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Case Digest

Case: 57 Argoncillo Vs. People of the Philippines 292 SCRA 3B

G. R. No.: 18816

Date: July 10, 1998

Fact:

The petition was to review the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 15 by the Court
of Appeals. On August 1. 1990, an information was filed by the Provincial Fiscal of Capiz charging Johnson
Sugcang, Policarpio Umiten, Elvis Villar, Santiago Argoncillo, Richard Balbona and Efren Alvaro with illegal
fishing.

On May 7, 1990 at around 6:30 in the evening in the sea water of Barangay Basiao, Ivisan, Capiz,
Philippines and within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above mentioned names were accused
of conspiring, confederating and helping one another willfully, unlawfully and feloniously catch, take,
gather and have in their possession and control different species of fish with the use of explosives.

However, the prosecution have failed to provide with enough evidence to prove beyond
reasonable doubt the conviction and guilt of Johnson Sugcang and Elvis Villar thus dismissing the case
against them but were able to convict Policarpio Umiten, Santiago Argoncillo and Richard Balbona through
their testimonies and testimonies of relevant experts from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
from the samples taken from the fished caught by the accused and from the identification of the Barangay
Captain himself.

The lower court sentenced the accused to suffer straight penalty of twenty (20) years
imprisonment for the crime of illegal fishing with the use of explosives punishable under section 33 in
relation to section 38 of Presidential Decree No. 704 dated May 16, 1975 as amended by the Presidential
Decree No. 1058 dated December 1, 1976. The bail bond for provisional liberty was also set to Twenty
Thousand (Php 20,00.00)

Issue:

Whether or not the penalties imposed in this case was appropriate.

Ruling:

Yes, the proper penalty to be imposed upon the accused should be an indeterminate penalty.
Thus, the petition was dismissed and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court with
modification. The penalty imposed by law for illegal fishing with explosives is actually imprisonment
ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment. The Indeterminate Sentence Law provides that if, as in this
case, the offense is punished by a law other than the Revised Penal Code, the court shall sentence the
accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not exceed the maximum fixed
by the said law and the minimum shall not be less than the minimum term prescribed by the same.