when the scythes handle broke off, without the slightest provocation by the victim. In the case at bar, the victim
appellant jumped on Flores back and they grappled for possession of Flores gun. When may have sustained twenty-two (22) stab wounds but there is no evidence as
Dr. Aana and the investigators arrived, however, they testified that the things inside the to the manner in which the attack was made or how the stabbing resulting in
[32]
room was (sic) still in order, the Sto. Nio and the lamp. her death begun and developed. The existence of treachery cannot be
Likewise, when Dr, Aana discovered Flores body, she found his pants by his left foot established from mere suppositions nor drawn from circumstances that existed
[33]
and his underwear stripped down to his ankles. But how could Flores have his prior and after the filling; it must be proved by clear and convincing evidence or
underwear around his ankles at the time his body was found when appellant specifically as conclusively as the killing itself. Where treachery is not adequately proved,
stated that Flores was not wearing his trousers and brief when he chased appellants and appellant can only be convicted of homicide. (Underscoring ours.)
the latter shot him.Thus, the only explanation for this is that appellant indeed altered the In the absence of treachery, appellant should be held liable only for homicide under
physical evidence so as to make it conform to his defense. It must be pointed out that article 249 of the revised Penal Code.
nobody reported the crime. The police become aware of the incident only after appellant
surrendered himself. Hence, appellant had the time and opportunity to move the body,
34

We agree with the Solicitor General that the aggravating circumstance of nighttime of reclusion temporal, as maximum, but increased the death indemnity awarded to the
was not present when the crime was committed. No evidence was adduced to indicate heirs of the victim, Enrique Ike Lingan, from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00.
that nocturnity was specially sought by appellant or taken advantage of by him to facilitate
[38]
the commission of the crime or to insure his immunity from capture. The fact that the The information against petitioner alleged
crime took place at night was just incidental.
That on or about the 4th day of February, 1990, in the nighttime, in the City of Lucena,
The mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender should be considered in Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
applellants favor because of the concurrence of the following requisites: (a) the offender said accused, being then a member of the Lucena Integrated National Police, with intent
had not actually been arrested; (b) the offender surrendered himself to a person in to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault one Ike Lingan inside
[39]
authority or to an agent of a person in authority; and (c) the surrender was voluntary. the Lucena police headquarters, where authorities are supposed to be engaged in the
PO3 Alimpolos distinctly testified that appellant, on his own volition, appeared at the discharge of their duties, by boxing the said Ike Lingan in the head with the butt of a gun
police station and surrendered himself shortly after he had killed Flores. By the
[40] and thereafter when the said victim fell, by banging his head against the concrete
presence of this mitigating circumstances and there being no generic aggravating pavement, as a consequence of which said Ike Lingan suffered cerebral concussion and
circumstance, the penalty imposable shall be the minimum period of reclusion shock which directly caused his death.
[41]
temporal. Applying the indeterminate Sentence Law, appellant shall suffer the penalty
of prision mayor, minimum as the minimum penalty to reclusion temporal, minimum as the The evidence shows that, at around 8:40 in the evening of February 4, 1990, Stanley
maximum penalty. Jalbuena and Enrique Ike Lingan, who were reporters of the radio station DWTI in Lucena
City, together with one Mario Ilagan, went to the Entertainment City following reports that it
WHEREFORE, appellant Sergio Amamangpang is hereby found guilty beyond the was showing nude dancers. After the three had seated themselves at a table and ordered
reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide for the killing of SPO1 Placido Flores and shall beer, a scantily clad dancer appeared on stage and began to perform a strip act. As she
suffer the indeterminate penalty of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor minimum removed her brassieres, Jalbuena brought out his camera and took a picture.
[2]
as minimum penalty to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal minimum
as maximum penalty. The monetary awards to the heirs of SPO1 Placido Flores imposed At that point, the floor manager, Dante Liquin, with a security guard, Alex Sioco,
[3]
upon appellant by the trial court are AFFIRMED. Costs against appellant. approached Jalbuena and demanded to know why he took a picture. Jalbuena
[4]
replied: Wala kang pakialam, because this is my job. Sioco pushed Jalbuena towards
SO ORDERED [5]
the table as he warned the latter that he would kill him. When Jalbuena saw that Sioco
[6]
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Romero, and Purisima, JJ., concur. was about to pull out his gun, he ran out of the joint followed by his companions.
Jalbuena and his companions went to the police station to report the matter. Three of
the policemen on duty, including petitioner Navarro, were having drinks in front of the
police station, and they asked Jalbuena and his companions to join them. Jalbuena
declined and went to the desk officer, Sgt. Aonuevo, to report the incident. In a while,
SECOND DIVISION Liquin and Sioco arrived on a motorcycle.
[7]

Sioco and Liquin were met by petitioner Navarro who talked with them in a corner for
[8]
around fifteen minutes. Afterwards, petitioner Navarro turned to Jalbuena and, pushing
[G.R. No. 121087. August 26, 1999] him to the wall, said to him: Putang ina, kinakalaban mo si Kabo Liquin, anak yan ni Kabo
[9]
Liquin, hindi mo ba kilala? Petitioner Navarro then pulled out his firearm and cocked it,
[10]
and, pressing it on the face of Jalbuena, said, Ano, uutasin na kita?
At this point, Lingan intervened and said to petitioner Navarro: Huwag namang
[11]
FELIPE NAVARRO, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS and the PEOPLE OF ganyan, pumarito kami para magpa-blotter, I am here to mediate. Petitioner Navarro
[12]
THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. replied: Walang press, press, mag-sampu pa kayo. He then turned to Sgt. Aonuevo and
[13]
told him to make of record the behavior of Jalbuena and Lingan.
[14]
DECISION This angered Lingan, who said: O, di ilagay mo diyan. Petitioner Navarro
[15] [16]
retorted: Talagang ilalagay ko. The two then had a heated exchange. Finally, Lingan
MENDOZA, J.: said: Masyado kang abusado, alisin mo yang baril mo at magsuntukan na lang
[17] [18]
tayo. Petitioner Navarro replied: Ah, ganoon?
[1]
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals,
dated December 14, 1994, which affirmed the judgment of the Regional Trial Court, As Lingan was about to turn away, petitioner Navarro hit him with the handle of his
Branch 5, Lucena City, dated July 27, 1992, finding petitioner Felipe Navarro guilty pistol above the left eyebrow. Lingan fell on the floor, blood flowing down his face. He tried
[19]
beyond reasonable doubt of homicide and sentencing him to ten (10) years of prision to get up, but petitioner Navarro gave him a fist blow on the forehead which floored him.
mayor, as minimum, and fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months, and one (1) day
35

Petitioner Navarro turned to Jalbuena and said: Kita mo yan ha, buhay kang testigo, hinamon ako sa harap ni Stanley. Testigo kayo, hinamon ako. Pulis tayo
[20]
si Ike Lingan ang naghamon. He said to Sgt. Aonuevo: Ilagay mo diyan sa blotter, sa eh. Puta, buti nga, suntok lang ang inabot nyan. Sa harap ni Alex, ni Joe, ni
[21]
harap ni Alex Sioco at Dante Liquin, na si Ike Lingan ang naghamon. He then poked his Stanley, hinamon ako. Pare, hinamon ako, kinig nyo ha. Hinamon ako nyan.
gun at the right temple of Jalbuena and made him sign his name on the Sige, dalhin nyo sa hospital yan.
[22]
blotter. Jalbuena could not affix his signature. His right hand was trembling and he
simply wrote his name in print.
[23] Petitioner Felipe Navarro claims that it was the deceased who tried to hit him twice,
but he (petitioner) was able to duck both times, and that Lingan was so drunk he fell on
[26]
Capt. Coronado, the station commander, called petitioner Navarro to his office, while the floor twice, each time hitting his head on the concrete.
a policeman took Lingan to the Quezon Memorial Hospital. The station manager of DWTI,
Boy Casaada, arrived and, learning that Lingan had been taken to the hospital, proceeded In giving credence to the evidence for the prosecution, the trial court stated:
[24]
there. But Lingan died from his injuries.
After a thorough and in-depth evaluation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and
Unknown to petitioner Navarro, Jalbuena was able to record on tape the exchange the defense, this court finds that the evidence for the prosecution is the more credible,
[25]
between petitioner and the deceased. The following is an excerpt from the tape concrete and sufficient to create that moral certainty in the mind of the court that accused
recording: herein is criminally responsible.
Lingan: Pare, you are abusing yourself.
The defenses evidence which consists of outright denial could not under the circumstance
Navarro: Who is that abusing? overturn the strength of the prosecutions evidence.
Lingan: Im here to mediate. Do not include me in the problem. Im out of the problem.
This court finds that the prosecution witnesses, more particularly Stanley Jalbuena, lacked
.... any motive to make false accusation, distort the truth, testify falsehood or cause
Navarro: Wala sa akin yan. Ang kaso lang . . . . accusation of one who had neither brought him harm or injury.

Lingan: Kalaban mo ang media, pare. Ako at si Stanley, dalawa kami. Okay. Do not Going over the evidence on record, the postmortem report issued by Dra. Eva Yamamoto
fight with me. I just came here to ayusin things. Do not say bad things against confirms the detailed account given by Stanley Jalbuena on how Lingan sustained head
me. Im the number one loko sa media. Im the best media man. . . . injuries.
Navarro: Huwag tayong mag-lokohan sa ganyan! Huwag na tayong mag-
takotan! Huwag mong sabihing loko ka! Said post-mortem report together with the testimony of Jalbuena sufficiently belie the
claim of the defense that the head injuries of deceased Lingan were caused by the latters
Lingan: Im brave also. falling down on the concrete pavement head first.
Navarro: Ay lalo na ako. Tahimik lang naman ako. Wala ka namang masasabi sa akin
dahil nag-tatrabaho lang ako ng ayon sa serbisyo ko. The Court of Appeals affirmed:

Lingan: You are challenging me and him. . . .


We are far from being convinced by appellants aforesaid disquisition. We have carefully
Navarro: Ay walastik ka naman Ike! Pag may problema ka dito sinasabihan kita na evaluated the conflicting versions of the incident as presented by both parties, and we find
may balita tayong maganda. Pambihira ka Ike. Huwag mong sabihin na . . the trial courts factual conclusions to have better and stronger evidentiary support.
. Parang minomonopoly mo eh.
In the first place, the mere fact that Jalbuena was himself a victim of appellants
Lingan: Pati ako kalaban ninyo.
aggression does not impair the probative worth of his positive and logical account of the
Navarro: Talagang kalaban namin ang press. Lahat, hindi lang ikaw! incident in question. In fact, far from proving his innocence, appellants unwarranted
assault upon Jalbuena, which the defense has virtually admitted, clearly betrays his
Lingan: You are wrong. Bakit kalaban nyo ang press? violent character or disposition and his capacity to harm others. Apparently, the same
motivation that led him into assailing Jalbuena must have provoked him into also attacking
Navarro: Pulis ito! Aba! Lingan who had interceded for Jalbuena and humiliated him and further challenged him to
Lingan: Alisin mo ang baril mo! Alisin mo ang baril mo! Suntukan tayo, sige. a fist fight.

Navarro: Mayabang ka ah! ....


(Sounds of a scuffle)
On the other hand, appellants explanation as to how Lingan was injured is too tenuous
Navarro: Hinamon ako nyan! Pare hinamon ako nyan! Pare hinamon ako nyan, testigo and illogical to be accepted. It is in fact contradicted by the number, nature and location of
kayo. Alisin ko daw ang baril ko. Hinamon ako nyan. Pare, ilagay mo diyan, Lingans injuries as shown in the post-mortem report (Exh. D). According to the defense,
36

Lingan fell two times when he was outbalanced in the course of boxing the appellant. And Act shall not be admissible in evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or
yet, Lingan suffered lacerated wounds in his left forehead, left eyebrow, between his left administrative hearing or investigation.
and right eyebrows, and contusion in the right temporal region of the head (Exh.
E). Certainly, these injuries could not have resulted from Lingans accidental fall. Thus, the law prohibits the overhearing, intercepting, or recording of private
[29]
communications. Since the exchange between petitioner Navarro and Lingan was not
Hence, this appeal. Petitioner Navarro contends: private, its tape recording is not prohibited.
Nor is there any question that it was duly authenticated. A voice recording is
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAS DECIDED THE CASE NOT IN ACCORD authenticated by the testimony of a witness (1) that he personally recorded the
WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT. ITS conversation; (2) that the tape played in court was the one he recorded; and (3) that the
CONCLUSION IS A FINDING BASED ON SPECULATION, SURMISE OR [30]
voices on the tape are those of the persons such are claimed to belong. In the instant
CONJECTURE; THE INFERENCE IT MADE IS MANIFESTLY MISTAKEN, ABSURD OR [31]
case, Jalbuena testified that he personally made the voice recording; that the tape
IMPOSSIBLE; IT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION; ITS JUDGMENT IS [32]
played in court was the one he recorded; and that the speakers on the tape were
BASED ON A MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS; ITS FINDING IS CONTRADICTED BY [33]
petitioner Navarro and Lingan. A sufficient foundation was thus laid for the
EVIDENCE ON RECORD; AND ITS FINDING IS DEVOID OF SUPPORT IN THE authentication of the tape presented by the prosecution.
RECORD.
Second. The voice recording made by Jalbuena established: (1) that there was a
The appeal is without merit. heated exchange between petitioner Navarro and Lingan on the placing in the police
blotter of an entry against him and Jalbuena; and (2) that some form of violence occurred
First. Petitioner Navarro questions the credibility of the testimony of Jalbuena on the involving petitioner Navarro and Lingan, with the latter getting the worst of it.
ground that he was a biased witness, having a grudge against him. The testimony of a
witness who has an interest in the conviction of the accused is not, for this reason alone, Furthermore, Dr. Eva Yamamoto, who performed the autopsy on the body of Lingan,
[34]
[27]
unreliable. Trial courts, which have the opportunity to observe the facial expressions, issued a medical certificate, dated February 5, 1990, containing the following findings:
gestures, and tones of voice of a witness while testifying, are competent to determine
[28]
whether his or her testimony should be given credence. In the instant case, petitioner Post Mortem Findings:
Navarro has not shown that the trial court erred in according weight to the testimony of
Jalbuena. = Dried blood, forehead & face
Indeed, Jalbuenas testimony is confirmed by the voice recording he had made. It
may be asked whether the tape is admissible in view of R.A. No. 4200, which prohibits = No blood oozed from the ears, nose & mouth
wire tapping. The answer is in the affirmative. The law provides:
= Swelling, 3 cm x 2 cm, temporal region, head, right
SECTION 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to
any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other = Lacerated wound, 2 cm in length, 1-2 in depth, lateral, eyebrow, Left
device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or
spoken word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or
detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape-recorder, or however otherwise described: = Lacerated wound, 0.5 cm in length, superficial, between the left & right eyebrow

It shall also be unlawful for any person, be he a participant or not in the act or acts = Lacerated wound, 2 cm in length, 1 cm in depth, forehead, Left
penalized in the next preceding sentence, to knowingly possess any tape record, wire
record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies thereof, of any communication or = Cyanosis of the tips of fingers & toes
spoken word secured either before or after the effective date of this Act in the manner
prohibited by this law; or to replay the same for any other person or persons; or to
CAUSE OF DEATH:
communicate the contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish transcriptions
thereof, whether complete or partial, to any other person: Provided, That the use of such
record or any copies thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of = CEREBRAL CONCUSSION & SHOCK
offenses mentioned in section 3 hereof, shall not be covered by this prohibition.
= BLOW ON THE HEAD
....
Dr. Yamamoto testified:
SEC. 4. Any communication or spoken word, or the existence, contents, substance,
Q Give your opinion as to what was the possible cause of this findings number one,
purport, effect, or meaning of the same or any part thereof, or any information therein
which is oozing of blood from the forehead?
contained obtained or secured by any person in violation of the preceding sections of this
37

A It may be due to a blow on the forehead or it bumped to a hard object, sir. Q Could cerebral concussion alone have caused the death of the deceased?
Q Could a metal like a butt of a gun have caused this wound No. 1? A May be, sir.
A It is possible, sir. Q How about shock?
Q And in the alternative, could have it been caused by bumping on a concrete floor? A Yes, sir.
A Possible, sir. FISCAL:
FISCAL: Which of these two more likely to cause death?
What could have been the cause of the contusion and swelling under your findings No. WITNESS:
2 doctor?
Shock, sir.
WITNESS:
Q Please explain further the meaning of the medical term shock?
It may be caused by bumping to a hard object, sir.
A It is caused by peripheral circulatory failure as I have said earlier, sir.
Q Could a butt of a gun have caused it doctor?
....
A The swelling is big so it could have not been caused by a butt of a gun because the
butt of a gun is small, sir. FISCAL:

Q How about this findings No. 4? Could a bumping or pushing of ones head against a concrete floor have caused
shock?
A By a bump or contact of the body to a hard object, sir.
WITNESS:
Q And findings No. 5 what could have caused it?
Possible, sir.
A Same cause, sir.
How about striking with a butt of a gun, could it cause shock?
Q This findings No. 6 what could have caused this wound? [35]
A Possible, sir.
A Same thing, sir.
The above testimony clearly supports the claim of Jalbuena that petitioner Navarro
Q How about this last finding, cyanosis of tips of fingers and toes, what could have hit Lingan with the handle of his pistol above the left eyebrow and struck him on the
caused it doctor? forehead with his fist.
WITNESS: Third. It is argued that the mitigating circumstance of sufficient provocation or threat
on the part of the offended party immediately preceding the act should have been
It indicates there was cardiac failure, sir. appreciated in favor of petitioner Navarro. Provocation is defined to be any unjust or
FISCAL: improper conduct or act of the offended party, capable of exciting, inciting, or irritating
[36]
anyone. The provocation must be sufficient and should immediately precede the
[37]
In this same post mortem report and under the heading cause of death it act. People v. Paga, 79 SCRA 570 (1977).37 To be sufficient, it must be adequate to
states: Cause of Death: Cerebral concussion and Shock, will you explain it? excite a person to commit the wrong, which must accordingly be proportionate in
[38]
gravity. And it must immediately precede the act so much so that there is no interval
A Cerebral concussion means in Tagalog naalog ang utak or jarring of the brain, sir. between the provocation by the offended party and the commission of the crime by the
[39]
accused.
Q What could have been the cause of jarring of the brain?
In the present case, the remarks of Lingan, which immediately preceded the act of
A It could have been caused by a blow of a hard object, sir. [40]
petitioner, constituted sufficient provocation. In People v. Macaso, we appreciated this
Q What about the shock, what could have caused it? mitigating circumstance in favor of the accused, a policeman, who shot a motorist after the
latter had repeatedly taunted him with defiant words. Hence, this mitigating circumstance
A It was due to peripheral circulatory failure, sir. should be considered in favor of petitioner Navarro.
Q Could any one of both caused the death of the victim? Furthermore, the mitigating circumstance that the offender had no intention to
commit so grave a wrong as that committed should also be appreciated in favor of
A Yes, sir.
petitioner. The frantic exclamations of petitioner Navarro after the scuffle that it was
Lingan who provoked him shows that he had no intent to kill the latter. Thus, this
38
1
mitigating circumstance should be taken into account in determining the penalty that This appeal assails the June 30, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R.
2
should be imposed on petitioner Navarro. The allowance of this mitigating circumstance is H.C. CR No. 01257, which affirmed with modification the December 10, 2004 Decision of
consistent with the rule that criminal liability shall be incurred by any person committing a the Regional Trial Court, Branch 15, Tabaco City (RTC), convicting accused Ernesto
felony although the wrongful act done be different from that which he Narzabal of the crime of Rape with Homicide in Criminal Case No. T-3772.
[41] [42]
intended. In People v. Castro, the mitigating circumstance of lack of intent to commit
so grave a wrong as that committed was appreciated in favor of the accused while finding THE FACTS
him guilty of homicide.
However, the aggravating circumstance of commission of a crime in a place where On June 26, 2002, accused Ernesto Narzabal, Jr. was indicted for the special complex
the public authorities are engaged in the discharge of their duties should be appreciated crime of Rape with Homicide before the RTC. The Information reads:
against petitioner Navarro. The offense in this case was committed right in the police
[43]
station where policemen were discharging their public functions. That on or about the 2nd day of March 2002, at 10:00 o'clock in the evening, more or less,
The crime committed as found by the trial court and the Court of Appeals was in Purok 2, Barangay Sta. Elena, Municipality of Malinao, Province of Albay, Philippines,
homicide, for which the penalty under Art. 249 of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd
temporal. As there were two mitigating circumstances and one aggravating circumstance, design and by means of violence, force and intimidation, did then and there wilfully,
3
[44]
the penalty should be fixed in its minimum period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with AAA, against her will and
Law, petitioner Navarro should be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty, the minimum of consent, and by reason and on the occasion thereof, accused, with intent to kill, with
which is within the range of the penalty next lower in degree, i.e., prision mayor, and the treachery and taking advantage of superior strength, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully
maximum of which is reclusion temporal in its minimum period.
[45] and feloniously assault, attack, strangle the neck and bang the head of aforenamed AAA
on the cemented floor, which caused her death, to the damage and prejudice of her legal
The indemnity as increased by the Court of Appeals from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00 heirs.
[46]
is in accordance with current jurisprudence.
4
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.
modification that petitioner Felipe Navarro is hereby SENTENCED to suffer a prison term
of 8 years of prision mayor, as minimum, to 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal, During the trial, the prosecution presented four witnesses: (1) the victim's mother, BBB; (2)
as maximum. Chief Tanod Nestor Bonaobra; (3) Barangay Captain Wilfredo Contante; and (4) Dr. Dante
Bausa, Municipal Health Officer of Malinao, Albay.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo (Chairman), Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur. The prosecution's evidence shows that AAA, who was eighteen years old at the time, lived
5
with her parents in Barangay Sta. Elena, Malinao, Albay. Accused Ernesto Narzabal
worked as a tricycle driver and lived alone as he was rumoured to be separated from his
wife. The victim and her family knew the accused because their houses were only about
6
ten (10) meters apart.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT On March 2, 2002, at around 8:00 o'clock in the evening, AAA asked permission from her
Manila mother, BBB, to watch a television program at the house of their neighbor, Concepcion
7
Briones. Concepcion's house was located next to that of the accused. By 10:00 o'clock in
EN BANC the evening, BBB noticed that AAA had not yet returned. BBB went out to fetch AAA from
8
the house of Concepcion who, however, informed her that her daughter was not there.
G.R. No. 174066 October 12, 2010
On her way back, BBB heard AAA scream. It was coming from the direction of the house
of the accused. BBB heard AAA scream aloud twice, then a muffled cry. After that, BBB
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, did not hear her voice again. BBB then asked for assistance from their barangay officials.
vs. Chief Tanod Nestor Bonaobra (Bonaobra), Barangay Captain Wilfredo Contante
ERNESTO NARZABAL y CASTELO, JR., Accused-Appellant. (Contante) and Senior Police Officer 4 Jesus Castelo (SPO4 Castelo) responded to her
9
plea. They all proceeded to the house of the accused.
DECISION
Barangay Captain Contante and SPO4 Castelo knocked on the door and inquired about
MENDOZA, J.: the missing girl. The accused answered that he knew nothing about AAA's
10
disappearance. Suspicious, Contante, SPO4 Castelo and Bonaobra entered the house.
Inside, they saw the lifeless body of AAA lying on the cemented floor, half-naked from
39

waist down, without her panty, with blood stains between her legs, and blood oozing from Initially, the records of this case were forwarded to the Court for automatic review.
11 21
her ears and nostrils. Pursuant to the Court's ruling in People v. Mateo, this case was remanded to the CA for
intermediate review.
Thereafter, SPO4 Castelo brought the accused to Malinao Police Station. Meanwhile,
22
Contante and Bonaobra brought AAA to the Ziga Memorial District Hospital, Tabaco City, In his Brief, the accused assigned the following errors:
12
where the victim was declared "dead on arrival."
THE LOWER COURT A QUO ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING THE ACCUSED BEING
At the request of Police Inspector Jesus M. Resari (P/Insp. Resari) of PNP Malinao, Albay, DRUNK AT THE TIME THE CRIME COMMITTED AS AN ALTERNATIVE MITIGATING
Dr. Dante B. Bausa (Dr. Bausa), Municipal Health Officer of Malinao, Albay, performed an CIRCUMSTANCE.
13
autopsy on the victim's body. The Autopsy Report revealed that the victim had
"contusion over the inferior aspect of bilateral inner lip surface of the labia THE LOWER COURT A QUO ERRED IN ITS FINDINGS THAT THE ACCUSED RAPED
majora and labia minora; Abrasion with hyperemia over the posterior labial commissior. AAA.
23
Superficial incomplete hymenal lacerations with hyperaemic and coaptable borders at
3:00 o'clock and 8:00 o'clock." The cause of death was cardio-respiratory arrest by reason
of cerebral hemorrhage and skull fracture. The accused insisted that his intoxication at the time of the commission of the crime
should have been considered as a mitigating circumstance as it was proven that he was a
habitual drunkard. He denied having raped the victim as shown by Dr. Bausa's
In his defense, the accused admitted the killing of AAA but denied having raped her. He explanation that there was no penetration because there was no complete laceration and
related that at around 10:00 o'clock in the evening of March 2, 2002, he was drinking with the victim was still a virgin.
24
14
friends. Later, he saw AAA and asked her to buy cigarettes for him. After buying the
cigarettes, they had a chat at his porch. Thereafter, he started embracing her. When he
15
pulled down her shorts, she screamed. Rattled, he smashed her head on the floor. Still The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) countered that the absence of spermatozoa did
in shock at what he had done, he heard people looking for her. He hid her body at the not disprove rape because the mere touching of the lips of the pudenda by the male organ
25
16
back of his house. Moments later, he heard SPO4 Castelo calling for him. He allowed was enough to consummate rape. The OSG added that although the victim could no
26
the police officer inside and showed him her lifeless body.
17 longer testify against her violator, the facts and circumstantial evidence were enough to
27
produce conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
On December 10, 2004, the RTC convicted the accused of the special complex crime of
18
Rape with Homicide. The decretal portion of the decision reads: On June 30, 2006, the CA affirmed with modification the RTC decision. The dispositive
portion reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the accused is found guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of rape with homicide as defined under Article 266-A and penalized WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the court a quo dated 10 December
under Article 266-B of R.A. No. 8353 (Anti-Rape Law of 1997) and is hereby sentenced to 2004 is perforced affirmed with a modification that in addition to the civil indemnity and
suffer the indivisible penalty of Death and to pay the heirs of AAA the amounts of moral damages awarded, temperate damages of ₱30,000.00 is likewise awarded.
Php100,000.00 as civil indemnity, and Php50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay the
cost. SO ORDERED.

The records of this case should be forwarded to the Supreme Court for automatic review. The CA affirmed the finding of rape against the accused, albeit the evidence being
circumstantial, because the series of unbroken events presented by the prosecution
The RTC did not give weight to the assertion of the accused that he did not rape the sufficiently established that he had carnal knowledge with the victim using force and
victim. The autopsy report disclosed contusion and abrasion and superficial incomplete intimidation before ultimately killing her. The CA wrote: "accused-appellant himself
hymenal lacerations with coaptable boarders at the 3:00 o'clock and 8:00 o'clock admitted that on the incident in question, he embraced the victim and pulled down the
positions. The report, coupled by Contante's affidavit stating that they found the lifeless latter's shorts but when she screamed he bashed her head on the cemented floor. But
victim "half-naked without panty with injuries on her head and blood stains in her two according to him, that was the last act that he did to the victim because he was then in a
legs," led the RTC to conclude that the accused indeed raped the victim before killing state of shock. Far from the truth, the physical evidence would reveal a different
her.
19 dimension. The victim sustained nineteen (19) injuries on the head, neck and different
parts of her body, and a fractured skull as a result of the bashing of her head on the
cemented floor that proved fatal. And when the victim was found inside the accused's
The RTC did not consider the superficial incomplete hymenal laceration, the absence of house, she was half-naked from waist down. The Autopsy Report conducted by Dr. Bausa
spermatozoa in the vaginal smears or the finding that the victim is still a virgin to negate as well as the latter's testimony showed that there was superficial incomplete hymenal
the allegation of rape. It held that in the crime of rape, a complete or full penetration of the 28
lacerations." The CA further stated that mere introduction of the penis into the labia
victim's private part is not necessary. Mere introduction of the male organ into the labia majora of the victim's genitalia engendered the crime of rape.
29
20
majora or the victim's genitalia consummates the crime.
40

The CA did not appreciate the intoxication of the accused as a mitigating circumstance The accused argued that there was no rape because the doctor who examined the
either because, under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, the crime of rape with victim's body concluded that she was still a virgin. It does not matter, however, if the victim
homicide is punishable by death. In case of an indivisible penalty, it shall be applied by the was medically found to be a virgin; an intact hymen does not negate a finding that the
courts regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance that may have attended victim was actually sexually violated. It has been repeatedly held that the mere touching of
30
the commission of the offense. the external genitalia by the penis, capable of consummating the sexual act, is sufficient to
38 39
constitute carnal knowledge. In People v. Campuhan, the Court clarified that the act of
Since actual damages were not adequately established, the CA awarded temperate touching should be understood as inherently part of the entry of the penis into the labia of
damages in the amount of ₱30,000.00 because the family incurred expenses for the wake the female organ and not mere touching alone of the mons pubis or the pudendum. Stated
and burial of the victim. differently, to constitute consummated rape, the touching must be made in the context of
the presence or existence of an erect penis capable of penetration. There must be
sufficient and convincing proof that the erect penis indeed touched the labia or slid into the
Hence, this appeal. female organ, and not merely stroked the external surface thereof.
40

Petitioner essentially reiterates the issue he presented before the CA: whether or not the In his testimony, Dr. Bausa positively confirmed that, upon examination of the victim,
RTC erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape with hymenal incomplete lacerations were found in her genitalia. He testified that "there was
homicide. contusion over the inferior aspect of bilateral inner lip surface of the labia majora and labia
minora. This injury may have been caused when an object forcibly inserted and there was
The Court sustains the conviction. an abrasion hyperemia. The posterior junction of the two labia majora, posterior lid and on
the part on the junction of the two majora, there was an abrasion of hyperemia and this
In a special complex crime of rape with homicide, the following elements must concur: (1) injury can be caused forcibly when an object is forcibly inserted on the genital area and,
the accused had carnal knowledge of a woman; (2) carnal knowledge of a woman was there is also a superficial incomplete hymenal laceration of hyperaemic and coaptable
41
achieved by means of force, threat or intimidation; and (3) by reason or on occasion of borders at 3:00 o'clock and 8:00 o'clock corresponding to the face of the clock." The
such carnal knowledge by means of force, threat or intimidation, the accused killed a physical injuries in the inner lip surface of the labia majora and labia minora of the victim's
31
woman. Both rape and homicide must be established beyond reasonable doubt.
32 genitalia show that the requirement in Campuhan was satisfied.

In this case, the prosecution convincingly established the criminal liability of the accused Indubitably, the said medical finding and the testimonies of the other witnesses, who saw
through circumstantial evidence, which was credible and sufficient and led to the the victim's state at the time of the discovery, are proof sufficient enough to support a
inescapable conclusion that he committed the complex crime of rape with homicide. When finding of rape.
taken together, the circumstances point to the accused as the perpetrator of the
despicable deed to the exclusion of others. These were: As regards the penalty imposed, Rape with Homicide under Article 335 of the Revised
Penal Code in relation to Republic Act No. 7659, provides that when by reason or on
First. BBB, the mother of the victim, heard screams of her daughter coming from occasion of rape, homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death. However, in view of
42
the direction of the house of the accused. the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9346, the penalty of death should be lowered
to reclusion perpetua, without eligibility for parole.

Second. BBB, together with the barangay officials and the police went to the
With respect to the civil indemnity ex delicto, the amount of ₱100,000.00 was correctly
house of the accused where the body of the victim was found . The victim was 43
lifeless, half-naked, without panty, and with blood between legs.
33 awarded by the RTC. The award of moral damages should, however, be increased from
44
₱50,000.00 to ₱75,000.00 to conform to current jurisprudence. Article 2229 of the New
Civil Code permits the award of exemplary damages in order to deter commission of
Third. The accused, when confronted, admitted that on that fateful night AAA was similar acts and allow the courts to forestall behavior that would pose grave and
34 45
in his house and that he embraced her and lowered her undergarments, deleterious consequences to society. In this regard, the Court deems it proper to award
35 46
indicative of his lewd designs against her. exemplary damages in the amount of ₱50,000.00.

Fourth. The accused admitted hitting the victim's head against the cemented WHEREFORE, the June 30, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. H.C. CR
36
floor. This move rendered her unconscious and gave him ample opportunity to No. 01257, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The penalty imposed upon
satisfy his lustful desires.1awphil accused Ernesto Narzabal, Jr. is hereby reduced to reclusion perpetua, without eligibility
for parole, and the amount of moral damages is increased from ₱50,000.00 to
Fifth. Upon medical examination, the victim had incomplete hymenal lacerations ₱75,000.00. The accused is further ordered to pay the heirs of AAA ₱50,000.00 as
37
in her genitalia. exemplary damages.

SO ORDERED.
41

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice
EN BANC
WE CONCUR:
[G.R. No. 127156. July 31, 2000]
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JAIME BALACANO Y
DALAFU, accused-appellant.

(On official leave)


CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES DECISION
ANTONIO T. CARPIO*
Associate Justice
Associate Justice
PURISIMA, J.:

(No part)
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. ANTONIO EDUARDO B. For automatic review is the Decision of Branch 78, Regional Trial Court of Quezon
[1]
Associate Justice NACHURA** City, finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape, and
[2]
Associate Justice sentencing him as follows:

"WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused JAIME BALACANO y DALAFU


TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of Rape,
ARTURO D. BRION
CASTRO defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as
Associate Justice
Associate Justice amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659, and is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of DEATH in Criminal Case No. Q-95-
(On leave) 62686. The accused is likewise ordered to indemnify the victim
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN Esmeralda Balacano the amount of One Hundred Thousand
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA***
Associate Justice (P100,000.00) Pesos, as moral damages.
Associate Justice

SO ORDERED."
(On official leave)
ROBERTO A. ABAD
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO****
Associate Justice On August 16, 1995, Esmeralda Balacano, assisted by her mother, Ma. Luisa M.
Associate Justice [3]
Balacano, lodged subject complaint for rape before Assistant City Prosecutor Wilfredo L.
Maynigo, stating thus:
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice Associate Justice
"The undersigned accuses JAIME BALACANO Y DALAFU of the crime
of Rape, committed as follows:
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO
Associate Justice That on or about the 9th day of August, 1995, in Quezon City,
Philippines, the said accused by means of force and intimidation, to wit:
by then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously put himself on top
CERTIFICATION of said complainant, a minor 14 years old, and thereafter have carnal
knowledge with the undersigned complainant against her will and
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the without her consent.
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the
writer of the opinion of the Court. CONTRARY TO LAW."

RENATO C. CORONA Upon arraignment on September 20, 1995 with the assistance of Atty. Eranio G. Cedillo,
Chief Justice appellant pleaded not guilty to the crime charged.

Evidence for the People consisted of the testimonies of the victim, Esmeralda Balacano,
and Dr. Jesusa Nieves-Vergara, the medico legal officer who examined her.
42

Esmeralda Balacano, fourteen years of age, testified that she was raped five (5) times by THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE RULE
the appellant, who is her step-father, but she could not anymore remember the dates she THAT IN CASE OF DOUBT SUCH DOUBT MUST BE RESOLVED IN
was ravished except that which happened on August 9, 1995. She also narrated that on FAVOR OF THE ACCUSED.
the said date, at around 7:00 o'clock in the evening, she and her sister Peafrancia were in
their residence at No. 121 Commonwealth Avenue, Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon Appellant contends that on the basis of the evidence on record, there is a doubt as to his
City, when the appellant entered the room, asked her sister to go out, and ordered her guilt, and the same should be resolved in his favor pursuant to the constitutional provision
(victim) to undress. Sensing that appellant was drunk and afraid of his anger, she that "xxx the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved xxx". He
[6]
complied. Appellant then inserted his penis into her vagina. After satisfying his lust, he theorizes that in criminal cases, the accused is entitled to acquittal in the absence of proof
slept. She then went out of the house to look for her sister and they waited for their of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
[7]
mother. Upon the arrival of the latter, they went to the police station where the
investigation of the incident took place.
In criminal prosecutions, "reasonable doubt" is not a mere guess that the appellant may or
may not be guilty. It is such a doubt that a reasonable man may entertain after a fair
The other witness for the prosecution, Dr. Jesusa Nieves-Vergara, the medico-legal officer [8]
review and consideration of the evidence. It is:
who conducted a physical examination of the victim, recounted that the victim was in a
non-virgin state with deep lacerations, positioned at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock, respectively. The
medico-legal expert opined that the lacerations in the hymen of the victim were indications "xxx a term often used, probably pretty well understood, but not easily
of sexual abuse.
[4] defined. It is not mere possible doubt, because everything relating to
human affairs is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that
state of the case which after the entire comparison and consideration of
Appellant interposed the defense of denial. According to him, on the alleged date of all the evidence, leaves the minds of the jurors in that condition that they
commission of the crime, he was alone, sleeping inside their rented room. He denied cannot say they feel an abiding conviction, to a moral certainty, of the
having raped the victim. No other witness was presented to corroborate appellant's truth of the charge, a certainty the convinces and directs the
testimony. understanding, and satisfies the reason and judgment of those who are
[9]
bound to act conscientiously upon it."
On May 13, 1996, the trial court found the evidence for the prosecution enough to convict
appellant Jaime Balacano for raping his step-daughter Esmeralda Balacano. In arriving at In short, it is a state of the mind engendered by insufficient proof.
[10]
its finding of guilt, the trial court ratiocinated:
In this case under automatic review, there are pieces of evidence introduced by the
"The Court believed the testimony of Esmeralda Balacano which bears prosecution to traverse the denial theorized upon by the defense.
an earmark of truthfulness in spite of the fact that she was an illiterate
and minor inconsistencies in her testimony, which was corroborated by
the findings of the medico-legal and other circumstances rather than the Appellant contends that the evidence offered by the prosecution does not suffice to
unsubstantiated testimony of Jaime Balacano. convict him; arguing that the prosecution depended heavily on the testimony of the victim,
which he (appellant) brands as inadequate in view of admissions by the victim allegedly
impairing her credibility and exposing the impossibility of commission of the rape charged,
Esmeralda was categorical and vivid in narrating the incidents of rape such as: (1) Her claim that she was raped five (5) times by the accused but she only
committed by Jaime Balacano on her. She was very straight-forward reported the fifth rape; (2) Admission by the victim that no threats were made on her by
and honest in answering questions propounded on her even to the point the accused during or after the rape; and (3) That they (appellant's family) were renting
of casting doubt on her credibility . only one room wherein all the family members were sleeping such that, rape could not
have taken place therein.
xxx.............................xxx .............................xxx
The appeal is barren of merit.
The Court cannot cast doubt on the testimony of Esmeralda. There may
be some inconsistencies in her testimony but these are minor ones that Appellant relied principally on his defense of denial, insisting that he never raped
do not destroy her credibility neither weakens the case of the Esmeralda, who is his step-daughter. Assisted by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO),
prosecution. It even impressed on the mind of the Court that the same is appellant narrated thus:
not fabricated. It is expected also considering the nightmare she has
[5]
gone through which some people would like to forget."
"xxx xxx xxx that on August 9, 1995 at 7:00 o'clock in the evening, when
the alleged rape happened, he was at home and in fact already
Appellant's Brief is anchored on the lone assigned error, that: sleeping; that they are only renting a room in a house in Barangay
Commonwealth, Quezon City; that on the alleged date of the crime his
43

wife (Ma. Luisa Balacano) was also at their house, the same thing with .....Yes, Sir.
[11]
their two daughters namely Esmeralda and Peafrancia."
xxx.............................xxx .............................xxx
As repeatedly pronounced by this Court (1) an accusation for rape can be made with
facility; it is difficult to prove but even more difficult to disprove by the person charged, Q - At that time about 7:00 o'clock in the evening, what were you and
though innocent; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two Penafrancia doing?
persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with
extreme caution; and (3) the evidence of the prosecution must stand or fall on its own
merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the A - We were both laying down in our room, sir.
[12]
defense.
Q - While you and Penafrancia were lying in your room, was there any
But, time and again, the Court has ruled that the lone testimony of the victim may suffice unusual incident which transpired?
to convict the rapist. When a victim says she has been raped, she says in effect all that is
necessary to show that rape has been committed and if her testimony meets the test of A - Yes, sir, there was, sir.
[13]
credibility, the accused may be convicted on the basis thereof. The aforestated principle
applies squarely to this case. Q - And what is this?

As a general rule, the factual findings by the trial court deserve a high degree of respect A - First, Jaime Balacano asked my sister to go out of the house and
and are not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that it overlooked, then he asked me to remove my dress but I resisted and then he was
misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which able to remove my pants and then he put his penis into mine, sir.
[14]
could alter the conviction of the accused.

Q - Now, after putting his penis inside yours, what transpired next,
In the case under scrutiny, the Court agrees with the lower court that the credibility of the Madam Witness?
victim has not been impaired by her alleged inconsistencies alluded to by the appellant.
On this score, the trial court said:
A - When he put his penis inside my vagina, I felt a sticky water came
(sic) out and then afterwards, he slept and then I went out of the house
"The Court cannot cast doubt on the testimony of Esmeralda. There to look for my sister and we waited for my mother, sir.
may be some inconsistencies in her testimony, but these are minor
ones that do not destroy her credibility neither weakens the case of the
prosecution. It even impressed of the mind of the Court that the same is PROS. VELASCO: (on direct examination)
not fabricated. It is expected also considering the nightmare she has
[15]
gone through which some people would like to forget. xxx" Q And did your mother arrived?

As regards the first inconsistency referred to, considering that appellant has been ANSWER:
convicted for the fifth rape, which he perpetrated on August 9, 1995, it does not matter
whether or not there are proofs on record of the four other rapes he previously committed.
.....A - Yes, sir
The lack of evidence of the four other rapes aforesaid is of no moment.

Q - And what did you do when your mother arrived?


It should be noted that appellant was only tried and convicted for the fifth rape.
Immediately after the rape on August 9, 1995, the victim informed her mother what
happened and both of them proceeded to the police station for an investigation of the rape A - I told my mother what happened, sir.
complained of, as can be gleaned from the records on hand, to wit:
xxx.............................xxx .............................xxx
"PROS. VELASCO: (on direct examination)
Q -.....In connection with this case, do you remember if you were
Q - At about 7:00 o'clock in the evening of August 9, 1995, were you at investigated by the police?
your residence at No. 121 Commonwealth Avenue, Barangay
Commonwealth, Quezon City? A - Yes, sir.

ANSWER: Q -.....And did you execute a statement at the police station?


44
[16]
Q - Yes , sir." Q - Now, the evidence for the prosecution discloses, Mr. Witness, as
testified to by the complainant and other witnesses that you are charged
On August 16, 1995 or seven days after the August 9, 1995 rape, the victim (with the for rape by the complainant which according to them committed by you
assistance of her mother) was able to formalize her complaint before Asst. Prosecutor on August 9, 1995 at 7:00 o'clock in the evening, what can you say
Wilfredo L. Maynigo. There was thus no delay in reporting the incident sued upon. about that testimony?
Anyway, delay or vacillation in making a criminal accusation does not necessarily impair
[17]
the credibility of the complaining witness. ANSWER:

On the issue of whether the absence of threats negated the present charge of rape, the .....I dont know anything about that, sir.
Court rules in the negative.
Q - The charge against you, is there any truth to it, Mr. Witness?
Appellant placed reliance on his theory that there was no threat as the victim admitted that
no threats were made against her life or that of her family; and that the physical A - That is not true, sir.
examination conducted on the victim by the medico-legal officer showed no signs of
physical injuries.
Q - By the way, do you recall where you were on August 9, 1995 at 7:00
o'clock in the evening?
It should be borne in mind that appellant is lawfully married to the mother of the victim,
who practically grew up recognizing the appellant as her own father. [20]
A - It could be that I was at home sleeping, sir."
The relationship between a stepfather and stepdaughter is akin to the relationship of a
natural father and a natural daughter especially if the stepdaughter grew up recognizing Verily, the testimony of the victim, duly corroborated by the medico-legal report, prevails
him as her own. Such relationship necessarily engendered moral ascendancy of the over appellant's plain denial of the charges against him. Dr. Jesusa Nieves-Vergara, the
stepfather over the step-daughter. medico legal officer who conducted the medical examination, disclosed:

Although it is true that there were no physical injuries found in the victim's body, in rape "ATTY. CEDILLO:
cases absence of bodily threats does not matter where there is an existing relationship
between the appellant and the victim, resulting to moral ascendancy of the former over the .....For the accused, your Honor.
latter. Appellant being the "step-father" of the victim certainly exercised moral and physical
ascendancy over the victim, which ascendancy could suffice to cow the step-daughter into PROS. VELASCO:
[18]
submission to her stepfather's bestial desires. A stepfather need not make any threat
against the stepdaughter because the latter is cowed into submission when gripped with
the fear of refusing the advances of a person she customarily obeys. .....For the prosecution. May we call on Dr. Vergara.

Appellant argues that it was impossible for him to rape his stepdaughter since they were COURT:
renting a single room where he slept with his wife, their daughter and the victim. This
contention is also untenable. Rape may be committed in a room which is adjacent to .....Swear in the witness.
where the victim's family is sleeping or even in a room which the victim shares with other
[19]
people. There is no rule that rape can only be committed in seclusion.
xxx.............................xxx .............................xxx

Anent the defense of denial by appellant, it is a well-settled rule that denials


WITNESS:
unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence are negative and self-serving and
deserve no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary weight than the credible
testimony of the victim. .....I am JESUSA NIEVES VERGARA, 32 years old, married, medico-
legal officer, c/o PNP-CLS, Camp Crame, Quezon City.
In the case under evaluation, appellant failed to substantiate his defense of denial. He
merely theorized that he was probably sleeping at the time of the incident. On this point, PROS. VELASCO:
appellant declared:
.....Our witness your Honor please conducted (sic) physical examination
"Atty. Uy. (on direct examination) upon the person of Esmeralda Mendoza Balacano and on her
examination, the subject is on a non-virgin state.
45

xxx.............................xxx.............................xxx correct? Whether or not there was a sexual abuse. You merely state
that the victim is in non-virgin state, am I correct?
PROS. VELASCO:
A.....Yes, sir.
.....Madam Witness, do you remember if you personally examined the
person of one Esmeralda Mendoza? Q .....Why is it so?

ANSWER: A.....My basis for saying that the victim is in a non-virgin state physically
are my findings on the genital particularly on the hymen revealing
.....Yes, Sir. alterations positioned at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock.

Q .....When did you conduct said examination. ATTY. CEDILLO:

A .....August 14, 1995 at around 2:15 P.M., sir. .....So stated otherwise, other than your conclusion that the subject is in
non-virgin state, there were no physical signs of sexual abuse.
Q .....What was the result of your examination.
ANSWER:
A.....The result is - the victim is in a non-virgin state physically.
.....I think sir the alterations on the hymen is one indication that there
was sexual abuse.
Q .....What is the basis of your conclusion.
xxx.............................xxx .............................xxx
A.....My findings on the hymen - deep healed lacerations positioned at
3, 6 and 9 o'clock.
Q.....What were the exceptions if you know.
Q.....How about any signs of application of violence. Did you find this
signs in the body of the victim? A.....There are other factors that cuase (sic) laceration of the hymen.
Like the passage of blood during menstruation, a fall on a hard, sharp
object with the genital hitting that object, instrumentation is another.
A .....None, sir.
ATTY. CEDILLO:
Q.....Did you reduce your findings in the written form?
.....So to recapitulate, there were at least three (3) instances whereby
A .....Yes, sir. the victim will be in a non-virgin state and yet she is not a victim of
sexual assault, am I correct?
xxx.............................xxx .............................xxx
A.....Yes, sir.
CROSS-EXAMINATION OF DR. JESUSA VERGARA, WITNESS, CONDUCTED BY -
ATTY. CEDILLO:
aATTY. CEDILLO: (sic)
.....Namely, passage of clotted blood, fall on a sharp object and
.....Madam witness, in Exh. "B", Medico Legal Report, you stated the instrumentation.
purpose of laboratory examination as to determine physical signs of
sexual abuse, am I correct? A.....Those were among the factors, sir.

A.....Yes, sir Q.....When you said among, aside from these three (3), there were
others?
Q.....And the conclusion was that subject is in non-virgin state.
Question! The purpose was not being answered in the conclusion, am I
46

A.....Yes, sir. the duty of the appellate court to correct any error, as may be found in the appealed
[25]
judgment, whether assigned as an error or not.
ATTY. CEDILLO: (on cross)
A reading of the Information in Criminal Case No. Q-95-62686 leads to the irresistible
.....What were those others. conclusion that the appellant was merely indicted for simple rape and not for rape with the
qualifying circumstances within the contemplation of RA 7659. Failure to mention the
relationship between the appellant and the young victim, step-father and step-daughter,
ANSWER: respectively, necessarily excludes the crime from the coverage of RA 7659. To justify the
imposition of the supreme penalty of death, both the special qualifying circumstances of
.....Disease called diptheria (sic), forcible entry of a hard blant (sic) the victim's minority and her relationship to the offender must be alleged and proved.
object.
[26]
As succinctly ratiocinated in the case of People vs. Ramos:
Q.....So far as you remember, there were five (5) exceptions.
"While Republic Act No. 7659 did not give a legal designation to the
A.....Yes, sir. crime of rape attended by any of the seven new circumstances
introduced in Article 335 on December 31, 1993, this Court has referred
ATTY. CEDILLO: to such crime as qualified rape in a number of its decisions. However,
with or without a name for this kind of rape, the concurrence of the
minority of the victim and her relationship with the offender give a
.....That will be all, your Honor. different character to the rape defined in the first part of Article 335.
They raise the imposable penalty upon a person accused of rape from
COURT: reclusion perpetua to the higher and supreme penalty of death. Such an
effect conjointly puts relationship and minority of the offended party into
the nature of a special qualifying circumstance.
.....How about horseback riding and by bicycle.

[21] As this qualifying circumstance was not pleaded in the information or in


A......No, your Honor, unless there is direct trauma on the hymen."
the complaint against appellant, he cannot be convicted of qualified
rape because he was not properly informed that he is being accused of
It bears stressing here that the victim was only fourteen years old when she lodged the qualified rape. The Constitution guarantees the right of every person
complaint against her stepfather. It has been held that no woman, especially one of tender accused in a criminal prosecution to be informed of the nature and
age, would contrive a complaint for rape, allow a gynelogic examination and permit herself cause of accusation against him. This right finds amplification and
to be subjected to a public trial if she is not motivated solely by a desire to have the culprit implementation in the different provisions of the Rules of Court.
[22]
apprehended and punished. In fact, the prevailing rule is that the testimonies of rape Foremost among these enabling provisions is the office of an
[23]
victims who are young and immature deserve full credence. No young girl would information. (underscoring supplied)
expose herself to humiliation and public scandal unless she is impelled by a strong desire
[24]
to seek justice.
xxx.............................xxx .............................xxx

The instances cited by appellant being insufficient to tilt the scales of justice in his favor,
To be more precise, we declared in Garcia that it would be a denial of
the Court is fully convinced that the appellant is guilty.
the right of the accused to be informed of the charges against him and,
consequently, a denial of due process, if he is charged with simple rape
But for what crime is appellant answerable? and be convicted of its qualified form punishable with death although the
attendant circumstance qualifying the offense and resulting in capital
After a careful study and assessment of the evidence on hand, only the crime of simple punishment was not alleged in the indictment on which he was
rape was committed. The trial court erred in applying Article 335 of the Revised Penal arraigned."
Code, as amended by Section 11 of RA 7659, which prescribes the death penalty, when
the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, Consequently, the lack of allegation of relationship between the appellant and his victim in
step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the Information for rape, precludes the imposition of the death penalty since relationship,
the common-law-spouse of the parent of the victim. in this particular form of rape, is qualifying and not just a generic aggravating
circumstance. Having been informed of the crime of simple rape only, appellant can just
Although the propriety of imposition of the penalty has not been raised by appellant; be convicted of simple rape and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua
nonetheless, an appeal in criminal cases opens the entire case for review and it becomes prescribed therefor.
47

The award of P100,000.00 for moral damages is deemed to include the civil indemnity. Drunk and wobbly too, accused-appellant Michael Tadeo instantaneously grabbed a
beer bottle and tried to whack Mayolito with it on the head. But Ricky Cardona and
WHEREFORE, the judgment of the trial court in Criminal Case No. Q-95-62686 imposing Florencia Cabatu quickly intervened to prevent accused-appellant from inflicting harm
the death penalty on appellant Jaime Balacano Y Dalafu is AFFIRMED with upon Mayolito. Accused-appellant briskly went home exclaiming, "Aguray kadta a!" which
MODIFICATION, in that the penalty imposed below is hereby means "Wait, I will come back!" Then he hastily returned clutching a .38 cal. revolver and
[2]
REDUCED to reclusion perpetua. Appellant is ordered to pay the victim civil indemnity of confronted Mayolito, Ricky and Florencia why they were intervening. Mayolito vainly tried
Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos, plus moral damages of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) to grapple with accused-appellant who lost no time in shooting Mayolito six (6) times,
Pesos. Costs against appellant some bullets piercing his head. Accused-appellant then trained his gun on Florencia, but
unfortunately, the pistol did not fire as it was already empty. So he approached her instead
and whipped her on the face with the butt of his revolver.
SO ORDERED.
Rogelio Cabatu, who had just arrived from his farm, scurried to rescue his brother
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Mayolito and mother Florencia, and with a bolo on hand, hacked accused-appellant on the
Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago, and De Leon, Jr., head. With blood oozing from his head, accused-appellant retreated towards his house to
JJ., concur. reload his gun, and upon his return, immediately shot Florencia on her left buttock, while
Rogelio sought cover in the house of Nicomedes Cabacungan. As Florencia limped to the
detachment of the barangay civilian security force, accused-appellant darted away from
Bellosillo, J., abroad on official business. the crime scene.
At around 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, the barangay kapitan of Sto. Domingo,
Quirino, Isabela, reported the crime to the police precinct. SPO3 Victoriano Ramos and
other policemen responded and went to the house of Mayolito Cabatu where his body was
brought after being fatally shot. From Mayolitos house the policemen left "to look for the
[3]
EN BANC suspect," and proceeded to the house of the barangay kapitan of Sto. Domingo where
they met accused-appellant's father who assured them that Michael would surrender. In
good faith he led them to his house where accused-appellant had gone after the shooting
[4]
episodes. The father yielded a gun to the policemen which he said was the weapon used
[5]
in the crime, while accused-appellant turned himself in.
[G.R. Nos. 127660 & 144011-12. September 17, 2002]
Accused-appellant Michael Tadeo was accordingly charged with murder for the fatal
shooting of Mayolito Cabatu (Crim. Case No. 23-498), frustrated murder for the
injury sustained by Florencia Cabatu (Crim. Case No. 23-494), and violation of par. 2,
Sec. 1, PD 1866, or qualified illegal possession of firearm, i.e., use of an unlicensed
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MICHAEL TADEO, accused-
firearm in committing murder or homicide (Crim. Case No. 23-499). Accused-appellant
appellant.
pleaded not guilty to the charges and offered self-defense as his version of the
incident. He claimed that Mayolito dared him into a fist-fight by uttering, "Hoy, barako, let
DECISION us fight!" which he bravely accepted. As they fought, Mayolito suddenly pulled out a gun
which accidentally went off when accused-appellant tried to wrest it from him. After
BELLOSILLO, J.: accused-appellant successfully took possession of the gun, he fired several shots more,
injuring Mayolito in different parts of his body. Accused-appellant however failed to explain
To pump mercilessly more bullets into the head of an adversary than necessary to how Florencia Cabatu sustained the gunshot wound in her left buttock as well as the
kill him is wretchedness; to snuff off the life of his victim only because the latter called surrender of the gun by his father inside their house.
him "barako" is sheer inanity.
After trial, the court a quo found the version of the defense to be incredible and
On 4 November 1993, around 11:30 in the morning, accused-appellant Michael convicted accused-appellant of the crimes charged and sentenced him to reclusion
Tadeo was drinking with the deceased Mayolito Cabatu and several others in a party perpetua for murder; an indeterminate prison term of ten (10) years and one (1) day
hosted by Nicomedes Cabacungan in Sto. Domingo, Quirino, Isabela, to celebrate the of prision mayor as minimum, to fourteen (14) years, ten (10) months and twenty (20)
successful installation of a water pump that would supply potable water to days of reclusion temporal as maximum, for frustrated murder; reclusion perpetua for
their barangay. Around 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, after five (5) hours of qualified illegal possession of firearms; and, damages of P50,000.00 for the death of
[6]
imbibing alcohol, Mayolito was so dead drunk that he excused himself and proceeded to Mayolito Cabatu and P15,000.00 for the medical expenses of Florencia Cabatu.
the pavement adjacent to Nicomedes Cabacungan's house where he sat wobbly on the
gutter. Ricky Cardona, one of the carousers, and Florencia Cabatu, Mayolito's mother, In this appeal, accused-appellant does not challenge the finding of the trial court that
approached Mayolito and assisted him in going home. But, before they could leave, he killed Mayolito Cabatu and injured his mother Florencia Cabatu, nor that he was the
Mayolito shouted "barako," apparently to tease accused-appellant and titillate him into a possessor of the .38 cal. revolver, but questions the appreciation of the qualifying
"fight" who, true enough, took offense against the mocking remark.
[1] circumstances of treachery and evident premeditation, and claims that he should instead
48

be held guilty of homicide and frustrated homicide only. Further, he insists that the trial the attack, the victim was not in a position to defend himself; and, (b) that the offender
court erroneously disregarded the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender in consciously adopted the particular means, method or form of attack employed by him.
imposing the proper penalties, including the absence of any evidence indicating that the
gun he used was unlicensed. Furthermore, accused-appellant should only be convicted for attempted murder,
not frustrated murder, in Crim. Case No. 23-494, committed against Florencia
On the other hand, the Solicitor General seeks the affirmance of the conviction for Cabatu. She was hit in the left buttock which, concluding from the testimony of her
murder and frustrated murder of accused-appellant but agrees with him that his verdict in attending physician, was not per se a mortal wound. This finding is fairly evident from Dr.
the qualified illegal possession of firearm is incorrect hence must be reversed and set Francisco Ricafort's testimony that Florencia Cabatu was "walking normally" when brought
aside. to the hospital for medical examination and treatment after a full five (5)-hour period from
[11]
the time she was shot by accused-appellant. This conclusion is corroborated by the
The appeal is partly meritorious. Verily, the established facts of these cases disprove medical certificate, Exh. "A," which verified that "under normal condition,
the circumstances of treachery and evident premeditation to qualify the crimes charged in without subsequent complication and/or deeper involvement present but not clinically
Crim. Case No. 23-498 and Crim. Case No. 23-494 as murder and frustrated murder, apparent at the time of examination, the above-described physical injuries will require
respectively. medical or will incapacitate the victim for a period of not less than nine (9) days but not
[12]
In Crim. Case No. 23-498 and Crim. Case No. 23-494 accused-appellant Michael more than thirty (30) days from the alleged date of infliction." Clearly, where the wound
Tadeo and the deceased Mayolito Cabatu were both drunk and the fight was preceded by inflicted on the victim is not as severe as to cause her death, the offender not having
rising tempers. Invariably, accused-appellant was not in full possession of his faculties performed all the acts of execution that would have brought it about, the crime is
[13]
which would have been necessary for him to kill Mayolito Cabatu, or try to kill Florencia perpetrated only in its attempted stage.
Cabatu with the attendant evident premeditation, i.e., the execution of the criminal act The assumption proposed by the prosecution that infection of the wound in the
must come with sober thought and reflection upon the resolution to carry out the criminal absence of timely medical attendance could have caused her death is too speculative and
[7]
intent during the space of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment. In turn, because of very remote to be even considered as the probable result of the criminal act proved
accused-appellant's mental and moral stupor at the time of the perpetration of the criminal against accused-appellant. As shown above, the actual nature of the wound on the left
acts, the prosecution could not have proved the requisites of this qualifying buttock of Florencia Cabatu indicated that it was not fatal nor that it was infected with
circumstance: (a) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (b) an act [14]
tetanus at the time it was inflicted. If in the realm of possibility tetanus could at all infect
manifestly indicating that the culprit has clung to his determination; and, (c) a sufficient Florencia Cabatu's wound and make it mortal or fatal, the disease would only constitute an
lapse of time between the determination and the execution to allow him to reflect upon the efficient intervening cause, therefore, distinct and foreign to the crime. Hence, we cannot
consequences of his act and for his conscience to overcome his will. conclude that all the acts of execution had been performed by accused-appellant to kill the
In the same vein, having been inebriated and overtaken by anger immediately prior hapless woman, for to classify the crime in the frustrated stage, the rule is that the
to the assault, accused-appellant cannot be accused of treachery. Under this state, he did probable death of the victim must be the direct, natural and logical consequence of the
not have the time nor the proper disposition to reflect on the means or mode of attack for it wounds inflicted upon him by the accused and, since we are dealing with a criminal
[15]
to be said that he deliberately and consciously pulled out his gun and fired at the conviction, that there be proof thereof beyond reasonable doubt. Moreover, as has been
[8]
deceased to insure the commission of the crime without risk to himself. Furthermore, the established in the court a quo, accused-appellant failed to complete all the acts of
heated exchanges between him and the deceased prior to the attack must have placed execution because Florencia Cabatu was able to evade him and hobble to the vicinity of
the latter on his guard, hence, we cannot rule that Mayolito Cabatu was caught completely the detachment of the barangay civilian security force.
by surprise when accused-appellant took up arms against him. The trial court also erred in not crediting accused-appellant with the mitigating
For there to be treachery by reason of the suddenness and unexpectedness of the circumstance of voluntary surrender. As can be gleaned from the testimony of SPO3
attack, there must have been no warning of any sort to the deceased or offended Victoriano Ramos who was one of the arresting police officers, at 5:00 o'clock in the
[9]
party. Verily, the statement of accused-appellant to Mayolito Cabatu, viz, "Aguray kadta afternoon of the same day of the shooting of Mayolito Cabatu and her mother Florencia
a!" meaning "Wait, I will come back!" which the deceased took seriously, as he did Cabatu, the policemen converged at the house of the barangay kapitan where they met
confront Michael Tadeo when he returned, shows convincingly that the victim was not accused-appellant's father who assured them that his son would surrender and in good
unprepared nor stunned to see accused-appellant wielding a gun and firing at him. The faith led them to his house where accused-appellant had gone after the shooting
element of a sudden unprovoked attack indicative of treachery was therefore missing.
[10] episodes. There the father yielded to the policemen a gun which he said was the weapon
used in the criminal acts while accused-appellant on the same occasion and without
Similarly, we reverse the finding of the trial court that the attack against Florencia hesitation turned himself in.
Cabatu was sudden and unforeseen. It bears stressing that the crime against her
happened when accused-appellant was highly intoxicated and seething with anger against Clearly, the act of accused-appellant in surrendering to the authorities showed his
his perceived tormentor, and immediately after he had gunned down Mayolito Cabatu, intent to submit himself unconditionally to them and save them the trouble and expense
after the same gun was aimed at her but did not fire for being empty, and after accused- that would have to be incurred in his capture. For this reason he complied with the
appellant returned to his house to reload his gun. Evidently, these contemporaneous and requisites of voluntary surrender as a mitigating circumstance, namely: (a) the offender
preceding events must have already placed the victim on heightened alert and sufficient was not actually arrested; (b) he surrendered to a person in authority or to an agent of a
[16]
forewarning that a reprisal was in the offing. This crime which has been erroneously person in authority; and, (c) his surrender was voluntary. The spontaneity of his
labeled as "frustrated murder" lacks the twin elements of aleviosa: (a) that at the time of surrender cannot also be denied because even the weapon used in the crimes was
49

yielded by his father to the policemen in his presence without objecting to its surrender nor of prision mayor minimum as minimum, to twelve (12) years, two (2) months and one (1)
denying his participation in the deadly clashes. day of reclusion temporal minimum, as maximum.
Finally, we must reverse and set aside the conviction of the accused in Crim. Case In Crim. Case No. 23-494 we find accused-appellant guilty of ATTEMPTED
No. 23-499 where he was charged with illegal possession of a firearm used in perpetrating HOMICIDE and, considering the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, sentence
the homicide and attempted homicide, i.e., violation of par. 2, Sec. 1, PD 1866, as a result him to an indeterminate prison term of three (3) months and twenty (20) days of arresto
of the decriminalization of violations of PD 1866 by RA 8294 where the unlicensed firearm mayor medium as minimum, to one (1) year, four (4) months and fifteen (15) days
is used in carrying out the commission of other crimes - of prision correccional minimum as maximum.
The monetary awards in the Joint Decision, i.e., indemnification in favor of the heirs
Sec. 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or of Mayolito Cabatu in the amount of P50,000.00 in Crim. Case No. 23-498, and actual
Ammunition or Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms damages of P15,000.00 to Florencia Cabatu in Crim. Case No. 23-494, are AFFIRMED.
or Ammunition. - The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine of
not less than Fifteen Thousand pesos (P15,000) shall be imposed upon any person who The conviction of accused-apellant Michael Tadeo in Crim. Case No. 23-499 for
shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or possess any low powered illegal possession of firearm used in the commission of murder and frustrated murder, i.e.,
firearm, such as rimfire handgun, .380 or .32 and other firearm of similar firepower, part of violation of par. 2, Sec. 1, PD 1866, and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua is
firearm, ammunition, or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the accused is ACQUITTED. No costs.
manufacture of any firearm or ammunition. Provided, that no other crime was committed x
x x x If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of SO ORDERED.
an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance. Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago,
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Morales, and Callejo, Sr.,
The foregoing amendments obviously blur the distinctions between murder and JJ., concur.
homicide on one hand, and qualified illegal possession of firearms used in murder or
homicide on the other. We have declared that the formulation in RA 8294, i.e., "[i]f
homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of an
unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance," signifies a
legislative intent to treat as a single offense the illegal possession of firearms and the
[17]
commission of murder or homicide with the use of an unlicensed firearm. Thus where
an accused used an unlicensed firearm in committing homicide or murder, he may no SECOND DIVISION
longer be charged with what used to be the two (2) separate offenses of homicide or
murder under The Revised Penal Code and qualified illegal possession of firearms used in
homicide or murder under PD 1866; in other words, where murder or homicide was [G.R. No. 109939. June 8, 2000]
committed, the penalty for illegal possession of firearms is no longer imposable since it
[18]
becomes merely a special aggravating circumstance. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. GLORIA MITTU y CINTO AND
GERVACIO SOLIDAD y LLANES, accused-appellants.
The use of an unlicensed firearm cannot be considered however as a special
aggravating circumstance in Crim. Case No. 23-498 and Crim. Case No. 23-494. For one,
it was not alleged as an aggravating circumstance in the Informations for murder and DECISION
frustrated murder which is necessary under our present Revised Rules of Criminal
[19]
Procedure. Moreover, even if alleged, the circumstance cannot be retroactively applied QUISUMBING, J.:
to prejudice accused-appellant; it must be stressed that RA 8294 took effect only on 6 July
[20]
1994 while the crimes involved herein were committed on 4 November 1993. In any On appeal is the decision dated March 15, 1993 of the Regional Trial Court of Kaloocan
event, as correctly observed by the Solicitor General, there is no evidence proving the City, Branch 121, in Criminal Case No. C-41128, convicting accused-appellants of the
illicit character of the .38 cal. revolver used by appellant in killing Mayolito Cabatu and in crime of kidnapping for ransom and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion
trying to kill Florencia Cabatu, as to which requisite of the crime the record is eerily silent. perpetua.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Joint Decision of the RTC-Br. 23 of Roxas, Isabela,
sentencing accused-appellant Michael Tadeo to reclusion perpetua for murder in Crim. Appellant Gloria Mittu y Cinto was a 37 year-old, sari-sari store owner residing at 80
Case No. 23-498, and to ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum, to Malolos Avenue, Bagong Barrio, Kaloocan City at the time of the incident. Appellant
fourteen (14) years, ten (10) months and twenty (20) days of reclusion temporal as Gervacio Solidad y Llanes was employed by Mittu as an ice-cream vendor cum tricycle
[1]
maximum, for frustrated murder in Crim. Case No. 23-494, is MODIFIED. driver.
Accordingly, in Crim. Case No. 23-498, we find accused-appellant guilty of
HOMICIDE and, considering the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, sentence Kidnapped was Vik Ramjit Singh, the 4-year old son of the spouses Dhanwant and
[2]
him to an indeterminate prison term of six (6) years, three (3) months and one (1) day Caridad Singh, together with Mary Gene Coa y Rodrigo , his 15-year old nursemaid.
50

The facts, as summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General, and which we find to be received their complaint, instructed them to wait for another call from the
[3]
supported by the records, are as follows: abductors and arrange for the payment of the ransom money. (TSN,
January 6, 1993, p. 9; TSN, December 15, 1992, p. 4).
"On August 31, 1992, around 7:45 a.m., four year-old Vik Ramjit Singh
(Vikvik) and his fifteen-year old nursemaid, Mary Jane (Fanny or Pane) On September 4, 1992, the unidentified person called again and
(sic) Coa, both of 51 Pilar St., Morning Breeze, Kaloocan City, were on instructed Dan Waht Singh to give the ransom money to one Gloria
their way to the Infant Jesus School at Asuncion Street, Morning Mittu at the Barrio Fiesta Restaurant, EDSA, Kaloocan City, at 7:00
Breeze, where Vikvik was a nursery student. While Vikvik and Pane oclock in the evening that same day, and they would give him his child.
were walking in front of a Catholic church, appellant Mittu suddenly (TSN, January 6, 1993, pp. 9-10).
grabbed them, saying, "Halika, punta kayo sa bahay," and then loaded
them in a tricycle driven by appellant Gervacio Solidad (TSN, December After receiving the call, Mr. Singh called up the NBI and informed them
9, 1992, pp. 3-8; TSN, January 6, 1993, pp. 20-22). of the arrangement for the payment of the ransom money. With this
development, NBI agents assigned to the case then mapped out a plan
Thereafter, the two appellants took the victims to Muntinlupa in a taxi to arrest the abductors after the release of the kidnap victims and
where they were detained for two (2) days (TSN, December 9, 1992, pp. delivery of the ransom money (TSN, December 15, 1992, pp. 4-5).
3, 4 and 7, TSN, January 6, 1993, p. 22). During their captivity in
Muntinlupa, they were brought to a public market where Mittu made Around 4:00 oclock in the afternoon, the NBI agents, headed by Atty.
Vikvik talk to his father on the telephone. Vikvik, whom appellant Mittu Ruel Lazala, team leader, were dispatched to cover the "pay-off" area
threatened to leave behind in the market if he told anyone that she was (TSN, December 15, 1992, p. 5-7, 15-16).
the one who took them, was only able to say, "Papa, kunin mo kami
rito." (TSN, December 9, 1992, p. 4).
When they arrived at the Barrio Fiesta Restaurant along EDSA,
Kaloocan City, the agents saw the Singh spouses already seated in one
From Muntinlupa, Vikvik and Mary Jane were taken to Novaliches, of the tables. The agents then posted themselves strategically around
where each one was hidden in separate houses (TSN, ibid., p. 5). the restaurant. By 6:00 oclock p.m., a woman, later identified as
appellant Gloria Mittu, entered the restaurant and went straight to where
Meanwhile, around 12:00 oclock noon of August 31, 1992, the father of Vikviks parents were seated (TSN, ibid., pp. 6, 16-18).
Vikvik, Dan Waht Singh, went home to find his wife, Caridad, crying.
Caridad confided that their son and his "yaya" failed to come home from As soon as she reached the Singh spouses, appellant Mittu demanded
school. She narrated further that when she went to the Infant Jesus for the whole amount of the ransom money, but Dan Waht Singh
School to look for her son, the teacher told her that Vikvik did not attend replied, "Cannot be, you give me my son." But Mittu refused to turn-over
school that day (TSN, January 6, 1993, p. 6; TSN, December 9, 1992, the kidnap victims unless half of the ransom money was given to her.
p. 12). They then looked for the child but he was nowhere to be found Mr. Singh could do nothing else but accede to the demand and gave
(TSN, January 6, 1993, p. 7). P50,000.00 to Mittu who, after receiving the money, went out of the
restaurant (TSN, January 6, 1993, pp. 10-11; TSN, December 15, 1992,
Soon thereafter, the Singh spouses received a telephone call from an pp. 7, 16, 18).
unidentified male caller who told them, "Your son is here." The caller
told them not to report the matter to the police. After the warning, he When Mittu had gone, Mr. Singh conferred with Atty. Lazala inside the
hanged up (TSN, January 6, 1992, p. 7; TSN, December 9, 1993, pp. comfort room and informed him that appellant Mittu would be back after
12-14). That same day, the same person called and reiterated what he two (2) hours to bring the victims. (TSN, December 15, 1992, pp. 7-8).
had told them earlier. (TSN, January 6, 1992, p. 7).
Thereafter, the Singh spouses went home even as the NBI team,
The following day, the Singh spouses received another call from the composed of Attys. de Villa, Liongson, Lazala and Laurence Nidera,
same person who this time demanded P100,000.00 for the release of held a briefing at the establishment adjacent to the Barrio Fiesta
their son. But when Dan Waht Singh said he could not raise the amount, restaurant. They posted themselves at the left side corner of the
the caller hanged up again. The Singh spouses also received similar restaurant, while another NBI team was posted at the right side (TSN,
calls on September 2, 1992 (TSN, December 9, 1992, pp. 12-14; TSN, January 6, 1993, p. 11; TSN, December 15, 1992, p. 8). After two hours,
January 6, 1993, pp. 7-8). Mr. and Mrs. Singh went back to the restaurant (January 6, 1993,
tsn, ibid.).
On the morning of September 3, 1992, the Singh spouses finally went to
the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and sought its help to rescue Around 9:00 oclock in the evening, Mary Jane or "Pane," the little boys
their son and his "yaya". NBI Assistant Director Atty. Liongson, who "yaya," went inside the restaurant. When Mr. Singh saw her, he went
51

out, directly towards a taxicab in which he saw inside his son Vikvik with Manila for Kaloocan City. September 17, 1992.
appellants Mittu and Solidad. The two appellants then let the boy out of
the taxi and gave him to Mr. Singh (TSN, January 6, 1993, pp. 11-12; THEODORE M. VILLANUEVA
TSN, December 15, 1992, p. 9). State Prosecutor II"

When Atty. Lazala saw the little boy already safe with his parents, he On November 10, 1992, appellants entered their respective pleas of not guilty upon
immediately signalled to the agents to arrest the appellants. After their [5]
arraignment. Thereafter, trial ensued. The prosecution presented the following
arrest, the two kidnappers were then brought to the NBI headquarters witnesses: (1) Vik Ramjit Singh, the four-year old victim; (2) Mary Gene Coa, his
(December 15, 1992; tsn, pp. 9-10; January 20, 1993, p. 2). nursemaid; (3) Dhanwant Singh and Caridad Singh, parents of Vik Ramjit; (4) Laurence
Nidera; and (5) Atty. Oscar Emdibo, both Special Investigators of the National Bureau of
Gloria Mittu admitted in the investigation that she still had in her Investigation (NBI).
possession part of the ransom money in the amount of P27,000.00
(TSN, January 20, 1993, p. 3). Another NBI team, thereafter repaired to For the defense, appellants testified on their behalf. Appellant Mittu testified that she knew
her house in Bagong Barrio, Kaloocan City, where said appellant both of the Singh spouses since 1982. She claimed that they fabricated the kidnap story
handed over to the team leader, Atty. Oscar Embido, NBI senior agent, when they failed to collect from her the monetary obligations of her husband, an Indian
the P27,000.00 that was part of the ransom money (TSN, ibid., pp. 3, 5). [6]
National, who was already deported by the Bureau of Immigration. She also claimed that
When asked about the rest of the fifty thousand (P50,000.00) pesos, Vik Ramjit Singh and his nursemaid used to visit her in her house so that Vik Ramjit could
Mittu answered that she already used it to redeem a pawned jewelry. play with her son, Arjon. She insisted that the sum of P27,000.00 confiscated from her by
(TSN, ibid., p. 6)." NBI agents was her own money.
[7]

On September 28, 1992, after preliminary investigation, the following Information for For his part, appellant Solidad denied any knowledge of the kidnapping claiming that he
[4]
Kidnapping was filed against appellants: was a mere employee of Mittu and that he merely drove Mittu and the two victims to the
[8]
Barrio Fiesta Restaurant, without knowing the purpose of their trip to said restaurant.
"The undersigned State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice
accuses Gloria Mittu y Cinto and Gervacio Solidad y Llanes for violation On March 15, 1993, the trial court rendered a decision,
[9]
the dispositive portion of which
of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code (Kidnapping for ransom) states:
committed as follows:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court finds both accused
That on or about August 31, 1992 at around 7:45 oclock in the morning GLORIA MITTU and GERVACIO SOLIDAD, GUILTY beyond
in Caloocan City and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court reasonable doubt of the crime of KIDNAPPING For Ransom, defined
above named accused while conspiring and confederating with one and penalized under the last paragraph of Article 267 of the Revised
another did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with Penal Code and are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of
criminal intent, pull, take and carry away with the use of force, threat, RECLUSION PERPETUA.
stealth and intimidation the minors Vik Ramjit Singh and Mary Gene
Co[]a y Rodrigo without their consent to Muntinlupa, Metro Manila
where they were detained, kept, and constrained of their liberty until SO ORDERED."
September 1, 1992.
Appellants filed separate briefs. Appellant Mittu contends that the trial court erred in not
[10]
That the victims on September 1, 1992 were later transferred by the holding that -
accused to Novaliches, Quezon City where the victims were separately
detained, kept and constrained of their liberty until September 4, 1992. I. ... THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO ESTABLISH THE CORPUS
DELICTI OF THE CRIME AND CONSEQUENTLY, IN NOT
That the accused while detaining the victims demanded and extorted ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
money and did receive money from Dhanwant Singh, father of Vik
Ramjit (sic) Singh and employer of Marygene Cona (sic) in the amount II. ... CONSIDERING THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT AND THE
of One Hundred Thousand Pesos as ransom money for the release of SINGH SPOUSES KNEW EACH OTHER VERY WELL, IT WOULD
the victims to the damage and prejudice of Dhanwant Singh. HAVE BEEN CONTRARY TO HUMAN NATURE FOR THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANT TO RECEIVE THE SO-CALLED RANSOM MONEY
CONTRARY TO LAW. FROM THE SAID SPOUSES, AND AT A PUBLIC PLACE AT THAT.
52

III. ... THE AMOUNT OF P27,000.00 CONFISCATED FROM THE Note that the NBI agents had no motive to falsely testify against appellants. Without
ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO BE PART OF THE RANSOM MONEY evidence that they falsely testified, we shall presume regularity in their performance of
[15]
WAS ACTUALLY HER OWN MONEY. official duties.

[11]
On the other hand, appellant Solidad assigns only one error: Appellant Mittu who masterminded the kidnapping admitted her motive in kidnapping the
boy and his nursemaid. In her Sworn Statement executed before the Anti-Organized
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING GERVACIO SOLIDAD Crime Division of the NBI, she stated she kidnapped the boy because she wanted to take
GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF revenge on the Singh spouses for having her husband, Surinder Omar Mittu, deported in
[16]
KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM. 1991.

Appellant Mittu contends that the prosecution failed to establish the corpus delicti since On her claim that it is against human nature to kidnap a person well known to the
the ransom money was not properly identified in court. The Office of the Solicitor General kidnappers, the records reveal that the last time appellant Mittu saw the spouses Singh
points out, however, that corpus delicti refers to the actual commission of the crime was in 1985, some seven (7) years prior to the kidnapping. Whatever bond they had were
charged, and not merely to things involved in the commission of the crime. In this case, severed by the seven years and the deportation of Surinder Omar Mittu. Besides,
the fact of commission of the crime was duly proven by the testimonies of the prosecution familiarity with the victims or their families has never rendered the commission of the
witnesses. crime impossible or improbable, but has in fact at times even facilitated its commission.

While appellant Mittu claims that the money confiscated from her were proceeds of a loan, The evidence also shows that appellants acted in concert with each other in perpetrating
the OSG contends that such testimony is self-serving and unsupported by receipts of the the kidnapping. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement
[17]
alleged loan transaction. concerning the commission of a crime and decide to commit it. Appellants acts
demonstrate that they conspired to kidnap the victims. Appellant Mittu lured the boy and
[18]
his nursemaid to board the tricycle driven by appellant Solidad. Appellant Solidad drove
As to appellant Gervacio, the OSG belies his claim of innocence since he actively to the house of Mittu and left his tricycle there. Together with their captives, they took a
participated in the kidnapping by driving the tricycle where the victims were boarded and taxi to Muntinlupa where they stayed for two days. Thereafter, they brought the two minors
by accompanying appellant Mittu during the entire incident up to the entrapment at the [19]
to Novaliches in the house of appellant Mittus cousin. Appellants made repeated phone
Barrio Fiesta restaurant. Further, at the time of the entrapment, appellant Solidad was not calls to the Singh spouses asking for ransom money in the amount of
driving his tricycle but was on board the taxi with the two victims. [20]
P100,000.00. Appellants then instructed Mr. Singh to bring the money and meet
[21]
appellant Mittu at the Barrio Fiesta in Kaloocan City. Both appellants were apprehended
[22]
The crucial issue, in our view, involves the assessment of credibility of witnesses. Could after they delivered the boy and his nursemaid at the designated meeting place.
the version succinctly narrated by the two victims, the parents of the 4-year old boy, and
the NBI agents possibly be concocted as so alleged by the appellant Mittu and her cohort, Kidnapping for ransom is penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code which
appellant Solidad? provides:

Countless times have we ruled that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of "Kidnapping and serious illegal detention.- Any private individual who
witnesses and their testimonies are entitled to the highest respect and will not be shall kidnap or detain another, or in any manner deprive him of his
disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that the trial court overlooked, liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death:
misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which
would have affected the result of the case. The trial court is in a better position to decide
the question of credibility, having seen and heard the witnesses themselves and observed 1. If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than five days.
[12]
their behavior and manner of testifying.
2. If it shall have been committed simulating public authority.
In the present case, the 4 year-old boy and his nursemaid testified on the circumstances
[13]
of the kidnapping. Their testimonies were duly corroborated by the testimonies of the 3. If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted upon the
Singh spouses and the NBI agents who entrapped appellants. Against this array of person kidnapped or detained; or if threats to kill him shall have been
categorical testimonies, appellants could only offer their feeble denials and excuses. made.
Categorical, consistent and positive identification, without any ill motive on the part of the
eyewitness, prevails over unconvincing alibi and unsubstantiated denials. These latter 4. If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor, female or a
[14]
testimonies are self-serving statements, undeserving of weight in law. public officer.

The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or detention was


committed for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any
53

other person, even if none of the circumstances above-mentioned were [G.R. No. 135682. March 26, 2003]
present in the commission of the offense."

We find that the following elements of kidnapping were proven by the prosecution: First,
appellants are private individuals. Second, they kidnapped or detained the victims in PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. DANILO REYES y
Muntinlupa and then transferred them to Novaliches, Quezon City. Third, the act of BATAC, accused-appellant.
detention or kidnapping was illegal. Fourth, in the commission of the offense, the persons
kidnapped were both minors, Vik Ramjit being 4 years old, and the nursemaid, being 15
DECISION
years old.
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
The kidnapping was qualified by the demand for ransom. The father of Vik Ramjit testified
that he received phone calls asking for the amount of One Hundred Thousand Pesos [1]
This is an appeal from the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Malabon, Metro
(P100,000.00) for the release of his son and that he was instructed to proceed to the Manila, Branch 72, in Criminal Case No. 18548-MN finding accused-appellant Danilo
Barrio Fiesta restaurant in Kaloocan City to hand over the amount to appellant Gloria Reyes guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Homicide, and
[23]
Mittu. All these events transpired under the surveillance of the NBI team which promptly sentencing him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua with all the accessory penalties
pounced on appellants after the pay-off and turn-over of the kidnap victims. and to pay the father of the victim the amount of P50,000.00 as death indemnity,
P50,000.00 as moral damages and P47,000.00 as actual damages.
Appellant Mittu argues that the failure of the prosecution to identify the ransom money in
court is tantamount to the prosecutions failure to prove the corpus delicti of the crime. We The amended information charged accused-appellant and accused Arnel Cergantes
find this assigned error not only without factual basis but also legally infirm. The records y Hadegero with Robbery with Homicide committed as follows:
show that the one hundred peso (P100) bills amounting to P27,000.00 were offered in
[24] th
evidence, and over the objections the defense, admitted by the court. More importantly, That on or about the 12 day of October 1997, in the Municipality of Navotas, Metro
the corpus delicti in the crime of kidnapping for ransom does not pertain to the ransom Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
money itself. Corpus delicti is the fact of the commission of the crime which may be accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, with intent to gain
[25]
proved by the testimony of the witnesses who saw it. The fact of kidnapping has been and by means of force, violence and intimidation employed upon the person of one
duly proved by the categorical testimonies of the prosecution witnesses who pointed to DONALDO SALMORIN, JR. Y SOLIS did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
appellants as the perpetrators. feloniously take, rob and carry away one (1) gold necklace, one (1) gold ring, one
wristwatch, all of an undetermined value, and a wallet containing unspecified amount of
As to the proper penalty, Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, prescribes the penalty of cash owned by and belonging to DONALDO SALMORIN, JR. Y SOLIS to the damage and
death for the crime of kidnapping for ransom. The death penalty, however, could not be prejudice of the latter, and that on the occasion of or by reason of the said robbery the
imposed because the kidnapping for ransom took place on August 31, 1992, prior to the said accused, conspiring with one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
[26]
reimposition of the death penalty. Hence, the proper penalty is the penalty next lower in feloniously, attack, assault, stab with a bladed weapon, the said DONALDO SALMORIN,
degree which is reclusion perpetua, an indivisible penalty.
[27] JR. inflicting upon him serious physical injuries which directly caused his death.

[2]
WHEREFORE, the decision finding accused-appellants GLORIA MITTU y CINTO and CONTRARY TO LAW.
GERVACIO SOLIDAD y LLANES guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
kidnapping as defined and penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, and Accused-appellant was the only one arrested and, when arraigned, he entered a
sentencing them to reclusion perpetua with all the accessory penalties under the law, is plea of not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued.
AFFIRMED. Costs against appellants.
The evidence for the prosecution established the following facts:
SO ORDERED. On October 12, 1997, at 2:00 a.m., PO1 Eduardo C. Molato of Station 4, Western
Police District, Sampaloc, Manila was on his way home on board a passenger
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur. jeepney. When he alighted at the corner of Lapu-lapu Street and Northbay Boulevard
South he saw the victim being held up by two persons. The one in front of the victim
forcibly took his wristwatch while the other one stabbed him at the back. He fired one
warning shot which caused the three to run towards Phase I, Lapu-lapu Avenue. He
chased them but when he saw the victim, he hailed a tricycle and asked the driver to bring
the victim to the nearest hospital. He continued chasing the suspects up to Phase II until
he reached Agora, but the suspects were gone. The incident happened swiftly but PO1
FIRST DIVISION Molato had a good look at the face of the one who stabbed the victim as he was about 8
to 10 meters away from them.
54

Accused-appellant denies the charge against him and insists that he was merely Accused-appellant argued that his guilt was not established beyond reasonable
mistaken for accused Arnel Cergontes who had the same protruding lips as he had and doubt for failure of the prosecution to prove the essential requisites of the crime
with whom he shares a common alias as Buboy Nguso. He recalled that on October 12, charged. According to him, the vital element of animus lucrandi was not sufficiently
1997, he was sleeping in his house. He left only at 7:30 in the morning and went to the established as the taking of the watch could have been a mere afterthought and the real
house of his uncle Dabong to ask for money. On October 16, 1997 at around 7:30 in the intent of the malefactors was to inflict injuries upon the victim. Moreover, there was no
morning, police authorities came to Antorium St. looking for Buboy Nguso. To his surprise, evidence of ownership of the wristwatch, as it may have belonged to the two persons who
the policemen, without saying anything, handcuffed him and brought him to the Lapu-lapu attacked the victim. Lastly, there was no evidence of conspiracy.
detachment. Thereafter he was brought to Navotas Police station for further
investigation. He claims that he was arrested for possession of a deadly weapon in The arguments fail to persuade us.
violation of B.P. Blg. 6 and not in connection with the robbery-homicide case. A conviction for robbery with homicide requires proof of the following elements: (a)
After trial, the lower court rendered a judgment of conviction which reads: the taking of personal property with violence or intimidation against persons or with force
upon things; (b) the property taken belongs to another; (c) the taking be done with animus
lucrandi (intent to gain); and (d) on the occasion of the robbery or by reason thereof,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Danilo homicide in its generic sense was committed. The offense becomes a special complex
Reyes y Batac guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Homicide crime of robbery with homicide under Article 294 (1) of Revised Penal Code if the victim is
defined and penalized under Article 294, Paragraph 1, of the Revised Penal Code, as killed on the occasion or by reason of the robbery.
[4]
amended by RA 7659. Considering that no mitigating nor aggravating circumstance
attended the commission of the crime nor alleged in the amended information, said After reviewing the evidence on record of this case, we find that the facts established
accused is hereby sentenced to the prison term of reclusion perpetua, together with all the a clear-cut case of robbery with homicide. Great respect is accorded to the factual findings
accessory penalties thereof. of the trial court. The trial judge had the best opportunity to observe the behavior and
demeanor of the witnesses. It formed first-hand judgment as to whether particular
Accused Reyes is also condemned to pay the father of the victim the total amount of witnesses were telling the truth or not. Thus, absent misapprehension or misinterpretation
P147,000.00 broken as follows: 1) P50,000.00 for the loss of the victims life, 2) of facts of weight and substance, and absent any arbitrariness or irregularity, we will not
[5]
P50,000.00 by way of moral damages for the pain and sorrow suffered by the victims overturn its findings.
family, and 3) P47,000.00 by way of actual expenses incurred in connection with the death Accused-appellants contention that the animus lucrandi was not sufficiently
and burial of the victim. No pronouncement on the claim for lost valuables and income can established by the prosecution is devoid of merit. Animus lucrandi or intent to gain is an
be made in view of the failure to substantiate the same. internal act which can be established through the overt acts of the offender. Although
proof of motive for the crime is essential when the evidence of the robbery is
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the PNP Director General and the Director of the circumstantial, intent to gain or animus lucrandi may be presumed from the furtive taking
WPD so that the superiors of PO1 Eduardo Molato will know that in connection with this of useful property pertaining to another, unless special circumstances reveal a different
case, said policeman while already off-duty responded to the commission of a crime, intent on the part of the perpetrator. The intent to gain may be presumed from the proven
[6]
extended assistance to the victim thereof, tried to arrest the malefactors and cooperated unlawful taking. In the case at bar, the act of taking the victims wristwatch by one of the
with the authorities concerned in the prosecution of this case in a manner that can only be accused Cergontes while accused-appellant Reyes poked a knife behind him sufficiently
described as a laudable display of civic duty brought about by his orientation as a gave rise to the presumption.
policeman and for which PO1 Molato is hereby commended.
Accused-appellant also contends that the ownership of the wristwatch was not
[3] proved by the prosecution. He argues that the attackers probably owned the wristwatch
SO ORDERED. and the reason they attacked the victim was to retrieve it.

Hence, this appeal based on the following assigned errors: Accused-appellants contention deserves no merit. The detailed narration of how the
victim was forcibly divested of the wristwatch by accused Cergontes and stabbed at the
I back by accused-appellant cannot be taken lightly on the argument that the attackers
owned the wristwatch and they attacked the victim solely on their desire to retrieve
THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED NOTWITHSTANDING it. Clearly, this contention is a mere conjecture and has no basis on record. In any event,
THE FACT THAT HIS GUILT HAD NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED BEYOND REASONABLE in robbery by the taking of property through intimidation or violence, it is not necessary
DOUBT. that the person unlawfully divested of the personal property be the owner thereof. Article
293 of the Revised Penal Code employs the phrase belonging to another and this has
been interpreted to merely require that the property taken does not belong to the
II offender. Actual possession of the property by the person dispossessed thereof
suffices. In fact, it has been held that robbery may be committed against a bailee or a
THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN GIVING FULL FAITH AND CREDENCE TO THE person who himself has stolen it. So long as there is apoderamiento of personal property
TESTIMONY AND IDENTIFICATION MADE BY PO1 EDUARDO C. MOLATO. from another against the latters will through violence or intimidation, with animo de
lucro, robbery is the offense imputable to the offender. If the victim is killed on the
55

occasion or by reason of the robbery, the offense is converted into the composite crime of prevails over alibi and denial. Unless substantiated by clear and convincing proof, such
[7] [13]
robbery with homicide. defenses are negative, self-serving, and undeserving of any weight in law.
Likewise unavailing is the contention of accused-appellant that the prosecution failed As regards accused-appellants civil liability, the trial courts award of P50,000.00 as
to prove conspiracy. In conspiracy, proof of an actual planning of the perpetration of the death indemnity to the father of the victim Donaldo Salmoren, Jr. and P50,000.00 as moral
[14]
crime is not a condition precedent. It may be deduced from the mode and manner in which damages are in accord with current jurisprudence. The award of actual damages in the
the offense was committed or inferred from the acts of the accused evincing a joint or amount of P47,000.00 should likewise be upheld, in view of the defenses admission as to
[8] [15]
common purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest. the claim for actual damages.
In the case at bar, conspiracy was clearly manifested in the concerted efforts of the WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
accused-appellant and his cohort. They were seen together by PO1 Molato at the unholy Malabon, Metro Manila, Branch 72, in Criminal Case No. 18548-MN, finding Danilo Reyes
hour of 2:50 a.m. forcibly taking the wristwatch of the victim and thereafter stabbing him at y Batac guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Homicide and
the back. Their simultaneous acts indicate a joint purpose, concerted action and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua with all the accessory penalties
concurrence of sentiments. Where the acts of the accused collectively and individually and to pay the heirs of the victim the amount of P50,000.00 as death indemnity,
demonstrate the existence of a common design towards the accomplishment of the same P50,000.00 as moral damages and P47,000.00 as actual damages, is AFFIRMED in toto.
unlawful purpose, conspiracy is evident, and all the perpetrators will be liable as
principals.
[9] SO ORDERED.

Accused-appellant faults the trial court for relying on the improbable testimony of Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
PO1 Molato who testified that the victim upon seeing him ran away towards the direction
where the two assailants also ran. It is well-settled that different people react differently to
a given situation or type of situation, and there is no standard form of human behavioral
[10]
response where one is confronted with a strange or startling or frightful experience. The
firing of the warning shot may have frightened the victim and made him act the way he did, EN BANC
especially since PO1 Molato did not identify himself as a police officer before he fired the
warning shot.
In a last ditch effort to obtain his acquittal, accused-appellant contends that PO1 [G.R. Nos. 131856-57. July 9, 2001]
Molatos testimony was inconsistent because while he initially testified that he boarded the
victim on a tricycle and proceeded to chase the two assailants, he later said that upon
reaching Agora he saw the victim lying down and sought help from the people around and
that no one aided him so he decided to wait for the police. Moreover, despite the presence
of bystanders no one was investigated and eventually presented in court in order to PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. WILLIAM
corroborate his testimony. MONTINOLA, accused-appellant.

We find the inconsistencies to be too trivial as to affect the credibility of PO1


Molato. Slight contradictions such as these even serve to strengthen the credibility of the DECISION
witnesses and prove that their testimonies are not rehearsed nor perjured. What is DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
important is the fact that there is a sustained consistency in relating the principal elements
of the crime and the positive and categorical identification of accused-appellants as the
perpetrators of the crime.
[11] The core issue in this case is whether the use of an unlicensed firearm in the killing
perpetrated by reason or on the occasion of the robbery may be treated as a separate
Furthermore, the non-presentation of other witnesses to corroborate the testimony of offense or as an aggravating circumstance in the crime of robbery with homicide.
PO1 Molato is of no consequence. The matter of deciding whom to present as witness for
the prosecution is not for the accused or for the trial court to decide, as it is the prerogative Accused-appellant William Muyco Montinola (hereafter WILLIAM) was charged
of the prosecutor. More importantly, the testimony of PO1 Molato is sufficient to convict before the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City with robbery with homicide in Criminal Case
accused-appellant. Courts are not precluded from rendering judgment based on the No. 47168 and illegal possession of firearm in Criminal Case No. 47269. The accusatory
testimony even of a single witness. The weight and sufficiency of evidence is determined portions of the two informations read as follows:
not by the number of the witnesses presented but by the credibility, nature, and quality of Criminal Case No. 47168:
[12]
the testimony.
As correctly held by the trial court, accused-appellants defense of alibi and denial That on or about the 18th day of November 1996, in the City of Iloilo, Philippines, and
cannot prevail over the clear, positive and convincing testimony of PO1 Molato. In the light within the jurisdiction of this Honorable court, the above named accused, armed with
of the positive identification of accused-appellant as one of the assailants, his denial and unlicensed Cal. 380 Pistol Llama with Serial No. 170257 did then and there deliberately,
alibi cannot be sustained. The positive identification of the accused, when categorical and willfully and criminally with violence against or intimidation of persons, with intent of gain,
consistent and without any ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying on the matter, take and carry away cash amount of P67,500.00 belonging to Jose Eduardo Reteracion,
56

and by reason and on occasion thereof, the said accused shot to death the said Jose The wife of the victim spent for the burial and wake of her husband an amount of
Eduardo Reteracion; that cash amount of P48,200.00 was recovered from the herein P191,835.00 and failed to recover P39,500.00 which was a part of the money taken from
accused. her husband. She became depressed, sleepless and not in the mood to eat because of
utter sadness resulting from the death of her husband (pp. 6-14, TSN, January 14,
[4]
Contrary to Law.
[1] 1997).

[5]
Criminal Case No. 47169 reads as follows: On 24 April 1996, the trial court rendered a Joint Judgment finding WILLIAM guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the charges filed against him. It sentenced him to reclusion
perpetua for the robbery with homicide and to the penalty of death for illegal possession of
That on or about the 18th day of November 1996, in the City of Iloilo, Philippines, and firearm. It also ordered him to pay the family of the victim the amounts of P50,000 as
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said accused, with deliberate intent and death indemnity; P191,835 for the burial and wake expenses; and P39,000 for the
without any justifiable motive, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally have in unrecovered part of the money taken from the victim and to pay the victims wife P100,000
his possession, custody and control one (1) Pistol Llama, caliber .380 with Serial No. as moral damages.
170257 with two (2) cal. .380 live ammunition without having obtained the proper license
[6]
or permit to carry, to hold and possess the same, which firearm was used by the said On 19 May 1997, WILLIAM filed with the trial court a Notice of Appeal stating that
accused William Muyco Montinola in shooting to death the victim Jose Eduardo he was appealing the decision to the Court of Appeals. In an order dated 15 May 1997,
Reteracion. the trial court directed the transmission of the records to this Court.

[2] In his appellants Brief, WILLIAM imputes this lone error to the trial court:
Contrary to Law.

[3] IT WOULD BE AN ERROR TO IMPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY FOR THE CRIME
Upon his arraignment on 6 January 1997, WILLIAM entered a plea of not guilty to OF ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARM BECAUSE OF THE ENACTMENT OF
both charges. Joint trial of the two cases was conducted. However, on 19 February 1997, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8294 WHICH AMENDED PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO.
after the prosecution had presented three witnesses, WILLIAM moved to withdraw his 1866.
previous plea of not guilty; and when rearraigned, he pleaded guilty to both
charges. Nevertheless, trial on the merits continued.
WILLIAM contends that the use of an unlicensed firearm in the crime of murder or
The antecedent facts, as summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General, are as homicide should be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance and not as a separate
[7]
follows: offense pursuant to R.A. No. 8294, specifically Section 1 thereof, amending for that
[8]
purpose P.D. No. 1866. The new law, R.A. No. 8294, may be retroactively applied, since
At noon of November 18, 1996, appellant boarded a passenger jeepney driven by Jesus it is favorable to him in that it effectively reduced the penalties for simple and aggravated
Hibinioda bound for Libertad Plaza, Iloilo City. Among the passengers was Jose Eduardo forms of illegal possession. For this reason, he prays that the Court reconsider the
Reteracion. All of a sudden, appellant drew his gun, an unlicensed firearm, .380 caliber challenged decision of the trial court and order the dismissal of the case for illegal
pistol Llama with Serial No. 170257 and directed Reteracion to hand over his money or possession of firearm.
else he would be killed (p. 19, TSN, January 13, 1997).Appellant aimed the firearm at the On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) maintains that the
neck of Reteracion and fired successive shots at the latter. As a result Reteracion invocation by WILLIAM of the benefits of the third paragraph of Section 1 of P.D. No.
slumped dead (pp. 22-23, TSN, January 13, 1997). 1866, as amended by R.A. 8294, is misplaced. The use of an unlicensed firearm shall be
considered as an aggravating circumstance in the crime of murder or homicide only, which
Police Officer Garcia, who heard the shot, approached the jeep and met appellant carrying are classified as crimes against persons, and not to robbery with homicide, which is
a gun. He chased appellant who ran away with his jacket bloodstained as he threw classified as a crime against property under Title X of the Revised Penal
bundles of money. Garcia and the bystanders picked up the money strewn on the way by Code. Furthermore, to apply to the present case the provisions of R.A. No. 8279 and treat
appellant. Police Officer Hollero finally caught up with appellant, who was brought to the the use of an unlicensed firearm as a special aggravating circumstance would contravene
police station with his gun (pp. 5-10, TSN, January 13, 1997). Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code and Section 22, Article III, of the 1987 Constitution
prohibiting the ex post facto application of law. Under Article 294 of the Revised Penal
The gun used by appellant while robbing and killing Reteracion was determined by Senior Code, the crime of robbery with homicide is punishable with reclusion perpetua to
Police Officer Ely Superio of the PNP Firearms Unit as not licensed. Appellant had no death. Should the Court appreciate the use of an unlicensed firearm as an aggravating
permit to possess and/or carry the same (p. 4, TSN, February 18, 1997). The paraffin test circumstance, the higher penalty of death shall be meted on the accused. Essentially,
made on the hands of appellant yielded positive for gun powder nitrate indicating that he therefore, WILLIAM shall be made to suffer a greater and harsher punishment than that
had recently fired a gun (p. 7, TSN, February 19, 1997).The gun confiscated from which the law imposed when the act was committed. Upon the other hand, there is no
appellant [was] the same gun used to shoot and kill the victim as shown by the legal obstacle on the conviction of WILLIAM of the separate crimes of robbery with
comparison of the slugs from the tested bullets with the slugs recovered from the body of homicide and illegal possession of firearm because such is supported by our ruling
[9]
the victim (pp. 7-8 TSN, February 26, 1997). in People v. Cerveto.
57
[15]
The OSG then sought for the affirmance of the trial courts ruling adjudging the In People v. Alolod, the accused therein grabbed from a passenger of a jeepney a
accused guilty of two separate crimes of robbery with homicide and illegal possession of bag containing money. When the latter resisted and grappled for the possession of the
firearm. It recommends, however, that in the charge of illegal possession of firearm the bag, accused shot him twice with a .38 caliber paltik revolver. In our decision of 7 January
accused be given the benefit of the lighter penalty provided in R.A. No. 8294, i.e., a 1997, we affirmed the trial courts judgment convicting the accused-appellant therein of two
penalty ranging from four years (4) and two (2) months, as minimum, to six (6) years, as separate crimes of robbery with homicide and illegal possession of firearm and sentencing
maximum, of prision correccional. Furthermore, the accused should be ordered to return him to the penalty of reclusion perpetua in each case. As to the charge of illegal
the amount of P19,300 representing the difference between the amount taken away and possession of firearm, we held:
the amount recovered as alleged in the information.
A few words on procedure and jurisdiction. Sec. 1 of P.D. [No.] 1866 provides that [i]f homicide or murder is committed with the use of
an unlicensed firearm, the penalty of death shall be imposed. Since the incident took place
WILLIAMs notice of appeal has not escaped our attention. He therein stated that he on 13 December 1991 when the death penalty was proscribed and before it was
was appealing the trial courts judgment to the Court of Appeals. It must be noted that it is reimposed under R.A. [No.] 7659, which took effect [on] 31 December 1993, the sentence
the Supreme Court, and not the Court of Appeals, that has appellate jurisdiction over all is automatically commuted to reclusion perpetua.
[10]
criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher. As to
judgments in which death penalty is imposed, such as the judgment in Criminal Case No. The present case has similar set of facts; the only difference is that the crimes were
47169, no notice of appeal is necessary, as the same is subject to automatic committed on 18 November 1996 when R.A. No. 7659 restoring the death penalty was
[11]
review pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. already in effect. Thus, in line with the ruling in Alolod and applying P.D. No. 1866 and
7659. But as to judgments imposing reclusion perpetua, such as that in Criminal Case No. R.A. No. 7659, WILLIAM could be held guilty of two separate crimes of robbery with
[12]
47168, the appeal to this Court shall be by filing a notice of appeal with the trial court. homicide and illegal possession of firearm, and sentenced to reclusion perpetua for the
WILLIAMs notice of appeal from the judgment in Criminal Cases Nos. 47168-69, first crime and to death for the second.
albeit erroneous since it was directed to the Court of Appeals, may nevertheless be given Fortunately for WILLIAM, on 6 July 1997 while his case was still pending, R.A. No.
due course. For even without that or even if he did not appeal from said judgment, we 8294 amending P.D. No. 1866 took effect. The third paragraph of Section 1 of P.D. No.
would nevertheless review the same conformably with our ruling in People 1866, as amended by R.A. No. 8294, provides:
[13] [14]
vs. Alitagtag, as affirmed in People vs. Contreras. We ruled therein that where cases
have been consolidated and jointly tried, and only one decision is rendered sentencing the
accused to death in one and to reclusion perpetua in the others, he would be deemed to If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of an
have appealed from the judgment in the latter cases. unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance.

Now on the merits of the case. [16]


In recent cases, we ruled that there could be no separate conviction for illegal
We find that the prosecution has duly established by evidence independent from possession of firearm if homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed
WILLIAMs plea of guilty and confession of guilt that he killed the victim after having firearm; instead, such use shall be considered merely as an aggravating circumstance in
succeeded in divesting the latter of his money. The gun he used in shooting the victim, the homicide or murder committed. Hence, insofar as the new law will be advantageous to
which was thereafter seized from him and offered in evidence, was unlicensed. And per WILLIAM as it will spare him from a separate conviction for illegal possession of firearm, it
[17]
the testimony of SPO3 Ely Superio of the PNP Firearms and Explosive Unit, WILLIAM had shall be given retroactive effect.
no license or permit to possess or carry the same. [18]
We cannot apply to the instant case People v. Cervito, which is relied upon by the
The lone issue thus obtaining in this case is whether in light of the amendment OSG. Unlike in the instant case, that case did not call for the application of the second
introduced by R.A. No. 8294 to P.D. No. 1866 he could be prosecuted for, and convicted paragraph of Section 1 of P.D. No. 1866 or the third paragraph of Section 1 of P.D. No.
of, the separate crimes of robbery with homicide and illegal possession of firearms. 1866, as amended by R.A. No. 8294, since the unlicensed firearm which was recovered
from the scene of the crime was not the one used in the homicide committed on the
On 18 November 1996, when the crime was committed, the pertinent law, P.D. No. occasion of the robbery. The prosecution evidence itself disclosed that such gun had not
1866, provided in Section 1 thereof as follows: been fired, as it had no spent shells. The accused-appellant therein, Freneto Cervito, was,
however, seen pointing that gun at the passengers while the robbery was going on. He
Section 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms, was thus convicted of two crimes of robbery with homicide and illegal possession of
Ammunition or Instruments Used in the Manufacture of Firearms or Ammunition. The firearm. We affirmed his conviction for both crimes. Although the crimes were committed
penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua shall be on 10 July 1995 before the effectivity of R.A. No. 8294, we applied the said law with
imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or respect to the penalty for the crime of illegal possession of firearm for being more
possess any firearm, part of a firearm, ammunition or machinery, tool or instrument used favorable to the accused in that it provided a lighter penalty.
or intended to be used in the manufacture of any firearms or ammunition. The next question that needs to be addressed is whether the use of an unlicensed
firearm in the killing perpetrated by reason or on the occasion of the robbery may be
If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, the penalty of considered as an aggravating circumstance in the crime of robbery with homicide.
death shall be imposed.
58

It is undisputed that, pursuant to the third paragraph of Section 1 of P.D. No. 1866, it would not be given retroactive application, lest it would acquire the character of an ex
as amended by R.A. No. 8294, such use of an unlicensed firearm is a special aggravating post facto law. Hence, we shall not appreciate that special aggravating
[34]
circumstance in the homicide or murder committed. But, may the aggravating circumstance. There being no modifying circumstances, the lesser penalty of reclusion
circumstances attending the killing be appreciated in fixing the appropriate penalty for perpetua shall be imposed upon accused-appellant WILLIAM.
robbery with homicide? The rulings on this matter are conflicting.
Parenthetically, the trial court was correct in not crediting in favor of WILLIAM the
[19] [20]
In People v. Galang and People v. Semaada, treachery and cruelty, which mitigating circumstance of plea of guilty, since the change of his plea from not guilty to
[35]
attended the killing, were considered as aggravating circumstances in determining the guilty was made only after the presentation of some evidence for the prosecution. To be
[21]
penalty for robbery with homicide.In People v. Nismal, the circumstance of disregard of entitled to such mitigating circumstance, the accused must have voluntarily confessed his
[36]
respect due the victim on account of his rank aggravated the crime of robbery with guilt before the court prior to the presentation of the evidence for the prosecution. The
homicide. following requirements must therefore concur: (1) the accused spontaneously confessed
[22] [23] [24] his guilt; (2) the confession of guilt was made in open court, that is, before a competent
Likewise, in People v. Capillas, People v. Ang, and People v. Punzalan, we court trying the case; and (3) the confession of guilt was made prior to the presentation of
held that when the killing is committed by reason or on the occasion of the robbery, the [37]
evidence for the prosecution. The third requisite is wanting in the present case.
qualifying circumstances attendant to the killing would be considered as generic
aggravating circumstances; thus, in all these three cases the circumstance of abuse of We shall modify the awards of damages. The award of P191,835 for burial and wake
[25]
superior strength served to aggravate the crime. In the third case, evident premeditation expenses should be reduced to P117,672.26, since only the latter amount was evidenced
[38]
was also considered as aggravating. However, in these three cases, as well as in People by receipts. Likewise, considering the allegation in the information and the testimony of
[26]
v. Ponciano, we said that disregard of age, sex or rank is not aggravating in robbery the victims wife that the amount of P48,200 was recovered from WILLIAM, the award of
with homicide, which is primarily a crime against property, as the homicide is regarded as P39,000 representing the unrecovered part of the money taken from the victim must also
merely incidental to the robbery. be reduced to P19,300 (the difference between the sum of money taken from the victim
[P67,500] and that recovered from accused-appellant [P48,200]). We should also reduce
It is worthy to note, however, that in the more recent case of People v. the award of moral damages from P100,000 to P50,000 in accordance with current
[27] [28] [29]
Salvatiera, reiterated in People v. Cando and People v. Macabales, we held that jurisprudence.
[39]
when treachery obtains in the special complex crime of robbery with homicide, such
treachery is to be regarded as a generic aggravating circumstance, since robbery with WHEREFORE, the Joint Judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch
homicide is a composite crime with its own definition and special penalty in the Revised 25, in Criminal Cases Nos. 47168 and 47269 is AFFIRMED with MODICATIONS as
Penal Code. Having formed part of the circumstances proven concerning the actual follows:
commission of the crime, such treachery would help determine the penalty to be imposed.
1. In Criminal Case No. 47169, accused-appellant WILLIAM MONTINOLA is
Furthermore, it may not be amiss to state that the special aggravating circumstance ACQUITTED of the crime of illegal possession of firearm and therefore
[30]
of use of an unlicensed firearm mentioned in Article 296 of the Revised Penal Code has spared the penalty of death;
been held to be applicable only to cases of robbery in band under Article 295 of the same
Code. It was not appreciated in fixing the penalty for robbery with homicide under Article 2. In Criminal Case No. 47168, where the penalty of reclusion perpetua is
294 even if committed by a band with the use of unlicensed firearms (the element of band imposed,
[31]
was considered merely as an ordinary aggravating circumstance).
(a) The award of P191,835 for burial and wake expenses is REDUCED to
At any rate, even assuming that the aggravating circumstances present in the P117,672.26;
commission of homicide or murder may be counted in the determination of the penalty for
robbery with homicide, we cannot appreciate in this case the special aggravating
circumstance of use of an unlicensed firearm mentioned in the third paragraph of Section (b) The award of P39,000 representing the unrecovered part of the money
1 of P.D. No. 1866, as amended by R.A. No. 8294. Such law was not yet enacted when taken from the victim is REDUCED to P19,300; and
the crime was committed by WILLIAM; it cannot, therefore, be given retroactive effect for
being unfavorable to him. (c) The award for moral damages is REDUCED from P100,000 to P50,000.
Under Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 7659,
robbery with homicide is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death, which are both Costs de oficio.
indivisible penalties. Article 63 of the same Code provides that in all cases in which the SO ORDERED.
law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties, the greater penalty shall
be applied when the commission of the deed is attended by one aggravating Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Pardo, Buena, De Leon,
circumstance. If we would apply retroactively the special aggravating circumstance of use Jr., and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
of unlicensed firearm under Section 1 of P.D. No. 1866, as amended by R.A. No. 8294, Panganiban, J., on official business abroad.
the imposable penalty would be death. Conformably with our ruling in People v. Quisumbing, J., on official business abroad.
[32] [33]
Valdez, reiterated in People v. Macoy, insofar as the new law would aggravate the Ynares-Santiago, J., on official business abroad.
crime of robbery with homicide and increase the penalty from reclusion perpetua to death, Gonzaga-Reyes, J., on leave.
59

That on or about the 24th day of July, 1991, in the Municipality of Mandaluyong, Metro
Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, armed with a bladed weapon, conspiring and confederating together and
mutually helping [or] aiding each other, with intent to gain, by means of force upon things,
did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously enter the house of Benjamin
Raymundo y Sta. Teresa, by then and there removing one blade of the glass window
THIRD DIVISION jalousie near the door, and once inside the house, take, steal and carry away cash[,]
money and jewelries worth P92,000.00 belonging to said Benjamin Raymundo y Sta.
Teresa, to the damage and prejudice of the latter; that on the occasion of the said robbery
and for the purpose of enabling them to take, steal and carry away the said cash, money
[G.R. No. 121272. June 6, 2001] and jewelries, in pursuance of their conspiracy and to insure the success of their criminal
act, with intent to kill, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously stab said
Benjamin Raymundo y Sta. Teresa on the vital part of his body, thereby inflicting upon the
latter stab wounds which directly caused his death.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. REYDERICK LAGO, appellant. [4] [5]
When arraigned on February 23, 1994, appellant pleaded not guilty. After due
trial, the RTC promulgated its assailed Decision.
DECISION [6]
Hence, this appeal.
PANGANIBAN, J.: The Facts
Prosecutions Version
When conspiracy is proven in a case of robbery with homicide, all those who
[7]
participated in the robbery will be held guilty of the special complex crime of robbery with In its Brief, the Office of the Solicitor General presents the prosecutions version of
homicide, even if not all of them actually took part in the homicide perpetrated by just one the facts as follows:
of them on the occasion or as a consequence of the asportation.
Rosana Capacillo of 80 A.T. Reyes Street, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, was one of victim
Benjamin Raymundos neighbors. On that fateful morning of July 24, 1991, around 7:30
The Case a.m. to 8:00 a.m., she was waiting for her husband outside their house. While so engaged,
[she] saw a man, whom she [later] identified as Rainier Lisbog, come out of Raymundos
house. Rosana and this person looked at each other. Later in the evening when Rosana
Before the Court is an appeal by Reyderick Lago, assailing the February 28, 1995 and her husband came home from work, they learned that their neighbor, Benjamin
[1]
Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig, Metro Manila (Branch 159), in Raymundo, had been robbed and killed.
Criminal Case No. 87719. The decretal portion of the assailed Decision, which found him
guilty of robbery with homicide, reads as follows: Ramon Bernardo, a refrigeration/aircon technician, testified that in the morning of July 24,
1991, he went to the house of Benjamin Raymundo to get a refrigeration gasket. Before
WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Reyderick Lago guilty beyond reasonable reaching the gate of the compound where Benjamin lived, he met a man whom he
doubt of the crime of [r]obbery with [h]omicide punishable under Art. 294 par. (1) of the described as wearing a ball cap, white T-shirt, black pants[; was] thin faced, dark skinned,
Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences said accused to suffer the penalty of reclusion of medium buil[d] and about 16 to 20 years old. He identified that person in open court as
perpetua; to indemnify the heirs of the victim in the amount of [f]ifty [t]housand Jayson Diadid. When he was already inside the compound, he called out Mang Ben,
(P50,000.00) [p]esos; the sum of [e]ighteen [t]housand [s]ix [h]undred (P18,600.00) Mang Ben. A man opened the door and demonstrated that Benjamin Raymundo was still
[p]esos representing reimbursement of funeral expenses and [s]ixty [s]even [t]housand asleep. In turn, Ramon made a sign indicating that he [would] be back. A little later at
(P67,000.00) [p]esos for the value of the stolen cash and articles; and to pay the cost. about 9:00 in the morning, Ramon came back and learned that Benjamin Raymundo had
been robbed and killed. Ramon Bernardo identified the man who made a sign to him as
Rainier Lisbog.
The Jail Warden of the Rizal Provl. Jail is hereby ordered to commit the person of accused
Reyderick Lago to the Bureau of Prisons, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila immediately upon
receipt hereof.
[2] Cozette Aragon, one of appellants co-accused, was called to testify as a witness during
appellants trial. Cozette testified that he was introduced to Jayson Diadid by a classmate
[3]
named Dennis Sison. Dennis introduced Cozette to Jayson because the latter could do
The Information, dated August 14, 1991, charged appellant and four others as whatever had to be done in the robbery being planned by Cozette. When Jayson and
follows: Cozette were planning the robbery, Jayson asked Cozette if he wanted to have his uncle
killed, to which Cozette replied in the negative as he merely wanted to rob his uncle.
60

On the day of the robbery, Cozette, Rainier, Jayson and appellant arrived together at the All considered, the quantum of proof required to establish proof beyond any shadow of
house of Benjamin Raymundo. Cozette removed one jalousie block of a window, through doubt is satisfactorily met by the evidence on record and this Court is morally convinced
[10]
which he was able to unlock the door. They then entered the house. At first they sat on the that Reyderick Lago is equally responsible for the offense charged.
sofa. After that, Cozette pointed out to Jayson the room of his uncle. Jayson saw a wallet
and 3 packs of cigarettes on top of a refrigerator. He took them and handed them to
appellant. When Cozette and Jayson entered Benjamins room, Rainier acted as a look-out The Issue
posted by the door while appellant sat on the sofa, waiting for Cozette and Jayson, just
outside Benjamin Raymundos room. During the robbery, Benjamin was repeatedly
stabbed by Jayson, leading to Benjamins death.
Appellant raises a single alleged error for our consideration:
Dr. Alberto Reyes, a medico-legal officer of the NBI, testified that he performed the
autopsy on the cadaver of Benjamin Raymundo. According to Dr. Reyes, the victim The trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant Reyderick Lago of the crime of
[11]
sustained 21 stab wounds, 7 in the front and 14 at the back. The stab wounds affected robbery with homicide despite insufficiency of the evidence of the prosecution.
some vital organs such as the lung, the liver and the pancreas. He gave the immediate
[8]
cause of death as severe hemorrhage resulting from stab wounds. (citations omitted)
The Courts Ruling

Defenses Version

The appeal has no merit.

On the other hand, appellant gives the following narration of facts:


Sole Issue: Sufficiency of the Evidence for the Prosecution

Accused Reyderick Lago testified that on June 24, 1991, the regular classes opened. At
around 6:30 to 7:00 in the morning, accused Cozette Aragon who was his classmate in
English approached him and asked him to accompany him to the house of his uncle to get Appellant contends that the lower court erred in convicting him of the crime of
a project and collect his salary. Aragon also invited Lisbog to go with them. Thereafter, he robbery with homicide, supposedly because the prosecution was not able to prove the
came to know that Diadid also proceeded to the house of Aragons uncle at the back of crime charged, beyond reasonable doubt. We are not convinced. As a co-conspirator in
Don Bosco in Kalentong. the aforesaid crime, he is liable for the acts of his co-conspirators.

Upon entering the gate of the house, Aragon opened the jalousie window with the use of The second paragraph of Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code defines conspiracy, as
a beinte nueve balisong and unlocked the door. Aragon let them in. Lisbog was instructed follows:
to wait outside. While he was seated on the sofa, Aragon and Diadid went inside the
room. Suddenly, he heard somebody was groaning from the room. Afraid, he immediately A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the
left the place and went to the house of his grandmother in Mandaluyong who advised him commission of a felony and decide to commit it.
not to leave the place anymore.
The elements of conspiracy are the following: (1) two or more persons came to an
On cross-examination, he testified that Cozette Aragon was his classmate in one of his agreement, (2) the agreement concerned the commission of a felony, and (3) the
back subjects at Jose Fabella Memorial School. Lisbog was also his classmate. He did not execution of the felony was decided upon. Proof of the conspiracy need not be based on
know personally Jayson Diadid and Dennis Sison. He admitted that when he heard the direct evidence, because it may be inferred from the parties conduct indicating a common
groaning inside the room, he did not bother to verify what was happening. He went out of understanding among themselves with respect to the commission of the crime. Neither is
[9]
the house immediately and did not attend his classes anymore. He stopped schooling. it necessary to show that two or more persons met together and entered into an explicit
agreement setting out the details of an unlawful scheme or objective to be carried out. The
conspiracy may be deduced from the mode or manner in which the crime was
Trial Courts Ruling perpetrated; it may also be inferred from the acts of the accused evincing a joint or
[12]
common purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest.
Appellant met with his co-accused -- Cozette Aragon, Jayson Diadid, Rainier Lisbog
The RTC found appellant a co-conspirator in the robbery with homicide committed and Dennis Sison -- at noon on July 23, 1991, to discuss Aragons plan to rob an
[13]
on July 24, 1991. The trial court concluded: uncle. Initially, appellant contended that he had only accompanied Aragon, who was
[14]
going to the house of the latters uncle to get a project and collect an unpaid salary. But
[15]
appellant later admitted that he had conspired to rob but not to kill the victim.
61

Except for Sison who did not show up at the meeting place agreed upon, all the four in the homicide, unless it appears that those who did not do so endeavored to prevent the
[30]
conspirators met on June 24, 1991, near the Jose Fabella Memorial School. From there killing.
they proceeded to the victims house at the back of Don Bosco on Kalentong
[16]
Street. Upon reaching the house, Aragon forcibly opened the jalousie using a veinte- Appellant, upon hearing the groaning emanating from the bedroom, did not do
[17]
nueve balisong (29-inch knife) and entered the house with Diadid and Lago. The latter anything to check on what was happening. Thinking that his cohorts were stabbing the
[31]
two entered the victims bedroom, while appellant sat on the sofa where he waited for them victim, appellant simply allowed them to finish their dastardly deed. He hid for two years
[32] [33]
[18]
to come out. When appellant heard the groaning inside the bedroom, he became first in the house of his grandmother and, later on, in that of his mother. On January
[34]
apprehensive and left, because he sensed that his two companions were stabbing the 6, 1994, a barangay official apprehended and brought him to the Mandaluyong jail.
[19] [20]
victim. All this time, Lisbog acted as a lookout. It is therefore clear that appellant did not do anything to prevent his co-conspirators
Although Aragon avers that it was only Diadid who did the stabbing, the latters act is from stabbing and ultimately killing the victim. When he left the scene of the crime; he
[21]
deemed to be the act of all. This Court has ruled that whenever a homicide has been could have gone to the police to report the crime, but he hid and tried to escape the arm of
committed as a consequence or on the occasion of a robbery, all those who took part as the law. Because he did not do anything to prevent the homicide, he is therefore equally
principals in the robbery will also be held guilty as principals in the special complex crime guilty of robbery with homicide.
of robbery with homicide, even if they did not all actually take part in the homicide; that is, We affirm the awards of actual damages which were duly proven.
[22]
unless it appears that those who did not do so endeavored to prevent the homicide.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED and the assailed Decision
The medicolegal officer of the National Bureau of Investigation testified that the is AFFIRMED. Costs against appellant.
victim was stabbed 21 times, 7 in front and 14 at the back. Some of his vital organs were
hit like the right lung, the liver and the pancreas. The immediate cause of death was SO ORDERED.
[23]
severe hemorrhage resulting from stab wounds.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Gonzaga-Reyes, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
Because the victim was stabbed 21 times, it could not be said that there was no
intent to kill him. Although Aragon testified that he had no intention to kill, but only to rob,
why did the former bring his co-assailants to his uncles house? Why did he bring
a balisong when he entered his uncles room? Why did he not prevent Diadid from
stabbing the victim? Why was it necessary to inflict 21 stab wounds? These questions Republic of the Philippines
further imply that the common objective was more than robbery. SUPREME COURT
[24]
Appellant himself, in his Brief, agrees with the findings of the trial court that he Manila
conspired with his co-accused to commit robbery. He claims, however, that there was no
concurrence of sentiment and no positive proof or evidence that he joined his co-accused SECOND DIVISION
[25]
in the commission of the crime of homicide. We are not persuaded.
Time and time again, this Court has ruled that when conspiracy is proven, the act of G.R. No. 86163 April 26, 1990
[26]
one is the act of all. As shown above, the prosecution was able to prove beyond
reasonable doubt that conspiracy had attended the commission of the crime of robbery PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
with homicide. Despite the protestations of appellant that he did not conspire to rob and vs.
kill, but only to rob, the victim, we hold that appellant is liable for the special complex crime BIENVENIDO SALVILLA, REYNALDO CANASARES, RONALDO CANASARES, and
of robbery with homicide. SIMPLICIO CANASARES, BIENVENIDO SALVILLA, defendant-appellant.
The elements of this special complex crime are the following: (1) the taking of
personal property is committed with violence or intimidation against a person; (2) the The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
property taken belongs to another; (3) the taking is done with animo lucrandi; and (4) by Resurreccion S. Salvilla for defendant-appellant.
reason of the robbery or on occasion thereof, homicide (used in its generic sense) is
[27]
committed.
The records and the pleadings show that all the above-mentioned elements are
present in the case at bar. Appellant and his cohorts broke into the house of Aragons
[28]
uncle; took the victims wallet and cash, wrist watch and several pieces of jewelry MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
[29]
amounting to P67,000; and, in the course of the robbery, stabbed and killed the victim.
Accused Bienvenido Salvilla alone appeals from the Decision of the Regional Trial Court,
As aforesaid, whenever a homicide is committed as a consequence of or on the Branch 28, Iloilo City, *dated 29 August 1988, in Criminal Case No. 20092, finding him
occasion of a robbery, all those who took part in the asportation will be held guilty of the and his co-accused Reynaldo, Ronaldo and Simplicio, all surnamed Canasares, guilty
special complex crime of robbery with homicide, even if they did not all actually take part beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of "Robbery with Serious Physical Injuries and
Serious Illegal Detention" and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
62

The Information filed against them reads: Severino answered that he could not do so because it was a Saturday and the banks were
closed.
The undersigned City Fiscal accuses BIENVENIDO SALVILLA, REYNALDO
CANASARES, RONALDO CANASARES, and SIMPLICIO CANASARES, whose In the meantime, police and military authorities had surrounded the premises of the
maternal surnames, dated and places of birth cannot be ascertained of the crime lumber yard. Major Melquiades B. Sequio Station Commander of the INP of Iloilo City,
of ROBBERY WITH SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURIES AND SERIOUS ILLEGAL negotiated with the accused using a loud speaker and appealed to them to surrender with
DETENTION (Art, 294, paragraph 3, in conjunction with Article 267 of the the assurance that no harm would befall them as he would accompany them personally to
Revised Penal Code), committed as follows: the police station. The accused refused to surrender or to release the hostages.

That on or about the 12th day of April, 1986, in the City of Iloilo, Philippines and Thereafter, OIC Mayor, Rosa Caram, of Iloilo City arrived and joined the negotiations. In
within the jurisdiction of this Court, said accused, conspiring and confederating her dialogue with the accused, which lasted for about four hours, Appellant demanded
among themselves, working together and helping one another, armed with guns P100,000.00, a coaster, and some raincoats. She offered them P50,000.00 instead,
and handgrenade and with the use of violence or intimidation employed on the explaining the difficulty of raising more as it was a Saturday. Later, the accused agreed to
person of Severino Choco, Mary Choco, Mimie Choco and Rodita Hablero did receive the same and to release Rodita to be accompanied by Mary Choco in going out of
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally take and carry away, with intent the office. When they were out of the door, one of the accused whose face was covered
of gain, cash in the amount of P20,000.00, two (2) Men's wrist watches, one (1) by a handkerchief, gave a key to Mayor Caram. With this, Mayor Caram unlocked the
Lady's Seiko quartz wrist watch and one (1) Lady's Citizen wrist watch and padlocked door and handed to Rodita the P50,000.00, which the latter, in turn, gave to
assorted jewelries, all valued at P50,000.00; that on the occasion and by reason one of the accused. Rodita was later set free but Mary was herded back to the office.
of said robbery, Mary Choco suffered serious physical injuries under paragraph 2
of Article 263, Bienvenido Salvilla likewise suffered serious physical injuries and Mayor Caram, Major Sequio and even volunteer radio newscasters continued to appeal to
Reynaldo Canasares also suffered physical injuries; that the said accused also the accused to surrender peacefully but they refused.1âwphi1 UItimatums were given but
illegally detained, at the compound of the New Iloilo Lumber Company, Iznart the accused did not budge. Finally, the police and military authorities decided to launch an
Street, Iloilo City, Severino Choco, owner/proprietor of said Lumber Company, offensive and assault the place. This resulted in injuries to the girls, Mimie and Mary
Mary Choco, Mimie Choco, who is a minor, being 15 years of age, and Rodita Choco as well as to the accused Ronaldo and Reynaldo Canasares. Mary suffered a
Hablero, who is a salesgirl at said Company; that likewise on the occasion of the "macerated right lower extremity just below the knee" so that her right leg had to be
robbery, the accused also asked and were given a ransom money of P50,000.00; amputated. The medical certificate described her condition as "in a state of hemorrhagic
that the said crime was attended by aggravating circumstances of band, and shock when she was brought in to the hospital and had to undergo several major
illegal possession of firearms and explosives; that the amount of P20,000.00, the operations during the course of her confinement from April 13, 1986 to May 30, 1986."
ransom money of P50,000.00, two (2) Men's wrist watches, two (2) lady's wrist
watches, one (1) .38 caliber revolver and one (1) live grenade were recovered
from the accused; to the damage and prejudice of the New Iloilo Lumber For his part, Appellant Salvilla confirmed that at about noon time of 12 April 1986 he and
Company in the amount of P120,000.00. his co-accused entered the lumber yard and demanded money from the owner Severino
Choco He demanded P100,000.00 but was given only P5,000.00, which he placed on the
counter of the office of the lumber yard. He admitted that he and his co-accused kept
The evidence for the prosecution may be re-stated as follows: Severino, his daughters, and Rodita inside the office. He maintained, however, that he
stopped his co-accused from getting the wallet and wristwatch of Severino and, like the
On 12 April 1986, a robbery was staged by the four accused at the New Iloilo Lumber P5,000.00 were all left on the counter, and were never touched by them. He claimed
Yard at about noon time. The plan was hatched about two days before. The accused were further that they had never fired on the military because they intended to surrender.
armed with homemade guns and a hand grenade. When they entered the establishment, Appellant's version also was that during the gunfire, Severino's daughter stood up and
they met Rodita Hablero an employee thereat who was on her way out for her meal break went outside; he wanted to stop her but he himself was hit by a bullet and could not
and announced to her that it was a hold-up. She was made to go back to the office and prevent her. Appellant also admitted the appeals directed to them to surrender but that
there Appellant Salvilla pointed his gun at the owner, Severino Choco, and his two they gave themselves up only much later.
daughters, Mary and Mimie the latter being a minor 15 years of age, and told the former
that all they needed was money. Hearing this, Severino told his daughter, Mary, to get a After trial, the Court a quo meted out a judgment of conviction and sentenced each of the
paper bag wherein he placed P20,000.00 cash (P5,000.00, according to the defense) and accused "to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, with the accessory penalties provided
handed it to Appellant. Thereafter, Severino pleaded with the four accused to leave the by law and to pay the costs."
premises as they already had the money but they paid no heed. Instead, accused
Simplicio Canasares took the wallet and wristwatch of Severino after which the latter, his
two daughters, and Rodita, were herded to the office and kept there as hostages. Appellant Salvilla's present appeal is predicated on the following Assignments of Error:

At about 2:00 o'clock of the same day, the hostages were allowed to eat. The four 1. The lower court erred in holding that the crime charged was consummated and
accused also took turns eating while the others stood guard. Then, Appellant told in not holding that the same was merely attempted.
Severino to produce P100,000.00 so he and the other hostages could be released.
63

2. The lower court erred in not appreciating the mitigating circumstance of to dispose of the same, the unlawful taking is complete (Reyes, Revised Penal Code
voluntary surrender." Annotated, Book II, 1981 ed., p. 594).

Upon the facts and the evidence, we affirm. The crime is consummated when the robber acquires possession of the property,
even if for a short time, and it is not necessary that the property be taken into the
The defense contends that "The complete crime of larceny (theft/robbery) as distinguished hands of the robber, or that he should have actually carried the property away,
from an attempt requires asportation or carrying away, in addition to the taking, In other out of the physical presence of the lawful possessor, or that he should have
words, the crime of robbery/theft has three consecutive stages: 1) the giving 2) the taking made his escape with it" (People vs. Quinn, 176 P 2d 404; Woods vs. State, 220
and 3) the carrying away or asportation And without asportation the crime committed is SW 2d 644; People vs. Beal, 39 P 2d 504; People vs. Clark, 160 P 2d 553).
only attempted" (Memorandum for Appellant Salvilla, Records, p. 317).
Contrary to Appellant's submission, therefore, a conviction for consummated and not
There is no question that in robbery, it is required that there be a taking of personal merely attempted Robbery is in order.
property belonging to another. This is known as the element of asportation the essence of
which is the taking of a thing out of the possession of the owner without his privity and It is the contention of Appellant that Rodita could not have seen the taking because the
consent and without the animus revertendi (Aquino, Revised Penal Code, p. 97, citing5 place was dark since the doors were closed and there were no windows. It will be
C.J. 607). In fact, if there is no actual taking, there can be no robbery. Unlawful taking of recalled, however, that Rodita was one of the hostages herself and could observe the
personal property of another is an essential part of the crime of robbery. unfolding of events. Her failure to mention the taking in her sworn statement would not
militate against her credibility, it being settled that an affidavit is almost always incomplete
Appellant insists that while the "giving" has been proven, the "taking" has not. And this is and inaccurate and does not disclose the complete facts for want of inquiries or
because neither he nor his three co-accused touched the P5,000.00 given by Severino suggestions (People vs. Andaya, G.R. No. L-63862, 31 July 1987, 152 SCRA 570; People
nor the latter's wallet or watch during the entire incident; proof of which is that none of vs. Tan, et al., 89 Phil. 337 [1951]).
those items were recovered from their persons.
The fact, too, that Rodita was an employee of Severino would not lessen her credibility.
Those factual allegations are contradicted by the evidence. Rodita, the lumberyard The defense has not proven that she was actuated by any improper motive in testifying
employee, testified that upon demand by Appellant, Severino put P20,000.00 inside a against the accused.
paper bag and subsequently handed it to Appellant. In turn, accused Simplicio Canasares
took the wallet and wristwatch of Severino. In respect of the P50,000.00 from Mayor In the last analysis, the basic consideration centers around the credibility of witnesses in
Caram, Rodita declared that the Mayor handed the amount to her after she (the Mayor) respect of which the findings of the Trial Court are entitled to great weight as it was in a
had opened the padlocked door and that she thereafter gave the amount to one of the superior position to assess the same in the course of the trial (see People vs. Ornoza G.R.
holduppers. The "taking" was, therefore, sufficiently proved (TSN, July 1, 1987, pp. 12-13, No. L-56283, 30 June 1987, 151 SCRA 495; People vs. Alcantara, G.R. No. L-38042, 30
15-16, 27-31). The money demanded, and the wallet and wristwatch were within the June 1987, 151 SCRA 326).
dominion and control of the Appellant and his co-accused and completed the taking.
Anent the second assignment of error, the "surrender" of the Appellant and his co-
The State established a "taking" sufficient to support a conviction of robbery even accused cannot be considered in their favor to mitigate their liability. To be mitigating, a
though the perpetrators were interrupted by police and so did not pick up the surrender must have the following requisites: (a) that the offender had not been actually
money offered by the victim, where the defendant and an accomplice, armed with arrested; (b) that the offender surrendered himself to a person in authority or to his agent;
a knife and a club respectively, had demanded the money from the female clerk and (c) that the surrender was voluntary (People vs. Canamo, G.R. No. L-62043, 13
of a convenience store, and the clerk had complied with their instructions and August 1985, 138 SCRA 141).
placed money from the register in a paper bag and then placed the bag on the
counter in front of the two men; these actions brought the money within the The "surrender" by the Appellant and his co-accused hardly meets these requirements.
dominion and control of defendant and completed the taking. (Johnson vs. State, They were, indeed, asked to surrender by the police and military authorities but they
432 So 2d 758). refused until only much later when they could no longer do otherwise by force of
circumstances when they knew they were completely surrounded and there was no
"Severance of the goods from the possession of the owner and absolute control chance of escape. The surrender of the accused was held not to be mitigating as when he
of the property by the taker,even for an instant, constitutes asportation (Adams gave up only after he was surrounded by the constabulary and police forces (People vs.
vs. Commonwealth, 154 SW 381; State vs. Murray, 280 SW 2d 809; Mason vs. Sigayan et al., G.R. Nos. L-18523-26, 30 April 1966, 16 SCRA 839; People vs. Mationg
Commonwealth, 105 SE 2d 149) [Emphasis supplied]. G.R. No. L-33488, 29 March 1982, 113 SCRA 167). Their surrender was not spontaneous
as it was motivated more by an intent to insure their safety. And while it is claimed that
It is no defense either that Appellant and his co-accused had no opportunity to dispose of they intended to surrender, the fact is that they did not despite several opportunities to do
the personalities taken. That fact does not affect the nature of the crime, From the so. There is no voluntary surrender to speak of (People vs. Dimdiman 106 Phil. 391
moment the offender gained possession of the thing, even if the culprit had no opportunity [1959]).
64

All told, the assigned errors remain unsubstantiated and we find the guilt of the accused- In contract, the detention in the case at bar was not only incidental to the robbery but was
appellant, Bienvenido Salvilla, established beyond reasonable doubt. a necessary means to commit the same.1âwphi1 After the amount of P20,000.00 was
handed to Appellant, the latter and his co-accused still refused to leave. The victims were
Although unassigned as an error, we deem it necessary to turn now to the nature of the then taken as hostages and the demand to produce an additional P100,000.00 was made
linked offenses involved and the penalty imposed by the Trial Court. as a prerequisite for their release. The detention was not because the accused were
trapped by the police nor were the victims held as security against the latter. The
detention was not merely a matter of restraint to enable the malefactors to escape, but
Appellant and his co-accused were charged in the Information with "Robbery with Serious deliberate as a means of extortion for an additional amount. The police and other
Physical Injuries and Serious Illegal Detention ("Art. 295, par. 3, in conjunction with Art. authorities arrived only much later after several hours of detention had already passed.
267, RPC )and sentenced to reclusion perpetua. We agree with the Trial Court that a And, despite appeals to appellant and his co-accused to surrender, they adamantly
complex crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code has been committed such that refused until the amount of P100,000.00 they demanded could be turned over to them.
the penalty for the more serious offense of Serious Illegal Detention (Art. 267, Revised They even considered P50,000.00, the amount being handed to them, as inadequate.
Penal Code), or "reclusion perpetua to death," is to be imposed instead of the penalty
prescribed for Robbery with Serious Physical Injuries (Art. 294 (3), which is reclusion
temporal. The foregoing features also distinguish this case from those of U.S. v. Sol, 9 Phil. 265
[1907] where the restraint was for no other purpose than to prevent the victims from
reporting the crime to the authorities; from People v. Gamboa, 92 Phil. 1085 [1953] where
Under Article 48, a complex crime arises "when an offense is a necessary means for the victims were taken to a place one kilometer away and shot in order to liquidate the
committing the other." The term "necessary means" does not connote indispensable witnesses to the robbery; from People v. Baysa, 92 Phil. 1008 [1953]; People v.
means for if it did then the offense as a "necessary means" to commit another would be Manzanilla, 43 Phil. 167 [1922], all of which cases were cited in Astor and where the
an indispensable element of the latter and would be an ingredient thereof. The phrase victims were only incidentally detained so that the detention was deemed absorbed in
"necessary means" merely signifies that one crime is committed to facilitate and insure the robbery.
commission of the other (Aquino, Revised Penal Code, Vol. I, 1987 ed., p.
624, citing Dissent, Montemayor, J., Amado Hernandez, 99 Phil. 515). In this case, the
crime of Serious Illegal Detention was such a "necessary means" as it was selected by In other words, unlike in the above cases, the elements of the offense of Serious Illegal
Appellant and his co-accused to facilitate and carry out more effectively their evil design to Detention are present in this case. The victims were illegally deprived of their liberty. Two
stage a robbery. females (Mary and Minnie) and a minor (Minnie), a specified circumstance in Article 267
(3), were among those detained. The continuing detention was also for the purpose of
extorting ransom, another listed circumstance in Article 267 (last parag.) not only from the
The facts of this case differ from those in People vs. Astor, et al. (G.R. Nos. L-71765-66, detained persons themselves but even from the authorities who arrived to rescue them.
29 April 1987, 149 SCRA 325) where the accused were convicted of Robbery but
acquitted in the case for Serious Illegal Detention and where it was held that "the
detention is absorbed in the crime of robbery." For one, in Astor, there were two (2) It follows then that as the detention in this case was not merely incidental to the robbery
separate Informations filed, one for Robbery and another for Serious Illegal Detention. In but a necessary means employed to facilitate it, the penalty imposed by the Trial Court is
the present case, only one Information was filed charging the complex offense. For proper.
another, in Astor, the robbery had already been consummated and the detention was
merely to forestall the capture of the robbers by the police. Not so in this case, where the WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED. Proportionate costs.
detention was availed of as a means of insuring the consummation of the robbery.
Further, in Astor, the detention was only incidental to the main crime of robbery so that it SO ORDERED.
was held therein:
Paras, Padilla Sarmiento and Regalado JJ., concur.
. . . were appellants themselves not trapped by the early arrival of the police at
the scene of the crime, they would have not anymore detained the people inside
since they have already completed their job. Obviously, appellants were left with
no choice but to resort to detention of these people as security, until
arrangements for their safe passage were made. This is not the crime of illegal THIRD DIVISION
detention punishable under the penal laws but an act of restraint in order to delay
the pursuit of the criminals by peace officers (People v. Sol, 9 Phil. 265; People
v. Uday 55 Phil. 167, cited in the Revised Penal Code, Aquino, Vol. 3, 1976 ed.,
p. 1337). Where the victims in a robbery case were detained in the course of [G.R. No. 117321. February 11, 1998]
robbery, the detention is absorbed by the crime of robbery (P. v. Baysa, 92 Phil.
1008, id.). In the case at bar, the detention was only incidental to the main crime
of robbery, and although in the course thereof women and children were also
held, that threats to kill were made, the act should not be considered as a
separate offense. Appellants should only be held guilty of robbery.
65

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. HERSON TAN y with respect to two other robbery cases reported in Lucena City. During their conversation,
VERZO, accused-appellant. appellant allegedly gave an explicit account of what actually transpired in the case at
bar. He narrated that he and co-accused Amido were responsible for the loss of the
DECISION motorcycle and the consequent death of Saavedra. Moreover, he averred that they sold
the motorcycle to a certain Danny Teves of Barrio Summit, Muntinlupa for a sum
ROMERO, J.: of P4,000.00. With the help of appellant as a guide, the Lucena PNP immediately
dispatched a team to retrieve the same.
May the confession of an accused, given before a police investigator upon invitation After admitting that it was purchased from both the accused and upon failure to
and without the benefit of counsel, be admissible in evidence against him? present any document evidencing the purported sale, Teves voluntarily surrendered it to
the police who turned it over, together with the sidecar, to the Atimonan Police Station for
Accused-appellant Herson Tan, along with Lito Amido, were charged with the crime
safekeeping.
of highway robbery with murder before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 62, of Gumaca,
[1]
Quezon Province, under an information dated February 8, 1989, which reads as follows: Lt. Carlos, on cross-examination, testified that when he invited appellant to their
headquarters, he had no warrant for his arrest. In the course thereof, he informed the
That on or about the 5th day of December 1988, along the Maharlika Highway at latter that he was a suspect, not only in the instant case, but also in two other robbery
Barangay Tinandog, Municipality of Atimonan, Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within cases allegedly committed in Lucena City. In the belief that they were merely conversing
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and inside the police station, he admitted that he did not inform appellant of his constitutional
confederating together and mutually helping each other, armed with bladed and pointed rights to remain silent and to the assistance of counsel; nor did he reduce the supposed
[2]
weapons, with intent to gain, by means of force, violence, threats and intimidation, did confession to writing.
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and carry away from one
Freddie Saavedra, a Honda TMX motorcycle with a sidecar bearing Plate No. DW 9961 Appellant, on the other hand, alleged that he had no participation in the offense
charged and contended that his only involvement in the matter was the referral of accused
valued at THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00) Philippine currency, belonging to
Amido to Teves. He recounted that sometime in December 1988, Amido sought him at his
the said Freddie Saavedra, to the damage and prejudice of the latter in the aforesaid
house and told him that the motorcycle he was riding on was being offered for sale. Upon
amount; and that on the occasion of said robbery and by reason thereof, the said
accused, with intent to kill, with evident premeditation and treachery, and taking proof shown that it was indeed registered under Amidos name, he accompanied the latter
to Manila on board the said motorcycle and they approached Antonio Carandang. The
advantage of their superior strength and in pursuance of their conspiracy, did then and
latter, thereafter, brought them to a certain Perlita Aguilar and Danilo Teves with whom the
there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said weapon said
sale was finally consummated. He allegedly received P150.00 as his commission.
Freddie Saavedra, thereby inflicting upon the latter multiple stab wounds on the different
parts of his body, which directly caused his death. Amido presented alibi as his defense. He alleged that although a tricycle driver by
occupation, he was at Barangay Malusak, Atimonan on the day in question, some seven
Contrary to law. kilometers from the town, busy assisting in the renovation of his mothers house. He
narrated that the victim was his friend and, therefore, he could not have participated in the
gruesome death of the latter.
On arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In a decision dated April 21, 1994, the trial court convicted appellant, the dispositive
The relevant facts established by the prosecution are as follows:
portion of which reads:

On December 5, 1988, at about 7:00 oclock p.m., tricycle driver Freddie Saavedra went to
WHEREFORE, premised in the foregoing considerations, this Court finds Herson Tan
see his wife, Delfa, at Our Lady of Angels Academy in Atimonan, Quezon, where the latter
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Highway Robbery with Murder and
is a third year high school student, to inform her that he will drive both accused to
hereby sentences him to suffer an imprisonment of RECLUSION PERPETUA. He is
Barangay Maligaya. It was the last time, however, that Freddie was seen alive. When the
further ordered to indemnify the family of the deceased in the amount of Thirty Thousand
latter failed to return that evening, Delfa, as early as 4:30 oclock a.m. of December 6,
Pesos (P30,000.00).
1988 inquired on his whereabouts from relatives and friends. In the course of such inquiry,
a certain Arnel Villarama revealed that the lifeless body of her husband was discovered on
the diversion road at Barangay Malinao in Atimonan. Forthwith, they proceeded to the said Due to insufficiency of evidence, Lito Amido is hereby ACQUITTED of the charges against
place and found him sprawled on the ground with fourteen stab wounds in different parts him and the Provincial Warden of Quezon, Provincial Jail, Lucena City, is hereby ordered
of his body. to release from custody the person of said Lito Amido, unless he is being detained thereat
for some other lawful cause.
Meanwhile, relying on the information that an abandoned sidecar of a tricycle was
[3]
sighted at Barangay Malinao, Lucena Philippine National Police (PNP) led by Lt. Carlos SO ORDERED.
Santos proceeded to the scene of the crime and recovered a blue sidecar which they
brought back with them to their headquarters. Subsequently, Lt. Santos, Cpl. Numeriano
Aguilar and Pat. Rolando Alandy invited appellant in connection with the instant case and
66

Appellant assails the finding of conviction despite failure of the prosecution to While the Constitution sanctions the waiver of the right to counsel, it must, however,
positively identify him as the culprit of the crime and to present clear and convincing be voluntary, knowing and intelligent, and must be made in the presence and with the
[9] [10]
circumstantial evidence that would overcome his innocence. assistance of counsel. To reiterate, in People v. Javar, it was ruled therein that any
statement obtained in violation of the constitution, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, in
In light of the above facts and circumstances, the appealed decision is set aside and whole or in part, shall be inadmissible in evidence. Even if the confession contains a grain
appellant acquitted on the ground that his constitutional rights were violated. of truth, if it was made without the assistance of counsel, it becomes inadmissible in
It is well-settled that the Constitution abhors an uncounselled confession or evidence, regardless of the absence of coercion or even if it had been voluntarily given.
admission and whatever information is derived therefrom shall be regarded as The records of this case do not indicate that appellant was assisted by counsel when
inadmissible in evidence against the confessant. Article III, Section 12, paragraphs (1) and he made such waiver, a finding evident from the testimony of Lt. Santos on cross-
(3) of the Constitution provides: examination, thus:
xxxxxxxxx Q Now, when you brought Herson Tan to the Headquarters, did you tell him that he is
one of the suspects in the robbery slain (sic) that took place in Atimonan on
Sec. 12. (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have December 5, 1988?
the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and
independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services A Yes, sir, and he was also suspect to the robbery case which was investigated at
of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing Lucena Police Station. There were two (2) cases which were investigated on
and in the presence of counsel. Herson Tan.
Q Now, so in addition to the Atimonan case, you also took Herson Tan to your custody
xxxxxxxxx in connection with another case that happened in Lucena?
A Yes, sir.
(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall
be inadmissible against him. Q And you happened to have Herson Tan in your list as suspect in both cases
because Herson was previously incarcerated at Lucena City Jail in connection
[4]
Republic Act No. 7438 (R.A. No. 7438), approved on May 15, 1992, reenforced the with a certain case, is it not?
constitutional mandate protecting the rights of persons under custodial investigation, a A Yes, sir.
[5]
pertinent provision of which reads:
Q Just for curiosity sake, you invited him in your headquarters, is that what happened
As used in this Act, custodial investigation shall include the practice of issuing an invitation in this case?
to a person who is investigated in connection with an offense he is suspected to have A Yes, sir.
committed, without prejudice to the liability of the inviting officer for any violation of law.
Q And it just happened that without applying third degree to him he gave you that
Custodial investigation involves any questioning initiated by law enforcement information?
authorities after a person is taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of
A Yes, sir.
action in any significant manner. The rules on custodial investigation begin to operate as
soon as the investigation ceases to be a general inquiry into an unsolved crime and Q Did you notify him of his constitutional right to counsel before you propounded
begins to focus a particular suspect, the suspect is taken into custody, and the police questions to him?
carries out a process of interrogations that tends itself to eliciting incriminating statements
[6] A No, sir, because we are asking question only to him.
that the rule begins to operate.
Furthermore, not only does the fundamental law impose, as a requisite function of Q Before propounding question or information you sought to elicit from him, did you
the investigating officer, the duty to explain those rights to the accused but also that there inform him of his constitutional right not to testify against himself because he is a
must correspondingly be a meaningful communication to and understanding thereof by the suspect in these two (2) cases?
accused. A mere perfunctory reading by the constable of such rights to the accused would [11]
[7] A No, sir, because we were just conversing. (Underscoring supplied)
thus not suffice.
The evidence for the prosecution shows that when appellant was invited for
Under the Constitution and existing law and jurisprudence, a confession to be
questioning at the police headquarters, he allegedly admitted his participation in the
admissible must satisfy the following requirements: (1) it must be voluntary; (2) it must be
crime. This will not suffice to convict him, however, of said crime. The constitutional rights
made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel; (3) it must be express;
[8] of appellant, particularly the right to remain silent and to counsel, are impregnable from
and (4) it must be in writing.
the moment he is investigated in connection with an offense he is suspected to have
committed, even if the same be initiated by mere invitation. This Court values liberty and
67

will always insist on the observance of basic constitutional rights as a condition sine qua On April 3, 1996, petitioner once more accepted several pieces of jewelry and signed an
[12]
non against the awesome investigative and prosecutory powers of government. acknowledgment receipt under the same terms and conditions. On due date, petitioner
again failed to pay. The pieces of jewelry left unpaid and unreturned amounted
What remains of the evidence for the prosecution is inadequate to warrant a to P38,500.
conviction. Considering the circumstances attendant in the conduct of appellants
investigation which fell short of compliance with constitutional safeguards, we are
constrained to acquit the appellant. In a letter dated July 25, 1996, Santos demanded from petitioner the payment of the total
amount of P244,500. Petitioner gave her two checks amounting to P30,000 as partial
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of payment. The checks, however, bounced for being drawn against insufficient funds and
Gumaca, Quezon (Branch 62) is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant HERSON TAN y being drawn against a closed account, respectively.
VERZO is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged and his immediate release from
confinement is hereby ordered, unless there is any other lawful cause for continued 4
Petitioner was thereafter charged with the crime of estafa under Article 315 (1)(b) of the
detention. Costs de oficio. Revised Penal Code (RPC) in an Information filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
SO ORDERED. Branch 258, National Capital Judicial Region, Parañaque City:

That on or about the 21st and 28th of March 1996, in the Municipality of
Parañaque, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, received in trust from the complainant Ofelia
SECOND DIVISION Santos, sets of jewelries worth P244,000.00 for the purpose of selling the same
with the express obligation to remit the proceeds thereof, if sold, and return if not
G.R. No. 153198 July 11, 2006 sold, but the accused once in possession of said sets of jewelries, with
unfaithfulness and abuse of confidence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously misappropriate and convert the same for her own personal use
CRISANTA B. BONIFACIO, petitioner, and benefit and despite several demands to return and/or account for the same,
vs. she fails and refuses to the damage and prejudice of the complainant therein, in
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. the aforesaid amount of P244,000.00.

DECISION 5
CONTRARY TO LAW.

CORONA, J.: On arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, trial on the merits
ensued.
1 2
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse the decision and the
3
resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 24614 entitled People of the After trial, the court a quo rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which read:
Philippines v. Crisanta B. Bonifacio.
WHEREFORE, finding accused CRISANTA B. BONIFACIO guilty beyond
Private complainant Ofelia Santos was a businesswoman and a buy-and-sell agent of reasonable doubt of the crime of ESTAFA under Par. 1 (b), Art. 315 of the
jewelry. Sometime in March 1996, petitioner Crisanta Bonifacio was introduced to her. Revised Penal Code, accused CRISANTA B. BONIFACIO is hereby sentenced
She expressed interest to see the pieces of jewelry Santos was selling. to suffer the penalty of twenty (20) years of RECLUSION TEMPORAL, with all
the accessory penalties provided by law; to indemnify private complainant, Ofelia
On March 21, 1996, petitioner received several pieces of jewelry from Santos. She signed Santos, the amount of P284,000.00, as actual damages with interest at the legal
a document acknowledging receipt of the jewelry and agreeing to sell these items on rate from the filing of the Information until fully paid, and to pay the costs of suit.
commission basis. She also promised to remit the proceeds of the sale or return the
unsold items to Santos within 15 days. 6
SO ORDERED.

Petitioner failed to turn over the proceeds of the sale within the given period. She, Dissatisfied, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the
however, returned some of the unsold items at a later date. The value of the pieces RTC decision but modified the penalty:
unaccounted for amounted to P154,000.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision finding the accused-appellant Crisanta B.
On March 28, 1996, petitioner asked Santos for new sets of jewelry to sell under the same Bonifacio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa under Article
terms and conditions. Again, on due date, petitioner failed to account. This time, the value 315(1) par. b of the Revised Penal Code is hereby AFFIRMED with
of the unpaid and unreturned items amounted to P91,500. the modification that the accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of
68

four (4) years and one (1) day of prision correccional as minimum to twenty (20) 1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in
years of reclusion temporal as maximum and to indemnify the private its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not
complainant, Ofelia Santos, the amount of P244,000.00 as actual damages with exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty
interest at the legal rate from the filing of the Information until fully paid, and to provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one
pay the costs of suit. 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
SO ORDERED.
7 accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other
provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion
8 temporal, as the case may be.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied.
xxx
Hence, this petition.
15
Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum term of the penalty shall be "that
Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the decision of the trial which in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed" under the RPC
court finding her guilty of estafa under article 315 (1)(b), RPC. She maintains that the and the minimum shall be "within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed"
9
element of misappropriation or conversion was not proved, thus her liability should only for the offense.
16
be civil in nature. Petitioner likewise contends that the indeterminate sentence (four years
and one day of prision correccional as minimum to 20 years of reclusion temporal as
maximum) imposed on her by the appellate court was excessive. In this case, the penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in
its minimum period is the imposable penalty if the amount of the fraud is over P12,000 but
not over P22,000. If the amount of the fraud exceeds P22,000, the penalty provided shall
There is no merit in the petition. be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional P10,000. The total
penalty, however, shall not exceed 20 years.
The essence of estafa under Article 315 (1)(b), RPC is the appropriation or conversion of
money or property received, to the prejudice of the owner. The words "convert" and The range of the penalty provided for in Article 315 is composed of only two periods, thus,
"misappropriate" connote an act of using or disposing of another's property as if it were to get the maximum period of the indeterminate sentence, the total number of years
10
one's own, or of devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. 17 18
included in the two periods should be divided into three. Article 65 of the same code
19
requires the division of the time included in the prescribed penalty into three equal
In an agency for the sale of jewelry, it is the agent's duty to return the jewelry on demand periods of time, forming one period for each of the three portions. The maximum, medium
of the owner. The demand for the return of the thing delivered in trust and the failure of the and minimum periods of the prescribed penalty are therefore:
11
accused-agent to account for it are circumstantial evidence of misappropriation.
Minimum period - 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 5 years, 5 months and 10 days
Here, petitioner admitted that she received the pieces of jewelry on commission. She
likewise admitted that she failed to return the items or their value on Santos' demand. On Medium period - 5 years, 5 months and 11 days to 6 years, 8 months and 20
the other hand, the testimony of her lone witness, Lilia Pascual, failed to rebut the days
prosecution's evidence that she misappropriated the items or their corresponding value.
She also never appeared in the trial court to refute the charge against her. Hence, the trial 20
and appellate courts' conclusion of guilt by misappropriation was a logical consequence of Maximum period - 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years
the established facts.
The amount defrauded being in excess of P22,000, the penalty imposable should be the
Besides, evidentiary matters or matters of fact raised in the court below are not proper in maximum period of six years, eight months, and 21 days to eight years of prision mayor.
12
petitions for certiorari. The findings of fact of the Court of Appeals, affirming those of the However, Art. 315 also provides that an additional one year shall be imposed for each
trial court, are conclusive and binding on the parties and are not reviewable by the additional P10,000. The penalty should be termed as prision mayor or reclusion
13
Supreme Court which is not a trier of facts.
14 temporal, as the case may be. Here, the total amount of the fraud is P244,000 (P244,000
– P22,000 = P222,000). Hence, an additional penalty of 22 years should be imposed.
However, the total penalty should not in any case exceed 20 years imprisonment. Thus,
We now discuss the propriety of the indeterminate sentence imposed by the appellate the correct imposable maximum penalty is 20 years of reclusion temporal.
court.
The minimum period of the indeterminate sentence, on the other hand, should be within
The penalty for estafa with abuse of confidence is provided in paragraph 1, Article 315, the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by Article 315 (1)(b), RPC for the
RPC: 21
crime committed. The penalty next lower to prision correccional maximum to prision
mayor minimum is prision correccional minimum (six months, one day to two years, four
69

months) to prision correccional medium (two years, four months and one day to four years 067481, dated October 15, 1996, in the amount of P214,000.00 in favor of J.Y.
22
and two months). BROTHERS MARKETING CORPORATION, represented by its Branch Manager,
JERSON O. YAO, and accused ANAMER D. SALAZAR endorsed and negotiated said
The Court of Appeals, therefore, computed correctly the minimum and maximum period of check as payment of 300 cavans of rice obtained from J.Y. BROTHERS MARKETING
petitioner's sentence when it fixed the minimum sentence within the range of the penalty CORPORATION, knowing fully well that at that time said check was issued and
next lower in degree, four years and one day of prision correccional, and the maximum at endorsed, Nena Jaucian Timario did not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee
20 years of reclusion temporal. bank to cover the amount called for therein and without informing the payee of such
circumstance; that when said check was presented to the drawee bank for payment, the
same was consequently dishonored and refused payment for the reason of ACCOUNT
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The assailed decision and resolution of the CLOSED; that despite demands, accused failed and refused and still fail and refuse to pay
Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. and/or make arrangement for the payment of the said check, to the damage and prejudice
of said J.Y. BROTHERS MARKETING CORPORATION.
Costs against petitioner.
[4]
CONTRARY TO LAW.
SO ORDERED.
Upon arraignment, the petitioner, assisted by counsel, entered a plea of not
Puno, Chairperson, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Azcuna, Garcia, J.J., concur. guilty. Trial thereafter ensued.

The Evidence of the Prosecution


SECOND DIVISION

On October 15, 1996, petitioner Anamer Salazar purchased 300 cavans of rice from
J.Y. Brothers Marketing Corporation, through Mr. Jerson Yao. As payment for
[G.R. No. 151931. September 23, 2003] these cavans of rice, the petitioner gave the private complainant Check No. 067481 drawn
against the Prudential Bank, Legazpi City Branch, dated October 15, 1996, by one Nena
Jaucian Timario in the amount of P214,000. Jerson Yao accepted the check upon the
petitioners assurance that it was a good check. The cavans of rice were picked up the
next day by the petitioner. Upon presentment, the check was dishonored because it was
ANAMER SALAZAR, petitioner, vs. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and J.Y.
drawn under a closed account (Account Closed). The petitioner was informed of such
BROTHERS MARKETING CORPORATION, respondents.
dishonor. She replaced the Prudential Bank check with Check No. 365704 drawn against
the Solid Bank, Legazpi Branch, which, however, was returned with the word DAUD
DECISION (Drawn Against Uncollected Deposit).
CALLEJO, SR., J.: After the prosecution rested its case, the petitioner filed a Demurrer to Evidence with
[5]
Leave of Court alleging that she could not be guilty of the crime as charged for the
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Criminal following reasons: (a) she was merely an indorser of the check issued by Nena Timario,
[1] and Article 315, paragraph 2(d) on estafa penalizes only the issuer of the check and not
Procedure of the Order of the Regional Trial Court, 5th Judicial Region, Legazpi City,
[2] [3]
Branch 5, dated November 19, 2001, and its Order dated January 14, 2002 denying the the indorser thereof; (b) there is no sufficient evidence to prove that the petitioner
motion for reconsideration of the decision of the said court on the civil aspect thereof and conspired with the issuer of the check, Nena Jaucian Timario, in order to defraud the
to allow her to present evidence thereon. private complainant; (c) after the first check was dishonored, the petitioner replaced it with
a second one. The first transaction had therefore been effectively novated by the issuance
On June 11, 1997, an Information for estafa was filed against herein petitioner of the second check. Unfortunately, her personal check was dishonored not for
Anamer D. Salazar and co-accused Nena Jaucian Timario with the Regional Trial Court of insufficiency of funds, but for DAUD, which in banking parlance means drawn against
Legazpi City, docketed as Criminal Case No. 7474 which reads as follows: uncollected deposit. According to the petitioner, this means that the account had sufficient
funds but was still restricted because the deposit, usually a check, had not yet been
That sometime in the month of October, 1996, in the City of Legazpi, Philippines, and cleared.
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named-accused, conspiring and The prosecution filed its comment/opposition to the petitioners demurrer to evidence.
confederating with each other, with intent to defraud by means of false pretenses or
fraudulent acts executed simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, did then and On November 19, 2001, the trial court rendered judgment acquitting the petitioner of
there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, on the part of accused NENA JAUCIAN the crime charged but ordering her to remit to the private complainant the amount of the
TIMARIO, drew and issue[d] PRUDENTIAL BANK, LEGASPI CITY BRANCH CHECK NO. check as payment for her purchase. The trial court ruled that the evidence for the
70

prosecution did not establish the existence of conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt Except as otherwise provided in these Rules, no filing fees shall be required for actual
between the petitioner and the issuer of the check, her co-accused Nena Jaucian Timario, damages.
for the purpose of defrauding the private complainant. In fact, the private complainant,
Jerson Yao, admitted that he had never met Nena Jaucian Timario who remained at No counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint may be filed by the accused in the
large. As a mere indorser of the check, the petitioners breach of the warranty that the criminal case, but any cause of action which could have been the subject thereof may be
check was a good one is not synonymous with the fraudulent act of falsely pretending to litigated in a separate civil action.
possess credit under Article 315(2)(d). The decretal portion of the trial courts judgment
reads as follows:
(b) The criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 shall be deemed to include
the corresponding civil action. No reservation to file such civil action separately shall be
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the accused Anamer D. Salazar is hereby allowed.
ACQUITTED of the crime charged but is hereby held liable for the value of the 300 bags
of rice. Accused Anamer D. Salazar is therefore ordered to pay J.Y. Brothers Marketing
Corporation the sum of P214,000.00. Costs against the accused.
[6] Upon filing of the aforesaid joint criminal and civil actions, the offended party shall pay in
full the filing fees based on the amount of the check involved, which shall be considered
as the actual damages claimed. Where the complaint or information also seeks to recover
Within the reglementary period therefor, the petitioner filed a motion for liquidated, moral, nominal, temperate or exemplary damages, the offended party shall pay
reconsideration on the civil aspect of the decision with a plea that he be allowed to present additional filing fees based on the amounts alleged therein. If the amounts are not so
evidence pursuant to Rule 33 of the Rules of Court. On January 14, 2002, the court issued alleged but any of these damages are subsequently awarded by the court, the filing fees
an order denying the motion. based on the amount awarded shall constitute a first lien on the judgment.
In her petition at bar, the petitioner assails the orders of the trial court claiming that
after her demurrer to evidence was granted by the trial court, she was denied due process Where the civil action has been filed separately and trial thereof has not yet commenced,
as she was not given the opportunity to adduce evidence to prove that she was not civilly it may be consolidated with the criminal action upon application with the court trying the
liable to the private respondent. The petitioner invokes the applicability of Rule 33 of the latter case. If the application is granted, the trial of both actions shall proceed in
Rules of Civil Procedure in this case, contending that before being adjudged liable to the accordance with section 2 of this Rule governing consolidation of the civil and criminal
private offended party, she should have been first accorded the procedural relief granted actions.
in Rule 33.
The last paragraph of Section 2 of the said rule provides that the extinction of the penal
action does not carry with it the extinction of the civil action. Moreover, the civil action
The Petition Is Meritorious based on delict shall be deemed extinguished if there is a finding in a final judgment in the
criminal action that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not
[7]
exist.
According to Section 1, Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure The criminal action has a dual purpose, namely, the punishment of the offender and
indemnity to the offended party. The dominant and primordial objective of the criminal
SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) When a criminal action is action is the punishment of the offender. The civil action is merely incidental to and
instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged consequent to the conviction of the accused. The reason for this is that criminal actions
shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action unless the offended party waives the are primarily intended to vindicate an outrage against the sovereignty of the state and to
civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to impose the appropriate penalty for the vindication of the disturbance to the social order
the criminal action. caused by the offender. On the other hand, the action between the private complainant
[8]
and the accused is intended solely to indemnify the former.
The reservation of the right to institute separately the civil action shall be made before the Unless the offended party waives the civil action or reserves the right to institute it
prosecution starts presenting its evidence and under circumstances affording the offended separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action, there are two actions
party a reasonable opportunity to make such reservation. involved in a criminal case. The first is the criminal action for the punishment of the
offender. The parties are the People of the Philippines as the plaintiff and the accused. In
When the offended party seeks to enforce civil liability against the accused by way of a criminal action, the private complainant is merely a witness for the State on the criminal
moral, nominal, temperate, or exemplary damages without specifying the amount thereof aspect of the action. The second is the civil action arising from the delict. The private
in the complaint or information, the filing fees therefor shall constitute a first lien on the complainant is the plaintiff and the accused is the defendant. There is a merger of the trial
judgment awarding such damages. of the two cases to avoid multiplicity of suits.
The quantum of evidence on the criminal aspect of the case is proof beyond
Where the amount of damages, other than actual, is specified in the complaint or reasonable doubt, while in the civil aspect of the action, the quantum of evidence is
[9]
information, the corresponding filing fees shall be paid by the offended party upon the preponderance of evidence. Under Section 3, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Criminal
filing thereof in court.
71

Procedure, the said rules shall govern the procedure to be observed in action, civil or The motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence shall specifically state its
criminal. grounds and shall be filed within a non-extendible period of five (5) days after the
prosecution rests its case. The prosecution may oppose the motion within a non-
The prosecution presents its evidence not only to prove the guilt of the accused extendible period of five (5) days from its receipt.
beyond reasonable doubt but also to prove the civil liability of the accused to the offended
party. After the prosecution has rested its case, the accused shall adduce its evidence not
only on the criminal but also on the civil aspect of the case. At the conclusion of the trial, If leave of court is granted, the accused shall file the demurrer to evidence within a non-
the court should render judgment not only on the criminal aspect of the case but also on extendible period of ten (10) days from notice. The prosecution may oppose the demurrer
the civil aspect thereof: to evidence within a similar period from its receipt.

SEC. 2. Contents of the judgment. If the judgment is of conviction, it shall state (1) the The order denying the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence or the
legal qualification of the offense constituted by the acts committed by the accused and the demurrer itself shall not be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before the judgment.
aggravating or mitigating circumstances which attended its commission; (2) the
participation of the accused in the offense, whether as principal, accomplice, or accessory In criminal cases, the demurrer to evidence partakes of the nature of a motion to
after the fact; (3) the penalty imposed upon the accused; and (4) the civil liability or dismiss the case for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
damages caused by his wrongful act or omission to be recovered from the accused by the doubt. In a case where the accused files a demurrer to evidence without leave of court, he
offended party, if there is any, unless the enforcement of the civil liability by a separate thereby waives his right to present evidence and submits the case for decision on the
civil action has been reserved or waived. basis of the evidence of the prosecution. On the other hand, if the accused is granted
leave to file a demurrer to evidence, he has the right to adduce evidence not only on the
In case the judgment is of acquittal, it shall state whether the evidence of the prosecution criminal aspect but also on the civil aspect of the case if his demurrer is denied by the
absolutely failed to prove the guilt of the accused or merely failed to prove his guilt beyond court.
reasonable doubt. In either case, the judgment shall determine if the act or omission from If demurrer is granted and the accused is acquitted by the court, the accused has the
[10]
which the civil liability might arise did not exist. right to adduce evidence on the civil aspect of the case unless the court also declares that
the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist. If the trial court
The acquittal of the accused does not prevent a judgment against him on the civil issues an order or renders judgment not only granting the demurrer to evidence of the
aspect of the case where (a) the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only accused and acquitting him but also on the civil liability of the accused to the private
preponderance of evidence is required; (b) where the court declared that the liability of the offended party, said judgment on the civil aspect of the case would be a nullity for the
accused is only civil; (c) where the civil liability of the accused does not arise from or is not reason that the constitutional right of the accused to due process is thereby violated. As
[11]
based upon the crime of which the accused was acquitted. Moreover, the civil action we held in Alonte v. Savellano, Jr.:
based on the delict is extinguished if there is a finding in the final judgment in the criminal
action that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist or where Section 14, paragraphs (1) and (2), of Article III, of the Constitution provides the
the accused did not commit the acts or omission imputed to him. fundamentals.
If the accused is acquitted on reasonable doubt but the court renders judgment on
the civil aspect of the criminal case, the prosecution cannot appeal from the judgment of (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.
acquittal as it would place the accused in double jeopardy. However, the aggrieved party,
the offended party or the accused or both may appeal from the judgment on the civil (2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary
aspect of the case within the period therefor. is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of
After the prosecution has rested its case, the accused has the option either to (a) file the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and
a demurrer to evidence with or without leave of court under Section 23, Rule 119 of the public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, or to (b) adduce his evidence unless he waives the the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after
same. The aforecited rule reads: arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that
he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.
Sec. 23. Demurrer to evidence. After the prosecution rests its case, the court may dismiss
the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence (1) on its own initiative after giving Jurisprudence acknowledges that due process in criminal proceedings, in particular,
the prosecution the opportunity to be heard or (2) upon demurrer to evidence filed by the require (a) that the court or tribunal trying the case is properly clothed with judicial power
accused with or without leave of court. to hear and determine the matter before it; (b) that jurisdiction is lawfully acquired by it
over the person of the accused; (c) that the accused is given an opportunity to be heard;
and (d) that judgment is rendered only upon lawful hearing.
If the court denies the demurrer to evidence filed with leave of court, the accused may
adduce evidence in his defense. When the demurrer to evidence is filed without leave of
court, the accused waives his right to present evidence and submits the case for judgment The above constitutional and jurisprudentially postulates, by now elementary and deeply
on the basis of the evidence for the prosecution. imbedded in our own criminal justice system, are mandatory and indispensable. The
72

principles find universal acceptance and are tersely expressed in the oft-quoted statement petitioner on the civil aspect of the case and for the rebuttal evidence of the private
that procedural due process cannot possibly be met without a law which hears before it complainant and the sur-rebuttal evidence of the parties if they opt to adduce any.
[12]
condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and renders judgment only after trial.
SO ORDERED.
This is so because when the accused files a demurrer to evidence, the accused has Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
not yet adduced evidence both on the criminal and civil aspects of the case. The only
evidence on record is the evidence for the prosecution. What the trial court should do is to
issue an order or partial judgment granting the demurrer to evidence and acquitting the
accused; and set the case for continuation of trial for the petitioner to adduce evidence on
the civil aspect of the case, and for the private complainant to adduce evidence by way of
rebuttal after which the parties may adduce their sur-rebuttal evidence as provided for in
Section 11, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure:
SECOND DIVISION
Sec. 11. Order of trial. The trial shall proceed in the following order:
[G.R. No. 109595. April 27, 2000]
(a) The prosecution shall present evidence to prove the charge and, in the proper case,
the civil liability. CRISTETA CHUA-BURCE, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND PEOPLE OF
THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
(b) The accused may present evidence to prove his defense and damages, if any, arising
from the issuance of a provisional remedy in the case. DECISION

(c) The prosecution and the defense may, in that order, present rebuttal and sur-rebuttal QUISUMBING, J.:
evidence unless the court, in furtherance of justice, permits them to present additional
evidence bearing upon the main issue. Subject of the present appeal by certiorari is the decision dated November 27, 1992 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 12037, (a) affirming in toto the trial courts decision
(d) Upon admission of the evidence of the parties, the case shall be deemed submitted for finding petitioner guilty of estafa, and (b) denying her Motion for Reconsideration in a
decision unless the court directs them to argue orally or to submit written memoranda. Resolution dated March 25, 1993. The Regional Trial Court, Calapan, Oriental Mindoro,
Branch 40, rendered a joint decision finding petitioner guilty of estafa under Article 315,
par. 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code, in Criminal Case No. C-2313, and likewise found
(e) When the accused admits the act or omission charged in the complaint or information petitioner liable for the amount of P150,000.00 in Civil Case No. R-3733. Only the criminal
but interposes a lawful defense, the order of trial may be modified. case is before us for review. h Y

Thereafter, the court shall render judgment on the civil aspect of the case on the The uncontroverted facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
basis of the evidence of the prosecution and the accused.
In this case, the petitioner was charged with estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(d) On August 16, 1985, Ramon Rocamora, the Manager (of Metropolitan Bank and Trust
of the Revised Penal Code. The civil action arising from the delict was impliedly instituted Company, Calapan Branch, Oriental Mindoro) requested Fructuoso Peaflor, Assistant
since there was no waiver by the private offended party of the civil liability nor a Cashier, to conduct a physical bundle count of the cash inside the vault, which should total
reservation of the civil action. Neither did he file a civil action before the institution of the P4,000,000.00, more or less. During this initial cash count, they discovered a shortage of
criminal action. fifteen bundles of One Hundred Pesos denominated bills totalling P150,000.00. The One
Hundred Peso bills actually counted was P3,850,000.00 as against the balance of
The petitioner was granted leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence. The court P4,000,000.00 in the Cash in Vault (CIV) Summary Sheet, or a total shortage of
issued an order granting the demurrer on its finding that the liability of the petitioner was P150,000.00. The next day, to determine if there was actually a shortage, a re-verification
not criminal but only civil. However, the court rendered judgment on the civil aspect of the of the records and documents of the transactions in the bank was conducted. There was
case and ordered the petitioner to pay for her purchases from the private complainant still a shortage of P150,000.00.
even before the petitioner could adduce evidence thereon. Patently, therefore, the
petitioner was denied her right to due process.
The bank initiated investigations totalling four (4) in all. The first was by Ramon
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Petition is GRANTED. The Orders Rocamora, the Manager. The second was by the banks internal auditors headed by
dated November 19, 2001 and January 14, 2002 are SET ASIDE AND NULLIFIED. The Antonio Batungbakal. Then, the banks Department of Internal Affairs conducted an
Regional Trial Court of Legazpi City, Branch 5, is hereby DIRECTED to set Criminal Case independent investigation. Thereafter, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) came in
No. 7474 for the continuation of trial for the reception of the evidence-in-chief of the to investigate. All of these investigations concluded that there was a shortage of
73

P150,000.00, and the person primarily responsible was the banks Cash Custodian, counsel, with the conforme of the public prosecutor, entered into the following pre-trial
[8]
Cristeta Chua-Burce, the herein accused. Jksm agreement:

On November 4, 1985, unable to satisfactorily explain the shortage of P150,000.00, the "COMES NOW, the accused, assisted by counsel, and unto this
accuseds service with the bank was terminated. Honorable Court most respectfully submits this Pre-Trial agreement:

To recover the missing amount, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank) filed 1. That the evidence already adduced by the plaintiff in Civil Case No.
a Civil Case for Sum of Money and Damages with Preliminary Attachment and R-3733 will be adopted by the prosecution as its evidence in Criminal
Garnishment docketed as Civil Case No. R-3733 against petitioner and her husband, Case No. C-2313;
Antonio Burce. Esm
2. That the evidence to be adduced by the defendant in Civil Case No.
Prior to the filing of the Answer, the following Information for Estafa was filed against R-3733 will also be adopted as evidence for the defense in Criminal
petitioner: Case No. C-2313.

"That on or about the 16th day of August 1985, and for a period prior WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is prayed that the foregoing pre-
and subsequent thereto, the above-named accused, with unfaithfulness trial agreement be admitted in compliance with the Order of this Court
or abuse of confidence, and with intent to defraud, did then and there dated April 19, 1988.
wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously, in her capacity as Cash Custodian of
the Metrobank, Calapan Branch, take from the Banks Vault the amount RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.
of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND (P150,000.00) PESOS, which is
under her direct custody and/or accountability, misappropriate and
convert to her own personal use and benefit, without the knowledge and Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, August 20, 1990.
consent of the offended party, despite repeated demands for her to
account and/or return the said amount, she refused and failed, and still CRISTETA CHUA-BURCE (sgd.)
fails and refuses to the damage and prejudice of the Metrobank,
Calapan Branch, in the aforementioned amount of ONE HUNDRED Accused
FIFTY THOUSAND (P150,000.00) PESOS.

Assisted By:
Contrary to Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.

[1] RODRIGO C. DIMAYACYAC (sgd.)


Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, November 27, 1985."

Defense Counsel
Both civil and criminal cases were raffled to the same branch of the Regional Trial Court of
Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, Branch 40. Esmsc
San Vicente, Calapan
Thereafter, petitioner moved for the suspension of the criminal case on the ground of the
existence of a prejudicial question, viz., that the resolution of the civil case was Oriental Mindoro
[2]
determinative of her guilt or innocence in the criminal case. The trial court, over the
vehement opposition of the private and public prosecutors, granted the motion and IBP O.R. No. 292575
[3]
suspended the trial of the criminal case. On petition for certiorari to the Court of Appeals,
[4]
the appellate court ruled that there was no prejudicial question.
May 11, 1990

Petitioner was arraigned and assisted by counsel de parte, entered a plea of not
[5] Quezon City
guilty. While the trial of the criminal case was suspended, the trial of the civil case
continued. At the time of arraignment, the civil case was already submitted for decision.
Hence, during the pre-trial conference of the criminal case, the parties agreed to adopt With Conformity:
their respective evidence in the civil case as their respective evidence in the criminal
[6]
case. The trial court ordered the parties to submit their written agreement pursuant to EMMANUEL S. PANALIGAN (sgd.)
[7]
Section 4 of Rule 118 of the Rules of Court. Thereafter, petitioner, duly assisted by her
Prosecuting Fiscal
74

Pursuant to the pre-trial agreement, the public prosecutor filed a Motion to Adopt 1. IS THE RESULT OF POLYGRAPH EXAMINATION ADMISSIBLE IN
[9]
Evidence. Both the pre-trial agreement and said Motion were granted by the trial EVIDENCE?
[10]
court.
2. CAN THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
[11]
On March 18, 1991, the trial court rendered a consolidated decision finding petitioner ADMIT IN EVIDENCE THE EVIDENCE WHICH WAS ALREADY
(a) guilty of estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code in the criminal DENIED ADMISSION IN THE ORDER OF THE FORMER JUDGE OF
case, and (b) liable for the amount of P150,000.00 in the civil case. The dispositive portion THE SAME COURT?
of decision provides -
3. DOES PRIMA FACIE PRESUMPTION OF MISAPPROPRIATION OR
- In Criminal Case No. C-2313 - CONVERSION EXISTS (sic) AGAINST THE PETITIONER WHEN
THERE WERE OTHER PERSONS WHO HAD DIRECT AND
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby finds the accused Cristeta Chua-Burce GREATER ACCESS IN THE CASH-IN-VAULT?
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa, punishable under
Art. 315, paragraph 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code, which imposes a 4. IS RULE 111 SECTION 2 (a) OF THE REVISED RULES ON
penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in CRIMINAL PROCEDURE APPLICABLE IN (sic)THE CASE AT BAR?
its minimum period but considering that the amount involved exceeds
P22,000.00, the penalty provided for shall be imposed in its maximum 5. WAS THERE A VALID PROCEEDING WHEN THE FISCAL WAS
period, adding one year for each additional P10,000.00, but the total NOT ACTUALLY PRESENT AND DID NOT CONTROL AND
amount not to exceed twenty years. Esmmis SUPERVISE THE PROSECUTION OF THE CASE? Exsm

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the imposable penalty shall In gist, (1) petitioner contends that the trial court erred in taking into account the results of
be one degree lower as minimum of arresto mayor with a penalty range the polygraph examination as circumstantial evidence of guilt considering the inherent
of One Month and One Day to Six Months, as minimum to prision unreliability of such tests, and the fact that the previous trial judge who handled the case
mayor in its maximum period, as maximum, or a penalty of Six years to already ruled such evidence as inadmissible; (2) petitioner insists that there can be no
Twelve Years. Considering the mitigating circumstance of voluntary presumption of misappropriation when there were other persons who had access to the
surrender, the court hereby imposes upon the accused to suffer cash in vault; and (3) petitioner questions the validity of the trial of criminal case
imprisonment from SIX (6) MONTHS of arresto mayor in its maximum considering that the pre-trial agreement dispensed with the intervention of the public
period, as minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS of prision mayor, in its prosecutor in a full-blown trial of the criminal case. Kyle
minimum period, as maximum. The civil liability shall not be imposed in
this case due to a separate civil action. Esmso
The Office of the Solicitor General, for the State, contends that the guilt of petitioner has
been proven beyond reasonable doubt by the following facts which were duly established
- In Civil Case No. R-3733 - during trial - first, petitioner was the cash custodian who was directly responsible and
accountable for the cash-in-vault. Second, the other persons who had access to the vault
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff facilities never used the duplicate keys to open the safety deposit boxes and the cash safe
Metrobank, ordering defendants Cristeta Chua-Burce and Antonio from where the P100.00 bill denominations were located. In fact, the duplicate keys were
Burce, spouses, to pay Metrobank the amount of P150,000.00 offered in evidence still in their sealed envelopes. Third, alterations and superimposition
representing the amount misappropriated with the legal rate of six on the cash-in-vault summary sheet were made by petitioner to cover the cash shortage.
percent (6%) per annum from August 15, 1985 until fully paid and to pay Lastly, there was a valid joint trial of the civil and criminal cases.
the costs of suit.
The crucial issues, in our mind, are (1) whether there was a valid trial of the criminal case,
SO ORDERED." and (2) whether the elements of the crime of estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the
Revised Penal Code were duly proven beyond reasonable doubt. Kycalr
Petitioner seasonably appealed her conviction in the criminal case to the Court of
Appeals. Petitioner filed a separate appeal in the civil case. First, petitioner assails the validity of the proceedings in the trial court on the ground that
the public prosecutor did not intervene and present any evidence during the trial of the
[12]
In a decision dated November 27, 1992, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts criminal case. The records clearly show that the pre-trial agreement was prepared by
[13]
decision in toto. Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied. Hence, the petitioner with the conforme of the public prosecutor. Thereafter, petitioner filed
recourse to this Court. Msesm a consolidated memorandum for both civil and criminal cases. Section 5 of Rule
[15]
110 requires that all criminal actions shall be prosecuted under the direction and control
[14] of the public prosecutor. The rationale behind the rule is "to prevent malicious or
Petitioner raises the following issues: [16]
unfounded prosecutions by private persons." The records show that the public
75

prosecutor actively participated in the prosecution of the criminal case from its inception. It removed the money and appropriated it to his own use without the
was during pre-trial conference when the parties agreed to adopt their respective evidence consent of the bank, there was the taking
[27]
in the civil case to the criminal case. This is allowed under Section 2 (e) of Rule 118 of the or apoderamiento contemplated in the definition of the crime of theft."
[17]
Rules of Court which provides that during pre-trial conference, the parties shall consider
"such other matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial." The parties, in compliance [28]
In the subsequent case of Guzman v. Court of Appeals, a travelling sales agent
[18]
with Section 4 of Rule 118, reduced to writing such agreement. Petitioner, her counsel, misappropriated or failed to return to his principal the proceeds of things or goods he was
and the public prosecutor signed the agreement. Petitioner is bound by the pre-trial commissioned or authorized to sell. He was, however, found liable for estafa under Article
[19]
agreement, and she cannot now belatedly disavow its contents. 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code, and not qualified theft. In the Guzman case, we
explained the distinction between possession of a bank teller and an agent for purposes of
On the second issue. Petitioner was charged with the crime of estafa under Article 315 (1) determining criminal liability -
[20]
(b) of the Revised Penal Code. In general, the elements of estafa are: (1) that the
accused defrauded another (a) by abuse of confidence or (b) by means of deceit; and (2) "The case cited by the Court of Appeals (People vs. Locson, 57 Phil.
that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party 325), in support of its theory that appellant only had the material
[21]
or third person. Deceit is not an essential requisite of estafa with abuse of confidence, possession of the merchandise he was selling for his principal, or their
since the breach of confidence takes the place of the fraud or deceit, which is a usual proceeds, is not in point. In said case, the receiving teller of a bank who
[22]
element in the other estafas. misappropriated money received by him for the bank, was held guilty of
qualified theft on the theory that the possession of the teller is the
The elements of estafa through conversion or misappropriation under Art. 315 (1) (b) of possession of the bank. There is an essential distinction between the
[23]
the Revised Penal Code are: possession by a receiving teller of funds received from third persons
paid to the bank, and an agent who receives the proceeds of sales of
(1) that personal property is received in trust, on commission, for merchandise delivered to him in agency by his principal. In the former
administration or under any other circumstance involving the duty to case, payment by third persons to the teller is payment to the bank
make delivery of or to return the same, even though the obligation is itself; the teller is a mere custodian or keeper of the funds received, and
guaranteed by a bond; has no independent right or title to retain or possess the same as
against the bank. An agent, on the other hand, can even assert, as
against his own principal, an independent, autonomous, right to retain
(2) that there is conversion or diversion of such property by the person money or goods received in consequence of the agency; as when the
who has so received it or a denial on his part that he received it; principal fails to reimburse him for advances he has made, and
indemnify him for damages suffered without his fault (Article 1915,
(3) that such conversion, diversion or denial is to the injury of another [N]ew Civil Code; Article 1730, old)." Mesm
and
Petitioner herein being a mere cash custodian had no juridical possession over the
(4) that there be demand for the return of the property. missing funds. Hence, the element of juridical possession being absent, petitioner cannot
be convicted of the crime of estafa under Article 315, No. 1 (b) of the Revised Penal
[29]
Have the foregoing elements been met in the case at bar? We find the first element Code.
absent. When the money, goods, or any other personal property is received by the
offender from the offended party (1) in trust or (2) on commission or (3) for administration, WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and petitioner is ACQUITTED of the crime of
the offender acquires both material or physical possession and juridical possession of the estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code. Petitioner is ordered
[24]
thing received. Juridical possession means a possession which gives the transferee a RELEASED from custody unless she is being held for some other lawful cause. No
[25]
right over the thing which the transferee may set up even against the owner. In this costs. Slx
case, petitioner was a cash custodian who was primarily responsible for the cash-in-vault.
Her possession of the cash belonging to the bank is akin to that of a bank teller, both SO ORDERED.
being mere bank employees. Calrky

[26] Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
In People v. Locson, the receiving teller of a bank misappropriated the money received
by him for the bank. He was found liable for qualified theft on the theory that the
possession of the teller is the possession of the bank. We explained in Locson that -

"The money was in the possession of the defendant as receiving teller


of the bank, and the possession of the defendant was the possession of SECOND DIVISION
the bank. When the defendant, with grave abuse of confidence,
76

[G.R. No. 153451. May 26, 2005] On due dates, Caltex presented the said checks for payment. However, Check Nos.
3357283, 3357348 and 3357619 were dishonored by the drawee bank, for the reason that
they were drawn against insufficient funds. Check No. 3357543 was, likewise, dishonored
[17]
with the notation account closed. Hence, Caltex, through Dalao, made verbal demands
to INSURECO for the replacement of the dishonored checks with either managers checks
OFELIA MARIGOMEN, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. [18]
or cash, to no avail. On May 6, 1992, Caltex sent a confirmation telegram informing
INSURECO of the dishonor of the said checks, and again demanded their replacement,
[19]
DECISION but received no reply.
CALLEJO, SR., J.: On July 6, 1992, Caltex filed criminal complaints for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 against
[20]
Marigomen and Dalao with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Bacolod City. They were,
[1]
This is a petition for review of the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. thereafter, charged with three counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in three separate
[2]
CR No. 20510 affirming the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City, Informations filed with the RTC of Bacolod City, and docketed as Criminal Case Nos.
Branch 44, in Criminal Case Nos. 13012 to 13014 convicting Ofelia Marigomen and John 13012 to 13014. The accusatory portion of the Information in Criminal Case No. 13012
V. Dalao for violation of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 22. reads:

th
That on or about the 30 day of March 1992, in the City of Bacolod, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the herein accused being then the Finance Officer
The Antecedents and Assistant General Manager, respectively, of Industrial Sugar Resources Company,
Inc. (INSURECO) did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make out, issue
and deliver Far East Bank and Trust Company, Bacolod Branch, Bacolod, City Check No.
Caltex Philippines, Inc. (Caltex) is engaged in the sale of gasoline and oil products to 3357348 postdated to April 24, 1992, in the amount of ONE HUNDRED FORTY-EIGHT
its customers, one of which was the Industrial Sugar Resources, Inc. (INSURECO), with THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX PESOS and TEN CENTAVOS (P148,656.10),
offices at the Bacolod Murcia Milling Corporation Compound in Bacolod City. Caltex had Philippine Currency, in favor of Caltex Philippines, Inc. a corporation duly organized and
granted a credit line to INSURECO, and the latter purchased gasoline and lubricants from existing under the Philippine Laws, represented in this case by its Sales Representative,
[3]
Caltex through its sales representative in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City. The Norman Lee Riego, Jr., in payment of a pre-existing obligation knowing at the time of
finance officer of INSURECO was Ofelia Marigomen, while John V. Dalao was the issue of said check that they did not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank
[4]
assistant to the general manager. They were authorized to draw and sign checks against for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment and which check after
the account of INSURECO at the Far East Bank and Trust Company, Bacolod City presentment, was subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for reason of insufficient
Branch. Caltex had agreed for INSURECO to pay its purchases via postdated checks, funds; that, despite notice of dishonor and repeated demands, accused failed and refused
[5]
which were delivered to Caltex upon the release of the purchased oil products. and still fails and refuses to make good the full value of their check or redeem the same to
the damage and prejudice of said Caltex Philippines, Inc., in the aforementioned amount.
As evidenced by separate delivery receipts, INSURECO bought and took delivery of
oil products from Caltex. In payment thereof, the following postdated checks, drawn and
[21]
signed by Marigomen and Dalao against its account with the Far East Bank and Trust Contrary to law.
Company, Bacolod City Branch, were issued in favor of Caltex:
Except for the dates of the commission of the crimes charged and the contents of the
INVOICE NO. DATE OF SALE CHECK NO.
AMOUNT postdated checks subject matter thereof, the accusatory portions of the two other
Informations are similarly worded.
[6]
BA 87060 [7] P 44,988.56
March 13, 1992 3357283 When she testified, Marigomen admitted to having drawn and signed the postdated
[8]
checks subject matter of the cases, along with Dalao, and that these were issued in
BA 87464 [9] P148,656.10 payment for the gasoline and oil products purchased by INSURECO. She declared that
March 17, 1992 3357348
she was employed by INSURECO as finance officer on September 15, 1991, and that she
[22]
BA 87987
[10]
P130,782.70 resigned on March 31, 1992. As of June 5, 1992 she was residing at No. 40 Malaspina
[11] [23]
March 30, 1992 3357543 St., Villamonte, Bacolod City. She claimed that she had no participation whatsoever in
[24]
[12]
the purchase of Caltex oil products by INSURECO, which had been granted a credit
BA 87988 -do- P28,000.00 [25]
line with a 30 to 40-day payment term. She had no knowledge that Caltex had sent
-do-
confirmation telegrams demanding payment from INSURECO, because by then she was
BA 88290
[13]
April 3, 1992 P205,489.50 no longer employed therein. Moreover, she never received any written notice or telegram
[14] [26]
3357619 from Caltex demanding payment of the amounts of the dishonored checks. It was only
[15]
when she received a subpoena from the Office of the City Prosecutor of Bacolod City that
BA 88291 -do- -do- P 82,193.30 she discovered that the checks had been dishonored, and that she had been charged in
[16]
BA 88292 -do- -do- -do- connection therewith. She insisted that she was not aware that the funds of INSURECO in
77

its account with the Far East Bank and Trust Company were insufficient at the time she THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THERE IS A VALID OFFER OF
[27]
issued the subject checks. EXHIBITS MADE BY THE PROSECUTION.
On October 21, 1996, the trial court rendered judgment convicting Marigomen and
Dalao of the crimes charged. The fallo of the decision reads: 5

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby ACQUITS the accused, John THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING THE TESTIMONY OF THE WITNESS MR.
Dalao for the crime of Estafa in Crim. Case No.12311 for insufficiency of evidence. The NORMAN RIEGO WITHOUT REQUIRING HIS AUTHORITY OR BOARD RESOLUTION
Court, however, finds the accused Ofelia Marigomen and John Dalao GUILTY beyond FROM CALTEX, PHILIPPINES.
reasonable doubt for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 and hereby sentences them as
follows: 6

1. In Crim. Case No. 13012: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN TOTALLY DISREGARDING THE FACT THAT THERE IS
A CREDIT LINE GRANTED BY CALTEX, PHILIPPINES TO INDUSTRIAL SUGAR
[29]
One (1) year imprisonment and to jointly and solidarily pay the complainant, by way of civil RESOURCES, INC. (INSURECO).
indemnity the amount of P148,656.10, representing the value of the check.
On April 19, 2001, the CA rendered judgment affirming the decision of the RTC, with
2. In Crim. Case No. 13013: the modification that Marigomen and Dalao pay fines, with subsidiary imprisonment in
case of insolvency, in lieu of imprisonment. The appellate court ruled that they were civilly
liable for the amounts of the checks, conformably with Article 100 of the Revised Penal
One (1) year imprisonment and to jointly and solidarily pay the complainant the sum [30]
Code, and the ruling of this Court in Banal v. Tadeo, Jr. It also held that the notices of
of P124,855.75 by way of civil indemnity. demand sent by Caltex for INSURECO to pay the amount of the checks were sufficient
notice to Marigomen and Dalao. The CA also declared that whether or not Caltex granted
3. In Crim. Case No. 13014: a credit line or accommodation to INSURECO was irrelevant to the issue of whether they
were criminally liable for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
One (1) year imprisonment and to jointly and solidarily pay the complainant the amount Upon the denial of her motion for reconsideration of the said decision, Marigomen
of P44,988.55, by way of civil indemnity. filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, raising the following issues:

SO ORDERED.
[28] 1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS IS RIGHT
IN UPHOLDING THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IN
FINDING THE ACCUSED MRS. MARIGOMEN GUILTY FOR VIOLATION
Marigomen appealed the decision to the CA, asserting in her brief, as appellant OF B.P. 22 INSPITE OF THE FACT THAT NO NOTICE OF DEMAND HAS
therein, that the following errors were committed by the trial court: EVER BEEN SENT TO THE PETITIONER.
1 2. WHETHER OR NOT THE PARTICIPATION OF THE PRIVATE
PROSECUTOR IS PROPER OR NOT.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THERE IS A DEMAND MADE TO THE
ACCUSED OFELIA MARIGOMEN. 3. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER MAY BE HELD CIVILLY LIABLE IN THE
INSTANT CASE.
2 4. WHETHER OR NOT THERE WAS A VALID OFFER OF EXHIBITS AS
AGAINST THE CRIMINAL INFORMATIONS FILED AGAINST ACCUSED
[31]
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING A PRIVATE PROSECUTOR TO CONDUCT MARIGOMEN.
THE DIRECT EXAMINATION. The petitioner avers that the prosecution failed to prove a condition sine qua non to
her prosecution and conviction for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, that is, written notice informing
3 her that the subject checks had been dishonored. She alleges that the respondent failed
to prove that a copy of the telegram dated May 6, 1992 addressed to INSURECO was
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ACCUSED OFELIA MARIGOMEN sent to and received by her. Thus, even if the telegram had been received by INSURECO,
IS CIVILLY LIABLE. such receipt was not binding on her because she was no longer employed with
INSURECO by then.

4 The petitioner insists that she had no participation whatsoever in the purchase of the
oil products by her former employer. She maintains that it is shocking to the conscience
78

that she, a mere employee of INSURECO, should be held civilly liable for the said not have sufficient funds or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such checks in
purchases. She asserts that if she had issued the checks in her personal capacity, full upon its presentation is a state of the mind. However, Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22
indubitably, she would be liable for the dishonor of the checks; in this case, however, she provides that if the prosecution proves that the making, drawing and issuing of a check,
drew and signed the checks as a mere employee of INSURECO and did not even receive payment of which is refused by the drawee bank because of insufficiency of funds or
a single centavo of its proceeds. She cites the ruling of this Court in Banque Generale credit with the said bank within 90 days from the date of the check, such shall be prima
[32]
Belge v. Walter Bull & Co., Inc. facie evidence of the second element of the crime. The drawee or maker of the check may
overcome the prima facie evidence, either by paying the amount of the check, or by
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for its part, maintains that the petitioner making arrangements for its payment in full within five banking days after receipt of notice
was notified verbally and in writing of the dishonor of the subject checks, as shown by the that such check was not paid by the drawee bank.
[35]
aforementioned telegram sent by Caltex via PT&T to INSURECO. The OSG argues that
the petitioner cannot feign ignorance of the said telegram since she was the assigned Contrary, to the respondents contention, the ruling of the Court in Lao v. Court of
[36]
finance officer of INSURECO. The petitioner even failed to prove that March 31, 1992 was Appeals is applicable in this case. In acquitting the petitioner therein, the Court
the last day of her employment with INSURECO; and even if it were the case, it was explained:
unusual that the petitioner still signed checks due and demandable at a time when she
would no longer be connected with INSURECO, and that the latter allowed such a It has been observed that the State, under this statute, actually offers the violator a
situation. The OSG posits that the petitioner cannot even rely on the ruling of this Court compromise by allowing him to perform some act which operates to preempt the criminal
[33]
in Lao v. Court of Appeals, because the factual backdrop in this case is substantially action, and if he opts to perform it the action is abated. This was also compared to certain
different. laws allowing illegal possessors of firearms a certain period of time to surrender the
The threshold issue is whether or not the respondent adduced proof beyond illegally possessed firearms to the Government, without incurring any criminal liability. In
reasonable doubt of the guilt of the petitioner for violation of B.P. Blg. 22. this light, the full payment of the amount appearing in the check within five banking days
from notice of dishonor is a complete defense. The absence of a notice of dishonor
The petition is granted. necessarily deprives an accused an opportunity to preclude a criminal prosecution.
Accordingly, procedural due process clearly enjoins that a notice of dishonor be actually
Section 1 of B.P. Blg. 22 provides: served on petitioner. Petitioner has a right to demand and the basic postulates of fairness
require - that the notice of dishonor be actually sent to and received by her to afford her
the opportunity to avert prosecution under B.P. Blg. 22.
Section 1. Checks without sufficient funds. Any person who makes or draws and issues
any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not
have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in Moreover, the notice of dishonor must be in writing; a verbal notice is not enough.
[37]
full upon its presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for The rationale for this was explained by the Court in Domagsang v. Court of Appeals, to
insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had wit:
not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be
punished by imprisonment of not less than thirty days but not more than one (1) year or by Petitioner counters that the lack of a written notice of dishonor is fatal. The Court agrees.
a fine of not less than but not more than double the amount of the check which fine shall in
no case exceed Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment at While, indeed, Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 does not state that the notice of dishonor be in
the discretion of the court. writing, taken in conjunction, however, with Section 3 of the law, i.e., that where there are
no sufficient funds in or credit with such drawee bank, such fact shall always be explicitly
For violation of B.P. Blg. 22 to be committed, the prosecution must prove the stated in the notice of dishonor or refusal, a mere oral notice or demand to pay would
following essential elements: appear to be insufficient for conviction under the law. The Court is convinced that both the
spirit and letter of the Bouncing Checks Law would require for the act to be punished
(1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value; thereunder not only that the accused issued a check that is dishonored, but that likewise
the accused has actually been notified in writing of the fact of dishonor. The consistent
rule is that penal statutes have to be construed strictly against the State and liberally in
(2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue there are favor of the accused.
no sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such
check in full upon its presentment; and
Thus, if the drawer or maker is an officer of a corporation, the notice of dishonor to
the said corporation is not notice to the employee or officer who drew or issued the check
(3) the subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of [38]
for and in its behalf. The Court explained in Lao v. Court of Appeals, to wit:
funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without
[34]
any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop payment.
In this light, the postulate of Respondent Court of Appeals that (d)emand on the
Corporation constitutes demand on appellant (herein petitioner), is erroneous. Premiere
It is difficult for the prosecution to prove the second element of the crime because has no obligation to forward the notice addressed to it to the employee concerned,
the knowledge on the part of the maker, drawer or issuer that at the time of issue he does especially because the corporation itself incurs no criminal liability under B.P. Blg. 22 for
79

the issuance of a bouncing check. Responsibility under B.P. Blg. 22 is personal to the DECISION
accused; hence, personal knowledge of the notice of dishonor is necessary.
Consequently, constructive notice to the corporation is not enough to satisfy due process. QUISUMBING, J.:
Moreover, it is petitioner, as an officer of the corporation, who is the latters agent for
[1]
purposes of receiving notices and other documents, and not the other way around. It is but Assailed in this petition is the decision dated March 14, 1997 of the Court of
[2]
axiomatic that notice to the corporation, which has a personality distinct and separate from Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 19621, affirming the Regional Trial Courts decision finding
the petitioner, does not constitute notice to the latter. petitioner Geoffrey F. Griffith guilty on two counts for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22
(the Bouncing Checks Law), and sentencing him to suffer imprisonment for a period of six
In this case, the prosecution failed to present any employee of the PT&T to prove months on each count, to be served consecutively.Also assailed is the Court of Appeals
[3]
that the telegrams from the offended party were in fact transmitted to INSURECO and that resolution dated July 8, 1997 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
the latter received the same. Furthermore, there is no evidence on record that the The facts are as follows:
petitioner ever received the said telegrams from INSURECO, or that separate copies
thereof were transmitted to and received by the petitioner. In 1985, Phelps Dodge Philippines, Inc. leased its lot and factory building to Lincoln
Gerard, Inc. for a term of two years at a monthly rental of P75,000. When Lincoln Gerard,
In fine, the respondent failed to prove the second element of the crime. Hence, the Inc. incurred rental arrearages, Geoffrey F. Griffith, in his capacity as president of Lincoln
petitioner should be acquitted of the crimes charged. Gerard, Inc., issued the following checks:
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20510 dated April 19, 2001 and its Resolution Far East Bank and Trust Co. Check No. 06B-C-075065, dated April 15, 1986
dated April 11, 2002 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Ofelia Marigomen is for P100,000.00, payable to Phelps Dodge Phils. Inc.; and
ACQUITTED of all the charges. The bonds posted for her provisional liberty are hereby
CANCELLED. Far East Bank and Trust Co. Check No. 06B-C-075066, dated May 1, 1986
[4]
SO ORDERED. for P115,442.65, payable to Phelps Dodge Phils. Inc.

Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur. The voucher for these checks contained the following instruction:
Tinga, J., out of the country.

These checks are not to be presented without prior approval from this Corporation to be
given not later than May 30, 1986.

Also written on the face of the voucher was the following note:

However, if written approval of Lincoln Gerard, Inc. is not given before May 30, 1986,
Phelps Dodge, Phils. shall present the cheques for payment. This is final and
[5]
irrevocable.

On May 29, 1986, Griffith wrote Phelps Dodge not to present the said checks for
payment on May 30, 1986 because they could not be funded due to a four-week labor
[6]
strike that had earlier paralyzed the business operations of Lincoln Gerard.
Previously, in a letter dated May 20, 1986, Phelps Dodge, through its treasurer
Ricardo R. Manarang, advised Lincoln Gerard that it was transferring the contents of the
Lincoln Gerard warehouse in the leased premises since a new tenant was moving
SECOND DIVISION in. Phelps Dodge told Lincoln Gerard that its properties would be placed in our compound
[7]
and under our custody.
[8]
On June 2, 1986, when no further communication was received from Lincoln
Gerard, Phelps Dodge presented the two checks for payment but these were dishonored
[G.R. No. 129764. March 12, 2002] by the bank for having been drawn against insufficient funds. Three days later, Phelps
Dodge sent a demand letter to Lincoln Gerard, apprising Griffith of the dishonor of the
GEOFFREY F. GRIFFITH, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, RTC JUDGE [9]
checks and asking him to fund them within the time prescribed by law. Lincoln Gerard
EDWIN A. VILLASOR, MTC JUDGE MANUEL D.L. VILLAMAYOR and still failed to fund the checks but Griffith sent a letter to Phelps Dodge, explaining Lincolns
PHELPS DODGE PHILS., INC., respondents. [10]
inability to fund said checks due to the strike. Subsequently, on June 19, 1986, Phelps
80

Dodge notified Lincoln Gerard that its properties would be foreclosed. Phelps Dodge went On appeal, the RTC affirmed in toto the lower courts decision.
[11]
ahead with the foreclosure and auction sale on June 20, 1986, despite Lincoln Gerards
protest.
[12] Petitioner then appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals. In a consolidated
decision dated March 14, 1997, the appellate court ruled:
On May 10, 1988, two informations for violation of B.P. 22 docketed as Criminal
Cases Nos. 73260 and 73261 were filed against petitioner before the Regional Trial WHEREFORE, absent any prima facie merit in it, the Petition for Review under
Court. The motion for reconsideration filed by Griffith was dismissed, and so were his consideration is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE. Costs against petitioner.
petition for review filed before the Department of Justice and later on his motion to quash
filed before the RTC. Griffith then filed a petition forcertiorari before the Court of Appeals [19]
that was likewise denied. SO ORDERED.

Meanwhile, on November 6, 1987, Lincoln Gerard lodged a complaint for damages Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of said decision but this was denied by the
docketed as Civil Case No. 55276 before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 69, [20]
appellate court in a resolution dated July 8, 1997. Hence, this petition seeking reversal
[13]
against Phelps Dodge and the notary public who conducted the auction sale. On July of the CA decision and resolution on the criminal cases, anchored on the following
19, 1991, the trial court ruled that the foreclosure and auction sale were invalid, but grounds:
applied the proceeds thereof to Lincoln Gerards arrearages. It also ordered Phelps Dodge
[14]
to return to Lincoln Gerard the P1,072,586.88 as excess. The court stated: I. THE COURT OF APPEALS DECISION DATED 14 MARCH 1997 AND ITS
RESOLUTION DATED 8 JULY 1997 ARE CONTRARY TO THE RULING
The evidence shows that defendant corporation had already received the amount IN MAGNO V. COURT OF APPEALS, WHERE THIS HONORABLE
of P254,600 as a result of the invalid auction sale. The latter amount should be applied to COURT LAID DOWN THE DOCTRINE THAT A CONVICTION UNDER
the rental in arrears owed by the plaintiff corporation to the defendant corporation B.P. 22 CANNOT BE BASED ON AN INVERSE APPLICATION OF THE
(P301,953.12). Thus, the plaintiff corporation still owes the defendant corporation the ELEMENT OF KNOWLEDGE.
amount of P47,953.12 as rental arrears. In order to get the true and real damages that II. THE COURT OF APPEALS DECISION DATED 14 MARCH 1997 AND ITS
defendant corporation should pay the plaintiff corporation, the balance of the rental arrears RESOLUTON DATED 8 JULY 1997 RESULT IN AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL
should be deducted from the amount of P1,120,540.00, the total value of the items APPLICATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF B.P. 22.
belonging to the plaintiff corporation and sold by the defendant corporation at a public
[15]
auction. The net result is P1,072,586.88. III. THE COURT OF APPEALS DECISION DATED 14 MARCH 1997 AND ITS
RESOLUTION DATED 8 JULY 1997 STATING THAT PAYMENT
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC decision, and this became final THROUGH NOTARIAL FORECLOSURE BEFORE THE FILING OF THE
and executory.
[16] CRIMINAL INFORMATIONS UNDER B.P. 22 DOES NOT ABATE
CRIMINAL LIABILITY, ARE ERRONEOUS AND RESULT IN THE
On August 25, 1994, the criminal cases against Griffith pending before the RTC were INIQUITOUS INTERPRETATION OF THE LAW.
remanded to the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), in view of Republic Act No. 7691 that
expanded the jurisdiction of the MeTC. IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS DECISION DATED 14 MARCH 1997 AND ITS
RESOLUTION DATED 8 JULY 1997 ARE INCONSISTENT WITH ITS
On July 25, 1995, the MeTC, in Criminal Cases Nos. 41678 and 41679, found Griffith OWN FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS IN A RELATED CASE (CA-G.R.
[17]
guilty on both counts for violation of B.P. 22, and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment NO. 20980) INVOLVING THE SAME PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT
for six months on each count, to be served consecutively. Thus: AND THE SAME TRANSACTION SUBJECT OF THIS CASE.
V. THE COURT OF APPEALS DECISION DATED 14 MARCH 1997 AND ITS
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this court finds the accused GEOFFREY F. RESOLUTION DATED 8 JULY 1997 WHICH RELIED ON THE RULING IN
GRIFFITH, GUILTY OF VIOLATION of Section 1 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, otherwise THE CASE OF LIM V. COURT OF APPEALS ON VENUE TO JUSTIFY ITS
known as the Bouncing Checks Law on two counts. FINDING THAT PETITIONER HAS COMMITTED TWO COUNTS OF
VIOLATION OF B.P. 22, ARE CONTRAY TO LAW AND
[21]
The accused is therefore hereby sentence (sic) to suffer imprisonment for a period of SIX JURISPRUDENCE.
(6) MONTHS in Criminal Case No. 41678 and another SIX (6) MONTHS in Criminal Case
No. 41679, both of which shall be served consecutively. Petitioner points out that he communicated to Phelps Dodge through a note on the
voucher attached to the checks, the fact that said checks were unfunded at the time of
their issuance. Petitioner contends that this good faith on his part negates any intent to put
Considering that the civil aspect of these cases has already been decided by the Regional worthless checks in circulation, which is what B.P. 22 seeks to penalize. Moreover, as
Trial Court Branch 69, Pasig, regardless of its finality, of which this court has no record, regards the second check that was postdated, petitioner contends that there could not be
this Court shall not resolve the same because they are either Res Judicata or Pendente any violation of B.P. 22 with said check since the element of knowledge of insufficiency of
Litis. funds is absent. Petitioner could not have known at the time of its issuance that the
postdated check would be dishonored when presented for payment later on.
[18]
SO ORDERED.
81

Petitioner argues that his conviction in this case would be violative of the attached thereto that if written approval was not received from Lincoln Gerard before May
constitutional proscription against imprisonment for failure to pay a debt, since petitioner 30, 1986, the checks would be presented for payment. This is final and irrevocable,
would be punished not for knowingly issuing an unfunded check but for failing to pay an according to the note that was written actually by an officer of Phelps Dodge, not by
obligation when it fell due. petitioner. The checks were dishonored and Phelps Dodge filed criminal cases for
violation of B.P. 22 against petitioner. But this filing took place only after Phelps Dodge
Petitioner also asserts that the payment made by Lincoln Gerard through the had collected the amount of the checks, with more than one million pesos to spare,
proceeds of the notarial foreclosure and auction sale extinguished his criminal liability. through notarial foreclosure and auction sale of Lincoln Gerards properties earlier
On the other hand, private respondent contends that all the elements that comprise impounded by Phelps Dodge.
violation of B.P. 22 are present in this case. Moreover, the payment in this case was made In our view, considering the circumstances of the case, the instant petition is
beyond the five-day period, counted from notice of dishonor, provided by the law and thus meritorious.
did not extinguish petitioners criminal liability.
The Bouncing Checks Law was devised to safeguard the interest of the banking
For the State, the Solicitor General contends that Lincoln Gerard assured Phelps [25]
system and the legitimate public checking account user. It was not designed to favor or
Dodge, through the note on the voucher attached to the checks, that said checks would be encourage those who seek to enrich themselves through manipulation and circumvention
covered with sufficient funds by May 30, 1996, which assurance was final and [26]
of the purpose of the law. Noteworthy, in Administrative Circular No. 12-2000, this Court
[22]
irrevocable. The OSG also argues that B.P. 22 does not distinguish between a check has expressed a policy preference for fine as penalty in cases of B.P. 22 violations rather
that is postdated and one that is not, for as long as the drawer issued the checks with than imprisonment to best serve the ends of criminal justice.
knowledge of his insufficient funds and the check is dishonored upon presentment.
Moreover, while the philosophy underlying our penal system leans toward the
There is no unconstitutional punishment for failure to pay a debt in this case, since [27]
classical school that imposes penalties for retribution, such retribution should be aimed
according to the OSG, what B.P. 22 penalizes is the act of making and issuing a worthless [28]
at actual and potential wrongdoers. Note that in the two criminal cases filed by Phelps
[23]
check that is dishonored upon presentation for payment, not the failure to pay a debt. Dodge against petitioner, the checks issued were corporate checks that Lincoln Gerard
The OSG asserts that the supposed payment that resulted from Phelps Dodges allegedly failed to fund for a valid reason duly communicated to the payee. Further, it
notarial foreclosure of Lincoln Gerards properties could not bar prosecution under B.P. 22, bears repeating that Phelps Dodge, through a notarial foreclosure and auction that were
since damage or prejudice to the payee is immaterial. Moreover, said payment was made later on judicially declared invalid, sold Lincoln Gerards property for cash amounting
[29]
only after the violation of the law had already been committed. It was made beyond the to P1,120,540 to satisfy Phelps Dodge claim for unpaid rentals. Said property was
five-day period, from notice of dishonor of the checks, provided under B.P. 22. already in Phelps Dodges custody earlier, purportedly because a new tenant was moving
into the leased premises. The obligation of Lincoln Gerard to Phelps Dodge for said
[30]
The principal issue in this case is whether petitioner Geoffrey F. Griffith, president of rentals was only P301,953.12. Thus, by resorting to the remedy of foreclosure and
Lincoln Gerard, Inc., has been erroneously convicted and sentenced for violation of the auction sale, Phelps Dodge was able to collect the face value of the two checks,
Bouncing Checks Law (Batas Pambansa Blg. 22). His conviction on two counts and totalling P215,442.65. In fact, it impounded items owned by Lincoln Gerard valued far in
sentence of six months imprisonment for each count by the respondent MTC Judge excess of the debt or the checks. This was the situation when, almost two years after the
Manuel Villamayor was upheld by respondent RTC Judge Edwin Villasor and affirmed by auction sale, petitioner was charged with two counts of violation of B.P. 22. By that time,
the respondent Court of Appeals. But private respondent appears to have collected more the civil obligation of Lincoln Gerard, Inc. to Phelps Dodge Phils. Inc. was no longer
than the value of the two checks in question before the filing in the trial court of the case subsisting, though respondent Court of Appeals calls the payment thereof as
[31]
for violation of B.P. 22. Hence, petitioner insists he has been wrongfully convicted and involuntary. That the money value of the two checks signed by petitioner was already
sentenced. To resolve this issue, we must determine whether the alleged payment of the collected, however, could not be ignored in appreciating the antecedents of the two
amount of the checks two years prior to the filing of the information for violation of B.P. 22 criminal charges against petitioner. Because of the invalid foreclosure and sale, Phelps
justifies his acquittal. Dodge was ordered to pay or return P1,072,586.88 to Lincoln Gerard, per decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 69, which became final after it was affirmed by the
Whether there is an unconstitutional application of the provisions of B.P. 22 in this appellate court. We cannot, under these circumstances, see how petitioners conviction
case, however, does not appear to us an appropriate issue for consideration now. A and sentence could be upheld without running afoul of basic principles of fairness and
purported constitutional issue raised by petitioner may only be resolved if essential to the justice. For Phelps Dodge has, in our view, already exacted its proverbial pound of flesh
decision of a case and controversy. But here we find that this case can be resolved on through foreclosure and auction sale as its chosen remedy.
other grounds. Well to remember, courts do not pass upon constitutional questions that
[24]
are not the very lis mota of a case. That is why we find quite instructive the reasoning of the Court of Appeals earlier
rendered in deciding the petition for Certiorari and Injunction, Griffith v. Judge Milagros
In the present case, the checks were conditionally issued for arrearages on rental Caguioa, CA-G.R. SP No. 20980, in connection with the petitioners motion to quash the
payments incurred by Lincoln Gerard, Inc. The checks were signed by petitioner, the [32]
charges herein before they were tried on the merits.
president of Lincoln Gerard. It was a condition written on the voucher for each check that
the check was not to be presented for payment without clearance from Lincoln Gerard, to Said Justice C. Francisco with the concurrence of Justices Reynato S. Puno and
be given at a specific date. However, Lincoln Gerard was unable to give such clearance Asaali S. Isnani:
owing to a labor strike that paralyzed its business and resulted to the companys inability to
fund its checks. Still, Phelps Dodge deposited the checks, per a note on the voucher
82

We are persuaded that the defense has good and solid defenses against both charges in Supreme Court
Criminal Cases Nos. 73260-61. We can even say that the decision rendered in Branch 69
in Civil Case No. 55276, well-written as it is, had put up a formidable obstacle to any Manila
conviction in the criminal cases with the findings therein made that the sale by public
auction of the properties of Lincoln was illegal and had no justification under the facts; that
also the proceeds realized in the said sale should be deducted from the account of Lincoln
with Phelps, so that only P47,953.12 may only be the rentals in arrears which Lincoln
should pay, computed at P301,953.12 less P254,600.00; that out of what had happened in THIRD DIVISION
the case as the trial court had resolved in its decision, Phelps is duty bound to pay Lincoln
in damages P1,072,586.88 from which had been deducted the amount of P47,953.12
representing the balance of the rental in arrearages; and that consequently, there is ROBERT TAGUINOD, G.R. No. 185833
[33]
absolutely no consideration remaining in support of the two (2) subject checks.
Petitioner,
Petitioners efforts to quash in the Court of Appeals the charges against him was Present:
frustrated on procedural grounds because, according to Justice Francisco, appeal and not
[34]
certiorari was the proper remedy. In a petition for certiorari, only issues of jurisdiction
including grave abuse of discretion are considered, but an appeal in a criminal case opens
the entire case for review. VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,
While we agree with the private respondent that the gravamen of violation of B.P. 22
is the issuance of worthless checks that are dishonored upon their presentment for -versus- PERALTA,
[35]
payment, we should not apply penal laws mechanically. We must find if the application
of the law is consistent with the purpose of and reason for the law. Ratione cessat lex, et ABAD,
cessat lex. (When the reason for the law ceases, the law ceases.) It is not the letter alone
but the spirit of the law also that gives it life. This is especially so in this case where a MENDOZA, and
debtors criminalization would not serve the ends of justice but in fact subvert it. The
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.
creditor having collected already more than a sufficient amount to cover the value of the
checks for payment of rentals, via auction sale, we find that holding the debtors president
to answer for a criminal offense under B.P. 22 two years after said collection, is no longer
tenable nor justified by law or equitable considerations.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
In sum, considering that the money value of the two checks issued by petitioner has
already been effectively paid two years before the informations against him were filed, we Respondent.
find merit in this petition.We hold that petitioner herein could not be validly and justly
convicted or sentenced for violation of B.P. 22. Whether the number of checks issued October 12, 2011
determines the number of violations of B.P. 22, or whether there should be a distinction
between postdated and other kinds of checks need no longer detain us for being x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
immaterial now to the determination of the issue of guilt or innocence of petitioner.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 19621 dated March 14, 1997, and its resolution dated July 8, DECISION
1997, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Geoffrey F. Griffith is ACQUITTED of
the charges of violation of B.P. 22 in Criminal Cases Nos. 41678 and 41679.
Costs de officio.
PERALTA, J.:
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
[1]
For this Court's consideration is the petition for review dated February 5, 2009 of
[2]
petitioner Robert Taguinod seeking to reverse the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA)
[3]
dated September 8, 2008 and its Resolution dated December 19, 2008 affirming the
[4]
Republic of the Philippines Decisions of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City (RTC) and the Metropolitan Trial
83
[5]
Court of Makati City (MeTC) dated September 6, 2007 and November 8, 2006,
respectively.

Petitioner pleaded Not Guilty during the arraignment on March 10, 2003. Consequently,
The following are the antecedent facts: the trial on the merits ensued. The prosecution presented the testimony of private
complainant. The defense, on the other hand, presented the testimonies of Mary Susan
Lim Taguinod, the wife of petitioner, Jojet N. San Miguel, Jason H. Lazo and Engr. Jules
Ronquillo.
This case started with a single incident on May 26, 2002 at the parking area of the
Rockwell Powerplant Mall. Pedro Ang (private complainant) was driving his Honda CRV
rd
(CRV) from the 3 basement parking, while Robert Taguinod (petitioner) was driving his
nd
Suzuki Vitara (Vitara) from the 2 basement parking. When they were about to queue at Afterwards, the MeTC, in its Decision dated November 8, 2006, found petitioner guilty of
the corner to pay the parking fees, the respective vehicles were edging each other. The the crime charged in the Information, the dispositive portion of which, reads:
CRV was ahead of the queue, but the Vitara tried to overtake, which resulted the touching
of their side view mirrors. The side view mirror of the Vitara was pushed backward and
naturally, the side view mirror of the CRV was pushed forward. This prompted the private
complainant's wife and daughter, namely, Susan and Mary Ann, respectively, to alight
from the CRV and confront the petitioner. Petitioner appeared to be hostile, hence, the
private complainant instructed his wife and daughter to go back to the CRV. While they WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered
were returning to the car, petitioner accelerated the Vitara and moved backward as if to hit finding the accused ROBERT TAGUINOD y AYSON GUILTY of
them. The CRV, having been overtaken by the Vitara, took another lane. Private Malicious Mischief penalized under Article 329 of the Revised Penal
complainant was able to pay the parking fee at the booth ahead of petitioner. When the Code, and sentencing accused to FOUR (4) MONTHS imprisonment.
CRV was at the upward ramp leading to the exit, the Vitara bumped the CRV's rear
portion and pushed the CRV until it hit the stainless steel railing located at the exit portion
of the ramp.
Accused Robert Taguinod y Ayson is likewise ordered to pay
complainant Pedro Ang the amount of P18,191.66, representing
complainant's participation in the insurance liability on the Honda CRV,
As a result of the collision, the CRV sustained damage at the back bumper spare tires and the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages, and the amount
the front bumper, the repair of which amounted to P57,464.66. The insurance company of P25,000.00 as attorney's fees; and to pay the costs.
shouldered the said amount, but the private complainant paid P18,191.66 as his
participation. On the other hand, the Vitara sustained damage on the right side of its
bumper. [8]
SO ORDERED.

[6]
Thereafter, an Information was filed in the MeTC of Makati City against petitioner for the
[7]
crime of Malicious Mischief as defined in and penalized under Article 327 of the Revised
Penal Code (RPC). The Information reads as follows:
The case was appealed to the RTC of Makati City, which rendered its Decision
dated September 6, 2007, affirming the decision of the MeTC, disposing the appealed
case as follows:
th
That on or about the 26 day of May, 2002, in the City of Makati,
Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 8 November
above-named accused, with deliberate intent to cause damage, and 2006 is AFFIRMED in all respects.
motivated by hate and revenge and other evil motives, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously bump the rear portion of a
Honda CRV car bearing Plate No. APS-222 driven by Pedro N. Ang, [9]
thus, causing damage thereon in the amount of P200.00. SO ORDERED.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
84

Undaunted, petitioner filed a petition for review with the CA, praying for the reversal of the The first argument of the petitioner centers on the issue of credibility of the witnesses and
decision of the RTC. The CA partly granted the petition in its Decision dated September 8, the weight of the evidence presented. Petitioner insists that between the witness
2008, ruling that: presented by the prosecution and the witnesses presented by the defense, the latter
should have been appreciated, because the lone testimony of the witness for the
prosecution was self-serving. He also puts into query the admissibility and authenticity of
some of the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the petition for
review filed in this case is hereby PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed
decision dated September 6, 2007 of Branch 143 of the Regional Trial
Court in Makati City in Criminal Case No. 07-657 is hereby MODIFIED Obviously, the first issue raised by petitioner is purely factual in nature. It is well
as follows: entrenched in this jurisdiction that factual findings of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses and their testimonies are entitled to the highest respect and will not be
disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that it overlooked, misunderstood
or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance that would have
[16]
1. The petitioner is penalized to suffer the penalty of 30 days affected the result of the case. This doctrine is premised on the undisputed fact that,
imprisonment; since the trial court had the best opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses
while on the stand, it was in a position to discern whether or not they were telling the
[17]
2. The award of moral damages is reduced to P20,000.00; and truth. Moreover, the testimony of a witness must be considered and calibrated in its
[18]
entirety and not by truncated portions thereof or isolated passages therein.
3. The award of attorney's fee is reduced to P10,000.00.

[10]
It is apparent in this present case that both the RTC and the CA accorded respect to the
SO ORDERED. findings of the MeTC; hence, this Court finds no reason to oppose the other two courts in
the absence of any clear and valid circumstance that would merit a review of the MeTC's
assessment as to the credibility of the witnesses and their testimonies. Petitioner harps on
his contention that the MeTC was wrong in not finding the testimony of his own witness,
Mary Susan Lim Taguinod, to be credible enough. However, this Court finds the
inconsistencies of said petitioner's witness to be more than minor or trivial; thus, it does
Petitioner filed with this Court a petition for review on certiorari dated February 5, not, in any way, cast reasonable doubt. As correctly pointed out by the MeTC:
[11]
2009. On March 16, 2009, this Court denied the said petition. However, after petitioner
[12] [13]
filed a motion for reconsideration dated May 14, 2009, this Court reinstated the
[14]
present petition and required the Office of the Solicitor General to file its Comment.
Defense witness Mary Susan Lim Taguinod is wanting in
credibility. Her recollection of the past events is hazy as shown by her
testimony on cross-examination. While she stated in her affidavit that
The grounds relied upon are the following: the Honda CRV's left side view mirror hit our right side view mirror,
causing our side view mirror to fold (par. 4, Exhibit 3), she testified on
cross-examination that the right side view mirror of the Vitara did not
fold and there was only a slight dent or scratch. She initially testified
A. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE that she does not recall having submitted her written version of the
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN UPHOLDING PETITIONER'S CONVICTION. incident but ultimately admitted having executed an affidavit. Also,
while the Affidavit stated that Mary Susan Lim Taguinod personally
appeared before the Notary Public, on cross-examination, she admitted
that she did not, and what she only did was to sign the Affidavit
B. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE in Quezon City and give it to her husband. Thus, her inaccurate
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AWARDING MORAL DAMAGES AND recollection of the past incident, as shown by her testimony on cross-
[15]
ATTORNEY'S FEES TO PRIVATE COMPLAINANT. examination, is in direct contrast with her Affidavit which appears to be
precise in its narration of the incident and its details. Such Affidavit,
therefore, deserves scant consideration as it was apparently prepared
and narrated by another.
This Court finds the petition partly meritorious.
85

Thus, the Court finds that the prosecution has proven its case against
[19]
the accused by proof beyond reasonable doubt.
The CA also accurately observed that the elements of the crime of malicious mischief are
not wanting in this case, thus:

What really governs this particular case is that the prosecution was able to prove the guilt
of petitioner beyond reasonable doubt. The elements of the crime of malicious mischief
under Article 327 of the Revised Penal Code are: Contrary to the contention of the petitioner, the evidence for the
prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt the existence of the
foregoing elements. First, the hitting of the back portion of the CRV
by the petitioner was clearly deliberate as indicated by the
(1) That the offender deliberately caused damage to the evidence on record. The version of the private complainant that the
property of another; petitioner chased him and that the Vitara pushed the CRV until it
reached the stairway railing was more believable than the petitioner's
(2) That such act does not constitute arson or other version that it was private complainant's CRV which moved backward
crimes involving destruction; and deliberately hit the Vitara considering the steepness or angle of the
elevation of the P2 exit ramp. It would be too risky and dangerous for
(3) That the act of damaging another's property be committed merely for the private complainant and his family to move the CRV backward
[20]
the sake of damaging it. when it would be hard for him to see his direction as well as to control
his speed in view of the gravitational pull. Second, the act of
damaging the rear bumper of the CRV does not constitute arson
or other crimes involving destruction. Lastly, when the Vitara
bumped the CRV, the petitioner was just giving vent to his anger
and hate as a result of a heated encounter between him and the
In finding that all the above elements are present, the MeTC rightly ruled that: private complainant.
In sum, this Court finds that the evidence on record shows that the
prosecution had proven the guilt of the petitioner beyond reasonable
The following were not disputed: that there was a collision between the doubt of the crime of malicious mischief. This adjudication is but an
side view mirrors of the two (2) vehicles; that immediately thereafter, affirmation of the finding of guilt of the petitioner by both the lower
[22]
the wife and the daughter of the complainant alighted from the CRV courts, the MeTC and the RTC.
and confronted the accused; and, the complainant, in view of the
hostile attitude of the accused, summoned his wife and daughter to
enter the CRV and while they were in the process of doing so, the
accused moved and accelerated his Vitara backward as if to hit them.
The incident involving the collision of the two side view mirrors is Petitioner likewise raises the issue that the CA was wrong in awarding moral damages
proof enough to establish the existence of the element of hate, and attorney's fees to the private complainant claiming that during the trial, the latter's
revenge and other evil motive. Here, the accused entertained hate, entitlement to the said monetary reliefs was not substantiated. This Court finds petitioner's
revenge and other evil motive because to his mind, he was claim, with regard to the award of moral damages, unmeritorious.
wronged by the complainant when the CRV overtook his Vitara
while proceeding toward the booth to pay their parking fee, as a
consequence of which, their side view mirrors collided. On the
[23]
same occasion, the hood of his Vitara was also pounded, and he was In Manuel v. People, this Court tackled in substance the concept of the award of moral
badmouthed by the complainant's wife and daughter when they damages, thus:
alighted from the CRV to confront him for the collision of the side view
mirrors. These circumstances motivated the accused to push upward
the ramp complainant's CRV until it reached the steel railing of the exit
ramp. The pushing of the CRV by the Vitara is corroborated by the Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright,
Incident Report dated May 26, 2002 prepared by SO Robert Cambre, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral
Shift-In-Charge of the Power Plant Mall, as well as the Police Report. x shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of
[21]
xx pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are
the proximate result of the defendant's wrongful act or
omission. An award for moral damages requires the confluence of the
86

following conditions: first, there must be an injury, whether


physical, mental or psychological, clearly sustained by the
claimant; second, there must be culpable act or omission
factually established; third, the wrongful act or omission of the
defendant is the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the
claimant; and fourth, the award of damages is predicated on any
of the cases stated in Article 2219 or Article 2220 of the Civil
[24]
Code.
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice

Chairperson
It is true that the private complainant is entitled to the award of moral damages under
[25]
Article 2220 of the New Civil Code because the injury contemplated by the law which
merits the said award was clearly established. Private complainant testified that he felt
[26] [27]
bad and lost sleep. The said testimony is substantial to prove the moral injury
suffered by the private complainant for it is only him who can personally approximate the
emotional suffering he experienced. For the court to arrive upon a judicious approximation
of emotional or moral injury, competent and substantial proof of the suffering experienced
[28]
must be laid before it. The same also applies with private complainant's claim that his ROBERTO A. ABAD JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
[29]
wife felt dizzy after the incident and had to be taken to the hospital.
Associate Justice Associate Justice

However, anent the award of attorney's fees, the same was not established. In German
[30]
Marine Agencies, Inc. v. NLRC, this Court held that there must always be a factual ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
basis for the award of attorneys fees. This present case does not contain any valid and
factual reason for such award. Associate Justice

WHEREFORE, the petition for review dated February 5, 2009 of petitioner Robert ATTESTATION
Taguinod is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 8, 2008 and
its Resolution dated December 19, 2008 are hereby AFFIRMED with
the MODIFICATION that the attorneys fees are OMITTED.

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
SO ORDERED. before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR: PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice
87

Third Division, Chairperson subject the object of his affection to lewd desires, as the 36-year old Manobo would have
now realized.
Lito Egan alias Akiao, thirty-six (36) years old, was an avid admirer of a twelve (12)-
[1]
year old girl named Lenie T. Camad. Since both the accused and Lenie were members
of the Manobo indigenous cultural community in Mindanao and residents of Sitio
[2]
CERTIFICATION Salaysay, Marilog, Davao City, he had convenient access to courting her but his love
[3]
was instantly and decidedly spurned. Between despair and the impossibility of a
passionate affair, his unreciprocated love would soon become the frailty of his distressed
mind. He was convicted of forcible abduction with rape of Lenie and was meted the
penalty of reclusion perpetua and was ordered to pay her the amounts of P30,000.00 for
[4]
moral damages and P20,000.00 for exemplary damages. The Decision was seasonably
[5]
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairpersons appealed to this Court.
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in [6]
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts On 6 January 1997 Lenie and her cousin Jessica Silona were fetching water at a
Division. deep well several meters from Lenies house in Sitio Salaysay. At around 2:00 o'clock in
the afternoon, the accused appeared from nowhere and forcibly dragged and pushed
[7]
Lenie towards Sitio Dalag, Arakan, Cotabato. He threatened to kill her if she
[8]
resisted. Before leaving the site of the deep well, he likewise terrorized Jessica by
[9]
brandishing his hunting knife which forced the girl to scamper for safety. About 5:00
o'clock that same afternoon, Jessica was able to report to Lenies father, Palmones
[10]
Camad, the abduction of his daughter. Palmones immediately borrowed the horse of a
neighbor and together with a friend proceeded to Sitio Dalag
[11]
to look for Lenie. They sought the help of the barangay captain of Sitio Dalag and then
returned to Sitio Salaysay to rest for the night. For their part, the accused and Lenie
[12]
RENATO C. CORONA stayed that same night in a house in Sitio Dalag.
On 7 January 1997 accused Lito Egan forced Lenie to escort him to Sitio Sayawan,
Chief Justice [13]
Miokan, Arakan, Cotabato, still threatening to kill her if she shouted or resisted, and
[14]
there stayed in the house of a sister of Lito. It was in this place where under the cover
[15]
of darkness and desolation he allegedly raped Lenie. (She would however change her
recollection of the alleged rape when she later testified that the crime had happened on 6
January 1997 at the house where they lodged in Sitio Dalag and that no other incidents of
[16]
SECOND DIVISION rape subsequently took place). On the same day, Palmones Camad continued the
[17]
search for his daughter in Miokan. With the help of village elders, he was able to talk to
Datu Salimbag Paguyan of Sitio Sayawan who confirmed that Lenie and Lito were seen in
[18]
the sitio. As Palmones was running out of daily provisions, he returned to Sitio
[19]
Salaysay. Thereafter, the mission to rescue Lenie was continued by the three
[20]
[G.R. No. 139338. May 28, 2002] (3) datus of Sitio Salaysay who, like potentates of a sovereign kingdom, interceded in
his behalf with the Datu of Sitio Sayawan for Lenie's safe release.
[21]
For four (4) months the datus attempted a customary settlement of the abduction
[22]
in accordance with Manobo traditions. It appears that the accused agreed to give two
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. LITO EGAN (2) horses to the family of Lenie in exchange for her hand in marriage. Since
[23]
alias AKIAO, accused-appellant. [24]
the accused however reneged on his promise to give two (2) horses, Palmones thus
[25]
insisted on the unconditional return of his daughter to his custody. Neither did the
DECISION accused appear before the datus of Sitio Salaysay when he was asked to explain himself
[26]
before them. Since the amicable settlement was not realized, the accused forcibly
BELLOSILLO, J.: relocated Lenie to Cabalantian, Kataotao, Bukidnon, where she was eventually rescued
[27]
on 15 May 1997.
The universal puff about love being free, doubtless a stale statement, remains a
Lenie lost no time in denouncing the accused and exposing to her village elders the
useful piece of legal advice yet for the roaming lothario, to stress that money in all its [28]
disgrace that had befallen her. She and her father also reported the crime at the police
forms, the dowry included, is not the legitimate consideration for passion and affection [29]
station in Lamundao, Marilog, Davao City. She was turned over to the Balay Dangupan,
which ordinarily spring from courtship and requited love, nor does it endow a license to [30]
a shelter house of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which helped
88
[31]
her in obtaining a medico-legal examination and executing the necessary affidavit- pertinent to this case are: (a) that the offender had carnal knowledge of a woman; and, (b)
[32] [47]
complaint against accused Lito Egan. that such act is accomplished by using force or intimidation.
On 12 August 1997 the Information for forcible abduction with rape was filed against
[33]
the accused. On 9 July 1998,after several warrants of arrest and attempts to arrest him, All the elements of forcible abduction were proved in this case. The victim, who is a
[34]
he was finally arrested at Arakan, Cotabato. On 28 July 1998 he pleaded not guilty to young girl, was taken against her will as shown by the fact that at knife-point she was
the crime charged.
[35] dragged and taken by accused-appellant to a place far from her abode. At her tender age,
Lenie could not be expected to physically resist considering the fact that even her
When trial ensued, the accused tried to prove that he and Lenie had actually been companion, Jessica Silona, had to run home to escape accused-appellant's wrath as he
living together under Manobo rites in the house of her father Palmones Camad since 2 brandished a hunting knife. Fear gripped and paralyzed Lenie into helplessness as she
[36]
September 1996 after giving dowry or, in the indigenous language, bagay to Lenie's was manhandled by accused-appellant who was armed and twenty-four (24) years her
[48]
family consisting of one (1) horse, two (2) pigs, ten (10) sacks of palay senior.What we held in People v. Rapisora could be said in the case at bar -
[37]
and P2,000.00. It was also his allegation that after the dowry had been offered and
accepted, Palmones demanded one (1) wild horse from him, which forced him and Lenie, Appellant would urge the Court to ignore the testimony of complainant for her alleged
who he claimed voluntarily went with him, to depart on 1 January 1997 for Sitio Dalag, failure to call for help. In People vs. Akhtar, similarly involving the crime of forcible
[38]
Arakan, Cotabato, to capture one. They allegedly stayed in Sitio Dalag at the house of abduction with rape, the same contention was raised. This Court, rejecting the proposition
Lenie's aunt, Imbing Camad, until 7 January 1997 when it was evident that they could not made by the alleged offender, held that '[c]omplainant's failure to ask for help when she
[39]
find any horse there. He further averred that they went to Sitio Sayawan, Miokan, was abducted, or to escape from appellant's house during her detention, should not be
Arakan, Cotabato, to seek the help of Datu Salimbag Paguyan who fortunately had one construed as a manifestation of consent to the acts done by appellant. For her life was on
[40]
(1) wild horse in his stable. The accused allegedly delivered the horse to heed the line. Against the armed threats and physical abuses of appellant, she had no
Palmones' command but was again refused when Lenie's father increased the number of defense.Moreover, at a time of grave peril, to shout could literally be to court disaster. Her
[41]
horses he was asking from one (1) to two (2). The accused concluded that because he silence was born out of fear for her safety, to say the least, not a sign of approval' x x x
failed to deliver two (2) wild horses which Palmones required, the instant case was filed x This Court, in several cases, has observed that behavioral psychology would indicate
[42]
against him. The accused finally posited that Lenie was aware of the entire situation as that most people, confronted by unusual events, react dissimilarly to like
she in fact helped him do household chores during their tryst and that she could have situations. Intimidation, more subjective than not, is peculiarly addressed to the mind of
shouted or complained to call people's attention while they were walking or when they the person against whom it may be employed, and its presence is basically incapable of
stayed in populated communities such as Sitio Dalag and Sitio Sayawan, or that she could being tested by any hard and fast rule. Intimidation is normally best viewed in the light of
[43]
even have escaped to her father if she really wanted to do so. To prove that he and the perception and judgment of the victim at the time and occasion of the crime.
Lenie were destined for marriage, accused presented a letter dated 4 February 1997 (Exh.
"2") addressed to one Apo Boyilon Awe and written by Berting Bayaan purportedly
detailing the delivery of two (2) horses to Palmones.
[44] The evidence likewise shows that the taking of the young victim against her will was
done con miras deshonestas or in furtherance of lewd and unchaste designs. The
On 5 May 1999 the trial court rejected the defenses of accused Lito Egan and word lewd is defined as obscene, lustful, indecent, lascivious, lecherous. It signifies that
[45]
convicted him of forcible abduction with rape; hence, this appeal. form of immorality which has relation to moral impurity; or that which is carried on in a
[49]
wanton manner. Such lewd designs were established by the prurient and lustful acts
The only issue before us is the calibration of the competing evidence for the which accused-appellant displayed towards the victim after she was abducted. This
prosecution and the defense - verily, our resolution would hinge on whose version is more element may also be inferred from the fact that while Lenie was then a naive twelve (12)-
credible, more plausible and more trustworthy considering the circumstances surrounding year old, accused-appellant was thirty-six (36) years old and although unmarried was
the commission of the crime charged. much wiser in the ways of the world than she.
[50]

Accused-appellant Lito Egan was charged with forcible abduction with rape of twelve Given the straightforward and candid testimony of Lenie and her father Palmones as
(12)-year old Lenie T. Camad. Although from the records it appears that Lenie was less well as the absence of any motive to testify falsely against accused-appellant, the logical
[46]
than twelve (12) years old as shown by her birth certificate (Exh. "B") when the conclusion is that there was no improper motive on their part, and their respective
abduction took place on 6 January 1997 and the alleged rape was perpetrated a day after, [51]
testimonies as to facts proving forcible abduction are worthy of full faith and credit. We
the criminal liability of accused-appellant would nevertheless be confined only to the crime generally sustain the factual findings of the trial court on account of its strategic access to
alleged in the Information. Hence, a judgment of conviction is proper only where the circumstances decisive of the question of credibility as it saw and heard the witnesses
prosecution was able to prove the elements of the complex crime of forcible abduction themselves and observed their behavior and manner of testifying. In the instant case,
with rape - there is no reason to depart from the rule since no fact or circumstance of weight and
influence proving that accused-appellant had abducted Lenie against her will and with
x x x x Article 342 of the Revised Penal Code defines and penalizes the crime of forcible lewd designs has been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted by
[52]
abduction. The elements of forcible abduction are (a) that the person abducted is a the court a quo. Significantly, accused-appellant has not even challenged the
woman, regardless of her age, civil status, or reputation; (b) that the abduction is against unequivocal pronouncement of the trial court that the complainant testified in a
her will; and, (c) that the abduction is with lewd designs. On the other hand, Art. 335 of the spontaneous and straightforward manner which thus leaves no doubt in the mind of this
same Code defines the crime of rape and provides for its penalty. The elements of rape Court that she was telling the truth and that her declarations were positive, clear and
convincing. The best that he could do to assail the conviction was, unfortunately, to state
89

mere speculations of inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses To be sure, several acts of accused-appellant would betray his criminal
without however substantiating by specific examples such conjecture. We have no doubt intentions. For one he offered in evidence, partly through Exh. "2" and to a degree by his
that his studied silence on the evaluation of evidentiary matters unmistakably preserves testimony, the settlement which he together with Datu Salimbag Paguyan tried to broker
the integrity of the decision of the trial court. with the family of Lenie to suppress the criminal act he had done. The putative agreement
was for the accused to deliver a horse to Lenie's father to settle the matter amicably but
Accused-appellant would however insist that he and Lenie had been engaged the agreement did not push through. Since this offer of compromise was sponsored by
under Manobo rituals to marry each other and that her companionship was willful and accused-appellant himself, it clearly amounts to an implied admission of guilt which
voluntary. Proof of this, he said, was the alleged dowry of one (1) horse, two (2) pigs, ten [56]
remains uncontested. Moreover, if he were truly engaged to marry the victim he would
(10) sacks of palay, and P2,000.00, with two (2) wild horses forthcoming, he had given her not have eluded arrest for one (1) year and dodged several warrants for his arrest. The
father in exchange for her hand in marriage. In moving from one place to another to look flight of accused-appellant indubitably proves an awareness of guilt and a consciousness
for the horses which the old man Palmones had demanded, it was allegedly only his that he had no tenable defense to the crime charged.
[57]
intention to realize his matrimonial aspiration with Lenie.
Nonetheless even assuming that the accused and the complainant were engaged by
The testimony of the victim negated this contrived posture of accused-appellant virtue of the dowry he had offered, this fact alone would not negate the commission of
which in reality is simply a variation of the sweetheart defense. If they were, surely, Lenie forcible abduction. An indigenous ritual of betrothal, like any other love affair, does not
would not have jeopardized their relationship by accusing him of having held her against justify forcibly banishing the beloved against her will with the intention of molesting her. It
her will and molesting her and, on top of it all, by filing a criminal charge against him. If it is likewise well-settled that the giving of money does not beget an unbridled license to
had been so, Lenie could have easily told her father after the latter had successfully subject the assumed fiance to carnal desires. By asserting the existence of such
traced their whereabouts that nothing untoward had happened between her and the relationship, the accused seeks to prove that the victim willingly participated in the act.But,
accused. Her normal reaction would have been to cover-up for the man she supposedly as shown above, she certainly did not. Lenie was a Manobo with whom the accused
loved and with whom she had a passionate affair. But, on the contrary, Lenie lost no time ardently fell in love but was never her lover. The evidence clearly does not speak of
in denouncing accused-appellant and exposing to her family and the authorities the consensual love but of criminal lust which could not be disguised by the so-
disgrace that had befallen her. If they had indeed been lovers, Lenie's father would not called sweetheart defense or its variant as in the instant case. Finally, as held in People v.
have shown so much concern for her welfare and safety by searching for the couple for [58]
Crisostomo, the intention to marry may constitute unchaste designs not by itself but by
four (4) months, desperately wanting to rescue her from captivity and seeking the the concurring circumstances which may vitiate such an intention, as in the case of
intervention of the datus in resolving the matter. abduction of a minor with the latter's consent, in which the male knows that she cannot
Neither was accused-appellant able to present any convincing evidence to legally consent to the marriage and yet he elopes with her. In the case at bar, there is no
substantiate his claim, like love letters, notes and other symbols of affection attesting to a denying the fact that Lenie was incapacitated to marry accused-appellant
[59]
[53]
consensual relationship. In fact, none of the persons he and Lenie supposedly lived under Manobo or Christian rites since she was still a minor thereby demonstrating the
with during the period that he was allegedly looking for two (2) wild horses could existence of lewd designs.
corroborate his claim of engagement under the traditions of the Manobos.Imbing Camad Coming now to the charge of rape, we rule that although the prosecution has proved
was not summoned to testify and Datu Salimbag Paguyan who took the supposed couple that Lenie was sexually abused, the evidence proffered is inadequate to establish carnal
under custody would even admit in his testimony that he knew nothing about the knowledge. Indeed the victim could only guarantee that "[the accused] had his penis
[54]
relationship between them. Furthermore, Exh. "2," the letter which allegedly details the placed between my legs," the gist of which may refer to things both incriminatory or non-
matrimonial offer of accused-appellant to Lenie, is inadmissible and otherwise barren of incriminatory of rape although equally perverse -
probative value. For one, the letter is hearsay being as it is an out-of-court statement of a
person who did not testify; moreover, it was not authenticated during the trial by either its Q: The following day, January 7, 1997, where did Lito Egan bring you?
author or its recipient. Nor is it in any manner conclusive of any wedding plans prior to the
abduction of Lenie on 6 January 1997, as Exh. "2" is explicitly dated 4 February 1997 and A: To a certain place called [Miokan] x x x x
significantly coincides with the attempts of the several datus to rescue Lenie from the Q: During that night, that night when on the second day, where Lito Egan brought
hands of accused-appellant. Indubitably, all that was done and said in the letter with you? Where did you sleep?
[55]
reference to marrying the girl was clearly an afterthought.
A: In a certain uninhabited house.
Verily it is evident that accused-appellant was a rejected suitor of Lenie with no hope
of having her in marriage and whose persistent offers of love and marriage had been Q: What did Lito Egan do to you if any?
decidedly spurned. It was in the sleepy mid-afternoon of 6 January 1997 when he took the
girl by force and at that time no marriage was proved to have been offered by accused- A: He removed my panty.
appellant much less considered by Lenie or her elders. The accused dragged the victim to
Q: What else?
walk with him and to proceed to unknown destinations by warning her of a present and
grave danger to her life should she refuse. In the night which followed, he forcibly A: Including my short pants.
embraced, kissed, and handled her against her will. No protestation of noble intentions
can obviate the conclusion that all these acts proved lewd designs. Q: After removing your short pants, what did Lito Egan do?
xxx
90

A: He placed himself on top of me. supply missing links in the prosecution evidence which otherwise insufficiently proves
carnal knowledge. "Criminal cases are decided not on the basis of the weakness of the
Q: What happened when he placed himself on top of you? defense but on the strength of the evidence mustered by the prosecution. This is founded
[66]
A: I kept on crying on the presumption of innocence accorded to every accused." In the case at bar, the
ambivalent declarations of the victim are testaments to prosecutorial inadequacy. Thus
Q: You said, he placed himself on top of you, please tell us what exactly happened? instead of clarifying what she meant by "[the accused] had his penis placed between my
legs," the prosecution would itself testify through misleading question that her answer
A: He had his penis placed between my legs. meant that the accused-appellant placed his penis into her private part, to which defense
counsel correctly objected and would thereafter leave such important matter hanging by
Q: What did you feel because of that?
the thread.
A: I felt pain x x x x
Even if we have to assume that Lenies statement, "[the accused-appellant] had his
Q: What was your reaction when Lito Egan placed himself on top of you as well as his penis placed between my legs," meant that the penis was "placed in her private part" as
penis placed in your private parts? the prosecution inappropriately sought to introduce, the statement would still be
speculative as to whether the penis of accused-appellant in reality entered the labial
[Defense Counsel]: The question is misleading. Complainant said, not on her threshold of the female organ to accurately conclude that rape was committed. The
private parts but only on her legs. ambiguity in the case at bar would in fact be even more uncertain than those we have
come across and declared unanimously as insufficient to prove carnal
A: I felt pain. [67]
knowledge. In People v. Francisco we found the testimony of the victim that "(h)indi po
Q: What did you do when at that time when he placed himself on top of you? sa butas pero sa aking pepe lang" to be inconclusive as it was "shrouded in
ambiguity," and further declared -
A: I kept on moving my body.
Q: And what was the result of your opposition? The prosecution has the onus probandi of establishing the precise degree of culpability of
the accused. It must demonstrate in sufficient detail the manner by which the crime was
[60]
A: I felt great pain x x x x perpetrated. Certainly, the testimony of the victim to the effect that the accused repeatedly
[61] poked her vagina and that she felt pain as a consequence thereof, would not be enough to
Sexual abuse cannot be equated with rape. In the case at bar, there is no warrant the conclusion that a consummated rape had indeed been committed. The
evidence of entrance or introduction of the male organ into the labia of the quantum of evidence in criminal cases requires more than that.
pudendum. Lenie's testimony did not establish that there was penetration by the sex organ
of the accused or that he tried to penetrate her. The doctor who examined Lenie's vagina [68]
on 28 May 1997 would in fact admit upon questioning of the trial judge that "there was no Prior to Francisco, we ruled in People v. Tolentino that the testimony, "binundul-
[62]
interlabia contact." The medico-legal report would then reflect our statement in People bundol ang kanyang ari," did not conclusively prove that rape was committed to the
[63]
v. Tayag "that considering the age of the victim and the condition of her hymen, there exclusion of other offenses and further held that "this testimony is subject to different
should be laceration if there was penetration by an adult male sex organ" when it reported interpretations and will not lead to the conclusion that [the accused's] intent was to have
[69]
that the hymen was still intact and impenetrable without causing the least hymenal carnal knowledge of her." No consummated rape took place in People v. Arce on
injury. The medico-legal report concluded that there were no evident signs of extragenital account of the victims claim that the accused "attempted to touch her vagina with his penis
physical injuries on the body of the subject at the time of the examination, and her hymen or 'idinidikit yung ari niya.'" In these cases where the victim herself, as Lenie in the instant
was intact with her orifice small (1.5 cms. in diameter) as to preclude complete penetration case, failed to state for the record that there was insertion of the penis into her vagina,
by an average-sized male organ in erection without causing hymenal injury.
[64] rape was deemed not to have been committed. Together with the absolutely non-
incriminating medical certificate, which is the only corroborative evidence available, the
While it is true that Lenie subsequently testified that there was "intercourse" between likelihood for the consummation of rape in the instant case was nil. In People v.
[70]
her and the accused-appellant, her testimony cannot be accorded such credence as to Campuhan we held -
outweigh her original declarations. For one, there is an irreconcilable contradiction
between her two (2) testimonies as to the place and date of the alleged rape. While In cases of rape where there is a positive testimony and a medical certificate, both should
initially she declared that the alleged rape took place in Miokan on 7 January 1997 she in all respects complement each other; otherwise, to rely on the testimonial evidence
thereafter changed this statement with the allegation that the rape occurred in Sitio Dalag alone, in utter disregard of the manifest variance in the medical certificate, would be
on 6 January 1997. Significantly, the testimony that there was "intercourse" between her productive of unwarranted or even mischievous results. It is necessary to carefully
and accused-appellant was elicited through leading questions of the trial judge after Lenie ascertain whether the penis of the accused in reality entered the labial threshold of the
had placed on record that accused-appellant after undressing and kissing her and female organ to accurately conclude that rape was consummated. Failing in this, the thin
touching her nipples did nothing more. line that separates attempted rape from consummated rape will significantly disappear.
[65]
As we have held in People v. Tayag, speculations and probabilities cannot take
the place of proof required to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, Under the circumstances, the criminal liability of accused-appellant is only for forcible
and suspicion, no matter how strong, must not sway judgment. Courts cannot function to abduction under Art. 342 of The Revised Penal Code. The sexual abuse which accused-
91

appellant forced upon Lenie constitutes the lewd design inherent in forcible abduction and Although the prosecution has proven that Lazel was sexually abused, the evidence
is thus absorbed therein. The indecent molestation cannot form the other half of a proffered is inadequate to prove she was raped x x x x Accused-appellant is not, however,
[71]
complex crime since the record does not show that off the hook. The prosecution proved the crime of forcible abduction. It established that
theprincipal purpose of the accused was to commit any of the crimes against chastity and accused-appellant took Lazel against her will and with lewd designs. The word "lewd" is
[72]
that her abduction would only be a necessary means to commit the same. Surely it defined as obscene, lustful, indecent, lascivious, lecherous. It signifies that form of
would not have been the case that accused-appellant would touch Lenie only once during immorality which has relation to moral impurity; or that which is carried on in a wanton
her four (4)-month captivity, as she herself admitted, if his chief or primordial intention had manner. The medico-legal finding and Lazel's testimony although insufficient to prove
been to lay with her. Instead, what we discern from the evidence is that the intent to rape, buttress the conclusion that accused-appellant had lewd designs when he abducted
seduce the girl forms part and parcel of her forcible abduction and shares equal Lazel. Article 342 of the Revised Penal Code defines and punishes forcible abduction x x
importance with the other element of the crime which was to remove the victim from her x x IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision convicting accused-appellant of forcible abduction
[73]
home or from whatever familiar place she may be and to take her to some other. Stated with rape is modified. Accused-appellant is convicted for forcible abduction and is
otherwise, the intention of accused-appellant as the evidence shows was not only to sentenced to suffer 12 years of prision mayor to 17 years and 4 months of reclusion
seduce the victim but also to separate her from her family, especially from her father temporal and to pay the victim P30,000.00 as moral damages. No costs.
Palmones, clearly tell-tale signs of forcible abduction -
Significantly, we cannot consider any aggravating circumstance since under Sec. 8
Both the civil and the common law authorities agree in the conclusion that the crime of of Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, effective 1 December 2000 but
[77]
abduction is one sumamente grave y odioso (highly serious and detestable). The penal applicable to the instant case, the complaint or information must not only state the
law regarding abduction, says the supreme court of Spain, was intended to punish the designation of the offense given by statute and aver the acts or omissions constituting the
offense against public morality and the insult to the family of the abducted girl. (Decisions offense, but also "specify its qualifying and aggravating
of the supreme court of Spain of November 30, 1876; June 19, 1891; and June 15, 1895; circumstances." The Information against accused-appellant does not specify any of the
U. S. vs. Bernabe [1912], 23 Phil., 154.) The abduction statutes, say the American circumstances which would have aggravated the offense charged or its penalty.
authorities, were intended for the preservation of the peace of the home and the virtue of
inexperienced females, and to save the members of the family from sorrow and disgrace. In hindsight, one may say that the instant case is all about love extending beyond the
(People vs. Fowler [1891], 88 Cal., 136; State vs. Overstreet [1890], 43 Kan., 299; People realm of law and morality. The titillation which this abstraction brings forth, however,
vs. Bristol [1871], 23 Mich., 118; State vs. Chisenhall [1890], 106 N. C., 676; Rex vs. should not gloss over the fact that a young innocent girl was ruthlessly torn from the side
Pigot, 12 Modern 516, 88 Reprint, 1488.) The three elements in the crime punished by of her family, overpowered by superior strength, her cries for help stifled, and rushed to an
article 445 of the Penal Code are: (1) That the person abducted be a woman; (2) that the unknown house and there defiled. Certainly, there is something more to be endured by
abduction must have been against the will of the woman; and (3) that the abduction must her than mere physical pain although that may not be inconsiderable. In justifying the
have been for lewd or unchaste designs. (5 Viada, Codigo Penal, 143; U. S. vs. Borromeo penalty imposed upon such misguided act, even if it was done purportedly to soothe the
[78]
[74]
[1912], 23 Phil., 279) (underscoring supplied). indignity of an unrequited love, we said in United States v. Borromeo: "[W]hen such an
occurrence ceases to be a reality to her and becomes a memory, if it ever does, she may
derive no comfort, no pride, no satisfaction by recalling it. Shame, misery, mortification,
Verily the single sexual abuse of Lenie although accused-appellant had other are her lot. Nor can she, if she would, banish the dreadful occurrence from her
opportunities to do so was itself the external manifestation of his lewd design, and hence thoughts. The story has spread like wildfire. Pitying looks, pointing fingers, and morbid
he could not be punished for it either separately or as part of a complex crime. The overt stares remind her everywhere she goes of her terrible experience x x x x In the case of the
acts in the case at bar are clearly unlike the actus reus in a complex crime of forcible girl, the effects are permanent and far-reaching. Time may lessen but can never annul her
abduction with rape where the preparatory sexual advances upon the victim constitute the sufferings. Nor is she the only sufferer. Her whole family, to a lesser degree, shares in her
lewd designs which consummate the forcible abduction with the ensuing rape transpiring humiliation."
as another crime (although rape is itself the grossest manifestation of lewd designs) that
may no longer be absorbed in but must be complexed with forcible abduction. As further WHEREFORE, the Decision of the court a quo convicting accused-appellant LITO
illustrated by Prof. Luis B. Reyes EGAN alias Akiao of forcible abduction with rape is MODIFIED. Accused-appellant is
instead declared guilty ofForcible Abduction only under Art. 342 of The Revised Penal
The act of appellant in grabbing the victim while she was walking towards barrio San Code and is sentenced to an indeterminate prison term ranging from six (6) years, two (2)
Agustin, and dragging her into the cornfields, some 40 meters away from the footpath, months and ten (10) days of prision mayor minimum as minimum, to fourteen (14) years,
where by means of force he tried to have sexual intercourse with her but did not perform eight (8) months and twenty (20) days of reclusion temporal medium as
all the acts necessary to consummate such purpose, only constitutes abduction and not maximum. Accused-appellant is further ordered to pay moral damages in the amount
abduction complexed with attempted rape, because said appellant took away the victim of P30,000.00 and exemplary damages in the amount of P20,000.00 as fixed by the
for the purpose of corrupting her. In other words, the attempt to rape her is absorbed by court a quo to be paid to private complainant Lenie T. Camad. Costs against accused-
the abduction, being the element of lewd design of the latter.
[75] appellant.
SO ORDERED.
[76]
In People v. Tayag where there was insufficient evidence to prove carnal
knowledge despite a charge of forcible abduction with rape, we convicted the accused Mendoza, Quisumbing, De Leon, Jr., and Corona, JJ., concur.
only of forcible abduction -
92

The decision states that the main basis for the acquittal was good faith on the part of
the accused. Respondent Judge gave credence to the defense of the accused that she
acted without any malicious intent. The combined testimonial and documentary evidence
of the defense was aimed at convincing the court that accused Lucena Escoto had
FIRST DIVISION sufficient grounds to believe that her previous marriage to Jorge de Perio had been validly
dissolved by the divorce decree and that she was legally free to contract the second
marriage with Manuel P. Diego.
In rendering the decision, respondent Judge reasoned, thus:
[A.M. No. RTJ-02-1673. August 11, 2004]
While it is true that in our jurisdiction the matrimonial bond between Jorge de Perio and
the accused are not yet annulled, it remains undisputed that cessation of the same was
th
decreed in the Family District Court of Harris County, Texas, 247 Judicial District,
EDUARDO P. DIEGO, complainant, vs. JUDGE SILVERIO Q. CASTILLO, Regional effective February 15, 1978.
Trial Court, Dagupan City, Branch 43, respondent.
xxx
DECISION
AZCUNA, J.: The CHARGE filed against the accused is categorized as Mala en se (sic) which requires
the indispensable presence of criminal intent/dolo.
This is an administrative complaint against Regional Trial Court Judge Silverio Q.
Castillo for allegedly knowingly rendering an unjust judgment in a criminal case and/or The felony on BIGAMY as defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code explicitly
rendering judgment in gross ignorance of the law. mandates that it must be committed with criminal intent. In other words, there must be an
unquestionable demonstration on the part of the perpetrator that he/she criminally, willfully
The facts and circumstances of the criminal case are summarized, as follows: and unlawfully contracted a second marriage despite knowledge that his/her first marriage
is still existing.
a) On January 9, 1965, accused Lucena Escoto contracted marriage with Jorge
de Perio, Jr., solemnized before then Mayor Liberato Reyna
of Dagupan City. The couple were both Filipinos. In the marriage contract, As borne out by the evidence adduced, the accused contracted the second marriage after
the accused used and adopted the name Crescencia Escoto, with a civil she was informed and furnished of the Divorce Decree which was granted by the Family
status of single; District Court of Harris County Texas in her favor.

b) In a document dated February 15, 1978, denominated as a Decree of As an ordinary laywoman accused being a recipient of a divorce decree, she entertains
Divorce and purportedly issued to Jorge de Perio as petitioner by the the impression that she can contract a subsequent marriage which she did when she
th
Family District Court of Harris County, Texas (247 Judicial District), it was married the late Manuel Diego.
ordered, adjudged and decreed, that the bonds of matrimony heretofore
existing between Jorge de Perio and Crescencia de Perio are hereby
Dissolved, Cancelled and Annulled and the Petitioner is hereby granted a To the honest evaluation of the Court the act complained of against the accused is not
Divorce. patently illegal for the reason that she acted in good faith believing that her marriage was
[3]
already annulled by a foreign judgment.
c) Subsequently, on June 4, 1987, the same Crescencia Escoto contracted
marriage with herein complainants brother, Manuel P. Diego, solemnized Complainant herein alleges that the decision rendered by the respondent Judge is
before the Rev. Fr. Clemente T. Godoy, parish priest of Dagupan City. The manifestly against the law and contrary to the evidence. He questions the evidentiary
marriage contract shows that this time, the accused used and adopted the weight and admissibility of the divorce decree as a basis for the finding of good faith. In
[1]
name Lucena Escoto, again, with a civil status of single. addition, complainant stresses that the evidence on record negates respondent Judges
After trial of the criminal case for bigamy, respondent Judge promulgated a decision, finding of good faith on the part of the accused. Thus, complainant urges this Court to
on February 24, 1999, the dispositive part of which stated: impose sanctions upon respondent Judge as, according to complainant, these acts
amount to knowingly rendering an unjust judgment and/or gross ignorance of the law.
WHEREFORE, for failure of the STATE to prove accuseds guilt beyond whisper of doubt, In his comment, respondent Judge explains that what was in issue was the criminal
the COURT hereby orders her ACQUITTAL with costs de oficio. culpability of the accused under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Respondent
Judge does not dispute that the second marriage was bigamous because at the time it
SO ORDERED.
[2] was contracted, the first marriage was still subsisting since divorce is not recognized in
our country and because the accuseds first husband was still alive. Respondent Judge,
93

however, maintains that what was controlling was whether by virtue of the divorce decree evidence, and that the same was made with conscious and deliberate intent to do an
[8]
the accused honestly believed, albeit mistakenly, that her first marriage had been severed injustice.
and she could marry again. According to respondent Judge, the same is a state of mind
personal to the accused. He further stressed that knowledge of the law should not be The law requires that (a) the offender is a judge; (b) he renders a judgment in a case
exacted strictly from the accused since she is a lay person, and that ineptitude should not submitted to him for decision; (c) the judgment is unjust; (d) he knew that said judgment is
[9]
be confused with criminal intent. unjust. This Court reiterates that in order to hold a judge liable, it must be shown that the
judgment is unjust and that it was made with conscious and deliberate intent to do an
By separate manifestations, both parties agreed to submit the case for resolution injustice. That good faith is a defense to the charge of knowingly rendering an unjust
[10]
based on the pleadings. judgment remains the law.
[11]
As held in Alforte v. Santos, even assuming that a judge erred in acquitting an
accused, she still cannot be administratively charged lacking the element of bad faith,
The Disputed Decision malice or corrupt purpose. Malice or bad faith on the part of the judge in rendering an
unjust decision must still be proved and failure on the part of the complainant to prove the
[12]
same warrants the dismissal of the administrative complaint.
A careful study of the disputed decision reveals that respondent Judge had been
There is, therefore, no basis for the charge of knowingly rendering an unjust
less than circumspect in his study of the law and jurisprudence applicable to the bigamy
judgment.
case.
In his comment, respondent Judge stated: That the accused married Manuel P.
Diego in the honest belief that she was free to do so by virtue of the decree of divorce is a
mistake of fact. Gross Ignorance of the Law
[4]
This Court, in People v. Bitdu, carefully distinguished between a mistake of fact,
[13]
which could be a basis for the defense of good faith in a bigamy case, from a mistake of Anent the charge of gross ignorance of the law, Maozca v. Domagas, is
law, which does not excuse a person, even a lay person, from liability. Bitdu held that instructive. Therein respondent judge was charged with gross ignorance of the law
even if the accused, who had obtained a divorce under the Mohammedan custom, resulting in a manifestly unjust judgment for granting a demurrer to the evidence in a
honestly believed that in contracting her second marriage she was not committing any bigamy case. The grant of the demurrer to the evidence was based on the judges finding
violation of the law, and that she had no criminal intent, the same does not justify her of good faith on the part of the accused, anchored upon a document denominated as a
act. This Court further stated therein that with respect to the contention that the accused Separation of Property with Renunciation of Rights. This Court stated that said act of the
acted in good faith in contracting the second marriage, believing that she had been validly judge exhibited ignorance of the law, and accordingly he was fined in the amount
divorced from her first husband, it is sufficient to say that everyone is presumed to know of P5,000.
the law, and the fact that one does not know that his act constitutes a violation of the law [14]
does not exempt him from the consequences thereof.
[5] Also, in Guillermo v. Reyes, Jr., where therein respondent judge was given a
reprimand with a stern warning of a more severe penalty should the same or similar act be
Moreover, squarely applicable to the criminal case for bigamy, is People v. committed in the future, this Court explained:
[6]
Schneckenburger, where it was held that the accused who secured a foreign divorce,
and later remarried in the Philippines, in the belief that the foreign divorce was valid, is We have heretofore ruled that a judge may not be held administratively accountable for
liable for bigamy. every erroneous order or decision he renders. To unjustifiably hold otherwise, assuming
These findings notwithstanding, the issue before us is whether or not respondent that he has erred, would be nothing short of harassment and would make his position
Judge should be held administratively liable for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment doubly unbearable, for no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the
and/or gross ignorance of the law. process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment.The error must be gross
or patent, malicious, deliberate or in evident bad faith. It is only in this latter instance,
when the judge acts fraudulently or with gross ignorance, that administrative sanctions are
called for as an imperative duty of this Court.
Knowingly Rendering an Unjust Judgment
As a matter of public policy then, the acts of a judge in his official capacity are not subject
to disciplinary action, even though such acts are erroneous. Good faith and absence of
Knowingly rendering an unjust judgment is a criminal offense defined and penalized malice, corrupt motives or improper considerations are sufficient defenses in which a
[7]
under Article 204 of the Revised Penal Code. For conviction to lie, it must be proved that judge charged with ignorance of the law can find refuge. It does not mean, however, that a
the judgment is unjust and that the judge knows that it is unjust. Knowingly means judge, given the leeway he is accorded in such cases, should not evince due care in the
consciously, intelligently, willfully or intentionally. It is firmly established in this jurisdiction performance of his adjudicatory prerogatives.
that for a judge to be held liable for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, it must be
shown that the judgment is unjust as it is contrary to law or is not supported by the
94
[15]
Furthermore, in Wingarts v. Mejia, where therein respondent judge, although ROSARIO LAO and GEORGE FELIPE, JR, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS,
absolved of any guilt for the charge of knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, was still former Fifth Division and FRANK DEUNA, respondents.
imposed sanctions by this Court, thus:
DECISION
In any event, respondent judge deserves to be appropriately penalized for his regrettably
erroneous action in connection with Criminal Case No. 2664 of his court. We have KAPUNAN, J.:
repeatedly stressed that a municipal trial judge occupies the forefront of the judicial arm
that is closest in reach to the public he serves, and he must accordingly act at all times This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside the
with great constancy and utmost probity. Any kind of failure in the discharge of this grave decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 28002 of the Court of Appeals dated October 22, 1992
[1]
responsibility cannot be countenanced, in order to maintain the faith of the public in the dismissing petitioners' appeal and the resolution dated February 18, 1993 denying their
[16]
judiciary, especially on the level of courts to which most of them resort for redress. motion for reconsideration.
CA-G.R. CV No. 28002 was an appeal by petitioners from the decision of the
Applying these precedents to the present case, the error committed by respondent
Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 88 in Civil Case No. Q-89-2836, adjudging them
Judge being gross and patent, the same constitutes ignorance of the law of a nature
jointly and severally liable for damages for the malicious prosecution of herein private
sufficient to warrant disciplinary action. [2]
respondent, plaintiff below.
Petitioners contend as their lone assignment of error that the decision of respondent
court was brought by a misapprehension of facts. In the instant petition, they give their
Penalty version of the facts which they sought but failed to establish in the trial court.
[3]

We find no merit in the petition.


After evaluation of the merits of the case, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA)
recommended that respondent Judge be reprimanded with a stern warning of a more Petitioners fail to convince us that the case before us falls under the exception to the
severe penalty in the future. rule that the factual findings of the appellate court are conclusive and binding upon this
[4] [5]
Court. We find no misapprehension of facts. The evidence on record preponderantly
The act of respondent Judge in rendering the decision in question took place establish the incidents and circumstances narrated by the appellate court, to wit:
on February 24, 1999 or before the effectivity, on October 1, 2001, of A.M. No. 01-8-10-
SC which classified gross ignorance of the law as a serious charge and penalized the At around 9:00 to 10:00 o'clock in the evening of December 30, 1988, Eduardo
offense with a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P40,000. Antonio, his wife and children together with Mrs. Miranda and her daughter Maricel were
having a conversation while on the sidewalk near the side of Eduardo's house at Gate 1,
[17]
Applying the rule as then prevailing, and in line with applicable Himlayan Road, Pasong Tamo, Quezon City. Suddenly, the group direction on the right
[18]
jurisprudence, the sanction on respondent Judge should be a fine in the amount side of the street where they were situated. Urgently, Eduardo told his companions to go
of P10,000. to the side of the sidewalk to avoid being hit or bumped by said jeep. While Eduardo's
companions were able to scamper to safety, Eduardo was not able to get out of the way
WHEREFORE, Regional Trial Court Judge Silverio Q. Castillo is hereby FINED in and was violently bumped or hit on both his calves by the bumper of the jeep. Afterwards,
the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000) with a STERN WARNING that a repetition the jeep moved a few meters in the reverse direction and its engine stopped
of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. running. Then, defendant-appellant George Felipe, Jr., who was at that time driving the
SO ORDERED. jeep while his wife and two (2) children were inside, got out of the vehicle and shouted
"Wait for me, I'll get a gun and shoot you". Thereafter, George ran towards the direction of
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, and Carpio, his house, located several meters away from where he bumped Eduardo.
JJ., concur.
Unable to walk by himself, Eduardo requested his neighbors Mar Eustaquio, Edwin
Norio, Arnel de Lara and several others to accompany him to the residence of Frank
Deuna who was then a barangay councilman of the place of the incident. Upon arriving at
Frank's residence, Eduardo narrated what happened and asked Frank to accompany him
FIRST DIVISION to the Sangandaan Police Sub-station No. 8. Thereat, Eduardo reported the incident to
police station desk officer Pfc. Ely Aguilar who, after taking down Eduardo's statement,
directed Pat. Elpidio Bondad to make a follow-up investigation for the possible
apprehension of George and the recovery of the jeep used by the latter in hitting
Eduardo. Immediately, Frank, accompanied Pat. Bondad, Pfc. Maderazo and two (2) other
[G.R. No. 109205. April 18, 1997] police officers, who were all in police uniform, to the scene of the incident.
Upon arriving at the place where the incident occurred, Frank pointed to the police
officers the jeep, which was then parked in front of the house of George, used by the latter
95

in bumping or hitting Eduardo. Thereafter, the police officers began inquiring from the WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is rendered sentencing defendants to pay
people in the vicinity if they knew where George was. However, George was nowhere to plaintiff jointly and severally the following:
be found. Since the police officers were ordered to seize the vehicle in question, they
informed George's mother Zenaida Felipe, in the presence of the people who were 1. P50,000.00 as moral damages;
around, that they will be bringing the jeep to the Sangandaan Police Sub-station No. 2. P25,000.00 as exemplary damages;
8. The keys of said vehicle not being in their possession, the policemen pushed the jeep, 3. P25,000.00 as attorney's fees; and
assisted by several persons in the vicinity, until it reached the aforementioned police 4. Costs of suit.
station where its custody was turned over to the police station desk officer for
safekeeping. Accordingly, the incident which transpired was recorded in the complaint or
blotter book of said police station (Exh. "F"). Afterwards, Frank accompanied Eduardo to Defendants' counterclaim is hereby ordered dismissed.
the East Avenue Medical Center at Quezon City for medical treatment.
[6]
SO ORDERED.
On January 4, 1989, Sangandaan Police Sub-station Commanding Officer P/Capt.
Enrique M. Robles filed a complaint with the Quezon City Fiscal's Office, charging George
with frustrated homicide (Exh. "E"). Subsequently, Assistant City Prosecutor Wildredo L. Not satisfied with the decision of the Regional Trial Court, petitioners appealed to the
Maynigo filed an information, dated February 28, 1989, in the Regional Trial Court at Court of Appeals alleging that the trial court erred in:
Quezon City, Branch 78, docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-89-3436, charging George I
with the crime of attempted murder (Exh. "H"). Earlier, Rosario Lao, impleading Frank and
Eduardo as respondents, filed a complaint-affidavit, dated January 10, 1989, for X X X FINDING THAT PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE HAD NOT COMMITTED ANY ACT
carnapping with the Anti-Carnapping Task Force of the Department of Justice, docketed WHICH VIOLATED THE RIGHTS OF DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS;
as I.S. No. AC 89-00027. In the complaint-affidavit, Rosario alleged, among others that
Frank and Eduardo together with their companions forcibly took the subject vehicle from II
George's house at Himlayan Road, Tandang Sora, Quezon City (Exh. "A").
X X X FINDING THAT THERE WAS MALICIOUS INTENT IN THE FILING OF THE
On January 18, 1989, the Anti-Carnapping Task Force issued an alarm sheet (Exh. CARNAPPING CASE;
"6-B") as well as subpoenas addressed to Frank and Eduardo who both subsequently filed
III
their counter-affidavits stating that the vehicle, on December 30, 1988, was brought to the
Sangandaan Police Sub-station for safekeeping (Exhs. "8" and "9"). Giving due course to X X X FINDING DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS LIABLE FOR MALICIOUS
Rosario's motion for production of vehicle (Exh. "10"), State Prosecutor Evangeline Yuipco PROSECUTION AND AWARDING PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE MORAL DAMAGES,
issued an order, dated August 8, 1989, ordering the Commander of Sangandaan Sub- EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY'S FEES THEREFOR; and
station No. 8 to turn over the vehicle to the Central Impounding Area of Camp Crame
(Exh. "11"). After investigation, the Department of Justice issued a resolution dated IV
November 17, 1989 ordering the dismissal of the case "for lack of evidence sufficient to
establish a probable cause" against Frank and Eduardo. (Exh. "K"). X X.X DISMISSING DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS' COUNTERCLAIMS (Appellants'
Brief, p. 3).
On June 27, 1989, Frank, impleading Rosario and George as defendants, filed in the
court a quo the instant civil case for damages, alleging, among others, that he "suffered Finding that private respondent was not liable for malicious prosecution, the Court of
mental anguish, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock Appeals dismissed petitioners' appeal, ratiocinating that:
and social humiliation" due to the "fabricated, malicious and baseless charges" of
carnapping filed against him by said defendants (Records, p. 1). In the same complaint, To constitute malicious prosecution, there must be proof that the prosecution was
Frank prayed that a judgment be rendered ordering Rosario and George to jointly and prompted by a sinister design to vex or humiliate a person; and that it was initiated
severally pay him moral damages of P50,000.00; exemplary damages of P25,000.00; and deliberately by the defendant knowing that his charges were false and
attorney's fees of P25,000.00 plus P300.00 appearance fees (Records, p. 3). On groundless. Concededly, the mere act of submitting a case to the authorities for
September 1, 1989, Rosario and George filed a joint answer with counterclaim praying, prosecution does not make one liable for malicious prosecution (Salao vs. Salao, 70
among others, that judgment be rendered dismissing the complaint of Frank and ordering SCRA 65; Ramos vs. Ramos, 61 SCRA 284; Solis & Yarisantos vs. Salvador, 14 SCRA
the latter to pay actual and compensatory damages of P50,000.00; moral damages 887; Buenaventura, et al. vs. Sto. Domingo, et al., 103 Phil. 239; Barreto vs. Arevalo, 99
of P100,000.00; exemplary or corrective damages of P50,000.00; attorney's fees Phil. 771).
of P50,000.00 plus the costs of suit (Records, p. 27).
After the parties failed to arrive at an amicable settlement, the trial proceeded, and, In the instant case, however, there is reason to believe that there was malicious intent in
on July 26, 1990, the lower court rendered its decision the dispositive portion of which the filing of the complaint for carnapping. For one, Rosario's own testimony would reveal
reads: that, a day after the vehicle was taken, she was told by her aunt Zenaida Felipe and the
latter's neighbor Teofila Lucaria, that barangay official Frank Deuna and several armed
men took the jeep after informing Zenaida that said vehicle was used by George in hitting
or bumping Eduardo (tsn, p. 9, February 22, 1990). But, allegedly because her place was
96

far from Sangandaan, Rosario did not personally report the taking of the jeep to the police On the following day, Zenaida Felipe's son went to petitioner Rosario Lao and informed
precinct in the area, as advised by her employer Atty. Javellana (tsn, pp. 4 and 9, her of what happened (testimony of Zenaida Felipe, on p. 10, tsn 2 February 1990;
Ibid.). Nor did Rosario bother to verify from Frank what actually happened and where the testimony of Rosario Lao, on p. 3, tsn 22 February 1990). Petitioner Rosario Lao went to
vehicle was taken. Had Rosario only done so, she would have found out or discovered the house of her aunt, Zenaida Felipe, and inquired from the latter as well as from her
that her vehicle was with the Sangandaan Police Sub-station No. 8 for safekeeping. For neighbor, TEOFILA LUCARIA, who witnessed the incident, regarding the matter
another, how can Rosario validly claim that, prior to her filing of the complaint-affidavit for (testimony of Teofila Lucaria, on p. 7, tsn 9 February 1990 and p. 17, tsn 20 February
carnapping, she did not know the whereabouts of the vehicle when, according to her and 1990; testimony of Rosario Lao, on p. 4, tsn 22 February 1990).
Teofila's testimony, immediately after the incident Zenaida, Teofila and George went to the
Sangandaan Police Sub-station No. 8 to report what happened (tsn, p. 12, February 20, After discovering the circumstances of the forcible taking of her motor vehicle, petitioner
1990). For sure, the police officers at said police station would have told Zenaida, Teofila Rosario Lao sought the advice of her employer, Atty. Yolanda Q. Javellana, as to what to
or George that the vehicle was then in the custody of the police station and such do (testimony of Rosario Lao, on p. 4, tsn 22 February 1990). Atty. Javellana advised her
information would have been relayed to Rosario. to report the incident to the police as well as to the Anti-Capnapping (sic) Unit at Camp
Crame (testimony of Rosario Lao, Ibid.).
xxx
Petitioner Jorge Felipe, Jr. went to the Police Precinct at Sangandaan to file a complaint
True enough, a few days after the criminal complaint for frustrated homicide, which about the incident on the same day, however, PFC. AGUILAR refused to receive it unless
subsequently led to the filing of an information for attempted murder, was filed, upon the he was paid P1,500.00, prompting the filing a complaint against the latter (testimony of
instance of Eduardo, against George, Rosario immediately filed the aforementioned Teofila Lucaria, on pp. 12-13, tsn 20 February 1990; testimony of Rosario Lao, on p. 4, tsn
carnapping case. Undisputedly, even after Rosario was later able to verify that the 22 February 1990). Therefore, on 10 and 18 January 1989, petitioner Rosario Lao went to
Sangandaan Police Sub-station had possession of the vehicle which upon her motion was Camp Crame and filed her complaint with the Anti-Carnapping Task Force (testimony of
ordered by the Department of Justice to be brought to the Central Impounding Area of Rosario Lao, on pp. 4-5, tsn 22 February 1990; Exhibits "6" and "7").
Camp Crame where she was able to inspect the same, she did not take any action at all to
have the carnapping charge dropped or dismissed against Frank and Eduardo, albeit it The Anti-Carnapping Task Force issued an Alarm Sheet on 18 January 1989 (Exhibit "6-
was clear by then that they did not steal the vehicle. Experience tells us that this is not the B") as well as subpoenae addressed to PRIVATE RESPONDENT and EDUARDO
attitude of someone who had unintentionally accused an innocent person of a serious ANTONIO (testimony of Rosario Lao, on p. 5, tsn 22 February 1990), pursuant to which,
offense. On the contrary, such actuations of Rosario lend credence to the conclusion the latter filed counter-affidavits (testimony of Rosario Lao, on p. 6, tsn. Id.; Exhibits "8"
arrived at by the trial court that "the filing of the carnapping case against the plaintiff and "9"). PRIVATE RESPONDENT having alleged in his counter-affidavit that petitioner
(Frank) was nothing more than a malicious, fabricated and baseless charge concocted to Rosario Lao's motor vehicle was in the possession of Sub-Station No. 8, Sangandaan
harass plaintiff and to scare and deter Eduardo Antonio from pushing through with his Police Sub-Station, said petitioner's counsel filed a Motion for Production of Vehicle before
complaint for Attempted Murder against George Felipe, Jr., a cousin of Rosario Lao" State Prosecutor Evangeline S. Yuipco, who in turn issued an Order on 18 August 1989
[7]
(Decision p. 5). directing that said motor vehicle be turned-over to the Central Impounding Area, Camp
Crame, Quezon City (testimony of Rosario Lao, on pp. 6-7, tsn Id.; Exhibits "10" and "11").
We note that the version presented by petitioners totally ignores the foregoing facts It was only after said State Prosecutor had issued the Order aforementioned that
and glosses over the relevant antecedents leading to the taking into custody of the petitioner Rosario Lao was able to see her motor vehicle aforementioned at Camp Crame;
offending vehicle by the police. Petitioners assert that their evidence proved the following: however, it was already dilapidated and not in running condition (testimony of Rosario
Lao, on p. 7, tsn Id.; Exhibit "16"). Nevertheless, State Prosecutor Evangeline S. Yuipco
On 30 December 1988 at about 11 :00 o'clock in the evening, PRIVATE RESPONDENT, recommended that petitioner Rosario Lao's complaint be dismissed "for lack of evidence
armed with an armalite and accompanied by several other similarly armed persons sufficient to establish a probable cause against the respondents" therein (Exhibits "K", "K-
dressed in civilian clothes, went to the house of petitioner JORGE ("GEORGE") FELIPE, 1" to "K-3"). And, petitioner Rosario Lao having recovered her motor vehicle in question,
[8]
JR. at the interior of Himalayan Road, Barangay Pasong Tamo, Tandang Sora, Quezon she did not pursue her complaint with the Anti-Carnapping Task Force any more.
City, and despite the protest of ZENAIDA FELIPE, mother of said petitioner, forcibly took
therefrom the Toyota/Harabas motor vehicle belonging to petitioner ROSARIO LAO from Petitioners also contend that the factual findings of the trial court in the civil case are
[9]
the enclosure within the yard of said house where said vehicle was garaged (testimony of contrary to those of another trial court in Criminal Case No. Q-89-3436 where George
Zenaida Felipe, on pp. 6-8, tsn 2 February 1990; testimony of Teofila Lucaria, on pp. 5-7, Felipe, Jr. was charged with the attempted murder of Eduardo Antonio as a result of the
tsn 9 February 1990). PRIVATE RESPONDENT and his companions did not have any incident where the latter was hit by a jeep driven by the former. George Felipe, Jr. was
warrant or other document authorizing them to take said vehicle (testimony of PFC. Ely later acquitted of the charge on reasonable doubt.
Aguilar, on p. 14, tsn 19 January 1990; testimony of Franck Deuna, on p. 8, tsn 23
January 1990; testimony of Pat. Elpidio Bondad, Jr., on p. 7, tsn 1 February 1990; By this, petitioners make a flawed syllogism that since the acquittal of George Felipe,
testimony of Zenaida Felipe, on p. 9 tsn 2 February 1990), nor did they issue any receipt Jr. in Criminal Case No. Q-89-3436 meant that the jeep driven by him never hit Eduardo
after taking the same (testimony of Pat. Elpidio Bondad, Jr., on p. 13, tsn 1 February Antonio, respondent court's factual findings on petitioners' liability for malicious
1990; testimony of Zenaida Felipe, on p. 9, tsn 2 February 1990). prosecution have no basis at all. As noted by respondent appellate court:
97

x x x said [criminal] case has nothing to do with this case which is a damage suit for evidence presented by the parties below, even without the testimony of George Felipe, Jr.
malicious prosecution filed by appellee against the herein appellants [petitioners]. For preponderantly proved private respondent's cause of action.
[10]
sure, appellee is (sic) never a party to Crim. Case No. Q-89-3436.
Going to the merits of the case, petitioners contend that their complaint against
private respondent for violation of the anti-carnapping law was not malicious, fabricated,
Verily, Criminal Case No. Q-89-3436 is not on review before this Court. We thus and baseless as they were only exercising their lawful rights to seek redress for the
cannot consider the evidence presented by the parties and the trial court's findings in the alleged unlawful taking of petitioner Lao's motor vehicle by Frank Deuna and the police.
criminal case. What is pertinent here is that the quantum of evidence required in the civil
case a preponderance of evidence was established by the plaintiff below. The mere act of submitting a case to the authorities for prosecution does not make
[18]
one liable for malicious prosecution, for the law could not have meant to impose a
Contrary to petitioners' assertion, there is no showing that the trial court judge was [19]
penalty on the right to litigate. To constitute malicious prosecution and hold defendant
biased against them. We agree with respondent appellate court's observation on this liable, there must be proof that the prosecution was prompted by a sinister design to vex
point, to wit: and humiliate a person and that the prosecution was initiated with the deliberate
[20]
knowledge that the charge was false and baseless.
It is quite unfortunate that in their brief, appellants went beyond the merits of the case and
imputed serious accusations of bias and prejudice on the part of the judge of the court a We find no reversible error in the conclusion of respondent appellate court that there
[21]
quo. If these accusations were true, appellants were not then without any remedy. They was malicious intent in the filing of the complaint for carnapping. The elements of
could have easily have moved for the disqualification of the judge or, at least, asked him malice and absence of probable cause are present in the instant case.
to inhibit himself from hearing the case at the earliest possible opportunity during the Petitioner Rosario Lao knew that private respondent, with policemen, had taken the
trial. Apparently, appellants' charge against the presiding judge is nothing but a desperate vehicle to the Sangandaan police station after the traffic incident. As pointed out by
[11]
last-ditch effort to salvage the case decided against their favor. respondent appellate court, Rosario cannot validly claim that, prior to the filing of the
[22]
complaint-affidavit for carnapping, she did not know the whereabouts of the vehicle.
Petitioners raised the trial court judge's alleged bias for the first time only on appeal
before respondent Court of Appeals, on the assertion that "experience had taught counsel That there was no probable cause for the filing of the carnapping charge against
for petitioners that such a move x x x would have been an exercise in futility since the private respondent led to the dismissal of the case filed by petitioners with the Anti-
same is addressed to the discretion of the very judge sought to be disqualified to inhibit Carnapping Task Force. The Prosecutor in the carnapping case ruled thus:
[12]
himself."
An assidious examination of the record reveals that the evidence is grossly insufficient to
The rule is that a petition to disqualify a judge must be filed before rendition of hold respondents liable for the crime of carnapping as charged. x x x
[13]
judgment by the judge. The petition should first be presented to the judge for his
[14]
determination; it cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. The rationale for this rule
is that a litigant cannot be permitted to speculate upon the action of the court and to raise xxx
[15]
an objection on this ground after a decision unfavorable to him has been rendered.
In the case at bar, there is no clear and convincing evidence of unlawful taking of the
Petitioners next contend that the affidavits they filed with the Anti-Carnapping Task motor vehicle by the respondents. In fact we are bound to concede with the claim of
Force at Camp Crame attesting to the circumstances of the alleged forcible taking of the respondents that it was the police officers who got the motor vehicle in question and
vehicle cannot be the basis of private respondent's cause of action for damages, because brought the same for safekeeping to the Sangandaan Sub-station No. 8, Quezon City.
they were privileged communication under Article 354 of the Revised Penal Code. This assertion finds support in the letter of P/Capt. Enrique M. Robles INP to the City
Petitioners' reliance on the rule of privileged communication is misplaced, this Fiscal of Quezon City dated January 4, 1988 stating that operatives of his unit brought the
defense being peculiar to actions for libel. Under the law on libel, allegations and motor vehicle in question and turned it over to the station for safekeeping. It is also shown
averments in pleadings are absolutely privileged as long as they are relevant or pertinent in the Excerpt of Entry appearing on Page 413 Complaint Book, Volume 10 of the
[16]
to the issues. This absolute privilege cannot preclude a damage suit for malicious Sangandaan Substation, Quezon City PS/NPD that:
prosecution, the basis of which is not defamatory imputation. A damage suit for malicious
prosecution seeks redress for the defendant's act of instituting a criminal prosecution or xxx
civil suit in bad faith and without probable cause.
Petitioners also claim that no adverse presumption may be made from the failure of Furthermore, investigation revealed that the said vehicle involved was brought to this Unit
petitioner George Felipe, Jr. to testify, as he was only exercising his right against self- by Pat. Bondad and P/P Maderazo upon request of complainant-victim to ensure the
incrimination, under Section 17, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that appearance of suspect who fled and left the vehicle after the incident.
"[n]o person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself."
Granting arguendo, that it is the respondents who got the motor vehicle but the fact
Petitioners' stance is without merit. George Felipe, Jr. did not take the stand to testify remains that it was turned over to the Sangandaan Sub-station in connection with the
on his own behalf nor was he called by private respondent to testify as an adverse charge of Frustrated Homicide against Jorge Felipe, Jr. Hence, clearly showing absence
[17]
witness. There was no occasion for him to invoke the privilege. Needless to say, the
98

of intent to gain which is an essential element of the crime charged. There is also evident Defendant Ester S. Garcia (ESG) — Ano ba ang nangyari sa 'yo, nakalimot ka na
[23]
absence of criminal intent to sustain the charge of carnapping x x x kung paano ka napunta rito, porke member ka na, magsumbong ka kung ano
ang gagawin ko sa 'yo.
In sum, we find no reversible error on the part of respondent appellate court in
affirming the trial court's judgment holding petitioners liable in damages for the malicious CHUCHI — Kasi, naka duty ako noon.
prosecution of private respondent.
WHEREFORE, considering the foregoing, the decision of the Court of Appeals in ESG — Tapos iniwan no. (Sic)
CA-G.R. CV No. 28002 is AFFIRMED.
CHUCHI — Hindi m'am, pero ilan beses na nila akong binalikan, sabing ganoon
SO ORDERED. —
Padilla, Bellosillo, and Vitug, JJ., concur.
Hermosisima, Jr., J., on leave. ESG — Ito and (sic) masasabi ko sa 'yo, ayaw kung (sic) mag explain ka, kasi
hanggang 10:00 p.m., kinabukasan hindi ka na pumasok. Ngayon ako ang
babalik sa 'yo, nag-aaply ka sa States, nag-aaply ka sa review mo, kung
kakailanganin ang certification mo, kalimutan mo na kasi hindi ka sa akin
makakahingi.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT CHUCHI — Hindi M'am. Kasi ang ano ko talaga noon i-cocontinue ko up to 10:00
Manila p.m.

FIRST DIVISION ESG — Bastos ka, nakalimutan mo na kung paano ka pumasok dito sa hotel.
Magsumbong ka sa Union kung gusto mo. Nakalimutan mo na kung paano ka
nakapasok dito "Do you think that on your own makakapasok ka kung hindi ako.
Panunumbyoyan na kita (Sinusumbatan na kita).
G.R. No. 93833 September 28, 1995
CHUCHI — Itutuloy ko na M'am sana ang duty ko.
SOCORRO D. RAMIREZ, petitioner,
vs. ESG — Kaso ilang beses na akong binabalikan doon ng mga no (sic) ko.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and ESTER S. GARCIA, respondents.
ESG — Nakalimutan mo na ba kung paano ka pumasok sa hotel, kung on your
own merit alam ko naman kung gaano ka "ka bobo" mo. Marami ang nag-aaply
alam kong hindi ka papasa.
KAPUNAN, J.:
CHUCHI — Kumuha kami ng exam noon.
A civil case damages was filed by petitioner Socorro D. Ramirez in the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City alleging that the private respondent, Ester S. Garcia, in a ESG — Oo, pero hindi ka papasa.
confrontation in the latter's office, allegedly vexed, insulted and humiliated her in a "hostile
and furious mood" and in a manner offensive to petitioner's dignity and personality," CHUCHI — Eh, bakit ako ang nakuha ni Dr. Tamayo
1
contrary to morals, good customs and public policy."
ESG — Kukunin ka kasi ako.
In support of her claim, petitioner produced a verbatim transcript of the event and sought
moral damages, attorney's fees and other expenses of litigation in the amount of CHUCHI — Eh, di sana —
P610,000.00, in addition to costs, interests and other reliefs awardable at the trial court's
discretion. The transcript on which the civil case was based was culled from a tape
2
recording of the confrontation made by petitioner. The transcript reads as follows: ESG — Huwag mong ipagmalaki na may utak ka kasi wala kang utak. Akala mo
ba makukuha ka dito kung hindi ako.
Plaintiff Soccoro D. Ramirez (Chuchi) — Good Afternoon M'am.
CHUCHI — Mag-eexplain ako.
99

ESG — Huwag na, hindi ako mag-papa-explain sa 'yo, makaalala ka kung paano MARIANO M. CUNETA
ka puma-rito. "Putang-ina" sasabi-sabihin mo kamag-anak ng nanay at tatay mo Asst. City Fiscal
ang mga magulang ko.
Upon arraignment, in lieu of a plea, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash the Information on
ESG — Wala na akong pakialam, dahil nandito ka sa loob, nasa labas ka the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, particularly a violation of
puwede ka ng hindi pumasok, okey yan nasaloob ka umalis ka doon. R.A. 4200. In an order May 3, 1989, the trial court granted the Motion to Quash, agreeing
with petitioner that 1) the facts charged do not constitute an offense under R.A. 4200; and
CHUCHI — Kasi M'am, binbalikan ako ng mga taga Union. that 2) the violation punished by R.A. 4200 refers to a the taping of a communication by a
4
person other than a participant to the communication.

ESG — Nandiyan na rin ako, pero huwag mong kalimutan na hindi ka


makakapasok kung hindi ako. Kung hindi mo kinikilala yan okey lang sa akin, From the trial court's Order, the private respondent filed a Petition for Review
dahil tapos ka na. on Certiorari with this Court, which forthwith referred the case to the Court of Appeals in a
Resolution (by the First Division) of June 19, 1989.
CHUCHI — Ina-ano ko m'am na utang na loob.
On February 9, 1990, respondent Court of Appeals promulgated its assailed Decision
declaring the trial court's order of May 3, 1989 null and void, and holding that:
ESG — Huwag na lang, hindi mo utang na loob, kasi kung baga sa no,
nilapastangan mo ako.
[T]he allegations sufficiently constitute an offense punishable under
Section 1 of R.A. 4200. In thus quashing the information based on the
CHUCHI — Paano kita nilapastanganan? ground that the facts alleged do not constitute an offense, the
respondent judge acted in grave abuse of discretion correctible
5
ESG — Mabuti pa lumabas ka na. Hindi na ako makikipagusap sa 'yo. Lumabas by certiorari.
3
ka na. Magsumbong ka.
Consequently, on February 21, 1990, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration which
6
As a result of petitioner's recording of the event and alleging that the said act of respondent Court of Appeals denied in its Resolution dated June 19, 1990. Hence, the
secretly taping the confrontation was illegal, private respondent filed a criminal instant petition.
case before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City for violation of Republic Act
4200, entitled "An Act to prohibit and penalize wire tapping and other related 7
Petitioner vigorously argues, as her "main and principal issue" that the applicable
violations of private communication, and other purposes." An information provision of Republic Act 4200 does not apply to the taping of a private conversation by
charging petitioner of violation of the said Act, dated October 6, 1988 is quoted one of the parties to the conversation. She contends that the provision merely refers to the
herewith: unauthorized taping of a private conversation by a party other than those involved in the
8
communication. In relation to this, petitioner avers that the substance or content of the
INFORMATION conversation must be alleged in the Information, otherwise the facts charged would not
9
constitute a violation of R.A. 4200. Finally, petitioner agues that R.A. 4200 penalizes the
The Undersigned Assistant City Fiscal Accusses Socorro D. Ramirez of Violation taping of a "private communication," not a "private conversation" and that consequently,
of Republic Act No. 4200, committed as follows: her act of secretly taping her conversation with private respondent was not illegal under
10
the said act.

That on or about the 22nd day of February, 1988, in Pasay City Metro Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, the above-named We disagree.
accused, Socorro D. Ramirez not being authorized by Ester S. Garcia to record
the latter's conversation with said accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully First, legislative intent is determined principally from the language of a statute. Where the
and feloniously, with the use of a tape recorder secretly record the said language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the law is applied according to its
conversation and thereafter communicate in writing the contents of the said express terms, and interpretation would be resorted to only where a literal interpretation
11 12
recording to other person. would be either impossible or absurb or would lead to an injustice.

Contrary to law. Section 1 of R.A. 4200 entitled, " An Act to Prohibit and Penalized Wire Tapping and Other
Related Violations of Private Communication and Other Purposes," provides:
Pasay City, Metro Manila, September 16, 1988.
Sec. 1. It shall be unlawfull for any person, not being authorized by all
the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any
100

wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly Senator Tañada: I believe it is reasonable because it is not sporting to
overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by record the observation of one without his knowing it and then using it
using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or against him. It is not fair, it is not sportsmanlike. If the purpose; Your
detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise honor, is to record the intention of the parties. I believe that all the
described. parties should know that the observations are being recorded.

The aforestated provision clearly and unequivocally makes it illegal for any person, not Senator Padilla: This might reduce the utility of recorders.
authorized by all the parties to any private communication to secretly record such
communication by means of a tape recorder. The law makes no distinction as to whether Senator Tañada: Well no. For example, I was to say that in meetings of
the party sought to be penalized by the statute ought to be a party other than or different the board of directors where a tape recording is taken, there is no
from those involved in the private communication. The statute's intent to penalize all objection to this if all the parties know. It is but fair that the people
persons unauthorized to make such recording is underscored by the use of the qualifier whose remarks and observations are being made should know that the
"any". Consequently, as respondent Court of Appeals correctly concluded, "even a observations are being recorded.
(person) privy to a communication who records his private conversation with another
13
without the knowledge of the latter (will) qualify as a violator" under this provision of
R.A. 4200. Senator Padilla: Now, I can understand.

A perusal of the Senate Congressional Records, moreover, supports the respondent Senator Tañada: That is why when we take statements of persons, we
court's conclusion that in enacting R.A. 4200 our lawmakers indeed contemplated to make say: "Please be informed that whatever you say here may be used
illegal, unauthorized tape recording of private conversations or communications taken against you." That is fairness and that is what we demand. Now, in spite
either by the parties themselves or by third persons. Thus: of that warning, he makes damaging statements against his own
interest, well, he cannot complain any more. But if you are going to take
a recording of the observations and remarks of a person without him
xxx xxx xxx knowing that it is being taped or recorded, without him knowing that
what is being recorded may be used against him, I think it is unfair.
Senator Tañada: That qualified only "overhear".
xxx xxx xxx
Senator Padilla: So that when it is intercepted or recorded, the element
of secrecy would not appear to be material. Now, suppose, Your Honor, (Congression Record, Vol. III, No. 31, p. 584, March 12, 1964)
the recording is not made by all the parties but by some parties and
involved not criminal cases that would be mentioned under section 3 but
would cover, for example civil cases or special proceedings whereby a Senator Diokno: Do you understand, Mr. Senator, that under Section 1
recording is made not necessarily by all the parties but perhaps by of the bill as now worded, if a party secretly records a public speech, he
some in an effort to show the intent of the parties because the actuation would be penalized under Section 1? Because the speech is public, but
of the parties prior, simultaneous even subsequent to the contract or the the recording is done secretly.
act may be indicative of their intention. Suppose there is such a
recording, would you say, Your Honor, that the intention is to cover it Senator Tañada: Well, that particular aspect is not contemplated by the
within the purview of this bill or outside? bill. It is the communication between one person and another person —
not between a speaker and a public.
Senator Tañada: That is covered by the purview of this bill, Your Honor.
xxx xxx xxx
Senator Padilla: Even if the record should be used not in the
prosecution of offense but as evidence to be used in Civil Cases or (Congressional Record, Vol. III, No. 33, p. 626, March 12, 1964)
special proceedings?
xxx xxx xxx
Senator Tañada: That is right. This is a complete ban on tape recorded
conversations taken without the authorization of all the parties. The unambiguity of the express words of the provision, taken together with the above-
quoted deliberations from the Congressional Record, therefore plainly supports the view
Senator Padilla: Now, would that be reasonable, your Honor? held by the respondent court that the provision seeks to penalize even those privy to the
private communications. Where the law makes no distinctions, one does not distinguish.
101

Second, the nature of the conversations is immaterial to a violation of the statute. The WHEREFORE, because the law, as applied to the case at bench is clear and
substance of the same need not be specifically alleged in the information. What R.A. 4200 unambiguous and leaves us with no discretion, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The
penalizes are the acts of secretly overhearing, intercepting or recording private decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
communications by means of the devices enumerated therein. The mere allegation that an
individual made a secret recording of a private communication by means of a tape SO ORDERED.
recorder would suffice to constitute an offense under Section 1 of R.A. 4200. As the
Solicitor General pointed out in his COMMENT before the respondent court: "Nowhere (in
the said law) is it required that before one can be regarded as a violator, the nature of the Padilla, Davide, Jr. and Bellosillo JJ., concur.
14
conversation, as well as its communication to a third person should be professed."
Hermosisima, Jr., J., is on leave.
Finally, petitioner's contention that the phrase "private communication" in Section 1 of R.A.
4200 does not include "private conversations" narrows the ordinary meaning of the word
"communication" to a point of absurdity. The word communicate comes from the latin
word communicare, meaning "to share or to impart." In its ordinary signification,
communication connotes the act of sharing or imparting signification, communication
15
connotes the act of sharing or imparting, as in a conversation, or signifies the "process
by which meanings or thoughts are shared between individuals through a common system
16
of symbols (as language signs or gestures)" These definitions are broad enough to
include verbal or non-verbal, written or expressive communications of "meanings or
thoughts" which are likely to include the emotionally-charged exchange, on February 22,
1988, between petitioner and private respondent, in the privacy of the latter's office. Any
doubts about the legislative body's meaning of the phrase "private communication" are,
furthermore, put to rest by the fact that the terms "conversation" and "communication"
were interchangeably used by Senator Tañada in his Explanatory Note to the bill quoted
below:

It has been said that innocent people have nothing to fear from
their conversations being overheard. But this statement ignores the
usual nature of conversations as well the undeniable fact that most, if
not all, civilized people have some aspects of their lives they do not
wish to expose. Free conversationsare often characterized by
exaggerations, obscenity, agreeable falsehoods, and the expression of
anti-social desires of views not intended to be taken seriously. The right
to the privacy of communication, among others, has expressly been
assured by our Constitution. Needless to state here, the framers of our
Constitution must have recognized the nature of conversations between
individuals and the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings
and of his intellect. They must have known that part of the pleasures
and satisfactions of life are to be found in the unaudited, and free
exchange of communication between individuals — free from every
17
unjustifiable intrusion by whatever means.

18
In Gaanan vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, a case which dealt with the issue of
telephone wiretapping, we held that the use of a telephone extension for the purpose of
overhearing a private conversation without authorization did not violate R.A. 4200
because a telephone extension devise was neither among those "device(s) or
19
arrangement(s)" enumerated therein, following the principle that "penal statutes must be
20
construed strictly in favor of the accused." The instant case turns on a different note,
because the applicable facts and circumstances pointing to a violation of R.A. 4200 suffer
from no ambiguity, and the statute itself explicitly mentions the unauthorized "recording" of
private communications with the use of tape-recorders as among the acts punishable.