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Criminal Due Process:

FRANCISCO S. TATAD, petitioner,


vs.
THE SANDIGANBAYAN, and THE TANODBAYAN, respondents.

YAP, J.:
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition, with preliminary injunction, dated October 16, 1985,
petitioner seeks to annul and set aside the resolution of the Tanodbayan of April 7, 1985, and the
resolutions of the Sandiganbayan, dated August 9, 1985, August 12,1985 and September 17, 1985, and
to enjoin the Tanodbayan and the Sandiganbayan from continuing with the trial or any other
proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503, an entitled "People of the
Philippines versus Francisco S. Tatad."
The petition alleges, among other things, that sometime in October 1974, Antonio de los Reyes, former
Head Executive Assistant of the then Department of Public Information (DPI) and Assistant Officer-in-
Charge of the Bureau of Broadcasts, filed a formal report with the Legal Panel, Presidential Security
Command (PSC), charging petitioner, who was then Secretary and Head of the Department of Public
Information, with alleged violations of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act. Apparently, no action was taken on said report.
Then, in October 1979, or five years later, it became publicly known that petitioner had submitted his
resignation as Minister of Public Information, and two months after, or on December 12, 1979, Antonio
de los Reyes filed a complaint with the Tanodbayan (TBP Case No. 8005-16-07) against the petitioner,
accusing him of graft and corrupt practices in the conduct of his office as then Secretary of Public
Information. The complaint repeated the charges embodied in the previous report filed by complainant
before the Legal Panel, Presidential Security Command (PSC).
On January 26, 1980, the resignation of petitioner was accepted by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. On
April 1, 1980, the Tanodbayan referred the complaint of Antonio de los Reyes to the Criminal
Investigation Service (CIS) for fact-finding investigation. On June 16, 1980, Roberto P. Dizon, CIS
Investigator of the Investigation and Legal Panel, PSC, submitted his Investigation Report, with the
following conclusion, ". . . evidence gathered indicates that former Min. TATAD have violated Sec. 3
(e) and Sec. 7 of RA 3019, respectively. On the other hand, Mr. ANTONIO L. CANTERO is also liable
under Sec. 5 of RA 3019," and recommended appropriate legal action on the matter.
Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint against him, claiming immunity from prosecution by virtue
of PD 1791, but the motion was denied on July 26, 1982 and his motion for reconsideration was also
denied on October 5, 1982. On October 25, 1982, all affidavits and counter-affidavits were with the
Tanodbayan for final disposition. On July 5, 1985, the Tanodbayan approved a resolution, dated April
1, 1985, prepared by Special Prosecutor Marina Buzon, recommending that the following informations
be filed against petitioner before the Sandiganbayan, to wit:
l. Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of RA. 3019 for giving D' Group, a private
corporation controlled by his brother-in-law, unwarranted benefits, advantage or
preference in the discharge of his official functions through manifest partiality and
evident bad faith;
2. Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b) of RA. 3019 for receiving a check of
P125,000.00 from Roberto Vallar, President/General Manager of Amity Trading
Corporation as consideration for the release of a check of P588,000.00 to said
corporation for printing services rendered for the Constitutional Convention Referendum
in 1973;
3. Violation of Section 7 of RA. 3019 on three (3) counts for his failure to file his
Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the calendar years 1973, 1976 and 1978.
Accordingly, on June 12, 1985, the following informations were flied with the Sandiganbayan against
the petitioner:
Re: Criminal Case No. 10499
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses Francisco S. Tatad with
Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the 16th day of July, 1973 in the City of Manila, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- named accused, being then the
Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of Public Information, did then and there,
wilfully and unlawfully demand and receive a check for Pl25,000.00 from Roberto
Vallar, President/General Manager of Amity Trading Corporation as consideration for
the payment to said Corporation of the sum of P588,000.00, for printing services
rendered for the Constitutional Convention Referendum of January, 1973, wherein the
accused in his official capacity had to intervene under the law in the release of the funds
for said project.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office of the
Tanodbayan on May 16, 1980.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Re: Criminal Case No. 10500
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. TATAD with
Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practice Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the 31st day of January, 1974 in the City of Manila, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- named accused, a public
officer being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of Public Information,
did then and there wilfully and unlawfully fail to prepare and file with the Office of the
President, a true detailed and sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of
December 31, 1973, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the
amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for
the next preceding calendar year (1973), as required of every public officer.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was flied with the Office of the
Tanodbayan on June 20, 1980.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Re: Criminal Case No. 10501
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. TATAD with
Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the month of May, 1975 and for sometime prior thereto, in the City of
Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, a public officer being then the Secretary of the Department (now
Ministry) of Public Information, did then and there, wilfully and unlawfully give
Marketing Communication Group, Inc. (D' Group), a private corporation of which his
brother-in-law, Antonio L. Cantero, is the President, unwarranted benefits, advantage or
preference in the discharge of his official functions, through manifest partiality and
evident bad faith, by allowing the transfer of D' GROUP of the funds, assets and
ownership of South East Asia Research Corporation (SEARCH), allegedly a private
corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Corporation on June 4, 1973,
but whose organization and operating expenses came from the confidential funds of the
Department of Public Information as it was organized to undertake research, projects for
the government, without requiring an accounting of the funds advanced by the
Department of Public Information and reimbursement thereof by D' GROUP, to the
damage and prejudice of the government.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office of the
Tanodbayan on May 16, 1980.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Re: Criminal Case No. 10502
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. TATAD with
Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the 31st day of January, 1977 in the City of Manila, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public
officer being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of Public Information,
did then and there wilfully and unlawfully fail to prepare and file with the Office of the
President, a true and sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of December 31,
1976, including a statement of the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the
amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year (1976), as required of
every public officer.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office of the
Tanodbayan on June 20, 1988.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Re: Criminal Case No. 10503
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. TATAD with
Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the 15th day of April, 1979, in the City of Manila Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public
officer being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of Public Information,
did then and there wilfully and unlawfully fail to prepare and file with the Office of the
President, a true, detailed and sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of
December 31, 1978, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the
amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for
the next preceding calendar year (1978), as required of every public officer.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office of the
Tanodbayan on June 20, 1980.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
On July 22, 1985, petitioner filed with the Sandiganbayan a consolidated motion to quash the
informations on the follow grounds:
1 The prosecution deprived accused-movant of due process of law and of the right to a
speedy disposition of the cases filed against him, amounting to loss of jurisdiction to file
the informations;
2. Prescription of the offenses charged in Crim. Case Nos. 10499, 10500 and 10501;
3. The facts charged in Criminal Case No. 10500 (for failure to file Statement of Assets
and Liabilities for the year 1973) do not constitute an offense;
4. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Cases Nos. 10500,
10502 and 10503;
5. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Case No. 10199
for Violation of Sec. 3, par. (b) of R.A. 3019, as amended;
6. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Case No. 10501
(for Violation of Sec. 3 (e) of R.A. 3019, as amended.
On July 26, 1985, the Tanodbayan filed its opposition to petitioner's consolidated motion to quash,
stating therein in particular that there were only two grounds in said motion that needed refutation,
namely:
1. The offense charged in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499,10500 and 10501, have already
prescribed and criminal liability is extinguished; and
2. The facts charged in the information (Criminal Case No. 10500 — For failure to file
Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1973) do not constitute an offense.
On the issue of prescription, Tanodbayan citing the case of Francisco vs. Court of Appeals, 122 SCRA
538, contended that the filing of the complaint or denuncia in the fiscal's office interrupts the period of
prescription. Since the above-numbered cases were filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan in 1980 and
the alleged offenses were committed on July 16, 1973, January 31, 1974 and in May 1975, respectively,
although the charges were actually filed in Court only on July 9, 1985, the Tanodbayan has still the
right to prosecute the same, it appearing that the ten (10) year prescriptive period has not yet lapsed.
Moreover, Tanodbayan pointed out that a law such as Batas Pambansa Blg. 195, extending the period
of limitation with respect to criminal prosecution, unless the right to acquittal has been acquired, is
constitutional.
Tanodbayan likewise said that the requirement for the filing of the Statement of Assets and Liabilities
in P.D. 379 is separate and distinct from that required pursuant to the provisions of the Anti-Graft Law,
as amended. For while the former requires "any natural or juridical person having gross assets of
P50,000.00 or more..." to submit a statement of assets and liabilities "... regardless of the networth," the
mandate in the latter law is for ALL government employees and officials to submit a statement of assets
and liabilities. Hence, the prosecution under these two laws are separate and distinct from each other.
Tanodbayan also explained that delay in the conduct of preliminary investigation does not impair the
validity of the informations filed and that neither will it render said informations defective. Finally,
Tanodbayan added that P.D. 911, the law which governs preliminary investigations is merely directory
insofar as it fixes a period of ten (10) days from its termination to resolve the preliminary investigation.
On August 9, 1985, the Sandiganbayan rendered its challenged resolution denying petitioner's motion
to quash, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, prescinding therefrom, We find, and so hold, that the accused's
"Consolidated Motion to Quash" should be as it is hereby, denied for lack of merit.
Conformably to Rule 117, Section 4 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, the defect
in the information in Criminal Case No. 10500 being one which could be cured by
amendment, the Tanodbayan is hereby directed to amend said information to change the
date of the alleged commission of the offense therein charged from January 31,
1974 to September 30, 1974 within five (5) days from receipt hereof.
SO ORDERED.
On August 10, 1985, in compliance with the Sandiganbayan's resolution of August 8, 1985, the
Tanodbayan filed an amended information in Criminal Case No. 10500, changing the date of the
commission of the offense to September 30, 1974.
On August 30, 1985, petitioners filed a consolidated motion for reconsideration which was denied by
the Sandiganbayan September 17, 1985. Hence, petitioner filed this petition on October 16, 1985
assailing the denial of his motion to quash. On October 22, 1985, the Court, without giving due course
the petition, resolved to require the respondents to comment thereon and issued a temporary restraining
order effective immediately and continuing until further orders of the Court, enjoining the respondents
Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan from continuing with the trial and other proceedings in Criminal Cases
Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503. In compliance with said resolution, the respondents,
through ,Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, filed their comment on January 6, 1986.
On April 10, 1986, the Court required the parties to move in the premises considering the supervening
events, including the change of administration that had transpired, and the provisions of Sec. 18, Rule 3
of the Rules of Court, insofar far as the Public respondents were concerned, which requires the
successor official to state whether or not he maintains the action or position taken by his predecessor in
office. On June 20, 1986, the new Tanodbayan manifested that since "the charges are not political
offenses and they have no political bearing whatsoever," he had no alternative but to pursue the cases
against the petitioner, should the Court resolve to deny the petition; that in any event, petitioner is not
precluded from pursuing any other legal remedies under the law, such as the filing of a motion for re-
evaluation of his cases with the Tanodbayan. The new Solicitor General filed a manifestation dated
June 27, 1986 in which he concurred with the position taken by the new Tanodbayan.
Pursuant to the above manifestation of the new Tanodbayan, the petitioner filed a motion for re-
evaluation with the Office of the Tanodbayan, dated July 21, 1986, praying that the cases in question be
re-evaluated and the informations be quashed. The Court is not aware of what action, if any, has been
taken thereon by the Tanodbayan. However, be that as it may, the filing of the aforesaid motion for re-
evaluation with the Tanodbayan has no material bearing insofar as the duty of this Court to resolve the
issues raised in the instant petition is concerned.
Petitioner has raised the following issues in his petition:
1. Whether the prosecution's long delay in the filing of these cases with the
Sandiganbayan had deprived petitioner of his constitutional light to due process and the
right to a speedy disposition of the cases against him.
2. Whether the crimes charged has already prescribed.
3. Whether there is a discriminatory prosecution of the petitioner by the Tanodbayan.
4. Whether Sandiganbayan should have ruled on the question of amnesty raised by the
petitioner.
5. Whether petitioner's contention of the supposed lack or non- existence of prima
facie evidence to sustain the filing of the cases at bar justifies the quashal of the
questioned informations.
Petitioner claims that the Tanodbayan culpably violated the constitutional mandate of "due process"
and "speedy disposition of cases" in unduly prolonging the termination of the preliminary investigation
and in filing the corresponding informations only after more than a decade from the alleged
commission of the purported offenses, which amounted to loss of jurisdiction and authority to file the
informations. The respondent Sandiganbayan dismissed petitioner's contention, saying that the
applicability of the authorities cited by him to the case at bar was "nebulous;" that it would be
premature for the court to grant the "radical relief" prayed for by petitioner at this stage of the
proceeding; that the mere allegations of "undue delay" do not suffice to justify acceptance thereof
without any showing "as to the supposed lack or omission of any alleged procedural right granted or
allowed to the respondent accused by law or administrative fiat" or in the absence of "indubitable proof
of any irregularity or abuse" committed by the Tanodbayan in the conduct of the preliminary
investigation; that such facts and circumstances as would establish petitioner's claim of denial of due
process and other constitutionally guaranteed rights could be presented and more fully threshed out at
the trial. Said the Sandiganbayan:
That there was a hiatus in the proceedings between the alleged termination of the
proceedings before the investigating fiscal on October 25, 1982 and its resolution on
April 17, 1985 could have been due to certain factors which do not appear on record and
which both parties did not bother to explain or elaborate upon in detail. It could even be
logically inferred that the delay may be due to a painstaking an gruelling scrutiny by
the Tanodbayan as to whether the evidence presented during the preliminary
investigation merited prosecution of a former high-ranking government official. In this
respect, We are the considered opinion that the provision of Pres. Decree No. 911, as
amended, regarding the resolution of a complaint by the Tanodbayan within ten (10)
days from termination of the preliminary investigation is merely "directory" in nature, in
view of the nature and extent of the proceedings in said office.
The statutory grounds for the quashal of an information are clearly set forth in concise
language in Rule 117, Section 2, of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure and no other
grounds for quashal may be entertained by the Court prior to arraignment inasmuch as it
would be itself remiss in the performance of its official functions and subject to the
charge that it has gravely abused its discretion. Such facts and circumstances which
could otherwise justify the dismissal of the case, such as failure on the part of the
prosecution to comply with due process or any other constitutionally-guaranteed rights
may presented during the trial wherein evidence for and against the issue involved may
be fully threshed out and considered. Regrettably, the accused herein attempts to have
the Court grant such a radical relief during this stage of the proceedings which precludes
a pre-cocious or summary evaluation of insufficient evidence in support thereof.
This brings us to the crux of the issue at hand. Was petitioner deprived of his constitutional right to due
process and the right to "speedy disposition" of the cases against him as guaranteed by the
Constitution? May the court, ostrich like, bury its head in the sand, as it were, at the initial stage of the
proceedings and wait to resolve the issue only after the trial?
In a number of cases, 1 this Court has not hesitated to grant the so-called "radical relief" and to spare
the accused from undergoing the rigors and expense of a full-blown trial where it is clear that he has
been deprived of due process of law or other constitutionally guaranteed rights. Of course, it goes
without saying that in the application of the doctrine enunciated in those cases, particular regard must
be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.
Coming to the case at bar, the following relevant facts appear on record and are largely undisputed. The
complainant, Antonio de los Reyes, originally filed what he termed "a report" with the Legal Panel of
the Presidential Security Command (PSC) on October 1974, containing charges of alleged violations of
Rep. Act No. 3019 against then Secretary of Public Information Francisco S. Tatad. The "report" was
made to "sleep" in the office of the PSC until the end of 1979 when it became widely known that
Secretary (then Minister) Tatad had a falling out with President Marcos and had resigned from the
Cabinet. On December 12, 1979, the 1974 complaint was resurrected in the form of a formal complaint
filed with the Tanodbayan and docketed as TBP Case No. 8005-16-07. The Tanodbayan acted on the
complaint on April 1, 1980-which was around two months after petitioner Tatad's resignation was
accepted by Pres. Marcos — by referring the complaint to the CIS, Presidential Security Command, for
investigation and report. On June 16, 1980, the CIS report was submitted to the Tanodbayan,
recommending the filing of charges for graft and corrupt practices against former Minister Tatad and
Antonio L. Cantero. By October 25, 1982, all affidavits and counter-affidavits were in the case was
already for disposition by the Tanodbayan. However, it was only on July 5, 1985 that a resolution was
approved by the Tanodbayan, recommending the ring of the corresponding criminal informations
against the accused Francisco Tatad. Five (5) criminal informations were filed with the Sandiganbayan
on June 12, 1985, all against petitioner Tatad alone.
A painstaking review of the facts can not but leave the impression that political motivations played a
vital role in activating and propelling the prosecutorial process in this case. Firstly, the complaint came
to life, as it were, only after petitioner Tatad had a falling out with President Marcos. Secondly,
departing from established procedures prescribed by law for preliminary investigation, which require
the submission of affidavits and counter-affidavits by the complainant and the respondent and their
witnesses, the Tanodbayan referred the complaint to the Presidential Security Command for finding
investigation and report.
We find such blatant departure from the established procedure as a dubious, but revealing attempt to
involve an office directly under the President in the prosecutorial process, lending credence to the
suspicion that the prosecution was politically motivated. We cannot emphasize too strongly that
prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid, giving the impression that their noble office is being
used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends or other purposes alien to, or subversive
of, the basic and fundamental objective of serving the interest of justice even handedly, without fear or
favor to any and all litigants alike, whether rich or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty. Only by
strict adherence to the established procedure may the public's perception of the of the prosecutor be
enhanced.
Moreover, the long delay in resolving the case under preliminary investigation can not be justified on
the basis of the facts on record. The law (P.D. No. 911) prescribes a ten-day period for the prosecutor to
resolve a case under preliminary investigation by him from its termination. While we agree with the
respondent court that this period fixed by law is merely "directory," yet, on the other hand, it can not be
disregarded or ignored completely, with absolute impunity. It certainly can not be assumed that the law
has included a provision that is deliberately intended to become meaningless and to be treated as a dead
letter.
We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation by the Tanodbayan in the
instant case to be violative of the constitutional right of the accused to due process. Substantial
adherence to the requirements of the law governing the conduct of preliminary investigation, including
substantial compliance with the time limitation prescribed by the law for the resolution of the case by
the prosecutor, is part of the procedural due process constitutionally guaranteed by the fundamental
law. Not only under the broad umbrella of the due process clause, but under the constitutional
guarantee of "speedy disposition" of cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Rights (both in the
1973 and the 1987 Constitutions), the inordinate delay is violative of the petitioner's constitutional
rights. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be deemed reasonable or justifiable in the light of the
circumstance obtaining in the case at bar. We are not impressed by the attempt of the Sandiganbayan to
sanitize the long delay by indulging in the speculative assumption that "the delay may be due to a
painstaking and gruelling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan as to whether the evidence presented during the
preliminary investigation merited prosecution of a former high ranking government official." In the
first place, such a statement suggests a double standard of treatment, which must be emphatically
rejected. Secondly, three out of the five charges against the petitioner were for his alleged failure to file
his sworn statement of assets and liabilities required by Republic Act No. 3019, which certainly did not
involve complicated legal and factual issues necessitating such "painstaking and gruelling scrutiny" as
would justify a delay of almost three years in terminating the preliminary investigation. The other two
charges relating to alleged bribery and alleged giving of unwarranted benefits to a relative, while
presenting more substantial legal and factual issues, certainly do not warrant or justify the period of
three years, which it took the Tanodbayan to resolve the case.
It has been suggested that the long delay in terminating the preliminary investigation should not be
deemed fatal, for even the complete absence of a preliminary investigation does not warrant dismissal
of the information. True-but the absence of a preliminary investigation can be corrected by giving the
accused such investigation. But an undue delay in the conduct of a preliminary investigation can not be
corrected, for until now, man has not yet invented a device for setting back time.
After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case, we are constrained to hold that the
inordinate delay in terminating the preliminary investigation and filing the information in the instant
case is violative of the constitutionally guaranteed right of the petitioner to due process and to a speedy
disposition of the cases against him. Accordingly, the informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499,
10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503 should be dismissed. In view of the foregoing, we find it unnecessary
to rule on the other issues raised by petitioner.
Accordingly, the Court Resolved to give due course to the petition and to grant the same. The
informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503, entitled "People of the
Philippines vs. Francisco S. Tatad" are hereby DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued on
October 22, 1985 is made permanent.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee, C.J., Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano,
Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 Salonga vs. Cruz Pano, et al., 134 SCRA 438; Mean vs. Argel, 115 SCRA 256; Yap vs.
Lutero, 105 Phil, 3007; People vs. Zulueta, 89 Phil. 880

Galman vs Sandiganbayan
RESOLUTION

TEEHANKEE, C.J.:
Last August 21st, our nation marked with solemnity and for the first time in freedom the third
anniversary of the treacherous assassination of foremost opposition leader former Senator Benigno
"Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. imprisoned for almost eight years since the imposition of martial law in September,
1972 by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, he was sentenced to death by firing squad by a military
tribunal for common offenses alleged to have been committed long before the declaration of martial
law and whose jurisdiction over him as a civilian entitled to trial by judicial process by civil courts he
repudiated. Ninoy pleaded in vain that the military tribunals are admittedly not courts but mere
instruments and subject to the control of the President as created by him under the General Orders
issued by him as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and that he had already
been publicly indicted and adjudged guilty by the President of the charges in a nationwide press
conference held on August 24, 1971 when he declared the evidence against Ninoy "not only strong but
overwhelming ." 1 This followed the Plaza Miranda bombing of August 21, 1971 of the proclamation
rally of the opposition Liberal Party candidates for the November, 1971 elections (when eight persons
were killed and practically all of the opposition candidates headed by Senator Jovito Salonga and many
more were seriously injured), and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus under
Proclamation No. 889 on August 23, 1971. The massacre was instantly attributed to the communists but
the truth has never been known. But the then President never filed the said charges against Ninoy in the
civil courts.
Ninoy Aquino was nevertheless thereafter allowed in May, 1980 to leave the country to undergo
successful heart surgery. After three years of exile and despite the regime's refusal to give him a
passport, he sought to return home "to strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice."
He was to be cold-bloodedly killed while under escort away by soldiers from his plane that had just
landed at the Manila International Airport on that fateful day at past 1 p.m. His brain was smashed by a
bullet fired point blank into the back of his head by a murderous assassin, notwithstanding that the
airport was ringed by airtight security of close to 2,000 soldiers and "from a military viewpoint, it (was)
technically impossible to get inside (such) a cordon." 2 The military investigators reported within a
span of three hours that the man who shot Aquino (whose identity was then supposed to be unknown
and was revealed only days later as Rolando Galman, although he was the personal friend of accused
Col. Arturo Custodio who picked him up from his house on August 17, 1983) was a communist-hired
gunman, and that the military escorts gunned him down in turn. The military later filmed a re-
enactment of the killing scripted according to this version and continuously replayed it on all TV
channels as if it were taken live on the spot. The then President instantly accepted the military version
and repeated it in a nationally televised press conference that he gave late in the evening of August 22,
1983, wherein he said, in order to induce disbelief that the military had a hand in the killing, that "if the
purpose was to eliminate Aquino, this was not the way to do it."
The national tragedy shocked the conscience of the entire nation and outraged the free world. The large
masses of people who joined in the ten-day period of national mourning and came out in millions in the
largest and most orderly public turnout for Ninoy's funeral reflected their grief for his martyrdom and
their yearning for the truth, justice and freedom.
The then President was constrained to create a Fact Finding Board 3 to investigate "the treacherous and
vicious assassination of former Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. on August 21, 1983 [which] has to all
Filipinos become a national tragedy and national shame specially because of the early distortions and
exaggerations in both foreign and local media 4 so that all right thinking and honest men desire to
ventilate the truth through fare, independent and dispassionate investigation by prestigious and free
investigators." After two false starts, 5 he finally constituted the Board 6 on October 22, 1983 which
held 125 hearing days commencing November 3, 1983 (including 3 hearings in Tokyo and 8 hearings
in Los Angeles, California) and heard the testimonies of 194 witnesses recorded in 20,377 pages of
transcripts, until the submission of their minority and majority reports to the President on October 23
and 24, 1984. This was to mark another first anywhere in the world wherein the minority report was
submitted one day ahead by the ponente thereof, the chairman, who was received congenially and
cordially by the then President who treated the report as if it were the majority report instead of a
minority report of one and forthwith referred it to respondent Tanodbayan "for final resolution through
the legal system" and for trial in the Sandiganbayan which was better known as a graft court; and the
majority report of the four other members was submitted on the following day to the then President
who coldly received them and could scarcely conceal his instant rejection of their report with the grim
statement that "I hope you can live with your conscience with what you have done."
The fact is that both majority and minority reports were one in rejecting the military version as
propounded by the chief investigator, respondent Gen. Olivas, that Rolando Galman was the NPA-hired
assassin, stating that "the evidence shows [to the contrary] that Rolando Galman had no subversive
affiliations." They were in agreement that "only the soldiers in the staircase with Sen. Aquino could
have shot him;" that Galman, the military's "fall guy" was "not the assassin of Sen. Aquino and that
"the SWAT troopers who gunned down Galman and the soldiers who escorted Sen. Aquino down the
service stairs, deliberately and in conspiracy with one another, gave a perjured story to us regarding the
alleged shooting by Galman of Sen. Aquino and the mowing down, in turn, of Galman himself;" in
short, that Ninoy's assassination was the product of a military conspiracy, not a communist plot The
only difference between the two reports is that the majority report found all the twenty-six private
respondents abovenamed in the title of the case headed by then AFP Chief General Fabian C. Ver
involved in the military conspiracy and therefore "indictable for the premeditated killing of Senator
Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. and Rolando Galman at the MIA on August 21, 1983;" while the chairman's
minority report would exclude nineteen of them and limit as plotters "the six persons who were on the
service stairs while Senator Aquino was descending" and "General Luther Custodio . . . because the
criminal plot could not have been planned and implemented without his intervention."
The chairman wrote in her minority report (somewhat prophetically) that "The epilogue to our work
lies in what will transpire in accordance with the action that the Office of the President may thereafter
direct to be taken. "The four-member majority report (also prophetically) wrote in the epilogue (after
warning the forces who adhere to an alien and intolerable political ideology against unscrupulously
using the report "to discredit our traditionally revered institutions"), that "the tragedy opened our eyes
and for the first time confirmed our worst fears of what unchecked evil would be capable of doing."
They wrote:
The task of the Board was clear and unequivocal. This task was not only to determine
the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of the late former Senator. Of greater
significance is the awesome responsibility of the Board to uphold righteousness over
evil, justice over injustice, rationality over irrationality, humaneness over inhumanity.
The task was indeed a painful test, the inevitable result of which will restore our
country's honored place among the sovereign nations of the free world where peace, law
and order, freedom, and justice are a way of life.
More than any other event in contemporary Philippine history, the killing of the late
former Senator Aquino has brought into sharper focus, the ills pervading Philippine
society. It was the concretization of the horror that has been haunting this country for
decades, routinely manifested by the breakdown of peace and order, economic
instability, subversion, graft and corruption, and an increasing number of abusive
elements in what are otherwise noble institutions in our country-the military and law
enforcement agencies. We are, however, convinced that, by and large, the great majority
of the officers and men of these institutions have remained decent and honorable,
dedicated to their noble mission in the service of our country and people.
The tragedy opened our eyes and for the first time confirmed our worst fears of what
unchecked evil would be capable of doing. As former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba
Eban observes. "Nobody who has great authority can be trusted not to go beyond its
proper limits." Social apathy, passivity and indifference and neglect have spawned in
secret a dark force that is bent on destroying the values held sacred by freedom-loving
people.
To assert our proper place in the civilized world, it is imperative that public officials
should regard public service as a reflection of human Ideals in which the highest sense
of moral values and integrity are strictly required.
A tragedy like that which happened on August 21, 1983, and the crisis that followed,
would have normally caused the resignation of the Chief of the Armed Forces in a
country where public office is viewed with highest esteem and respect and where the
moral responsibilities of public officials transcend all other considerations.
It is equally the fact that the then President through all his recorded public acts and statements from the
beginning disdained and rejected his own Board's above findings and insisted on the military version of
Galman being Ninoy's assassin. In upholding this view that "there is no involvement of anyone in his
government in the assassination," he told David Briscoe (then AP Manila Bureau Chief in a Radio-TV
interview on September 9, 1983 that "I am convinced that if any member of my government were
involved, I would have known somehow ... Even at a fairly low level, I would have known. I know
how they think. I know what they are thinking of." 7 He told CBS in another interview in May, 1984
(as his Fact Finding Board was holding its hearings) the following:
CBS: But indeed there has been recent evidence that seems to contradict
earlier reports, namely, the recent evidence seems to indicate that some of
the guards may have been responsible (for shooting Ninoy).
MARCOS: Well, you are of course wrong. What you have been reading
are the newspapers and the newspaper reports have been biased. The
evidence still proves that Galman was the killer. The evidence also shows
that there were intelligence reports connecting the communist party to the
killing. 8
In his reply of October 25, 1984 to General Ver's letter of the same date going on leave of absence upon
release of the Board's majority report implicating him, he wrote that "(W)e are even more aware,
general, that the circumstances under which the board has chosen to implicate you in its findings are
fraught with doubt and great contradictions of opinion and testimony. And we are deeply disturbed that
on the basis of so-called evidence, you have been so accused by some members of the Board," and
extended "My very best wishes to you and your family for a speedy resolution of your case," 9 even as
he announced that he would return the general to his position as AFP Chief "if he is acquitted by the
Sandiganbayan." In an interview on June 4, 1985 with the Gamma Photo Agency, as respondent court
was hearing the cases, he was quoted as saying that "as will probably be shown, those witnesses
(against the accused) are perjured witnesses." 10
It was against this setting that on November 11, 1985 petitioners Saturnina Galman and Reynaldo
Galman, mother and son, respectively, of the late Rolando Galman, and twenty-nine (29) other
petitioners, composed of three former Justices of this Court, five incumbent and former university
presidents, a former AFP Chief of Staff, outstanding members of the Philippine Bar and solid citizens
of the community, filed the present action alleging that respondents Tanodbayan and Sandiganbayan
committed serious irregularities constituting mistrial and resulting in miscarriage of justice and gross
violation of the constitutional rights of the petitioners and the sovereign people of the Philippines to
due process of law. They asserted that the Tanodbayan did not represent the interest of the people when
he failed to exert genuine and earnest efforts to present vital and important testimonial and
documentary evidence for the prosecution and that the Sandiganbayan Justices were biased, prejudiced
and partial in favor of the accused, and that their acts "clouded with the gravest doubts the sincerity of
government to find out the truth about the Aquino assassination." Petitioners prayed for the immediate
issuance of a temporary restraining order restraining the respondent Sandiganbayan from rendering a
decision on the merits in the pending criminal cases which it had scheduled on November 20, 1985 and
that judgment be rendered declaring a mistrial and nullifying the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan
and ordering a re-trial before an impartial tribunal by an unbiased prosecutor. 10-a
At the hearing on November 18, 1985 of petitioners' prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining
order enjoining respondent court from rendering a decision in the two criminal cases before it, the
Court resolved by nine-to-two votes 11 to issue the restraining order prayed for. The Court also granted
petitioners a five-day period to file a reply to respondents' separate comments and respondent
Tanodbayan a three-day period to submit a copy of his 84-page memorandum for the prosecution as
filed in the Sandiganbayan, the signature page of which alone had been submitted to the Court as
Annex 5 of his comment.
But ten days later on November 28, 1985, the Court by the same nine-to- two-vote ratio in
reverse, 12 resolved to dismiss the petition and to lift the temporary restraining order issued ten days
earlier enjoining the Sandiganbayan from rendering its decision. 13 The same Court majority denied
petitioners' motion for a new 5-day period counted from receipt of respondent Tanodbayan's
memorandum for the prosecution (which apparently was not served on them and which they alleged
was "very material to the question of his partiality, bias and prejudice" within which to file a
consolidated reply thereto and to respondents' separate comments, by an eight-to-three vote, with
Justice Gutierrez joining the dissenters. 14
On November 29, 1985, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, alleging that the dismissal did
not indicate the legal ground for such action and urging that the case be set for a full hearing on the
merits because if the charge of partiality and bias against the respondents and suppression of vital
evidence by the prosecution are proven, the petitioners would be entitled to the reliefs demanded: The
People are entitled to due process which requires an impartial tribunal and an unbiased prosecutor. If
the State is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and convict because certain material evidence is
suppressed by the prosecution and the tribunal is not impartial, then the entire proceedings would be
null and void. Petitioners prayed that the Sandiganbayan be restrained from promulgating their decision
as scheduled anew on December 2, 1985.
On December 5, 1985, the Court required the respondents to comment on the motion for
reconsideration but issued no restraining order. Thus, on December 2, 1985, as scheduled, respondent
Sandiganbayan issued its decision acquitting all the accused of the crime charged, declaring them
innocent and totally absolving them of any civil liability. This marked another unusual first in that
respondent Sandiganbayan in effect convicted the very victim Rolando Galman (who was not on trial)
as the assassin of Ninoy contrary to the very information and evidence submitted by the prosecution. In
opposition, respondents submitted that with the Sandiganbayan's verdict of acquittal, the instant case
had become moot and academic. On February 4, 1986, the same Court majority denied petitioners'
motion for reconsideration for lack of merit, with the writer and Justice Abad Santos maintaining our
dissent.
On March 20, 1986, petitioners filed their motion to admit their second motion for reconsideration
attached therewith. The thrust of the second motion for reconsideration was the startling and theretofore
unknown revelations of Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera as reported in the March 6, 1986 issue of
the Manila Times entitled "Aquino Trial a Sham," that the then President had ordered the respondents
Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan Bernardo Fernandez and the prosecution panel headed by Herrera to
whitewash the criminal cases against the 26 respondents accused and produce a verdict of acquittal.
On April 3, 1986, the Court granted the motion to admit the second motion for reconsideration and
ordered the respondents to comment thereon. 15
Respondent Tanodbayan Bernardo Fernandez stated in his Manifestation filed on April 11, 1986 that he
had ceased to hold office as Tanodbayan as of April 8, 1986 when he was replaced by the new
Tanodbayan, Raul M. Gonzales, but reiterating his position in his comment on the petition, he added
"relative to the reported alleged revelations of Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera, herein
respondent never succumbed to any alleged attempts to influence his actuations in the premises, having
instead successfully resisted perceived attempts to exert pressure to drop the case after preliminary
investigation, and actually ordered the filing and prosecution of the two (2) murder cases below against
herein private party respondents." He candidly admitted also in his memorandum: "There is not much
that need be said about the existence of pressure. That there were pressures can hardly be denied; in
fact, it has never been denied." 15-a He submitted that "even as he vehemently denies insinuations of
any direct or indirect complicity or participation in any alleged attempt to supposedly whitewash the
cases below, . . . should this Honorable Court find sufficient cause to justify the reopening and retrial of
the cases below, he would welcome such development so that any wrong that had been caused may be
righted and so that, at the very least the actuations of herein respondent in the premises may be
reviewed and reexamined, confident as he is that the end will show that he had done nothing in the
premises that violated his trust as Tanodbayan (Ombudsman)." New Tanodbayan Raul M. Gonzales in
his comment of April 14, 1986 "interposed no objection to the reopening of the trial of the cases . . . as,
in fact, he urged that the said cases be reopened in order that justice could take its course."
Respondents Justices of the Sandiganbayan First Division in their collective comment of April 9, 1986
stated that the trial of the criminal cases by them was valid and regular and decided on the basis of
evidence presented and the law applicable, but manifested that "if it is true that the former Tanodbayan
and the Deputy Tanodbayan, Chief of the Prosecution Panel, were pressured into suppressing vital
evidence which would probably alter the result of the trial, Answering Respondents would not
interpose any objection to the reopening of those cases, if only to allow justice to take its course."
Respondent Sandiganbayan Justice Bienvenido C. Vera Cruz, in a separate comment, asserted that he
passed no note to anyone; the note being bandied about is not in his handwriting; he had nothing to do
with the writing of the note or of any note of any kind intended for any lawyer of the defense or even of
the prosecution; and requested for an investigation by this Court to settle the note passing issue once
and for all.
Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera, in his comment of April 14, 1986 affirmed the allegations in the
second motion for reconsideration that he revealed that the Sandiganbayan Justices and Tanodbayan
prosecutors were ordered by Marcos to whitewash the Aquino-Galman murder case. He amplified his
revelations, as follows:
1. AB INITIO, A. VERDICT OF ACQUITTAL!
Incidents during the preliminary investigation showed ominous signs that the fate of the
criminal case on the death of Ex-Senator Benigno Aquino and Rolando Galman on
August 21, 1983 was doomed to an ignominous end. Malacanang wanted dismissal-to
the extent that a prepared resolution was sent to the Investigating Panel (composed of the
undersigned, Fiscals Ernesto Bernabe and Leonardo Tamayo) for signature. This, of
course, was resisted by the panel, and a resolution charging all the respondents as
principals was forwarded to the Tanodbayan on January 10, 1985.
2. MALACAÑANG CONFERENCE PLANNED SCENARIO OF TRIAL
At 6:00 p.m. of said date (January 10) Mr. Ferdinand E. Marcos (the former President)
summoned to Malacañang Justice Bernardo Fernandez (the Tanodbayan),
Sandiganbayan Justice Manuel Pamaran (the Presiding Justice) and an the members of
the Panel
Also present at the meeting were Justice Manuel Lazaro (the Coordinator) and Mrs.
Imelda R. Marcos, who left earlier, came back and left again. The former President had a
copy of the panel's signed resolution (charging all accused as principals), evidently
furnished him in advance, and with prepared notes on the contents thereof.
The former President started by vehemently maintaining that Galman shot Aquino at the
tarmac. Albeit initially the undersigned argued against the theory, to remain silent was
the more discreet posture when the former President became emotional (he was quite
sick then).
During a good part of the conference, the former President talked about Aquino and the
communists, lambasting the Agrava Board, specially the Legal Panel. Shifting to the
military he rumbled on such statements as: "It will be bloody . . . Gen. Ramos, though
close to me, is getting ambitious and poor Johnny does not know what to do". . . 'our
understanding with Gen. Ramos is that his stint is only temporary, but he is becoming
ambitious "the boys were frantic when they heard that they will be charged in court, and
wig be detained at city jail."
From outright dismissal, the sentiment veered towards a more pragmatic approach. The
former President more or less conceded that for political and legal reasons all the
respondents should be charged in court, Politically, as it will become evident that the
government was serious in pursuing the case towards its logical conclusion, and thereby
ease public demonstrations; on the other hand, legally, it was perceived that after (not IF)
they are acquitted, double jeopardy would inure. The former President ordered then that
the resolution be revised by categorizing the participation of each respondent.
In the matter of custody of the accused pendente lite the Coordinator was ordered to get
in touch with Gen. Narciso Cabrera, Gen. Vicente Eduardo and Director Jolly Bugarin to
put on record that they had no place in their respective institutions. The existence of PD
No. 1950 (giving custody to commanding officers of members of AFP charged in court)
was never mentioned.
It was decided that the presiding justice (First Division) would personally handle the
trial, and assurance was made by him that it would be finished in four to six months,
pointing out that, with the recent effectivity of the New Rules on Criminal Procedure,
the trial could be expedited.
Towards the end of the two-hour meeting and after the script had been tacitly mapped
out, the former President uttered: "Mag moro-moro na lang kayo."
The parting words of the former President were: "Thank you for your cooperation. I
know how to reciprocate."
While still in the palace grounds on the way out, the undersigned manifested his desire
to the Tanodbayan to resign from the panel, or even the office. This, as well as other
moves to this effect, had always been refused. Hoping that with sufficient evidence
sincerely and efficiently presented by the prosecution, all involves in the trial would be
conscience-pricked and realize the futility and injustice of proceeding in accordance
with the script, the undersigned opted to say on.
Herrera further added details on the "implementation of the script," such as the holding of a "make-
believe raffle" within 18 minutes of the filing of the Informations with the Sandiganbayan at noon of
January 23, 1985, while there were no members of the media; the installation of TV monitors directly
beamed to Malacanang; the installation of a "war room" occupied by the military; attempts to direct
and stifle witnesses for the prosecution; the suppression of the evidence that could be given by U.S.
Airforce men about the "scrambling" of Ninoy's plane; the suppression of rebuttal witnesses and the
bias and partiality of the Sandiganbayan; its cavalier disregard of his plea that it "should not decide
these cases on the merits without first making a final ruling on the Motion for Inhibition;" and the
Presiding Justice's over-kill with the declaration that "the Court finds all accused innocent of the crimes
charged in the two informations, and accordingly, they incur neither criminal nor civil liability," adding
that "in the almost twenty years that the undersigned has been the prosecutor in the sala of the
Presiding Justice this is the only occasion where civil liability is pronounced in a decision of acquittal.
" He "associated himself with the motion for reconsideration and likewise prayed that the proceedings
in the Sandiganbayan and its decision be declared null and void."
New Solicitor General Sedfrey Ordoñez' comment of April 25, 1986 submitted that a declaration of
mistrial will depend on the veracity of the evidence supportive of petitioners' claim of suppression of
evidence and collusion. He submitted that this would require reception of evidence by a Court-
appointed or designated commissioner or body of commissioners (as was done in G.R. No. 71316, Fr.
Romano case; and G.R. No. 61016, Morales case; and G.R. No. 70054, Banco Filipino case); and that
if petitioners' claim were substantiated, a reopening of the double murder case is proper to avoid a
miscarriage of justice since the verdict of acquittal would no longer be a valid basis for a double
jeopardy claim.
Respondents-accused opposed the second motion for reconsideration and prayed for its denial.
Respondent Olivas contended that the proper step for the government was to file a direct action to
annul the judgment of acquittal and at a regular trial present its evidence of collusion and pressures.
As a whole, all the other respondents raised the issue of double jeopardy, and invoked that the issues
had become moot and academic because of the rendition of the Sandiganbayan's judgment of acquittal
of all respondents- accused on December 2, 1985, with counsels for respondents Ver and Tigas, as well
as Olivas, further arguing that assuming that the judgment of acquittal is void for any reason, the
remedy is a direct action to annul the judgment where the burden of proof falls upon the plaintiff to
establish by clear, competent and convincing evidence the cause of the nullity.
After Petitioners had filed their consolidated reply, the Court resolved per its resolution of June 5, 1986
to appoint a three-member commission composed of retired Supreme Court Justice Conrado Vasquez,
chairman, and retired Intermediate Appellate Court Justices Milagros German and Eduardo Caguioa as
members, to hear and receive evidence, testimonial and documentary, of the charges of collusion and
pressures and relevant matters, upon prior notice to all parties, and to submit their findings to this Court
for proper disposition. The Commission conducted hearings on 19 days, starting on June 16, 1986 and
ending on July 16, 1986, On the said last day, respondents announced in open hearing that they decided
to forego the taking of the projected deposition of former President Marcos, as his testimony would be
merely corroborative of the testimonies of respondents Justice Pamaran and Tanodbayan Fernandez. On
July 31, 1986, it submitted its extensive 64-page Report 16 wherein it discussed fully the evidence
received by it and made a recapitulation of its findings in capsulized form, as follows:
1. The Office of the Tanodbayan, particularly Justice Fernandez and the Special
Investigating Panel composed of Justice Herrera, Fiscal Bernabe and Special Prosecutor
Tamayo, was originally of the view that all of the twenty-six (26) respondents named in
the Agrava Board majority report should all be charged as principals of the crime of
double murder for the death of Senator Benigno Aquino and Rolando Galman.
2. When Malacanang learned of the impending filing of the said charge before the
Sandiganbayan, the Special Investigating Panel having already prepared a draft
Resolution recommending such course of action, President Marcos summoned Justice
Fernandez, the tree members of the Special Investigating Panel, and justice Pamaran to a
conference in Malacanang in the early evening of January 10, 1985.
3. In said conference, President Marcos initially expressed his disagreement with the
recommendation of the Special Investigating Panel and disputed the findings of the
Agrava Board that it was not Galman who shot Benigno Aquino.
4. Later in the conference, however, President Marcos was convinced of the advisability
of filing the murder charge in court so that, after being acquitted as planned, the accused
may no longer be prosecuted in view of the doctrine of double jeopardy.
5. Presumably in order to be assured that not all of the accused would be denied bail
during the trial, considering that they would be charged with capital offenses, President
Marcos directed that the several accused be "categorized" so that some of them would
merely be charged as accomplices and accessories.
6. In addition to said directive, President Marcos ordered that the case be handled
personally by Justice Pamaran who should dispose of it in the earliest possible time.
7. The instructions given in the Malacanang conference were followed to the letter; and
compliance therewith manifested itself in several specific instances in the course of the
proceedings, such as, the changing of the resolution of the special investigating panel,
the filing of the case with the Sandiganbayan and its assignment to Justice Pamaran,
suppression of some vital evidence, harassment of witnesses, recantation of witneses
who gave adverse testimony before the Agrava Board, coaching of defense counsels, the
hasty trial, monitoring of proceedings, and even in the very decision rendered in the
case.
8. That that expression of President Marcos' desire as to how he wanted the Aquino-
Galman case to be handled and disposed of constituted sufficient pressure on those
involved in said task to comply with the same in the subsequent course of the
proceedings.
9. That while Justice Pamaran and Justice Fernandez manifested no revulsion against
complying with the Malacañang directive, justice Herrera played his role with
manifestly ambivalent feelings.
10. Sufficient evidence has been ventilated to show a scripted and pre-determined
manner of handling and disposing of the Aquino-Galman murder case, as stage-managed
from Malacañang and performed by willing dramatis personnae as well as by
recalcitrant ones whipped into line by the omnipresent influence of an authoritarian
ruler.
The Commission submitted the following recommendation.
Considering the existence of adequate credible evidence showing that the prosecution in
the Aquino-Galman case and the Justices who tried and decided the same acted under the
compulsion of some pressure which proved to be beyond their capacity to resist, and
which not only prevented the prosecution to fully ventilate its position and to offer all
the evidences which it could have otherwise presented, but also predetermined the final
outcome of the case, the Commission is of the considered thinking and belief, subject to
the better opinion and judgment of this Honorable Court that the proceedings in the said
case have been vitiated by lack of due process, and hereby respectfully recommends that
the prayer in the petition for a declaration of a mistrial in Sandiganbayan Cases Nos.
10010 and 10011 entitled "People vs. Luther Custodia et al.," be granted.
The Court per its Resolution of July 31, 1986 furnished all the parties with copies of the Report and
required them to submit their objections thereto. It thereafter heard the parties and their objections at
the hearing of August 26, 1986 and the matter was submitted for the Court's resolution.
The Court adopts and approves the Report and its findings and holds on the basis thereof and of the
evidence received and appreciated by the Commission and duly supported by the facts of public record
and knowledge set forth above and hereinafter, that the then President (code named Olympus) had
stage-managed in and from Malacanang Palace "a scripted and pre-determined manner of handling and
disposing of the Aquino-Galman murder case;" and that "the prosecution in the Aquino Galman case
and the Justices who tried and decided the same acted under the compulsion of some pressure which
proved to be beyond their capacity to resist', and which not only prevented the prosecution to fully
ventilate its position and to offer all the evidences which it could have otherwise presented, but also
pre-determined the final outcome of the case" of total absolution of the twenty-six respondents accused
of all criminal and civil liability.
The Court finds that the Commission's Report (incorporated herein by reference) and findings and
conclusions are duly substantiated by the evidence and facts of public record. Composed of
distinguished members of proven integrity with a combined total of 141 years of experience in the
practice of law (55 years) and in the prosecutoral and judicial services (86 years in the trial and
appellate courts), experts at sifting the chaff from the grain, 17 the Commission properly appraised the
evidences presented and denials made by public respondents, thus:
The desire of President Marcos to have the Aquino-Galman case disposed of in a manner
suitable to his purposes was quite understandable and was but to be expected. The case
had stirred unprecedented public outcry and wide international attention. Not invariably,
the finger of suspicion pointed to those then in power who supposedly had the means
and the most compelling motive to eliminate Senator Aquino. A day or so after the
assassination, President Marcos came up with a public statement aired over television
that Senator Aquino was killed not by his military escorts, but by a communist hired
gun. It was, therefore, not a source of wonder that President Marcos would want the case
disposed of in a manner consistent with his announced theory thereof which, at the same
time, would clear his name and his administration of any suspected guilty participation
in the assassination.
The calling of the conference was undoubtedly to accomplish this purpose. . . .
President Marcos made no bones to conceal his purpose for calling them. From the start,
he expressed irritation and displeasure at the recommendation of the investigating panel
to charge all of the twenty-six (26) respondents as principals of the crime of double
murder. He insisted that it was Galman who shot Senator Aquino, and that the findings
of the Agrava Board were not supported by evidence that could stand in court. He
discussed and argued with Justice Herrera on this point. Midway in the course of the
discussion, mention was made that the filing of the charge in court would at least mollify
public demands and possibly prevent further street demonstrations. It was further
pointed out that such a procedure would be a better arrangement because, if the accused
are charged in court and subsequently acquitted, they may claim the benefit of the
doctrine of double jeopardy and thereby avoid another prosecution if some other
witnesses shall appear when President Marcos is no longer in office.
xxx xxx xxx
After an agreement was reached as to filing the case, instead of dismissing it, but with
some of the accused to be charged merely as accomplices or accessories, and the
question of preventive custody of the accused having thereby received satisfactory
solution, President Marcos took up the matter of who would try the case and how long it
would take to be finished.
According to Justice Herrera, President Marcos told Justice Pamaran 'point blank' to
personally handle the case. This was denied by Justice Pamaran. No similar denial was
voiced by Justice Fernandez in the entire course of his two-day testimony. Justice
Pamaran explained that such order could not have been given inasmuch as it was not yet
certain then that the Sandiganbayan would try the case and, besides, cases therein are
assigned by raffle to a division and not to a particular Justice thereof.
It was preposterous to expect Justice Pamaran to admit having received such presidential
directive. His denial, however, falls to pieces in the light of the fact that the case was
indeed handled by him after being assigned to the division headed by him. A supposition
of mere coincidence is at once dispelled by the circumstance that he was the only one
from the Sandiganbayan called to the Malacanang conference wherein the said directive
was given. . . .
The giving of such directive to Justice Pamaran may also be inferred from his admission
that he gave President Marcos the possible time frame when asked as to how long it
would take him to finish the case.
The testimony of Justice Herrera that, during the conference, and after an agreement was
reached on filing the case and subsequently acquitting the accused, President Marcos
told them "Okay, mag moro-moro na lamang kayo;" and that on their way out of the
room President Marcos expressed his thanks to the group and uttered "I know how to
reciprocate," did not receive any denial or contradiction either on the part of justice
Fernandez or justice Pamaran. (No other person present in the conference was
presented by the respondents. Despite an earlier manifestation by the respondents of
their intention to present Fiscal Bernabe and Prosecutor Tamayo, such move was
abandoned without any reason having been given therefor.)
The facts set forth above are all supported by the evidence on record. In the mind of the
Commission, the only conclusion that may be drawn therefrom is that pressure from
Malacanang had indeed been made to bear on both the court and the prosecution in the
handling and disposition of the Aquino-Galman case. The intensity of this pressure is
readily deductible from the personality of the one who exerted it, his moral and official
ascendancy over those to whom his instructions were directed, the motivation behind
such instructions, and the nature of the government prevailing at that time which
enabled, the then head of state to exercise authoritarian powers. That the conference
called to script or stage-manage the prosecution and trial of the Aquino-Galman case
was considered as something anomalous that should be kept away from the public eye is
shown by the effort to assure its secrecy. None but those directly involved were caned to
attend. The meeting was held in an inner room of the Palace. Only the First Lady and
Presidential Legal Assistant Justice Lazaro were with the President. The conferees were
told to take the back door in going to the room where the meeting was held, presumably
to escape notice by the visitors in the reception hall waiting to see the President.
Actually, no public mention alas ever made of this conference until Justice Herrera
made his expose some fifteen (15) months later when the former president was no longer
around.
President Marcos undoubtedly realized the importance of the matter he wanted to take
up with the officials he asked to be summoned. He had to do it personally, and not
merely through trusted assistants. The lack of will or determination on the part of Justice
Fernandez and Justice Pamaran to resist the presidential summons despite their
realization of its unwholesome implications on their handling of the celebrated murder
case may be easily inferred from their unquestioned obedience thereto. No effort to resist
was made, despite the existence of a most valid reason to beg off, on the lame excuses
that they went there out of "curiosity," or "out of respect to the Office of the President,"
or that it would be 'unbecoming to refuse a summons from the President.' Such frame of
mind only reveals their susceptibility to presidential pressure and lack of capacity to
resist the same. The very acts of being summoned to Malacanang and their ready
acquiescence thereto under the circumstances then obtaining, are in themselves pressure
dramatized and exemplifiedTheir abject deference to President Marcos may likewise be
inferred from the admitted fact that, not having been given seats during the two-hour
conference (Justice Fernandez said it was not that long, but did not say how long) in
which President Marcos did the talking most of the time, they listened to him on their
feet. Verily, it can be said that any avowal of independent action or resistance to
presidential pressure became illusory from the very moment they stepped inside
Malacanang Palace on January 10, 1985. 18
The Commission pinpointed the crucial factual issue thus: "the more significant inquiry is on whether
the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Tanodbayan actually succumbed to such pressure, as may be
gauged by their subsequent actuations in their respective handling of the case." It duly concluded that
"the pressure exerted by President Marcos in the conference held on January 10, 1985 pervaded the
entire proceedings of the Aquino Galman [murder] cases" as manifested in several specific incidents
and instances it enumerated in the Report under the heading of "Manifestations of Pressure and
Manipulation."
Suffice it to give hereinbelow brief excerpts:—
1. The changing of the original Herrera panel draft Resolution charging all the twenty-six accused as
principals by conspiracy by categorizing and charging 17 as principals, Generals Ver and Olivas and 6
others as accessories and the civilian as accomplice, and recommending bail for the latter two
categories: "The categorization may not be completely justified by saying that, in the mind of Justice
Fernandez, there was no sufficient evidence to justify that all of the accused be charged as principals.
The majority of the Agrava Board found the existence of conspiracy and recommended that all of the
accused be charged accordingly. Without going into the merit of such finding, it may hardly be disputed
that, in case of doubt, and in accordance with the standard practice of the prosecution to charge accused
with the most serious possible offense or in the highest category so as to prevent an incurable injustice
in the event that the evidence presented in the trial will show his guilt of the graver charge, the most
logical and practical course of action should have been, as originally recommended by the Herrera
panel, to charge all the accused as principals. As it turned out, Justice Fernandez readily opted for
categorization which, not surprisingly, was in consonance with the Malacañang instruction." It is too
much to attribute to coincidence that such unusual categorization came only after the then President's
instruction at Malacanang when Gen. Ver's counsel, Atty. Coronel, had been asking the same of
Tanodbayan Fernandez since November, 1984; and "Justice Fernandez himself, admit(ted) that, as of
that time, [the Malacanang conference on January 10, 1985], his own view was in conformity with that
of the Special Investigating Panel to charge all of the twenty-six (26) respondents as principals of the
crime of double murder." 19 As the Commission further noted, "Justice Fernandez never denied the
claim of Justice Herrera that the draft resolution of January 10, 1985 (Exhibit 'B-1') [charging all 26
accused as principals] was to have been the subject of a press conference on the afternoon of said date
which did not go through due to the summons for them to go to Malacanang in the early evening of
said date." 20
2. Suppression of vital evidence and harassment of witnesses:" Realizing, no doubt, that a party's case
is as strong as the evidence it can present, unmistakable and persistent efforts were exerted in behalf of
the accused to weaken the case of the prosecution and thereby assure and justify [the accused's]
eventual scripted acquittal. Unfavorable evidences were sought to be suppressed, and some were
indeed prevented from being ventilated. Adverse witnesses were harassed, cajoled, perjured or
threatened either to refrain from testifying or to testify in a manner favorable to the defense."
The Report specified the ordeals of the prosecution witnesses: 21 Cesar Loterina, PAL
employee, Roberta Masibay, Galman's step-daughter who recanted their testimonies before the Fact
Finding Board and had to be discarded as prosecution witnesses before at the trial.
Witnesses Viesca and Rañas who also testified before the Board "disappeared all of a sudden and could
not be located by the police. The Commission narrated the efforts to stifle Kiyoshi
Wakamiya eyewitness who accompanied Ninoy on his fateful flight on August 21, 1983 and described
them as "palpable, if crude and display(ing) sheer abuse of power." Wakamiya was not even allowed to
return to Manila on August 20, 1984 to participate in the first death anniversary of Ninoy but was
deported as an undesirable alien and had to leave on the next plane for Tokyo. The Board had to go to
Tokyo to hear Wakamiya give his testimony before the Japanese police in accordance with their law
and Wakamiya claimed before the Commission that the English transcription of his testimony, as
prepared by an official of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, was inaccurate and did not correctly reflect
the testimony he gave "although there was no clear showing of the discrepancy from the original
transcription which was in Nippongo. Upon his arrival at the MIA on August 21, 1985 on invitation of
Justice Herrera to testify at the ongoing trial, "a shot was fired and a soldier was seen running away by
media men who sought to protect Wakamiya from harm by surrounding him." Wakamiya was forced by
immigration officials to leave the country by Saturday (August 24th) notwithstanding Herrera's request
to let him stay until he could testify the following Monday (August 26th). In the case of principal
eyewitness Rebecca Quijano, the Commission reported that
... Undoubtedly in view of the considerable significance of her proposed testimony and
its unfavorable effect on the cause of the defense, the efforts exerted to suppress the
same was as much as, if not more than those in the case of Wakamiya. ... She recounted
that she was in constant fear of her life, having been hunted by armed men; that their
house in Tabaco, Albay was ransacked, her family harassed by the foreclosure of the
mortgage on their house by the local Rural Bank, and ejected therefrom when she
ignored the request of its manager to talk with her about her proposed testimony; that a
certain William Fariñas offered her plane tickets for a trip abroad; that Mayor Rudy
Fariñas of Laoag City kept on calling her sister in the United States to warn her not to
testify; that, later, Rudy and William Fariñas offered her two million pesos supposedly
coming from Bongbong Marcos, a house and lot in Baguio, the dropping of her estafa
case in Hongkong, and the punishment of the persons responsible for the death of her
father, if she would refrain from testifying.
It is a matter of record, however, that despite such cajolery and harassments, or perhaps
because of them, Ms. Quijano eventually testified before the Sandiganbayan. Justice
Herrera was told by justice Fernandez of the displeasure expressed by Olympus at
justice Herrera's going out of his way to make Ms. Quijano to testify, and for his refusal
to honor the invitation to attend the birthday party of the First Lady on May 1, 1985, as
on the eve of Ms. Quijano's testimony on May 2, 1985. The insiduous attempts to tamper
with her testimony, however, did not end with her taking the witness stand. In the course
of her testimony several notes were passed to Atty. Rodolfo Jimenez, the defense
counsel who cross-examined her, one of which suggested that she be asked more
questions about Dean Narvasa who was suspected of having coached her as to what to
declare (Exhibit "D"); and on another occasion, at a crucial point in her testimony, a
power brownout occurred; which lasted for about twenty minutes, throwing the
courtroom into darkness, and making most of those present to scamper for safety, and
Ms. Quijano to pass over the railing of the rostrum so as to be able to leave the
courtroom. It was verified that the brownout was limited to the building housing the
Sandiganbayan, it not having affected the nearby Manila City Hall and the Finance
Building. Justice Herrera declared that the main switchboard of the Sandiganbayan
electrical system was located beside the room occupied by Malacañang people who were
keeping track of the proceedings.
Atty. Lupino Lazaro for petitioners further made of record at that August 26th hearing that the two
Olivas sisters, Ana and Catherine (hospitality girls) disappeared on September 4, 1984, two weeks after
Ninoy's assassination. And the informant, by the name of Evelyn (also a hospitality girl) who jotted
down the number of the car that took them away, also disappeared. On January 29, 1984, during the
proceedings of the Board, Lina Galman, the common-law wife of Rolando Galman, was kidnapped
together with a neighbor named Rogelio Taruc, They have been missing since then, despite his attempts
to find any of them. According to him, "nobody was looking for these five persons because they said
Marcos was in Power [despite his appeal to the Minister of National Defense to locate them]. Today,
still no one is looking for these people." And he appealed to the new leadership for its assistance in
learning their fate.
3. The discarding of the affidavits executed by U.S. airmen "While it is true that the U.S. airmen's
proposed testimonies would show an attempt of the Philippine Air Force to divert the plane to Basa
Airfield or some other place, such showing would not necessarily contravene the theory of the
prosecution, nor the actual fact that Senator Aquino was killed at the Manila International Airport.
Justice Herrera had accurately pointed out that such attempt of scrambling Aquino's plane
merely showed a 'wider range of conspiracy,' it being possibly just one of two or three other plans
designed to accomplish the same purpose of liquidating Senator Aquino. In any event, even assuming
that the said piece of evidence could go either way, it may not be successfully contended that it was
prudent or wise on the part of the prosecution to totally discard the said piece of evidence. Despite
minor inconsistencies contained therein, its introduction could have helped the cause of the
prosecution. If it were not so, or that it would even favor the defense, as averred by Justice Fernandez,
the determined effort to suppress the same would have been totally uncalled for."
4. Nine proposed rebuttal witnesses not presented.
5. The failure to exhaust available remedies against adverse developments: "When the Supreme Court
denied the petition of Justice Fernandez [against the exclusion of the testimonies given by the military
respondents headed by Gen. Ver before the Fact Finding Board], the latter almost immediately
announced to media that he was not filing a motion for the reconsideration of said denial for the reason
that it would be futile to do so and foolhardy to expect a favorable action on the same. ... His posture ...
is, in the least, indicative that he was living up to the instruction of finishing the trial of the case as soon
as possible, if not of something else."
6. The assignment of the case to Presiding Justice Pamaran: "Justice Herrera testified that President
Marcos ordered Justice Pamaran point-blank to handle the case. The pro-forma denial by Justice
Pamaran of such instruction crumbles under the actuality of such directive having been complied with
to the letter. ...
"Justice Pamaran sought to discredit the claim that he was ordered by President Marcos to handle the
case personally by explaining that cases in the Sandiganbayan are assigned by raffle and not to a
particular Justice, but to a division thereof. The evidence before the Comission on how the case
happened to be assigned to Justice Pamaran evinces a strong indication that such assignment was not
done fairly or regularly.
"There was no evidence at all that the assignment was indeed by virtue of a regular raffle, except the
uncorroborated testimony of Justice Pamaran. ... Despite an announcement that Justice Escareal would
be presented by the respondents to testify on the contents of his aforesaid Memorandum, such was not
done. No reason was given why Justice Escarel could not, or would not like to testify. Neither was any
one of the officials or employees of the Sandiganbayan who, according to Justice Pamaran, were
present during the supposed raffle, presented to corroborate the claim of Justice
xxx xxx xxx
"It is also an admitted fact that the two Informations in the double murder case were filed by Justice
Herrera on January 23, 1985, at 12:02 p.m., and the members of the Raffle Committee were summoned
at 12:20 p.m. oronly 18 minutes after the filing of the two Informations. Such speed in the actual
assignment of the case can truly be categorized as unusual, if not extraordinary, considering that before
a case filed may be included in the raffle, there is need for a certain amount of paper work to be
undertaken. If such preliminary requirements were done in this case within the limited time available
therefor, the charge that the raffle was rushed to avoid the presence of media people would ring with
truth.
What is more intriguing is the fact that although a raffle might have been actually conducted which
resulted in the assignment of the case to the First Division of the Sandiganbayan, the Commission did
not receive any evidence on how or why it was handled personally by Justice Pamaran who wrote the
decision thereof, and not by any one of the two other members of his division. . . .
7. The custody of the accused their confinement in a military camp, instead of in a civilian jail: "When
the question of custody came up after the case was filed in the Sandiganbayan, the latter issued an order
directing the confinement of the accused in the City Jail of Manila. This order was not carried out in
view of the information given by the Warden of the City Jail that there was no space for the twenty-six
accused in said jail. The same information was given when the custody was proposed to be given to the
National Penitentiary in Muntinglupa and to the National Bureau of Investigation. At that point, the
defense came up with Presidential Decree No. 1950A which authorizes the custody of the accused
military personnel with their respective Commanding Officers. Justice Herrera claimed that the said
Presidential Decree was not known even to the Tanodbayan Justice Fernandez who had to call up the
then Minister of Justice Estelito Mendoza to request a copy of the same, and was given such copy only
after sometime. ..."
8. The monitoring of proceedings and developments from Malacañang and by Malacañang
personnel: "There is an uncontradicted evidence that the progress of the proceedings in the
Sandiganbayan as well as the developments of the case outside the Court had been monitored by
Malacañang presumably for it to know what was happening and to take remedial measures as may be
necessary. Justice Pamaran had candidly admitted that television cameras "boldly carrying the label of
'Office of the President of the Philippines' " were installed in the courtroom for that purpose. There was
a room in the Sandiganbayan, mischievously caned 'war room', wherein military and Malacañang
personnel stayed to keep track of the proceedings." the close monitoring by Malacañang showed its
results on several occasions specified in the Report. Malacañang was immediately aware of the
Japanese witness Wakamiya's presence injustice Herrera's office on August 21, 1985 and forestalled
the giving of his testimony by having the Japanese Embassy advise Wakamiya to leave the country at
once. Likewise, Col. Balbino Diego, Malacañang intelligence chief, suddenly appeared at the National
Bureau of Investigation office when the "crying lady" Rebecca Quijano was brought there by NBI
agents for interrogation and therein sought to obtain custody of her. "It is likewise an undisputed fact,"
the Commission noted "thatseveral military personnel pretended to be deputy sheriffs of the
Sandiganbayan and attended the trials thereof in the prescribed deputy sheriffs' uniforms." The
Commission's inescapable finding. " It is abundantly clear that President Marcos did not only give
instructions as to how the case should be handled He saw to it that he would know if his instructions
will be complied with."
9. Partiality of Sandiganbayan betrayed by its decision: "That President Marcos had wanted all of the
twenty-six accused to be acquitted may not be denied. The disposal of the case in said manner is an
integral part of the scenario which was cleverly designed to accomplish two principal objectives,
seemingly conflicting in themselves, but favorable both to then administration and to the accused; to
wit, [1] the satisfaction of the public clamor for the suspected killers of Senator Aquino to be charged
in court, and [2] the foreclosure of any possibility that they may again be prosecuted for the same
offense in the event that President Marcos shall no longer be in power.
"In rendering its decision the Sandiganbayan overdid itself in favoring the presidential
directive. Its bias and partiality in favor of the accused was glaringly obvious. The evidence presented
by the prosecution was totally ignored and disregarded. ... It was deemed not sufficient to simply acquit
all of the twenty-six accused on thestandard ground that their guilt had not been proven beyond
reasonable doubt, as was the most logical and appropriate way of justifying the acquittal in the case,
there not being a total absence of evidence that could show guilt on the part of the accused. The
decision had to pronounce them 'innocent of the crime charged on the two informations,
and accordingly, they incur neither criminal nor civil liability.' It is a rare phenomenon to see a person
accused of a crime to be favored with such total absolution. ...
Doubt on the soundness of the decision entertained by one of the two justices who concurred with the
majority decision penned by Justice Pamaran was revealed by Justice Herrera who testified that in
October, 1985, when the decision was being prepared, Justice Agusto Amores told him that he was of
the view that some of the accused should be convicted he having found difficulty in acquitting all of
them; however, he confided to Justice Herrera that Justice Pamaran made it clear to him and Justice
Vera Cruz that Malacañang had instructions to acquit all of the twenty-six accused (TSN, July 17,
1986, p. 49). Justice Amores also told Justice Herrera that he would confirm this statement (which was
mentioned in Justice Herrera's comment to the Second Motion for Reconsideration) if asked about
it (TSN, June 19, 1986, pp. 92-93). This testimony Justice Herrera remained unrebutted " (Emphasis
supplied)
The record shows suffocatingly that from beginning to end, the then President used, or more precisely,
misused the overwhelming resources of the government and his authoritarian powers to corrupt and
make a mockery of the judicial process in the Aquino-Galman murder cases. As graphically depicted in
the Report, supra, and borne out by the happenings (res ipsa loquitur 22) since the resolution prepared
by his "Coordinator," Manuel Lazaro, his Presidential Assistant on Legal Affairs, for the Tanodbayan's
dismissal of the cases against all accused was unpalatable (it would summon the demonstrators back to
the streets 23 ) and at any rate was not acceptable to the Herrera prosecution panel, the unholy scenario
for acquittal of all 26 accused after the rigged trial as ordered at the Malacanang conference, would
accomplish the two principal objectives of satisfaction of the public clamor for the suspected killers to
be charged in court and of giving them through their acquittal the legal shield of double jeopardy. 24
Indeed, the secret Malacanang conference at which the authoritarian President called together the
Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan Fernandez and the entire prosecution panel
headed by Deputy Tanodbayan Herrera and told them how to handle and rig (moro-moro) the trial and
the close monitoring of the entire proceedings to assure the pre-determined ignominious final outcome
are without parallel and precedent in our annals and jurisprudence. To borrow a phrase from Ninoy's
April 14, 1975 letter withdrawing his petition for habeas corpus, 25 "This is the evil of one-man rule at
its very worst." Our Penal Code penalizes "any executive officer who shall address any order or
suggestion to any judicial authority with respect to any case or business coming within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the courts of justice." 26 His obsession for "the boys' " acquittal led to several first which
would otherwise be inexplicable:—
1. He turned his back on and repudiated the findings of the very Fact Finding Board that he himself
appointed to investigate the "national tragedy and national shame" of the "treacherous and vicious
assassination of Ninoy Aquino and "to ventilate the truth through free, independent and dispassionate
investigation by prestigious and free investigators."
2. He cordially received the chairman with her minority report one day ahead of the four majority
members and instantly referred it to respondents "for final resolution through the legal system" as if it
were the majority and controlling report; and rebuked the four majority members when they presented
to him the next day their report calling for the indictment of all 26 respondents headed by Gens. Ver
and Olivas (instead of the lesser seven under the chairman's minority report).
3. From the day after the Aquino assassination to the dictated verdict of acquittal, he totally disregarded
the Board's majority and minority findings of fact and publicly insisted that the military's "fall guy"
Rolando Galman was the killer of Ninoy Aquino and sought futilely to justify the soldiers'
incompetence and gross negligence to provide any security for Ninoy in contrast to their alacrity in
gunning down the alleged assassin Galman and searing his lips.
4. The Sandiganbayan's decision (Pamaran, J. ponente) in effect convicted Rolando Galman as Ninoy's
assassin notwithstanding that he was not on trial but the victim according to the very information filed,
and evidence to the contrary submitted, by the Herrera prosecution panel; and
5. Justice Pamaran's ponencia (despite reservations expressed by Justice Amores who wanted to
convict some of the accused) granted all 26 accused total absolution and pronounced them "innocent of
the crimes charged in the two informations, and accordingly, they incur neither criminal nor civil
liability," notwithstanding the evidence on the basis of which the Fact Finding Board had unanimously
declared the soldiers' version of Galman being Aquino's killer a "perjured story, given deliberately and
in conspiracy with one another."
The fact of the secret Malacañang conference of January 10, 1985 at which the authoritarian President
discussed with the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan and the entire prosecution panel the matter
of the imminent filing of the criminal charges against all the twenty-six accused (as admitted by
respondent Justice Fernandez to have been confirmed by him to the then President's "Coordinator"
Manuel Lazaro on the preceding day) is not denied. It is without precedent. This was illegal under our
penal laws, supra. This illegality vitiated from the very beginning all proceedings in the Sandiganbayan
court headed by the very Presiding Justice who attended. As the Commission noted: "The very acts of
being summoned to Malacañang and their ready acquiescence thereto under the circumstances then
obtaining, are in themselves pressure dramatized and exemplified. ... Verily, it can be said that any
avowal of independent action or resistance to presidential pressure became illusory from the very
moment they stepped inside Malacanang Palace on January 10, 1985."
No court whose Presiding Justice has received "orders or suggestions" from the very President who by
an amendatory decree (disclosed only at the hearing of oral arguments on November 8, 1984 on a
petition challenging the referral of the Aquino-Galman murder cases to the Tanodbayan and
Sandiganbayan instead of to a court martial, as mandatory required by the known P.D. 1850 at the time
providing for exclusive jurisdiction of courts martial over criminal offenses committed by military
men 26-a) made it possible to refer the cases to the Sandiganbayan, can be an impartial court, which is
the very essence of due process of law. As the writer then wrote, "jurisdiction over cases should be
determined by law, and not by preselectionof the Executive, which could be much too easily
transformed into a means of predetermining the outcome of individual cases. 26-b "This criminal
collusion as to the handling and treatment of the cases by public respondents at the secret Malacanang
conference (and revealed only after fifteen months by Justice Manuel Herrera) completely disqualified
respondent Sandiganbayan and voided ab initio its verdict. This renders moot and irrelevant for now
the extensive arguments of respondents accused, particularly Generals Ver and Olivas and those
categorized as accessories, that there has been no evidence or witness suppressed against them, that the
erroneous conclusions of Olivas as police investigator do not make him an accessory of the crimes he
investigated and the appraisal and evaluation of the testimonies of the witnesses presented and
suppressed. There will be time and opportunity to present all these arguments and considerations at the
remand and retrial of the cases herein ordered before a neutral and impartial court.
The Supreme Court cannot permit such a sham trial and verdict and travesty of justice to stand
unrectified. The courts of the land under its aegis are courts of law and justice and equity. They would
have no reason to exist if they were allowed to be used as mere tools of injustice, deception and
duplicity to subvert and suppress the truth, instead of repositories of judicial power whose judges are
sworn and committed to render impartial justice to all alike who seek the enforcement or protection of
a right or the prevention or redress of a wrong, without fear or favor and removed from the pressures of
politics and prejudice. More so, in the case at bar where the people and the world are entitled to know
the truth, and the integrity of our judicial system is at stake. In life, as an accused before the military
tribunal, Ninoy had pleaded in vain that as a civilian he was entitled to due process of law and trial in
the regular civil courts before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor. In death, Ninoy, as the
victim of the "treacherous and vicious assassination" and the relatives and sovereign people as the
aggrieved parties plead once more for due process of law and a retrial before an impartial court with an
unbiased prosecutor. The Court is constrained to declare the sham trial a mock trial the non-trial of the
century-and that the pre-determined judgment of acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.
1. No double jeopardy.-It is settled doctrine that double jeopardy cannot be invoked against this Court's
setting aside of the trial courts' judgment of dismissal or acquittal where the prosecution which
represents the sovereign people in criminal cases is denied due process. As the Court stressed in the
1985 case of People vs. Bocar, 27
Where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and prove its case
its right to due process is thereby violated. 27-a
The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional rights,
courts are ousted of their jurisdiction. Thus, the violation of the State's right to due
process raises a serious jurisdictional issue (Gumabon vs. Director of the Bureau of
Prisons, L-30026, 37 SCRA 420 [Jan. 30, 1971]which cannot be glossed over or
disregarded at will. Where the denial of the fundamental right of due process is apparent,
a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of jurisdiction (Aducayen
vs. Flores, L-30370 [May 25, 1973], 51 SCRA 78; Shell Co. vs. Enage, L-30111-12, 49
SCRA 416 [Feb. 27, 1973]). Any judgment or decision rendered notwithstanding such
violation may be regarded as a "lawless thing, which can be treated as an outlaw and
slain at sight, or ignored wherever it exhibits its head" (Aducayen vs. Flores, supra).
Respondent Judge's dismissal order dated July 7, 1967 being null and void for lack of
jurisdiction, the same does not constitute a proper basis for a claim of double jeopardy
(Serino vs. Zosa, supra).
xxx xxx xxx
Legal jeopardy attaches only (a) upon a valid indictment, (b) before a competent court,
(c) after arraignment, (d) a valid plea having been entered; and (e) the case was
dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused (People
vs. Ylagan, 58 Phil. 851). The lower court was not competent as it was ousted of its
jurisdiction when it violated the right of the prosecution to due process.
In effect the first jeopardy was never terminated, and the remand of the criminal case for
further hearing and/or trial before the lower courts amounts merely to a continuation of
the first jeopardy, and does not expose the accused to a second jeopardy.
More so does the rule against the invoking of double jeopardy hold in the cases at bar where as we have
held, the sham trial was but a mock trial where the authoritarian president ordered respondents
Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan to rig the trial and closely monitored the entire proceedings to assure
the pre-determined final outcome of acquittal and total absolution as innocent of an the respondents-
accused. Notwithstanding the laudable efforts of Justice Herrera which saw him near the end
"deactivating" himself from the case, as it was his belief that its eventual resolution was already a
foregone conclusion, they could not cope with the misuse and abuse of the overwhelming powers of the
authoritarian President to weaken the case of the prosecution, to suppress its evidence, harass,
intimidate and threaten its witnesses, secure their recantation or prevent them from testifying. Fully
aware of the prosecution's difficulties in locating witnesses and overcoming their natural fear and
reluctance to appear and testify, respondent Sandiganbayan maintained a "dizzying tempo" of the
proceedings and announced its intention to terminate the proceedings in about 6 months time or less
than a year, pursuant to the scripted scenario. The prosecution complained of "the Presiding Justice's
seemingly hostile attitude towards (it)" and their being the subject of warnings, reprimand and
contempt proceedings as compared to the nil situation for the defense. Herrera likewise complained of
being "cajoled into producing witnesses and pressed on making assurances that if given a certain
period, they will be able to produce their witnesses Herrera pleaded for "a reasonable period of
preparation of its evidence" and cited other pending cases before respondent court that were pending
trial for a much longer time where the "dizzying tempo" and "fast pace" were not maintained by the
court. 28 Manifestly, the prosecution and the sovereign people were denied due process of law with a
partial court and biased Tanodbayan under the constant and pervasive monitoring and pressure exerted
by the authoritarian President to assure the carrying out of his instructions. A dictated, coerced and
scripted verdict of acquittal such as that in the case at bar is a void judgment. In legal contemplation, it
is no judgment at all. It neither binds nor bars anyone. Such a judgment is "a lawless thing which can
be treated as an outlaw". It is a terrible and unspeakable affront to the society and the people. To
paraphrase Brandeis: 29 If the authoritarian head of the government becomes the law-breaker, he
breeds contempt for the law, he invites every man to become a law unto himself, he invites anarchy.
Respondents-accused's contention that the Sandiganbayan judgment of acquittal ends the case which
cannot be appealed or re-opened, without being put in double jeopardy was forcefully disposed of by
the Court in People vs. Court of Appeals, which is fully applicable here, as follows: "That is the general
rule and presupposes a valid judgment. As earlier pointed out, however, respondent Courts' Resolution
of acquittal was a void judgment for having been issued without jurisdiction. No double jeopardy
attaches, therefore. A void judgment is, in legal effect, no judgment at all By it no rights are divested.
Through it, no rights can be attained. Being worthless, all proceedings founded upon it are equally
worthless. It neither binds nor bars anyone. All acts performed under it and all claims flowing out of it
are void.
|lang1033 xxx xxx xxx
"Private respondent invoke 'justice for the innocent'. For justice to prevail the scales must balance. It is
not to be dispensed for the accused alone. The interests of the society, which they have wronged must
also be equally considered. A judgment of conviction is not necessarily a denial of justice. A verdict of
acquittal neither necessarily spells a triumph of justice. To the party wronged, to the society offended, it
could also mean injustice. This is where the Courts play a vital role. They render justice where justice
is due. 30
2. Motion to Disqualify/Inhibit should have been resolved Ahead.-The private prosecutors had filed a
motion to disqualify and for inhibition of respondents Justices of the Sandiganbayan on grounds of
manifest bias and partiality to the defense and arising from then Atty. (now Tanodbayan) Raul M.
Gonzales' charge that Justice Vera-Cruz had been passing coaching notes to defense counsel. Justice
Herrera had joined the motion and pleaded at the hearing of June 25, 1985 and in the prosecution
memorandum that respondent Sandiganbayan "should not decide the case on the merits without first
making a final ruling on the Motion for Inhibition." Herrera quoted the exchange between him and the
Presiding Justice to show the latter's "following the script of Malacanang.
PJ PAMARAN
Well the court believes that we should proceed with the trial and then deal
later on with that. After all, the most important thing here is, shall we say,
the decision of the case.
J. HERRERA
I think more important than the decision of the case, Your Honor, is the
capacity of the justices to sit in judgment. That is more important than
anything else.(p. 13 TSN, June 25, 1985) (Emphasis supplied by
Herrera). 31
But the Sandiganbayan brushed aside Herrera's pleas and then wrongly blamed him, in the decision, for
supposedly not having joined the petition for inhibition, contrary to the facts above-stated, as follows:
... the motion for inhibition above referred to related exclusively for the contempt
proceeding. Too, it must be remembered that the prosecution neither joined that petition,
nor did it at any time manifest a desire to file a similar motion prior to the submission of
these cases for decision. To do it now is not alone out of season but is also a confession
of official insouciance (Page 22, Decision). 32
The action for prohibition was filed in the Court to seek the disqualification of respondents Justices
pursuant to the procedure recognized by the Court in the 1969 case of Paredes vs. Gopengco 33 since
an adverse ruling by respondent court might result in a verdict of acquittal, leaving the offended party
without any remedy nor appeal in view of the double jeopardy rule, not to mention the overiding and
transcendental public interest that would make out a case of denial of due process to the People if the
alleged failure on the part of the Tanodbayan to present the complete evidence for the prosecution is
substantiated. 34
In this case, petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the abrupt dismissal of their petition and lifting
of the temporary restraining order enjoining the Sandiganbayan from rendering its decision had been
taken cognizance of by the Court which had required the respondents', including the Sandiganbayan's,
comments. Although no restraining order was issued anew, respondent Sandiganbayan should not have
precipitately issued its decision of total absolution of all the accused pending the final action of this
Court. This is the teaching of Valdez vs. Aquilizan 35, Wherein the court in setting aside the hasty
convictions, ruled that "prudence dictated that (respondent judge) refrain from deciding the cases or at
the very least to hold in abeyance the promulgation of his decision pending action by this Court. But
prudence gave way to imprudence; the respondent judge acted precipitately by deciding the cases
[hastily without awaiting this Court's action]. All of the acts of the respondent judge manifest grave
abuse of discretion on his part amounting to lack of jurisdiction which substantively prejudiced the
petitioner."
3. Re: Objections of respondents.-The other related objections of respondents' counsels must be
rejected in the face of the Court's declaration that the trial was a mock trial and that the pre-determined
judgment of acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.
(a) It follows that there is no need to resort to a direct action to annul the judgment, instead of the
present action which was timely filed initially to declare a mistrial and to enjoin the rendition of the
void judgment. And after the hasty rendition of such judgment for the declaration of its nullity,
following the presentation of competent proof heard by the Commission and the Court's findings
therefrom that the proceedings were from the beginning vitiated not only by lack of due process but
also by the collusion between the public respondents (court and Tanodbayan) for the rendition of a pre-
determined verdict of acquitting all the twenty-six respondents-accused.
(b) It is manifest that this does not involve a case of mere irregularities in the conduct of the
proceedings or errors of judgment which do not affect the integrity or validity of the judgment or
verdict.
(c) The contention of one of defense counsel that the State and the sovereign people are not entitled to
due process is clearly erroneous and contrary to the basic principles and jurisprudence cited
hereinabove.
(d) The submittal of respondents-accused that they had not exerted the pressure applied by the
authoritarian president on public respondents and that no evidence was suppressed against them must
be held to be untenable in the wake of the evil plot now exposed for their preordained wholesale
exoneration.
(e) Respondents' invocation of the writer's opinion in Luzon Brokerage Co., Inc. vs. Maritime Bldg.
Co., Inc. 36 is inappropriate. The writer therein held that a party should be entitled to only one Supreme
Court and may not speculate on vital changes in the Court's membership for review of his lost case
once more, since public policy and sound practice demand that litigation be put to an end and no
second pro forma motion for reconsideration reiterating the same arguments should be kept pending so
long (for over six (6) years and one (1) month since the denial of the first motion for reconsideration),
This opinion cannot be properly invoked, because here, petitioners' second motion for reconsideration
was filed promptly on March 20, 1986 following the denial under date of February 4th of the first
motion for reconsideration and the same was admitted per the Court's Resolution of April 3, 1986 and
is now being resolved within five months of its filing after the Commission had received the evidence
of the parties who were heard by the Court only last August 26th. The second motion for
reconsideration is based on an entirely new material ground which was not known at the time of the
denial of the petition and filing of the first motion for reconsideration, i.e, the secret Malacañang
conference on January 10, 1985 which came to light only fifteen months later in March, 1986 and
showed beyond per adventure (as proved in the Commission hearings) the merits of the petition and
that the authoritarian president had dictated and pre-determined the final outcome of acquittal. Hence,
the ten members of the Court (without any new appointees) unanimously voted to admit the second
motion for reconsideration. 37
4. With the declaration of nullity of the proceedings, the cases must now be tried before an impartial
court with an unbiased prosecutor.-There has been the long dark night of authoritarian regime, since the
fake ambush in September, 1972 of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile (as now admitted by
Enrile himself was staged to trigger the imposition of martial law and authoritarian one-man rule, with
the padlocking of Congress and the abolition of the office of the Vice-President.
As recently retired Senior Justice Vicente Abad Santos recalled in his valedictory to the new members
of the Bar last May, "In the past few years, the judiciary was under heavy attack by an extremely
powerful executive. During this state of judicial siege, lawyers both in and outside the judiciary
perceptively surrendered to the animus of technicality. In the end, morality was overwhelmed by
technicality, so that the latter emerged ugly and naked in its true manifestation."
Now that the light is emerging, the Supreme Court faces the task of restoring public faith and
confidence in the courts. The Supreme Court enjoys neither the power of the sword nor of the purse. Its
strength lies mainly in public confidence, based on the truth and moral force of its judgments. This has
been built on its cherished traditions of objectivity and impartiallity integrity and fairness and
unswerving loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law which compels acceptance as well by the
leadership as by the people. The lower courts draw their bearings from the Supreme Court. With this
Court's judgment today declaring the nullity of the questioned judgment or acquittal and directing a
new trial, there must be a rejection of the temptation of becoming instruments of injustice as vigorously
as we rejected becoming its victims. The end of one form of injustice should not become simply the
beginning of another. This simply means that the respondents accused must now face trial for the
crimes charged against them before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor with all due process.
What the past regime had denied the people and the aggrieved parties in the sham trial must now be
assured as much to the accused as to the aggrieved parties. The people will assuredly have a way of
knowing when justice has prevailed as well as when it has failed.
The notion nurtured under the past regime that those appointed to public office owe their primary
allegiance to the appointing authority and are accountable to him alone and not to the people or the
Constitution must be discarded. The function of the appointing authority with the mandate of the
people, under our system of government, is to fill the public posts. While the appointee may
acknowledge with gratitude the opportunity thus given of rendering public service, the appointing
authority becomes functus officio and the primary loyalty of the appointed must be rendered to the
Constitution and the sovereign people in accordance with his sacred oath of office. To paraphrase the
late Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, the Justices and judges must ever
realize that they have no constituency, serve no majority nor minority but serve only the public interest
as they see it in accordance with their oath of office, guided only, the Constitution and their own
conscience and honor.
5. Note of Commendation.- The Court expresses its appreciation with thanks for the invaluable services
rendered by the Commission composed of retired Supreme Court Justice Conrado M. Vasquez,
chairman, and retired Court of Appeals Justices Milagros German and Eduardo Caguioa as members. In
the pure spirit of public service, they rendered selflessly and without remuneration thorough competent
and dedicated service in discharging their tasks of hearing and receiving the evidence, evaluating the
same and submitting their Report and findings to the Court within the scheduled period and greatly
easing the Court's burden.
ACCORDINGLY, petitioners' second motion for reconsideration is granted. The resolutions of
November 28, 1985 dismissing the petition and of February 4, 1986 denying petitioners' motion for
reconsideration are hereby set aside and in lieu thereof, judgment is hereby rendered nullifying the
proceedings in respondent Sandiganbayan and its judgment of acquittal in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010
and 10011 entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Gen. Luther Custodia et al." and ordering a re-trial of
the said cases which should be conducted with deliberate dispatch and with careful regard for the
requirements of due process, so that the truth may be finally known and justice done to an
This resolution is immediately executory. SO ORDERED.
Yap, Cruz, Paras and Feliciano, JJ., concur.
Feria, **** Fernan and Narvasa , ***** JJ., took no part.

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 131652. March 9, 1998]

BAYANI M. ALONTE, petitioner, vs. HON. MAXIMO A. SAVELLANO JR., NATIONAL


BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

[G.R. No. 131728. March 9, 1998]

BUENAVENTURA CONCEPCION, petitioner, vs. JUDGE MAXIMO SAVELLANO, JR., THE


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and JUVIELYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN, respondents.

DECISION

VITUG, J.:

Pending before this Court are two separate petitions, one filed by petitioner Bayani M.
Alonte, docketed G.R. No. 131652, and the other by petitioner Buenaventura Concepcion,
docketed G.R. No. 131728, that assail the decision of respondent Judge Maximo A.
Savellano, Jr., of the Regional Trial Court ("RTC"), Branch 53, of Manila finding both
petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape. The two petitions were
consolidated.
On 05 December 1996, an information for rape was filed against petitioners Bayani M.
Alonte, an incumbent Mayor of Biñan, Laguna, and Buenaventura Concepcion predicated on
a complaint filed by Juvie-lyn Punongbayan. The information contained the following
averments; thus:
“That on or about September 12, 1996, in Sto. Tomas, Biñan, Laguna, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable court, the above named accused, who is the incumbent mayor of
Biñan, Laguna after giving complainant-child drinking water which made her dizzy and weak,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with said
JUVIELYN PUNONGBAYAN against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.
“That accused Buenaventura `Wella’ Concepcion without having participated as principal or
accessory assisted in the commission of the offense by bringing said complainant child to the
rest house of accused Bayani `Arthur’ Alonte at Sto. Tomas, Biñan, Laguna and after
receiving the amount of P1,000.00 left her alone with Bayani Alonte who subsequently raped
her.
“Contrary to Law.”[1]

The case was docketed Criminal Case No. 9619-B and assigned by raffle to Branch 25 of
the RTC of Biñan, Laguna, presided over by Judge Pablo B. Francisco.

On 13 December 1996, Juvie-lyn Punongbayan, through her counsel Attorney Remedios


C. Balbin, and Assistant Chief State Prosecutor (“ACSP”) Leonardo Guiyab, Jr., filed with the
Office of the Court Administrator a Petition for a Change of Venue (docketed Administrative
Matter No. 97-1-12-RTC) to have the case transferred and tried by any of the Regional Trial
Courts in Metro Manila.

During the pendency of the petition for change of venue, or on 25 June 1997, Juvie-lyn
Punongbayan, assisted by her parents and counsel, executed an affidavit of desistance,
quoted herein in full, as follows:
AFFIDAVIT OF DESISTANCE
“I, JUVIE-LYN YAMBAO PUNONGBAYAN, 17 years of age, a resident of No. 5 Uranus Street,
Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon City, duly assisted by private legal counsel and
my parents, after having duly sworn in accordance with law, depose and say:
“1. That I am the Complainant in the rape case filed against Mayor Bayani `Arthur’
Alonte of Biñan, Laguna, with the RTC-Branch 25 of Biñan, Laguna;
“2. That the case has been pending for some time, on preliminary issues, specifically,
(a) change of venue, filed with the Supreme Court; (b) propriety of the appeal to the Court of
Appeals, and after its denial by said court, brought to the Office of the President, on the
veracity of the findings of the Five-Man Investigating Panel of the State Prosecutor’s Office,
and the Secretary of Justice, and (c) a hold-departure order filed with the Biñan Court;
“3. That the legal process moves ever so slowly, and meanwhile, I have already lost
two (2) semesters of my college residence. And when the actual trial is held after all the
preliminary issues are finally resolved, I anticipate a still indefinite suspension of my schooling
to attend the hearings;
“4. That during the entire period since I filed the case, my family has lived a most
abnormal life: my father and mother had to give up their jobs; my younger brother, who is in
fourth grade, had to stop his schooling, like myself;
“5. That I do not blame anyone for the long, judicial process, I simply wish to stop and
live elsewhere with my family, where we can start life anew, and live normally once again;
“6. That I pray that I be allowed to withdraw my complaint for rape and the other charge
for child abuse wherein the Five-Man Investigating Panel of the Office of the State Prosecutor
found a prima facie case although the information has not been filed, and that I will not at any
time revive this, and related cases or file new cases, whether, criminal, civil, and/or
administrative, here or anywhere in the Philippines;
“7. That I likewise realize that the execution of this Affidavit will put to doubt my
credibility as a witness-complainant;
“8. That this is my final decision reached without fear or favor, premised on a
corresponding commitment that there will be no reprisals in whatever form, against members
of the police force or any other official of officer, my relatives and friends who extended
assistance to me in whatever way, in my search for justice.
"WHEREOF, I affix my signature this 25 day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
"(Sgd) JUVIE-LYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN
Complainant
"Assisted by:
(Sgd) ATTY. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
Private Prosecutor
"In the presence of:
(Sgd) PABLO PUNONGBAYAN
Father
(Sgd) JULIE Y. PUNONGBAYAN
Mother
"SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 25 day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
"(Sgd) Illegible
Administering Officer"[2]

On 28 June 1997, Atty. Ramon C. Casino, on behalf of petitioners, moved to have the
petition for change of venue dismissed on the ground that it had become moot in view of
complainant's affidavit of desistance. On 22 August 1997, ACSP Guiyab filed his comment on
the motion to dismiss. Guiyab asserted that he was not aware of the desistance of private
complainant and opined that the desistance, in any case, would not produce any legal effect
since it was the public prosecutor who had direction and control of the prosecution of the
criminal action. He prayed for the denial of the motion to dismiss.

On 02 September 1997, this Court issued a Resolution (Administrative Matter No. 97-1-
12-RTC), granting the petition for change of venue. The Court said:
"These affidavits give specific names, dates, and methods being used to abort, by coercion or
corruption, the prosecution of Criminal Case No. 9619-B. It is thus incorrect for oppositors
Alonte and Concepcion to contend that the fear of the petitioner, her private counsel and her
witnesses are too generalized if not fabricated. Indeed, the probability that in desisting from
pursuing her complaint for rape, petitioner, a minor, may have succumbed to some illicit
influence and undue pressure. To prevent possible miscarriage of justice is a good excuse to
grant the petition to transfer the venue of Criminal Case No. 9619-B from Biñan, Laguna to
the City of Manila.
"IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition for Change of Venue from Biñan, Laguna to the City of
Manila is granted. The Executive Judge of RTC Manila is ordered to raffle Crim. Case No.
9619-B to any of its branches. The judge to whom Crim. Case No. 9619-B shall be raffled
shall resolve the petitioner's Motion to Resume Proceedings filed in Br. XXV of the RTC of
Biñan, Laguna and determine the voluntariness and validity of petitioner's desistance in light
of the opposition of the public prosecutor, Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab. The
branch clerk of court of Br. XXV of the RTC of Biñan, Laguna is ordered to personally deliver
to the Executive Judge of Manila the complete records of Crim. Case No. 9619-B upon
receipt of this Resolution."[3]

On 17 September 1997, the case, now re-docketed Criminal Case No. 97-159955 by the
Clerk of Court of Manila, was assigned by raffle to Branch 53, RTC Manila, with respondent
Judge Maximo A. Savellano, Jr., presiding.

On 07 October 1997, Juvie-lyn Punongbayan, through Attorney Balbin, submitted to the


Manila court a "compliance" where she reiterated "her decision to abide by her Affidavit of
Desistance."

In an Order, dated 09 October 1997, Judge Savellano found probable cause for the
issuance of warrants for the arrest of petitioners Alonte and Concepcion “without prejudice to,
and independent of, this Court’s separate determination as the trier of facts, of the
voluntariness and validity of the [private complainant's] desistance in the light of the
opposition of the public prosecutor, Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab.”

On 02 November 1997, Alonte voluntarily surrendered himself to Director Santiago Toledo


of the National Bureau of Investigation (“NBI”), while Concepcion, in his case, posted the
recommended bail of P150,000.00.

On 07 November 1997, petitioners were arraigned and both pleaded “not guilty” to the
charge. The parties manifested that they were waiving pre-trial. The proceedings forthwith
went on. Per Judge Savellano, both parties agreed to proceed with the trial of the case on
the merits.[4] According to Alonte, however, Judge Savellano allowed the prosecution to
present evidence relative only to the question of the voluntariness and validity of the affidavit
of desistance.[5]

It would appear that immediately following the arraignment, the prosecution presented
private complainant Juvie-lyn Punongbayan followed by her parents. During this hearing,
Punongbayan affirmed the validity and voluntariness of her affidavit of desistance. She stated
that she had no intention of giving positive testimony in support of the charges against Alonte
and had no interest in further prosecuting the action. Punongbayan confirmed: (i) That she
was compelled to desist because of the harassment she was experiencing from the media,
(ii) that no pressures nor influence were exerted upon her to sign the affidavit of desistance,
and (iii) that neither she nor her parents received a single centavo from anybody to secure
the affidavit of desistance.
Assistant State Prosecutor Marilyn Campomanes then presented, in
sequence: (i) Punongbayan’s parents, who affirmed their signatures on the affidavit of
desistance and their consent to their daughter’s decision to desist from the case, and
(ii) Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Alberto Nofuente, who attested that the affidavit of
desistance was signed by Punongbayan and her parents in his presence and that he was
satisfied that the same was executed freely and voluntarily. Finally, Campomanes manifested
that in light of the decision of private complainant and her parents not to pursue the case, the
State had no further evidence against the accused to prove the guilt of the accused. She,
then, moved for the "dismissal of the case" against both Alonte and Concepcion.

Thereupon, respondent judge said that "the case was submitted for decision."[6]

On 10 November 1997, petitioner Alonte filed an "Urgent Motion to Admit to Bail."


Assistant State Prosecutor Campomanes, in a Comment filed on the same date, stated that
the State interposed “no objection to the granting of bail and in fact Justice and Equity
dictates that it joins the accused in his prayer for the granting of bail.”

Respondent judge did not act on the application for bail.

On 17 November 1997, Alonte filed anew an Urgent Plea to Resolve the Motion for
Bail. On even date, ASP Campomanes filed a Manifestation deeming "it proper and in accord
with justice and fair play to join the aforestated motion.”

Again, the respondent judge did not act on the urgent motion.

The records would indicate that on the 25th November 1997, 1st December 1997, 8th
December 1997 and 10th December 1997, petitioner Alonte filed a Second, Third, Fourth and
Fifth Motion for Early Resolution, respectively, in respect of his application for bail. None of
these motions were acted upon by Judge Savellano.

On 17 December 1997, Attorney Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun, the lead counsel for petitioner
Alonte received a notice from the RTC Manila, Branch 53, notifying him of the schedule of
promulgation, on 18 December 1997, of the decision on the case. The counsel for accused
Concepcion denied having received any notice of the scheduled promulgation.

On 18 December 1997, after the case was called, Atty. Sigrid Fortun and Atty. Jose
Flaminiano manifested that Alonte could not attend the promulgation of the decision because
he was suffering from mild hypertension and was confined at the NBI clinic and that, upon the
other hand, petitioner Concepcion and his counsel would appear not to have been notified of
the proceedings. The promulgation, nevertheless, of the decision proceeded in absentia; the
reading concluded:
“WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the two (2) accused Mayor Bayani
Alonte and Buenaventura `Wella’ Concepcion guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the heinous
crime of RAPE, as defined and penalized under Article 335(2) in relation to Article 27 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, for which each one of the them
is hereby sentenced to suffer the indivisible penalty ofRECLUSION PERPETUA or
imprisonment for twenty (20) years and one (1) day to forty (40) years.
“In view thereof, the bail bond put up by the accused Buenaventura `Wella’ Concepcion for his
provisional liberty is hereby cancelled and rendered without any further force and effect.
“SO ORDERED.”[7]

On the same day of 18th December 1997, petitioner Alonte filed a motion for
reconsideration. Without waiting for its resolution, Alonte filed the instant "Ex Abundante Ad
Cautelam" for "Certiorari, Prohibition, Habeas Corpus, Bail, Recusation of respondent
Judge, and for Disciplinary Action against an RTC Judge." Petitioner Concepcion later filed
his own petition for certiorari and mandamus with the Court.

Alonte submits the following grounds in support of his petition seeking to have the
decision nullified and the case remanded for new trial; thus:
“The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the case a quo (Annex A) without affording the
petitioner his Constitutional right to due process of law (Article III, § 1, Constitution).
“The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the case a quo in violation of the mandatory
provisions of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, specifically, in the conduct and order of trial
(Rule 119) prior to the promulgation of a judgment (Rule 120; Annex A).
“The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction when, in total disregard of the Revised Rules on Evidence and existing doctrinal
jurisprudence, he rendered a Decision in the case a quo (Annex A) on the basis of two (2)
affidavits (Punongbayan’s and Balbin’s) which were neither marked nor offered into evidence
by the prosecution, nor without giving the petitioner anopportunity to cross-examine the
affiants thereof, again in violation of petitioner’s right to due process (Article III, § 1,
Constitution).
“The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the case a quo without conducting a trial on the
facts which would establish that complainant was raped by petitioner (Rule 119, Article III, § 1,
Constitution), thereby setting a dangerous precedent where heinous offenses can result in
conviction without trial (then with more reason that simpler offenses could end up with the
same result).”[8]

On the other hand, Concepcion relies on the following grounds in support of his own
petition; thus:
“1. The decision of the respondent Judge rendered in the course of resolving the
prosecution’s motion to dismiss the case is a patent nullity for having been rendered without
jurisdiction, without the benefit of a trial and in total violation of the petitioner’s right to due
process of law.
“2. There had been no valid promulgation of judgment at least as far as petitioner is
concerned.
“3. The decision had been rendered in gross violation of the right of the accused to a
fair trial by an impartial and neutral judge whose actuations and outlook of the case had been
motivated by a sinister desire to ride on the crest of media hype that surrounded this case and
use this case as a tool for his ambition for promotion to a higher court.
“4. The decision is patently contrary to law and the jurisprudence in so far as it convicts
the petitioner as a principal even though he has been charged only as an accomplice in the
information.”[9]

The petitions deserve some merit; the Court will disregard, in view of the case milieu, the
prematurity of petitioners' invocation, i.e., even before the trial court could resolve Alonte's
motion for reconsideration.

The Court must admit that it is puzzled by the somewhat strange way the case has
proceeded below. Per Judge Savellano, after the waiver by the parties of the pre-trial
stage, the trial of the case did proceed on the merits but that -
"The two (2) accused did not present any countervailing evidence during the trial. They did
not take the witness stand to refute or deny under oath the truth of the contents of the private
complainant's aforementioned affidavit which she expressly affirmed and confirmed in Court,
but, instead, thru their respective lawyers, they rested and submitted the case for decision
merely on the basis of the private complainant's so called 'desistance' which, to them, was
sufficient enough for their purposes. They left everything to the so-called 'desistance' of the
private complainant."[10]

According to petitioners, however, there was no such trial for what was conducted on 07
November 1997, aside from the arraignment of the accused, was merely a proceeding in
conformity with the resolution of this Court in Administrative Case No. 97-1-12-RTC to
determine the validity and voluntariness of the affidavit of desistance executed by
Punongbayan.

It does seem to the Court that there has been undue precipitancy in the conduct of the
proceedings. Perhaps the problem could have well been avoided had not the basic
procedures been, to the Court's perception, taken lightly. And in this shortcoming, looking at
the records of the case, the trial court certainly is not alone to blame.

Section 14, paragraphs (1) and (2), of Article III, of the Constitution provides the
fundamentals.
"(1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.
"(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is
proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial,
to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance
of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial
may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly
notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable."

Jurisprudence[11] acknowledges that due process in criminal proceedings, in particular,


require (a) that the court or tribunal trying the case is properly clothed with judicial power 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.[12]
The above constitutional and jurisprudential postulates, by now elementary and deeply
imbedded in our own criminal justice system, are mandatory and indispensable. The
principles find universal acceptance and are tersely expressed in the oft-quoted statement
that procedural due process cannot possibly be met without a "law which hears before it
condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and renders judgment only after trial."[13]

The order of trial in criminal cases is clearly spelled out in Section 3, Rule 119, of the
Rules of Court; viz:
"Sec. 3. Order of trial. - The trial shall proceed in the following order:
"(a) The prosecution shall present evidence to prove the charge and, in the proper case, the
civil liability.
"(b) The accused may present evidence to prove his defense, and damages, if any, arising
from the issuance of any provisional remedy in the case.
"(c) The parties may then respectively present rebutting evidence only, unless the court, in
furtherance of justice, permits them to present additional evidence bearing upon the main
issue.
"(d) Upon admission of the evidence, the case shall be deemed submitted for decision
unless the court directs the parties to argue orally or to submit memoranda.
"(e) However, when the accused admits the act or omission charged in the complaint or
information but interposes a lawful defense, the order of trial may be modified accordingly."

In Tabao vs. Espina,[14] the Court has underscored the need to adhere strictly to the above
rules. It reminds that -
"x x x each step in the trial process serves a specific purpose. In the trial of criminal cases,
the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of an accused requires that an accused
be given sufficient opportunity to present his defense. So, with the prosecution as to its
evidence.
"Hence, any deviation from the regular course of trial should always take into consideration
the rights of all the parties to the case, whether in the prosecution or defense. In the exercise
of their discretion, judges are sworn not only to uphold the law but also to do what is fair and
just. The judicial gavel should not be wielded by one who has an unsound and distorted
sense of justice and fairness.[15]

While Judge Savellano has claimed in his Comment that -


"Petitioners-accused were each represented during the hearing on 07 November 1997 with
their respective counsel of choice. None of their counsel interposed an intention to cross-
examine rape victim Juvielyn Punongbayan, even after she attested, in answer to respondent
judge's clarificatory questions, the voluntariness and truth of her two affidavits - one detailing
the rape and the other detailing the attempts to buy her desistance; the opportunity was
missed/not used, hence waived. The rule of case law is that the right to confront and cross-
examine a witness 'is a personal one and may be waived.'" (emphasis supplied) -

it should be pointed out, however, that the existence of the waiver must be positively
demonstrated. The standard of waiver requires that it "not only must be voluntary, but must be
knowing, intelligent, and done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and
likely consequences."[16] Mere silence of the holder of the right should not be so construed
as a waiver of right, and the courts must indulge every reasonable presumption against
waiver.[17] The Solicitor General has aptly discerned a few of the deviations from what
otherwise should have been the regular course of trial: (1) Petitioners have not been directed
to present evidence to prove their defenses nor have dates therefor been scheduled for the
purpose;[18] (2) the parties have not been given the opportunity to present rebutting evidence
nor have dates been set by respondent Judge for the purpose;[19] and (3) petitioners have
not admitted the act charged in the Information so as to justify any modification in the order of
trial.[20] There can be no short-cut to the legal process, and there can be no excuse for not
affording an accused his full day in court. Due process, rightly occupying the first and
foremost place of honor in our Bill of Rights, is an enshrined and invaluable right that cannot
be denied even to the most undeserving.

This case, in fine, must be remanded for further proceedings. And, since the case would
have to be sent back to the court a quo, thisponencia has carefully avoided making any
statement or reference that might be misconstrued as prejudgment or as pre-empting the trial
court in the proper disposition of the case. The Court likewise deems it appropriate that all
related proceedings therein, including the petition for bail, should be subject to the proper
disposition of the trial court.

Nevertheless, it is needful to stress a few observations on the affidavit of desistance


executed by the complainant.

Firstly, the affidavit of desistance of Juvie-Lyn Punongbayan, hereinbefore quoted, does


not contain any statement that disavows the veracity of her complaint against petitioners but
merely seeks to "be allowed to withdraw" her complaint and to discontinue with the case for
varied other reasons. On this subject, the case of People vs. Junio,[21] should be
instructive. The Court has there explained:
“The appellant’s submission that the execution of an Affidavit of Desistance by complainant
who was assisted by her mother supported the `inherent incredibility of prosecution’s
evidence’ is specious. We have said in so many cases that retractions are generally
unreliable and are looked upon with considerable disfavor by the courts. The unreliable
character of this document is shown by the fact that it is quite incredible that after going
through the process of having accused-appellant arrested by the police, positively identifying
him as the person who raped her, enduring the humiliation of a physical examination of her
private parts, and then repeating her accusations in open court by recounting her anguish,
Maryjane would suddenly turn around and declare that `[a]fter a careful deliberation over the
case, (she) find(s) that the same does not merit or warrant criminal prosecution.’
“Thus, we have declared that at most the retraction is an afterthought which should not be
given probative value. It would be a dangerous rule to reject the testimony taken before the
court of justice simply because the witness who has given it later on changed his mind for one
reason or another. Such a rule will make a solemn trial a mockery and place the investigation
at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. Because affidavits of retraction can easily be
secured from poor and ignorant witnesses, usually for monetary consideration, the Court has
invariably regarded such affidavits as exceedingly unreliable. [Flores vs. People, 211 SCRA
622, citing De Guzman vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 184 SCRA 128; People vs. Galicia,
123 SCRA 550.][22]
The Junio rule is no different from ordinary criminal cases. For instance, in People vs.
Ballabare,[23] a murder case, the Court has ruled:
“The contention has no merit. To begin with, the Affidavit executed by eyewitness Tessie
Asenita is not a recantation. To recant a prior statement is to renounce and withdraw it
formally and publicly. [36 WORDS AND PHRASES 683, citing Pradlik vs. State, 41-A 2nd,
906, 907.] In her affidavit, Tessie Asenita did not really recant what she had said during the
trial. She only said she wanted to withdraw her testimony because her father, Leonardo
Tacadao, Sr., was no longer interested in prosecuting the case against accused-
appellant. Thus, her affidavit stated:
“3. That inasmuch as my father, Leonardo Tacadao, Sr., the complainant therein, was no
longer interested to prosecute the case as manifested in the Sworn Affidavit of Desistance
before the Provincial Prosecutor, I do hereby WITHDRAW and/or REVOKE my testimony of
record to confirm (sic) with my father’s desire;
“It is absurd to disregard a testimony that has undergone trial and scrutiny by the court and
the parties simply because an affidavit withdrawing the testimony is subsequently presented
by the defense. In the first place, any recantation must be tested in a public trial with
sufficient opportunity given to the party adversely affected by it to cross-examine the recanting
witness. In this case, Tessie Asenita was not recalled to the witness stand to testify on her
affidavit. Her affidavit is thus hearsay. It was her husband, Roque Asenita, who was
presented and the matters he testified to did not even bear on the substance of Tessie’s
affidavit. He testified that accused-appellant was not involved in the perpetration of the crime.
“In the second place, to accept the new evidence uncritically would be to make a solemn trial
a mockery and place the investigation at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. [De Guzman
vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 184 SCRA 128, 134, citing People vs. Morales, 113 SCRA
683.] For even assuming that Tessie Asenita had made a retraction, this circumstance alone
does not require the court to disregard her original testimony. A retraction does not
necessarily negate an earlier declaration. [People vs. Davatos, 229 SCRA 647.] For this
reason, courts look with disfavor upon retractions because they can easily be obtained from
witnesses usually through intimidation or for monetary considerations. [People vs. Clamor,
198 SCRA 642.] Hence, when confronted with a situation where a witness recants his
testimony, courts must not automatically exclude the original testimony solely on the basis of
the recantation. They should determine which testimony should be given credence through a
comparison of the original testimony and the new testimony, applying the general rules of
evidence. [Reano vs. Court of Appeals, 165 SCRA 525.] In this case we think the trial court
correctly ruled.”[24]

It may not be amiss to state that courts have the inherent power to compel the attendance
of any person to testify in a case pending before it, and a party is not precluded from invoking
that authority.[25]

Secondly, an affidavit of desistance by itself, even when construed as a pardon in the so-
called "private crimes," is not a ground for the dismissal of the criminal case once the action
has been instituted. The affidavit, nevertheless, may, as so earlier intimated, possibly
constitute evidence whose weight or probative value, like any other piece of evidence, would
be up to the court for proper evaluation. The decision in Juniowent on to hold -
“While `[t]he offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness, shall not be
prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents, grandparents,
or guardian, nor in any case, if the offender has been expressly pardoned by the above
named persons, as the case may be,’ [Third par. of Art. 344, The Revised Penal Code.] the
pardon to justify the dismissal of the complaint should have been made prior to the institution
of the criminal action. [People vs. Entes, 103 SCRA 162, cited by People vs. Soliao, 194
SCRA 250, which in turn is cited in People vs. Villorente, 210 SCRA 647.] Here, the motion to
dismiss to which the affidavit of desistance is attached was filed after the institution of the
criminal case. And, affiant did not appear to be serious in `signifying (her) intention to refrain
from testifying’ since she still completed her testimony notwithstanding her earlier affidavit of
desistance. More, the affidavit is suspect considering that while it was dated `April 1992,’ it
was only submitted sometime in August 1992, four (4) months after the Information was filed
before the court a quo on 6 April 1992, perhaps dated as such to coincide with the actual filing
of the case.”[26]

In People vs. Miranda,[27] applying the pertinent provisions of Article 344 of the Revised
Penal Code which, in full, states -
"Art. 344. Prosecution of the crimes of adultery, concubinage, seduction, abduction, rape,
and acts of lasciviousness. The crimes of adultery and concubinage shall not be prosecuted
except upon a complaint filed by the offended spouse.
"The offended party cannot institute criminal prosecution without including both the guilty
parties, if they are both alive, nor, in any case, if he shall have consented or pardoned the
offenders.
"The offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness, shall not be prosecuted
except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents, grandparents, or guardian,
nor, in any case, if the offender has been expressly pardoned by the above named persons,
as the case may be.
"In cases of seduction, abduction, acts of lasciviousness and rape, the marriage of the
offender with the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or remit the penalty
already imposed upon him. The provisions of this paragraph shall also be applicable to the
coprincipals, accomplices and accessories after the fact of the above-mentioned crimes." -

the Court said:


"Paragraph 3 of the legal provision above quoted prohibits a prosecution for seduction,
abduction, rape, or acts of lasciviousness, except upon a complaint made by the offended
party or her parents, grandparents, or guardian, nor, in any case, if the offender has been
expressly pardoned by the above-named persons, as the case may be. It does not prohibit
the continuance of a prosecution if the offended party pardons the offender after the cause
has been instituted, nor does it order the dismissal of said cause. The only act that according
to article 344 extinguishes the penal action and the penalty that may have been imposed is
the marriage between the offended and the offended party."[28]

In People vs. Infante,[29] decided just a little over a month before Miranda, the Court
similarly held:
"In this court, after the case had been submitted, a motion to dismiss was filed on behalf of
the appellant predicated on an affidavit executed by Manuel Artigas, Jr., in which he pardoned
his guilty spouse for her infidelity. But this attempted pardon cannot prosper for two
reasons. The second paragraph of article 344 of the Revised Penal Code which is in
question reads: 'The offended party cannot institute criminal prosecution without including
both the guilty parties, if they are both alive, nor, in any case, if he shall have consented or
pardoned the offenders.' This provision means that the pardon afforded the offenders must
come before the institution of the criminal prosecution, and means, further, that both the
offenders must be pardoned by the offended party. To elucidate further, article 435 of the old
Penal Code provided: 'The husband may at any time remit the penalty imposed upon his
wife. In such case the penalty imposed upon the wife's paramour shall also be deemed to be
remitted.' These provisions of the old Penal Code became inoperative after the passage of
Act No. 1773, section 2, which had the effect of repealing the same. The Revised Penal
Code thereafter expressly repealed the old Penal Code, and in so doing did not have the
effect of reviving any of its provisions which were not in force. But with the incorporation of
the second paragraph of article 344, the pardon given by the offended party again constitutes
a bar to the prosecution for adultery. Once more, however, it must be emphasized that this
pardon must come before the institution of the criminal prosecution and must be for both
offenders to be effective - circumstances which do not concur in this case."[30]

The decisions speak well for themselves, and the Court need not say more than what it
has heretofore already held.

Relative to the prayer for the disqualification of Judge Savellano from further hearing the
case, the Court is convinced that Judge Savellano should, given the circumstances, be best
excused from the case. Possible animosity between the personalities here involved may not
all be that unlikely. The pronouncement of this Court in the old case of Luque vs.
Kayanan[31] could again be said: All suitors are entitled to nothing short of the cold neutrality
of an independent, wholly-free, disinterested and unbiased tribunal. Second only to the duty
of rendering a just decision is the duty of doing it in a manner that will not arouse any
suspicion as to the fairness and integrity of the Judge.[32] It is not enough that a court is
impartial, it must also be perceived as impartial.

The Court cannot end this ponencia without a simple reminder on the use of proper
language before the courts. While the lawyer in promoting the cause of his client or
defending his rights might do so with fervor, simple courtesy demands that it be done within
the bounds of propriety and decency. The use of intemperate language and unkind
ascriptions hardly can be justified nor can have a place in the dignity of judicial forum. Civility
among members of the legal profession is a treasured tradition that must at no time be lost to
it.

Finally, it may be opportune to say, once again, that prosecutors are expected not merely
to discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism and skill but
also to act each time with utmost devotion and dedication to duty.[33] The Court is hopeful
that the zeal which has been exhibited many times in the past, although regrettably a
disappointment on few occasions, will not be wanting in the proceedings yet to follow.

WHEREFORE, conformably with all the foregoing, the Court hereby RULES that -
(a) The submission of the "Affidavit of Desistance," executed by Juvie-Lyn Y.
Punongbayan on 25 June 1997, having been filed AFTER the institution of Criminal Case No.
97-159935, DOES NOT WARRANT THE DISMISSAL of said criminal case;
(b) For FAILURE OF DUE PROCESS, the assailed judgment, dated 12 December
1997, convicting petitioners is declared NULL AND VOID and thereby SET ASIDE;
accordingly, the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings; and
(c) Judge Maximo A. Savellano, Jr., presiding Judge of Branch 53 of the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, is ENJOINED from further hearing Criminal Case No. 97-159935; instead,
the case shall immediately be scheduled for raffle among the other branches of that court for
proper disposition.

No special pronouncement on costs.

SO ORDERED.
Melo, Kapunan, Martinez, Quisumbing and Purisima, JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., no part. Related to one of counsel.
Puno, J., see separate opinion.
Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Mendoza and Panganiban, JJ., joins Justice Puno in his
separate opinion.

Presumption of Innocence:
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
PABLEO DRAMAYO, PATERNO ECUBIN, PRIOLO BILLONA, FRANCISCO BILLONA,
MODESTO RONQUILLA, CRESCENCIO SAVANDAL and SEVERO SAVANDAL, defendants;
PABLEO DRAMAYO and PATERNO ECUBIN, defendants-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar, Assistant Solicitor General Arturo G. Ibarra and
Solicitor Conrado T. Limcaoco for plaintiff-appellee.
Arturo E. Balbastro for defendants-appellants.

FERNANDO, J.:
There is an element of ingenuity as well as of novel in the plea made by counsel de oficio in this appeal
of the accused Pableo Dramayo and Paterno Ecubin, who were sentenced to life imprisonment for the
murder of Estelito Nogaliza. The claim is vigorously pressed that because the information alleged
conspiracy on the part of seven defendants, with only the two appellants being convicted, two having
been utilized as state witnesses and the other three having been acquitted on the ground of insufficiency
of evidence as to their culpability, the judgment of conviction against the appellants cannot stand, there
being a reasonable doubt as to their guilt. To bolster such a contention, certain alleged deficiencies in
the proof offered by the prosecution were noted. A careful study of the evidence of record would leave
no other rational conclusion but that the deceased met his death at the hands of the appellants in the
manner as found by the lower court. Hence the appeal cannot prosper. We affirm.
The gory incident which was attended by a fatality started on the morning of January 9, 1964. The two
accused, now appellants, Pableo Dramayo and Paterno Ecubin, in the company of the deceased Estelito
Nogaliza, all of Barrio Magsaysay, of the Municipality of Sapao, Surigao del Norte, saw its chief of
police. Their purpose was to shed light on a robbery committed in the house of the deceased five days
before by being available as witnesses. The response was decidedly in the negative as they themselves
were prime suspects, having been implicated by at least two individuals who had confessed. At about
7:00 o'clock of the same day, while they were in the house of their co-accused Priolo Billona, the
accused Dramayo invited all those present including the other accused Francisco Billons, Modesto
Ronquilla. Crescencio and Severo Savandal, for a drinking session at a place at the back of the school
house. It was on that occasion that Dramayo brought up the idea of killing Estelito Nogaliza so that he
could not testify in the robbery case. The idea was for Dramayo and Ecubin to ambush Estelito, who
was returning from Sapao. The others were to station themselves nearby. 1
Soon the unfortunate victim was sighted. He was accosted by Dramayo with a request for a cigarette. It
was then that Ecubin hit him with a piece of wood on the side of the head near the right ear. Dramayo's
participation consisted of repeated stabs with a short pointed bolo as he lay prostrate from the blow of
Ecubin. It was the former also, who warned the rest of the group to keep their mouths sealed as to what
had just happened. His equanimity appeared undisturbed for early the next morning, he went to the
house of the deceased and informed the, latter's widow Corazon that he had just seen the cadaver of
Estelito. The barrio lieutenant and the chief of police were duly notified. The latter, upon noticing blood
stains on the trousers of Dramayo, asked him to explain. The answer was that a skin ailment of his
daughter was the cause thereof. 2 The death was due to the wounds inflicted, two in the epigastric
region, one in the right lumbar region, and another in the left breast.
It was on the basis of the above testimony offered by the prosecution that the lower court reached its
decision. Its dispositive portion found the accused, now appellant Pableo Dramayo and Paterno Ecubin,
guilty beyond reasonable doubt, of the crime of [murder], defined and penalized under Art. 248 of the
Revised Penal Code, qualified by the circumstance of evident premeditation aggravated by night time,
and imposes upon each of the said accused, Pableo Dramayo and Paterno Ecubin, the penalty of
[reclusion perpetual]." 3 Reference was likewise made in such decision as to why the other co-accused
were not convicted, two of them, Crescencio Savandal and Severo Savandal being utilized as state
witnesses, and the others three, Priolo Billona, Francisco Billona and Modesto Roquilla acquitted.
Why they should not be found guilty was explained in the appealed decision thus: "From the beginning
the accused Modesto Ronquilla maintained that he was not with the group but that he was fishing in the
sea during the night in question. These facts that is, that none of the prosecution witnesses has testified
that any of these three accused actually helped in the killing of the deceased, Estelito Nogaliza; that
these three accused were included in the case only much later after the filing of this case against Pableo
Dramayo and Paterno Ecubin; the consistent contention of the accused Modesto Ronquilla that he was
out in the sea fishing during the night in question; and the testimonies of the accused Priolo Billona
[and] Francisco [and their witnesses,] Juan Billona, Esperanza Oposa Billona, Guillerma Ponce, and
Anselmo Lisondra, given in a straight-forward manner, without hesitation, revealing a clear conscience,
and the fact that the testimonies of these witnesses have not been refuted by the PC soldiers (whom
they accused of maltreatment] when they were available to the prosecution, cause the Court to entertain
a very serious doubt as to the guilt of the said accused." 4
The lower court was hardly impressed with the defense of alibi interposed by now appellants Dramayo
and Ecubin, and it must have been their lack of persuasive character that must have led to the able brief
of counselde oficio, Atty. Arturo E. Balbastro, stressing the absence of evidence sufficient to convict,
there still being a reasonable doubt to be implied from the fact that while conspiracy was alleged, only
two of the seven accused were held culpable. To repeat, a meticulous appraisal of the evidence justifies
a finding of the guilt of the appellants for the offense charged, thus calling for the affirmance of the
decision.
1. It is to be admitted that the starting point is the Presumption of innocence. So it must be, according
to the Constitution. 5 That is a right safeguarded both appellants. Accusation is not, according to the
fundamental law, synonymous with guilt. It is incumbent on the prosecution demonstrate that
culpability lies. Appellants were not even called upon then to offer evidence on their behalf. Their
freedom is forfeit only if the requisite quantum of proof necessary for conviction be in existence. Their
guilt be shown beyond reasonable doubt. To such a standard this Court has always been committed.
There is need, therefore, for the most careful scrutiny of the testimony of the state, both oral and
documentary, independently whatever defense is offered by the accused. Only if judge below and the
appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the
person on trial under such an exacting test should sentence be one of conviction. It is thus required that
circumstance favoring his innocence be duly taken into count. The proof against him must survive the
reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway away judgment. The conscience must be
satisfied that on the defendant could be laid the responsibility for the offense charged; that not only did
he perpetrate the act but that it amounted to a crime. What is required then is moral certainty.
So it has been held from the 1903 decision of United States v. Reyes. 6 United States v.
Lasada, 7 decided in 1910, yields this excerpt: "By reasonable doubt is meant that which of possibility
may arise, but it is doubt engendered by an investigation of the whole proof and an inability, after such
investigation, to let the mind rest easy upon the certainty of guilt. Absolute certain of guilt is not
demanded by the law to convict of any carnal charge but moral certainty is required, and this certainty
is required as to every proposition of proof regular to constitute the offense." 8 To the same effect is an
excerpt from the opinion of the late Justice Tuason in People v. Esquivel. 9 Thus: "In this connection it
may not be out of place to bring to the attention of prosecuting attorneys the absolute necessity of
laying before the court the pertinent facts as their disposal with methodical and meticulous attention,
clarifying contradictions and filling up gaps and loopholes in their evidence, to the end that the court's
mind may not be tortured by doubts, that the innocent may not suffer and the guilty not escape
unpunished. Obvious to all, this is the prosecution's prime duty to the court, to the accused, and to the
state."10
It is understandable why the stress should be on the absence of sufficient evidence to establish the guilt
of appellants beyond reasonable doubt, the defense of alibi interposed hardly meriting any further
discussion. It cannot be denied though that the credible and competent evidence of record resulted in
moral certainty being entertained not only by the trial judge but by us as to the culpability of appellants.
The force of the controlling doctrines, on the other hand, required that the other three accused be
acquitted precisely because, unlike in the case of appellants, the requisite quantum of proof to show
guilt beyond reasonable doubt was not present. There is no question as to the other two who testified
for the state being likewise no long subject to any criminal liability. The reference then to opinion of
the late Justice Laurel, stressing the need for adhering to the fundamental postulate that a finding of
guilt is allowable only when no reasonable doubt could be entertained, is unavailing. This is evident
from the very citation in the brief of appellants of the opinion of Justice Laurel in People v.
Manoji. 11 Thus: "Upon the other hand there are certain facts which if taken together are sufficient to
raise in the mind of the court a grave doubt as to the guilt of the defendant-appellant, 'that doubt
engendered by an investigation of the whole proof and an inability after such investigation, to let the
mind rest easy upon the certainty of guilt.' (U.S. v. Lasada [1910], 18 Phil. 90, 96.) The finding of the
two gold teeth of the deceased the suitcase of Maradani, and the testimony of Erajio Ello that he gave
the hat ... to Maradani not only engender serious doubt in our minds as to the guilt of the appellant but
also seems to sustain the theory of the defense and strengthen the suspicion of the trial court, that
Maradani and Salupudin are not foreign to, or entirely ignorant of, the killing of Seijin Ige. In the light
of the facts and circumstances of record, we feel that it is better to acquit a man upon the ground of
reasonable doubt, even though he may in reality be guilty, than to confine in the penitentiary for the rest
of his natural life a person who may be innocent. ..." 12 The facts of the present case certainly do not fit
within the above mold. Reliance on the part of appellants on the above decision is therefore futile.
The judgment of conviction should not have occasioned any surprise on the part of the two appellants,
as from the evidence deserving of the fullest credence, their guilt had been more than amply
demonstrated. The presumption of innocence could not come to their rescue as it was more than
sufficiently overcome by the proof that was offered by the prosecution. What would have been a blot
on the law is that if, on the facts as established, no reasonable doubt being entertained, the two
appellants would have been acquitted likewise just because the other five defendants, for the reasons
above stated, were not similarly sentenced. The principal contention raised is thus clearly untenable. It
must be stated likewise that while squarely advanced for the first time, there had been cases where this
Court, notwithstanding a majority of the defendants being acquitted, the element of conspiracy likewise
being allegedly present, did hold the party or parties, responsible for the offense guilty of the crime
charged, a moral certainty having arisen as to their capability. 13
2. The brief for appellants did seek to fortify the allegation as to their guilt not having been sufficiently
demonstrated with the contention that the lower court overlooked or did not properly consider material
and significant facts of record that ought to have substantially affected or altered the judgment. Even
the most careful reading of such brief, however, with due recognition of the vigor in which this
particular point is pressed, would not destroy the credibility of the facts as testified to concerning the
manner in which the deceased was killed and the motive that prompted appellants to put an end to his
life. That such a version could not have been concocted is shown by the undeniable fact that the two
appellants were duly convicted of robbery, with the deceased as the offended party. It was
understandable then why they would want to do away with the principal witness against them. There
was thus a strong inducement for the appellants to have committed this crime of murder. With the
testimony of record pointing to no other conclusion except the perpetration of the killing by them, the
effort of their counsel, while to be expected from an advocate zealous in defense of his clients' rights,
certainly should not be attended with success. It suffices to reiterate the well-settled principle that this
Court has invariably respected the findings of facts of a trial judge who was in a position to weigh and
appraise the testimony before him except when, as was not shown in this case, circumstances weight or
influence were ignored or disregarded by him. 14
WHEREFORE, the judgment of September 8, 1965 affirmed with the modification that the
indemnification to the heirs of Estelito Nogaliza should be in the sum P12,000.00. With costs.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes,

PATRICIO DUMLAO, ROMEO B. IGOT, and ALFREDO SALAPANTAN, JR., petitioners,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
Raul M. Gonzales for petitioners
Office of the Solicitor General for respondent.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J:
This is a Petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction and/or Restraining Order filed by
petitioners, in their own behalf and all others allegedly similarly situated, seeking to enjoin respondent
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from implementing certain provisions of Batas Pambansa Big.
51, 52, and 53 for being unconstitutional.
The Petition alleges that petitioner, Patricio Dumlao, is a former Governor of Nueva Vizcaya, who has
filed his certificate of candidacy for said position of Governor in the forthcoming elections of January
30, 1980. Petitioner, Romeo B. Igot, is a taxpayer, a qualified voter and a member of the Bar who, as
such, has taken his oath to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the land. Petitioner, Alfredo
Salapantan, Jr., is also a taxpayer, a qualified voter, and a resident of San Miguel, Iloilo.
Petitioner Dumlao specifically questions the constitutionality of section 4 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 as
discriminatory and contrary to the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Constitution. Said
Section 4 provides:
Sec. 4. Special Disqualification in addition to violation of section 10 of Art. XI I-C of
the Constitution and disqualification mentioned in existing laws, which are hereby
declared as disqualification for any of the elective officials enumerated in section 1
hereof.
Any retired elective provincial city or municipal official who has received payment of the
retirement benefits to which he is entitled under the law, and who shall have been 6,5
years of age at the commencement of the term of office to which he seeks to be elected
shall not be qualified to run for the same elective local office from which he has
retired (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner Dumlao alleges that the aforecited provision is directed insidiously against him, and that the
classification provided therein is based on "purely arbitrary grounds and, therefore, class legislation."
For their part, petitioners igot and Salapantan, Jr. assail the validity of the following statutory
provisions:
Sec 7. Terms of Office — Unless sooner removed for cause, all local elective officials
hereinabove mentioned shall hold office for a term of six (6) years, which shall
commence on the first Monday of March 1980.
.... (Batas Pambansa Blg. 51) Sec. 4.
Sec. 4. ...
Any person who has committed any act of disloyalty to the State, including acts
amounting to subversion, insurrection, rebellion or other similar crimes, shall not be
qualified to be a candidate for any of the offices covered by this Act, or to participate in
any partisan political activity therein:
provided that a judgment of conviction for any of the aforementioned crimes shall be
conclusive evidence of such fact and
the filing of charges for the commission of such crimes before a civil court or military
tribunal after preliminary investigation shall be prima fascie evidence of such fact.
... (Batas Pambansa Big. 52) (Paragraphing and Emphasis supplied).
Section 1. Election of certain Local Officials — ... The election shall be held on January
30, 1980. (Batas Pambansa, Blg. 52)
Section 6. Election and Campaign Period — The election period shall be fixed by the
Commission on Elections in accordance with Section 6, Art. XII-C of the Constitution.
The period of campaign shall commence on December 29, 1979 and terminate on
January 28, 1980. (ibid.)
In addition to the above-cited provisions, petitioners Igot and Salapantan, Jr. also question the
accreditation of some political parties by respondent COMELEC, as authorized by Batas Pambansa
Blg. 53, on the ground that it is contrary to section 9(1)Art. XIIC of the Constitution, which provides
that a "bona fide candidate for any public office shall be it. from any form of harassment and
discrimination. "The question of accreditation will not be taken up in this case but in that of Bacalso, et
als. vs. COMELEC et als. No. L-52232) where the issue has been squarely raised,
Petitioners then pray that the statutory provisions they have challenged be declared null and void for
being violative of the Constitution.
I . The procedural Aspect
At the outset, it should be stated that this Petition suffers from basic procedural infirmities, hence,
traditionally unacceptable for judicial resolution. For one, there is a misjoinder of parties and actions.
Petitioner Dumlao's interest is alien to that of petitioners Igot and Salapantan Petitioner Dumlao does
not join petitioners Igot and Salapantan in the burden of their complaint, nor do the latter join Dumlao
in his. The respectively contest completely different statutory provisions. Petitioner Dumlao has joined
this suit in his individual capacity as a candidate. The action of petitioners Igot and Salapantan is more
in the nature of a taxpayer's suit. Although petitioners plead nine constraints as the reason of their joint
Petition, it would have required only a modicum more of effort tor petitioner Dumlao, on one hand said
petitioners lgot and Salapantan, on the other, to have filed separate suits, in the interest of orderly
procedure.
For another, there are standards that have to be followed inthe exercise of the function of judicial
review, namely (1) the existence of an appropriate case:, (2) an interest personal and substantial by the
party raising the constitutional question: (3) the plea that the function be exercised at the earliest
opportunity and (4) the necessity that the constiutional question be passed upon in order to decide the
case (People vs. Vera 65 Phil. 56 [1937]).
It may be conceded that the third requisite has been complied with, which is, that the parties have
raised the issue of constitutionality early enough in their pleadings.
This Petition, however, has fallen far short of the other three criteria.
A. Actual case and controversy.
It is basic that the power of judicial review is limited to the determination of actual cases and
controversies.
Petitioner Dumlao assails the constitutionality of the first paragraph of section 4 of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 52, quoted earlier, as being contrary to the equal protection clause guaranteed by the Constitution,
and seeks to prohibit respondent COMELEC from implementing said provision. Yet, Dumlao has not
been adversely affected by the application of that provision. No petition seeking Dumlao's
disqualification has been filed before the COMELEC. There is no ruling of that constitutional body on
the matter, which this Court is being asked to review on Certiorari. His is a question posed in the
abstract, a hypothetical issue, and in effect, a petition for an advisory opinion from this Court to be
rendered without the benefit of a detailed factual record Petitioner Dumlao's case is clearly within the
primary jurisdiction (see concurring Opinion of now Chief Justice Fernando in Peralta vs. Comelec, 82
SCRA 30, 96 [1978]) of respondent COMELEC as provided for in section 2, Art. XII-C, for the
Constitution the pertinent portion of which reads:
"Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall have the following power and functions:
1) xxx
2) Be the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of
all members of the National Assembly and elective provincial and city officials.
(Emphasis supplied)
The aforequoted provision must also be related to section 11 of Art. XII-C, which provides:
Section 11. Any decision, order, or ruling of the Commission may be brought to the
Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from his receipt of
a copy thereof.
B. Proper party.
The long-standing rule has been that "the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have a
personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a
result of its enforcement" (People vs. Vera, supra).
In the case of petitioners Igot and Salapantan, it was only during the hearing, not in their Petition, that
Igot is said to be a candidate for Councilor. Even then, it cannot be denied that neither one has been
convicted nor charged with acts of disloyalty to the State, nor disqualified from being candidates for
local elective positions. Neither one of them has been calle ed to have been adversely affected by the
operation of the statutory provisions they assail as unconstitutional Theirs is a generated grievance.
They have no personal nor substantial interest at stake. In the absence of any litigate interest, they can
claim no locus standi in seeking judicial redress.
It is true that petitioners Igot and Salapantan have instituted this case as a taxpayer's suit, and that the
rule enunciated in People vs. Vera, above stated, has been relaxed in Pascual vs. The Secretary of
Public Works (110 Phil. 331 [1960], thus:
... it is well settled that the validity of a statute may be contested only by one who will
sustain a direct injury in consequence of its enforcement. Yet, there are many decisions
nullifying at the instance of taxpayers, laws providing for the disbursement of public
funds, upon the theory that "the expenditure of public funds, by an officer of the State
for the purpose of administering an unconstitutional act constitutes a misapplication of
such funds," which may be enjoined at the request of a taxpayer.
In the same vein, it has been held:
In the determination of the degree of interest essential to give the requisite standing to
attack the constitutionality of a statute, the general rule is that not only persons
individually affected, but also taxpayers have sufficient interest in preventing the illegal
expenditure of moneys raised by taxation and they may, therefore, question the
constitutionality of statutes requiring expenditure of public moneys. (Philippine
Constitution Association, Inc., et als., vs. Gimenez, et als., 15 SCRA 479 [1965]).
However, the statutory provisions questioned in this case, namely, sec. 7, BP Blg. 51, and sections 4, 1,
and 6 BP Blg. 52, do not directly involve the disbursement of public funds. While, concededly, the
elections to be held involve the expenditure of public moneys, nowhere in their Petition do said
petitioners allege that their tax money is "being extracted and spent in violation of specific
constitutional protections against abuses of legislative power" (Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S., 83 [1960]), or
that there is a misapplication of such funds by respondent COMELEC (see Pascual vs. Secretary of
Public Works, 110 Phil. 331 [1960]), or that public money is being deflected to any improper purpose.
Neither do petitioners seek to restrain respondent from wasting public funds through the enforcement
of an invalid or unconstitutional law. (Philippine Constitution Association vs. Mathay, 18 SCRA 300
[1966]), citing Philippine Constitution Association vs. Gimenez, 15 SCRA 479 [1965]). Besides, the
institution of a taxpayer's suit, per se is no assurance of judicial review. As held by this Court in Tan vs.
Macapagal (43 SCRA 677 [1972]), speaking through our present Chief Justice, this Court is vested
with discretion as to whether or not a taxpayer's suit should be entertained.
C. Unavoidability of constitutional question.
Again upon the authority of People vs. Vera, "it is a wellsettled rule that the constitutionality of an act
of the legislature will not be determined by the courts unless that question is properly raised and
presented in appropriate cases and is necessary to a determination of the case; i.e., the issue of
constitutionality must be the very lis mota presented."
We have already stated that, by the standards set forth in People vs. Vera, the present is not an
"appropriate case" for either petitioner Dumlao or for petitioners Igot and Salapantan. They are actually
without cause of action. It follows that the necessity for resolving the issue of constitutionality is
absent, and procedural regularity would require that this suit be dismissed.
II. The substantive viewpoint.
We have resolved, however, to rule squarely on two of the challenged provisions, the Courts not being
entirely without discretion in the matter. Thus, adherence to the strict procedural standard was relaxed
in Tinio vs. Mina(26 SCRA 512 [1968]); Edu vs. Ericta (35 SCRA 481 [1970]); and in Gonzalez vs.
Comelec (27 SCRA 835 [1969]), the Opinion in the Tinio and Gonzalez cases having been penned by
our present Chief Justice. The reasons which have impelled us are the paramount public interest
involved and the proximity of the elections which will be held only a few days hence.
Petitioner Dumlao's contention that section 4 of BP Blg. 52 is discriminatory against him personally is
belied by the fact that several petitions for the disqualification of other candidates for local positions
based on the challenged provision have already been filed with the COMELEC (as listed in p. 15,
respondent's Comment). This tellingly overthrows Dumlao's contention of intentional or purposeful
discrimination.
The assertion that Section 4 of BP Blg. 52 is contrary to the safer guard of equal protection is neither
well taken. The constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws is subject to rational
classification. If the groupings are based on reasonable and real differentiations, one class can be
treated and regulated differently from another class. For purposes of public service, employees 65 years
of age, have been validly classified differently from younger employees. Employees attaining that age
are subject to compulsory retirement, while those of younger ages are not so compulsorily retirable.
In respect of election to provincial, city, or municipal positions, to require that candidates should not be
more than 65 years of age at the time they assume office, if applicable to everyone, might or might not
be a reasonable classification although, as the Solicitor General has intimated, a good policy of the law
would be to promote the emergence of younger blood in our political elective echelons. On the other
hand, it might be that persons more than 65 years old may also be good elective local officials.
Coming now to the case of retirees. Retirement from government service may or may not be a
reasonable disqualification for elective local officials. For one thing, there can also be retirees from
government service at ages, say below 65. It may neither be reasonable to disqualify retirees, aged 65,
for a 65 year old retiree could be a good local official just like one, aged 65, who is not a retiree.
But, in the case of a 65-year old elective local official, who has retired from a provincial, city or
municipal office, there is reason to disqualify him from running for the same office from which he had
retired, as provided for in the challenged provision. The need for new blood assumes relevance. The
tiredness of the retiree for government work is present, and what is emphatically significant is that the
retired employee has already declared himself tired and unavailable for the same government work,
but, which, by virtue of a change of mind, he would like to assume again. It is for this very reason that
inequality will neither result from the application of the challenged provision. Just as that provision
does not deny equal protection neither does it permit of such denial (see People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 56
[1933]). Persons similarly situated are sinlilarly treated.
In fine, it bears reiteration that the equal protection clause does not forbid all legal classification. What
is proscribes is a classification which is arbitrary and unreasonable. That constitutional guarantee is not
violated by a reasonable classification based upon substantial distinctions, where the classification is
germane to the purpose of the law and applies to all Chose belonging to the same class (Peralta vs.
Comelec, 82 SCRA 30 [1978] citing Felwa vs. Salas, 18 SCRA 606 [1966]; Rafael v. Embroidery and
Apparel Control and Inspection Board, 21 SCRA 336 [1967]; Inchong etc., et al. vs. Hernandez 101
Phil. 1155 [1957]). The purpose of the law is to allow the emergence of younger blood in local
governments. The classification in question being pursuant to that purpose, it cannot be considered
invalid "even it at times, it may be susceptible to the objection that it is marred by theoretical
inconsistencies" (Chief Justice Fernando, The Constitution of the Philippines, 1977 ed., p. 547).
There is an additional consideration. Absent herein is a showing of the clear invalidity of the
questioned provision. Well accepted is the rule that to justify the nullification of a law, there must be a
clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful and equivocal breach. Courts are
practically unanimous in the pronouncement that laws shall not be declared invalid unless the conflict
with the Constitution is clear beyond reasonable doubt (Peralta vs. COMELEC, 82 SCRA 55 [1978],
citing Cooper vs. Telfair 4 Dall 14; Dodd, Cases on Constitutional Law, 3rd ed. 1942, 56). Lastly, it is
within the compentence of the legislature to prescribe qualifications for one who desires to become a
candidate for office provided they are reasonable, as in this case.
In so far as the petition of Igot and Salapantan are concerned, the second paragraph of section 4 of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 52, quoted in full earlier, and which they challenge, may be divided in two parts.
The first provides:
a. judgment of conviction jor any of the aforementioned crimes shall be conclusive
evidence of such fact ...
The supremacy of the Constitution stands out as the cardinal principle. We are aware of the
presumption of validity that attaches to a challenged statute, of the well-settled principle that "all
reasonable doubts should be resolved in favor of constitutionality," and that Courts will not set aside a
statute as constitutionally defective "except in a clear case." (People vs. Vera, supra). We are
constrained to hold that this is one such clear case.
Explicit is the constitutional provision that, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed
innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel
(Article IV, section 19, 1973 Constitution). An accusation, according to the fundamental law, is not
synonymous with guilt. The challenged proviso contravenes the constitutional presumption of
innocence, as a candidate is disqualified from running for public office on the ground alone that
charges have been filed against him before a civil or military tribunal. It condemns before one is fully
heard. In ultimate effect, except as to the degree of proof, no distinction is made between a person
convicted of acts of dislotalty and one against whom charges have been filed for such acts, as both of
them would be ineligible to run for public office. A person disqualified to run for public office on the
ground that charges have been filed against him is virtually placed in the same category as a person
already convicted of a crime with the penalty of arresto, which carries with it the accessory penalty of
suspension of the right to hold office during the term of the sentence (Art. 44, Revised Penal Code).
And although the filing of charges is considered as but prima facie evidence, and therefore, may be
rebutted, yet. there is "clear and present danger" that because of the proximity of the elections, time
constraints will prevent one charged with acts of disloyalty from offering contrary proof to overcome
the prima facie evidence against him.
Additionally, it is best that evidence pro and con of acts of disloyalty be aired before the Courts rather
than before an administrative body such as the COMELEC. A highly possible conflict of findings
between two government bodies, to the extreme detriment of a person charged, will thereby be avoided.
Furthermore, a legislative/administrative determination of guilt should not be allowed to be substituted
for a judicial determination.
Being infected with constitutional infirmity, a partial declaration of nullity of only that objectionable
portion is mandated. It is separable from the first portion of the second paragraph of section 4 of Batas
Pambansa Big. 52 which can stand by itself.
WHEREFORE, 1) the first paragraph of section 4 of Batas pambansa Bilang 52 is hereby declared
valid. Said paragraph reads:
SEC. 4. Special disqualification. — In addition to violation of Section 10 of Article
XII(C) of the Constitution and disqualifications mentioned in existing laws which are
hereby declared as disqualification for any of the elective officials enumerated in Section
1 hereof, any retired elective provincial, city or municipal official, who has received
payment of the retirement benefits to which he is entitled under the law and who shall
have been 65 years of age at the commencement of the term of office to which he seeks
to be elected, shall not be qualified to run for the same elective local office from which
he has retired.
2) That portion of the second paragraph of section 4 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 52
providing that "... the filing of charges for the commission of such crimes before a civil
court or military tribunal after preliminary investigation shall be prima facie evidence of
such fact", is hereby declared null and void, for being violative of the constitutional
presumption of innocence guaranteed to an accused.
SO ORDERED.

BIENVENIDO O. MARQUEZ, JR., petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EDUARDO T. RODRIGUEZ, respondents.

VITUG, J.:
The Court is called upon, in this petition for certiorari, to resolve the conflicting claims of the parties
on the meaning of the term "fugitive from justice as that phrase is so used under the provisions of
Section 40(e) of the Local Government Code (Republic Act No. 7160). That law states:
Sec. 40. Disqualifications. The following persons are disqualified from running for any
elective local position:
xxx xxx xxx
(e) Fugitive from justice in criminal or non-political cases here or abroad(.)
Bienvenido Marquez, a defeated candidate for the elective position for the elective position in the
Province of Quezon in the 11th May 1992 elections filed this petition for certiorari praying for the
reversal of the resolution of the Commission on Elections ("COMELEC") which dismissed his petition
for quo warranto against the winning candidate, herein private respondent Eduardo Rodriguez, for
being allegedly a fugitive from justice.
It is averred that at the time private respondent filed his certificate of candidacy, a criminal charge
against him for ten (10) counts of insurance fraud or grand theft of personal property was still pending
before the Municipal Court of Los Angeles Judicial District, County of Los Angeles, State of
California, U.S.A. A warrant issued by said court for his arrest, it is claimed, has yet to be served on
private respondent on account of his alleged "flight" from that country.
Before the 11th May 1992 elections, a petition for cancellation (SPA 92-065) of respondent's certificate
of candidacy, on the ground of the candidate's disqualification under Section 40(e) of the Local
Government Code, was filed by petitioner with the COMELEC. On 08 May 1992, the COMELEC
dismissed the petition.
Petitioner's subsequent recourse to this Court (in G.R. No. 105310) from the 08th May 1992 resolution
of COMELEC was dismissed without prejudice, however, to the filing in due time of a possible post-
election quo warranto proceeding against private respondent. The Court, in its resolution of 02 June
1992, held:
Evidently, the matter elevated to this Court was a pre-proclamation controversy. Since
the private respondent had already been proclaimed as the duly elected Governor of the
Province of Quezon, the petition below for disqualification has ceased to be a pre-
proclamation controversy. In Casimiro vs. Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos. 84462-
63 and Antonio vs. Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos. 84678-79, jointly decided on 29
March 1989, 171 SCRA 468, this court held that a pre-proclamation controversy is no
longer viable at this point of time and should be dismissed. The proper remedy of the
petitioner is to pursue the disqualification suit in a separate proceeding.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the petition, without prejudice to the
filing of the appropriate proceedings in the proper forum, if so desired, within ten (10)
days from notice. 1
Private respondent was proclaimed Governor-elect of Quezon on 29 May 1992. Forthwith, petitioner
institutedquo warranto proceedings (EPC 92-28) against private respondent before the COMELEC. In
its 02 February 1993 resolution, the COMELEC (Second Division) dismissed the petition. The
COMELEC En Banc, on 02 December 1993, denied a reconsideration of the resolution.
Hence, this petition for certiorari, the core issue of which, such as to be expected, focuses on whether
private respondent who, at the time of the filing of his certificate of candidacy (and to date), is said to
be facing acriminal charge before a foreign court and evading a warrant for his arrest comes within the
term "fugitive from justice" contemplated by Section 40(e) of the Local Government Code and,
therefore, disqualified from being a candidate for, and thereby ineligible from holding on to, an elective
local office.
Petitioner's position is perspicuous and to the point. The law, he asseverates, needs no further
interpretation and construction. Section 40(e) of Republic Act No. 7160, is rather clear, he submits, and
it disqualifies "fugitive from justice" includes not only those who flee after conviction to avoid
punishment but likewise those who, after being charged flee to avoid prosecution. This definition truly
finds support from jurisprudence (Philippine Law Dictionary, Third Edition, p. 399, by F.B. Moreno;
Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 671; King vs. Noe, 244 S.C. 344, 137 S.E. 2d 102, 103;
Hughes vs. PFlanz, 138 Federal Reporter 980; Tobin vs. Casaus, 275 Pacific Reporter, 2d., p. 792), and
it may be so conceded as expressing the general and ordinary connotation of the term.
In turn, private respondent would have the Court respect the conclusions of the Oversight
Committee which, conformably with Section 533 2 of R.A. 7160, was convened by the President to
"formulate and issue the appropriate rules and regulations necessary for the efficient and effective
implementation of any and all provisions of the Code to ensure compliance with the principles of Local
Autonomy.
Here are some excerpts from the committee's deliberations:
CHAIRMAN MERCADO. Session is resumed.
So, we are in agreement to retain Line 12, Page 36, as is. So next, Page
39.
CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO. Kay Benny Marquez.
REP. CUENCO: What does he want?
CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO. Kung puwede i-retain lang iyan. Bahala na
kung kuwestiyunin ang constitutionality nito before the Supreme Court
later on.
REP. CUENCO. Anong nakalagay diyan?
CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO. Iyong disqualification to run for public office.
Any person who is a fugitive from justice in criminal or nonpolitical cases
here or abroad.
Mabigat yung abroad. One who is facing criminal charges with the
warrant of arrest pending, unserved. . .
HONORABLE SAGUISAG. I think that is even a good point, ano —
what is a fugitive? It is not defined. We have loose understanding. . .
CHAIRMAN DE PEDRO. So isingit na rin sa definition of terms iyong
fugitive.
Si Benny umalis na, with the understanding na okay na sa atin ito.
THE CHAIRMAN. Whether we have this rule or not she can run. She is
not a fugitive from justice. Mrs. Marcos can run at this point and I have
held that for a long time ago. So can. . .
MS. DOCTOR. Mr. Chairman. . .
THE CHAIRMAN. Yes.
MS. DOCTOR. Let's move to. . .
THE CHAIRMAN. Wait, wait, wait. Can we just agree on the wording,
this is very important. Manny, can you come up?
MR. REYES. Let's use the word conviction by final judgment.
THE CHAIRMAN. Fugitive means somebody who is convicted by final
judgment. Okay,. Fugitive means somebody who is convicted by final
judgment. Insert that on Line 43 after the semi-colon. Is that approved?
No objection, approved (TSN, Oversight Committee, 07 May 1991).
xxx xxx xxx
THE CHAIRMAN. Andy, saan ba naman itong amendment on page 2?
Sino ba ang gumawa nito? Okay, on page 2, lines 43 and 44, "fugitive
from justice". What "fugitive"? Sino ba ang gumawa nito, ha?
MR. SANCHEZ. Yes, I think, well, last time, Mr. Chairman, we agree to
clarify the word "fugitive".
THE CHAIRMAN. "Fugitive from justice means a person" ba ito, ha?
MR. SANCHEZ. Means a person...
THE CHAIRMAN. Ha?
HON. REYES. A person who has been convicted.
THE CHAIRMAN; Yes, fugitive from justice, oo. Fugitive from justice
shall mean or means one who has been convicted by final judgment. It
means one who has been convicted by final judgment.
HON. DE PEDRO. Kulang pa rin ang ibig sabihin niyan.
THE CHAIRMAN. Ano? Sige, tingnan natin.
HON. DE PEDRO. Kung nasa loob ng presuhan, fugitive pa rin siya?
THE CHAIRMAN. O, tama na yan, fugitive from justice. He has been
convicted by final judgment, meaning that if he is simply in jail and
because he put up, post bail, but the case is still being reviewed, that is
not yet conviction by final judgment. 3
The Oversight Committee evidently entertained serious apprehensions on the possible constitutional
infirmity of Section 40(e) of Republic Act No. 7160 if the disqualification therein meant were to be so
taken as to embrace those who merely were facing criminal charges. A similar concern was expressed
by Senator R. A. V. Saguisag who, during the bicameral conference committee of the Senate and the
House of Representatives, made this reservation:
. . . de ipa-refine lang natin 'yung language especially 'yung, the scope of fugitive. Medyo bothered ako
doon, a.4
The Oversight Committee finally came out with Article 73 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing
the Local Government Code of 1991. It provided:
Art. 73. Disqualifications. — The following persons shall be disqualified from running
for any elective local position:
(a) . . .
(e) Fugitives from justice in criminal or non-political cases here or abroad. Fugitive from
justice refers to a person who has been convicted by final judgment. 5 (Emphasis
supplied)
Private respondent reminds us that the construction placed upon law by the officials in charge of its
enforcement deserves great and considerable weight (Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development
Corp. vs. CA, 182 SCRA 166, 181). The Court certainly agrees; however, when there clearly is no
obscurity and ambiguity in an enabling law, it must merely be made to apply as it is so written. An
administrative rule or regulation can neither expand nor constrict the law but must remain congruent to
it. The Court believes and thus holds, albeit with some personal reservations of the ponente (expressed
during the Court's en banc deliberations), that Article 73 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing
the Local Government Code of 1991, to the extent that it confines the term "fugitive from justice" to
refer only to a person (the fugitive) "who has been convicted by final judgment." is an inordinate and
undue circumscription of the law.
Unfortunately, the COMELEC did not make any definite finding on whether or not, in fact, private
respondent is a "fugitive from justice" as such term must be interpreted and applied in the light of the
Court's opinion. The omission is understandable since the COMELEC dismissed outrightly the petition
for quo warranto on the basis instead of Rule 73 of the Rules and Regulations promulgated by the
Oversight Committee. The Court itself, not being a trier of facts, is thus constrained to remand the case
to the COMELEC for a determination of this unresolved factual matter.
WHEREFORE, the questioned resolutions of the Commission on Elections are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE, and the case is hereby REMANDED to the Commission which is DIRECTED to proceed and
resolve the case with dispatch conformably with the foregoing opinion. No special pronouncement on
costs.
SO ORDERED.
Feliciano, Padilla, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Kapunan and Francisco, JJ., concur

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 148919. December 17, 2002]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. TERESA CORPUZ y VARGAS and MARCY
SANTOS y JAVIER, appellants.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

When the question boils down to the credibility of the witnesses and their testimonies, this
Court almost always relies upon the assessment made by the trial court which had the distinct
advantage of having observed their demeanor, conduct and manner of testifying.

The Case

For review before this Court is the May 30, 2001 Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Malabon City (Branch 170) in Criminal Case No. 20334-MN. The RTC found Teresa
V. Corpuz and Marcy J. Santos guilty of violating Section 15 of Article III of Republic Act (RA)
6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659
(RA 7659). The dispositive portion of the appealed Decision reads as follows:
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds both accused Teresa Corpuz y Vargas
and Marcy Santos y Javier guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Section 15, Article
III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Republic Act 7659, and considering that the total
aggregate quantity of methamphetamine hydrochloride is 286.678 grams, and there being no
modifying circumstances hereby sentences each of them to suffer penalty of reclusion
perpetua and to pay jointly and severally the fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P100,000.00), plus cost of the suit.
“The three (3) heat-sealed transparent plastic bags of methamphetamine hydrochloride
subject matter of this case are hereby forfeited in favor of the government, and the Office-in-
Charge, Office of the Branch Clerk of Court is hereby directed to turn over the aforesaid items
to the Dangerous Drugs Board for proper disposition.”[2]

The Information, dated January 6, 1999, charged appellants as follows:

“That on or about the 4th day of January, 1999 in the Municipality of Malabon, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
conspiring, confederating and helping one another, being private persons and without
authority of law, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell and deliver in
consideration of the amount of P300,000.00 to a poseur- buyer [t]hree (3) heat-sealed
transparent plastic bags each marked Exhibit A-1, A-2, & A-3, with white crystalline substance
weighing 99.784, 105.812 and 81.082 grams when subjected to chemistry examination gave
positive results for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride otherwise known as ‘shabu’ which is a
regulated drug.”[3]

During their arraignment on February 18, 1999, appellants, assisted by their counsel,
[4] pleaded not guilty.[5] After trial in due course, the lower court rendered its assailed
Decision.

The Facts
Prosecution’s Version

In its Brief, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) presents the prosecution’s version of
the facts as follows:
“On January 4, 1999, around 6 o’clock in the evening, a confidential police informant, a.k.a.
‘Josie’, went to the Special Anti-Narcotics Enforcement Team at Camp Gen. Pantaleon, Imus,
Cavite and informed team leader Inspector Nolasco Cortez of a transaction that involved
appellants Teresa Corpuz (alias ‘Tess’) and Marcy Santos (alias ‘Mar’) as sellers of three
hundred (300) grams of shabu worth P300,000.00. It appears that prior to ‘Josie’s’ arrival at
Camp Pantaleon, the information was already relayed to Cortez through telephone.
“Acting on the information, Inspector Cortez formed a team to conduct a buy-bust operation
designating PO3 Albert Colaler as the poseur-buyer with SPO2 Joseph Yatco and PO1 Aldrin
Agravante as back-up arresting officers. Colaler was handed a marked P1,000-peso bill
which he placed over a bundle of boodle money. The plan was for ‘Josie’ to introduce Colaler
as an interested shabu buyer. As a pre-arranged signal, Colaler would remove his white b[a]ll
cap to signify that the evidence was already with him.
“The buy-bust was to take place along Rizal Avenue in Malabon, near a Jollibee outlet and a
church. Prior to the operation, the team coordinated with the Malabon Police Station.
“The buy-bust team arrived at the scene around 11:15 in the evening. The police back-up
immediately positioned themselves at a strategic location while Colaler and ‘Josie’
waited. When appellants arrived, ‘Josie’ introduced Colaler who was asked by appellant Tess
if he had the money with him. Colaler showed her the boodle money but told Tess he would
not give it to her unless he saw the shabu first. Thereupon, appellant Mar[cy] took out from
his belt three (3) transparent plastic containing white substance and gave them to Tess. The
exchange was then consummated. Mar was about to open the plastic bag with the boodle
money when Colaler immediately removed his white b[a]ll cap -- the pre-arranged signal. The
two (2) back-up officers showed up and introduced themselves as police officers. They
arrested appellants and recovered from them the boodle money. Appellants [were] thereafter
taken and booked at Camp Pantaleon.
“Based on the chemistry report prepared by Inspector Mary Jean Geronimo of the PNP Crime
Laboratory, the qualitative examination conducted on the specimen confiscated from
appellants indicated that the same was indeed ‘methamphetamine hydrochloride’ otherwise
known as shabu.”[6] (Citations omitted)

Defense’s Version

Appellants, on the other hand, argue that their guilt has not been proven beyond
reasonable doubt. Their version of the facts is as follows:
“On January 4, 1999 at around 5:30 P.M., [Appellant Teresa Corpuz] was sleeping at her
house when awakened by a knock at the door. She stood and opened the door only to see
Zeny and her three (3) female companions at the door step. Zeny said, her friends need her
service being a ‘manghihilot’. After she administered ‘hilot’ to a certain Josie, she went out to
buy food. Upon her return, she saw one of the companions of Josie talking to somebody
through the cellular phone by the doorstep. They then [talked] about their lives while drinking
softdrinks and Josie took pity on her and promised to introduced [sic] her to her (Josie) boss
who allegedly helps people like the accused. Josie then asked her to accompany them to
Jollibee since they were unaccustomed to Malabon and for fear that they might be victimized
by hold-uppers. However, Josie first asked her company in buying medicine at Mercury Drug
Store, which is just nearby the food chain. This is because Josie had difficulty in breathing on
account of asthma. Coming from the drug store, they proceeded to Jollibee. As soon as
Josie’s boss arrived, they went out of the store where she was introduced to the former whom
she eventually came to know to be Lt. Cortez in Cavite. Moments [later] a tricycle came
behind the car. There were three (3) persons on board. One of them approached Josie and
gave [her] something gift-wrapped about three to six inches in size. She was surprised why
the man has attempt[ed] to run away immediately after bringing out the wrapped
thing. Nonetheless, Josie was able to take hold of the said thing before the man fled. She
was only three steps behind Josie when she witnessed the shocking and swift incident. A
shooting spree ensued in pursuit of the [speeding] tricycle. One of the female companion[s]
of Josie then handcuffed her while another male person pushed her inside the car. She was
not able to do anything except to cry after being told that not to speak a word against and just
to explain her side when they arrived in Cavite. Reaching the place, Lt. Cortez showed to her
the packets. She denied knowing anything [about] what was wrapped. Whereupon, Lt.
Cortez open[ed] the pack and she saw three (3) separate plastic bags with white crystalline
substance inside. She was told that the contents are ‘Shabu’. Lt. Cortez also asked her
whether she is aware of the penalty attached to the [possession] of illegal drugs which she
denied knowing neither the identity of the owner of the same. The police officer then exhibited
to her list of names wherein hers does not appear. She was queried whether she knows
those persons listed and again she denied. Lt. Cortez finally read the names and forced her
to single out a particular one in exchange for her freedom. She likewise added that she is not
aware if Josie and her companions were also arrested.
“On other hand, Marcy Santos gave a different scenario:
“He said that he was on his way home after having gone [to] Monumento. He was not able to
reach his destination because Inday a.k.a. Teresa Corpuz saw him in C-4 and requested him
to go with her in going to Mercury Drug located at the town proper where they would buy
medicine. Corpuz was with her son and two women companions. They went to Jollibee,
afterwhich, he brought Teresa’s son home by taking a ride near Seven Eleven Store where he
[was] noticed and [they] immediately arrested him. He told them that he does [not] know
anything but was instead advised to explain when they reach[ed] their office. He was then
shoved inside the car and admonished not to shout. At Imus, Cavite, he was forced to admit
that he was the one carrying the wrapped thing. He, however, claimed that he was only
standing at the place. Santos denied having sold or received any money involving drug
transaction.”[7]

Ruling of the Trial Court

After a judicious assessment of the evidence submitted by both parties, the RTC ruled
that the prosecution had been able to prove with certainty all the elements of the illegal sale of
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a regulated drug. It described as clear and
straightforward the poseur-buyer’s testimony, which was amply corroborated by the other
members of the buy-bust team.[8]

Further, the RTC rejected appellants’ defense of denial. Not only was it inconsistent and
contradictory, it also failed to achieve the intended purpose.[9] It likewise held that the
entrapment and the arrest of appellants were not effected haphazardly. Furthermore, it held
that no ill motive could be attributed to the police officers who had conducted the buy-bust
operation.[10]

Hence, this appeal.[11]

The Issue

In their Brief, appellants assign the following errors for the Court’s consideration:

I
“Trial court erred in not finding that the buy-bust operation was in fact tainted by abuse on the
part of the police authorities;

II
“The trial court also erred in finding that the case of the prosecution is strong and the version
of the accused is weak.”[12]

In the main, this Court will take up two issues: the sufficiency of the prosecution’s
evidence, particularly the buy-bust operation; and the defense of denial.

The Court’s Ruling

The appeal is not meritorious.

Main Issue:
Sufficiency of the Buy-Bust Operation

Appellants argue that the buy-bust operation conducted was tainted with abuse of
authority. They aver that if indeed they were validly arrested after having allegedly been
caught in flagrante delicto, there was no reason for the police to ask Appellant Corpuz to
single out a name from a list shown to her in exchange for her freedom -- a scheme known in
street parlance as palit ulo.[13]

The contention is untenable.

Many times, this Court has already ruled that a buy-bust operation is “a form of
entrapment which has repeatedly been accepted to be a valid means of arresting violators of
the Dangerous Drugs Law.”[14] The elements necessary for the prosecution of the illegal sale
of drugs are as follows: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and the
consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor.[15]

What is essential in a prosecution for the illegal sale of prohibited drugs is proof that the
transaction or sale actually took place and the presentation in court of the corpus delicti,
[16] which has two elements: (1) proof of the occurrence of a certain event and (2) a person's
criminal responsibility for the act.[17]

Further, in a prosecution for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Law, a case becomes a
contest of credibility of witnesses and their testimonies. In such a situation, this Court
generally relies upon the assessment by the trial court, which had the distinct advantage of
observing the conduct or demeanor of the witnesses while they were testifying.[18] Hence,
its factual findings are accorded respect -- even finality -- absent any showing that
certain facts of weight and substance bearing on the elements of the crime have been
overlooked, misapprehended or misapplied.[19] We find no reason to deviate from this
rule in the case before us.[20]

The principal witnesses clearly established the elements of the crime: an illegal sale of
the dangerous drug actually took place, and appellants were the authors thereof. The
testimony of PO3 Albert Colaler, the poseur-buyer, was clear and straightforward. It was
amply corroborated by the testimonies of SPO1 Joseph Yatco and PO1 Aldrin Agravante, the
back-up police officers during the entrapment.[21] PO3 Colaler narrated the circumstances
leading to the arrest of appellants as follows:

“Q Where were you assigned as policeman on January 4, 1999?

A I was assigned at Special Anti-Narcotics Enforcement Team, Camp Gen.


Pataleon, Imus, Cavite, sir.

Q At around 6:00 o’clock in the morning on that day January 4, 1999 where were
you?

A I was in our office, sir.

Q What happened while you were there?

A On or about 6:00 o’clock in the afternoon a confidential informant arrived and


informed our team leader, Insp. [N]olasco Cortez, about his transaction – that
said confidential informant will have a transaction with two persons whose names
were Teresa Corpuz and Marcy Santos who are both residing at Tañong,
Malabon, sir.

Q What happened next after that conversation of the confidential informant with
Insp. Cortez?

A He also informed us that the two friends have an interested buyer from Cavite
willing to buy shabu with a quantity of 300 grams worthP300,000.00, sir.

x x x x x
x xxx

Q After this conversation with the confidential informant and Insp. Cortez what
happened?

A Based on the information, our team leader Insp. Nolasco Cortez formed a team
to conduct buybust operation and I will act as poseur-buyer with members of the
team, SPO2 Joseph Yatco and PO1 Aldrin Agravante as back-up arresting
officers, sir.

Q What preparations were made in connection with that supposed transaction?

A I was given P1,000.00 bill and I placed marking with my initial/alias AL on the
neck of picture of the person appearing on said bill, sir.

Q What else did you do?

A After placing AL, the money was placed on top of the [boodle] money then I
placed the money inside a transparent plastic, sir.

Q After that where did you proceed?

A After that we talked about our pre-arranged signal which is to remove my white
b[a]ll cap signa[l]ing that the evidence is already with me, sir.

Q Where did you proceed next?

A After that on or about 9:30 in the evening we left our office and went to the target
area wherein the suspects and our confidential informant will meet and while
approaching the place our confidential informant called alias Tess saying that we
are coming, sir.

Q Where is that target place that you mentioned?

A Rizal Avenue, Malabon, near Jollibee and church, sir.

Q What time did you arrive at the target place?

A We arrived [on] or about 11:15 in the evening, sir.

Q What happened when you arrived at the target place?

A While my companions, SPO1 Yatco and PO1 Agravante, were positioned


strategically at a certain place, the confidential informant and I waited at the place
agreed upon, sir.

Q What is the exact place that you positioned yourself with the confidential
inf[o]rmant?

A In front of the church, before entering, where our vehicle was parked, sir.

Q What happened while you were waiting?

A After a few moments, alias Tess and Ma[r] arrived, sir.

Q How do you know they are alias Tess and Ma[r] who arrived?

A After the duo arrived they greeted the confidential informant and the latter
introduced me to the duo, sir.

Q Your confidential informant is a boy?

A Girl, sir.

Q After you were introduced to Tess and Mar what happened next?
A After I was introduced as buyer of shabu, alias Tess asked if I have the money to
be used as payment for shabu, sir.

Q What was your answer?

A I told her the money is with me and I showed the [boodle] money, sir.

Q How did you show the money?

A When she asked about the money I showed her the plastic wherein the [boodle]
money was amounting to P300,000.00 wherein the P500.00 bill as on top, sir.

Q What happened next after you [showed] that plastic containing the money?

A After they have seen the money, I asked them if they brought the shabu, sir.

Q What were you wearing at that time?

A Pants and polo and shoes, sir.

Q What happened next?

A After asking that question, Mar put out the three transparent plastic with white
substance which he took from his belt-bag and which he handed to alias Tess, sir.

Q After these three packs coming from Mar were turned over to Tess what did Tess
do with these?

A She handed the same to me and I saw that they were of good [quality]. I gave to
alias Tess the [boodle] money, P300,000.00, as payment and she gave it to Mar.
sir.

Q You said you considered these three packs as good quality of what?

A White granules suspected to be shabu, sir.

Q After you delivered the [boodle] mo[ney] to Tess what happened next?

A When she was holding the money… [interrupted]

Court:

The money was delivered to Mar.

Pros. (witness)

Q After the money was delivered to Mar, what happened next?


A When Mar was about to open the said plastic containing the money I took off my
b[a]ll cap to signal my companions and then SPO1 Yatco and PO1 Agravante
arrived and we int[ro]duced ourselves as policemen. SPO1 Yatco arrested alias
Tess and PO1 Agravante arrested Mar and [re]covered the [boodle] money,
sir.”[22]

Without doubt, the prosecution was able to sufficiently establish the elements of illegal
sale of dangerous drugs[23] and to prove the charge of illegal sale of shabu.[24] The clear,
straightforward and consistent testimonies of PO3 Colaler and other members of the
entrapment team were concurrent on material points, replete with relevant details, and
sufficiently supportive of the RTC’s conclusions.[25] Absent any persuasive evidence showing
that they testified falsely, the logical conclusion is that no such improper motive existed, and
that their testimonies are worthy of full faith and credit.[26]

Further, the collective testimonies of these prosecution witnesses were corroborated by


the physical evidence on record as contained in Chemistry Report No. D-0011-99.[27] Upon
laboratory examination, the white crystalline substance found in appellants’ possession, was
positively identified as methamphetamine hydrochloride.[28]

While appellants allege that the buy-bust operation was tainted with abuse, they have
not advanced any reason why the lower court should have disbelieved the testimony of PO3
Colaler.[29] Except for their self-serving statements, they have likewise failed to present
evidence to establish that the police operation was tainted with abuse of authority.[30]

Instead, the facts show that appellants were apprehended in flagrante delicto during a
buy-bust operation. Their arrest falls within the ambit of Section 5(a)[31] of Rule 113 of the
Rules on Criminal Procedure on arrests without a warrant.[32] Their unsubstantiated charge
that the entrapping officers abused their authority in conducting the buy-bust operation cannot
prevail over the categorical and unshaken testimonies of the latter, who caught appellants
red-handed.[33]

The police officers allegedly asked Appellant Corpuz to single out a name from the list
shown to her in exchange for her freedom. The fact that appellants have not filed a single
complaint against them evidently shows that the former’s allegation of abuse of authority was
a mere concoction.[34]

With nothing to substantiate such malicious accusation, credence shall be given to the
narration of the incident by the prosecution witnesses, as they are police officers who are
presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner.[35] This presumption of
regularity has not been sufficiently controverted by appellants.[36] Certainly, it must prevail
over their unfounded allegations.[37]

Second Issue:
Defense of Denial

The defense of denial, like alibi, is invariably viewed with disfavor by courts, because it
can easily be concocted. It is a common and standard defense ploy in most prosecutions for
violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act.[38] As has been held, denial is a weak form of
defense, particularly when it is not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence.[39]

Appellant Corpuz claims that on the day of the incident, she was introduced to “Josie,”
whom she later accompanied to Jollibee. Thereafter, she was given a wrapped package by
unknown persons and then arrested by the police.[40] Evidently, her claim now -- that in the
middle of the night, she accompanied a person she had just met for the first time -- tests the
limits of credibility.[41]

Similarly unbelievable is the story of Appellant Santos that after they had gone to Mercury
Drug Store, he was asked by Appellant Corpuz to bring home her son.[42] Moreover,
Appellant Santos did not offer any satisfactory explanation why the police officers would
single him out from among the crowd milling around Seven-Eleven on that particular day and
arrest him for no apparent reason.[43] The records show that there was no prior surveillance
conducted against appellants.[44]

Evidently, the defense of denial resorted by appellants is weakened by their conflicting


and irreconcilable statements on the witness stand.[45] As correctly pointed out by the RTC, it
is difficult to understand why they presented two different stories about the events prior to
their apprehension, when they had a common stand on the issue.[46] Verily, their denial
cannot prevail over the prosecution witnesses’ positive testimonies.[47]

Alleged Inconsistencies

Appellants further claim that there were inconsistencies in the testimonies of the police
officers, who were the principal prosecution witnesses.[48] We are not convinced.

There were no such material inconsistencies. Rather, those testimonies complemented


one another in giving a complete picture of how the illegal sale of the prohibited drug had
transpired, and how it led to appellants’ apprehension in flagrante delicto.[49] At the very
least, whatever inconsistencies there were in PO3 Colaler’s testimony were minor and did not
detract from the veracity and the weight of the prosecution evidence.[50]

What is material and indispensable is that the sale of the illegal drugs was adequately
established;[51] the prosecution eyewitness clearly identified both appellants as the offenders,
[52] and the substance itself was presented before the court.[53] The exact denomination of
the genuine bills that had been placed on top of the boodle money is not a critical fact. It is
enough that the prosecution proved that money had been paid to appellants for the sale and
the delivery of shabu.[54]

On the basis of such evaluation and analysis, the trial court clearly committed no error in
according greater weight to the positive identification and forthright declarations made by the
prosecution witnesses.[55] Bare denials cannot prevail over their positive identification of
appellants as the persons who sold the shabu.[56]
Under Section 15 of Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by RA 7659, the
sale of regulated drugs without proper authority is penalized with reclusion perpetua to death
and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10,000,000.[57] Under Section 20 thereof, the penalty
in Section 15, Article III shall be applied if the dangerous drug involved is, in the case of
shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride, 200 grams or more.[58]

As early as People v. Simon,[59] this Court has already recognized the suppletory
application of the rules on penalties in the Revised Penal Code to the Dangerous Drugs Act
after the amendment of the latter by RA 7659 on December 31, 1993.[60] Since there were no
mitigating or aggravating circumstances attending appellants’ violation of the law, and the
aggregate quantity of shabu seized was 286.678 grams, reclusion perpetua is the penalty that
may be imposed, pursuant to Article 63[61] of the Revised Penal Code. [62]

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is hereby AFFIRMED with


the MODIFICATION that the fine is increased to P500,000. Costs against appellants.

SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

FEEDER INTERNATIONAL LINE, PTE., LTD., by its agent, FEEDER INTERNATIONAL


(PHILS.) INC.,petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, Fourteenth Division, COURT OF TAX APPEALS, and
COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, respondents.
Emma Quisumbing-Fernando and Yolanda Quisumbing-Javellana & Associates for petitioner.

REGALADO, J.:p
The instant petition seeks the reversal of the decision of respondent Court of Appeals dated May 8,
1990, affirming the decision rendered by respondent Court of Tax Appeals which found the vessel M/T
"ULU WAI" liable under Section 2530(a) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines
(Presidential Decree No. 1464), as amended, and its cargo of 1,100 metric tons of gas oil and 1,000
metric tons of fuel oil liable under Section 2530(a), (f), and (1-1) of the same Code and ordering the
forfeiture of the said vessel and its cargo. 1
The facts as culled from the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 20470 are as follows:
The M/T "ULU WAI" foreign vessel of Honduran registry, owned and operated by
Feeder International Shipping Lines of Singapore, left Singapore on May 6, 1986
carrying 1,100 metric tons of gas oil and 1,000 metric tons of fuel oil consigned to Far
East Synergy Corporation of Zamboanga, Philippines.
On May 14, 1986, the vessel anchored at the vicinity of Guiuanon Island in Iloilo
without notifying the Iloilo customs authorities. The presence of the vessel only came to
the knowledge of the Iloilo authorities by information of the civilian informer in the
area. Acting on said information, the Acting District Collector of Iloilo dispatched a
Customs team on May 19, 1986 to verify the report.
The Customs team found out that the vessel did not have on board the required ship and
shipping documents, except for a clearance from the port authorities of Singapore
clearing the vessel for "Zamboanga."
In view thereof, the vessel and its cargo were held and a Warrant of Seizure and
Detention over the same was issued after due investigation. The petitioner then filed its
Motion to Dismiss and to Quash the Warrants of Seizure and Detention which the
District Collector denied in his Order dated December 12, 1986.
In the course of the forfeiture proceedings, the parties, through their respective counsel,
agreed on a stipulation of facts, to wit:
l. That the existence and identity of MT "ULU WAI" subject of Sl-2-86,
herein identified as Exh. "A", is admitted.
2. That the existence and identity of l,100 metric tons of gas oil, subject of
Sl-2-86-A, herein identified as Exh. "B", is admitted;
3. That the existence and identity of 1,000 metric tons of fuel oil, subject
of Sl-2-86 herein identified as Exh. "B-1", is admitted;
4. That M/T "ULU WAI" left Singapore May 6, 1986 and was cleared by
Singapore customs authorities for Zamboanga, Philippines;
5. That subject vessel arrived at Guiuanon Island, Municipality of Nueva
Valencia, sub-province of Guimaras, Province of Iloilo, Philippines, about
1120HRS, May 14,1986;
6. That subject vessel was boarded by Customs and Immigration
authorities for the first time in the afternoon of May 19, 1986, at about
1600HRS;
7. That an apprehension report dated May 21, 1986, submitted by the
Team leader of the Customs and Immigration Team, Roberto Intrepido,
marked and identified as Exh. "C", is admitted;
8. That at the time of boarding, the Master of subject vessel could not
produce any ship and/or shipping documents regarding her cargo except
the Port Clearance Certificate No. 179999 issued by the Port of Singapore
authority dated May 4, 1986, marked as Exh. "D", which is hereby
admitted;
9. That on May 26, 1986, the Master of M/T "ULU WAI", Capt. Romeo
E. Deposa filed a Marine Protest dated same date, which Marine Protest,
marked and identified as Exh. "E", is hereby admitted;
10. That the sworn statement of said Capt. Romeo E. Deposa, marked and
identified as Exh. "F", given on May 26, 1986 before Atty. Hernando
Hinojales, Customs Legal Officer, is admitted;
11. That the sworn statement of Mr. Antonio Torres, Owner's
representative of M/T "ULU WAI" marked and identified as Exh. "G"
given before Atty. Hernando Hinojales on May 28,1986, is admitted;
12. That the sworn statement of Wilfredo Lumagpas, Master of M/T
"CATHEAD" given before Lt. Dennis Azarraga on June 4, 1986, marked
and identified as Exh. "H", is admitted;
13. That the existence of Fixture Note No. FN-M-86-05-41 entered into
by and between the National Stevedoring & Lighterage Corporation and
the Far East Synergy Corporation, marked and identified as Exh. "I", is
admitted; and;
14. That the Preliminary Report of Survey Sounding Report dated June
17, 1986, signed by J.P. Piad, Surveyor of Interport Surveying Services,
Inc. and duly attested by Ernesto Cutay, Chief Officer of the M/T "ULU
WAI" marked and identified as Exh. "J", is also admitted. 2
On March 17, 1987, the District Collector issued his decision, with the following disposition:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the M/T "ULU WAI" hereby found guilty of
violating Section 2530 (a) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (PD 1464),
as amended, while her cargo of 1,100 M/T Gas Oil and 1,000 M/T Fuel Oil are hereby
found guilty of violating Section 2530* (a), (f), and (1-1) under the same Code and are
hereby forfeited in favor of the Republic of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED. 3
Petitioner appealed to the Commissioner of Customs who rendered a decision dated May 13, 1987, the
decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision dated March 19, 1987 of the District
Collector of Customs of Iloilo, ordering the forfeiture of M/T "ULU WAI" and its cargo
of 2,100 metric tons of gas and fuel oil is hereby affirmed in toto.
SO ORDERED. 4
On June 25, 1987, petitioner filed a petition for review of the decisions of the Collector and the
Commissioner of Customs with the Court of Tax Appeals, praying for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction and/or a restraining order to enjoin the Commissioner from implementing his
decision. On December 14, 1988, the Court of Tax Appeals issued its decision, with this dispositive
portion:
WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Commissioner of Customs dated May 13,
1987, ordering the forfeiture of the vessel M/T "ULU WAI" for violation of Section
2530(a) of the Tariff and Custom Codes (sic), as amended, and its cargo of 1,100 metric
tons of Gas Oil and 1,000 metric tons of Fuel Oil for violation of Section 2530 * (a) and
(f), and (I-1) of the same Code, is hereby affirmed. With costs.
SO ORDERED. 5
Petitioner, on January 19, 1990, filed a petition for review of the Court of Tax Appeals' decision with
this Court. On March 21, 1990, we issued a resolution 6 referring the disposition of the case to the
Court of Appeals in view of our decision in Development Bank of the Philippines vs. Court of
Appeals, et al. 7 holding that final judgments or decrees of the Court of Tax Appeals are within the
exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals.
On May 8, 1990, the Court of Appeals rendered its questioned decision affirming the decision of the
Court of Tax Appeals. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration having been denied on July 4, 1990, it
interposed this instant petition contending that:
1. The Court of Appeals erred in finding on the basis of circumstantial evidence that an illegal
importation had been committed;
2. Petitioner was deprived of property without due process of law in that its right to be presumed
innocent was not recognized and the decision was not supported by proof beyond reasonable doubt;
and
3. The sworn statements of Deposa and Torres were taken without assistance of counsel in violation of
their constitutional right thereto. 8
We find no merit in the Petition.
1. It must be here emphasized that a forfeiture proceeding under tariff and customs laws is not penal in
nature, contrary to the argument advanced by herein petitioner. In the case of People vs. Court of first
Instance of Rizal etc., et al., 9 this Court made an exhaustive analysis of the nature of forfeiture
proceedings, in relation to criminal proceedings, as follows:
. . . It is quite clear that seizure and forfeiture proceedings under the tariff and customs
laws are not criminal in nature as they do not result in the conviction of the offender nor
in the imposition of the penalty provided for in Section 3601 of the Code. As can be
gleaned from Section 2533 of the code, seizure proceedings, such as those instituted in
this case, are purely civil and administrative in character, the main purpose of which is to
enforce the administrative fines or forfeiture incident to unlawful importation of goods
or their deliberate possession. The penalty in seizure cases is distinct and separate from
the criminal liability that might be imposed against the indicted importer or possessor
and both kinds of penalties may be imposed.
In the case at bar, the decision of the Collector of Customs, as in other seizure
proceedings, concerns the res rather than the persona. The proceeding is a probe on
contraband or illegally imported goods. These merchandise violated the revenue law of
the country, and as such, have been prevented from being assimilated in lawful
commerce until corresponding duties are paid thereon and the penalties imposed and
satisfied either in the form of fine or of forfeiture in favor of the government who will
dispose of them in accordance with law. The importer or possessor is treated differently.
The fact that the administrative penalty be falls on him is an inconsequential incidence to
criminal liability. By the same token, the probable guilt cannot be negated simply
because he was not held administratively liable. The Collector's final declaration that the
articles are not subject to forfeiture does not detract his findings that untaxed goods were
transported in respondents' car and seized from their possession by agents of the law.
Whether criminal liability lurks on the strength of the provision of the Tariff and
Customs Code adduced in the information can only be determined in a separate criminal
action. Respondents' exoneration in the administrative cases cannot deprive the State of
its right to prosecute. But under our penal laws, criminal responsibility, if any, must be
proven not by preponderance of evidence but by proof beyond reasonable doubt.
Considering, therefore, that proceedings for the forfeiture of goods illegally imported are not criminal
in nature since they do not result in the conviction of the wrongdoer nor in the imposition upon him of
a penalty, proof beyond reasonable doubt is not required in order to justify the forfeiture of the goods.
In this case, the degree of proof required is merely substantial evidence which means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. 10
In the case at bar, we find and so hold that the Government has sufficiently established that an illegal
importation, or at least an attempt thereof, has been committed with the use of the vessel M/T "ULU
WAI," thus warranting the forfeiture of said vessel and its cargo pursuant to the provisions of the Tariff
and Customs Code.
Before we proceed to a discussion of the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, it bears mention that
petitioner, which is a corporate entity, has no personality to invoke the right to be presumed innocent
which right is available only to an individual who is an accused in a criminal case.
2. The main issue for resolution is whether or not there was an illegal importation committed, or at least
an attempt thereof, which would justify a forfeiture of the subject vessel and its cargo.
Petitioner avers that respondent court erred in finding that an illegal importation had been committed
on the basis of circumstantial evidence, erroneously relying on Section 5 (now Section 4), Rule 133 of
the Rules of Court. As earlier stated, forfeiture proceedings are not criminal in nature, hence said
provision of Rule 133 which involves. such circumstantial evidence as will produce a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt does not apply.
Section 1202 of the Tariff and Customs Code provides that importation begins when the carrying vessel
or aircraft enters the jurisdiction of the Philippines with intention to unload therein. It is clear from the
provision of the law that mere intent to unload is sufficient to commence an importation. And "intent,"
being a state of mind, is rarely susceptible of direct proof, but must ordinarily be inferred from the
facts, 11 and therefore can only be proved by unguarded, expressions, conduct and circumstances
generally. 12
In the case at bar, that petitioner is guilty of illegal importation, there having been an intent to unload,
is amply supported by substantial evidence as clearly demonstrated by this comprehensive discussion
in respondent court's decision:
It is undisputed that the vessel M/T "ULU WAI" entered the jurisdiction of the
Philippines. The issue that calls for Our resolution is whether or not there was an
intention to unload. The facts and circumstances borne by the evidence convince Us that
there was intent to unload. The following circumstances unmistakably point to this
conclusion.
1. Considering that the vessel came from Singapore, the route to Zamboanga was shorter
and Iloilo lies further north. It is not logical for the sailing vessel to travel a longer
distance to get the necessary repairs.
2. When the vessel M/T "ULU WAI" anchored at Guiuanon Island, Guimaras, Iloilo, it
did not notify the Iloilo port or Customs authorities of its arrival. The master of the
vessel did not file a marine protest until 12 days after it had anchored, despite the
supposed urgency of the repairs needed and notwithstanding the provision (Sec. 1016) of
the Code requiring the master to file protest within 24 hours.
3. At the time of boarding by the customs personnel, the required ship's and shipping
documents were not on board except the clearance from Singaporean port officials
clearing the vessel for Zamboanga. Petitioner claims that these were turned over to the
shipping agent who boarded the vessel on May 15, 1986. However, this claim is belied
by the sworn marine protest (Exhibit "E") of the master of M/T "ULU WAI" Mr. Romeo
Deposa.
It was only on or about the 20th of May when I instructed one of the crew
to: get down of (sic) the vessel and find means and ways to contact the
vessel's representative.
Moreover, in such Sworn Statement (Exhibit "G"), ship agent, Antonio Torres, stated
that he did not know the buyer of the oil, which is impossible if he had the Local
Purchase Order of the alleged buyer, Pogun Construction SDN. Torres also swore that
his knowledge came from the vessel's owner, without mentioning the shipping
documents which indicate such data. He also said that he did not know the consignee of
the oil which would have been patent from the documents. Lastly, as also pointed out by
the court a quo, the captain of the vessel M/T "ULU WAI" Romeo Deposa, in his sworn
statement to custom authorities on May 26, 1986, enumerated the documents he
allegedly gave to Mr. Antonio Torres, but did not mention as among them the Local
Purchase Order of Pogun Construction SDN and the Bill of Lading.
4. When the vessel was inspected, the tugboat M/T "CATHEAD", and the large M/T
"SEMIRANO NO. 819" were alongside it. A fixture note revealed that the barge and the
tugboat were contracted by Consignee Far East Synergy to load the cargo of the vessel
into the awaiting barge and to discharge the same to Manila (Exhibits "I" and "I-1").
It is of no moment that the fixture note did not expressly mention the vessel M/T "ULU
WAI" Government witnesses, Asencio and Lumagpas, testified that it was the vessel's
cargo which was to be unloaded and brought to Manila by them. 13
The aforequoted findings of fact of respondent Court of Appeals are in consonance with the findings of
both the Collector and the Commissioner of Customs, as affirmed by the Court of Tax Appeals. We,
therefore, find no compelling reason to deviate from the elementary principle that findings of fact of
the Court of Appeals, and of the administrative and quasi-judicial bodies for that matter, are entitled to
great weight and are conclusive and binding upon this Court absent a showing of a grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
3. The fact that the testimonies of Deposa and Torres were given without the assistance of counsel may
not be considered an outright violation of their constitutional right to be assisted by counsel. As
explained in the case of Nera vs. The Auditor General: 14
The right to the assistance of counsel is not indispensable to due process unless required
by the Constitution or a law. Exception is made in the charter only during the custodial
investigation of a person suspected of a crime, who may not waive his right to counsel
except in writing and in the presence of counsel, and during the trial of the accused, who
has the right "to be heard by himself and counsel," either retained by him or provided for
him by the government at its expense. These guarantees are embodied in the
Constitution, along with the other rights of the person facing criminal prosecution,
because of the odds he must contend with to defend his liberty (and before even his life)
against the awesome authority of the State.
In other proceedings, however, the need for the assistance of counsel is not as urgent nor
is it deemed essential to their validity. There is nothing in the Constitution that says a
party in a non-criminal proceeding is entitled to be represented by counsel and that
without such representation he will not be bound by such proceedings. The assistance of
lawyers, while desirable, is not indispensable. The legal profession was not engrafted in
the due process clause such that without the participation of its members the safeguard is
deemed ignored or violated. The ordinary citizen is not that helpless that he cannot
validly act at all except only with a lawyer at his side.
Besides, if ever there was any doubt as to the veracity of the sworn statements of Deposa and Torres,
they should have been presented during any appropriate stage of the proceedings to refute or deny the
statements they made. This was not done by petitioner. Hence, the presumption that official duty was
regularly performed stands. In addition, petitioner does not deny that Torres is himself a lawyer.
Finally, petitioner simply contends that the sworn statements were taken without the assistance of
counsel but, however, failed to allege or prove that the same were taken under anomalous
circumstances which would render them inadmissible as evidence against petitioner. We thus find no
compelling reason to doubt the validity or veracity of the said sworn statements.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit and the judgment appealed from is
hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.

Right to be heard:

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
FRISCO HOLGADO, defendant-appellant.
Mauricio Carlos for appellant.
Assistant Solicitor General Manuel P. Barcelona and Solicitor Felix V. Makasiar for appellee.
MORAN, C.J.:
Appellant Frisco Holgado was charged in the court of First Instance of Romblon with slight illegal
detention because according to the information, being a private person, he did "feloniously and without
justifiable motive, kidnap and detain one Artemia Fabreag in the house of Antero Holgado for about
eight hours thereby depriving said Artemia Fabreag of her personal liberty." On may 8, 1948, the day
set for the trial, the trial court proceeded as follows:
Court:
Is this the case ready for trial?
Fiscal:
I am ready, your honor.
Court: — to the accused.
Q. do you have an attorney or are you going to plead guilty? — A. I have no lawyer and I will
plead guilty.
Court:
Arraign the accused.
Note:
Interpreter read the information to the accused in the local dialect after which he was asked
this question.
Q. What do you plead? — A. I plead guilty, but I was instructed by one Mr. Ocampo.
Q. Who is that Mr. Ocampo, what is his complete name? — A. Mr. Numeriano Ocampo.
The provincial fiscal is hereby ordered to investigate that man.
Fiscal:
I have investigated this case and found out that this Ocampo has nothing to do with the
case and I found no evidence against this Ocampo.
Court:
Sentenced reserved.
Two days later, or on May 10, 1948, the trial court rendered the following judgment:
[Criminal Case No. V-118]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. FRISCO HOLGADO defendant-
appellant.
SLIGHT ILLEGAL DETENTION
SENTENCE
The accused, Frisco Holgado, stands charged with the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal
detention in the following
INFORMATION
That on or about December 11, 1947, in the municipality of Concepcion, Province of
Romblon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said
accused being a private individual, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, and without justifiable motive, kidnap and detain one Artemia Fabreag in
the house of Antero Holgado for about 8 hours thereby depriving said Artemia Fabreag
of her personal liberty.
Contrary to law.
This case is called for trial on May 8, 1948. Upon arraignment the accused pleaded guilty to the
information above described.
The offense committed by the accused is kidnapping and serious illegal detention as defined by
article 267 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by section 2 of Republic Act No. 18 and
punished byreclusion temporal in it minimum period to death. Applying indeterminate sentence
law the penalty shall be prision mayor in its maximum degree to reclusion temporal in the
medium degree as minimum, or ten years (10) and one (1) day of prision mayor to twenty (20)
years, with the accessory penalties provided for by law, with costs. The accused is entitled to
one-half of his preventive imprisonment.
It must be noticed that in the caption of the case as it appears in the judgment above quoted, the offense
charged is named SLIGHT ILLEGAL DETENTION while in the body of the judgment if is said that
the accused "stands charged with the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention." In the
formation filed by the provincial fiscal it is said that he "accuses Frisco Holgado of the crime of slight
illegal detention." The facts alleged in said information are not clear as to whether the offense is named
therein or capital offense of "kidnapping and serious illegal detention" as found by the trial judge in his
judgment. Since the accused-appellant pleaded guilty and no evidence appears to have been presented
by either party, the trial judge must have deduced the capital offense from the facts pleaded in the
information.
Under the circumstances, particularly the qualified plea given by the accused who was unaided by
counsel, it was not prudent, to say the least, for the trial court to render such a serious judgment finding
the accused guilty of a capital offense, and imposing upon him such a heavy penalty as ten years and
one day of prision mayor to twenty years, without absolute any evidence to determine and clarify the
true facts of the case.
The proceedings in the trial court are irregular from the beginning. It is expressly provided in our rules
of Court, Rule 112, section 3, that:
If the defendant appears without attorney, he must be informed by the court that it is his right to
have attorney being arraigned., and must be asked if he desires the aid of attorney, the Court
must assign attorney de oficio to defend him. A reasonable time must be allowed for procuring
attorney.
Under this provision, when a defendant appears without attorney, the court has four important duties to
comply with: 1 — It must inform the defendant that it is his right to have attorney before being
arraigned; 2 — After giving him such information the court must ask him if he desires the aid of an
attorney; 3 — If he desires and is unable to employ attorney, the court must assign attorney de oficio to
defend him; and 4 — If the accused desires to procure an attorney of his own the court must grant him
a reasonable time therefor.
Not one of these duties had been complied with by the trial court. The record discloses that said court
did not inform the accused of his right to have an attorney nor did it ask him if he desired the aid of
one. The trial court failed to inquire whether or not the accused was to employ an attorney, to grant him
reasonable time to procure or assign an attorney de oficio. The question asked by the court to the
accused was "Do you have an attorney or are you going to plead guilty?" Not only did such a question
fail to inform the accused that it was his right to have an attorney before arraignment, but, what is
worse, the question was so framed that it could have been construed by the accused as a suggestion
from the court that he plead guilt if he had no attorney. And this is a denial of fair hearing in violation
of the due process clause contained in our Constitution.
One of the great principles of justice guaranteed by our Constitution is that "no person shall be held to
answer for a criminal offense without due process of law", and that all accused "shall enjoy the right to
be heard by himself and counsel." In criminal cases there can be no fair hearing unless the accused be
given the opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to be heard would be of little avail if it does not
include the right to be heard by counsel. Even the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in
the science of the law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and, without counsel, he may be convicted
not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to establish his innocence. And this can
happen more easily to persons who are ignorant or uneducated. It is for this reason that the right to be
assisted by counsel is deemed so important that it has become a constitutional right and it is so
implemented that under our rules of procedure it is not enough for the Court to apprise an accused of
his right to have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him whether he desires the aid of an attorney, but it
is essential that the court should assign one de oficio if he so desires and he is poor grant him a
reasonable time to procure an attorney of his own.
It must be added, in the instant case, that the accused who was unaided by counsel pleaded guilty but
with the following qualification: "but I was instructed by one Mr. Ocampo." The trial court failed to
inquire as to the true import of this qualification. the record does not show whether the supposed
instructions was real and whether it had reference to the commission of the offense or to the making of
the plea guilty. No investigation was opened by the court on this matter in the presence of the accused
and there is now no way of determining whether the supposed instruction is a good defense or may
vitiate the voluntariness of the confession. Apparently the court became satisfied with the fiscal's
information that he had investigated Mr. Ocampo and found that the same had nothing to do with this
case. Such attitude of the court was wrong for the simple reason that a mere statement of the fiscal was
not sufficient to overcome a qualified plea of the accused. But above all, the court should have seen to
it that the accused be assisted by counsel specially because of the qualified plea given by him and the
seriousness of the offense found to be capital by the court.
The judgment appealed from is reversed and the case is remanded to the Court below for a new
arraignment and a new trial after the accused is apprised of his right to have and to be assisted by
counsel. So ordered.
Ozaeta, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor and Reyes, JJ., concur.

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 122770. January 16, 1998]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee vs. EDUARDO AGBAYANI y


MENDOZA, accused-appellant.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

Nine years and four months ago this Court declared:


Rape is a nauseating crime that deserves the condemnation of all decent person who
recognize that a woman’s cherished chastity is hers alone to surrender of her own free
will. Whoever violates that will descends to the level of the odious beast. The act becomes
doubly repulsive where the outrage is perpetrated on one’s own flesh and blood for the culprit
is reduced to lower than the lowly animal. The latter yields only to biological impulses and is
unfettered by social inhibitions when it mates with its own kin, but the man who rapes his own
daughter violates not only her purity and her trust but also the mores of his society which he
has scornfully defied. By inflicting his animal greed on her in a disgusting coercion of
incestuous lust, he forfeits all respect as a human being and is justly spurned by all, not least
of all by the fruit of his own loins whose progeny he has forever stained with his shameful and
shameless lechery.[1]

At the end of the day, after resolving this case of 14-year-old Eden Agbayani who charged
her own father with rape committed in the sanctity of their rented room on 19 July 1994, this
Court finds itself repeating this declaration.[2]

Before this Court on automatic review is the decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 106, in view of the death penalty imposed by it for the crime of rape,
defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A.
7659.[4]

On 12 September 1994, the Station Investigation and Intelligence Division of the National
Capital Region Command, Philippine National Police (PNP), endorsed to the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Quezon City the complaint of Eden Agbayani (hereafter EDEN) for rape against
her father, herein accused-appellant Eduardo Agbayani y. Mendoza.[5]

After appropriate preliminary investigation, a complaint[6] for rape signed by EDEN,


assisted by her sister Fedelina Agbayani, and subscribed and sworn to before Asst. City
Prosecutor Charito B. Gonzales, was filed against appellant with the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City on 27 October, 1994. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-94-
59149, then set for arraignment, pre-trial and trial on 22 December 1994.[7]

At his arraignment on 22 December 1994, appellant, assisted by Attys. Samuel Baldado


and Edwin dela Cruz as counsel de oficio, entered a plea of not guilty.[8] Upon agreement of
the parties, trial on the merits immediately followed, with the prosecution presenting the first
witness, Dr. Florante Baltazar, a Medico-Legal Officer of the PNP Crime Laboratory,[9] who
cross-examined by Atty. Baldado.[10] On the succeeding dates of trial, the prosecution
presented EDEN[11] and SPO1 Salvador Buenviaje.[12] During these hearings, however,
appellant was represented by Atty. Arturo Temanil of the Public Attorney’s Office.[13]

On this part, the defense presented appellant, Adoracion M. Cruz, Fedelina Agbayani, as
well as EN who identified her and Fedelina’s affidavit of desistance,[14] which was subscribed
and sworn to before notary public Eranio Cedillo on 6 February 1995. Said affidavit reads as
follows:
We, Eden Agbayani, 14 years old, complainant and Fedelina Agbayani, 19 years old, sister of
Eden Agbayani, and presently residing at No., Phase 1, United Glorieta, Kaniogan, Pasig,
Metro Manila, after having been duly sworn to in accordance with law do hereby depose and
states [sic]:
That we are the complainant [sic] against our father, Eduardo Agbayani pending before this
Honorable Court docketed as Criminal Case No. 59149;
That after evaluating the circumstance that lead [sic] to the filing of the instant case I formally
realize that the incident between us and my father is purely family problem that arise from the
disciplinarian attitude of our father;
That this resulted to family misunderstanding, hence we decided to formally forego this case
and withdraw the same;
That I am executing this affidavit for purposes of finally withdrawing the instant case and
therefrom requesting this Honorable Court to dismiss the case against our father.
This affidavit was executed freely and voluntarily.

As EDEN declared in open court what she said in her previous testimony and sworn
statement were not true, the trial court held her in direct contempt of court, reasoning that her
“intentional falsehood” was “offensive to its dignity and a blatant disrespect to the Court, and
actually degrading [to] the administration of justice.” Accordingly, the trial court ordered her
“committed to incarceration and imprisonment within the period provided by law,”[15] which
penalty however was modified to a fine of P200.00 upon EDEN’s motion for reconsideration.
[16]

On rebuttal, the prosecution had EDEN back on the witness stand. She retracted her
affidavit of desistance and claimed that she had signed it under coercion by her mother and
elder sister.

The trial court’s summary of the evidence for the prosecution, with the references to the
pages of the stenographic notes and exhibits deleted, is as follows:
The evidence adduced on the record shows that sometime in September of 1993 in Malolos,
Bulacan, the accused was charged by his two daughters, FEDELINA and DODIMA
AGBAYANI, [with] the crime of rape which case was raffled to the sala of Judge Danilo
Manalastas fo Branch 7, Regional Trial Court, Bulacan. The case was, however, provisionally
dismissed by said Judge after the complainants desisted from pursuing the same in May
1994. Eduardo Agbayani was thus consequently released from jail on July 13, 1994. Three
(3) days thereafter, he began living with four (4) of his six (6) daughters, Fedelina, Eden,
Diana, and Edina, in a rented room at 30-A Makabayan St., Bgy. Obrero, Quezon City.
The evidence of the prosecution, in part consisting of the testimonies of Complainant Eden
Agbayani, Medico-Legal Officer, Dr. Florante Baltazar and SPO1 Salvador Buenviaje, shows
that the above mentioned address, the complainant, Eden Agbayani, on the evening of July
19, 1994, was sleeping on the floor of the room with her father, the accused Eduardo
Agbayani was awakened from her sleep by hands caressing her breast and vagina. She
turned to discover that it was her father who was then molesting her. Frightened, she asked,
“Tay bakit niyo po ginagawa sa akin ito, gayong kalalabas mo lang sa kulungan?” and
threatened to kill her [sic]. The accused then proceeded to undress her. Thereafter he
undressed himself and succeeded in having carnal knowledge with the complainant who
could only cry helplessly. The complainant thereafter felt blood dripping from her vagina and
felt pain.
The next day, or on July 20, 1994, the complainant informed her elder sister, Fedelina, of
what had been done to her by her father. She was told not to worry as they would go to
Bulacan to report the incident to Fiscal Caraeg of Bulacan, who had, the year before, handled
the rape case filed by Fedelina and Dodima. Several attempts were made by her sisters,
Fedelina and Eden to reach the said fiscal but it was only on September 9, 1994, that they
were able to meet with him. Fiscal Caraeg of Bulacan reported the complaint to Judge Danilo
Manalastas who reopened the previous provisionally dismissed case and issued a warrant of
arrest against the herein accused.
With the assistance of police officers from Station 10 of the SIID in Quezon City, the accused
was arrested on the same day at his residence at 30-A Makabayan St., Bgy. Obrero, Quezon
City and was later brought to Malolos, Bulacan where he is currently detained. After the
accused’s arrest, Eden and Fedelina returned to Station 10 where they made individual
statements before SPO1 Salvador Buenviaje narrating the events leading to and occurring
after the incident of July 19, 1994.
The next morning, Eden was examined by Medico-Legal Officer and Chief of the PNP Crime
Laboratory, Dr. Florante Baltazar, a colonel, who, accordingly, prepared the corresponding
Medico-Legal Report.[17]

Appellant put up the defense of denial and alibi. According to him, he could not have
raped his daughter EDEN, because on 19 July 1994, he was in Barangay Victoria in Sual,
Pangasinan, visiting his eldest daughter.[18] He declared that EDEN charged him with rape
because he had hit her with a belt after he caught her lying about her whereabouts on
night. Then on 24 July 1994, she left their rented apartment and did not return anymore.[19]

Adoracion Cruz corroborated appellant’s alibi. She declared that on 17 July 1994,
appellant requested her to take care of his children because he was going to Pangasinan to
visit his sick father, returning home only on 21 July 1994.[20]
The trial court gave full credence to the testimony of EDEN, who “appeared, during her
entire testimonies on January 20 and May 4, 1995, coherent, candid and responsive;” futher,
it commended her “for her courage and her unwavering strength in the midst of the emotional
and psychological strain and humiliation, not to mention the pressure and lack of moral
support of her family, brought on by the filing of this case.” It also ruled that EDEN did not
voluntarily execute the affidavit of desistance, as it was procured “at the behest of her mother
and sister for whom the sanctity of the family and the family’s good name were more
important than demanding punishment for whatever injury the complainant might have
suffered in the hands of the accused.” Besides, even assuming arguendo that no such
pressure was exerted by her mother and sister, the trial court declared that it understood
EDEN’s moral predicament, viz for a child like EDEN, it was difficult to charge her own father
with rape; insist on his punishment; and hereby inflict emotional stress and financial strain
upon the members of her family, particularly her mother.

The trial court likewise gave full faith to the sworn statement (Exhibit “E”) of Fedelina
Agbayani.

Turning to the defense of appellant, the trial court found his alibi wholly self-serving, and
characterized the testimony of Adoracion Cruz unworthy of belief. As to appellant’s claim that
EDEN filed the complaint because of a grudge against him, the trial court found this
“incredible,if not totally absurd,” for:
The complainant is an innocent girl of tender years who is likely to possess such
vindictiveness and death of conscience as to concoct such a malicious and damaging
story. The complainant appeared, during her entire testimonies on January 20 and May 4,
1995, coherent, candid and responsive. Her retraction on March 16 was sufficiently explained
to this Court the seriousness of the injury upon he person and dignity inflicted upon by the
accused…. Even assuming argumenti gratia that the complainant would indeed lodge a
complaint against her father solely on account of an altercation with him, it is highly unlikely
that the complainant would concoct a charge which would damage her and wreck havoc on
her family’s reputation, destroy the household peace and subject her father, the accused, to a
grave punishment which by dent of express of law, can obliterate him from the face of this
earth. Indeed, to uphold the defense’s proposition would be stretching the imagination too far,
if not to the extreme.

The trial court finally found that appellant employed on EDEN force or intimidation by
virtue of his moral ascendancy over her and his threat that he would kill her if she reported the
incident to anyone.

Accordingly, the trial court, applying Section 11 of R.A. No. 7659 which imposes the
penalty of death when the victim is under eighteen years of age and the offender is a parent,
ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil
degree, or common law spouse of the parent of the victim, rendered judgement against
appellant, to wit:
WHEREFORE, considering all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered finding the
accused, EDUARDO AGBAYANI, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE
committed against complainant, Eden Agbayani, his minor daughter. This Court as a
consequence thereof, hereby imposes upon him the supreme penalty law R.A. 7659. Further,
Accused is hereby ordered to pay the complainant, Eden Agbayani, the sum of P75,000.00
as damages, with all the necessary penalties provided for by law without subsidiary
imprisonment, however, in the event of insolvency and to pay the costs.
Let the entire records of this case be forwarded to the Supreme Court on automatic review.
SO ORDERED.

On 26 May 1995, appellant, through his new counsel de parte Attorneys Froilan V. Siobal
and Domingo Floresta, filed a Motion for New Trial[21] on the ground that serious irregularities
prejudicial to his substantial rights were committed during the trial, viz., the failure of the
counselde oficio to: (a) present at trial the Barangay Captain of Barangay Obrero, Quezon
City, who would have testified, on basis of his certification attached to the motion, that there
was a house bearing No. 30, Makabayan St., in his barangay, but that there was no such
place as 30-A Makabayan St. of said barangay, which was the address given by EDEN; (b)
consider the futility of Adoracion Cruz’s testimony; (c) present private complainant’s mother
and sister Fedelina on sur-rebuttal to testify as to the circumstances which brought about the
execution of the affidavit of desistance; and (d) cross examine complainant and the police
investigator exhaustively. He further alleged that his counsel de oficiowas never prepared
during all the scheduled hearings, worse, even waived the presence of appellant after the
third witness for the prosecution was presented. He also averred that the trial court used
its inherent power of contempt to intimidate private complainant.

In their Comments/Opposition to the Motion for New Trial,[22] the public and private
prosecutors alleged that there were no such irregularities; neither was there new and material
evidence to be presented that appellant could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered
and produced at the trial and which if introduced and admitted at trial would probably change
the judgment of the court.

In its Order[23] of 31 July 1995, the trial court denied the motion for new trial being
devoid of merit and for not being within the purview of Sections 1 and 2, Rule 121 of the
Rules of Court.

In his Appellant’s Brief filed before this Court, appellant contends that the trial court erred
in: (a) denying his motion for new trial; and (b) holding that the prosecution proved beyond
reasonable doubt that he committed the crime charged.

In support of the first assigned error, appellant reiterates the grounds in his motion for
new trial, and adds two others namely, (1) the lower court failed to apprise him of his right to
have counsel of his own choice; and (2) the lower court did not give him the opportunity to
prepare for trial, despite the mandated period of two days prescribed in Section 9 of Rule 116
of the Rules of Court.

In his second assigned error, appellant contends that EDEN’s testimony is not sufficient to
convict, since its is unclear and not free from serious contradictions. Considering their
proximity to EDEN, it was impossible for her sisters or any one of them not to have been
awakened when EDEN was allegedly being abused by him. Strangely, EDEN simply kept
quiet and allowed him to abuse her; neither did she shout for help or put up a fight that would
have awakened her sisters. Notably, EDEN and her sisters allowed him to live and sleep with
them again in their rented room even after the alleged rape.
Finally, appellant asserts that EDEN’s testimony is unreliable because her affidavit of
desistance must have necessarily been contradictory thereto. Her “subsequent turn-around
… that she was pressured and influenced to execute and sign the affidavit of desistance
further confirmed her being untruthful and, in effect, demolished whatsoever faith left on her
charge against the accused.”

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) considers the first assigned error as devoid of
merit. When appellant appeared without counsel at the arraignment, the trial court informed
him that it would appoint de oficio counsel for him if he so desired, to which appellant
agreed. Moreover, the 2-day period to prepare for trial provided in Section 9 of Rule 116 is
merely directory and does not prohibit the court from proceeding with trial after arraignment,
especially if the defense, as here, consented thereto. It would have been entirely different if
the defense did not agree, in which case the court would have no other alternative but to
grant him the period.

As to appellant’s other grievances, the OSG points out that throughout all the hearings,
appellant never questioned the way his defense was being handled by his counsel de
oficio. The latter’s request for a continuance because he had not yet conferred with appellant
was not evidence of counsel’s lack of sincerity. On the contrary, it showed counsel’s
awareness of his duty to confer with appellant to ferret out the relevant facts as regards the
second witness for the prosecution. Likewise, the waiver of appellant’s presence during the
hearing of 18 March 1995 did not prejudice him, because on that date, the defense presented
EDEN to testify as to her affidavit of desistance, and Fedelina to corroborate the statements
of EDEN – which testimonies were in appellant’s favor. As to the manner appellant’s
counsel de oficio cross-examined the prosecution witnesses, the OSG stresses that the
record shows that said counsel tried his best.

The OSG then characterizes the second assigned error as “barren of merit.” EDEN’s
positive identification of appellant as the author of the crime rendered appellant’s defense of
alibi unavailing; moreover, she demonstrated clearly and vividly what transpired that fateful
evening of 19 July 1994. Thus in view of EDEN’s candid and categorical manner of testifying
the OSG concluded that she was a credible witness.[24]

As to the commission of rape in a small room and in presence of other persons, the OSG
maintains that such was not at all improbable.[25]There was, as well, nothing unusual in
EDEN’s silence; as she could only attempt to shout because appellant had succeeded in
covering her mouth with his hands and exercised a high level of moral ascendancy over
EDEN, his daughter.[26] Hence the OSG invokes the principle that in a rape committed by a
father against his own daughter, the former’s moral ascendancy and influence over the latter
substitutes for violence or intimidation.[27]

As regards EDEN’s affidavit of desistance, the OSG maintains that court look with
disfavor on retraction of testimonies previously given in court, for such can easily be secured
from poor and ignorant witnesses usually for monetary consideration,[28] as well as the
probability that it may later be repudiated.

In his Reply Brief, appellant countered that his consent to the appointment of counsel de
oficio his arraignment did not relieve the court of its duty under Section 6 of Rule 116 of the
Rules of Court to inform him of his right to counsel and that it would be grievous error to deny
an accused such right. Appellant then elaborated on this point as follows:
This is not without judicial precedent. In People vs. Cachero, 73 Phil. 426 and People vs.
Domenden, 73 Phil. 349, cited in RJ Francisco’s Criminal Procedure, Third Ed., 1966, p. 323
it was held, that:
“The courts should comply with Rule 116, Sec. 3. It would be a grievous error to proceed by
sentencing the accused without due process of law and this is not complete, when the
accused is denied the right recognized by said rule. The records must show compliance
therewith or that the accused renounced his right to be assisted by counsel. This is
demanded by the interest of justice and remove all doubt that if the accused had waived said
right, he was fully informed before giving his plea of its consequences. Omission by courts
whether voluntary should not truly be censured but also condemned.”

Discussing further the right to the 2-day period to prepare for trial, the appellant contends
that said right:
[H]as been held to be mandatory and denial of this right is reversible error and a ground for
new trial. (R.J. Francisco’s Criminal Procedure, Third Ed., 1986, p. 404, citing people vs.
Mijares, et al., 47 OG 4606; Dumasig v. Morave, 23 SCRA 259). This must be so “xxx to
prevent that any accused be caught unaware and deprived of the means of properly facing
the charges presented against him.”

The first assigned error does not persuade this Court. It is true that the transcript of the
stenographic notes of the proceedings of 22 December 1994 and the order issued by the trial
court after the conclusion of said proceedings only state that the court appointed de
oficiocounsel with the consent of the said accused. They do not categorically disclose that
the trial informed appellant of his right to counsel of his own choice. However, this does not
mean that the trial court failed to inform appellant of such right. The precise time the two
counsel de oficio were appointed is not disclosed in the record either. At the recorded portion
of the arraignment aspect of the proceedings on 22 December 1994, the two formally entered
their appearance, thus:

COURT: Call the case.

(Interpreter calls the case).

FISCAL ROSARIO BARIAS:

For the prosecution, Your Honor.

ATTY. MARIETA AGUJA:

Respectfully appearing for the prosecution, Your Honor under the control and direct
supervision of the Trial Prosecutor, Your Honor, we are ready to present our first
witness.

ATTY. BALDADO:
For the accused Your Honor, appointed as counsel de oficio.

ATTY. DE LA CRUZ:

For the accused, Your Honor appointed by the court as counsel de oficio.[29]

This obviously means that the appointment had taken place earlier. The trial court’s
order[30] of 22 December 1994 states that said de oficiocounsel were duly appointed by the
Court with the consent of the accused.” Since appellant has miserably failed to show that he
was not informed of his right to counsel, the presumptions that the law has been obeyed and
official duty has been regularly performed by the trial court stand.[31] In other words, the trial
court is presumed to have complied with its four-fold duties under Section 6[32] of Rule 116 of
the Rules of Court, namely, (1) to inform the accused that he has the right to have his own
counsel before being arraigned; (2) after giving such information, to ask accused whether he
desires the aid of counsel; (3) if he so desires to procure the services of counsel, the court
must grant him reasonable time to do so; and (4) if he so desires to have counsel but is
unable to employ one, the court must assign counsel de oficio to defend him.[33]

It is settled that the failure of the record to disclose affirmatively that the trial judge
advised the accused of his right to counsel is not sufficient ground to reverse conviction. The
reason being that the trial court must be presumed to have complied with the procedure
prescribed by law for the hearing and trial of cases, and that such a presumption can only be
overcome by an affirmative showing to the contrary. Thus it has been held that unless the
contrary appears in the record, or that it is positively proved that the trial court failed to inform
the accused of his right to counsel, it will be presumed that the accused was informed by the
court of such right.[34]

In U.S. v. Labial,[35] this Court held:


Adhering to the doctrine laid down in that case, the only question to be determined in this
case is whether the failure of the record to disclose affirmatively that the trial judge advised
the accused of their right to have counsel is sufficient ground to reverse the judgment of
conviction and to send the case back for a new trial. Upon this point we are all agreed that in
the absence of an affirmative showing that the court below did in fact fail to advise the
accused of their rights under the provisions of Section 17 of General Orders No. 58, as
amended by section 1 of Act No. 440, the mere omission from the record brought here upon
appeal of an entry affirmatively disclosing that he did so, is not reversible error.
In the absence of an affirmative showing to the contrary, the court below must be presumed in
matters of this kind to have complied with the provisions of law prescribing the procedure to
be followed in the trial had before him.

While in People v. Miranda[36] this Court explicitly stated:


However, said counsel calls attention to the fact that the record is silent as to whether or not,
at the time appellant was arraigned, the trial court informed him of his right to be assisted by
an attorney, under section 3 of Rule 112 of the Rules of Court.
This precise issue was determined in United States v. Labial (27 Phil., 87,88), in the sense
that unless the contrary appears in the records, it will be presumed that the defendant was
informed by the court of his right to counsel. “*** If we should insist on finding every fact fully
recorded before a citizen can be punished for an offense against the laws, we should destroy
public justice, and give unbridled license to crime. Much must be left to intendment and
presumption, for it is often less difficult to do things correctly than to describe them
correctly.” (United States vs. Labial,supra.) The same doctrine was reiterated in
People vs. Abuyen (52 Phil. 722) and in United States vs. Custan (28 Phil. 19). We see no
reason to modify it now.

In the instant case, the trial court appointed two de oficio counsel who assisted the
appellant at his arraignment, one of whom extensively cross-examined the first witness for the
prosecution, Dr. Florante Baltazar.[37] Besides, it is only in this appeal that appellant raised
the issue of the failure of the trial court to inform him of the right to counsel. At no time did he
previously raise it in the trial court despite ample opportunity to do so. His consent to be
assisted by counsel de oficio, coupled with said counsel’s extensive cross-examination of Dr.
Baltazar, may even be considered a waiver of his right to question the alleged failure of the
trial court to inform of his right to counsel.[38]

The cases of People v. Domenden[39] and People v. Cachero[40] cited by appellant are
inapplicable. In both casis the trial courts there clearly failed to inform the accused of their
right to counsel nor appoint de oficio counsel during the arraignment. Nevertheless, we take
this opportunity to admonish trial courts to ensure that their compliance with their pre-
arraignment duties to inform the accused of his right to counsel, to ask him if he desires to
have one, and to inform him that, unless he is allowed to defend himself in person or he has
counsel of his choice, a de oficio counsel will be appointed for him, must appear on record.

Turning to the alleged violation of appellant’s right to the 2-day period to prepare for trial,
Section 9 of Rule 116 of the Rules of Court reads:
Sec. 9. Time to prepare for trial. -- After a plea of not guilty, the accused is entitled to
two (2) days to prepare for trial unless the court for good cause grants him further time.

It must be pointed out that the right must be expressly demanded.[41] Only when so
demanded does denial thereof constitute reversible error and a ground for new trial.
[42] Further, such right may be waived, expressly or impliedly.[43] In the instant case,
appellant did not ask for time to prepare for trial, hence, he effectively waived such right.

During the succeeding hearings, appellant was represented by Atty. Temanil of the Public
Attorney’s Office in Quezon City, who entered his appearance as de parte, and not as de
oficio, counsel. It is to be presumed that Atty. Temanil’s services were obtained pursuant to
the law creating the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), formerly the Citizen’s Legal Assistance
Office (CLAO).[44] There is at all no showing that Atty. Temanil lacked the competence and
skill to defend appellant. The latter’s contention that his counsel was not ready at all times
because at the hearing on 20 January 1995 he asked for a continuation as he has “not yet
interviewed [his] client,”[45] is misleading. Atty. Temanil made that statement after he cross-
examined EDEN and after the judge realized that it was almost 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon
and both of them were already hungry, thus:
ATTY. TEMANIL:
I just want to make it on record, Your Honor that from the start of the trial the
witness appears to be fluent and suffers no difficulty in answering the questions,
even the questions propounded by the Private Prosecutor, Your Honor.
COURT:
Put that on record.
That is true, Atty. Temanil, it is almost 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon and we are both
hungry now.
ATTY. TEMANIL:
I will just asked [sic] for continuance considering that I have not yet interviewed my
client, Your Honor.[46]

Neither is there merit in appellant’s claim that his counsel committed irregularities: (1) in
not considering the futility of the testimony of Adoracion Cruz; (2) in not presenting the
barangay captain in the evidence in chief for the defense, and EDEN’s mother and sister
Fedelina in sur-rebuttal; and (3) in not cross-examining exhaustively EDEN.

Adoracion Cruz was presented to corroborate appellant’s alibi that he was in the province
and not in their rented room from 17 to 21 July 1994. On the other hand, the testimony of the
barangay captain could not alter the fact that rape was committed in a rented room in a house
along Makabayan Street in his barangay. Appellant neither testified that he did not occupy a
house numbered 30-A nor denied that he was living with EDEN and her sisters in that
room. Besides, he and his children were not renting the entire house, but merely a room,
which could probably be the unit numbered “30-A” referred to by EDEN.

As to the presentation of EDEN’s mother and sister Fedelina as sur-rebuttal witnesses to


disprove the claim of EDEN that they coerced her into signing the affidavit of desistance,
suffice it to state that there was nothing to show that they were in fact willing to refute EDEN’s
claim.

Finally, contrary to appellant’s allegation, a meticulous examination of the transcripts of


the stenographic notes convinces this Court that Atty. Temanil sufficiently cross-examined
EDEN. If he decided to terminate his cross-examination, it could have been due to the futility
of any further cross-examination which might only prove favorable to the prosecution, as it
might have opened another window of opportunity for EDEN to strengthen her testimony.

The second assigned error is equally unpersuasive. It raises the issue of the credibility of
EDEN as a witness. One of the highly revered dicta Philippine jurisprudence has established
is that this Court will not interfere with the judgment of the trial court in passing upon the
credibility of opposing witnesses, unless there appears in the records some facts or
circumstances of weight and influence which have been overlooked and, if considered, would
affect the result. This is founded on practical and empirical considerations, i.e., the trial judge
is in a better position to decide the question of credibility, since he personally heard the
witnesses and observed their deportment and manner of testifying.[47] He had before him the
essential aids to determine whether a witness was telling the truth or lying. Truth does not
always stalk boldly forth naked; she often hides in nooks and crannies visible only to the
mind’s eye of the judge who tried the case. To him appears the furtive glance, the blush of
conscious shame, the hesitation, the sincere or flippant or sneering tone, the heat, the
calmness, the yawn, the sigh, the candor or lack of it, the scant or full realization of the
solemnity of an oath, the carriage and mien.[48] On the other hand, an appellate court has
only the cold record, which generally does not reveal the thin line between fact and
prevarication that is crucial in determining innocence or guilt.[49]

At any rate, in view of the gravity of the offense charged and the extreme penalty of death
imposed, this Court took painstaking effort and meticulous care in reviewing the transcripts of
the stenographic notes of the testimonies of the witnesses.

This Court is fully satisfied that EDEN told the truth that she was raped by her father,
herein appellant, on 19 July 1994, in their rented room in Barangay Obrero, Quezon City. Her
story was made even more credible by the simplicity and candidness of her answers, as well
as by the fact that it came from an innocent girl writhing in emotional and moral shock and
anguish. She must have been torn between the desire to seek justice and the fear that a
revelation of her ordeal might mean the imposition of capital punishment on her father. By
testifying in court, she made public a painful and humiliating secret, which others may have
simply kept to themselves for the rest of their lives. She thereby jeopardized her chances of
marriage, as even a compassionate man may be reluctant to marry her because her
traumatic experience may be psychological and emotional impediment to a blissful
union. Moreover, such a revelation divided her family and brought it shame and humiliation.

If EDEN did testify regardless of these consequences and even allowed the examination
of her private parts, she did so inspired by no other motive than to obtain justice and release
from the psychological and emotional burdens the painful experience had foisted upon her. It
was then improbable that EDEN fabricated a story of defloration and falsely charged her own
father with a heinous crime.

What appellant claims to be improbabilities in the testimony of EDEN are more apparent
than real. The presence of her sisters in the small room did not at all make impossible the
commission of rape. The evil in man has no conscience. The beast in him bears no respect
for time and place; it drives him to commit rape anywhere – even in places where people
congregate such as in parks, along the roadside within school premises, and inside a house
where there are other occupants.[50] In People v. Opena,[51] rape was committed in a room
occupied also by other persons. In the instant case, EDEN’s other companions in the room
when she was molested by appellant were young girls who were all asleep.

That EDEN was unable to resist or shout for help can easily be explained by the fact that
appellant threatened to kill her. Whether he was armed was of no moment. That threat alone
coming from her father, a person who wielded such moral ascendancy, was enough to render
her incapable of resisting or asking for help.

Intimidation in rape cases is not calibrated nor governed by hard and fast rules. Since it
is addressed to the victim’s and is therefore subjective, it must be viewed in light of the
victim’s perception and judgment at the time of the commission of the crime. It is enough that
the intimidation produced fear – fear that if the victim did not yield to the bestial demands of
the accused, something far worse would happen to her at that moment. Where such
intimidation existed and the victim was cowed into submission as a result thereof, thereby
rendering resistance futile, it would be the height of unreasonableness to expect the victim to
resist with all her might and strength. If resistance would nevertheless be futile because of
intimidation, then offering none at all does not mean consent to the assault so as to make the
victim’s submission to the sexual act voluntary.[52]

In any event, in a rape committed by a father against his own daughter, as in this case,
the former’s moral ascendancy or influence over the latter substitutes for violence or
intimidation.[53] Likewise, it must not be forgotten that at her tender age of 14 years, EDEN
could not be expected to act with the equanimity of disposition and with nerves of steel, or to
act like a mature and experienced woman who would know what to do under the
circumstances, or to have courage and intelligence to disregard the threat.[54] Even in cases
of rape of mature women, this Court recognized their different and unpredictable
reactions. Some may shout; some may faint; and some may be shocked into insensibility;
while others may openly welcome the intrusion.[55]

Neither does the fact that EDEN continued to live with appellant in the same rented room
disprove the rape. While she was hurt physically, psychologically and emotionally, yet the
thought must have been irresistible and compelling that her assailant was her own father, who
was both a father and mother to her since her mother was in Saudi Arabia and who provided
her with the daily wherewithal to keep her alive. Besides, a less harsh life outside was
uncertain. Instances are not few when daughters raped by their fathers stayed with the latter
and kept in the deepest recesses of their hearts the evil deed even if the memory thereof
haunted them forever.

Nor is there merit in the insistent claim that EDEN’s affidavit of desistance “must have
necessarily contradicted her previous testimony.” We have earlier quoted if full this affidavit of
desistance. Plainly, nowhere therein did she retract her previous testimony or claim that she
was raped by her father. In any case, EDEN withdrew her affidavit of desistance and
solemnly declared that she was pressured by her mother and sister to sign it. Moreover,
affidavits, being taken ex parte, are generally considered inferior to the testimony given in
open court;[56] and affidavits or recantation have been invariably regarded as exceedingly
unreliable, since they can easily be secured from poor and ignorant witnesses. It would be a
dangerous rule to reject the testimony taken before a court of justice simply because the
witness who gave it later on changed his mind for one reason or another. Such a rule would
make a solemn trial a mockery, and place the proceedings at the mercy of unscrupulous
witnesses. [57]

This Court has no doubt that appellant is guilty as charged. The penalty therefor
is death under the first circumstance mentioned in Article 335(7) of the Revised Penal Code,
as amended by R.A. No. 7659, which provides, in part, as follows:
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the
following attendant circumstances:
1.When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent,
ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the
third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.

This law may be difficult to accept for those who believe that the verdict of death for a sin
or crime is God’s exclusive prerogative. But the fundamental law of the land allows
Congress, for compelling reasons, to impose capital punishment in cases of heinous crimes,
[58] hence the passage of R.A. No. 7659. Hoc quidem per quam durum est sed ita lex
scripta est. The law may be exceedingly hard but so the law is written and the Court is duty-
bound to apply it in this case.

To the appellant who inflicted his animal greed on his daughter in a disgusting coercion of
incestuous lust, thereby forsaking that which is highest and noblest in his human nature and
reducing himself to lower than the lowliest animal, the full force of the law must be weighed
against him, for he deserves no place in society. All that we concede to him is a modification
of the award of “P75,000.00 as damages,” which is hereby reduced to P50,000.00 in
accordance with current case law.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered AFFIRMING the decision of the Regional


Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 106, in Criminal Case No. Q-94-59149 finding accused-
appellant EDUARDO AGBAYANI y MENDOZA guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of
the crime of rape defined and penalized under under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code,
as amended by R.A. No. 7659, and imposing upon him the penalty of DEATH, subject to the
above modification as to the amount of indemnity.

Two justices voted to impose upon the accused-appellant the penalty of reclusion
perpetua.

Upon the finality of this Decision, let certified true copies thereof, as well as the records of
this case, be forwarded without delay to the Office of the President for possible exercise of
executive clemency pursuant to Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
Section 25 of R.A. No. 7659.

With costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan,
Mendoza, Francisco, Panganiban, and Martinez, JJ., concur.

SYLLABI/SYNOPSIS
FIRST DIVISION

[A.M. No. RTJ-97-1371. January 22, 1999]

Baltazar D. Amion, complainant, vs. Judge Roberto S. Chiongson, Branch 50, Regional
Trial Court, Bacolod City,respondent.

DECISION

MARTINEZ, J.:
A verified complaint dated August 29, 1996[1] was filed by Baltazar D. Amion with this
Court on October 7, 1996 charging Judge Roberto S. Chiongson, Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 50, Bacolod City with Ignorance of the law and Oppression relative to Criminal Case
No. 94-159772 pending in said trial court and in which complainant is the accused.

The allegations against respondent judge are premised on his appointment of a


counsel de oficio for accused-complainant despite the latter’s objection thereto on the ground
that he had his own retained counsel in the person of Atty. Reynaldo C. Depasucat.

Accused-complainant explains that respondent judge appointed another lawyer in the


person of Atty. Manuel Lao Ong of the Free Legal Aid to act as counselde oficio for the
scheduled hearing of the aforecited criminal case on March 28, and 29 1996. He further
avers that his retained counsel was ready for hearing on said dates but on March 27, 1996,
the day before the scheduled hearing, he was informed that Atty. Depasucat was ill.

It was for this reason that accused-complainant was not represented by his defense
lawyer in the scheduled hearing which prompted respondent judge to appoint Free Legal Aid
lawyer Atty. Manuel Lao Ong. Notwithstanding complainant-accused’s vehement opposition,
respondent judge proceeded with the trial on March 28, 1996 with Atty. Ong representing the
complainant-accused as counsel de oficio. He also claims that Atty. Ong did not have
sufficient knowledge of the case and that no prior conference was held between said
counsel de oficio and himself.

Complainant-accused asserts that the aforesaid incidents constitute a clear violation of


his right to due process and a deprivation of his constitutional and statutory right to be
defended by counsel of his own choice.

Consequently, complainant-accused filed a Manifestation and Urgent Motion[2] stating


therein that he is not accepting the legal services of counsel de oficioAtty. Ong since he can
afford to hire a counsel de parte of his own choice. He further states that respondent judge is
not fair and just and does not have the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. He likewise
asseverates that respondent judge is ignorant of the basic law which makes him unfit to be a
judge in any judicial tribunal.

Complainant-accused also alludes oppression to respondent judge when the latter was
still a Municipal Trial Judge of MTCC, Branch 3, Bacolod City. Complainant was then the
offended party in a criminal case for Slander and it took a year before respondent judge
decided to dismiss the same. He complains that now that he is the accused in Criminal Case
No. 94-15772, respondent judge appears to be "very active" and wants the case to be
terminated immediately.

In addition, accused-complainant charges respondent judge with gross ignorance of the


law when the latter, as then municipal trial judge of Bacolod City, heard Criminal Case No.
55099 for violation of B.P. 22 against accused-complainant in the absence of his counsel.

In a resolution dated March 12, 1997,[3] this Court required respondent judge to file his
Comment on the aforementioned charges.
Judge Roberto S. Chiongson, in his Comment dated April 21, 1997,[4] explained that
accused-complainant would not have filed the administrative case had he acceded to the
latter’s plea for his inhibition which he denied, there being no ground therefor. He claimed
that accused-complainant is a police officer charged in Criminal Case No. 94-15772 for
having allegedly killed a fellow policeman on January 24, 1994. From the time he assumed
office as Presiding Judge of said court on November 27, 1995, other than the arraignment of
accused- complainant on September 25, 1995 before Judge Emma Labayen (former judge of
said court) in which accused-complainant pleaded not guilty, the case has not moved.

When respondent judge set the case for hearing on January 9, 1996, trial was not held
because accused-complainant’s counsel Atty. Depasucat, was not feeling well. The hearing
was reset to January 19, 1996 with a warning that no further postponement would be
entertained. On said date of hearing, Atty. Depasucat again failed to appear in court. In order
to avoid further delay, the court appointed Atty. Apollo Jacildo of the Public Attorney’s Office
(PAO) as counsel de oficio. Atty. Jacildo, however, filed a Manifestation explaining that it is
the policy of their office not to represent a party who has retained the services of a counsel of
his own choice.

At the next scheduled hearing of February 21, 1996,[5] accused-complainant’s


counsel de parte still did not show up in court, thus, prompting private complainant Mrs.
Antonietta Vaflor (the victim’s wife) to speak in open court and pour out all her frustration
about the long delay in the resolution of the case.

In view of the fact that Mrs. Vaflor and another government witness, PO3 Richard
Dejores, both reside at Escalante, about 70 to 80 kilometers from Bacolod City, and that the
appearance of Atty. Depasucat remained uncertain, Judge Chiongson appointed Atty. Manuel
Lao-Ong from the Free Legal Aid Office to represent accused-complainant. The court,
however, made it of record that the appointment of Atty. Ong was without prejudice to the
appearance of counsel de parte.[6] Due to the continued absence of Atty. Depasucat, the
counsel de parte, Atty. Ong, represented the accused-complainant at the March 28, 1996
hearing which was opposed by the accused in a Manifestation and Motion filed on March 29,
seeking the nullification of the March 28, 1998 hearing and the inhibition of Judge
Chiongson. The hearings were then rescheduled on May 13 and 17, 1996.

On May 8, 1996, accused-complainant’s counsel, Atty. Depasucat, filed a motion for


postponement alleging that the motion for inhibition should be resolved and that he would not
be available on the rescheduled dates for hearings as he would be out of the country during
those times.

An order denying the accused-complainant’s Motion for Inhibition and Motion to Set Aside
the proceedings of March 28, 1996 was issued by the court on July 18, 1996 on the ground
that the claim of bias and prejudice was without legal basis.[7]

At the scheduled hearing on August 1, 1996, Atty. Depasucat asked the court that he be
allowed to withdraw as counsel de parte of the accused-complainant causing further
delay. The trial of the case was again reset to September 2, 5, and 6, 1996 with a warning
that the court will not grant any further postponement and that if the accused-complainant was
still without counsel, a counsel de oficio will be appointed.
Thereafter, the accused-complainant engaged the services of different counsels who
continued to adopt the dilatory tactics utilized by the previous counsel de parte.

Atty. Rosslyn Morana, who entered his appearance as counsel on September 2, 1996,
filed on October 14, 1996 a Motion for Voluntary Inhibition of respondent judge on account of
a pending administrative case against the latter. On October 24, 1996, Atty. Morana
submitted an Explanation to the court stating that he could not represent the accused-
complainant as the latter failed to give him the records of the case.

On November 14, 1996, the prosecution filed a motion to cite the accused in contempt for
filing a series of motions for inhibition and for filing an administrative case against the
presiding judge which are plain acts of harassment.

Atty. Salvador Sabio entered his appearance as counsel for the accused-complainant on
December 2, 1996 and asked for the cancellation of the scheduled hearings on December 5
and 6, 1996 as he had to study the case. The court granted the request for postponement of
Atty. Sabio and reset the case on January 24, 1997 with a strong warning that it will not allow
any further dilatory postponement. In the afternoon of January 23, 1997, the court received
another motion for postponement filed by Atty. Sabio requesting for the cancellation of the
January 24 hearing. The court, considering the same as another delaying tactic, immediately
issued an order denying the motion. In spite of the denial of the motion for postponement,
Atty. Sabio failed to appear.

On February 4, 1997, accused-complainant again asked for the voluntary inhibition of the
presiding judge which the court again denied for being merely a dilatory scheme.

On March 24, 1997, when the case was called for hearing, Atty. Sabio informed the court
that he received a written note from the accused-complainant discharging him as counsel, to
which the court respondent by ruling that Atty. Sabio would only be allowed to withdraw as
accused-complainant’s lawyer upon the entry of appearance of a new defense counsel.

In a Resolution of the Court of Appeals promulgated on April 29, 1997, Judge Chiongson
was required to submit a COMMENT[8] on a Petition for Certiorariand Mandamus filed by
accused-complainant. Said document has also been submitted to the Court as Supplemental
Comment to this Administrative Case.[9]

Respondent judge reiterated his belief that his appointment of a counsel de oficio to
represent the accused-complainant is justified because of the vexatious and oppressive delay
on the latter’s part who has been represented by a counsel de parte who refuses or fails to
appear during hearings. He averred that the records of the case will show that the accused-
complainant and his lawyers have employed every means fair, but mostly foul, to delay the
resolution of Criminal Case No. 94-15772. He added that the Petition for Certiorari and the
Administrative Case were filed for the purpose of not only delaying the resolution of the case
but also to pressure him into inhibiting himself.

As to the allegation of oppression in connection with s criminal case for slander where
accused-complainant was the alleged offended party while respondent judge was then the
Municipal Trial Judge of MTC, Branch 3, Bacolod City to which the case was being tried,
Judge Chiongson belies the same. He explains that the prosecution in the said case had
rested while the defense filed a demurrer which was granted.

He narrates that the case for slander was filed by herein accused-complainant against
Mrs. Esparcia, a school teacher and sister of a victim alleged to have been killed by the
accused-complainant, when said Mrs. Esparcia told the accused-complainant “Murderer, why
are you not in jail” or words to that effect. This was made when accused-complainant was
seen roaming around the vicinity of the police station when he was supposed to be a
detention prisoner. Accordingly, respondent judge granted the Demurrer on the finding of the
court that the utterance of Mrs. Esparcia was not slanderous but was merely an expression of
exasperation and disgust.

On the charge of Gross Ignorance of the law, for having tried Criminal Case No. 55099 for
violation of B.P. 22 against accused-complainant in the absence of counsel, respondent judge
asserts that accused-complainant has nothing to do with said criminal case as can be
gleaned from the Order relied upon as basis for the aforementioned charge.

Respondent judge concludes that the sequence of events hereinabove discussed,


exposes clearly the false and dissembled charges filed against him as well as the determined
efforts of the accused-complainant and his counsel to frustrate the ends of justice.

We find this administrative complaint devoid of merit.

Verily, the facts and circumstances of this case point to the pervasive and prevaricated
procrastination of the proceedings undertaken by the accused-complainant and his
counsel. Contrary to what accused-complainant would want to impress upon this Court, it
seems that he has been the oppressor while respondent judge Roberto Chiongson appears to
be the oppressed. Through the course of the proceedings in the subject criminal case,
accused-complainant had filed several Motions for Inhibition, a Petition
for Certiorari and Mandamus and this administrative complaint with the view of delaying the
eventual disposition of the case.

A Memorandum of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) dated January 14,
1998[10] noted that “Criminal Case No. 94-15772 has been pending for almost four (4) years
already and the prosecution has yet to rest its case. Complainant has thrown every strategy
in the book to delay the trial. x x x”

The claim of accused-complainant that respondent judge’s appointment of a counsel de


oficio constitutes a clear violation of his right to due process and a deprivation of his
constitutional right to be defended by counsel of his own choice cannot be countenanced by
this Court.

An examination of related provisions in the Constitution concerning the right to counsel,


will show that the “preference in the choice of counsel” pertains more aptly and specifically to
a person under investigation[11] rather than one who is the accused in criminal prosecution.
[12]

Even if we were to extend the application of the concept of “preference in the choice of
counsel” to an accused in a criminal prosecution, such preferential discretion cannot partake
of a discretion so absolute and arbitrary as would make the choice of counsel refer
exclusively to the predilection of the accused.

As held by this Court in the case of People vs. Barasina:[13]


“Withal, the word “preferably” under Section 12(1), Article 3 of the 1987 Constitution
does not convey the message that the choice of a lawyer by a person under
investigation is exclusive as to preclude other equally competent and independent
attorneys from handling his defense. If the rule were otherwise, then, the tempo of a
custodial investigation, will be solely in the hands of the accused who can impede,
nay, obstruct the progress of the interrogation by simply selecting a lawyer, who for
one reason or another, is not available to protect his interest. This absurd scenario
could not have been contemplated by the framers of the charter”

Applying this principle enunciated by the Court, we may likewise say that the accused’s
discretion in a criminal prosecution with respect to his choice of counsel is not so much as to
grant him a plenary prerogative which would preclude other equally competent and
independent counsels from representing him. Otherwise, the pace of a criminal prosecution
will be entirely dictated by the accused to the detriment of the eventual resolution of the case.

Accused-complainant was not, in any way, deprived of his substantive and constitutional
right to due process as he was duly accorded all the opportunities to be heard and to present
evidence to substantiate his defense but he forfeited this right, for not appearing in court
together with his counsel at the scheduled hearings.[14]

Accused-complainant had more than sufficient time and every available opportunity to
present his side which would have led to the expeditious termination of the case. A party
cannot feign denial of due process when he had the opportunity to present his side.[15]

Moreover, there is no denial of the right to counsel where a counsel de oficio was
appointed during the absence of the accused’s counsel de parte pursuant to the court’s desire
to finish the case as early as practicable under the continuous trial system.[16]

Thus, it has been held by this Court in the case of Lacambra v. Ramos:[17]
“The Court cannot help but note the series of legal maneuvers resorted to and repeated
importunings of the accused or his counsel, which resulted in the protracted trial of
the case, thus making a mockery of the judicial process, not to mention the injustice
caused by the delay to the victim’s family.”

Undoubtedly, it was accused-complainant’s own strategic machinations which brought


upon the need for the appointment of a counsel de oficio in as much as the criminal case had
been dragging on its lethargic course.

As to the charges of oppression and gross ignorance of the law against respondent judge
relative to cases under him while he was still in the Municipal Trial Court, the same have been
sufficiently answered in the Comments submitted in this case. The explanation by the
respondent judge indicate that the aforesaid allegations have neither legal nor factual basis
and that the conclusions made therein are merely conjectural.

The actuation of respondent judge in this murder does not warrant reproach and
reprimand, but in fact, merits the acknowledgment and approval of this Court. Such
manifestation of zeal clearly show respondent judge’s ardent determination to expedite the
case and render justice.

The Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge should administer justice impartially
and without delay.[18] A judge should always be imbued with a high sense of duty and
responsibility in the discharge of his obligation to promptly administer justice.[19]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court RESOLVED to:

1. DISMISS the administrative complaint against Judge Roberto S. Chiongson of


RTC, Branch 50, Bacolod City for lack of merit.

2. IMPOSE a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) and ADMONISH


accused-complainant Baltazar D. Amion for filing a malicious and unmeritorious
complaint against Judge Roberto S. Chiongson to delay and prolong the
prosecution of the case.

3. DIRECT Judge Roberto S. Chiongson to continue hearing the case and finally
dispose of the same with utmost dispatch.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr. (Chairman), Melo, Kapunan, and Pardo, JJ., concur.

Right to be informed:

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 121562. July 10, 1998]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RONNIE QUITLONG y FRIAS,


SALVADOR QUITLONG y FRIAS and EMILIO SENOTO, Jr., y PASCUA, accused-
appellants.

DECISION

VITUG, J.:

The Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 5,[1] disposed of Criminal Case No.
13336-R; thus:
“WHEREFORE, the Court finds and declares the accused RONNIE QUITLONG Y FRIAS,
SALVADOR QUITLONG Y FRIAS and EMILIO SENOTO, JR. Y PASCUA guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of murder as charged and hereby sentences EACH of them to
suffer an indeterminate penalty of TWENTY (20) YEARS of reclusion temporal, as minimum,
to FORTY (40) YEARS of reclusion perpetua, as maximum; to indemnify, jointly and severally,
the heirs of the deceased Jonathan Calpito y Castro in the sums of P50,000.00 for the latter’s
death; P35,700.00 as consequential damages; and P100,000.00 as moral damages, plus
their proportionate shares in the costs.
"In the service of their sentence, the said accused shall be credited with their preventive
imprisonment under the terms and conditions prescribed in Article 29 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended.
"Conformably with Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, as
amended, the corresponding filing fee for the P100,000.00 moral damages herein awarded
shall constitute a first lien on this judgment.
"The evidence knife, Exhibit `B’, is hereby declared forfeited in favor of the Government.
"Pursuant to Circular No. 4-92-A of the Court Administrator, the Warden of the City Jail of
Baguio is directed to immediately transfer the same accused to the custody of the Bureau of
Corrections, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.
"Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Warden of the City Jail of Baguio for his
information and guidance.
"There being no indication that the remaining accused, Jesus Mendoza, and several John
Does could be arrested/identified and arrested shortly, let the case against them be, as it is
hereby, archived without prejudice to its prosecution upon their apprehension.
"SO ORDERED.”[2]

The case was generated by an information for murder filed on 25 October 1994 against
accused-appellants Salvador Quitlong, Ronnie Quitlong, Emilio Senoto, Jr., and several other
unidentified persons following the killing of Jonathan Calpito. Accused-appellants, shortly
after the filing of the information, submitted a motion for reinvestigation alleging that “it was a
certain Jesus Mendoza who stabbed the victim after getting irked when the latter urinated
near and in front”[3] of his wife. The trial court acted favorably on the motion. On 12
December 1994, the City Prosecutor filed a motion to admit an amended information on the
basis of affidavits[4] executed by Nonita F. delos Reyes, Nicanor Ellamil, Lydia Q. Cultura, as
well as accused-appellants Salvador and Ronnie Quitlong themselves, to the effect that it was
Jesus Mendoza who had been responsible for the death of the victim. The information, as
amended, included Jesus Mendoza among the named accused.[5] Unlike accused-appellants
who were immediately arrested after the commission of the crime, Jesus Mendoza remained
at large. At their arraignment, the detained accused pleaded not guilty to the crime charged.

The evidence of the prosecution has narrated how a simple misunderstanding and
relatively so small a matter could lead to so dastardly and unfortunate an outcome.

At around six o’clock in the evening of 20 October 1994, Lito Adjaro, who had just come
from work as a dispatcher of passenger jeepneys plying the Baguio City-Loakan route,
repaired to a nearby game parlor where he saw 19-year-old University of Baguio medical
technology student Jonathan Calpito playing billiards with Jonathan Gosil. Adjaro was
Calpito’s neighbor and barkada (gangmate) in Loakan. At past eight o’clock, Calpito decided
that it was time to go home. Since at that hour there were no longer passenger jeepneys
bound for Loakan, the three friends decided to walk down to Harrison Road behind the Melvin
Jones grandstand to grab a taxicab. The area was well-lighted. Wanting to partake of some
"fishballs," Calpito and Gosil approached a fishball vendor about three to four meters
away. The two returned with three sticks of fishballs worth fifteen pesos. When Calpito
counted the change for his 100-peso bill, he saw that he had only been handed back thirty
five pesos. Confronted by Calpito and Gosil, the fishball vendor would not admit that he had
short-changed Calpito.

Herbert Soriano, a civil engineer driving a passenger-type jeep on his way to Loakan from
the Dominican Hill, was seen passing by. Adjaro, his neighbor, hailed him. Soriano
positioned his jeep around four or five meters from where Gosil and Calpito were still having
an argument with the fishball vendor. Soriano called out to the two to board the jeep but they
ignored him. Moments later, Soriano saw eight men rushing towards Gosil and Calpito from
the direction of the taxicab-stand behind his jeep. Some of the men later backed out but four
of them pursued Calpito who, meanwhile, had started to retreat from the group. The four
men, however, succeeded in cornering Calpito. Soriano saw Calpito fall to the ground and
thought that the latter had just been weakened by the men's punches but, when Calpito was
carried on board his jeep, Soriano realized that Calpito had been stabbed.

Adjaro saw no less than eight men approach and aggressively confront Calpito and
Gosil. Seeing that his friends were outnumbered, Adjaro shouted at Calpito and Gosil to run
posthaste. Adjaro promptly boarded Soriano’s jeep. From where he sat, Adjaro could see
appellant Emilio Senoto embracing Calpito from behind and appellants Salvador Quitlong and
Ronnie Quitlong holding Calpito’s right hand and left hand, respectively. Calpito struggled
unsuccessfully to free himself. Suddenly, appellant Ronnie Quitlong stabbed Calpito at the
left side of the body just below the nipple. Once the three men had released their hold on
Calpito, the latter fell to the ground. Despite the condition that Calpito was already in, his
assailants still went on hitting him with their feet.

Police officers Jerry Patacsil, Arthur Viado and Nito Revivis were on foot patrol that
evening. Attracted by the commotion along Harrison Road, the police officers hurriedly
proceeded to the brightly-lighted place and saw Calpito lying on the ground. Three of the
malefactors started to flee upon seeing the approaching police officers but the rest kept on
with their attack on Calpito. Patacsil drew out his service firearm and told the attackers to
freeze. Seeing that the victim had bloodstains on his left chest, Patacsil advised the victim’s
companions to rush him to the hospital. Soriano, Gosil and Adjaro took Calpito to the Baguio
General Hospital on board Soriano’s jeep.

The police officers brought accused-appellants to the police station. SPO1 Gabriel Isican
prepared the complaint assignment sheet[6] before turning them over to the investigation
division. SPO4 Avelino Tolean, officer-in-charge of the police investigation division on the
4:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight shift, also received a call from the Baguio General Hospital about
the incident. SPO4 Tolean, along with SPO1 Rafael Ortencio, Jr., and two "Bombo" radio
reporters, went to the hospital where Calpito was by then in the operating room. The police
officers interviewed Adjaro and Gosil at the hospital’s emergency room and then repaired to
the crime scene and searched the area. Recovered near the flowering plants beside the
electric post was a “stainless knife”[7] with bloodstains on its blade. Adjaro recognized the
knife to be the one used in stabbing Calpito. SPO4 Gerardo Tumbaga prepared Form 1 of
the National Crime Reporting System indicating that accused-appellants were arrested and
that a certain Mendoza escaped and went into hiding. The report also disclosed that Adjaro
and Gosil had a drinking spree with the victim at the Genesis Folkden before the stabbing
incident. SPO4 Tumbaga based his findings on the documents attached to the records of the
case.

That same evening of 20 October 1994, at 8:55, Calpito died at the Baguio General
Hospital. Dr. Kathryna Ayro, the hospital’s medico-legal officer, conducted the autopsy on the
victim upon the request of Dr. Samuel Cosme, the attending surgeon, and of First Assistant
City Prosecutor Herminio Carbonell, with the consent of a brother of Calpito. [8] Dr. Ayro found
a solitary stab wound that penetrated Calpito’s left thoracic cavity at the level of the
5th intercostal space that caused a "through and through" laceration of his anterior
pericardium and the apex of the left ventricle of his heart.[9] Dr. Ayro indicated the cause of
Calpito’s death as being one of hypovolemic shock secondary to stab wound.[10] She opined
that a knife, single or double bladed, must have been used in inflicting the stab
wound. Abrasions were also found on different parts of Calpito’s body.

Precy Calpito, the mother of the victim, testified that the family had spent the amount
of P37,500.00[11] for his wake, burial and 9-day prayers. Her youngest son’s death left her
losing hope in life and "feeling very badly."

The defense gave no alibi and admitted the presence of accused-appellants at the vicinity
of the crime scene; however, it interposed denial by appellants of any participation in the
commission of the crime.

Appellant Emilio Senoto, Jr., a taxicab driver, testified that out of curiosity, after parking
his cab to buy some cigarettes and getting attracted by the commotion, went near the scene
and saw the victim lying on the ground beside a cart. He was about to leave the place when
several policemen arrived and arrested him.

Appellant Salvador Quitlong, a food vendor at the Burnham Park and father of five
children, denied having had any participation in the stabbing incident nor having been
acquainted with Jesus Mendoza. He admitted, however, that on the night in question when
he was selling "fishballs" at the park, around eighty meters away from where Mendoza was
selling his wares, the latter’s daughter, who was a classmate of his own daughter, asked for
help yelling that her father was in trouble. He rushed over to Mendoza’s place (puesto) but
barely in time to witness the stabbing of Calpito by Mendoza.

Appellant Ronnie Quitlong, Salvador Quitlong’s 26-year-old younger brother, was also a
sidewalk vendor at the waiting shed along Harrison Road. He learned of the trouble Mendoza
got himself into when the latter's daughter summoned for help. When he and his brother
responded, Mendoza had by then already stabbed Calpito.

Nonita de los Reyes and Lydia Cultura, both sidewalk vendors, corroborated the story of
the Quitlong brothers. According to Nonita, it was Mendoza who stabbed Calpito. She
witnessed the incident from a distance of ten meters away. Nonita explained that she did not
immediately reveal what she saw to the authorities because of shock. Lydia Cultura, on her
part, said that she saw Jesus Mendoza in the "rumble" with five or six men who had come
from the Genesis Folkden. She saw Mendoza embrace and stab the man in white t-
shirt. Nonita and Alma Balubar followed appellants to the police station but did not tell the
police what she knew because she was busy attending to the crying pregnant wife of
appellant Ronnie Quitlong.

On 21 April 1995, the trial court, following his evaluation of the respective submissions of
the prosecution and the defense, including their rebuttal and sur-rebuttal evidence, rendered
its now assailed decision.

In their assignment of errors, the Quitlong brothers would have it -


“1. That the Honorable Lower Court gravely abused its discretion and/or acted in excess of
or without jurisdiction in finding that conspiracy may readily be inferred inspite of explicit
failure to allege in the information or complaint;
"2. That the Honorable Lower Court gravely abused its discretion and/or acted in excess of
or without jurisdiction in finding that there was conspiracy between and among the accused-
appellants in the commission of the crime;
"3. That the Honorable Lower Court gravely abused its discretion and/or acted in excess of
or without jurisdiction in finding the accused-appellants guilty of the crime of Murder instead of
Homicide.”[12]

In his case, appellant Senoto contends that the trial court has erred in finding conspiracy
among the accused and argues that the crime committed is homicide, not murder, given the
circumstances.

On the particular issue of conspiracy, the trial court had this to say:
“The question is whether or not the herein three accused participated in, and may be held
guilty as co-principals by reason of conspiracy for, the fatal stabbing of the victim, Calpito,
there being no dispute that the latter died due to the solitary stab inflicted on him.
"But before proceeding any further, the Court takes notice of the lapse committed, perhaps
inadvertently, by the prosecution in drafting the indictment. Both the original and amended
Informations fail to explicitly allege conspiracy. This could have been timely cured if obeisance
had been observed of the admonition, often given, that the prosecution should not take the
arraignment stage for granted but, instead, treat the notice thereof as a reminder to review the
case and determine if the complaint or information is in due form and the allegations therein
contained are sufficient vis-à-vis the law involved and the evidence on hand. It is fortunate
that in the case at bench conspiracy may readily be inferred from the way the allegation of
abuse of superior strength has been phrased, to wit: `xxx the above-named accused, being
then armed with a knife, with intent to kill xxx and taking advantage of their numerical
superiority and combined strength did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
attack, assault and stab JONATHAN CALPITO y CASTRO xxx.’”[13]

Citing Balmadrid vs. Sandiganbayan,[14] the trial court has opined that "conspiracy may
be deemed adequately alleged if the averments in the Information logically convey that
several persons (have been) animated with the single purpose of committing the offense
charged and that they (have) acted in concert in pursuance of that purpose.”[15] Holding that
no direct proof is essential and that it suffices that the existence of a common design to
commit the offense charged is shown by the acts of the malefactors and attendant
circumstances, the trial court has concluded:
“In the case on hand, it bears repeating that Ronnie Quitlong and Salvador Quitlong were
admittedly responding to Jesus Mendoza’s call for help through the latter’s daughter. They
must have, therefore, been disposed, out of empathy with a fellow sidewalk vendor, to lend
Mendoza all the assistance the latter needed under the circumstances. They were joined,
according to prosecution witnesses Lito Adjaro and Herbert Soriano, by no less than six
others, including Emilio Senoto, Jr. They came upon Mendoza engaged in a heated
altercation with the victim Calpito. When they reached Calpito, they pushed him and started
beating him up and his companion Jonathan Gosil. Four to five men manhandled Calpito who
kept on retreating and even went around Soriano’s parked jeep until he was cornered. Senoto
then held Calpito’s body from behind; Ronnie, his left hand; and Salvador, his right hand, and
they mauled him. Calpito struggled to free himself but that proved futile and, instead, Ronnie
stabbed him once. It was only then that he was released and when he fell down on his back,
his attackers still kicked him. Only the arrival of some policemen made some of the assailants
stop and run away. However, Ronnie, Salvador and Senoto, kept on kicking the victim and
they were restrained and arrested.
"Guided by the jurisprudential authorities heretofore cited, it becomes ineluctable for the Court
to conclude that Ronnie, Salvador and Senoto acted in a conspiracy and may thus be held
liable as co-principals for the death of Calpito.”[16]

Overwhelming, such as it may have been thought of by the trial court, evidence of
conspiracy is not enough for an accused to bear and to respond to all its grave legal
consequences; it is equally essential that such accused has been apprised when the charge
is made conformably with prevailing substantive and procedural requirements. Article III,
Section 14, of the 1987 Constitution, in particular, mandates that no person shall be held
answerable for a criminal offense without due process of law and that in all criminal
prosecutions the accused shall first be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
against him.[17] The right to be informed of any such indictment is likewise explicit in
procedural rules.[18] The practice and object of informing an accused in writing of the charges
against him has been explained as early as the 1904 decision of the Court in U.S. vs.
Karelsen;[19] viz:
“First. To furnish the accused with such a description of the charge against him as will enable
him to make his defense; and second, to avail himself of his conviction or acquittal for
protection against a further prosecution for the same cause; and third, to inform the court of
the facts alleged, so that it may decide whether they are sufficient in law to support a
conviction, if one should be had. (United States vs. Cruikshank, 92 U.S., 542). In order that
this requirement may be satisfied, facts must be stated, not conclusions of law. Every crime is
made up of certain acts and intent; these must be set forth in the complaint with reasonable
particularity of time, place, names (plaintiff and defendant), and circumstances. In short, the
complaint must contain a specific allegation of every fact and circumstance necessary to
constitute the crime charged.”

An information, in order to ensure that the constitutional right of the accused to be


informed of the nature and cause of his accusation is not violated, must state the name of the
accused; the designation given to the offense by the statute; a statement of the acts or
omissions so complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the
approximate time and date of the commission of the offense; and the place where the offense
has been committed.[20] In embodying the essential elements of the crime charged, the
information must set forth the facts and circumstances that have a bearing on the culpability
and liability of the accused so that the accused can properly prepare for and undertake his
defense. One such fact or circumstance in a complaint against two or more accused persons
is that of conspiracy. Quite unlike the omission of an ordinary recital of fact which, if not
excepted from or objected to during trial, may be corrected or supplied by competent proof,
an allegation, however, of conspiracy, or one that would impute criminal liability to an accused
for the act of another or others, is indispensable in order to hold such person, regardless of
the nature and extent of his own participation, equally guilty with the other or others in the
commission of the crime. Where conspiracy exists and can rightly be appreciated, the
individual acts done to perpetrate the felony becomes of secondary importance, the act of one
being imputable to all the others.[21] Verily, an accused must know from the information
whether he faces a criminal responsibility not only for his acts but also for the acts of his co-
accused as well.

A conspiracy indictment need not, of course, aver all the components of conspiracy or
allege all the details thereof, like the part that each of the parties therein have performed, the
evidence proving the common design or the facts connecting all the accused with one another
in the web of the conspiracy. Neither is it necessary to describe conspiracy with the same
degree of particularity required in describing a substantive offense. It is enough that the
indictment contains a statement of the facts relied upon to be constitutive of the offense in
ordinary and concise language, with as much certainty as the nature of the case will admit, in
a manner that can enable a person of common understanding to know what is intended, and
with such precision that the accused may plead his acquittal or conviction to a subsequent
indictment based on the same facts. It is said, generally, that an indictment may be held
sufficient "if it follows the words of the statute and reasonably informs the accused of the
character of the offense he is charged with conspiring to commit, or, following the language of
the statute, contains a sufficient statement of an overt act to effect the object of the
conspiracy, or alleges both the conspiracy and the contemplated crime in the language of the
respective statutes defining them.”[22]

The information charging herein appellants for the death of Jonathan Calpito, as
amended, has but simply stated:

“That on or about the 20th day of October 1994, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being then armed with a
knife, with intent to kill and with treachery and taking advantage of their numerical superiority
and combined strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault
and stab JONATHAN CALPITO Y CASTRO suddenly and unexpectedly, without any warning
whatsoever, inflicting upon him a stab wound at the left thorax at the level of the 7 th rib, left
medclavicular line, penetrating the pereduum and left ventricle causing left remothones of 700
cc and hemoperecuduum of 250 cc, which directly caused his death.
"CONTRARY TO LAW.”[23]
The opinion of the trial court to the effect that conspiracy may be inferred from the
allegation of abuse of superior strength and with the aid of armed men, i.e., that “x x x the
above-named accused, being then armed with a knife, with intent to kill xxx and taking
advantage of their numerical superiority and combined strength, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab JONATHAN CALPITO Y CASTRO x x
x”[24] is difficult to accept. Conspiracy arises when two or more persons come to an
agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy comes
to life at the very instant the plotters agree, expressly or impliedly, to commit the felony and
forthwith to actually pursue it.[25] Verily, the information must state that the accused have
confederated to commit the crime or that there has been a community of design, a unity of
purpose or an agreement to commit the felony among the accused. Such an allegation, in the
absence of the usual usage of the words “conspired” or “confederated” or the phrase “acting
in conspiracy,” must aptly appear in the information in the form of definitive acts constituting
conspiracy. In fine, the agreement to commit the crime, the unity of purpose or the
community of design among the accused must be conveyed such as either by the use of the
term “conspire” or its derivatives and synonyms or by allegations of basic facts constituting
the conspiracy. Conspiracy must be alleged, not just inferred, in the information on which
basis an accused can aptly enter his plea, a matter that is not to be confused with or likened
to the adequacy of evidence that may be required to prove it. In establishing conspiracy
when properly alleged, the evidence to support it need not necessarily be shown by direct
proof but may be inferred from shown acts and conduct of the accused.

In the absence of conspiracy, so averred and proved as heretofore explained, an accused


can only be made liable for the acts committed by him alone and this criminal responsibility is
individual and not collective.[26] And so it is that must be so held in this case. The conflicting
claims of the prosecution and the defense on who stabbed the victim is an issue that
ultimately and unavoidably goes into the question of whom to believe among the
witnesses. This issue of credibility requires a determination that is concededly best left to the
trial court with its unique position of having been enabled to observe that elusive and
incommunicable evidence of the deportment of witnesses on the stand.[27] Findings of the
trial court, following that assessment, must be given the highest degree of respect absent
compelling reasons to conclude otherwise.[28]

The Court is not, at this time and in this instance, disposed to deviate from the foregoing
rule. In the first place, Lito Adjaro, the eyewitness in the stabbing of Calpito, has steadfastly
stood by, even on rebuttal, to his story on the commission of the crime. A witness who
testifies in a categorical, straightforward and spontaneous manner, as well as remains
consistent on cross and rebuttal examination, is not likely to be an incredible witness.
[29] Secondly, the defense has failed to establish any ill motive on the part of Adjaro that
would have prompted him to testify wrongly against appellants. Where there is no evidence to
indicate that the prosecution witness has been actuated by any improper motive, it would be
hard to reject the supposition that a person will not prevaricate and cause damnation to one
who has brought him no harm.[30] Finally, Herbert Soriano and the police, who have testified
seeing the already wounded Calpito lying on the ground and still being attacked, both
corroborate Adjaro’s positive identification of appellants as the persons who did maul Calpito.

After positively pointing to appellants in open court to be the persons who ganged up on
Calpito, Adjaro testified on their respective participations in the commission of the crime; thus:
“PROSECUTOR:

"Q. Now, you pointed to Emilio Senoto, Jr. as one of the persons who held the
deceased Jonathan Calpito. What part of the body of Jonathan Calpito did he
hold?

"A. His body, sir.

"Q. How about Salvador Quitlong whom you also identified in Court. What part of the
body of Jonathan Calpito did he hold?

"A. I saw him hold his hand.

"Q. What hand was held by Salvador Quitlong?

"A. Right hand, sir.

"Q. How about Ronnie Quitlong?

"A. His left hand.

"Q. After Jonathan Calpito was held by these three persons and other, what
happened next?

"A. They mauled (“binugbog”) Jonathan Calpito.

"Q. Did you notice what part of the body was hit and boxed by these three persons?

"A. His body and his face.

"Q. What did Jonathan Calpito do, if any, when he is being held by these three
persons and others?

"A. He was struggling, sir.

"Q. Was he able to free himself from the helds (sic) of these persons?

"A. No more, sir.

"Q. What do you mean no more?

"A. He was not able to free himself.

"Q. Yes, why was he not able to free himself anymore?

"A. They held him tightly, he could not struggle.

"Q. And what happened next when you said he could no longer struggle?
"A. They boxed him and also stabbed him, sir.

"Q. Did you see the person who stabbed him?

"A. I saw, sir.

"Q. Will you be able to identify him?

"A. Yes, sir.

"Q. I will request you to again look inside the courtroom and point to the person
whom you saw stab Jonathan Calpito?

"WITNESS:

The person wearing white jacket.

"INTERPRETER:

Witness pointing to a gentleman inside the courtroom wearing cream jacket who
gave his name as Ronnie Quitlong.”[31]

Appellant Ronnie Quitlong was a principal by his own act of stabbing Calpito that caused
the latter's death.[32] Appellants Salvador Quitlong and Emilio Senoto, Jr., were holding the
hands of Calpito at the precise time that Ronnie Quitlong was in the act of executing his
criminal intent. Simultaneity, however, would not itself demonstrate the concurrence of will or
the unity of action and purpose that could be a basis for collective responsibility of two or
more individuals;[33] indeed, from all indications, the incident would appear to have occurred
at the spur of moment. Appellants Salvador Quitlong and Emilio Senoto, Jr., shall therefore be
held to be mere accomplices conformably with Article 18[34] of the Revised Penal Code.

The crime committed was qualified by abuse of superiority.[35] While superiority in


number would not per se mean superiority in strength, enough proof was adduced, however,
to show that the attackers had cooperated in such a way as to secure advantage of their
superiority in strength certainly out of proportion to the means of defense available to the
person attacked.[36]

Treachery may not be here considered as a generic aggravating circumstance although it


might have ensured the commission of the crime. In order that treachery may be taken as an
aggravating circumstance, there must be proof that the accused has consciously adopted a
mode of attack to facilitate the perpetration of the killing without risk to himself, i.e., appellant
Ronnie Quitlong in this case.[37] No such proof has been adequately shown.

Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, the crime of murder is punishable
by reclusion temporal maximum to death. There being neither aggravating nor mitigating
circumstances to appropriately appreciate in this case, appellant Ronnie Quitlong, as
principal, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The indeterminate penalty of twenty
(20) years of reclusion temporal, as minimum to forty (40) years of reclusion perpetua, as
maximum, has been imposed by the trial court on the premise that reclusion perpetua is a
divisible penalty. In the Court's Resolution of 09 January 1995, clarifying its
decision[38] in People vs. Lucas,[39] the Court has said that -
“x x x although Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659 has fixed the duration of reclusion perpetua from
twenty (20) years and one (1) day to forty (40) years, there was no clear legislative intent to
alter its original classification as an indivisible penalty. It shall then remain as an indivisible
penalty.”[40]

The two accomplices, appellants Salvador Quitlong and Emilio Senoto, Jr., shall be
subject to the imposition of the penalty next lower in degree than reclusion
temporal maximum to death or, accordingly, prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion
temporal in its medium period. Absent any mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the penalty
that may be imposed is reclusion temporal minimum. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence
Law to them, each may be held to suffer the indeterminate sentence of anywhere from prision
correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its medium period, as the minimum
penalty, to anywhere within the range of reclusion temporal minimum, as the maximum
penalty.

The trial court correctly imposed the payment of a civil indemnity of P50,000.00 in favor of
the heirs of the victim. The consequential (actual) damages in the amount of P35,700.00 not
having been substantiated, except for the amount P12,000.00 paid to the memorial chapel, is
disallowed. The award of moral damages recoverable under Article 2219(1), in relation to
Article 2206, of the Civil Code is reduced fromP100,000.00 to P20,000.00.

WHEREFORE, appellant Ronnie Quitlong is found guilty of the crime of murder for the
killing of Jonathan Calpito and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and
further ordered to indemnify the heirs of the victim in the amount of P50,000.00, to reimburse
them the actual damages of P12,000.00 and to pay moral damages of P50,000.00. Appellants
Salvador Quitlong and Emilio Senoto, Jr., are found guilty as accomplices in the commission
of the crime, and each shall suffer the indeterminate sentence of nine (9) years and four (4)
months of prision mayor minimum period, as minimum penalty, to thirteen (13) years and nine
(9) months and ten (10) days of reclusion temporal minimum period, as maximum
penalty. Appellants Salvador Quitlong and Emilio Senoto, Jr., are also hereby held solidarily
liable with appellant Ronnie Quitlong in the payment of the damages hereinabove
mentioned. Costs against appellants.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Philippine National Police and the
Department of Justice in order that the other participants in the killing of Jonathan Calpito,
specifically Jesus Mendoza, be arrested and made to face the force of the law.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., (Chairman), Bellosillo, Panganiban, and Quisumbing, JJ., concur.

[Syllabus]
EN BANC
[G.R. No. 111399. September 27, 1996]

ODON PECHO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and the


SANDIGANBAYAN, respondents.

RESOLUTION

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

In our decision of 14 November 1994, we modified the appealed judgment of the


Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 14844 by holding the petitioner guilty of the complex
crime of attempted estafa through falsification of official and commercial documents, and
sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from two (2) years, four (4) months,
and one (1) day of prision correccional as minimum to ten (10) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor as maximum and to pay a fine of Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00).

In short, we held that although the petitioner could not be convicted of the crime
charged, viz., violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended -- because the said
section penalizes only consummated offenses and the offense charged in this case was not
consummated -- he could, nevertheless, be convicted of the complex crime of attempted
estafa through falsification of official and commercial documents, which is necessarily
included in the crime charged.

Unable to accept our verdict, the petitioner seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration
on the ground that after having been acquitted of the violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No.
3019, a special law, he could not be convicted anymore of attempted estafa through
falsification of official and commercial documents, an offense punishable under the Revised
Penal Code, a general law; otherwise, the constitutional provision on double jeopardy would
be violated. In other words, his acquittal of the crime charged precludes conviction for the
complex crime of attempted estafa through falsification of official and commercial documents,
because both offenses arose from the same overt act as alleged in the information in Criminal
Case No. 14844.

In its Comment on the motion for reconsideration signed only by Assistant Solicitor
General Romeo C. de la Cruz and Solicitor Josette Sonia Holgado-Marcilla, the Office of the
Solicitor General disagrees with the petitioner and asserts that the rule on double jeopardy
cannot be successfully invoked in this case considering that no new information for estafa
through falsification of public document was filed against the petitioner; only one information
was filed against him and his co-accused. For double jeopardy to exist, there must be such
new information and the accused must be able to show that (1) he has been previously
brought to trial, (2) in a court of competent jurisdiction, (3) upon a valid complaint or
information sufficient in form and substance, (4) for the same offense or an attempt to or
frustration thereof as that charged in the new information, and that (5) the case has been
dismissed or terminated without his consent or after he had pleaded to the information but
before judgment was rendered.[1]
Nevertheless, the Office of the Solicitor General joins the petitioner in the latter’s plea for
his acquittal, but for another ground, namely,insufficiency of evidence.

In the resolution of 22 August 1995, we directed the Solicitor General to inform the Court
whether he agrees with the recommendation of Assistant Solicitor General De la Cruz and
Solicitor Holgado-Marcilla. In his Manifestation of 14 September 1995, the Solicitor General
not only expressed full agreement with the said recommendation, but even added the
following observations:

10. After reading the Court’s Decision, the Solicitor General has noted that
petitioner’s conviction is based on circumstantial evidence.

11. The law and a host of the Court’s ruling declare that circumstantial
evidence is sufficient for conviction if the following conditions concur:
(1) There is more that one circumstance;
(2) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and
(3) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt (Section 3, Rule 133, Rules of Court).

12. In this case, it should be stressed that the inference that petitioner falsified
documents appears to be based on another inference, i.e., that he was in
possession of the same because he accompanied his co-accused Catre in the
transactions. However, other than accompanying Catre, there is no evidence on
record that petitioner had custody of the falsified documents.

13. As to the conspiracy angle, there is likewise no showing that petitioner


interceded for Catre. In fact, it was Catre who talked to Calica. (p. 19-20, TSN,
August 26, 1991) Neither was it shown that petitioner had a hand in the processing
of the import entry declaration for the release of the shipment from the Bureau of
Customs. It was not also proven that he was instrumental in the approval of the
import entry declaration.

14. The elements of conspiracy, like the physical acts constituting the crime
itself, must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. (People vs.Manuel, 234 SCRA
532). To hold an accused guilty as co-principal by reason of conspiracy, it must be
shown that he performed an overt act in pursuance or furtherance of the
conspiracy. (People vs. Roxas, 241 SCRA 369). In this regard, it is respectfully
submitted that there is no overt act conclusively attributable to petitioner which
would pin him down as a co-conspirator.

15. Thus, it is the inexorable duty of the Solicitor General to recommend


petitioner’s acquittal, as he so recommends, inasmuch as the People was not able
to adduce evidence sufficient to overcome the constitutional presumption of
petitioner’s innocence.

We then required the parties to submit their respective memoranda on the following
issues:
(a) the sufficiency of the evidence for the complex crime of attempted estafa
through falsification of public and commercial documents, and

(b) the validity of the conviction therefor under an information for the violation
of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, vis-a-vis the constitutional right of
the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

In their respective memoranda, the petitioner and the Office of the Solicitor General are
one in asserting that the petitioner could not be convicted based entirely on circumstantial
evidence because of the failure of the prosecution to satisfy the requisites set forth in Section
4, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, namely, (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the
facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (c) the combination of all the
circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The petitioner
further cited portions of the transcripts of the stenographic notes of the testimony of Customs
Broker Constantino Calica which prove that it was Catre alone who made the introduction to
Calica that they were agents of Eversun Commercial Trading, and that it was Catre who did
all the talking and directly transacted with Calica regarding the terms and conditions of the
particular engagement and who actually delivered the documents to him. There is no
evidence that the petitioner had a hand in the processing of the import entry declaration for
the release of the shipment from the Bureau of Customs or was instrumental in the approval
of the import entry declaration. Thus:

Q Now, did Mr. Odon Pecho actually engage your services?

A They are two, sir, Mr. Joe Catre and Mr. Odon Pecho.

Q Who actually transacted with you with regards to your services, is it Mr. Catre or Mr.
Pecho?

A Mr. Joe Catre, sir.

Q So it was Joe Catre?

A Yes, sir.

Q And not Odon Pecho, is that right?

A Well, he is the companion of Mr. Catre and they introduced themselves to me that
they are the authorized representative of the importer.

Q That is right. Who introduced to you?

A Mr. Catre was the one who talks [sic] to me, sir.

Q But in your testimony, the person who delivered to you the documents, the bill of
lading, the commercial invoices, the packing list, the importer’s sworn statement, etc.
which was made the basis of the, of your preparation for the processing of the import
entry, who delivered to you these documents that you mentioned?
A Mr. Catre, sir.

Q And who talked to you about the terms and conditions of this engagement or
contracts?

A Mr. Catre, sir.

Q And not Mr. Odon Pecho?

A Yes, sir.

Q Who actually delivered to you the documents, Mr. Catre or Mr. Pecho?

A It was Mr. Catre, sir, he was the one handling the case.

AJ ESCAREAL

Q [To] Whom did you talk first?

A Mr. Catre, Your Honor, he was the one handling the case, the documents, Your
Honor.

Q Do you know how they introduced themselves to you?

A That is the only thing that I remember Your Honor that they came to my office and
told me that they are the importer’s representatives and that they are engaging my
services.

Q Who said that?

A Mr. Catre, Your Honor.

Q How about Mr. Pecho?

A No, Your Honor.

Q Did he say anything?

A At that time your Honor, it was Mr. Catre who was doing that talking.

Q Did Mr. Catre give his name to you?

A Yes, Your Honor.

Q How did he introduce himself?

A That he is Mr. Joe Catre, Your Honor.


Q How about his companion, did his companion introduce himself to you or he was
introduced by Mr. Catre to you?

A He did not introduce himself to me Your Honor.

Q So during that meeting you do not know that the name of the companion of Mr. Catre
is Odon Pecho.

A Yes, your Honor.

Q And how did your son attend to it?

A Two days after Your Honor, Mr. Catre called our office to assist and help them in the
preparation of the cargo at the arrastre operator because that is usually being done
by the broker when the shipment goes for examination. (t.s.n., Hearing of August 26,
1991)

As to the second issue, the Office of the Solicitor General rejects the theory of the
petitioner and submits that the information in this case contains the essential ingredients of
estafa through falsification of public and commercial documents; therefore, assuming there is
sufficient evidence, the petitioner could be convicted of the complex crime of attempted estafa
through falsification of public and commercial documents without violating Section 14(2),
Article III of the Constitution on the right of the accused to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him.

We shall first take up the second issue since it involves a constitutional right of the
accused.

On the assumption that the prosecution’s evidence had satisfied the quantum of proof for
conviction for the complex crime of attempted estafa through falsification of public and
commercial documents, there is absolutely no merit in the petitioner’s claim that he could not
be convicted of the said crime without offending his right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him, which is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. [2] Such right,
an ancient bulwark of the liberties of men, has its origin in the Bill of Rights which the people
of Great Britaindemanded and received from the Prince and Princess of Orange on 13
February 1688. It was adopted by the Constitution of the United Statesand was extended to
the Philippines by Act No. 235, or the Philippine Bill of 1902.[3] It was later carried into the
Jones Law and, ultimately, enshrined in the Constitutions of 1935, 1973, and 1987. It has the
following objectives:
First. To furnish the accused with such a description of the charge against him as will
enable him to make his defense; second, to avail himself of his conviction or acquittal for
protection against a further prosecution for the same cause; and third, to inform the court
of the facts alleged, so that it may decide whether they are sufficient in law to support a
conviction, if one should be had (United States vs. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542). In order
that this requirement may be satisfied, facts must be stated; not conclusions of
law. Every crime is made up of certain acts and intent; these must be set forth in the
complaint with reasonable particularity of time, place, names (plaintiff or defendant), and
circumstances. In short, the complaint must contain a specific allegation of every fact
and circumstance necessary to constitute the crime charged.[4]

Conformably therewith, the Rules of Court has prescribed the appropriate rules.[5]

What determines the real nature and cause of accusation against an accused is the
actual recital of facts stated in the information or complaint and not the caption or preamble of
the information or complaint nor the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been
violated, they being conclusions of law.[6] An incorrect caption is not a fatal mistake.[7]

It follows then that an accused may be convicted of a crime which, although not the one
charged, is necessarily included in the latter. Section 4, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court thus
provides:
SEC. 4. Judgment in case of variance between allegation and proof. -- When there is
variance between the offense charged in the complaint or information, and that proved or
established by the evidence, and the offense as charged is included in or necessarily includes
the offense proved, the accused shall be convicted of the offense proved included in that
which is charged, or of the offense charged included in that which is proved.

The succeeding Section 5 prescribes the rule in determining when an offense includes or
is included in another. We have shown in the challenged decision why the complex crime of
attempted estafa through falsification of public and commercial documents is included in the
offense charged. Moreover, we held that the information in this case “can also be considered
as charging two offenses: the violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 and the complex
crime of attempted estafa through falsification of official and commercial documents,” and
since the petitioner failed to object before trial to such duplicity,[8] he could be validly
convicted of both or either of the offenses charged and proved.[9]

II

We shall now turn to the first issue: whether the evidence adduced by the prosecution
had established beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the petitioner for the complex crime of
attempted estafa through falsification of public and commercial documents. In light of the
consistent and persistent negative stance of the Office of the Solicitor General, personally
confirmed and reinforced by the Solicitor General in his separate Manifestation, we re-
evaluated the evidence.

In our decision of 14 November 1994, we based the conviction of the petitioner on


conspiracy.

The question that logically crops up then is not whether the combination of the
circumstantial evidence proved in this case against the petitioner had established beyond
reasonable doubt that he is guilty of the complex crime of attempted estafa through
falsification of public and commercial documents, as asseverated by him and the public
respondent. Rather, the question is whether the prosecution had discharged its duty to
establish conspiracy between the petitioner and Catre.
The information[10] charges the petitioner and his co-accused Joe Catre as
principals[11] who “conspir[ed], confabulat[ed], conniv[ed], confederat[ed], and mutually
help[ed] one another,” with Catre “representing himself to be a representative of Eversun
Commercial Trading of Cotabato City, a corporation, firm or partnership which turned out to be
non-existent, fake or fictitious.” The evidence for the prosecution, as admitted by the
respondent, only showed that it was Catre who possessed the falsified documents, contracted
the services of Calica, and delivered the documents to the latter for processing. In the
absence of satisfactory explanation, Catre, being the one in possession of the forged
documents, is presumed to be the forger.[12] Catre, however, could not provide the
explanation because only the petitioner was tried. The information states that his address is
“unknown,” and the record does not show that a warrant for his arrest was issued. The only
warrant of arrest that was issued was that for the petitioner.[13] Assuming that such evidence
and the others adduced by the prosecution are to be admitted to prove the commission of the
crime, a prima facie case enough to prove the guilt of Catre with moral certainty was duly
established against Catre as a principal. Accordingly, if conspiracy were proven, the
petitioner would be equally guilty of the offense proved. For, in a conspiracy, every act of one
of the conspirators in furtherance of a common design or purpose of such a conspiracy is, in
contemplation of law, the act of each of them.[14]

There is conspiracy when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the
commission of a felony and decide to commit it.[15]Direct proof of previous agreement to
commit a crime is not necessary. Conspiracy may be deduced from the mode and manner in
which the offense was perpetrated, or inferred from the acts of the accused themselves when
such point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action, and community of interest.[16] It
is, however, settled that the same degree of proof required for establishing the crime is
likewise required to support a finding of conspiracy. In other words, conspiracy must be
shown to exist as clearly and as convincingly as the commission of the offense itself in order
to uphold the fundamental principle that no one shall be found guilty of a crime except upon
proof beyond reasonable doubt.[17]

It is also essential for one to be a party to a conspiracy as to be liable for the acts of the
others that there be intentional participation in the transaction with a view to the furtherance of
the common design.[18] Except when he is the mastermind in a conspiracy, it is necessary
that a conspirator should have performed some overt act as a direct or indirect contribution in
the execution of the crime planned to be committed.[19]The overt act may consist of active
participation in the actual commission of the crime itself, or it may consist of moral assistance
to his co-conspirators by being present at the commission of the crime or by exerting moral
ascendancy over the other co-conspirators.[20]

Since conspiracy must be established by proof beyond reasonable doubt, then the next
inquiry would be whether the prosecution was able to adduce such proof against the
petitioner. It is in this respect that we agree with the People and the petitioner that the
prosecution had only circumstantial evidence against the petitioner.

Under Section 4, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, circumstantial evidence would be
sufficient to convict if (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the
inferences are derived are proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as
to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. As jurisprudentially formulated, a
judgment of conviction based on circumstantial evidence can be upheld only if the
circumstances proven constitute an unbroken chain which leads to one fair and reasonable
conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of all others, as the guilty person, i.e., the
circumstances proven must be consistent with each other, consistent with the hypothesis that
the accused is guilty, and at the same time inconsistent with any other hypothesis except that
of guilty.[21]

In the instant case, all that the prosecution was able to prove insofar as the petitioner is
concerned is that he and co-accused Catre are from Surigao del Norte; that he accompanied
Catre in contracting the services of customs broker Constantino Calica; and that he also was
with Catre when the latter went with Dennis Calica, son of Constantino Calica, to the Manila
International Container Port. In all these instances, however, it was Catre who transacted the
business and did all the talking. As a matter of fact, the petitioner was not even introduced to
Calica. As recapitulated by the Office of the Solicitor General in its Memorandum:
[T]here is no evidence that petitioner interceded for Catre. Prosecution witness Calica
testified that it was Catre and not petitioner, who introduced themselves as agents of
Eversun Commercial Trading. He also testified that it was Catre who did all the talking
and directly transacted with him (Calica) regarding the terms and conditions of the
particular engagement and it was also Catre, and not petitioner, who actually delivered
the documents to him (tsn, August 26, 1991). There is no evidence that petitioner had a
hand in the processing of the import entry declaration for the release of the shipment from
the Bureau of Customs. There is also no evidence that petitioner was instrumental in the
approval of the import entry declaration. In short, there is no showing that petitioner
performed an overt act in furtherance of alleged conspiracy.[22]

The evidence for the prosecution likewise failed to prove that the petitioner (1) personally
represented himself as an agent of Eversun Commercial Trading; (2) knew of the falsity of
any of the public and commercial documents in question; and (3) had, at any time,
possession of all or some of the said documents.

Otherwise stated, there is no sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove conspiracy


between the petitioner and Catre to commit the complex crime of estafa through falsification
of public and commercial documents. Neither is there evidence of petitioner’s active
participation in the commission of the crime. The concordant combination and cumulative
effect of the acts of the petitioner as proven by the prosecution’s evidence fails to satisfy the
requirements of Section 4, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court. There is reasonable doubt as to
his guilt. And since his constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty[23] can
be overthrown only by proof beyond reasonable doubt,[24] the petitioner must then be
acquitted even though his innocence may be doubted.[25]

WHEREFORE, the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration is GRANTED. Our decision of


14 November 1994 is SET ASIDE, and another is hereby rendered REVERSING the
challenged decision of 28 June 1993 and resolution of 12 August 1993 of the Sandiganbayan
in Criminal Case No. 14844 and ACQUITTING petitioner ODON PECHO of the complex
crime of attempted estafa through falsification of official and commercial documents, without,
however, prejudice to any appropriate administrative action which his office may take against
him as may be warranted by the circumstances in this case.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan,
Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., Panganiban, andTorres, Jr., JJ., concur.
Mendoza, J., on leave.

LAURO G. SORIANO, JR., petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN AND THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Dakila F. Castro for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for respondents.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:


The principal issue in this petition to review a decision of the Sandiganbayan is whether or not the
preliminary investigation of a criminal complaint conducted by a Fiscal is a "contract or transaction" so
as to bring it within the ambit of Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The factual background is as follows:
Thomas N. Tan was accused of qualified theft in a complaint lodged with the City Fiscal of Quezon
City. The case was docketed as I.S. No. 82-2964 and assigned for investigation to the petitioner who
was then an Assistant City Fiscal. In the course of the investigation the petitioner demanded P4,000.00
from Tan as the price for dismissing the case. Tan reported the demand to the National Bureau of
Investigation which set up an entrapment. Because Tan was hard put to raise the required amount only
P2,000.00 in bills were marked by the NBI which had to supply one-half thereof. The entrapment
succeeded and an information was filed with the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 7393 which
reads as follows:
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses LAURO G. SORIANO, for
Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b) of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the 21st day of March 1983, at Quezon City, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, a public officer, being then and still is an Assistant City Fiscal of
the Quezon City Fiscal's Office, detailed as the Investigating Fiscal in the
case of MARIANNE Z. LACAMBRA versus THOMAS N. TAN,
docketed as I.S. No. 82-2964, for Qualified Theft, taking advantage of his
official position and with grave abuse of authority, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously demand and request from Thomas N.
Tan the amount of FOUR THOUSAND PESOS (P4,000.00) Philippine
Currency, and actually received from said Thomas N. Tan the amount of
TWO THOUSAND PESOS (P2,000.00) Philippine Currency, in
consideration for a favorable resolution by dismissing the
abovementioned case, wherein said accused has to intervene in his official
capacity as such Investigating Fiscal.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Manila, Philippines, March 22, 1983.
(SGD.) EDGARDO C.
LABELLA
Special Prosecutor
After trial the Sandiganbayan rendered a decision with the following dispositive portion:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Lauro G. Soriano, Jr., GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt, as Principal in the Information, for Violation of Section 3, paragraph
(b), of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, and hereby sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of
imprisonment ranging from SIX (6) YEARS and ONE (1) MONTH, as minimum, to
NINE (9) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY, as maximum; to suffer perpetual disqualification
from public office; to suffer loss of all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law; and,
to pay costs.
Of the sum of Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) used in the entrapment operations, and
which was fully recovered from the accused, One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) shall be
returned to private complainant Thomas N. Tan, and the other half, to the National
Bureau of Investigation, National Capital Region.
A motion to reconsider the decision was denied by the Sandiganbayan; hence the instant petition.
The petitioner has raised several legal questions plus one factual question. The latter is to the effect that
the Sandiganbayan convicted him on the weakness of his defense and not on the strength of the
prosecution's evidence. This claim is not meritorious not only because it is not for Us to review the
factual findings of the courta quo but also because a reading of its decision shows that it explicitly
stated the facts establishing the guilt of the petitioner and the competence of the witnesses who testified
against him.
As stated above, the principal issue is whether or not the investigation conducted by the petitioner can
be regarded as a "contract or transaction" within the purview of Sec. 3 (b) of R.A. No. 3019. On this
issue the petition is highly impressed with merit.
The afore-mentioned provision reads as follows:
SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. — In addition to acts or omissions of public
officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt
practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
(a) ...
(b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or
benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or
transaction between the Government and any other party, wherein the public officer in
his official capacity has to intervene under the law.
The petitioner states:
Assuming in gratia argumenti, petitioner's guilt, the facts make out a case of Direct
Bribery defined and penalized under the provision of Article 210 of the Revised Penal
Code and not a violation of Section 3, subparagraph (b) of Rep. Act 3019, as amended.
The evidence for the prosecution clearly and undoubtedly support, if at all the offense of
Direct Bribery, which is not the offense charged and is not likewise included in or is
necessarily included in the offense charged, which is for violation of Section 3,
subparagraph (b) of Rep. Act 3019, as amended. The prosecution showed that: the
accused is a public officer; in consideration of P4,000.00 which was allegedly solicited,
P2,000.00 of which was allegedly received, the petitioner undertook or promised to
dismiss a criminal complaint pending preliminary investigation before him, which may
or may not constitute a crime; that the act of dismissing the criminal complaint pending
before petitioner was related to the exercise of the function of his office. Therefore, it is
with pristine clarity that the offense proved, if at all is Direct Bribery. (Petition, p. 5.)
Upon the other hand, the respondents claim:
A reading of the above-quoted provision would show that the term 'transaction' as used
thereof is not limited in its scope or meaning to a commercial or business transaction but
includes all kinds of transaction, whether commercial, civil or administrative in nature,
pending with the government. This must be so, otherwise, the Act would have so stated
in the "Definition of Terms", Section 2 thereof. But it did not, perforce leaving no other
interpretation than that the expressed purpose and object is to embrace all kinds of
transaction between the government and other party wherein the public officer would
intervene under the law. (Comment, p. 8.)
It is obvious that the investigation conducted by the petitioner was not a contract. Neither was it
a transactionbecause this term must be construed as analogous to the term which precedes it. A
transaction, like a contract, is one which involves some consideration as in credit transactions and this
element (consideration) is absent in the investigation conducted by the petitioner.
In the light of the foregoing, We agree with the petitioner that it was error for the Sandiganbayan to
have convicted him of violating Sec. 3 (b) of R.A. No. 3019.
The petitioner also claims that he cannot be convicted of bribery under the Revised Penal Code because
to do so would be violative of as constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him. Wrong. A reading of the information which has been reproduced herein clearly
makes out a case of bribery so that the petitioner cannot claim deprivation of the right to be informed.
IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, the judgment of the Sandiganbayan is modified in that the
petitioner is deemed guilty of bribery as defined and penalized by Article 210 of the Revised Penal
Code and is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as
minimum, to two (2) years ofprision correccional as maximum, and to pay a fine of Two Thousand
(P2,000.00) Pesos. The rest of the judgment is hereby affirmed. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

MANUEL BORJA, petitioner,


vs.
HON. RAFAEL T. MENDOZA, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Cebu (Branch VI) and
HON. ROMULO R. SENINING, Judge of the City Court of Cebu (Branch I), respondents.
Hermis I. Mopntecillo for petitioner.
Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor Jose F. Racela, Jr. and Solicitor Carlos N.
Ortega for respondents.
FERNANDO, J.:
The jurisdictional infirmity imputer to respondent Judge Romulo R. Senining of the City of Cebu
which was not remedied by respondent Judge Rafael T. Mendoza of the Court of First Instance of Cebu
in this certionrari proceeding was the absence of an arrainment of petitioner Manuel Borja, who was
accused of slight physical injuries. This notwithstanding respondent Judge Senining proceeded with the
trial in abssentia and thereafter, in a decision promulgated on August 18, 1976, found him guilty of
such offense and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment for a period of twenty days of arresto
menor. 1 Thereafter, an appeal was duly elevated to the Court of First Instance of Cebu presided by
respondent Judge Mendoza. 2 It was then alleged that without any notice to petitioner and without
requiring him to submit his memorandum, a decision on the appealed case was rendered on November
16, 1976 petitioner that the failure to arraign him is violative of his constitutional right to procedural
due process, 3 more specifically of his right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
against him and of his right to be heard by himself and counsel. 4 Ther was thus, at the very least, a
graveabuse of discretion. The Solicitor General, 5 when asked to comment, agreed that the procedural
defect was of such gravity as to render void the decision of the City Court affirmed by the Court of
First Instance. The comment was considered as answer, with the case being submitted for decision.
Respect for the constitutional rights of an accused as authoritatively construed by this Court, duly taken
note of in the comment of the Solicitor General, thus calls for the grant of the writ of certiorari prayed
for.
1. The plea of petitioner to nullify the proceedings had in the criminal case against him finds support in
the procedural due process mandate of the Constitution. It requires that the accused be arraigned so that
he may be informed as to why he was indicted and what penal offense he has to face, to be convicted
only on a showing that his guilt is shown beyond reasonable doubt with full opportunity to disprove the
evidence against him. Moreover, the sentence to be imposed in such a case is to be in accordance with a
valid law. 6 This Court, inPeople v. Castillo, 7 speaking through Justice De Joya and following the
language of the American Supreme Court, Identified due process with the accused having "been heard
in a court of competent jurisdiction, and proceeded against under the orderly processes of law, and only
punished after inquiry and investigation, upon notice to him, with an opportunity to be heard, and a
judgment awarded with the authority of a constitutional law, ..." 8 An arraignment thus becomes
indispensable as the means "for bringing the accused into court and notifying him of the cause he is
required to meet ... " 9 Its importance was stressed by Justice Moreland as early as 1916 in the leading
case of United States v. Binayoh. 10 He pointed out that upon the accused being arraigned, "there is a
duty laid by the Code [now the Rules of Court] upon the court to inform [him] of certain rights and to
extend to him, on his demand, certain others. This duty is an affirmative one which the court, on its
own motion, must perform, unless waived." 11 To emphasize its importance, he added: "No such duty,
however, is laid on the court with regard to the rights of the accused which he may be entitled to
exercise during the trial. Those are rights which he must assert himself and the benefits of which he
himself must demand. In other words, in the arraignment the court must act of its own
volition, ..." 12 In the terse and apt language of the Solicitor General: "Arraignment is an indispensable
requirement in any criminal prosecution." 13 Procedural due process demands no less.
2. Nor is it only the due process guarantee that calls for the accused being duly arraigned. As noted, it is
at that stage where in the mode and manner required by the Rules, an accused, for the first time, is
granted the opportunity to know the precise charge that confronts him. It is imperative that he is thus
made fully aware of Possible loss of freedom, even of his life, depending on the nature of the crime
imputed to him. At the very least then, he must be fully informed of why the prosecuting arm of the
state is mobilized against him. An arraignment serves that purpose. Thereafter he is no longer in the
dark. It is true, the complaint or information may not be worded with sufficient clarity. He would be in
a much worse position though if he does not even have such an opportunity to plead to the charge. With
his counsel by his side, he is thus in a position to enter his plea with full knowledge of the
consequences. He is not even required to do so immediately. He may move to quash. What is thus
evident is that an arraignment assures that he be fully acquainted with the nature of the crime imputed
to him and the circumstances under which it is allegedly committed. It is thus a vital aspect of the
constitutional rights guaranteed him. It is not useless formality, much less an Idle ceremony.
3. An equally fatal defect in the proceeding had before respondent Judge Senining was that
notwithstanding its being conducted in the absence of petitioner, he was convicted. It was shown that
after one postponement due to his failure to appear, the case was reset for hearing. When that date
came, December 14, 1973, without petitioner being present, although his bondsmen were notified,
respondent Judge, as set forth in the comment of the Solicitor General, "allowed the prosecution to
present its evidence invoking Letter of Instruction No. 40. Only one witness testified, the offended
party herself, and three documents were offered in evidence after which the prosecution rested its case.
Thereupon, respondent City Court set the promulgation of the decision on December 28, 1973." 14 It
could then conclude: :Verily the records clearly show that petitioner was not arraigned at all and was
not represented by counsel throughout the whole proceedings in the respondent City Court." 15 It is
indisputable then that there was a denial of petitioner's constitutional right to be heard by himself and
counsel. As categorically affirmed by Justice Ozaeta for this Court in the leading case of Abriol v.
Homeres: 16 "It is the constitutional right of the accused to be heard in his defense before sentence is
pronounced on him." 17 He added further that such "constitutional right is inviolate." 18 There is no
doubt that it could be waived, but here there was no such waiver, whether express or implied. It suffices
to refer to another leading case, People v. Holgado, 19 where the then Chief Justice Moran
emphatically took note of the importance of the right to counsel: "In criminal cases there can be no fair
hearing unless the accused be given an opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to be heard would
be of little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel. Even the most intelligent or
educated man may have no skill in the science of the law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and,
without counsel, he may be convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to
establish his innocence." 20 With the violation of the constitutional right to be heard by himself and
counsel being thus manifest, it is easily understandable why the Solicitor General agreed with
petitioner that the sentence imposed on him should be set aside for being null.
4. The provision in the present Constitution allowing trial to be held in absentia is unavailing. It cannot
justify the actuation of respondent Judge Senining. Its language is clear and explicit. What is more, it is
mandatory. Thus: "However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the
accused provided that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustified." 21 As pointed
out then by the Solicitor General, the indispensable requisite for trial in absentia is that it should come
"after arraignment." The express mention in the present Constitution of the need for such a step
emphasizes its importance in the procedural scheme to accord an accused due process. Without the
accused having been arraigned, it becomes academic to discuss the applicability of this exception to the
basic constitutional right that the accused should be heard by himself and counsel.
5. Nor did the appeal to the Court of First Instance presided by respondent Judge Mendoza possess any
curative aspect. To quote anew from the comment of the Solicitor General: "Respondent Court of First
Instance ... considered the appeal taken by the petitioner as waiver of the defects in the proceedings in
the respondent City Court. Precisely, the appeal itself is tantamount to questioning those defects. In
fact, the Memorandum in support of the appeal unmistakably raised as error the absence of petitioner at
the arraignment and cited jurisprudence, commentaries and the rules to bolster his position.
Specifically, the absence of an arraignment can be invoked at anytime in view of the requirements of
due process to ensure a fair and impartial trial." 22
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is granted. The decision of respondent Judge Romulo R.
Senining dated December 28, 1973, finding the accused guilty of the crime of slight physical injuries,
is nullified and set aside. Likewise, the decision of respondent Judge Rafael T. Mendoza dated
November 16, 1976, affirming the aforesaid decision of Judge Senining, is nullified and set aside. The
case is remanded to the City Court of Cebu for the prosecution of the offense of slight physical injuries,
with due respect and observance of the provisions of the Rules of Court, starting with the arraignment
of petitioner.

Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial

EN BANC

[G.R. Nos. 140546-47. January 20, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MODESTO TEE a.k.a. ESTOY


TEE, accused-appellant.

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

For automatic review is the consolidated judgment[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Baguio City, Branch 6, dated September 17, 1999, in Criminal Cases Nos. 15800-R and
15822-R, involving violations of Section 8, Article II, of the Dangerous Drugs Law. [2] Since
appellant was acquitted in the second case, we focus on the first case, where appellant has
been found guilty and sentenced to death and fined one million pesos.

The decretal portion of the trial court’s decision reads:


WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, as follows:
1. In Crim. Case No. 15800-R, the Court finds the accused Modesto Tee guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the offense of illegal possession of marijuana of about 591.81 kilos in
violation of Section 8, Article II of RA 6425 as amended by Section 13 of RA 7659 as charged
in the Information, seized by virtue of a search warrant and sentences him to the supreme
penalty of death and to pay a fine of 1 million pesos without subsidiary imprisonment in case
of insolvency.
The 591.81 kilos of marijuana contained in 26 boxes and one yellow sack (Exhibits U-1 to U-
27) are ordered forfeited in favor of the State to be destroyed immediately in accordance with
law.
2. In Crim. Case No. 15822-R, the Court finds that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of
accused Modesto Tee beyond reasonable doubt and hereby acquits him of the charge of
illegal possession of marijuana in violation of Section 8, Art. 2 of RA 6425 as amended by
Section 13 of RA 7659 as charged in the Information since the marijuana confiscated have to
be excluded in evidence as a product of unreasonable search and seizure.
The 336.93 kilos of marijuana contained in 13 sacks and four boxes (Exh. B to S and their
component parts) although excluded in evidence as the product(s) of unreasonable search
and seizure, are nevertheless ordered forfeited in favor of the State to be destroyed
immediately in accordance with law considering that they are prohibited articles.
The City Jail Warden is, therefore, directed to release the accused Modesto Tee in connection
with Crim. Case No. 15822-R unless held on other charges.
COST(S) DE OFFICIO.
SO ORDERED.[3]

Appellant is a Chinese national in his forties, a businessman, and a resident of Baguio


City. A raid conducted by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and
Philippine National Police Narcotics Command (PNP NARCOM) at premises allegedly leased
by appellant and at his residence yielded huge quantities of marijuana.

On July 20, 1998, appellant moved to quash the search warrant on the ground that it was
too general and that the NBI had not complied with the requirements for the issuance of a
valid search warrant. The pendency of said motion, however, did not stop the filing of the
appropriate charges against appellant. In an information dated July 24, 1998, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 15800-R, the City Prosecutor of Baguio City charged Modesto Tee, alias
“Estoy Tee,” with illegal possession of marijuana, allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about the 1st day of July, 1998 in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly have in his possession the following, to wit:
1. Ninety-two (92) bricks of dried flowering tops separately contained in four (4) boxes; and
2. One hundred fifty-eight (158) bricks, twenty-one (21) blocks, and twenty-three (23) bags of
dried flowering tops separately contained in thirteen (13) sacks, with a total weight of 336.93
kilograms; and
3 Six hundred two (602) bricks of dried flowering tops separately contained in twenty-six
(boxes) and a yellow sack, weighing 591.81 kilograms,
all having a grand total weight of 928.74 kilograms, a prohibited drug, without the authority of
law to possess, in violation of the above-cited provision of law.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]

On August 7, 1998, the prosecution moved to “amend” the foregoing charge sheet
“considering that subject marijuana were seized in two (2) different places.”[5]

As a result, the information in Criminal Case No. 15800-R was amended to read as
follows:

That on or about the 1st day of July, 1998, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly have in his possession the following, to wit:
- Six hundred two (602) bricks of dried flowering tops separately contained in twenty-six (26)
boxes and a yellow sack, weighing 591.81 kilograms
a prohibited drug, without the authority of law to possess, in violation of the above-cited
provision of law.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[6]

A separate amended information docketed as Criminal Case No. 15822-R was likewise
filed, the accusatory portion of which reads:

That on or about the 1st day of July, 1998 in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly have in his possession the following, to wit:

1. Ninety-two (92) bricks of dried flowering tops separately contained in four (4)
boxes; and

2. hundred fifty-eight (158) bricks, twenty-one (21) blocks, and twenty-three (23) bags
of dried flowering tops separately contained in thirteen (13) sacks, with a total
weight of 336.93 kilograms;
a prohibited drug, without the authority of law to possess, in violation of the above-cited
provision of law.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[7]

On September 4, 1998, the trial court denied the motion to quash the search warrant and
ordered appellant’s arraignment.

When arraigned in Criminal Cases Nos. 15800-R and 15822-R, appellant refused to enter
a plea. The trial court entered a plea of not guilty for him.[8] Trial on the merits then ensued.

The facts of this case, as gleaned from the records, are as follows:

Prosecution witness Danilo Abratique, a Baguio-based taxi driver, and the appellant
Modesto Tee are well acquainted with each other, since Abratique’s wife is the sister of Tee’s
sister-in-law.[9]

Sometime in late June 1998, appellant asked Abratique to find him a place for the storage
of smuggled cigarettes.[10] Abratique brought appellant to his friend, Albert Ballesteros, who
had a house for rent in Bakakeng, Baguio City. After negotiating the terms and conditions,
Ballesteros agreed to rent out his place to appellant. Appellant then brought several boxes of
purported “blue seal” cigarettes to the leased premises.

Shortly thereafter, however, Ballesteros learned that the boxes stored in his place were
not “blue seal” cigarettes but marijuana. Fearful of being involved, Ballesteros informed
Abratique. Both later prevailed upon appellant to remove them from the premises.[11]

Appellant then hired Abratique’s taxi and transported the boxes of cannabis from the
Ballesteros place to appellant’s residence at Km. 6, Dontogan, Green Valley, Sto. Tomas,
Baguio City.[12]
On June 30, 1998, appellant hired Abratique to drive him to La Trinidad, Benguet on the
pretext of buying and transporting strawberries. Upon reaching La Trinidad, however,
appellant directed Abratique to proceed to Sablan, Benguet, where appellant proceeded to
load several sacks of marijuana in Abratique’s taxi. He then asked Abratique to find him a
place where he could store the contraband.[13]

Abratique brought appellant to his grandmother’s house at No. 27 Dr. Cariño St., QM
Subdivision, Baguio City, which was being managed by Abratique’s aunt, Nazarea Abreau.
Nazarea agreed to rent a room to appellant. Abratique and appellant unloaded and stored
there the sacks of marijuana brought from Sablan.[14] Abratique was aware that they were
transporting marijuana as some of the articles in the sacks became exposed in the process of
loading.[15]

Eventually, Abratique and Nazarea were bothered by the nature of the goods stored in the
rented room. She confided to her daughter, Alice Abreau Fianza, about their predicament. As
Alice Fianza’s brother-in-law, Edwin Fianza, was an NBI agent, Alice and Abratique phoned
him and disclosed what had transpired.[16]

On the morning of July 1, 1998, alerted by information that appellant would retrieve the
sacks of prohibited drugs that day, Edwin Fianza and other NBI operatives conducted a stake
out at No. 27, Dr. Cariño St. While the NBI agents were conducting their surveillance, they
noticed that several PNP NARCOM personnel were also watching the place.[17] The NBI
then learned that the PNP NARCOM had received a tip from one of their informers regarding
the presence of a huge amount of drugs in that place. The NBI and PNP NARCOM agreed to
have a joint operation.

As the day wore on and appellant did not show up, the NBI agents became apprehensive
that the whole operation could be jeopardized. They sought the permission of Nazarea
Abreau to enter the room rented by appellant. She acceded and allowed them entry. The NBI
team then searched the rented premises and found four (4) boxes and thirteen (13) sacks of
marijuana, totaling 336.93 kilograms.[18]

Later that evening, NBI Special Agent Darwin Lising, with Abratique as his witness,
applied for a search warrant from RTC Judge Antonio Reyes at his residence.[19] Judge
Reyes ordered the NBI agents to fetch the Branch Clerk of Court, Atty. Delilah Muñoz, so the
proceedings could be properly recorded. After Atty. Muñoz arrived, Judge Reyes questioned
Lising and Abratique. Thereafter, the judge issued a warrant directing the NBI to search
appellant’s residence at Km. 6, Dontogan, Green Valley, Baguio City for marijuana.[20]

The NBI operatives, with some PNP NARCOM personnel in tow, proceeded to appellant’s
residence where they served the warrant upon appellant himself.[21] The search was
witnessed by appellant, members of his family, barangay officials, and members of the media.
[22]Photographs were taken during the actual search.[23] The law enforcers found 26 boxes
and a sack of dried marijuana[24] in the water tank, garage, and storeroom of appellant’s
residence.[25] The total weight of the haul was 591.81 kilograms.[26] Appellant was arrested
for illegal possession of marijuana.

The seized items were then submitted to the NBI laboratory for testing. NBI Forensic
Chemist Maria Carina Madrigal conducted the tests. Detailed microscopic and
chromatographic examinations of the items taken from appellant’s rented room at No. 27, Dr.
Cariño St., as well as those from his residence at Green Valley, showed these to be
marijuana.[27]

In his defense, appellant contended that the physical evidence of the prosecution was
illegally obtained, being the products of an unlawful search, hence inadmissible. Appellant
insisted that the search warrant was too general and the process by which said warrant was
acquired did not satisfy the constitutional requirements for the issuance of a valid search
warrant. Moreover, Abratique’s testimony, which was heavily relied upon by the judge who
issued the warrant, was hearsay.

In Criminal Case No. 15822-R, the trial court agreed with appellant that the taking of the
336.93 kilograms of marijuana was the result of an illegal search and hence, inadmissible in
evidence against appellant. Appellant was accordingly acquitted of the charge. However, the
trial court found that the prosecution’s evidence was more than ample to prove appellant’s
guilt in Criminal Case No. 15800-R and as earlier stated, duly convicted him of illegal
possession of marijuana and sentenced him to death.

Hence, this automatic review.

Before us, appellant submits that the trial court erred in:

1…UPHOLDING THE LEGALITY OF THE SEARCH WARRANT DESPITE LACK OF


COMPLIANCE OF (sic) SEVERAL REQUIREMENTS BEFORE IT SHOULD HAVE
BEEN ISSUED AND IT BEING A GENERAL WARRANT;

2….GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN REOPENING THE CASE AND


ALLOWING ABRITIQUE TO TESTIFY AGAINST APPELLANT;

3…GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF ABRITIQUE;

4. NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED IN BOTH CASES AND SENTENCING HIM TO


DEATH DESPITE THE ILLEGALLY OBTAINED EVIDENCE AS FOUND IN THE
FIRST CASE.[28]

We find that the pertinent issues for resolution concern the following: (1) the validity of the
search conducted at the appellant’s residence; (2) the alleged prejudice caused by the
reopening of the case and absences of the prosecution witness, on appellant’s right to speedy
trial; (3) the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence to sustain a finding of guilt with moral
certainty; and (4) the propriety of the penalty imposed.

1. On the Validity of the Search Warrant; Its Obtention and Execution


Appellant initially contends that the warrant, which directed the peace officers to search
for and seize “an undetermined amount of marijuana,” was too general and hence, void for
vagueness. He insists that Abratique could already estimate the amount of marijuana
supposed to be found at appellant’s residence since Abratique helped to transport the same.

For the appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters that a search warrant
is issued if a judge finds probable cause that the place to be searched contains prohibited
drugs, and not that he believes the place contains a specific amount of it. The OSG points out
that, as the trial court observed, it is impossible beforehand to determine the exact amount of
prohibited drugs that a person has on himself.

Appellant avers that the phrase “an undetermined amount of marijuana” as used in the
search warrant fails to satisfy the requirement of Article III, Section 2[29] of the Constitution
that the things to be seized must be particularly described. Appellant’s contention, in our view,
has no leg to stand on. The constitutional requirement of reasonable particularity of
description of the things to be seized is primarily meant to enable the law enforcers serving
the warrant to: (1) readily identify the properties to be seized and thus prevent them from
seizing the wrong items;[30] and (2) leave said peace officers with no discretion regarding the
articles to be seized and thus prevent unreasonable searches and seizures.[31]What the
Constitution seeks to avoid are search warrants of broad or general characterization or
sweeping descriptions, which will authorize police officers to undertake a fishing expedition to
seize and confiscate any and all kinds of evidence or articles relating to an offense.
[32]However, it is not required that technical precision of description be required,
[33] particularly, where by the nature of the goods to be seized, their description must be
rather general, since the requirement of a technical description would mean that no warrant
could issue.[34]

Thus, it has been held that term “narcotics paraphernalia” is not so wanting in particularity
as to create a general warrant.[35] Nor is the description “any and all narcotics” and “all
implements, paraphernalia, articles, papers and records pertaining to” the use, possession, or
sale of narcotics or dangerous drugs so broad as to be unconstitutional.[36] A search warrant
commanding peace officers to seize “a quantity of loose heroin” has been held sufficiently
particular.[37]

Tested against the foregoing precedents, the description “an undetermined amount of
marijuana” must be held to satisfy the requirement for particularity in a search warrant.
Noteworthy, what is to be seized in the instant case is property of a specified character, i.e.,
marijuana, an illicit drug. By reason of its character and the circumstances under which it
would be found, said article is illegal. A further description would be unnecessary and
ordinarily impossible, except as to such character, the place, and the circumstances.
[38] Thus, this Court has held that the description “illegally in possession of undetermined
quantity/amount of dried marijuana leaves and Methamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu) and
sets of paraphernalia” particularizes the things to be seized.[39]

The search warrant in the present case, given its nearly similar wording, “undetermined
amount of marijuana or Indian hemp,” in our view, has satisfied the Constitution’s
requirements on particularity of description. The description therein is: (1) as specific as the
circumstances will ordinarily allow; (2) expresses a conclusion of fact – not of law – by which
the peace officers may be guided in making the search and seizure; and (3) limits the things
to be seized to those which bear direct relation to the offense for which the warrant is being
issued.[40] Said warrant imposes a meaningful restriction upon the objects to be seized by
the officers serving the warrant. Thus, it prevents exploratory searches, which might be
violative of the Bill of Rights.

Appellant next assails the warrant for merely stating that he should be searched, as he
could be guilty of violation of Republic Act No. 6425. Appellant claims that this is a sweeping
statement as said statute lists a number of offenses with respect to illegal drugs. Hence, he
contends, said warrant is a general warrant and is thus unconstitutional.

For the appellee, the OSG points out that the warrant clearly states that appellant has in
his possession and control marijuana or Indian hemp, in violation of Section 8 of Republic Act
No. 6425.

We have carefully scrutinized Search Warrant No. 415 (7-98),[41] and we find that it is
captioned “For Violation of R.A. 6425, as amended.”[42] It is clearly stated in the body of the
warrant that “there is probable cause to believe that a case for violation of R.A. 6425, as
amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as further amended by R.A.
7659 has been and is being committed by one MODESTO TEE a.k.a. ESTOY TEE of Km. 6,
Dontogan Bgy., Green Valley, Sto. Tomas, Baguio City by having in his possession and
control an UNDETERMINED AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA or INDIAN HEMP in violation of the
aforementioned law.”[43] In an earlier case, we held that though the specific section of the
Dangerous Drugs Law is not pinpointed, “there is no question at all of the specific offense
alleged to have been committed as a basis for the finding of probable cause.”[44] Appellant’s
averment is, therefore, baseless. Search Warrant No. 415 (7-98) appears clearly issued for
one offense, namely, illegal possession of marijuana.

Appellant next faults the Judge who issued Search Warrant No. 415 (7-98) for his failure
to exhaustively examine the applicant and his witness. Appellant points out that said
magistrate should not have swallowed all of Abratique’s statements – – hook, line, and sinker.
He points out that since Abratique consented to assist in the transport of the marijuana, the
examining judge should have elicited from Abratique his participation in the crime and his
motive for squealing on appellant. Appellant further points out that the evidence of the NBI
operative who applied for the warrant is merely hearsay and should not have been given
credit at all by Judge Reyes.

Again, the lack of factual basis for appellant’s contention is apparent. The OSG points out
that Abratique personally assisted appellant in loading and transporting the marijuana to the
latter’s house and to appellant’s rented room at No. 27 Dr. Cariño St., Baguio City. Definitely,
this indicates personal knowledge on Abratique’s part. Law enforcers cannot themselves be
eyewitnesses to every crime; they are allowed to present witnesses before an examining
judge. In this case, witness Abratique personally saw and handled the marijuana. Hence, the
NBI did not rely on hearsay information in applying for a search warrant but on personal
knowledge of the witness, Abratique.

Before a valid search warrant is issued, both the Constitution[45] and the 2000 Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure[46] require that the judge must personally examine the
complainant and his witnesses under oath or affirmation. The personal examination must not
be merely routinary orpro forma, but must be probing and exhaustive.[47] In the instant case,
it is not disputed that Judge Antonio Reyes personally examined NBI Special Investigator III
Darwin A. Lising, the applicant for the search warrant as well as his witness, Danilo G.
Abratique. Notes of the proceedings were taken by Atty. Delilah Muñoz, Clerk of Court, RTC
of Baguio City, Branch 61, whom Judge Reyes had ordered to be summoned. In the letter of
transmittal of the Clerk of Court of the RTC of Baguio City, Branch 61 to Branch 6 of said
court, mention is made of “notes” at “pages 7-11.”[48] We have thoroughly perused the
records of Search Warrant No. 415 (7-98) and nowhere find said “notes.” The depositions of
Lising and Abratique were not attached to Search Warrant No. 415 (7-98) as required by the
Rules of Court. We must stress, however, that the purpose of the Rules in requiring
depositions to be taken is to satisfy the examining magistrate as to the existence of probable
cause.[49] The Bill of Rights does not make it an imperative necessity that depositions be
attached to the records of an application for a search warrant. Hence, said omission is not
necessarily fatal, for as long as there is evidence on the record showing what testimony was
presented.[50]In the testimony of witness Abratique, Judge Reyes required Abratique to
confirm the contents of his affidavit;[51] there were instances when Judge Reyes questioned
him extensively.[52] It is presumed that a judicial function has been regularly performed,
[53] absent a showing to the contrary. A magistrate’s determination of probable cause for the
issuance of a search warrant is paid great deference by a reviewing court,[54] as long as
there was substantial basis for that determination.[55] Substantial basis means that the
questions of the examining judge brought out such facts and circumstances as would lead a
reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed, and the
objects in connection with the offense sought to be seized are in the place sought to be
searched.

On record, appellant never raised the want of adequate depositions to support Warrant
No. 415 (7-98) in his motion to quash before the trial court. Instead, his motion contained
vague generalities that Judge Reyes failed to ask searching questions of the applicant and his
witness. Belatedly, however, he now claims that Judge Reyes perfunctorily examined said
witness.[56] But it is settled that when a motion to quash a warrant is filed, all grounds and
objections then available, existent or known, should be raised in the original or subsequent
proceedings for the quashal of the warrant, otherwise they are deemed waived.[57]

In this case, NBI Special Investigator Lising’s knowledge of the illicit drugs stored in
appellant’s house was indeed hearsay. But he had a witness, Danilo Abratique, who had
personal knowledge about said drugs and their particular location. Abratique’s statements to
the NBI and to Judge Reyes contained credible and reliable details. As the NBI’s witness,
Abratique was a person on whose statements Judge Reyes could rely. His detailed
description of appellant’s activities with respect to the seized drugs was substantial. In relying
on witness Abratique, Judge Reyes was not depending on casual rumor circulating in the
underworld, but on personal knowledge Abratique possessed.

In Alvarez vs. Court of First Instance of Tayabas, 64 Phil. 33, 44 (1937), we held that:
The true test of sufficiency of a deposition or affidavit to warrant issuance of a search warrant
is whether it has been drawn in such a manner that perjury could be charged thereon and
affiant be held liable for damages caused.[58]
Appellant argues that the address indicated in the search warrant did not clearly indicate
the place to be searched. The OSG points out that the address stated in the warrant is as
specific as can be. The NBI even submitted a detailed sketch of the premises prepared by
Abratique, thus ensuring that there would be no mistake.

A description of the place to be searched is sufficient if the officer serving the warrant can,
with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended[59] and distinguish it from
other places in the community.[60] A designation or description that points out the place to be
searched to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry unerringly leads the peace officers to it,
satisfies the constitutional requirement of definiteness.

Appellant finally harps on the use of unnecessary force during the execution of the search
warrant. Appellant fails, however, to point to any evidentiary matter in the record to support his
contention. Defense witness Cipriana Tee, appellant’s mother, testified on the search
conducted but she said nothing that indicated the use of force on the part of the NBI
operatives who conducted the search and seizure.[61] What the record discloses is that the
warrant was served on appellant,[62] who was given time to read it,[63] and the search was
witnessed by the barangay officials, police operatives, members of the media, and appellant’s
kith and kin.[64] No breakage or other damage to the place searched is shown. No injuries
sustained by appellant, or any witness, appears on record. The execution of the warrant, in
our view, has been orderly and peaceably performed.

2. On The Alleged Violation of Appellant’s Substantive Rights

Appellant insists that the prosecution’s unjustified and willful delay in presenting witness
Abratique unduly delayed the resolution of his case. He points out that a total of eight (8)
scheduled hearings had to be reset due to the failure or willful refusal of Abratique to testify
against him. Appellant insists that said lapse on the prosecution’s part violated Supreme
Court Circular No. 38-98.[65] Appellant now alleges that the prosecution deliberately resorted
to delaying the case to cause him untold miseries.

For the appellee, the OSG points out that the two-month delay in the trial is not such a
great length of time as to amount to a violation of appellant’s right to a speedy trial. A trial is
always subject to reasonable delays or postponements, but absent any showing that these
delays are capricious and oppressive, the State should not be deprived of a reasonable
opportunity to prosecute the criminal action.

On record, the trial court found that prosecution witness Danilo G. Abratique failed to
appear in no less than eighteen (18) hearings, namely those set for February 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9,
10, and 24; March 9, 15, 22, and 23; April 6, 7, 8, 16, and 19, all in 1999. [66] No less than
four (4) warrants of arrest were issued against him to compel him to testify.[67] The NBI agent
who supposedly had him in custody was found guilty of contempt of court for failing to
produce Abratique at said hearings and sanctioned.[68] The prosecution had to write the NBI
Regional Director in Baguio City and NBI Director in Manila regarding the failure of the
Bureau’s agents to bring Abratique to court.[69] Nothing on record discloses the reason for
Abratique’s aforecited absences. On the scheduled hearing of June 7, 1999, he was again
absent thus causing the trial court to again order his arrest for the fifth time.[70] He also failed
to show up at the hearing of June 8, 1999.[71]

Appellant now stresses that the failure of Abratique to appear and testify on twenty (20)
hearing dates violated appellant’s constitutional[72]and statutory right to a speedy trial.

A speedy trial means a trial conducted according to the law of criminal procedure and the
rules and regulations, free from vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays.[73] In Conde v.
Rivera and Unson, 45 Phil. 650, 652 (1924), the Court held that “where a prosecuting officer,
without good cause, secures postponements of the trial of a defendant against his protest
beyond a reasonable period of time, as in this instance, for more than a year, the accused is
entitled to relief by a proceeding in mandamus to compel a dismissal of the information, or if
he be restrained of his liberty, by habeas corpus to obtain his freedom.”

The concept of speedy trial is necessarily relative. A determination as to whether the right
has been violated involves the weighing of several factors such as the length of the delay, the
reason for the delay, the conduct of the prosecution and the accused, and the efforts exerted
by the defendant to assert his right, as well as the prejudice and damage caused to the
accused.[74]

The Speedy Trial Act of 1998, provides that the trial period for criminal cases in general
shall be one hundred eighty (180) days.[75] However, in determining the right of an accused
to speedy trial, courts should do more than a mathematical computation of the number of
postponements of the scheduled hearings of the case.[76] The right to a speedy trial is
deemed violated only when: (1) the proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious, and
oppressive delays;[77] or (2) when unjustified postponements are asked for and secured;
[78] or (3) when without cause or justifiable motive a long period of time is allowed to elapse
without the party having his case tried.[79]

In the present case, although the absences of prosecution witness Abratique totaled
twenty (20) hearing days, there is no showing whatsoever that prosecution capriciously
caused Abratique’s absences so as to vex or oppress appellant and deny him his rights. On
record, after Abratique repeatedly failed to show up for the taking of his testimony, the
prosecution went to the extent of praying that the trial court order the arrest of Abratique to
compel his attendance at trial. The prosecution likewise tried to get the NBI to produce
Abratique as the latter was in the Bureau’s custody, but to no avail. Eventually, the trial court
ordered the prosecution to waive its right to present Abratique and rest its case on the
evidence already offered.[80]

Nor do we find a delay of twenty (20) hearing days to be an unreasonable length of time.
Delay of less than two months has been found, in fact, to be not an unreasonably lengthy
period of time.[81]
Moreover, nothing on record shows that appellant Modesto Tee objected to the inability of
the prosecution to produce its witness. Under the Rules, appellant could have moved the trial
court to require that witness Abratique post bail to ensure that the latter would testify when
required.[82] Appellant could have moved to have Abratique found in contempt and duly
sanctioned. Appellant did neither. It is a bit too late in the day for appellant to invoke now his
right to speedy trial.

No persuasive reason supports appellant’s claim that his constitutional right to speedy
trial was violated. One must take into account that a trial is always subject to postponements
and other causes of delay. But in the absence of a showing that delays were unreasonable
and capricious, the State should not be deprived of a reasonable opportunity of prosecuting
an accused.[83]

Appellant next contends that the trial court gravely abused its discretion, and exhibited
partiality, when it allowed the reopening of the case after the prosecution had failed to present
Abratique on several occasions and had been directed to rest its case. Appellant stresses that
the lower court’s order to reopen the case to receive Abratique’s further testimony is an
indication that the trial court favored the prosecution and unduly prejudiced appellant.

On appellee’s behalf, the Solicitor General points out that the trial court’s order was in the
interest of substantial justice and hence, cannot be termed as an abuse of discretion. The
OSG points out that the prosecution had not formally rested its case and had yet to present its
formal offer of evidence, hence, the submission of additional testimony by the same witness
cannot be prejudicial to the accused, it being but the mere continuation of an uncompleted
testimony. Furthermore, appellant did not properly oppose the prosecution’s motion to reopen
the case.

At the time Criminal Cases Nos. 15800-R and 15822-R were being tried, the 1985 Rules
of Criminal Procedure were in effect. There was no specific provision at that time governing
motions to reopen.[84] Nonetheless, long and established usage has led to the recognition
and acceptance of a motion to reopen. In view of the absence of a specific procedural rule,
the only controlling guideline governing a motion to reopen was the paramount interests of
justice. As a rule, the matter of reopening of a case for reception of further evidence after
either prosecution or defense has rested its case is within the discretion of the trial court.
[85] However, a concession to a reopening must not prejudice the accused or deny him the
opportunity to introduce counter evidence.[86]

Strictly speaking, however, there was no reopening of the cases in the proceedings
below. A motion to reopen may properly be presented only after either or both parties have
formally offered and closed their evidence, but before judgment.[87] In the instant case, the
records show that on April 19, 1999, the prosecution was directed to close its evidence and
given 15 days to make its formal offer of evidence.[88] This order apparently arose from the
manifestation of the prosecution on April 16, 1999 that should they fail to produce witness
Abratique on the next scheduled hearing the prosecution would rest its case.[89] On April 19,
1999, which was the next scheduled hearing after April 16, 1999, Abratique was absent
notwithstanding notices, orders, and warrants of arrest. However, on April 27, 1999, or before
the prosecution had formally offered its evidence, Abratique was brought to the trial court by
the NBI. In its order of said date, the trial court pointed out that the prosecution could move to
“reopen” the case for the taking of Abratique’s testimony.[90] On May 7, 1999, the prosecution
so moved, stressing that it had not yet formally offered its evidence and that the substantial
rights of the accused would not be prejudiced inasmuch as the latter had yet to present his
evidence. Appellant filed no opposition to the motion. The trial court granted the motion six
days later. Plainly, there was nothing to reopen, as the prosecution had not formally rested its
case. Moreover, the taking of Abratique’s testimony was not for the purpose of presenting
additional evidence, but more properly for the completion of his unfinished testimony. In U.S.
vs. Base,[91] we held that a trial court is not in error, if it opts to reopen the proceedings of a
case, even after both sides had rested and the case submitted for decision, by the calling of
additional witnesses or recalling of witnesses so as to satisfy the judge’s mind with reference
to particular facts involved in the case. A judge cannot be faulted should he require a material
witness to complete his testimony, which is what happened in this case. It is but proper that
the judge’s mind be satisfied on any and all questions presented during the trial, in order to
serve the cause of justice.

Appellant’s claim that the trial court’s concession to “reopen” the case unduly prejudiced
him is not well taken. We note that appellant had every opportunity to present his evidence to
support his case or to refute the prosecution’s evidence point-by-point, after the prosecution
had rested its case. In short, appellant was never deprived of his day in court. A day in court is
the touchstone of the right to due process in criminal justice.[92] Thus, we are unable to hold
that a grave abuse of discretion was committed by the trial court when it ordered the so-called
“reopening” in order to complete the testimony of a prosecution witness.

3. On the Sufficiency of the Prosecution’s Evidence

In bidding for acquittal, appellant assails the credibility of Abratique as a witness. Appellant
insists that Abratique’s testimony is profuse with lies, contrary to human nature, hence
incredible. According to appellant, Abratique was evasive from the outset with respect to
certain questions of the trial court. He adds that it appeared the court entertained in particular
the suspicion that witness Abratique had conspired with appellant in committing the crime
charged. Appellant questions Abratique’s motive in informing the NBI about his activities
related to the marijuana taking, transfer, and warehousing.

The OSG contends that Abratique’s testimony, taken as a whole, is credible. It points out
that Abratique testified in a straightforward manner as to his knowledge of the huge cache of
prohibited drugs stashed by appellant in two different places. His testimony, said the OSG,
when fused with the physical evidence consisting of 591.81 kilograms of marijuana found by
law enforcers at appellant’s residence, inexorably leads to the inculpation of appellant.

It is the bounden duty of the courts to test the prosecution evidence rigorously, so that no
innocent person is made to suffer the unusually severe penalties meted out for drug offenses.
[93] Though we scrutinized minutely the testimony of Abratique, we find no cogent reason to
disbelieve him. From his account, Abratique might appear aware treading the thin line
between innocence and feeling guilty, with certain portions of his story tending to be self-
exculpatory. However, his whole testimony could not be discredited. The established rule is
that testimony of a witness may be believed in part and disbelieved in other parts, depending
on the corroborative evidence and the probabilities and improbabilities of the case. But it is
accepted, as a matter of common sense, that if certain parts of a witness’ testimony are found
true, his testimony cannot be disregarded entirely.[94]

Abratique testified in open court that appellant rented the taxicab he was driving, and he
helped appellant transport huge amounts of marijuana to appellant’s rented room at No. 27
Dr. Cariño St., Baguio City and to appellant’s residence at Km. 6, Dontogan, Green Valley,
Sto. Tomas, Baguio City. He also declared on the witness stand that out of fear of being
involved, he decided to divulge his knowledge of appellant’s possession of large caches of
marijuana to the NBI. When the places referred to by Abratique were searched by the
authorities, marijuana in staggering quantities was found and seized by the law enforcers.
Stated plainly, the physical evidence in this case corroborated Abratique’s testimony on
material points.

Appellant imputes questionable motives to Abratique in an effort to discredit him. He


demands that Abratique should likewise be prosecuted. However, by no means is the possible
guilt of Abratique a tenable defense for appellant. Nor would Abratique’s prosecution mean
appellant’s absolution.

In a prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the following facts must be
proven with moral certainty: (1) that the accused is in possession of the object identified as
prohibited or regulated drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) that
the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug.[95]

We find the foregoing elements proven in Criminal Case No. 15800-R beyond reasonable
doubt.

In said case, the testimony of Abratique and the recovery of 591.81 kilograms of
marijuana from appellant’s residence served to prove appellant’s possession of a prohibited
drug. Tests conducted by the NBI forensic chemist proved the seized articles to be marijuana.
These articles were seized pursuant to a valid search warrant and hence, fully admissible in
evidence.

In People v. de los Reyes, 239 SCRA 439 (1994), we held that the Dangerous Drugs Act
applies generally to all persons and proscribes the sale of dangerous drugs by any person,
and no person is authorized to sell such drugs. Said doctrine is equally applicable with
respect to possession of prohibited drugs. Republic Act No. 6425, which penalizes the
possession of prohibited drugs, applies equally to all persons in this jurisdiction and no person
is authorized to possess said articles, without authority of law.

Anent the third element, we have held that to warrant conviction, possession of illegal
drugs must be with knowledge of the accused or thatanimus possidendi existed together with
the possession or control of said articles.[96] Nonetheless, this dictum must be read in
consonance with our ruling that possession of a prohibited drug per se constitutes prima
facie evidence of knowledge or animus possidendi sufficient to convict an accused absent a
satisfactory explanation of such possession.[97] In effect, the onus probandi is shifted to
accused to explain the absence of knowledge or animus possidendi[98] in this situation.
Appellant Modesto Tee opted not to testify in his defense. Instead, he presented his
mother as his lone witness, who testified on matters totally irrelevant to his case. We can
only conclude that, failing to discharge the burden of the evidence on the possession of
prohibited drug, appellant’s guilt in Criminal Case No. 15800-R was established beyond
reasonable doubt.

3. On The Proper Penalty

Under Republic Act No. 6425 as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, the penalty
of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos
(P500,000.00) to ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00)[99] shall be imposed if the quantity of
marijuana involved in a conviction for possession of marijuana or Indian hemp shall be 750
grams or more.[100]

In the present case, the quantity of marijuana involved has been shown by the
prosecution to be far in excess of 750 grams, as stressed by the trial court:
The volume is rather staggering. It is almost one whole house or one whole room. In fact,
when they were first brought to the court, it took hours to load them on the truck and hours
also to unload them prompting the court to direct that the boxes and sack of marijuana be
instead kept at the NBI office in Baguio. And the identification of said marijuana during the trial
was made in the NBI premises itself by the witnesses since it was physically cumbersome
and inconvenient to keep bringing them to the court during every trial.[101]

In sentencing appellant to death, the trial court noted not only the huge quantity of
marijuana bales involved, but also “the acts of accused of hiding them in different places…
and transferring them from place to place and making them appear as boxes of cigarettes to
avoid and evade apprehension and detection.” They showed his being a big supplier, said the
trial court, [whose] criminal perversity and craft that “deserve the supreme penalty of
death.”[102]

We are unable to agree, however, with the penalty imposed by the trial court. The
legislature never intended that where the quantity involved exceeds those stated in Section
20 of Republic Act No. 6425 the maximum penalty of death shall automatically be imposed.
[103] The statute prescribes two indivisible penalties: reclusion perpetua and death. Hence,
the penalty to be imposed must conform with Article 63[104] of the Revised Penal Code. As
already held, the death penalty law, Republic Act No. 7659 did not amend Article 63 of the
Revised Penal Code.[105] The rules in Article 63 apply although the prohibited drugs involved
are in excess of the quantities provided for in Section 20 of Republic Act No. 6425.[106] Thus,
finding neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in the present case, appellant’s
possession of 591.81 kilograms of marijuana in Criminal Case No. 15800-R, does not merit
capital punishment but only the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua.

The trial court imposed a fine on appellant in the sum of One Million Pesos
(P1,000,000.00), without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. The imposition of a
fine is mandatory in cases of conviction of possession of illegal drugs. This being within the
limits allowed by the law, the amount of the fine must be sustained. All these sanctions might
not remedy all the havoc wrought by prohibited drugs on the moral fiber of our society,
especially the youth.[107] But these penalties should warn peddlers of prohibited drugs that
they cannot ply their trade in our streets with impunity.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 6, in
Criminal Case No. 15800-R, convicting appellant MODESTO TEE alias “ESTOY” TEE of
violation of Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, is AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua. The fine of ONE MILLION (P1,000,000.00) PESOS imposed on him is
sustained. Appellant is likewise directed to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

FRANCISCO FLORES and


FRANCISCO
ANGEL, petitioners,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondent.
Arturo Zialcita for petitioner Francisco Flores.
Zosimo Rivas for petitioner Francisco Angel.
Office of the Solicitor General Antonio P. Barredo and Solicitor Vicente A. Torres for respondent.

FERNANDO, J.:p
A plea based on the constitutional right to a speedy trial 1 led this Court to act affirmatively on
a certiorariproceeding for the dismissal of a case then pending in the Court of Appeals. Considering the
length of time that had elapsed, it is readily discernible why an inquiry into the matter is well-nigh
unavoidable. The accusation for robbery against petitioners Francisco Flores and Francisco Angel was
filed as far back as December 31, 1951. The decision rendered on November 29, 1955 found them
guilty of the crime charged. The notice of appeal was filed on December 8, 1955. 2 For a period of
three years, until February 10, 1958, no action was taken by the Court of Appeals. On that day, there
was a resolution remanding the records of the case to the lower court for a rehearing of the testimony of
a certain witness deemed material for the disposition of the case. 3 Such a resolution was amended by a
second resolution dated August 5, 1959, which granted the motion for counsel of appellants, now
petitioners, to set aside the decision so that evidence for the defense on certain new facts or matters
may be received and that a new decision in lieu of the old one may be rendered in accordance with the
facts as found. 4 Accordingly, the case was returned to the lower court with the former decision set
aside so that the trial could be had, but nothing was done for about a year because the offended party
failed to appear notwithstanding the six or seven dates set for such hearing. 5 It was further alleged that
when thereafter he did take the witness stand, his testimony was far from satisfactory, characterized as
a mere "fiasco" as he could no longer remember the details of the alleged crime; there was even a
failure to identify the two accused. 6 Instead of rendering a new decision, the former one having been
set aside as required by the Court of Appeals, the lower court merely sent back the records to the
appellate tribunal. 7 At that stage, five more years having elapsed without anything being done,
petitioners sought the dismissal of the cases against them due to such inordinate delay in their
disposition, which covered the period of December 8, 1955 to May 10, 1965, a period of almost a
decade; thus did they invoke their constitutional right to a speedy trial. 8 Respondent Court of Appeals
was unresponsive, notwithstanding the vigorous plea on the part of counsel for petitioners, its last order
being a denial of a second motion for reconsideration dated January 28, 1966. In the answer on behalf
of the People of the Philippines, the facts as above set forth were substantially admitted. However, a
special and affirmative defense raised was that the case was not properly captioned, as the People of the
Philippines, against whom it is filed, is not a tribunal or an office exercising judicial functions and that
without the Court of Appeals being made a party to the petition, it cannot be said that it stated facts
sufficient to constitute a cause of action. Moreover, on the merits, the view was expressed that under
the circumstances, it was not adequately shown that the right to a speedy trial had been violated, as the
Court of Appeals had taken all the steps necessary to complete the transcript of stenographic notes of
the original trial.
On the above undisputed facts, there is more than sufficient warrant for the conclusion that the right to
a speedy trial, so zealously guarded in both the 1935 and the present Constitutions, had not been
accorded due respect. There is thus merit in the petition.
1. The constitutional right to a speedy trial, as was noted in a recent decision, Acebedo v.
Sarmiento, 9 "means one free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays, ... ." 10 Thus, if the
person accused were innocent, he may within the shortest time possible be spared from anxiety and
apprehension arising from a prosecution, and if culpable, he will not be kept long in suspense as to the
fate in store for him, within a period of course compatible with his opportunity to present any valid
defense. As was also pointed out in Sarmiento: "The remedy in the event of a non-observance of this
right is by habeas corpus if the accused were restrained of his liberty, or by certiorari, prohibition, or
mandamus for the final dismissal of the case." 11 The above ruling is a reiteration of the doctrine
announced, even before the 1935 Constitution, in Conde v. Rivera, 12 a 1924 decision. In that case,
Justice Malcolm announced categorically that the trial, to comply with the requirement of the then
organic law, the Philippine Autonomy Act, must be "free from vexatious, capricious, and oppressive
delays." 13Further: "We lay down the legal proposition that, where a prosecuting officer, without good
cause, secures postponements of the trial of a defendant against his protest beyond a reasonable period
of time, as in this instance for more than a year, the accused is entitled to relief by a proceeding in
mandamus to compel a dismissal of the information, or if he be restrained of his liberty, by habeas
corpus to obtain his freedom." 14
In the first Supreme Court decision after the 1935 Constitution took effect, People v.
Castañeda, 15 where it was shown that the criminal case had been dragging on for almost five years
and that when the trial did finally take place, it was tainted by irregularities, this Court set aside the
appealed decision of conviction and acquitted the accused. As was pointed out by the ponente, Justice
Laurel: "The Government should be the last to set an example of delay and oppression in the
administration of justice and it is the moral and legal obligation of this court to see that the criminal
proceedings against the accused come to an end and that they be immediately discharged from the
custody of the law." 16 It was on the basis of the above judgment that the dismissal of a second
information for frustrated homicide was ordered by this Court, where the evidence disclosed that the
first information had been dismissed after a lapse of one year and seven months from the time the
original complaint was filed during which time on the three occasions the case was set for trial, the
private prosecutor twice asked for postponements and once the trial court itself cancelled the entire
calendar for the month it was supposed to have been heard. 17 The same result followed in Esguerra v.
De la Costa, 18 where the first complaint was filed on August 29, 1936, the accused having been
criminally prosecuted for an alleged abuse of chastity in a justice of the peace court but after over a
year and three months, with the lower court twice dismissing the case, he still had to face trial for the
same offense on a new information, thus compelling him to resort to a mandamus suit to compel the
lower court to terminate the case was his right to a speedy trial was violated, a remedy deemed
appropriate by this Court.
There was another occasion where Justice Laurel spoke for this Court on this specific issue. That was
inMercado v. Santos. 19 Here, for a period of about twenty months, the accused was arrested four times
on the charge of falsifying his deceased wife's will. Twice, the complaints were subsequently
withdrawn. The third time he was prosecuted on the same charge, he was able to obtain a dismissal.
Then came on the part of the provincial fiscal, a motion for reinvestigation. The lower court was in a
receptive mood. It ordered that the case be heard on the merits. The accused moved to dismiss, but he
did not succeed. He tried the Court of Appeals, but he failed again. He elevated the matter to this Court;
he prevailed. It was stressed in Justice Laurel's opinion: "An accused person is entitled to a trial at the
earliest opportunity. ... He cannot be oppressed by delaying the commencement of trial for an
unreasonable length of time. If the proceedings pending trial are deferred, the trial itself is necessarily
delayed." 20 The opinion likewise considered as not decisive the fact that the provincial fiscal did not
intervene until an information was filed charging the accused with the crime of falsification the third
time. Thus: "The Constitution does not say that the right to a speedy trial may be availed of only where
the prosecution for crime is commenced and undertaken by the fiscal. It does not exclude from its
operation cases commenced by private individuals. Where once a person is prosecuted criminally, he is
entitled to a speedy trial, irrespective of the nature of the offense or the manner in which it is authorized
to be commenced." 21 The latest decision in point, Acebedo v. Sarmiento, 22 presented an even clearer
case. The information for damage to property was filed on August 3, 1959. There the matter rested until
May 19, 1965, when the accused moved to dismiss. The lower court denied the motion in his order of
July 10, 1965. Two more years elapsed, the period now covering almost eight years, when the trial was
commenced. When one of the witnesses for the prosecution failed to appear, the provincial fiscal
sought the postponement, but the accused countered with a motion for dismissal. The lower court
acceded, and this Court sustained him, even if thereafter it changed its mind and reinstated the case.
Petitioners can thus invoke the constitutional guarantee that the trial should be speedy. In the absence
of any valid decision, the stage of trial has not been completed. In this case then, as of May 10, 1965,
when they moved to dismiss in the Court of Appeals, petitioners could validly contend that they had not
been accorded their right to be tried as promptly as circumstances permit. It was not the pendency in
the Court of Appeals of their cases that should be deemed material. It is at times unavoidable that
appellate tribunals cannot, even with due diligence, put an end to suits elevated to them. What is
decisive is that with the setting aside of the previous decision in the resolution of August 5, 1959,
petitioners could validly premise their plea for dismissal on this constitutional safeguard. That is the
sole basis for the conclusion reached by us — considering the controlling doctrine announced with
such emphasis by this Court time and time again.
2. That is about all that needs be said. The crucial issue has been met. The decisive question has been
answered. There is an affirmation of the worth of the constitutional right to a speedy trial. Not too
much significance should be attached to the procedural defect pointed out in the answer of the People
of the Philippines that the Court of Appeals should have been made the party respondent. What cannot
be sanctioned was its failure to accord respect to this particular constitutional right. It did amount at the
very least to a grave abuse of discretion. Whatever deficiency in the pleading may then be singled out,
it cannot obscure the obvious disregard of one of the most important safeguards granted an accused. To
deny petitioners the remedy sought would be to exalt form over substance. At any rate, the petition
could be considered, and rightly so, as being directed at the Court of Appeals. Moreover, the defenses
that could have interposed to justify the action taken were invoked by the People of the Philippines.
They certainly did not avail. Our decisions on the right to a speedy rial speak too categorically to be
misread. This is one of those situations then where, in the apt language of the then Justice, now Chief
Justice, Makalintal, "technicalities should give way to the realities of the situation." 23
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is granted, and the order of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR
No. 16641-R entitled, People v. Francisco Flores, et al., of September 28, 1965 denying the motion to
dismiss as well as its order of January 8, 1966 denying the motion for reconsideration, and the order of
January 28, 1966 denying the second motion for reconsideration are hereby set aside, nullified, and
considered of no force and effect. The criminal case against petitioners in the aforesaid CA-GR No.
16641-R are ordered dismissed. Costs de oficio.

AURELIA CONDE, petitioner,


vs.
PABLO RIVERA, acting provincial fiscal of Tayabas, and
FEDERICO M. UNSON, justice of the peace of Lucena, Tayabas, respondents.
Godofredo Reyes for petitioner.
Attorney-General Villa-Real for respondents.
MALCOLM, J.:
Aurelia Conde, formerly a municipal midwife in Lucena, Tayabas, has been forced to respond to no
less than five informations for various crimes and misdemeanors, has appeared with her witnesses and
counsel at hearings no less than on eight different occasions only to see the cause postponed, has twice
been required to come to the Supreme Court for protection, and now, after the passage of more than one
year from the time when the first information was filed, seems as far away from a definite resolution of
her troubles as she was when originally charged.
Philippine organic and statutory law expressly guarantee that in all criminal prosecutions the accused
shall enjoy the right to have a speedy trial. Aurelia Conde, like all other accused persons, has a right to
a speedy trial in order that if innocent she may go free, and she has been deprived of that right in
defiance of law. Dismissed from her humble position, and compelled to dance attendance on courts
while investigations and trials are arbitrarily postponed without her consent, is palpably and openly
unjust to her and a detriment to the public. By the use of reasonable diligence, the prosecution could
have settled upon the appropriate information, could have attended to the formal preliminary
examination, and could have prepared the case for a trial free from vexatious, capricious, and
oppressive delays.
Once before, as intimidated, the petitioner had to come to us for redress of her grievances. We thought
then we had pointed out the way for the parties. But it seems not. Once again therefore and finally, we
hope, we propose to do all in our power to assist this poor woman to obtain justice. On the one hand
has been the petitioner, of humble station, without resources, but fortunately assisted by a persistent
lawyer, while on the other hand has been the Government of the Philippine Islands which should be the
last to set an example of delay and oppression in the administration of justice. The Court is thus under a
moral and legal obligation to see that these proceedings come to an end and that the accused is
discharged from the custody of the law.
We lay down the legal proposition that, where a prosecuting officer, without good cause, secures
postponements of the trial of a defendant against his protest beyond a reasonable period of time, as in
this instance for more than a year, the accused is entitled to relief by a proceeding in mandamus to
compel a dismissal of the information, or if he be restrained of his liberty, by habeas corpus to obtain
his freedom. (16 C.J., 439 et seq.; In the matter of Ford [1911], 160 Cal., 334; U.S. vs. Fox [1880], 3
Montana, 512. See further our previous decision in Conde vs. Judge of First Instance, Fourteenth
Judicial District, and the Provincial Fiscal of Tayabas, No. 21236.1
The writ prayed for shall issue and the Provincial Fiscal of Tayabas shall abstain from further attempts
to prosecute the accused pursuant to informations growing out of the facts set forth in previous
informations, and the charges now pending before the justice of the peace of Lucena, Tayabas, are
ordered dismissed, with cost against the respondent fiscal. We append to our order the observation that,
without doubt, the Attorney-General, being fully cognizant of the facts of record, will take such
administrative action as to him seems proper to the end that incidents of this character may not recur.
So ordered.
Araullo, C.J., Johnson, Street, Avanceña, Ostrand, Johns and Romualdez, JJ., concur.

MANUEL MATEO, JR., ROBERTO MARTINEZ alias RUBEN MARTINEZ, ENRIQUE


CONCEPCION and ESMERALDO CRUZ, petitioners,
vs.
HON. ONOFRE VILLALUZ, as Judge of the Circuit Criminal Court, Seventh Judicial
District, respondents.
Jose W. Diokno, Apolinar S. Fojas, Sixto F. Santiago and Damian S. Villaseca for petitioners.
Office of the Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Octavio R. Ramirez
and Solicitor Guillermo C. Nakar, Jr. for respondent.

FERNANDO, J.:
The novel issue presented in this prohibition proceeding arose from the gnawing fear that the prized
ideal of "the cold neutrality of an impartial judge" 1 implicit in the due process guarantee may be set at
naught. Petitioners are among those being tried by respondent Judge for the offense of robbery in band
with homicide. Thereafter, an extrajudicial statement by one Rolando Reyes, who was later on likewise
indicted for the same offense, implicating petitioners, was subscribed before respondent Judge. That
was the background of a motion for his disqualification, as the aforesaid Rolando Reyes, when called
upon to testify as an additional witness for the prosecution impugned his written declaration stating that
it was executed as a result of a threat by a government agent. It is now contended that such a
repudiation would not sit well with respondent Judge, who had thus placed himself in a position of
being unable to pass on such question with that degree of objectivity required by due process, although
admittedly, such a move did not fall squarely within one of the specific grounds to inhibit
judges. 2 Respondent Judge turned down this plea for disqualification. Hence, this petition, based on
the asserted violation of a constitutional right not to be convicted of an offense without due process of
law. This Court, after a careful consideration of the matter and in the light of past decisions to be
hereafter noted, looks upon such failure of respondent Judge to disqualify himself as a grave abuse of
discretion correctible by prohibition. The petition is meritorious.
The facts, in the language of the petition, follow: "On or about June 4, 1971, the American Express
Bank at Sangley Point, Cavite, was robbed and an American serviceman was killed. In connection with
that robbery, and the death of the serviceman, four (4) criminal actions were filed against petitioners
and docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. CCC-VII-843 to 846, Cavite, for robbery in band with homicide,
all captioned 'People of the Philippines, Plaintiff, vs. Manuel Mateo, et al., Accused'. ... The
Information fell in the sala of the Honorable Respondent Judge because the complaints were filed
there; and, in fact, it was the Honorable Respondent Judge who ordered District State Prosecutor
Cornelio Melendres [or] Assistant City Fiscal Enrique A. Cube to conduct the preliminary
investigation. Petitioners Manuel Mateo, Jr. and Esmeraldo Cruz were arraigned on June 24, 1971
while petitioners Roberto Martinez @ Ruben Martinez filed a Motion To Dismiss on the ground of
"insufficiency of evidence for failure of prosecution (1) to prove the existence of conspiracy, and (2) to
identify the accused by competent evidence." On September 25, 1971, petitioner Roberto Martinez @
Ruben Martinez amplified his motion to dismiss with a Supplemental Motion based on the claim that
"the pre-trial identification by prosecution witness Elliot Grey of your accused Roberto Martinez in a
police line-up in the absence of defendant's counsel is unconstitutional; and the in-court testimony of
said Elliot Grey identifying your accused Roberto Martinez is inadmissible in evidence and should be
stricken out from the records". The. prosecution opposed the motion to dismiss. To date, the motions to
dismiss have not been decided by the Honorable Respondent Judge. ... In the meantime, another
suspect in the Sangley Point Robbery — one Rolando Reyes — was arrested. On October 5, 1971,
when petitioner's Motion to Dismiss together with the Opposition thereto were submitted for
resolution, the Honorable Presiding Judge in an Order ruled that 'pursuant to Sec. 6, Rule 135 of the
New Rules of Court, let the Motion to Dismiss be resolved until after the prosecution has presented and
rested its evidence as against Rolando Reyes. ... It appears that the said Rolando Reyes had executed an
extra-judicial statement on October 1, 1971 and had signed and sworn to its truth before the Honorable
Respondent Judge; and, in that statement had implicated petitioners; evidently, the Honorable
Respondent Judge was aware of this, and it was for this reason that he had deferred ruling on petitioner
Ruben Martinez' motions and supplemental motion to dismiss 'until after the prosecution has presented
and rested its evidence as against Rolando Reyes.' Rolando Reyes, however, was tried separately from
and in the absence of petitioners; so that the proceedings against him did not constitute evidence
against petitioner. So, on November 26, 1971, while petitioner Martinez' Motion and Supplemental
Motion to Dismiss remained unresolved, the prosecution filed a 'Motion to Present Additional
Evidence.' ... On December 4, 1971, petitioner Manuel Mateo filed an Opposition to the prosecution's
Motion to Present Additional Evidence on the ground that 'to allow the prosecution to present
additional evidence in favor of the State after the prosecution has rested, while the accused has a
pending motion to dismiss under consideration would be prejudicial to the substantial rights of herein
accused because it would effectively deprive him of a fair trial.' ...On December 24, 1971, respondent
Judge granted the prosecution's 'Motion to Present Additional Evidence' ruling that 'it is well settled
jurisprudence in this jurisdiction and elsewhere that it is within the sound discretion of the court
whether or not to allow the presentation of additional evidence after the parties have rested their
case.' ... On February 3, 1972, the prosecution called Rolando Reyes as an additional witness, and in
the course of his testimony, marked an extrajudicial statement purportedly executed by him on October
1, 1971 as Exh. 'P'. ... Rolando Reyes repudiated it, stated that he had executed it because he had been
threatened by a government agent. The statement, Exh. 'P' ..., purports to have been subscribed and
sworn to before the respondent Judge on October 1, 1971. As soon as the foregoing facts were made of
record in the case, defendants [petitioners herein) verbally moved to suspend the proceedings to enable
them to file a motion to disqualify the Honorable Respondent Judge; and the motion for suspension was
granted. On February 5, 1971, petitioners filed a Joint Motion for Disqualification of respondent Judge
contending that respondent Judge 'in the exercise of his sound discretion [should] disqualify himself
from sitting in this case under the second paragraph of Section 1 of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court,'
because Rolando Reyes had repudiated the statement that he, Reyes, had sworn to before the Honorable
Respondent Judge and the latter perforce would have to pass upon that repudiation. ... On February 11,
1972, the prosecution filed an Opposition to petitioners' Joint Motion for Disqualification. ... On
February 12, 1972, respondent Judge denied petitioners' Joint Motion for Disqualification." 3
The specific question raised not having been passed upon previously, coupled with the exhaustive
petition submitted by counsel for petitioners, Senator Jose W. Diokno, led this Court, in its resolution of
February 25, 1972 to require comment from respondent Judge, with a temporary restraining order
likewise being issued. The then Solicitor General, now Associate Justice, Felix Antonio, did so in an
equally well-researched pleading on March 16, 1972 which, by our resolution of March 22, was
considered his answer. Thereafter, with memoranda being submitted by both parties, the case was
deemed submitted for decision on August 4 last year. There is, to repeat, a highly persuasive and
scholarly quality in the manner in which the plea for petitioners was made. Nonetheless, with due
recognition of the imperative character of the safeguard of due process connoting, at the very least, an
impartial tribunal, the Court cannot consider the circumstances disclosed as sufficient to call for the
disqualification of respondent Judge.
1. It is now beyond dispute that due process cannot be satisfied in the absence of that degree of
objectivity on the part of a judge sufficient to reassure litigants of his being fair and being just. Thereby
there is the legitimate expectation that the decision arrived at would be the application of the law to the
facts as found by a judge who does not play favorites. For him, the parties stand on equal footing. In
the language of Justice Dizon: "It has been said, in fact, that due process of law requires a hearing
before an impartial and disinterested tribunal, and that every litigant is entitled to nothing less than the
cold neutrality of an impartial judge." 4 He should, to quote from another decision "at all times
manifest depth of commitment and concern to the cause of justice according to legal norms, a cerebral
man who deliberately holds in cheek the tug and pull of purely personal preferences and prejudices
which he shares with the rest of his fellow mortals." 5 A judge then, to quote from the latest decision in
point, Geotina v. Gonzales, 6 penned by Justice Castro, should strive to be at all times "wholly free,
disinterested, impartial and independent. Elementary due process requires a hearing before an impartial
and disinterested tribunal. A judge has both the duty of rendering a just decision and the duty of doing it
in a manner completely free from suspicion as to its fairness and as to his integrity." 7 Nor is this to
imply that prior to Gutierrez, there had been no awareness of the due process aspect of an impartial
tribunal even if not explicitly referred to. As noted by Justice Street as far back as 1926 in Government
v. Abella, 8 a 1926 decision, if the Supreme Court "were of the opinion that the litigant had not had a
fair trial, a new trial could be granted." 9 There was a reiteration of such a view in a case decided in
1933, Dais v. Torres, 10 with Justice Vickers as ponente, in these words: "Although a judge may not
have been disqualified [according to the Code of Civil Procedure], nevertheless if it appears to this
court that the appellant was not given a fair and impartial trial because of the trial judge's bias or
prejudice, this court will order a new trial, if it deems it necessary, in the interest of justice."11
2. Conformably to what was so emphatically asserted in Gutierrez as the fundamental requisite of
impartiality for due process to be satisfied, the Rules of Court provision on disqualification when
revised three years later in 1964 contains this additional paragraph: "A judge may, in the exercise of
sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons other than those
mentioned above." 12 Thereby, it is made clear to the occupants of the bench that outside of pecuniary
interest, relationship or previous participation in the matter that calls for adjudication, there may be
other causes that could conceivably erode the trait of objectivity, thus calling for inhibition. That is to
betray a sense of realism, for the factors that lead to preferences or predilections are many and varied. It
is well, therefore, that if any such should make its appearance and prove difficult to resist, the better
course for a judge is to disqualify himself. That way, he avoids being misunderstood. His reputation for
probity and objectivity is preserved. What is even more important, the ideal of an impartial
administration of justice is lived up to. Thus is due process vindicated. There is relevance to what was
said by Justice Sanchez in Pimentel v. Salanga, 13 drawing "attention of all judges to appropriate
guidelines in a situation where their capacity to try and decide a case fairly and judiciously comes to
the fore by way of challenge from any one of the parties. A judge may not be legally prohibited from
sitting in a litigation. But when suggestion is made of record that he might be induced to act in favor of
one party or with bias or prejudice against a litigant arising out of circumstance reasonably capable of
inciting such a state of mind, he should conduct a careful self-examination. He should exercise his
discretion in a way that: the people's faith in the courts of justice is not impaired. A salutary norm is
that he reflect on the probability that a losing party might nurture at the back of his mind the thought
that the judge had unmeritoriously tilted the scales of justice against him. That passion on the part of a
judge may be generated because of serious charges of misconduct against him by a suitor or his
counsel, is not altogether remote. He is a man, subject to the frailties of other men. He should,
therefore, exercise great care and caution before making up his mind to act or withdraw from a suit
where that party or counsel is involved. He could in good grace inhibit himself where that case could
be heard by another judge and where no appreciable prejudice would be occasioned to others involved
therein. On the result of his decisions to sit or not to sit may depend to a great extent the all important
confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. If after reflection he should resolve to voluntarily desist
from sitting in a case where his motives or fairness might be seriously impugned, his action is to be
interpreted as giving meaning and substance to the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 137. He serves
the cause of the law who forestalls miscarriage of justice."14
3. The imperfections of human institutions being such, what is fit and proper is not always achieved.
The invitation to judges to disqualify themselves is not always heeded. For that matter, it is not always
desirable that they should do so. It could amount in certain cases to their being recreant to their trust.
Justice Perfecto's warning is not to be ignored; "to shirk the responsibility" entails "the risk of being
called upon to account for his dereliction." 15 It could be an instrument whereby a party could inhibit a
judge in the hope of getting another more amenable to his persuasive skill. With all such considerations
in mind, there is still cogency in the approach that would look with favor on the exercise of discretion
in favor of disqualification, given the likelihood that bias or prejudice is unavoidable. Even before the
amendment of Section 1 of Rule 137, this Court, in at least two decisions, 16 gave its approval to such
a move. Then came People v. Gomez, 17 where this Court, the ponente being Justice J. P. Bengzon,
held: "Now considering that the Revised Rules of Court, already in effect when respondent Judge filed
his answer herein containing the prayer to be disqualified from the case, although not yet in effect when
the proceedings at issue were taken in the court below, states in Section 1 of Rule 137 that, "A judge
may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid
reasons' other than the usual grounds for disqualification, this Court, after considering all the
circumstances of the case, finds as' reasonable, respondent Judge's afore-stated request for
disqualification from further sitting in the Richard case, and We rule that he is thereby deemed, in light
of the new Rules, to have inhibited himself from further taking cognizance of the case." 18
There is even greater deference paid to the due process requirement of impartiality when, in Luque v.
Kayanan,19 decided in 1969, this Court, through justice Sanchez, could categorically rule: "All suitors,
we must say, are entitled to nothing short of the cold neutrality of an independent, wholly free,
disinterested and impartial tribunal. It has been said that "next in importance to the duty of rendering a
right judgment is that of doing it in such a manner as will beget no suspicion of the fairness and
integrity of the judge." Let it be said that the administration of justice in this country suffers from too
many human imperfections. To our mind, respondent judge should inhibit himself since it has become
apparent that his further continuance in Case 4871 would be in the best interest of justice, which he is
bound to serve." 20 There was a reiteration of such a principle in Paredes v. Gopengco, 21 where the
following appears in the opinion Justice Teehankee for the Court: "It is pertinent to state the restriction
provided in the Rule against appeal or stay of the proceedings where the trial judge denies a motion for
disqualification is not an absolute rule even in civil cases, has not been taken as precluding a resort in
appropriate to the special civil actions of prohibition and certiorari the higher courts for determination,
ahead of the judgment the merits, whether the trial judge committed a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction refusing to disqualify himself." 22 There is thus respectable
authority for the view that with the possibility of a trial tainted by partiality, this Court can step in to
assure for the demands of due process.
4. Petitioners can assert then, and rightly so, that we the power to set aside the order denying the
motion disqualification. While the discretion in the first instance belongs to respondent Judge, its
exercise is subject to our corrective authority. Certainly, there can be no question as to its being
considered abused if it can be shown that to refuse inhibition is to cast valid doubts as to a court's
impartiality. The specific issue then that must be resolved is whether the circumstance of a party having
subscribed before respondent Judge an extra-judicial statement purporting to describe the manner in
which an offense was committed, later on repudiated by him as the product of intimidation in the
course of his having been asked to testify against petitioners, would suffice to negate that degree of
objectivity the Constitution requires? The answer must be in the affirmative. Petitioners are thus
entitled to the relief sought. Respondent Judge could not be totally immune to what apparently was
asserted before him in such extrajudicial statement. Moreover, it is unlikely that he was not in the
slightest bit offended by the affiant's turnabout with his later declaration that there was intimidation by
a government agent exerted on him. That was hardly flattering to respondent Judge. It is not only that.
His sense of fairness under the circumstances could easily be blunted. The absence of the requisite due
process element is thus noticeable. There is this circumstance even more telling. It was he who attested
to its due execution on October 1, 1971 wherein Rolando Reyes admitted his participation in the crime
and in addition implicated petitioners. At that time, their motion for dismissal of the charges against
them was pending; its resolution was deferred by respondent Judge until after the prosecution had
presented and rested its evidence against affiant, who was himself indicted and tried for the same
offense, but in a separate proceeding. It cannot be doubted then that respondent Judge in effect ruled
that such extra-judicial statement was executed freely. With its repudiation on the ground that it was not
so at all, coercion having come into the picture there is apparent the situation of a judge having to pass
on a question that by implication had already been answered by him. Such a fact became rather
obvious. For respondent Judge was called upon to review a matter on which he had previously given
his opinion. It is this inroad in one's objectivity that is sought to be avoided by the law on
disqualification. The misgivings then as to the requirement of due process for "the cold neutrality of an
impartial judge" not being met are more titan justified. Hence the conclusion reached by us.
5. To avoid any further controversies of this nature, lower court judges are well-advised to limit
themselves to the task of adjudication and to leave to others the role of notarizing declarations. The less
an occupant of the bench fritters away his time and energy in tasks more incumbent on officials of the
executive branch the less the danger of his being a participant in any event that might lend itself to the
interpretation that his impartiality has been compromised. There is much to be said for displaying zeal
and eagerness in stamping out criminality, but that role is hardly fit for a judge who must bide his time
until the case is before him. He must ever be on guard lest what is done by him, even from the best of
motives, may be thought of as eroding that objectivity and sobriety which are the hallmarks of judicial
conduct. Thus should he attend to the performance of the sacred trust that is his.
WHEREFORE, the petition for prohibition granted. The restraining order is issued by this Court on
February 25, 1972 is made permanent. Without pronouncement as to costs.

HON. GREGORIO. N. GARCIA, Judge of the City Court of Manila, and FRANCISCO
LORENZANA,petitioners,
vs.
HON. FELIX DOMINGO, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, EDGARDO CALO
and SIMEON CARBONNEL, respondents.
Andres R. Narvasa, Manuel V. Chico and Felipe B. Pagkanlungan for petitioners.
Rafael S. Consengco for respondent Calo, et al.
Respondent Judge in his own behalf.

FERNANDO, J.:
The pivotal question in this petition for certiorari and prohibition, one which thus far has remained
unresolved, is the meaning to be accorded the constitutional right to public trial. 1 More specifically,
did respondent Judge commit a grave abuse of discretion in stigmatizing as violative of such a
guarantee the holding of the trial of the other respondents 2 inside the chambers of city court Judge
Gregorio Garcia named as the petitioner. 3 That was done in the order now impugned in this suit,
although such a procedure had been agreed to beforehand by the other respondents as defendants, the
hearings have been thus conducted on fourteen separate occasions without objection on their part, and
without an iota of evidence to substantiate any claim as to any other person so minded being excluded
from the premises. It is thus evident that what took place in the chambers of the city court judge was
devoid of haste or intentional secrecy. For reasons to be more fully explained in the light of the facts
ascertained — the unique aspect of this case having arisen from what turned out to be an unseemly
altercation, force likewise being employed, due to the mode in which the arrest of private petitioner for
a traffic violation was sought to be effected by the two respondent policemen thus resulting in charges
and counter-charges with eight criminal cases being tried jointly by city court Judge in the above
manner — we rule that there was no transgression of the right to a public trial, and grant the petition.
It was alleged and admitted in the petition: "In Branch I the City Court of Manila presided over by
petitioner Judge, there were commenced, by appropriate informations all dated January 16, 1968, eight
(8) criminal actions against respondent Edgardo Calo, and Simeon Carbonnel and Petitioner Francisco
Lorenzana, as follows: a.Against Edgardo Calo (on complaint of Francisco Lorenzana) (1) Criminal
Case No. F-109192, also for slight physical injuries; (2) Criminal Case No. F-109192, alsofor slight
physical injuries; and (3) Criminal Case No. F-109193, for maltreatment; b. Against Simeon
Carbonnel (id.) (1)Criminal Case No. F-109197, for maltreatment; (2) Criminal Case No. F-109196,
for slight physical injuries; and (3) Criminal Case No. F-109198, for light threats; (c) Against
Francisco Lorenzana (on complaint of Calo and Carbonnel) (1) Criminal Case No. F-109201, for
violation of Sec. 887 of the Revised Ordinances of Manila (resisting an officer); and (2) Criminal Case
No. F-109200, for slander." 4 The above was followed by this recital: "The trial of the aforementioned
cases was jointly held on March 4, 1968, March 18, 1968, March 23, 1968, March 30, 1968, April 17,
1968, April 20, 1968, May 4,1968, May 11, 1968, June 1, 1968, June 15, 1968, June 22, 1968, June 29,
1968, August 3, 1968 and August 10, 1968. All the fourteen (14) trial dates — except March 4 and 18,
and April 17, 1968 — fell on a Saturday. This was arranged by the parties and the Court upon the
insistence of respondents Calo and Carbonnel who, as police officers under suspension because of the
cases, desired the same to be terminated as soon as possible and as there were many cases scheduled
for trial on the usual criminal trial days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), Saturday was agreed upon as
the invariable trial day for said eight (8) criminal cases." 5 Also this: "The trial of the cases in question
was held, with the conformity of the accused and their counsel, in the chambers of Judge
Garcia." 6 Then came these allegations in the petition: "During all the fourteen (14) days of trial,
spanning a period of several months (from March to August, 1968), the accused were at all times
represented by their respective counsel, who acted not only in defense of their clients, but as
prosecutors of the accusations filed at their clients' instance. There was only one (1) day when Atty.
Consengco, representing respondent Calo and Carbonnel, was absent. This was on April 20, 1968. But
at the insistence of Pat. Carbonnel, the trial proceeded, and said respondent cross-examined one of the
witnesses presented by the adverse party. In any case, no pretense has been made by the respondents
that this constituted an irregularity correctible on certiorari. At the conclusion of the hearings the
accused, thru counsel, asked for and were granted time to submit memoranda. Respondents Calo and
Carbonnel, thru counsel, Atty. Rafael Consengco, submitted a 14-page memorandum with not less than
35 citations of relevant portions of the transcript of stenographic notes in support of their prayer for
exoneration, and conviction of petitioner Lorenzana in respect of their countercharges against the latter.
It is worthy of note that up to this late date, said respondents Calo and Carbonnel had not objected to
— or pointed out — any supposed irregularity in the proceedings thus far; the memorandum submitted
in their behalf is confined to a discussion of the evidence adduced in, and the merits of the cases." 7 It
was stated in the next petition:
"The promulgation of judgment was first scheduled on September 23, 1968. This was postponed to
September 28, 1968 at the instance of Atty. Rafael Consengco, as counsel respondents Calo and
Carbonnel, and again to October 1, 1968 at 11 o'clock in the morning, this time at the instance of Atty.
Consengco and Atty. Francisco Koh who had, in the meantime, also entered his appearance as counsel
for respondents Calo and Carbonnel. The applications for postponement were not grounded upon any
supposed defect or irregularity of the proceedings." 8
Mention was then made of when a petition for certiorari was filed with respondent Judge: "Early in the
morning of October 1, 1968, Edgardo Calo and Simeon Carbonnel, thru their counsel, Atty. Rafael S.
Consengco, filed with the Court of First Instance a petition for certiorari and prohibition, with
application for preliminary prohibitory and mandatory injunction ... [alleging jurisdictional
defects]." 9 Respondent Judge acting on such petition forthwith issued a restraining order thus causing
the deferment of the promulgation of the judgment. After proceedings duly had, there was an order
from him "declaring that 'the constitutional and statutory rights of the accused' had been violated,
adversely affecting their 'right to a free and impartial trial' [noting] 'that the trial of these cases lasting
several weeks held exclusively in chambers and not in the court room open the public';" and ordering
the city court Judge, now petitioner, "to desist from reading or causing to be read or promulgated the
decisions he may have rendered already in the criminal cases (in question) ... pending in his Court, until
further orders of this Court.'" 10
A motion for reconsideration proving unavailing, petition on January 28, 1969, elevated the matter to
this Tribunal by means of the present suit for certiorari and prohibition. In its resolution of February 3,
1969, respondents were required to answer, with a preliminary injunction likewise being issued. As was
to be expected the answer filed by respondent Judge on March 11, 1969 and that by the other
respondents on March 19, 1969 did attempt to justify the validity of the finding that there was a failure
to respect the right to a public trial of accused persons. Neither in such pleadings nor in the
memorandum filed, although the diligence displayed by counsel was quite evident, was there any
persuasive showing of a violation of constitutional guarantee of a public trial, the basic issue to be
resolved. Rather it was the mode of approach followed by counsel Andres R. Narvasa for petitioners
that did manifest a deeper understanding of its implications and ramifications. Accordingly, as
previously stated, it is for us to grant the merits prayed for.
1. The 1935 Constitution which was in force at the time of the antecedents of this petition, as set forth
at the outset, explicitly enumerated the right to a public trial to which an accused was entitled. So it is,
as likewise made clear, under present dispensation. As a matter of fact, that was one constitutional
provision that needed only a single, terse summation from the Chairman of the Committee on the Bill
of Rights, Delegate, later Justice, Jose P. Laurel, to gain acceptance. As was stressed by him: "Trial
should also be public in order to offset any danger of conducting it in an illegal and unjust
manner." 11 It would have been surprising if its proposed inclusion in the Bill of Rights had provoked
any discussion, much less a debate. It was merely a reiteration what appeared in the Philippine
Autonomy Act of 1916, popularly known as the Jones Law. 12 Earlier, such a right found expression in
the Philippine Bill of 1902, likewise an organic act of the then government of this country as an
unincorporated territory of the United States. 13 Historically as was pointed out by Justice Black,
speaking for the United States Supreme Court in the leading case of In re Oliver: 14 "This nation's
accepted practice of guaranteeing a public trial to an accused has its roots in [the] English common law
heritage. 15 He then observed that the exact date of its origin is obscure, "but it likely evolved long
before the settlement of the [United States] as an accompaniment of the ancient institution of jury
trial." 16 It was then noted by him that there, "the guarantee to an accused of the right to a public trial
appeared in a state constitution in 1776." 17Later it was embodied in the Sixth Amendment of the
Federal Constitution ratified in 1791. 18 He could conclude his historical survey "Today almost without
exception every state by constitution, statute, or judicial decision, requires that all criminal trials be
open to the public." 19 Such is the venerable, historical lineage of the right to a public trial.
2. The crucial question of the meaning to be attached this provision remains. The Constitution
guarantees an accused the right to a public trial. What does it signify? Offhand it does seem fairly
obvious that here is an instance where language is to be given a literal application. There is no
ambiguity in the words employed. The trial must be public. It possesses that character when anyone
interested in observing the manner a judge conducts the proceedings in his courtroom may do so. There
is to be no ban on such attendance. His being a stranger to the litigants is of no moment. No
relationship to the parties need be shown. The thought that lies behind this safeguard is the belief that
thereby the accused is afforded further protection, that his trial is likely to be conducted with regularity
and not tainted with any impropriety. It is not amiss to recall that Delegate Laurel in his terse
summation the importance of this right singled out its being a deterrence to arbitrariness. It is thus
understandable why such a right is deemed embraced in procedural due process. 20 Where a trial takes
place, as is quite usual, in the courtroom and a calendar of what cases are to be heard is posted, no
problem arises. It the usual course of events that individuals desirous of being present are free to do so.
There is the well recognized exception though that warrants the exclusion of the public where the
evidence may be characterized as "offensive to decency or public morals." 21
What did occasion difficulty in this suit was that for the convenience of the parties, and of the city court
Judge, it was in the latter's air-conditioned chambers that the trial was held. Did that suffice to
investigate the proceedings as violative of this right? The answer must be in the negative. There is no
showing that the public was thereby excluded. It is to be admitted that the size of the room allotted the
Judge would reduce the number of those who could be our present. Such a fact though is not indicative
of any transgression of this right. Courtrooms are not of uniform dimensions. Some are smaller than
others. Moreover, as admitted by Justice Black in his masterly In re Oliver opinion, it suffices to satisfy
the requirement of a trial being public if the accused could "have his friends, relatives and counsel
present, no matter with what offense he may be charged." 22
Then, too, reference may also be made to the undisputed fact at least fourteen hearings had been held in
chambers of the city court Judge, without objection on the part of respondent policemen. What was said
by former Chief Justice Moran should erase any doubt as to the weight to be accorded, more
appropriately the lack of weight, to any such objection raised. Thus: "In one case, the trial of the
accused was held in Bilibid prison. The accused, invoking his right to a public trial, assigned the
procedure thus taken as error. The Supreme Court held that as it affirmatively appears on the record
that the accused offered no objection to the trial of his case in the place where it was held, his right is
deemed waived." 23 The decision referred to, United States v. Mercado,24 was handed down sixty-
eight years ago in 1905.
It does seem that the challenged order of respondent is far from being invulnerable.
3. That is all that need be said as to the obvious merit of this petition. One other objection to the
conduct of the proceedings by the city court Judge may be briefly disposed of. Respondent Judge
would seek to lend support to an order at war with obvious meaning of a constitutional provision by
harping on the alleged abdication by an assistant fiscal of his control over the prosecution. Again here
there was a failure to abide by settled law. If any party could complain at all, it is the People of the
Philippines for whom the fiscal speaks and acts. The accused cannot in law be termed an offended
party for such an alleged failure to comply with official duty. Moreover, even assuming that respondent
policemen could be heard to raise such a grievance, respondent Judge ought to have been aware that
thereby no jurisdictional defect was incurred by the city court Judge. As was so emphatically declared
by Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Cariaga v. Justo-Guerrero: 25 "The case below was commenced and
prosecuted without the intervention, mediation or participation of the fiscal or any of his deputies. This,
notwithstanding, the jurisdiction of the court was not affected ... but the court should have cited the
public prosecutor to intervene ... ." 26
4. There is much to be said of course for the concern displayed by respondent Judge to assure the
reality as against the mere possibility of a trial being truly public. If it were otherwise, such a right
could be reduced to a barren form of words. To the extent then that the conclusion reached by him was
motivated by an apprehension that there was an evasion of a constitutional command, he certainly lived
up to what is expected of a man of the robe. Further reflection ought to have convinced him though that
such a fear was unjustified. An objective appraisal of conditions in municipal or city courts would have
gone far in dispelling such misgivings. The crowded daily calendar, the nature of the cases handled,
civil as well as criminal, the relaxed attitude on procedural rules not being strictly adhered to all make
for a less tense atmosphere. As a result the attendance of the general public is much more in evidence;
nor is its presence unwelcome. When it is remembered further that the occupants of such courts are not
chosen primarily for their legal acumen, but taken from that portion of the bar more considerably
attuned to the pulse of public life, it is not to be rationally expected that an accused would be denied
whatever solace and comfort may come from the knowledge that a judge, with the eyes of the alert
court alert to his demeanor and his rulings, would run the risk of being unjust, unfair, or arbitrary. Nor
does it change matters, just because, as did happen here, it was in the air-conditioned chambers of a city
court judge rather than in the usual place that the trial took place.
WHEREFORE, the writ of certiorari prayed for is granted nullifying, setting aside, and declaring
bereft of any legal force or effect the order of respondent Judge Felix Domingo November 29, 1968 for
being issued with grave abuse of discretion. The writ of prohibition sought by petitioner is likewise
granted, commanding respondent Judge or any one acting in his place to desist from any further action
in Criminal Case No. 74830 of the Court of First Instance of Manila other than that of dismissing the
same. The preliminary writ of injunction issued by this Court in its resolution of February 3, 1969
against the actuation of respondent Judge is made permanent. With costs against respondent policemen
Edgardo Calo and Simeon Carbonnel.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
CLAUDIO TEEHANKEE, JR., accused-appellant.

PUNO, J.:
Three (3) separate Informations were filed against accused Claudio Teehankee, Jr. for the shooting of
Roland John Chapman, Jussi Olavi Leino and Maureen Hultman. Initially, he was charged with:
MURDER for the killing of ROLAND CHAPMAN, and two (2) FRUSTRATED MURDER for the
shooting and wounding of JUSSI LEINO and MAUREEN HULTMAN. When Hultman died on
October 17, 1991, during the course of the trial, the Information for Frustrated Murder against accused
was amended to MURDER. 1
The Information for murder in Criminal Case No. 91-4605 thus reads:
That on or about the 13th day of July, 1991, in the Municipality of Makati, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said Claudio
Teehankee, Jr. y Javier, armed with a handgun, with intent to kill and evident
premeditation and by means of treachery, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and shoot with and shoot with the said handgun Roland John
Chapman who war hit in the chest, thereby inflicting mortal wounds which directly
caused the death of said Roland John Chapman.
Contrary to law. 2
The Amended Information for Murder in Criminal Case No. 91-4606 reads:
That on or about the 13th day of July, 1991, in the Municipality of Makati, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said Claudio
Teehankee, Jr. y Javier, armed with a handgun, with intent to kill and evident
premeditation, and by means of treachery, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and shoot with the said handgunMaureen Navarro
Hultman who was hit in the head, thereby inflicting moral wounds which directly caused
the death of the said Maureen Hultman.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 3
Finally, the Information for Frustrated Murder in Criminal Case No. 91-4607 reads:
That on or about the 13th day of July, 1991, in the Municipality of Makati, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, while armed with a handgun, with intent to kill, treachery and evident
premeditation did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and
shoot one Jussi Olavi Leino on the head, thereby inflicting gunshot wounds, which
ordinarily would have caused the death of said Jussi Olavi Leino, thereby performing all
the acts of execution which would have produced the crime of murder as a consequence,
but nevertheless did not produce it by reason of cause or causes independent of his will,
that is, due to the timely and able medical assistance rendered to said Jussi Olavi Leino
which prevented his death.
Contrary to law. 4
In the two (2) Informations for frustrated murder initially filed against accused, bail was set at twenty
thousand pesos (P20,000.00) each. No bail was recommended for the murder of Roland John Chapman.
A petition for bail was thus filed by accused. Hearing was set on August 9, 1991, while his arraignment
was scheduled on August 14, 1991.
At the hearing of the petition for bail on August 9, 1991, the prosecution manifested that it would
present the surviving victim, Jussi Leino, to testify on the killing of Chapman and on the circumstances
resulting to the wounding of the witness himself and Hultman. Defense counsel Atty. Rodolfo Jimenez
objected on the ground that the incident pending that day was hearing of the evidence on the petition
for bail relative to the murder charge for the killing of Chapman only. He opined that Leino's testimony
on the frustrated murder charges with respect to the wounding of Leino and Hultman would be
irrelevant. 5
Private prosecutor, Atty. Rogelio Vinluan, countered that time would be wasted if the testimony of
Leino would be limited to the killing of Chapman considering that the crimes for which accused were
charged involved only one continuing incident. He pleaded that Leino should be allowed to testify on
all three (3) charges to obviate delay and the inconvenience of recalling him later to prove the two (2)
frustrated murder charges. 6
By way of accommodation, the defense suggested that if the prosecution wanted to present Leino to
testify on all three (3) charges, it should wait until after the arraignment of accused on August 14, 1991.
The defense pointed out that if accused did not file a petition for bail, the prosecution would still have
to wait until after accused had been arraigned before it could present Leino. 7
The private prosecutor agreed to defer the hearing on the petition for bail until after arraignment of
accused on the condition that there shall be trial on the merits and, at the same time, hearing on the
petition for bail. The defense counsel acceded. 8
Upon arraignment, accused pleaded not guilty to the three (3) charges. The prosecution then started to
adduce evidence relative to all three (3) cases. No objection was made by the defense. 9
A replay of the facts will show that on July 12, 1991, Jussi Olavi Leino invited Roland Chapman,
Maureen Hultman and other friends for a party at his house in Forbes Park, Makati. The party started at
about 8:30 p.m. and ended at past midnight. They then proceeded to Roxy's, a pub where students of
International School hang out. 10 After an hour, they transferred to Vintage, another pub in Makati,
where they stayed until past 3:00 a.m. of July 13, 1991. Their group returned to Roxy's to pick up a
friend of Maureen, then went back to Leino's house to eat. 11
After a while, Maureen requested Leino to take her home at Campanilla Street, Dasmariñas Village,
Makati. Chapman tagged along. 12 When they entered the village, Maureen asked Leino to stop along
Mahogany Street, about a block away from her house in Campanilla Street. She wanted to walk the rest
of the way for she did not like to create too much noise in going back to her house. She did not want
her parents to know that she was going home that late. Leino offered to walk with her while Chapman
stayed in the car and listened to the radio.13
Leino and Maureen started walking on the sidewalk along Mahogany Street. When they reached the
corner of Caballero and Mahogany Streets, a light-colored Mitsubishi box-type Lancer car, driven by
accused Claudio Teehankee, Jr., came up from behind them and stopped on the middle of the road.
Accused alighted from his car, approached them, and asked: "Who are you? (Show me your) I.D."
Leino thought accused only wanted to check their identities. He reached into his pocket, took out his
plastic wallet, and handed to accused his Asian Development Bank (ADB) I.D. 14 Accused did not
bother to look at his I.D. as he just grabbed Leino's wallet and pocketed it. 15
Chapman saw the incident. All of a sudden, he manifested from behind Leino and inquired what was
going on. He stepped down on the sidewalk and asked accused: "Why are you bothering us?" Accused
pushed Chapman, dug into his shirt, pulled out a gun and fired at him. Chapman felt his upper body,
staggered for a moment, and asked: "Why did you shoot me?" Chapman crumpled on the sidewalk.
Leino knelt beside Chapman to assist him but accused ordered him to get up and leave Chapman
alone. 16
Accused then turned his ire on Leino. He pointed gun at him and asked: "Do you want a trouble?"
Leino said "no" and took a step backward. The shooting initially shocked Maureen. When she came to
her senses, she became hysterical and started screaming for help. She repeatedly shouted: "Oh, my
God, he's got a gun. He's gonna kill us. Will somebody help us?"
All the while, accused was pointing his gun to and from Leino to Maureen, warning the latter to shut
up. Accused ordered Leino to sit down on the sidewalk. Leino obeyed and made no attempt to move
away. Accused stood 2-3 meters away from him. He knew he could not run far without being shot by
accused.
Maureen continued to be hysterical. She could not stay still. She strayed to the side of accused's car.
Accused tried but failed to grab her. Maureen circled around accused's car, trying to put some distance
between them. The short chase lasted for a minute or two. Eventually, accused caught Maureen and
repeatedly enjoined her to shut up and sit down beside Leino. 17
Maureen finally sat beside Leino on the sidewalk. Two (2) meters away and directly in front of them
stood accused. 18 For a moment, accused turned his back from the two. He faced them again and shot
Leino. Leino was hit on the upper jaw, fell backwards on the sidewalk, but did not lose consciousness.
Leino heard another shot and saw Maureen fall beside him. He lifted his head to see what was
happening and saw accused return to his car and drive away. 19
Leino struggled to his knees and shouted for help. He noticed at least three (3) people looking on and
standing outside their houses along Caballero Street. 20 The three were: DOMINGO FLORECE, a
private security guard hired by Stephen Roxas to secure his residence at #1357 Caballero Street,
Dasmariñas Village, Makati; 21VICENTE MANGUBAT, a stay-in driver of Margarita Canto, residing
at #1352 Caballero Street, corner Mahogany Street, Dasmariñas Village; 22 and AGRIPINO
CADENAS, a private security guard assigned at the house of Rey Dempsey, located at #1351 Caballero
Street, corner Mahogany Street, Dasmariñas Village. 23
Security guards Florece and Cadenas were then on duty at the house of their employer, while driver
Mangubat was in his quarters, preparing to return to his own house. These three (3) eyewitnesses heard
the first gunshot while at their respective posts.
Upon hearing the first shot, Florece went out to Caballero Street to see what was happening, while
Mangubat and Cadenas peeped over the fence of their employer's house and looked out to Caballero
Street. Each saw a man (Chapman) sprawled on the ground, another man (Leino) sitting on the
sidewalk, a third man standing up ad holding a gun and a woman (Hultman). They saw the gunman
shoot Leino and Hultman and flee aboard his Lancer car. However, because of Florece's distance from
the scene of the crime, 24 he was not able to discern the face of the gunman. He saw the control
numbers of the gunman's car as 566. He described the gateway car as a box-type Lancer, its color
somewhat white ("medyo maputi"). 25 Cadenas noticed in full the plate number of the getaway car and
gave it as PDW 566. He described the car as silver metallic gray. 26 Both Cadenas and Mangubat saw
the gunman's face. They had a good look at him. Cadenas was then a mere four (4) meters away from
the gunman's car, 27 while Mangubat was about twenty (20) meters away from the scene of the
crime. 28The three confirmed that the corner of Caballero and Mahogany Streets where the shooting
took place was adequately illuminated by a Meralco lamppost at the time of the incident. 29
After the gunman sped away, Mangubat ran outside his employer's house and went near the scene of
the crime. He noticed security guard Florece along Caballero Street. A man on a bike passed by and
Mangubat requested him to report the shooting incident to the security officers of Dasmariñas
Village. 30 Meanwhile, Florece returned to his post and narrated to his employer, Mrs. Helen Roxas,
what he saw. Mrs. Roxas repaired to the crime scene while Florece noted the incident in his logbook
(Exhibit "B"). He also jotted down the license plate control number of the gunman's car as 566. 31
The security guards of Dasmariñas Village came after a few minutes. They rushed Leino and Maureen
to the Makati Medical Center for treatment. 32
The Makati police and agents of the NBI also came. Patrolman JAMES BALDADO of the Makati
police, together with SPO3 ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, investigated the incident. 33 Their initial
investigation disclosed that the gunman's car was a box-type Mitsubishi Lancer with plate control
number 566. They checked the list of vehicles registered with the village Homeowners' Association and
were able to track down two (2) Lancer cars bearing plate control number 566. One was registered in
the name of JOSE MONTAÑO of 1823 Santan Street, Dasmariñas Village, with plate number PKX
566, and another was traced to accused CLAUDIO TEEHANKEE, JR., of 1339 Caballero Street,
Dasmariñas Village, with plate number PDW 566.
SALVADOR RANIN, Chief of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the NBI, was also tasked by
then NBI Director Alfredo Lim 34 to head a team to investigate the shooting. Ranin's team immediately
proceeded to the house of Jose Montaño 35 where they found ahead of them the Makati police and
operatives of the Constabulary Highway Patrol. Ranin tried to verify from Mrs. Montaño whether the
white Lancer car registered in the name of Mr. Montaño and bearing plate number 566 was the
gunman's car. Mrs. Montaño denied and declared they had already sold the car to Saldaña Enterprises.
She averred the car was being used by one Ben Conti, a comptroller in said company, who resides in
Cubao, Quezon City. Mrs. Montaño called up her husband and informed him about the investigation.
She also called up Conti and asked him to bring the car to the house. 36
Jose Montaño came around noon. Conti followed with white Lancer car. Ranin brought them to the
NBI office for investigation, together with Lancer car. At the NBI Ranin inquired from Montaño the
whereabouts of his car on July 12 and 13, 1991. Montaño informed him that the car was at the
residence of his employee, Ben Conti, at E. Rodriguez Street, Cubao, Quezon City, the night of July 12,
1991. In the morning of July 13, 1991, Conti drove the car to their office at Saldaña Enterprises. Conti
confirmed this information. Ranin received the same confirmation from two (2) NBI agents who made
a countercheck of the allegation. Upon Ranin's request, Montaño left his car at the NBI parking lot
pending identification by possible witnesses. 37
On July 14, 1991, a team of NBI agents conducted an on-the-spot investigation and neighborhood
inquiry of the shooting incident. They interviewed Domingo Florece and asked him to report to their
office the next day for further investigation. 38 They also interviewed Agripino Cadenas who was
reluctant to divulge any information and even denied having witnessed the incident. Sensing his
reluctance, they returned to Cadenas' post at Dasmariñas Village that night and served him a subpoena,
inviting him to appear at the NBI office for investigation the next day. 39 The NBI agents also talked
with Armenia Asliami, an Egyptian national residing at #1350 Caballero Street, Dasmariñas Village,
near the scene of the crime. Asliami informed the agents that the gunman's car was not white but light
gray. A foreign national, Asliami was afraid and refused to give a statement about the incident. The
agents exerted every effort to convince Asliami to cooperate, assuring her of their protection. Ranin
even asked a representative of the Egyptian embassy to coax Asliami to cooperate. They failed. 40
On July 15, 1991, Florece and Cadenas appeared at the NBI office as summoned. Florece readily
executed a sworn statement. 41 Cadenas, however, continued to feign ignorance and bridled his
knowledge of the incident. He was lengthily interviewed. At around 2:00 p.m., the NBI agents
informed SOG Chief Ranin that Cadenas was still withholding information from them. Ranin talked to
Cadenas in his office. Cadenas confided to Ranin his fear to get involved in the case. He was
apprehensive that the gunman would harass or harm him or his family. After Ranin assured him of NBI
protection, Cadenas relented. 42
The next day, July 16, 1991, Cadenas gave a full disclosure to Ranin. He described the gunman's car as
a box-type Lancer with plate number PDW 566. He was brought to the NBI parking lot where
Montaño's white Lancer car was parked to identify the gunman's car. Ranin asked Cadenas if
Montaño's was the gunman's car. Cadenas replied that its color was different. Ranin directed him to
look around the cars in the parking lot and to point the color that most resembled the color of the
gunman's car. He pointed to a light gray car. Ranin told him that the color of the car he pointed to was
not white but light gray. 43
Ranin then asked Cadenas if he could identify the gunman. Cadenas replied in the affirmative. Ranin
led Cadenas to his office and showed him ten (10) pictures of different men (Exhibits "CC-1" to "CC-
10) taken from the NBI files. One of the pictures belonged to accused Claudio Teehankee, Jr. Cadenas
studied the pictures, picked accused's picture (Exhibit "CC-7"), and identified him as the gunman.
Cadenas wrote his name and the date at the back of said picture. Atty. Alex Tenerife of the NBI then
took down Cadenas' statement. 44
Ranin sent his agents and the witnesses to the Makati Regional Trial Court to apply for a search
warrant. After a searching examination of the witnesses, Judge Rebecca Salvador issued a search
warrant (Exhibit "RR"), authorizing the NBI to search and seize the silver metallic gray, 1983
Mitsubishi Lancer car owned by accused, bearing plate number PDW 566. Ranin and his agents drove
to accused's house at #1339 Caballero Street, Dasmariñas Village, to implement the warrant. 45
At accused's house, Ranin informed Mrs. Pilar Teehankee, mother of accused, of their search warrant.
Ranin also told Mrs. Teehankee that they had orders from Director Lim to invite accused to the NBI
office for investigation. Mrs. Teehankee informed them that accused was not in the house at that time.
She excused herself, went to the kitchen and called up someone on the phone. 46
In the meantime, Ranin and his men slipped to the Teehankee garage and secured accused's car. After a
while, Mrs. Teehankee joined them. Ranin asked her for the car keys but she told him that the keys
were with accused. Upon Ranin's request, Mrs. Teehankee got in touch with accused on the phone.
Ranin conversed with accused and invited him to the NBI for investigation. Accused assured Ranin that
he would report to the NBI later that day. The agents then towed the car of accused to the NBI
office. 47
At around 9:00 p.m., accused's brother, Raul Teehankee, arrived at the NBI office and waited for
accused. Accused came, escorted by three (3) Makati policemen, after an hour. He informed them that
he just came from the Makati police station where he was also investigated. He told Lim that he was
given a statement to the Makati police and was brought to the PC Crime Laboratory for paraffin test. 48
Accused's NBI investigation started. Lim asked accused of the whereabouts of his Lancer car at the
time of the shooting. Accused claimed that his car was involved in an accident a few weeks back and
was no longer functioning. The car had been parked in his mother's house at Dasmariñas Village since
then. Due to the lateness of the evening, the group decided to continue the investigation the following
day. 49
The next day, July 17, 1991, after breakfast at the Manila Hotel, Lim pressed accused on what really
happened at Dasmariñas Village. Accused said he did not see anything. Lim apprised accused that he
would be confronted with some eyewitnesses. Accused sank into silence. 50
Lim directed Ranin to prepare a lineup at his office. Accused was requested to join the lineup
composed of seven (7) men and he acceded. Cadenas was called from an adjoining room 51 and Ranin
asked him to identify the gunman from the lineup. Forthwith, Cadenas pointed to accused. 52 Accused
merely stared at Cadenas. 53
On the same day, then Asst. Director Epimaco Velasco, Ranin and two (2) other agents brought accused
to Forbes Park for further identification by the surviving victim, Jussi Leino. Leino has just been
discharged from the hospital the day before. Since Leino's parents were worried about his safety, they
requested the NBI to conduct the identification of the gunman in Forbes Park where the Leinos also
reside. The NBI agreed. 54
House security agents from the U.S. embassy fetched Leino at his house and escorted him and his
father to a vacant house in Forbes Park, along Narra Avenue. After a couple of minutes, Leino was
brought out of the house and placed in a car with slightly tinted windows. The car was parked about
five (5) meters away from the house. Inside the car with Leino was his father, NBI-SOG Chief
Salvador Ranin and a driver. Leino was instructed to look at the men who would be coming out of the
house and identify the gunman from the lineup. 55
A group of five to six men (including accused) then came out of the unoccupied house, into the street,
in a line-up. Leino noticed that one of them was wearing sunglasses. Since Leino could not yet speak at
that time due to the extensive injury on his tongue, he wrote down on a piece of paper a request for one
of the men in the lineup to remove his sunglasses. Leino handed this written request to his father. The
men in the lineup were herded back inside the house. After a couple of minutes, they again stepped out
and none was wearing sunglasses. From the lineup, Leino identified accused as the gunman. 56
The agents brought back accused to the NBI. They prepared and referred the cases of murder and
double frustrated murder against accused to the Department of Justice for appropriate action. At the
inquest, Fiscal Dennis Villa-Ignacio did not recommend bail insofar as the murder charge was
concerned. Hence, accused was detained at the NBI. 57
The shooting incident was also investigated by the Makati Police. Pat. Baldado went to see security
guard Vicente Mangubat at his post, at the residence of his employer in Dasmariñas Village. Baldado
interviewed Mangubat and invited him to the Makati police station where his statement (Exhibit "D")
was taken. 58
The next day, July 16, 1991, at about 8:30 a.m., Pat. Baldado fetched Mangubat from his house and
brought him to the Makati police station. At the station, Baldado told him to wait for a man who would
be coming and see if the person was the gunman. Mangubat was posted at the top of the stairs at the
second floor of the station. 59
After a couple of hours, accused, came with Makati police Major Lovete. He ascended the stairs,
passed by Mangubat and proceeded to Major Lovete's office at the second floor. While accused was
going up the stairs, Pat. Baldado inquired from Mangubat if accused was the gunman. Mangubat
initially declined to identify accused, saying that he wanted to see the man again to be sure. He also
confided to Pat. Baldado that he was nervous and afraid for accused was accompanied by a police
Major. When accused came out from Major Lovete's office, Pat. Baldado again asked Mangubat if
accused was the gunman. Mangubat nodded his head in response. 60 Accused, together with Major
Lovete and Pat. Baldado, boarded a Mercedes Benz and left. Mangubat was brought back to his post at
Dasmariñas Village by other Makati
policemen. 61
Two (2) days later, Pat. Baldado visited Mangubat at his employer's house and asked him again if
accused was really the gunman. Once more, Mangubat answered in the affirmative. Pat. Baldado told
Mangubat that he would no longer ask him to sign a statement which he (Baldado) earlier prepared
(Exhibit "HHH"). 62 Baldado then left.63
In the afternoon of July 23, 1991, Mangubat was also questioned by the NBI agents. Director Lim
asked Mangubat if he could recognize the gunman. Mangubat said he could. Mangubat was shown
twelve (12) pictures (Exhibits "E" to "E-11) of different men and was asked to identify the gun gunman
from them. He chose one picture (Exhibit "E-10"), that of accused, and identified him as the gunman.
Mangubat's statement was taken. He was asked to return to the NBI the next day to make a personal
identification. 64
When Mangubat returned, a lineup was prepared in Lim's office in the presence of the media. At that
time, accused's counsels, Attys. Jimenez and Malvar, were at the office of then Asst. Director Epimaco
Velasco protesting to the submission of accused to identification. They pointed out that since the cases
against accused had already been filed in court and they have secured a court order for the transfer of
accused to the Makati municipal jail, any identification of accused should be made in the courtroom.
Asst. Director Velasco insisted on the identification as it was part of their on-going investigation.
Eventually, accused's counsels acquiesced but requested that identification be made without the
presence of the media. Velasco turned them down and explained that if accused is not identified n the
lineup, the media coverage would favor accused. 65
All that time, accused was at the SOG office. He refused to join the lineup at Lim's office and remained
seated. Ranin was compelled to bring to the SOG office the men composing the lineup and he asked
them to go near accused. Ranin then told Mangubat to go in the office. Mangubat pointed to accused as
the gunman.
With the identification of accused by Mangubat, the NBI wrote finis to its investigation. 66
JUSSI LEINO, the surviving victim, suffered the following injuries:
FINDINGS:
= Abrasion, 0.5 cm., temporal area, left.
= Wound, gunshot, entrance, circular in shape, 1.0 cm. in diameter,
located at the upper lip, mouth, along the medial line, directed backwards
and downwards, fracturing the maxillary bone and central and lateral
incisors, both sides, to the buccal cavity then lacerating the tongue with
fragments of the bullet lodged in the right palatine, tongue and tonsillar
region.
SKULL
CHEST FOR RIBS X-RAY #353322
July 13, 1991
No demonstrable evidence of fracture. Note of radioopaque foreign body
(bullet fragments) along the superior alveolar border on the right. No
remarkable findings.
CT SCAN #43992 July 13, 1991
Small hyperdensities presumably bullet and bone fragments in the right
palatine, tongue and tonsillar regions with associated soft tissue swelling.
Anterior maxillary bone comminuted fracture.
Temporal lobe contusions with small hematomata on the right side.
Minimal subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Intact bone calvarium.
xxx xxx xxx 67
Dr. Pedro Solis, testified that the bullet entered the left temple of Leino. After entering Leino's head, it
fractured his upper jaw and his front teeth. Some of the bullet fragments pierced his palette and tongue.
Brain scanning revealed contusions on the temporal lobe and hemorrhage on the covering of the brain.
Physical deformity resulted as a consequence of the gunshot wound because of the fractured upper jaw
and the loss of the front teeth. Sutures were performed on the upper portion of his tongue. Nonetheless,
Leino's injuries on the tongue caused him difficulty in speaking. 68
Dr. Solis also testified as to the relative position of Leino and the gunman. He opined that the muzzle of
the gun, like in the case of Maureen, must have been at a higher level than the victim's head. He
concluded that the gun must have been pointed above Leino's head considering the acuteness and
downward trajectory of the bullet. 69
Dr. Leovigildo C. Isabela, a neuro-surgeon at the Makati Medical Center, operated on MAUREEN
HULTMAN. He testified that when he first saw Maureen, she was unconscious and her face was
bloodied all over. Maureen had a bullet hole on the left side of the forehead, above the eyebrow. Brain
tissues were oozing out of her nostrils and on the left side of the forehead where the bullet entered. 70
They brought Maureen to the x-ray room for examination of her skull. She was also given a CT scan.
The examination revealed that she suffered injuries on the skull and brain. There were several
splintered bullets in her brain and the major portion of the bullet, after it fragmented, was lodged
beneath her right jaw. 71
Maureen was rushed to the operating room for surgery. Dr. Isabela led a team who operated on her
brain to arrest the bleeding inside her head, remove devitalized brain tissues and retrieve the splintered
bullets embedded in her brain. Due to the extensive swelling of Maureen's brain and her very unstable
condition, he failed to patch the destroyed undersurface covering of her brain. 72 After the surgery,
Maureen's vital signs continued to function but she remained unconscious. She was wheeled to the ICU
for further observation.
Two (2) weeks later, brain tissues and fluid continue to flow out of Maureen's nostrils due to the
unpatched undersurface covering of her brain, leaving the swollen portion of her brain exposed. A
second surgery was made on July 30, 1991 to repair Maureen's brain covering. He used the fascia
lata of Maureen's right thigh to replace the destroyed covering of the brain. Nonetheless, Maureen
remained unconscious. The trickle of brain tissues through her nose was lessened but Maureen
developed infection as a result of the destruction of her brain covering. Maureen developed brain
abscess because of the infection. She underwent a third operation to remove brain abscess and all
possible focus of infection. 73
Testifying on the extensive injuries suffered by Maureen Hultman, Dr. Solis explained that Maureen
was shot at the left side of the forehead. The bullet entry was at 1.5 cm. above the eyebrow. Upon
entering the forehead, the bullet fragmented into pieces and went from the left to the right side of the
temple, fracturing the frontal bone of the skull. The bullet eventually settled behind the right jaw of
Maureen. 74
The wound inflicted on Maureen was mortal for it hit one of the most vital parts of the body, the brain.
When Maureen was subjected to CT scan, they discovered hemorrhage in her brain. After the bullet hit
her head, it caused hemorrhagic lesion on the ventricles of the brain and the second covering of the
brain. 75
The bullet also injured Maureen's eye sockets. There was swelling underneath the forehead brought
about by edema in the area. Scanning also showed that Maureen's right jaw was affected by the
fragmented bullet. The whole interior portion of her nose was also swollen. 76
A team of doctors operated on Maureen's brain. They tried to control the internal bleeding and remove
the splintered bullets, small bone fragments and dead tissues. The main bullet was recovered behind
Maureen's right jaw. There was also an acute downward trajectory of the bullet. Hence, it was opined
that Maureen was shot while she was seated. 77
With each passing day, Maureen's condition deteriorated. Even if Maureen survived, she would have
led a vegetating life and she would have needed assistance in the execution of normal and ordinary
routines. 78 She would have been completely blind on the left eye and there was possibility she would
have also lost her vision on the right eye. All her senses would have been modified and the same would
have affected her motor functions. There was practically no possibility for Maureen to return to
normal. 79
Maureen did not survive her ordeal. After ninety-seven (97) days of confinement in the hospital, she
ceased to be a breathing soul on October 17, 1991.
For his exculpation, accused relied on the defense of denial and alibi. Accused claimed that on said date
and time, he was not anywhere near the scene of the crime. He alleged that he was then in his house at
#53 San Juan, Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig. He slept at around 1:00 a.m. on July 13, 1991 and woke up at
around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. that same morning. Accused avowed his two (2) maids could attest to his
presence in his house that fateful day. 80
Accused averred that he only came to know the three (3) victims in the Dasmariñas shooting when he
read the newspaper reports about it. He denied knowing prosecution eyewitnesses Agripino Cadenas
and Vicente Mangubat before they identified him as the gunman. 81
Accused admitted ownership of a box-type, silver metallic gray Mitsubishi Lancer, with plate number
PDW 566. He, however, claimed that said car ceased to be in good running condition after its
involvement in an accident in February 1991. Since May 1991 until the day of the shooting, his Lancer
car had been parked in the garage of his mother's house in Dasmariñas Village. He has not used this car
since then. Accused, however, conceded that although the car was not in good running condition, it
could still be used. 82
Accused said that on July 16, 1991, he went to the Makati police station at around 5:00 p.m. upon
invitation of Chief of Police Remy Macaspac and Major Lovete who wanted to ask him about the
ownership of the Lancer car parked in his mother's house. He readily gave a statement to the Makati
police denying complicity in the crime. He submitted himself to a paraffin test. He was accompanied
by the Makati police to the Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame and was tested negative for gunpowder
nitrates. 83 After the test, he asked the Makati policemen to accompany him to the NBI for he had
earlier committed to his mother that he would present himself to Director Lim. 84
He arrived at Director Lim's office at about 9:30 to 10:00 p.m. He furnished Lim with the statement he
earlier gave to the Makati police. Thereafter, Lim detained him at the NBI against his will. 85
The following day, July 17, 1991, Lim and his agents brought him to the Manila Hotel for breakfast.
When they returned to the NBI, he was asked to proceed to Lim's office. On his way, he saw a lineup
formed inside Lim's office. The NBI agents forced him to join the lineup and placed him in the number
seven (7) slot. He observed that the man who was to identify him was already in the room. As soon as
he walked up to the lineup, Cadenas identified him as the gunman. 86
A second identification was made on the same day at a house in Forbes Park. The NBI agents brought
him to Forbes Park but he never saw Jussi Leino who allegedly identified him as the gunman in a
lineup. 87
A third identification was conducted on July 24, 1991. He was then seated at the office of Ranin for he
refused to join another lineup. Despite his protest, the NBI agents insisted on the conduct of the
identification and ordered a group of men to line up alongside him. While thus seated, he was identified
by Mangubat as the gunman. He complained that he was not assisted by counsel at any stage of said
investigation. 88
The defense also presented CLAUDIO TEEHANKEE III, son of accused Claudio Teehankee, Jr. He
testified that from May 1989 to February 1991, he had been using his father's Lancer car bearing plate
number PDW 566 in going to school. 89
In February 1991, while driving his father's Lancer car, he accidentally hit a bicycle driver and two (2)
trucks parked at the side of the road. The accident resulted in the death of the bicycle driver and
damage to his father's car, 90 especially on its body. The timing of the engine became a little off and the
car was hard to start. They had the car repaired at Reliable Shop located in Banawe Street, Quezon city.
After a month, he brought the car to the residence of his grandmother, Pilar Teehankee, at Dasmariñas
Village, Makati. He personally started the car's engine and drove it to Makati from the shop in Quezon
City. He did not bring the car to their house in Pasig for it was still scheduled for further repairs and
they preferred to have the repair done in a shop in Makati. Teehankee III claimed that from that time
on, he was prohibited by his father from using the car because of his careless driving. He kept the keys
to the car and since he was busy in school, no further repair on said car had been made. 91
Accused also imputed the commission of the crimes at bar to Anders Hultman, adoptive father of
deceased victim Maureen Hultman. He capitalized on a newspaper report that the gunman may have
been an overprotective father. This theory was formed when an eyewitness allegedly overheard
Maureen pleading to the gunman: "Huwag Daddy. Huwag, Daddy." The defense presented Anders
Hultman as a hostile witness.
ANDERS HULTMAN, testified that he is a Swedish national. He and Vivian Hultman were married in
the Philippines in 1981. Vivian had two (2) children by her previous marriage, one of whom was
Maureen. He legally adopted Vivian's two (2) daughters in 1991. He and Vivian had three (3) children
of their own. 92
The defense confronted Anders with one of the angles of the crime in the initial stage of the
investigation, i.e., that Maureen was overhead pleading to the gunman: "Huwag, Daddy. Huwag,
Daddy." Anders explained that Maureen could not have uttered those words for Maureen never spoke
Tagalog. He also said that all his children call him "Papa," not "Daddy." 93
On July 12, 1991, he and Vivian permitted Maureen to have a night out but instructed her to be home
by 2:00 a.m. Maureen just received her first salary in her first job and she wanted to celebrate with
friends. At the time of the shooting, he and his wife were sleeping in their house. He woke up at around
5:15 a.m. of July 13, 1991 when a security guard came to their house and informed them about the
killings. 94
Anders admitted he had been vocal about the VIP treatment accorded to accused at the Makati
municipal jail. On several occasions, he checked on accused in jail and discovered that accused was not
in his cell. The jail guards even covered up accused's whereabouts. His complaint was investigated by
the Congressional Committee on Crime Prevention, headed by Congressman Concepcion. 95
The defense also presented two (2) Makati policemen, PAT. JAMES F. BALDADO and SPO3
ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, who investigated the shooting.
Pat. Baldado testified that in the course of his investigation, he learned from Mr. Jose Montaño that he
sold his white Lancer car, with plate number PKX 566, to Saldaña Lending Investors in February 1991.
This car was assigned to Ben Conti, Operations Manager of said company and was in the residence of
Conti at the time of the shooting. The other witnesses he interviewed confirmed that Montaño's white
Lancer car was not in the vicinity of Montaño's residence at the time of the incident. 96
SPO3 Fernandez testified that he interviewed security guard Vicente Mangubat. Mangubat saw the
gunman and the get-away car but could not give the central letters of the car's license plate. Fernandez
went to one of the houses at the corner of Mahogany and Caballero Streets and asked the maid therein
if he could use the phone. After placing a call, the maid told him that he saw the gunman and heard one
of the victims say: "Daddy, don't shoot. Don't, don't." Fernandez tried to get the maid's name but the
latter refused. The defense did not present this maid in court nor asked the court to subpoena her to
testify. Neither was the alleged statement of the maid included in the Progress Report (Exhibit "13")
prepared by the Makati police investigators. 97
SPO3 Fernandez saw Mangubat the next time on July 16, 1991 when he and Baldado fetched the latter
at Dasmariñas Village for identification of the gunman at the Makati police station.
At the police station, Fernandez and Baldado posted Mangubat at the lobby. After a few minutes,
accused and company arrived. When accused passed by them, they instructed Mangubat to look around
and see if he could identify the gunman. Mangubat failed to identify accused. Mangubat told Fernandez
that the gunman was younger and shorter than accused. 98
SPO3 Fernandez also took the statement of security guard Domingo Florece (Exhibit "MM"). It was
signed by Florece in his presence. In said statement, Florece described the gunman's car as "medyo
puti" (somewhat white). 99
ELIZABETH AYONON, forensic chemist of the PNP Crime Laboratory, testified on the paraffin test
she conducted on July 17, 1991 on both hands of accused. 100 As per Chemistry Report No. C 274-
91, 101 the test yielded a negative result of gunpowder nitrates on accused's hands. In said Report, she
noted that accused was subjected to paraffin test more than seventy-two (72) hours after the shooting
incident. She explained that 72 hours is the reasonable period within which nitrate residues may not be
removed by ordinary washing and would remain on the hands of a person who has fired a gun. 102
ATTY. MANUEL Q. MALVAR, one of accused's counsel of record, also took the stand for the defense.
He testified that in the course of handling the cases, he was able to confer with Ponferrada, Cadenas'
supervisor at the Security agency where Cadenas was employed. Ponferrada informed him that
Cadenas confided to him that he was tortured at the NBI and was compelled to execute a statement.
Ponferrada, allegedly, refused to testify. Atty. Malvar, however, admitted the defense did not compel the
attendance of Ponferrada by subpoena. On rebuttal, Cadenas denied the torture story.
Atty. Malvar also admitted that he and Atty. Jimenez were aware of the irregularities committed in the
off-court identification of their client. When asked what he did to remedy this perceived irregularity,
Malvar said he objected to the conduct of the lineup. When further pressed whether he filed a petition
for review raising this issue with the Department of Justice upon the filing of the cases therewith, he
said he did not. He offered the excuse that he deferred to Atty. Jimenez, the principal counsel of
accused at that time. He also declared that although they knew that arraignment would mean waiver of
the alleged irregularities in the conduct of the investigation and preliminary investigation, he and Atty.
Jimenez allowed accused to be arraigned. 103
The defense likewise relied on a number of news accounts reporting the progress in the investigation of
the case. It presented seven (7) newspaper reporters as witnesses, viz: Nestor Barrameda of the Manila
Times, Martin Marfil and Dave Veridiano of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Nida Mendoza of Malaya,
Itchie Kabayan and Alex Allan of the People's Journal and Elena Aben of the Manila Bulletin. The bulk
of defense evidence consists of newspaper clippings and the testimonies of the news reporters, thus:
NESTOR BARRAMEDA, a news reporter of the Manila Times identified two (2) news reports as
having been partly written by him. One was a news item, entitled: "JUSTICE DEP'T ORDERS PROBE
OF THREE METRO KILLINGS" (Exhibit "1"), appearing on the July 16, 1991 issue of the Manila
Times. 104 He, however, clarified that a news report is usually the product of collaborative work
among several reporters. They follow the practice of pooling news reports where several reporters are
tasked to cover one subject matter. The news editor then compiles the different reports they file and
summarizes them into one story. 105
The defense lifted only certain portions of Exhibit "1" and marked them in evidence as follows:
Exhibit "1-A":
Bello directed NBI Deputy Director Epimaco Velasco to take over the investigation of
the murders of Roland Chapman, 21, Eldon Maguan, 25, and three members of a family
— Estrellita Vizconde and her daughters, Carmela, 19, and Anne Marie Jennifer, 7.
Exhibit "1-B"
Police said that Chapman's assailant could have been angered when Hultman, a 10th
grader at the International School in Makati was escorted home by Chapman after going
to a disco.
Exhibit "1-C"
The lone gunman, witnesses told police, first pistol-whipped Hultman.
Exhibit "l-D"
The same witnesses said Chapman and Leino were shot when they tried to escape.
Exhibit "1-E"
Other angles
Velasco said "we are pursuing two angles" in the Chapman murder.
One, he said, is the jealousy angle and the other is a "highly sensitive" matter that might
involve influential people. 106
Barrameda testified that he had no personal knowledge of the content of the news items marked as
Exhibits "1-C" to "1-D". He just culled them from previous news reports of other newspapers. He
admitted that the only portion he wrote based on an actual interview with NBI Asst. Director Velasco
was Exhibit "I-E."
Barrameda identified another news item in the July 23, 1991 issue of the Manila Times, entitled: "NBI
INSISTS IT HAS "RIGHT" SUSPECT IN CHAPMAN SLAY" which was marked as Exhibit "2."
Certain portions thereof, which were not written by Barrameda, 107 were lifted by the defense and
offered in evidence, viz:
Exhibit "2-a"
Superintendent Lucas Managuelod, CIS director for the national capital region, claims,
however, that another security guard, Vic Mangubat, had testified before the police that
another man, not Teehankee, had fired at Chapman and his companions.
Exhibit "2-b"
The CIS official added that the absence of nitrite or powder burns on Teehankee's hands
as shown by paraffin tests at the CIS laboratory indicated that he may not have fired the
gun. 108
MARTIN MARFIL, a reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer identified two (2) newspaper clippings
which were partly written by him.
One news item, which appeared on the July 17, 1991 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, was
entitled: "FBI JOINS PROBE OF DASMA SLAY" (Exhibit "3"). 109
Again, the defense marked in evidence certain portions of Exhibit "3", thus:
Exhibit "3-a"
Witnesses said Hultman talked with the gunman whom she called "Daddy" shortly
before Chapman's shooting.
Exhibit "3-b"
But Ranin said they were also looking into reports that Hultman was a dancer before she
was adopted by her foster parent.
Exhibit "3-c"
Investigations showed that the gunman sped along Caballero street inside the village
after the shooting and was believed to have proceeded toward Forbes Park using the
Palm street gate.
On cross-examination, Marfil admitted that he did not write Exhibits "3-a" and "3-c". He just reiterated
previous reports in other newspapers. They were based on speculations.
Marfil also wrote some portions of a news item, entitled: "TEEHANKEE SON HELD FOR DASMA
SLAY," which appeared on the July 18, 1991 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Exhibit "4"), viz:
Exhibit "4-B"
According to NBI Director Alfredo Lim, the break in the case came when the witness
showed up and said that the gunman was on board a silver-metallic Lancer.
Exhibit "4-C"
The witness said the gunman was standing a few feet away near the car and was talking
to Hultman, who was shouting "Huwag! Daddy!" several times. 110
Marfil's source of information was Director Lim. On cross-examination, Marfil admitted that
the news reports marked as Exhibits "3" and "4" were written based on information available at
that time. 111
NIDA MENDOZA, a reporter of the Malaya identified a news report, entitled: "TEEHANKEE SON
HELD ON DASMA SLAYING," which appeared on the July 18, 1991 issue of Malaya. She testified
that she wrote a portion thereof, marked as Exhibit "5-c", and the sources of her information were
several Makati policemen. 112 Exhibit "5-c" reads:
Makati policemen, meanwhile, disputed NBI accounts that Teehankee was arrested at his
house.
They said Teehankee, the last remaining owner of a car with plate control number 566
who had not been questioned, voluntarily went to police headquarters upon invitation of
Makati police chief Superintendent Remy Macaspac. 113
The defense presented EXHIBITS "1-5" to prove: (a) the alleged concerted effort of the investigators to
implicate accused as the lone gunman; (b) that there were other suspects aside from accused and that
someone whom Maureen called as "Daddy" was the actual gunman; (c) that the initial police
investigation showed that the gunman's car was a white Lancer with plate no. 566; and, (d) that after
the NBI took over the investigation, the white Lancer car of the gunman became a silver gray Lancer of
accused and thereafter, he became the gunman.
ITCHIE CABAYAN, a reporter of the People's Journal identified the portions she wrote in the news
item, entitled: ''I WILL HOUND YOU", which appeared on the October 24, 1991 issue of People's
Journal (Exhibit "6"). She identified the source of her information as Mr. Anders Hultman himself. 114
The portions thereof were marked in evidence by the defense, viz:
Exhibit "6-a"
"I will be visiting him often and at the most unexpected occasion," Hultman said the day
after his 17-year old daughter was cremated. 115
Exhibit "6-b"
The day Maureen died, a congressional hearing granted the Hultman family's request for
permission to visit Teehankee in his cell "at anytime of their choice."
Exhibit "6-c"
"If on my next visit he still refuses to come out and is still hiding behind the curtain,"
Hultman said, "Congress told me that I can take the curtain down and jail authorities will
pull him out." 116
ALEX ALLAN, also a reporter of People's Journal co-wrote the news item marked as Exhibit "6".
Specifically, he wrote Exhibits "6-d" and "6-e" 117 which read:
Exhibit "6-d"
"Kaawaawa naman ang mga Hultmans, tulungan natin sila," Ong was quoted as telling
Vergel de Dios.
Exhibit "6-e"
BIR insiders said Ong has shown a keen interest in the Chapman-Hultman, Vizconde
and Eldon Maguan cases because he belongs to a secret but very influential multi-
sectoral group monitoring graft and corruption and other crimes in high levels of
government and society. 118
Allan was not able to check or verify the information in Exhibit "6-e" given to him by BIR insiders for
the latter refused to be identified. 119
Exhibit "6" and its sub-markings were offered to prove: (a) the alleged blind and consuming personal
rage and bias of Anders Hultman against accused; and (b) the unwarranted pressure, prejudice and
prejudgment by some congressional leaders in favor of the Hultmans in violation of due process.
DAVE VERIDIANO, a reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, identified the news account which
appeared on the July 16, 1991 issue of the Inquirer, entitled: "DASMA SLAY SUSPECT
IDENTIFIED" (Exhibit "7"). He wrote a portion of said article (Exhibit "7-c") and the source of his
information was Camp Crame. 120 It reads:
Exhibit "7-c"
Witnesses said the gunman fled aboard a white Mitsubishi Lancer with plate number
"566." The witnesses cannot tell the plate's control letters. 121
Veridiano likewise identified a news item which appeared on the July 1991 issue of the Inquirer,
entitled: "N.B.I. FINDINGS DISPUTED, SECOND WITNESS TAGS TEEHANKEE" (Exhibit "8").
The portions of said news item which he wrote were marked in evidence by the defense, viz:
Exhibit "8-a"
At the Criminal Investigation Service, however, an investigator who asked not to be
identified insisted that the NBI got the wrong man. The NBI has taken over the case
from the CIS.
Exhibit "8-c"
He said the CIS will shortly identify the suspect killer whom he described as
"resembling Teehankee but looks much younger."
Exhibit "8-e"
The source said that the police's "prime witness," identified only as Mangubat, saw
everything that happened in the early morning of July 13. The witness, however, failed
to identify Teehankee as the gunman. 122
Veridiano was shown another news report, entitled: "CIS GIVES UP CHAPMAN SLAY CASE",
which appeared on the July 26, 1991 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Exhibit 9). 123 He wrote
the entire news account, 124portions of which were marked by the defense in evidence, thus:
Exhibit "9-a"
The CIS pulled out from the case a day after its so-called "surprise witness" picked
Claudio Teehankee, Jr. from an NBI lineup.
He gathered this information from his source but he was not able to interview Mangubat
himself. 125
Exhibit "9-b"
Sira ulo pala siya (Mangubat). Ilang beses kong pinarada sa kanya si Bobby (Teehankee
Jr.) puro iling siya. Hindi raw ito ang suspect. Ngayon bigla niyang ituturo, said a red-
faced Makati investigator who, as usual, did not want to be identified.
ELENA ABEN, a reporter from the Manila Bulletin, wrote the entire article, entitled: "US
DIPLOMAT'S SON SHOT DEAD", which appeared on the July 14, 1991 issue of the Manila Bulletin
(Exhibit "10"). 126 Two (2) portions thereof were marked as evidence by the defense, viz:
Exhibit "10-a-1"
The victims were on their way home in Olanileino's Mercedez Benz with a diplomat's
plate number when a white Lancer with plate number PKX-566 blocked its path.
Exhibit "10-a-2"
US embassy spokesman Stanley Schrager said Chapman's father is a communications
specialist. He said the shooting could be the result of an altercation on the street. 127
Finally, VICTOR VEGA, a reporter of the Manila Bulletin, identified the news account he wrote which
appeared on the July 16, 1991 issue of the Bulletin, entitled: "4 MURDER SUSPECTS FALL" (Exhibit
"22"). Portions of said news item were marked by the defense as follows:
Exhibit "22-b"
. . . He was shot to death by a group of armed men at the corner of Mahogany and
Caballero Sts. in Dasmariñas Village at past 4 a.m. Friday.
Exhibit "22-c"
The NBI sources said that jealousy sparked the slaying of Chapman who was killed in
front of his friends on his way home from a party. The armed men, on board a white
Lancer car, blocked the path of the victim's Mercedes Benz car inside the village before
the shooting.
Exhibit "22-a-1"
The gunmen then alighted from their car and at gunpoint ordered Chapman to alight
from the car. They shot Chapman several times in the body, while his companions
identified as Maureen Hultman, and Jussi Olanileino, were seriously wounded when the
gunmen sprayed the car with bullets.
The gunmen escaped after the shooting. Lim said he will announce later the names of the
detained suspects after their initial investigation. 128
Finally, his article, entitled: "MAKATI SLAY SUSPECT IDENTIFIED" (Exhibit "23"), which
appeared on the July 18, 1991 issue of the Manila Bulletin, was introduced by the defense in evidence
as follows:
Exhibit "23-a-1"
The NBI said Teehankee was one of four men who blocked Chapman's car on Mahogany
St. in the subdivision.
Exhibit "23-a-2"
Witnesses said they saw Teehankee order Chapman and his two companions, Maureen
Hultman and Jussi Olanileino, a Finn, to get out of their car.
Exhibit "23-a-3"
They identified the car used by the suspect, a silver gray Lancer with plate No. PDW
566. They added that they saw the same car in the garage of the Teehankee family. 129
On cross-examination, Vega declared that the source of his two (a) stories was the NBI and they were
based on information available to the NBI at that time 130
The prosecution recalled to the stand eyewitness VICENTE MANGUBAT as its rebuttal witness.
Mangubat insisted that he was able to identify accused when he saw the latter at the Makati police
station. Her reiterated that the next day, Pat. Baldado of the Makati police went to his place of work in
Dasmariñas Village and asked him if he was sure about the identity of the gunman. He told Baldado he
was positive. Baldado then said him he would no longer require him to sign the statement he prepared
for him earlier. 131
LEONORA C. VALLADO, chief of the Forensic Chemistry Division of the NBI, was also presented as a
prosecution rebuttal witness. She testified that extensive washing of hands or excessive perspiration can
eliminate gunpowder nitrates lodged on skin pores of the hands. Continued washing with hot water can
induce perspiration and remove nitrate residue embedded in the skin pores. Application of vinegar on
the hand can register the same effect. 132
She testified that their practice at the NBI is to take the paraffin test on a suspect within 72 hours from
the time of the alleged firing of a gun, during which time, any possible trace of nitrate may still be
found. 133
She divulged that questions have been raised regarding the reliability of the paraffin test. She related
that she once attended a training in Baguio City where they tried to test the accuracy of a paraffin test.
In said training, two (2) NBI agents fired a .38 revolver. One of them washed his hands. They then
subjected both agents to a paraffin test using diphylamine reagent. Both yielded a negative result. Thus,
she opined, the result of a paraffin test should merely be taken as a corroborative evidence and
evaluated together with other physical evidence. 134
The records show that the case was set for hearing on October 29, 1992 for the presentation by the
defense of sur-rebuttal evidence. However, a day before the scheduled hearing, the defense filed a
Constancia 135manifesting that it shall waive its right to present sur-rebuttal evidence, the same being
unneccesary. The defense, however, declared that this is without prejudice to the presentation of its
evidence in the trial proper should the same be necessary.
At the hearing of October 29, 1992, the defense counsels did not appear. The prosecution moved in
open court that the main cases and the petition for bail be submitted for decision in view of the absence
of defense counsels who had manifested that they would no longer present their sur-rebuttal evidence.
The motion was granted and the parties were given ten (10) days from receipt of the Order within
which to submit their simultaneous Memorandum. 136 It does not appear that the defense objected to
this Order. The records show that the defense even filed a motion asking for additional time to file its
Memorandum. 137 In due time, both parties submitted their respective Memorandum.
On December 22, 1992, the trial court convicted accused CLAUDIO TEEHANKEE, JR. of the crimes
charged.138 The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby renders judgment:
(1) In criminal Case No. 91-4605, finding accused Claudio J. Teehankee, Jr., guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Murder, qualified by treachery, for the fatal
shooting of Roland John Chapman, and sentencing said accused to suffer imprisonment
of Reclusion perpetua, and to pay the heirs of the said deceased the sum of Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50, 000.00), Philippine Currency, plus moderate or temperate and
exemplary damages in the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00),
Philippine Currency;
(2) In Criminal Case No. 91-4606, finding accused Claudio J. Teehankee, Jr., guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Murder, qualified by treachery, for the fatal
shooting of Maureen Navarro Hultman, and sentencing him to suffer imprisonment
of Reclusion Perpetua, and to pay the heirs of the said deceased the sum of Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), Philippine Currency, plus the sums of Two Million Three
Hundred Fifty Thousand Four Hundred Sixty-One Pesos and Eighty-Three Centavos
(P2,350,461.83), Philippine Currency, as actual damages; Thirteen Million Pesos
(P13,000,000.00), Philippine Currency, for loss of earning capacity of the said deceased;
and One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00), Philippine Currency, as moral, moderate and
exemplary damages;
(3) In Criminal Case No. 91-4607, finding accused Claudio J. Teehankee, Jr., guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Frustrated Murder, qualified by treachery, for
the shooting of Jussi Olavi Leino, and sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty
of eight (8) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to ten (10) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor, as maximum, and to pay the said offended party the sum of Thirty
Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00), Philippine Currency; plus the sum of One Hundred
Eighteen Thousand Three Hundred Sixty-Nine Pesos and Eighty-Four Centavos
(P118,369.84), Philippine Currency, and another sum equivalent in Philippine Pesos of
U.S. $55,600.00, both as actual damages; an amount equivalent in Philippine Pesos of
U.S. $40,000.00, as loss of earning capacity of said offended party; and One Million
Pesos (P1,000,000.00), Philippine Currency, as moral, moderate and exemplary
damages.
(4) In all these three cases ordering said accused to pay all the offended parties the sum
of Three Million Pesos (P3,000,000.00), Philippine Currency, as and for attorney's fees
and expenses of litigation; and
(5) To pay the costs in these three cases.
Consequently the petition for bail is hereby denied for utter lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Accused hired a new counsel in the person of Atty. Nicanor B. Gatmaytan, Jr. He filed a Motion for
New Trial,139 alleging for the first time that the trial court erred in considering as submitted for
decision not only the petition for bail but also the case on the merits. He claimed that accused's right to
adduce further evidence was violated. His motion for new trial was denied.
Accused interposed the present appeal. 140 He contends that:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ACCUSED HAD BEEN
POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED BY JUSSI LEINO, CADENAS AND MANGUBAT AS
THE ONE WHO SHOT HIM, ROLAND CHAPMAN AND MAUREEN NAVARRO
HULTMAN.
II. THE PROSECUTION HAS FAILED TO ESTABLISH THE GUILT OF THE
ACCUSED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
III. THE PUBLICITY GIVEN THE CASE AGAINST THE APPELLANT WAS
MASSIVE, OVERWHELMING, AND PREJUDICIAL AS TO EFFECTIVELY
DEPRIVE THE ACCUSED OF RIGHT TO IMPARTIAL TRIAL.
IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE KILLING OF
CHAPMAN AND HULTMAN AND THE SHOOTING OF LEINO WAS ATTENDED
BY TREACHERY.
V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING EXORBITANT MORAL AND
EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND LOSS OF EARNING CAPACITY.
VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING ATTORNEY'S FEES OF THREE
MILLION PESOS (P3,000,000.00).
VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RENDERING JUDGMENT ON THE MERITS
AND ON THE PETITION FOR BAIL AT THE SAME TIME WITHOUT GIVING
THE ACCUSED THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE IN
HIS DEFENSE ON THE MERITS OF THE CASE AND DENYING THE ACCUSED'S
MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL.
We shall discuss these alleged errors in seriatim.
Appellant was convicted on the strength of the testimonies of three (3) eyewitnesses who positively
identified him as the gunman. He vigorously assails his out-of-court identification by these
eyewitnesses.
He starts by trying to discredit the eyeball account of Jussi Leino, the lone surviving victim of the
crimes at bar. Appellant urges:
First, that Leino's identification of him outside an unoccupied house in Forbes Park was highly
irregular.
Second, that Leino saw his pictures on television and the newspapers before he identified him.
Third, that Leino's interview at the hospital was never put in writing.
Fourth, that the sketch of appellant based on the description given by Leino to the CIS agents was
suppressed by the NBI. It is surmised that the sketch must have been among the evidence turned over
to the NBI when the latter assumed jurisdiction over the investigation.
Lastly, that Leino could not have remembered the face of appellant. The shooting lasted for only five
(5) minutes. During that period, his gaze could not have been fixed only on the gunman's face. His
senses were also dulled by the five (5) bottles of beer he imbibed that night.
It is understandable for appellant to assail his out-of-court identification by the prosecution witnesses in
his first assignment of error. Eyewitness identification constitutes vital evidence and, in most cases,
decisive of the success or failure of the prosecution. Yet, while eyewitness identification is significant,
it is not as accurate and authoritative as the scientific forms of identification evidence such as the
fingerprint or DNA testing. Some authors even describe eyewitness evidence as "inherently
suspect." 141 The causes of misidentification are known, thus:
xxx xxx xxx
Identification testimony has at least three components. First, witnessing a crime, whether
as a victim or a bystander, involves perception of an event actually occurring. Second,
the witness must memorize details of the event. Third, the witness must be able to recall
and communicate accurately. Dangers of unreliability in eyewitness testimony arise at
each of these three stages, for whenever people attempt to acquire, retain, and retrieve
information accurately, they are limited by normal human fallibilities and suggestive
influences. (Emphasis Supplied) 142
Out-of-court identification is conducted by the police in various ways. It is done thru show-ups where
the suspect alone is brought face to face with the witness for identification. It is done thru mug shots
where photographs are shown to the witness to identify the suspect. It is also done thru line-ups where
a witness identifies the suspect from a group of persons lined up for the purpose. Since corruption of
out-of-court identification contaminates the integrity of in-court identification during the trial of the
case, courts have fashioned out rules to assure its fairness and its compliance with the requirements of
constitutional due process. In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court identification of
suspects, courts have adopted the totality of circumstances test where they consider the following
factors, viz: (1) the witness' opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness'
degree of attention at that time; (3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the
level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the identification; (5) the length of time between the
crime and the identification; and, (6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure. 143
Using the totality of circumstances test, we hold that the alleged irregularities cited by appellant did not
result in his misidentification nor was he denied due process. There is nothing wrong in Leino's
identification of appellant in an unoccupied house in Forbes Park. The records reveal that this mode
was resorted to by the authorities for security reasons. 144 The need for security even compelled that
Leino be fetched and escorted from his house in Forbes Park by U.S. embassy security officials and
brought to the house where he was to make the identification. The Leinos refused to have the
identification at the NBI office as it was cramped with people and with high security risk. 145 Leino's
fear for his safety was not irrational. He and his companions had been shot in cold blood in one of the
exclusive, supposedly safe subdivisions in the metropolis. Atty. Salvador Ranin, Chief of the Special
Operations Group of the NBI, correctly testified that there is no hard and fast rule as to the place where
suspects are identified by witnesses. Identification may be done in open field. It is often done in
hospitals while the crime and the criminal are still fresh in the mind of the victim. 146
Appellant cannot also gripe that Leino saw his pictures and heard radio and TV accounts of the
shooting before he personally identified him. Indeed, the records show that on July 15, 1991, while
Leino was still in the hospital, he was shown three (3) pictures of different men by the investigators. He
identified appellant as the gunman from these pictures. He, however, categorically stated that, before
the mug shot identification, he has not seen any picture of appellant or read any report relative to the
shooting incident. 147 The burden is on appellant to prove that his mug shot identification was unduly
suggestive. Failing proof of impermissible suggestiveness, he cannot complain about the admission of
his out-of-court identification by Leino.
We have no reason to doubt the correctness of appellant's identification by Leino. The scene of the
crime was well-lighted by a Meralco lamp post. Appellant was merely 2-3 meters away when he shot
Leino. The incident happened for a full five (5) minutes. Leino had no ill-motive to falsely testify
against appellant. His testimony at the trial was straightforward. He was unshaken by the brutal cross-
examination of the defense counsels. He never wavered in his identification of appellant. When asked
how sure he was that appellant was responsible for the crime, he confidently replied: "I'm very sure. It
could not have been somebody else." 148
Appellant cannot likewise capitalize on the failure of the investigators to reduce to a sworn statement
the information revealed by Leino during his hospital interviews. It was sufficiently established that
Leino's extensive injuries, especially the injury to his tongue, limited his mobility. The day he identified
appellant in the line-up, he was still physically unable to speak. He was being fed through a tube
inserted in his throat. 149 There is also no rule of evidence which requires the rejection of the
testimony of a witness whose statement has not been priorly reduced to writing. Reliance by appellant
on the case of People v. Alindog 150 to erode Leino's credibility is misplaced. In Alindog, accused was
acquitted not solely on the basis of delay in taking his statement, but mainly on the finding that the
prosecution evidence was, at best, circumstancial and "suspiciosly short in important details," there
being no investigation whatsoever conducted by the police.
We also reject appellant's contention that the NBI suppressed the sketch prepared by the CIS on the
basis of the description given by Leino. There is nothing on the record to show that said sketch was
turned over by the CIS to the NBI which could warrant a presumption that the sketch was suppressed.
The suspicion that the sketch did not resemble appellant is not evidence. It is unmitigated guesswork.
We are not likewise impressed with the contention that it was incredible for Leino to have remembered
appellant's face when the incident happened within a span of five (5) minutes. Five (5) minutes is not a
short time for Leino to etch in his mind the picture of appellant. Experience shows that precisely
because of the unusual acts of bestiality committed before their eyes, eyewitnesses, especially the
victims to a crime, can remember with a high degree of reliability the identity of criminals. 151 We
have ruled that the natural reaction of victims of criminal violence is to strive to see the appearance of
their assailants and observe the manner the crime was committed. Most often, the face end body
movements of the assailant create an impression which cannot be easily erased from their
memory. 152 In the case at bar, there is absolutely no improper motive for Leino to impute a serious
crime to appellant. The victims and appellant were unknown to each other before their chance
encounter. If Leino identified appellant, it must be because appellant was the real culprit.
Appellant also assails his identification by Cadenas. He contends that Cadenas did not witness the
crime. He stresses that when the Dasmariñas security force and the Makati police conducted an on-the-
spot investigation on the day of the incident, neither came across Cadenas. The next day, in the
afternoon of July 14, 1991, an NBI agent interviewed Cadenas and asked if he saw the incident. He
merely replied: "Nakita ko pero patay na." He did not volunteer information to anyone as to what he
supposedly witnessed. That same night, the NBI subpoenaed him for investigation. He went to the NBI
the next morning. It was only the next day, July 16, 1991, that he gave his statement to the NBI.
Cadenas allegedly told Ponferrada, his supervisor, that the NBI tortured him.
We reject appellant's submission. Cadenas' initial reluctance to reveal to the authorities what he
witnessed was sufficiently explained during the trial. He related that he feared for his and his family's
safety. His fear was not imaginary. He saw with his own eyes the senseless violence perpetrated by
appellant. He knew appellant belonged to an influential family. It was only after consistent prodding
and assurance of protection from NBI officials that he agreed to cooperate with the authorities. 153 The
Court has taken judicial notice of the natural reticence of witnesses to get involved in the solution of
crimes considering the risk to their lives and limbs. In light of these all too real risks, the court has not
considered the initial reluctance of fear-gripped witnesses to cooperate with authorities as an authorities
as an indicium of credibility. 154 It will not depart from this ruling.
Appellant's assertion that Cadenas was tortured by the NBI is not borne out by the records. Supposedly,
Cadenas passed on to his superior, a certain Ponferrada, information about his torture. The allegation is
an out and out hearsay as Ponferrada was not presented in the witness stand. Cadenas himself stoutly
denied this allegation of torture. The claim of torture is also belied by the fact that Cadenas' entire
family was allowed to stay with him at the NBI headquarters and likewise extended protection. 155
Appellant then discredits his identification by VICENTE MANGUBAT, citing the testimony of defense
witness Pat. James Baldado of the Makati Police. Pat. Baldado testified that Mangubat failed to identify
appellant as the gunman the first time he was brought to the Makati police station. Mangubat, however,
belied Baldado's story. He declared he positively identified appellant as the gunman at the Makati
police station. He averred that the day after he identified appellant, Pat. Baldado returned to his place of
work in Dasmariñas and asked him again whether appellant was the gunman. Again, he replied in the
affirmative. Forthwith, Pat. Baldado said he would no longer ask him to sign a statement (Exhibit
"HHH") 156 earlier prepared by Baldado. In said statement previously prepared by Baldado, Mangubat
was supposed to state that appellant, whom he saw at the Makati police station, was NOT the gunman.
We give more weight to the testimony of Mangubat. We find nothing in the records to suspect that
Mangubat would perjure himself. The Court cannot be as generous to Pat. Baldado of the Makati
Police. Mr. Hultman has proved that the Makati police, including some of its jail officials, gave
appellant favored treatment while in their custody. The anomaly triggered nothing less than a
congressional investigation.
II
We now rule on appellant's second assignment of error, i.e., that the trial court erred in not holding that
the prosecution failed to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
First, he claims the trial court erred in citing in its Decision his involvement in previous shooting
incidents for this contravenes the rule 157 that evidence that one did or omitted to do a certain thing at
one time is not admissible to prove that he did or omitted to do the same or similar thing at another
time. Second, the NBI failed to conduct an examination to compare the bullets fired from the gun at the
scene of the crime with the bullets recovered from the body of Chapman. Third, the prosecution
eyewitnesses described the gunman's car as white, but the trial court found it to be silver mettalic gray.
Fourth, appellant could not have been the gunman for Mangubat, in his statement dated July 15, 1991,
said that he overheard the victim Maureen Hultman plead to the gunman, thus: "Please, don't shoot me
and don't kill me. I promise Mommy, Daddy." Appellant also contends that a maid in a house near the
scene of the crime told Makati police Alberto Fernandez that she heard Maureen say: "Daddy don't
shoot. Don't." Fifth, the NBI towed accused's car from Dasmariñas Village to the NBI office which
proved that the same was not in good running condition. Lastly, the result of the paraffin test conducted
on appellant showed he was negative of nitrates.
Appellant points to other possible suspects, viz:. ANDERS HULTMAN, since one of the eyewitnesses
was quoted in the newspapers as having overheard Maureen plead to the gunman: "Huwag, Daddy.";
and, (b) JOSE MONTAÑO, another resident of Dasmariñas Village, who had a white Lancer car, also
bearing license plate number 566.
We reject appellant's thesis as bereft of merit.
Appellant cannot hope to exculpate himself simply because the trial judge violated the rule on res inter
alios acta when he considered his involvement in previous shooting incidents. This stance is a specie of
a mid-1800 rule known as the English Exchequer Rule pursuant to which "a trial court's error as to the
admission of evidence was presumed to have caused prejudice and therefore, almost automatically
required a new trial." 158The Exchequer rule has long been laid to rest for even English appellate
courts now disregard an error in the admission of evidence "unless in its opinion, some substantial
wrong or miscarriage (of justice) has been occasioned." 159 American courts adopted this approach
especially after the enactment of a 1915 federal statute which required a federal appellate court to "give
judgment after an examination of the entire record before the court, without regard to technical errors,
defects, or exceptions which do not affect the substantial rights of the parties." 160 We have likewise
followed the harmless error rule in our jurisdiction. In dealing with evidence improperly admitted in
trial, we examine its damaging quality and its impact to the substantive rights of the litigant. If the
impact is slight and insignificant, we disregard the error as it will not overcome the weight of the
properly admitted evidence against the prejudiced party. 161
In the case at bar, the reference by the trial judge to reports about the troublesome character of
appellant is a harmless error. The reference is not the linchpin of the inculpatory evidence appreciated
by the trial judge in convicting appellant. As aforestated, the appellant was convicted mainly because of
his identification by three (3) eyewitnesses with high credibility.
The NBI may have also failed to compare the bullets fired from the fatal gun with the bullets found at
the scene of the crime. The omission, however, cannot exculpate appellant. The omitted comparison
cannot nullify the evidentiary value of the positive identification of appellant.
There is also little to the contention of appellant that his Lancer car was not in running condition.
Allegedly, this was vicariously proved when the NBI towed his car from Dasmariñas Village where it
was parked to the NBI office. Again, the argument is negated by the records which show that said car
was towed because the NBI could not get its ignition key which was then in the possession of
appellant. Clearly, the car was towed not because it was not in running condition. Even appellant's
evidence show that said car could run. After its repairs, appellant's son, Claudio Teehankee III, drove it
from the repair shop in Banawe, Quezon City to Dasmariñas Village, in Makati, where it was
parked. 162
Nor are we impressed by the alleged discrepancies in the eyewitnesses' description of the color of the
gunman's car. Leino described the car as light-colored; Florece said the car was somewhat white
("medyo puti"); 163Mangubat declared the car was white; 164 and Cadenas testified it was silver
metallic gray. 165 These alleged discrepancies amount to no more than shades of differences and are
not meaningful, referring as they do to colors white, somewhat white and silver metallic gray.
Considering the speed and shocking nature of the incident which happened before the break of dawn,
these slight discrepancies in the description of the car do not make the prosecution eyewitnesses
unworthy of credence.
Appellant's attempt to pin the crimes at bar on Anders Hultman, the adoptive father of Maureen
Hultman, deserves scant consideration. Appellant cites a newspaper item 166 where Maureen was
allegedly overheard as saying to the gunman: "Huwag, Daddy. Huwag, Daddy." The evidence on
record, however, demonstrates that Anders Hultman could not have been the gunman. It was clearly
established that Maureen could not have uttered said statement for two (2) reasons: Maureen did not
speak Tagalog, and she addressed Anders Hultman as "Papa," not "Daddy." 167 Moreover, Leino
outrightly dismissed this suspicion. While still in the hospital and when informed that the Makati police
were looking into this possibility, Leino flatly stated that Anders Hultman was NOT the
gunman. 168 Leino is a reliable witness.
Appellant cannot also capitalize on the paraffin test showing he was negative of nitrates. Scientific
experts concur in the view that the paraffin test has ". . . proved extremely unreliable in use. The only
thing that it can definitely establish is the presence or absence of nitrates or nitrites on the hand. It
cannot be established from this test alone that the source of the nitrates or nitrites was the discharge of a
firearm. The person may have handled one or more of a number of substances which give the same
positive reaction for nitrates or nitrites, such as explosives, fireworks, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and
leguminous plants such as peas, beans, and alfalfa. A person who uses tobacco may also have nitrate or
nitrite deposits on his hands since these substances are present in the products of combustion of
tobacco." 169 In numerous rulings, we have also recognized several factors which may bring about the
absence of gunpowder nitrates on the hands of a gunman,viz: when the assailant washes his hands after
firing the gun, wears gloves at the time of the shooting, or if the direction of a strong wind is against
the gunman at the time of firing. 170 In the case at bar, NBI Forensic Chemist, Leonora Vallado,
testified and confirmed that excessive perspiration or washing of hands with the use of warm water or
vinegar may also remove gunpowder nitrates on the skin. She likewise opined that the conduct of the
paraffin test after more than seventy-two (72) hours from the time of the shooting may not lead to a
reliable result for, by such time, the nitrates could have already been removed by washing or
perspiration. 171 In the Report 172 on the paraffin test conducted on appellant, Forensic Chemist
Elizabeth Ayonon noted that when appellant was tested for the presence of nitrates, more than 72 hours
has already lapsed from the time of the alleged shooting.
III
In his third assigned error, appellant blames the press for his conviction as he contends that the
publicity given to his case impaired his right to an impartial trial. He postulates there was pressure on
the trial judge for high-ranking government officials avidly followed the developments in the case (as
no less than Vice-President Joseph Estrada and then Department of Justice Secretary Franklin Drilon
attended some of the hearings and, President Corazon Aquino even visited victim Maureen Hultman
while she was still confined at the hospital). He submits that the trial judge failed to protect him from
prejudicial publicity and disruptive influences which attended the prosecution of the cases. He claims
there were placards displayed during the hearing of the cases, spectators inside the courtroom clapped
their hands and converted the proceedings into a carnival. In another instance, he was allegedly given
the "finger sign" by several young people while he was leaving the courtroom on his way back to his
cell.
We cannot sustain appellant's claim that he was denied the right to impartial trial due to prejudicial
publicity. It is true that the print and broadcast media gave the case at bar pervasive publicity, just like
all high profile and high stake criminal trials. Then and now, we rule that the right of an accused to a
fair trial is not incompatible to a free press. To be sure, responsible reporting enhances an accused's
right to a fair trial for, as well pointed out, "a responsible press has always been regarded as the
handmaiden of effective judicial administration, especially in the criminal field . . . The press does not
simply publish information about trials but guards against the miscarriage of justice by subjecting in
the police, prosecutors, and judicial processes to extensive public scrutiny and criticism." 173
Pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an accused to fair trial. The mere fact that the
trial of appellant was given a day-to-day, gavel-to-gavel coverage does not by itself prove that the
publicity so permeated the mind of the trial judge and impaired his impartiality. For one, it is
impossible to seal the minds of members of the bench from pre-trial and other off-court publicity of
sensational criminal cases. The state of the art of our communication system brings news as they
happen straight to our breakfast tables and right to our bedrooms. These news form part of our
everyday menu of the facts and fictions of life. For another, our idea of a fair and impartial judge is not
that of a hermit who is out of touch with the world. We have not installed the jury system whose
members are overly protected from publicity lest they lose their impartiality. Criticisms against the jury
system are mounting and Mark Twain's wit and wisdom put them all in better perspective when he
observed: "When a gentleman of high social standing, intelligence, and probity swears that testimony
given under the same oath will outweigh with him, street talk and newspaper reports based upon mere
hearsay, he is worth a hundred jurymen who will swear to their own ignorance and stupidity . . . Why
could not the jury law be so altered as to give men of brains and honesty an equal chance with fools
and miscreants?" 174 Our judges are learned in the law and trained to disregard off-court evidence and
on-camera performances of parties to a litigation. Their mere exposure to publications and publicity
stunts does not per se fatally infect their impartiality.
At best, appellant can only conjure possibility of prejudice on the part of the trial judge due to the
barrage of publicity that characterized the investigation and trial of the case. In Martelino, et
al. v. Alejandro, et a1., 175 we rejected this standard of possibility of prejudice and adopted the test of
actual prejudice as we ruled that to warrant a finding of prejudicial publicity, there must be allegation
and proof that the judges have been unduly influenced, not simply that they might be, by the barrage of
publicity. In the case at bar, the records do not show that the trial judge developed actual bias against
appellant as a consequence of the extensive media coverage of the pre-trial and trial of his case. The
totality of circumstances of the case does not prove that the trial judge acquired a fixed opinion as a
result of prejudicial publicity which is incapable of change even by evidence presented during the trial.
Appellant has the burden to prove this actual bias and he has not discharged the burden.
We have minutely examined the transcripts of the proceedings and they do not disclose that the trial
judge allowed the proceedings to turn into a carnival. Nor did he consent to or condone any
manifestation of unruly or improper behavior or conduct inside the courtroom during the trial of the
case at bar. The transcripts reveal the following:
1. At the August 14, 1991 hearing, the defense counsel called the attention of the court to
the visible display of a placard inside the courtroom. Acting on the manifestation, the
trial judge immediately directed that the placard be hidden. Only then did he order the
start of the arraignment of accused. 176
On the same hearing, the defense counsel asked for the exclusion of the media after they
had enough opportunity to take pictures. The court granted defense's request, noting that
the courtroom was also too crowded. 177
2. During the testimony of Domingo Florece, an argument ensued between the defense
lawyer and the fiscal. When part of the audience clapped their hands, the defense
counsel invoked Rule 119, Section 13 of the Rules of Court and moved for the exclusion
of the public. Assistant Prosecutor Villa-Ignacio objected on the ground that the public
was not unruly. The trial judge noted that there were yet no guidelines drafted by the
Supreme Court regarding media coverage of the trial proceedings. 178Collaborating
defense counsel, Atty. Malvar, complained that the outpouring of sympathy by spectators
inside the courtroom has turned the proceedings into a carnival. He also manifested that
he personally saw that when accused was being brought back to his cell from the
courtroom, a group of young people were pointing dirty fingers at accused in full view
of policemen. Forthwith, the trial judge declared that he could not be dissuaded by
public sentiments. He noted that the clapping of hands by the public was just a reaction
at the spur of the moment. He then admonished the audience not to repeat it. 179
3. At the hearing of July 14, 1992, the parties again argued on the coverage of the trial
by the press. The defense alleged that the media coverage will constitute mistrial and
deny accused's constitutional right to due process. It invoked the provision in the Rules
of Court which allows the accused to exclude everybody in the courtroom, except the
organic personnel. The prosecutor, however, argued that exclusion of the public can be
ordered only in prosecution of private offenses and does not apply to murder cases. He
added that the public is entitled to observe and witness trial of public offenses. He
quoted the U.S. case ofSheppard v. Maxwell 180 where it was held: "A responsible press
is always regarded as the handmaiden of effective judicial administration especially in
the criminal field. The press does not simply publish information about trials but guards
against the miscarriage of justice by subjecting the police, the prosecutors and judicial
processes to extensive public scrutiny and criticism. What transpires in the courtrooms
public property." The trial judge then ruled that the media should be given a chance to
cover the proceedings before the trial proper but, thereafter, he prohibited them from
taking pictures during the trial. They were allowed to remain inside the courtroom but
were ordered to desist from taking live coverage of the proceedings. 181
4. At the August 14, 1992 hearing, before the hearing began, the trial judge gave the
media two (2) minutes to take video coverage and no more. Trial then ensued. 182
5. At the September 8, 1992 hearing, the trial judge again gave the media two (2)
minutes to take pictures before the trial proper. Afterwards, the reporters were duly
admonished to remain silent, to quietly observe the proceedings and just take down
notes. 183
6 On September 10, 1992 before the start of the afternoon session, the judge admonished
the media people present in the courtroom to stop taking pictures. 184
Parenthetically, appellant should be the last person to complain against the press for prejudicial
coverage of his trial. The records reveal he presented in court no less than seven (7) newspaper
reporters and relied heavily on selected portions of their reports for his defense. The defense's
documentary evidence consists mostly of newspaper clippings relative to the investigation of the case
at bar and which appeared to cast doubt on his guilt. The press cannot be fair and unfair to appellant at
the same time.
Finally, it would not be amiss to stress that on May 29, 1992, the trial judge voluntarily inhibited
himself from further hearing the case at bar to assuage appellant's suspicion of bias and
partiality. 185 However, upon elevation of the trial judge's voluntary Order of Inhibition to this Court,
we directed the trial judge to proceed with the trial to speed up the administration of justice. 186 We
found nothing in the conduct of the proceedings to stir any suspicion of partiality against the trial judge.
IV
In his fourth assigned error, appellant claims that treachery was not present in the killing of Hultman
and Chapman, and the wounding of Leino for it was not shown that the gunman consciously and
deliberately adopted particular means, methods and forms in the execution of the crime. Appellant
asserts that mere suddenness of attack does not prove treachery.
The three (3) Informations charged appellant with having committed the crimes at bar with treachery
and evident premeditation. Evident premeditation was correctly ruled out by the trial court for,
admittedly, the shooting incident was merely a casual encounter or a chance meeting on the street since
the victims were unknown to appellant and vice-versa It, however, appreciated the presence of the
qualifying circumstance of treachery.
We hold that the prosecution failed to prove treachery in the killing of Chapman. Prosecution witness
Leino established the sequence of events leading to the shooting. He testified that for no apparent
reason, appellant suddenly alighted from his car and accosted him and Maureen Hultman who were
then walking along the sidewalk. Appellant questioned who they were and demanded for an I.D. After
Leino handed him his I.D., Chapman appeared from behind Leino and asked what was going on.
Chapman then stepped down on the sidewalk and inquired from appellant what was wrong. There and
then, appellant pushed Chapman, pulled a gun from inside his shirt, and shot him. The gun attack was
unexpected. "Why did you shoot me?" was all Chapman could utter.
Concededly, the shooting of Chapman was carried out swiftly and left him with no chance to defend
himself. Even then, there is no evidence on record to prove that appellant consciously and deliberately
adopted his mode of attack to insure the accomplishment of his criminal design without risk to himself.
It appears to us that appellant acted on the spur of the moment. Their meeting was by chance. They
were strangers to each other. The time between the initial encounter and the shooting was short and
unbroken. The shooting of Chapman was thus the result of a rash and impetuous impulse on the part of
appellant rather than a deliberate act of will. We have consistently ruled that mere suddenness of the
attack on the victim would not, by itself, constitute treachery. 187 Hence, absent any qualifying
circumstance, appellant should only be held liable for Homicide for the shooting and killing of
Chapman.
As to the wounding of Jussi Leino and the killing of Maureen Hultman, we hold that treachery clearly
attended the commission of the crimes. The evidence shows that after shooting Chapman in cold blood,
appellant ordered Leino to sit on the pavement. Maureen became hysterical and wandered to the side of
appellant's car. When appellant went after her, Maureen moved around his car and tried to put some
distance between them. After a minute or two, appellant got to Maureen and ordered her to sit beside
Leino on the pavement. While seated, unarmed and begging for mercy, the two were gunned down by
appellant. Clearly, appellant purposely placed his two victims in a completely defenseless position
before shooting them. There was an appreciable lapse of time between the killing of Chapman and the
shooting of Leino and Hultman — a period which appellant used to prepare for a mode of attack which
ensured the execution of the crime without risk to himself. Treachery was thus correctly appreciated by
the trial court against appellant insofar as the killing of Hultman and the wounding of Leino are
concerned.
V and VI
We come now to the civil liability imposed against appellant. Appellant posits that the awards of moral
and exemplary damages and for loss of earning capacity of Maureen Hultman, Roland Chapman and
Jussi Leino were exorbitant. He likewise claims that the trial court's award of attorney's fees was
excessive.
In its Decision, the trial court awarded to Jussi Leino end the heirs of victims Hultman and Chapman
the following damages:
1. For the murder of Roland John Chapman, appellant was sentenced to pay the heirs of
the deceased the sum of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as indemnity for death and
the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) as moderate or temperate and
exemplary damages.
2. For the murder of Maureen Navarro Hultman, appellant was sentenced to pay the
heirs of the deceased the sum of: Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as indemnity for
death; Two Million Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Four Hundred Sixty-One Pesos and
Eighty-Three Centavos
(P2,350,461.83) as actual damages; Thirteen Million Pesos (P13,000,000.00) for loss of
earning capacity of deceased; and, One Million Pesos as moral, moderate and exemplary
damages.
3. For the shooting of Jussi Olavi Leino, appellant was sentenced to pay: Thirty thousand
pesos (P30,000.00) as indemnity for the injury; One Hundred Eighteen Thousand Three-
Hundred Sixty Nine Pesos and Eighty-Four Centavos (P118,369.84) and the sum
equivalent in Philippine pesos of U.S.$55,600.00, both as actual damages; an amount
equivalent in Philippine pesos of U.S.$40,000.00, for loss of earning capacity of Jussi
Leino; and, One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) as moral, moderate and exemplary
damages.
4. In all three cases, appellant was also ordered to pay each of the offended parties the
sum of One Million Pesos (or a total of three million pesos) for attorney's fees and
expenses of litigation.
5. Costs of litigation. 188
The early case of Heirs of Raymundo Castro v. Bustos 189 discussed in detail the matter of damages
recoverable in case of death arising from a felony, thus:
When the commission of a crime results in death, the civil obligations arising therefrom
are governed by penal laws, ". . . subject to the provisions of Art. 2177, and of the
pertinent provisions of Chapter 2, Preliminary Title on Human Relations, and of Title
XVIII of this Book (Book IV) regulating damages." (Art. 1161, Civil Code)
Thus, "every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable." (Art. 100,
Revised Penal Code). This civil liability, in case the felony involves death, includes
indemnification for consequential damages (Art. 104, id.) and said consequential
damages in turn include ". . . those suffered by his family or by a third person by reason
of the crime." (Art. 107, id.) Since these provisions are subject, however, as above
indicated, to certain provisions of the Civil Code, (w)e will now turn to said provisions.
The general rule in the Civil Code is that:
In crimes and quasi-delicts, the defendant shall be liable for all damages
which are the natural and probable consequences of the act or omission
complained of. It is not necessary that such damages have been foreseen
or could have reasonably foreseen by the defendant. (Art. 2202)
When, however, the crime committed involves death, there is Art. 2206 which provides
thus:
The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall
be at least three thousand pesos even though there may have been
mitigating circumstances. In addition:
(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the
deceased, and the indemnity shall be paid to the heirs of the latter; such
indemnity shall in every case be assessed and awarded by the court,
unless the deceased on account of permanent physical disability not
caused by the defendant, had no earning capacity at the time of his death;
(2) If the deceased was obliged to give support according to the
provisions of article 291, the recipient who is not an heir called to the
descendant's inheritance by law of testate or intestate succession, may
demand support from the person causing the death, for a period not
exceeding five years, the exact duration to be fixed by the court;
(3) The spouse, legitimate or illegitimate descendants and ascendants of
the deceased may demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason of
the death of the deceased.
The amount of P3,000 referred to in the above article has already been increased by this
Court first, to P6,000.00 in People v. Amansec, 80 Phil. 426, and lately to P12,000.00 in
the case of People v. Pantoja, G.R. No. L-18793, promulgated October 11, 1968 190,
and it must be stressed that this amount, as well as the amount of moral damages, may
be adjudicated even without proof of pecuniary loss, the assessment of the moral
damages being "left to the discretion of the court, according to the circumstances of each
case." (Art. 2216)
Exemplary damages may also be imposed as a part of this civil liability when the crime
has been committed with one or more aggravating circumstances, such damages being
"separate and distinct from fines and shall be paid to the offended party." (Art. 2230).
Exemplary damages cannot however be recovered as a matter of right; the court will
decide whether or not they should be given. (Art. 2233)
In any event, save as expressly provided in connection with the indemnity for the sole
fact of death (1st par., Art. 2206) and is cases wherein exemplary damages are awarded
precisely because of the attendance of aggravating circumstances, (Art. 2230) ". . .
damages to be adjudicated may be respectively increased or lessened according to the
aggravating or mitigating circumstances," (Art. 2204) "but the party suffering the loss or
injury must exercise the diligence of a good father of a family to minimize the damages
resulting from the act or omission in question." (Art. 2203) "Interest as a part of the
damages, may, in a proper case, be adjudicated in the discretion of the Court." (Art.
2211) As to attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation, the same may be recovered only
when exemplary damages have been granted (Art. 2208, par. 1) or . . . when there is a
separate civil action.
Stated differently, when death occurs as a result of a crime, the heirs of the deceased are
entitled to the following items of damages:
1. As indemnity for the death of the victim of the offense — P12,000.00
(now P50,000.00), without the need of any evidence or proof of damages,
and even though there may have been mitigating circumstances attending
the commission of the offense.
2. As indemnity for loss of earning capacity of the deceased — an amount
to be fixed by the court according to the circumstances of the deceased
related to his actual income at the time of death and his probable life
expectancy, the said indemnity to be assessed and awarded by the court as
a matter of duty, unless the deceased had no earning capacity at said time
on account of permanent disability not caused by the accused. If the
deceased was obliged to give support, under Art. 291, Civil Code, the
recipient who is not an heir, may demand support from the accused for
not more than five years, the exact duration to be fixed by the court.
3. As moral damages for mental anguish, — an amount to be fixed by the
court. This may be recovered even by the illegitimate descendants and
ascendants of the deceased.
4. As exemplary damages, when the crime is attended by one or more
aggravating circumstances, — an amount to be fixed in the discretion of
the court, the same to be considered separate from fines.
5. As attorney's fees and expenses of litigation, — the actual amount
thereof, (but only when a separate civil action to recover civil liability has
been filed or when exemplary damages are awarded).
6. Interests in the proper cases.
7. It must be emphasized that the indemnities for loss of earning capacity
of the deceased and for moral damages are recoverable separately from
and in addition to the fixed sum of P12,000.00 (now P50,000.00)
corresponding to the indemnity for the sole fact of death, and that these
damages may, however, be respectively increased or lessened according
to the mitigating or aggravating circumstances, except items 1 and 4
above, for obvious reasons.191
We shall first review the damages awarded to the heirs of ROLAND JOHN CHAPMAN in light of the
law and the case law.
Appellant claims that the award of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) pesos as moderate or
temperate and exemplary damages to the heirs of Roland John Chapman was baseless.
We start with the observation that the trial court should not have lumped together the awards for
moderate or temperate and exemplary damages at Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00),
without specifying the particular amount which corresponds to each, as they are of a different kind. We
shall, however, consider their propriety and reasonableness.
The amount of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) pesos cannot be given as temperate or moderate
damages for the records do not show any basis for sustaining the award. Nor can it be given as
exemplary damages. The killing of Chapman was not attended by either evident premeditation or
treachery. Be that as it may, the award can be considered as one for moral damages under Article 2206
(3) of the New Civil Code. 192 It states:
Art. 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime . . . shall be at least (fifty
thousand pesos, under current jurisprudence) . . . In addition:
xxx xxx xxx
(3) The spouse, legitimate or illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased
may demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased.
Moreover, considering the shocking and senseless aggression committed by appellant, we increase the
amount of moral damages to One Million (P1,000,000.00) pesos for the death of Chapman.
We next rule on the legality of damages awarded to the heirs of MAUREEN NAVARRO HULTMAN.
Appellant argues that the damages for the death of Maureen should be awarded to her mother, Vivian
Hultman, and her natural father. He contends that under Article 352 of the New Civil Code, Anders
Hultman as adoptive father of Maureen, is not entitled to said award. Only the parents by nature of
Maureen should inherit from her.
We reject the argument. Under the Family Code which was already in effect at the time of Maureen's
death, Anders Hultman, as adoptive father, is entitled to the award made by the trial court. Article 190
of the Family Code provides:
xxx xxx xxx
(2) When the parents, legitimate or illegitimate, or the legitimate descendants of the
adopted concur with the adopters, they shall divide the entire estate, one-half to be
inherited by the parents or ascendants and the other half, by the adopters;
xxx xxx xxx
(5) When only the adopters survive, they shall inherit the entire estate;
It does not appear on the records whether Maureen was survived by her natural father. During the trial
of these cases, only Vivian and Anders Hultman testified on their claim of damages. Hence, we find
that the award of damages in their favor has sufficient factual and legal basis.
Appellant also urges that the award to the heirs of Maureen Hultman of One Million Pesos
(P1,000,000.00) as moral and exemplary damages is unjustified or, at the very least, exorbitant and
should be reduced.
We hold that the award of One Million (P1,000,000.00) pesos is amply justified by the circumstances.
The records reveal that Maureen recovered between life and death for ninety-seven (97) days. Her
family experienced the peaks and valleys of unspeakable suffering. During that time, she underwent
brain surgery three (3) times. Her condition was never stable and remained critical. It was always touch
and go with death. She could not be left alone at the hospital. Her parents had to be perpetually by her
side at least six (6) to seven (7) hours daily. After the shooting, their siblings had to be sent back to
Sweden for their safety. Left unattended, her family's business took a downspin. Soon, her family's
assets were depleted, then wiped out. A total of twenty-three (23) doctors attended to her and their bills
ballooned without abatement. They were forced to rely on the goodness of the gracious. Her family
started receiving contributions from other people to defray the medical expenses and hospital
bills. 193 Maureen never regained consciousness until her demise on October 17, 1991, at the tender
age of seventeen. Under the foregoing circumstances, we thus find the award of One Million Pesos
(P1,000,000.00) as moral damages to be reasonable.
Moreover, we find that the grant of exemplary damages is called for by the circumstances of the case.
Under Article 2229 of the Civil Code, 194 in addition to the award of moral damages, exemplary or
corrective damages may be adjudged in order to deter the commission of similar acts in the future. The
award for exemplary damages is designed to permit the courts to mould behavior that has socially
deleterious consequences. Its imposition is required by public policy to suppress the wanton acts of an
offender.
In the case at bar, appellant's unprovoked aggression snuffed the life of Maureen Hultman, a girl in the
prime of her youth. Hultman and her companions were gunned down by appellant in cold-blood, for no
apparent reason. Appellant's vicious criminality led to the suffering of his victims and their families.
Considering our soaring crime rate, the imposition of exemplary damages against appellant to deter
others from taking the lives of people without any sense of sin is proper. Moreover, since the killing of
Hultman was attended by treachery and pursuant to Article 2229 of the new Civil Code, 195 we impose
an award of Two Million (P2,000,000.00) pesos as exemplary damages against appellant for the death
of Maureen Hultman.
We now review the award of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) as moral, moderate and exemplary
damages to victim JUSSI LEINO.
From the record, it is incontrovertible that Leino likewise suffered extensive injuries as a result of the
shooting. His upper jaw bone was shattered. He would need a bone transplant operation to restore it.
His tongue was also injured. He partially lost his sense of taste for his taste buds were also affected.
When he was discharged from the hospital, he had difficulty in speaking and had to be fed through a
tube running down his nose. He lost eight of his teeth. The roots of his teeth were cut off and the raw
nerves were exposed. But all these speak only of his physical injuries and suffering. More devastating
was the emotional strain that distressed Leino. His parents were in Europe for a vacation at the time of
the shooting. Only a neighbor attended to him at the hospital. It took two (2) days for his father to come
and comfort by his bedside. Leino had trouble sleeping in peace at night. The traumatic event woke him
up in the middle of the night. Black memories of the incident kept coming back to
mind. 196 Understably, the ill-effects of the incident spilled over his family. Seppo Leino, Jussi's father,
was tortured by thoughts of insecurity. He had to relocate his entire family to Europe where he felt they
would be safe. 197 Under the foregoing circumstances, we find that an award of One Million
(P1,000,000.00) pesos to Jussi Leino as indemnity for moral damages is justified and reasonable.
As in the case of Hultman, since the shooting of Leino was committed with treachery and pursuant to
Article 2229 of the New Civil Code, 198 appellant is additionally adjudged liable for the payment to
Leino of Two Million (P2,000,000.00) pesos as exemplary damages.
We come now to the trial court's monetary award to compensate the LOSS OF EARNING CAPACITY
OF VICTIMS JUSSI LEINO and MAUREEN HULTMAN.
To be compensated for loss of earning capacity, it is not necessary that the victim, at the time of injury
or death, is gainfully employed. Compensation of this nature is awarded not for loss of earnings but for
loss of capacity to earn money. In Cariaga v. Laguna Tayabas Bus Company, 199 we awarded to the
heirs of Cariaga a sum representing loss of his earning capacity although he was still a medical student
at the time of injury. However, the award was not without basis for Cariaga was then a fourth year
medical student at a reputable school; his scholastic record, which was presented at the trial, justified
an assumption that he would have been able to finish his course and pass the board in due time; and a
doctor, presented as witness for the appellee, testified as to the amount of income Cariaga would have
earned had he finished his medical studies.
In the case at bar, the trial court awarded the amount, equivalent in Philippine pesos, of Forty capacity
of JUSSI LEINO. We agree with appellant that this amount is highly speculative and should be denied
considering that Leino had only earned a high school degree at the International School, Manila, in
1989. He went back to Finland to serve the military and has just arrived in Manila in February 1991 to
pursue his ambition to become a pilot. At the time of the shooting on July 13, 1991, he has just enrolled
at the Manila Aero Club to become a professional pilot. He was thus only on his first year, first
semester, in said school and was practically, a mere high school graduate. Under the foregoing
circumstances, we find the records wanting with substantial evidence to justify a reasonable assumption
that Leino would have been able to finish his studies at the Manila Aero Club and ultimately become a
professional pilot.
We now pass upon the propriety of the award of Thirteen Million Pesos (P13,000,000.00) for loss of
earning capacity of deceased MAUREEN HULTMAN. We find that the award is not supported by the
records.
In adjudging an award for Maureen's loss of earning capacity, the trial court incorrectly used the
monthly salary of a secretary working in Sweden, computed at two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) a
month, as per the estimate given by Anders Hultman. Nowhere in the records does it appear that, at the
time of her death, Maureen had acquired the skills needed for a secretarial job or that she intended to
take a secretarial course in preparation for such job in Sweden. Anders Hultman himself testified that
there was uncertainty as to Maureen's future career path, thus:
ATTY. VINLUAN:
Q Mr. Witness, if Maureen would not been (sic) shot and she continued
her studies, what professional career would she (sic) like to pursue
considering her interests and inclinations?
WITNESS:
A That is very difficult to say. She has just turned 17 and our projection is
that, certainly she would have been an artist in the creative side. She
would have become an actress or a movie producer or probably she would
have been a college graduate.
ATTY. VINLUAN:
Q But if you would just say based on the salary of a secretary in Sweden,
how much would she have much earned?
A. Not less than Two Thousand Dollars a month. 200
Clearly, there is no factual basis for the award of thirteen million (P13,000,000.00) pesos to the heirs of
Maureen far loss of earning capacity as a probable secretary in Sweden.
In any event, what was proved on record is that after graduating from high school, Maureen took up a
short personality development course at the John Roberts Powers. Maureen was employed at the John
Roberts Powers at the time of her death. It was her first job. In fact, she had just received her first
salary, for which reason she went out with her friends to celebrate on that fateful day. However, neither
the nature of her work nor her salary in said company was disclosed at the trial. Thus, to compute the
award for Maureen's loss of earning capacity, we are constrained to use the minimum wage prevailing
as of the date of her death (October 17, 1991),i.e., one hundred eighteen pesos (P118.00). 201 Allowing
for reasonable and necessary expenses in the amount of P19,800.00, her net income per annum would
amount to P26,859.17. 202 Hence, using the formula repeatedly adopted by this Court: 203 (2/3 x [80
— age of victim at time of death]) x a reasonable portion of the net income which would have been
received by the heirs as support, 204 we fix the award for loss of earning as capacity of deceased
Maureen Hultman at Five Hundred Sixty-Four Thousand Forty-Two Pesos and Fifty-Seven Centavos
(P564,042.57).
It also bears emphasis that in the computation of the award for loss of earning capacity of the deceased,
the life expectancy of the deceased's heirs is not factored in. The rule is well-settled that the award of
damages for death is computed on the basis of the life expectancy of the deceased, and not the
beneficiary. 205
Lastly, appellant seeks a reduction of the award of attorney's fees in the amount of Three Million Pesos
(P3,000,000.00), claiming that the same is exorbitant.
We disagree. The three (3) private complainants were represented by the ACCRA law firm, with Atty.
Rogelio Vinluan as lead counsel. They agreed to pay the amount of One Million (P1,000,000.00) pesos
each as attorney's fees and for litigation expenses. The three criminal cases were consolidated. A
continuous trial was conducted, with some hearings having both morning and afternoon sessions. The
trial lasted for almost one and a half years. More than forty (40) witnesses testified during the hearings.
Several pleadings were prepared and filed. A total of sixty-eight (68) documentary exhibits were
presented by the prosecution. Incidents related to the trial of the cases came up to this Court for review
at least twice during the pendency of the trial. 206 Given these circumstances and the evident effort
exerted by the private prosecutor throughout the trial, the trial court's award of a total of Three Million
(P3,000,000.00) pesos as attorney's fees and litigation expenses appears just and reasonable.
VII
In his last assigned error, appellant urges that the hearings conducted on the cases, where no less than
forty-one (41) witnesses were presented by the parties, 207 were merely hearings on the petition for
bail concerning the murder charge for the killing of Roland Chapman, and not a trial on the merits of
all three (3) cases. Appellant insists that after the termination of the hearing, he still had the right to
adduce evidence at the trial proper. He claims he was denied due process when the trial court
considered all the cases submitted for decision after the defense waived its right to present its
surrebuttal evidence.
Appellant's position is untenable. This issue was resolved at the very first hearing of the cases on
August 9, 1991. The incident then pending was appellant's petition for bail for the murder of Chapman.
It will be remembered that, initially, there was only one murder charge against appellant since Maureen
Hultman succumbed to death during the course of the proceedings on October 17, 1991.
Thus, at the initial hearing on August 9, 1991, the incident for resolution was appellant's petition for
bail. The prosecution sought to present the surviving victim, Jussi Leino, to testify on all three (3)
charges to obviate delay and inconvenience since all three (3) charges involved one continuing
incident. Appellant, through counsel, objected to the testimony of Leino insofar as the two (2)
frustrated murder charges (with respect to the wounding of Leino and Hultman) were concerned. He
argued that since the pending incident was the petition for bail with respect to the killing of Chapman,
any testimony relative to the two (2) other charges in which bail were recommended was irrelevant.
After arguments, the defense suggested that if the prosecution would present Leino to testify on all
three (3) charges, it should wait until after accused's arraingment on August 14, 1991. 208 The
prosecution agreed on the condition that there shall be trial on the merits and, at the same time, hearing
on the petition for bail. Defense counsel agreed. 209
As agreed upon, accused was arraigned and the prosecution presented Jussi Leino as its first witness to
testify on all three (3) cases. No objection was made by the defense. 210
Subsequent proceedings likewise disprove appellant's insistence that the hearings conducted by the trial
court were limited to the petition for bail, viz:
1. The prosecution presented all their witnesses and documentary evidence relative to
the shooting incident, including evidence in support of the claim for damages. These
witnesses were extensively cross-examined by the defense counsels. The defense never
objected that evidence on damages would be unnecessary if its intention was really to
limit presentation of evidence to appellant's petition for bail.
2. After the prosecution and the defense rested their cases, the trial court issued an
Order 211 directing the parties to submit their Memorandum, after which "the main case
as well as the petition for bail are respectively submitted for Decision and Resolution."
After receipt of this Order, the defense counsel filed two (2) motions for extension of
time to file the defense Memorandum. In both Motions, the defense did not object to the
trial court's Order submitting for decision the main case and the petition for bail. Neither
did it move for a reconsideration of this Order and notify the court that it still had
witnesses to present.
3. In compliance with said Order, appellant's counsel, Atty. Rodolfo Jimenez, filed a
Memorandum and Supplemental Memorandum praying for accused's acquittal. This is
inconsistent with the defense's position that the hearing conducted was only on the
petition for bail. If the defense insist that what was submitted for decision was only his
petition for bail, he would have only prayed that he be granted bail.
4. Upon receipt of the notice of promulgation of judgment from the trial court, the
defense did not interpose any objection to the intended promulgation. In fact, the defense
attended the promulgation of the Decision and manifested that they were ready therefor.
All these clearly show that the merits of the cases and the petition for bail were heard simultaneously
and appellant acquiesced thereto. Moreover, appellant's right to present additional evidence was not
abridged by the trial court. On the contrary, the records disclose that the trial court afforded the defense
fair opportunity to adduce its evidence. It took the defense almost one and a half years to submit its
evidence. The defense presented more than twenty (20) witnesses and several documentary evidence. It
was only after the trial court rendered a decision against appellant that he filed a motion for new
trial, 212 through his new counsel, Atty. Gatmaytan, Jr. For the first time, he alleged that the joint
decision of the cases, both on the merits and on the petition for bail, was irregular for he was not given
a chance to present further evidence to corroborate his alibi. We note that in his motion for new
trial, 213 appellant did not even identify his alleged additional witnesses and the substance of their
testimonies. Nor was it shown that he could not have produced these evidence at the trial with
reasonable diligence. Appellant's motion was a patent ploy to delay the decision on his cases. His
motion was properly denied by the trial court.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, we hereby AFFIRM WITH MODIFICATIONS the Decision of the trial court,
dated December 22, 1992, thus:
(1) In Criminal Case No. 91-4605, finding accused Claudio J. Teehankee, Jr., guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide for the shooting of Roland John
Chapman, and sentencing said accused to suffer an indeterminate penalty of
imprisonment of eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum to
fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day ofreclusion temporal as maximum,
and to pay the heirs of the said deceased the following amounts: Fifty Thousand
(P50,000.00) pesos as indemnity for the victim's death; and, One Million
(P1,000,000.00) pesos as moral damages.
(2) In Criminal Case No. 91-4606, finding accused Claudio J. Teehankee, Jr., guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder, qualified by treachery, for the shooting
of Maureen Navarro Hultman, and sentencing him to suffer imprisonment of reclusion
perpetua, and to pay the heirs of the said deceased the following amounts: Fifty
Thousand (P50,000.00) pesos as indemnity for her death; Two Million Three Hundred
Fifty Thousand Four Hundred Sixty-One Pesos and Eighty-Three Centavos
(P2,350,461.83) as actual damages; Five Hundred Sixty-Four Thousand Fourty-Two
Pesos and Fifty-Seven Centavos (P564,042.57) for loss of earning capacity of said
deceased; One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) as moral damages; and Two Million
(P2,000,000.00) pesos as exemplary damages.
(3) In Criminal Case No. 91-4807, finding accused Claudio J. Teehankee, Jr., guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Frustrated Murder, qualified by treachery, for
the shooting of Jussi Olavi Leino, and sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty
of eight (8) years of prision mayor as minimum, to fourteen (14) years and eight (8)
months of reclusion temporal as maximum, and to pay the said offended party the
following amounts: (P30,000.00) pesos as Thirty Thousand (P30,000.00) pesos as
indemnity for his injuries; One Hundred Eighteen Thousand Three Hundred Sixty-Nine
pesos and Eighty-Four Centavos (P118,369.84) and equivalent in Philippine Pesos of
U.S.$55,600.00, both as actual damages; One Million (P1,000,000.00) pesos as moral
damages; and, Two Million (P2,000,000.00) pesos as exemplary damages.
(4) In all three cases, ordering said accused to pay each of the three (3) offended parties
the sum of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00; or a total of Three Million
[P3,000,000.00] pesos] for attorney's fees and expenses of litigation; and
(5) To pay the costs in all three (3) cases.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

[A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC. September 13, 2001]

RE: REQUEST FOR LIVE RADIO-TV COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL IN THE


SANDIGANBAYAN OF THE PLUNDER CASES AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT
JOSEPH E. ESTRADA

SECRETARY OF JUSTICE HERNANDO PEREZ, KAPISANAN NG MGA BRODKASTER


NG PILIPINAS, CESAR SARINO, RENATO CAYETANO, and ATTY. RICARDO
ROMULO, petitioners, vs. JOSEPH E. ESTRADA and INTEGRATED BAR OF THE
PHILIPPINES, oppositors.

RESOLUTION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a motion for reconsideration of the decision denying petitioners’ request for
permission to televise and broadcast live the trial of former President Estrada before the
Sandiganbayan. The motion was filed by the Secretary of Justice, as one of the petitioners,
who argues that there is really no conflict between the right of the people to public information
and the freedom of the press, on the one hand, and, on the other, the right of the accused to a
fair trial; that if there is a clash between these rights, it must be resolved in favor of the right of
the people and the press because the people, as the repository of sovereignty, are entitled to
information; and that live media coverage is a safeguard against attempts by any party to use
the courts as instruments for the pursuit of selfish interests.

On the other hand, former President Joseph E. Estrada reiterates his objection to the live
TV and radio coverage of his trial on the ground that its allowance will violate the sub
judice rule and that, based on his experience with the impeachment trial, live media coverage
will only pave the way for so-called "expert commentary" which can trigger massive
demonstrations aimed at pressuring the Sandiganbayan to render a decision one way or the
other. Mr. Estrada contends that the right of the people to information may be served through
other means less distracting, degrading, and prejudicial than live TV and radio coverage.

The Court has considered the arguments of the parties on this important issue and, after
due deliberation, finds no reason to alter or in any way modify its decision prohibiting live or
real time broadcast by radio or television of the trial of the former president. By a vote of nine
(9) to six (6) of its members,[1] the Court denies the motion for reconsideration of the
Secretary of Justice.
In lieu of live TV and radio coverage of the trial, the Court, by the vote of eight (8)
Justices,[2] has resolved to order the audio-visual recording of the trial for documentary
purposes. Seven (7) Justices[3] vote against the audio-visual recording of the trial.

What follows is the opinion of the majority.

Considering the significance of the trial before the Sandiganbayan of former President
Estrada and the importance of preserving the records thereof, the Court believes that there
should be an audio-visual recording of the proceedings. The recordings will not be for live or
real time broadcast but for documentary purposes. Only later will they be available for public
showing, after the Sandiganbayan shall have promulgated its decision in every case to which
the recording pertains. The master film shall be deposited in the National Museum and the
Records Management and Archives Office for historical preservation and exhibition pursuant
to law.[4]

For the purpose of recording the proceedings, cameras will be inconspicuously installed
in the courtroom and the movement of TV crews will be regulated, consistent with the dignity
and solemnity of the proceedings. The trial shall be recorded in its entirety, except such
portions thereof as the Sandiganbayan may decide should not be held public pursuant to Rule
119, §21 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. No comment shall be included in the
documentary except annotations which may be necessary to explain certain scenes which are
depicted. The audio-visual recordings shall be made under the supervision and control of the
Sandiganbayan or its Division as the case may be.

There are several reasons for such televised recording. First, the hearings are of historic
significance. They are an affirmation of our commitment to the rule that "the King is under no
man, but he is under God and the law." (Quod Rex non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo
et Lege.) Second, the Estrada cases involve matters of vital concern to our people who have
a fundamental right to know how their government is conducted. This right can be enhanced
by audio-visual presentation. Third, audio-visual presentation is essential for the education
and civic training of the people.

Above all, there is the need to keep audio-visual records of the hearings for documentary
purposes. The recordings will be useful in preserving the essence of the proceedings in a
way that the cold print cannot quite do because it cannot capture the sights and sounds of
events. They will be primarily for the use of appellate courts in the event a review of the
proceedings, rulings, or decisions of the Sandiganbayan is sought or becomes
necessary. The accuracy of the transcripts of stenographic notes taken during the trial can be
checked by reference to the tapes.

On the other hand, by delaying the release of the tapes for broadcast, concerns that
those taking part in the proceedings will be playing to the cameras and will thus be distracted
from the proper performance of their roles – whether as counsel, witnesses, court personnel,
or judges – will be allayed. The possibility that parallel trials before the bar of justice and the
bar of public opinion may jeopardize, or even prevent, the just determination of the cases can
be minimized. The possibility that judgment will be rendered by the popular tribunal before
the court of justice can render its own will be avoided.
At the same time, concerns about the regularity and fairness of the trial - which, it may be
assumed, is the concern of those opposed to, as much as of those in favor of, televised trials
- will be addressed since the tapes will not be released for public showing until after the
decision of the cases by the Sandiganbayan. By delaying the release of the tapes, much of
the problem posed by real time TV and radio broadcast will be avoided.

Thus, many important purposes for preserving the record of the trials can be served by
audio-visual recordings without impairing the right of the accused to a fair trial.

Nor is the right of privacy of the accused a bar to the production of such
documentary. In Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Capulong,[5] this Court set aside a lower
court's injunction restraining the filming of "Four Day Revolution," a documentary film
depicting, among other things, the role of then Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce
Enrile in the 1986 EDSA people power. This Court held: "A limited intrusion into a person's
privacy has long been regarded as permissible where that person is a public figure and the
information sought to be elicited from him or to be published about him constitute matters of a
public character."[6]

No one can prevent the making of a movie based on the trial. But, at least, if a
documentary record is made of the proceedings, any movie that may later be produced can
be checked for its accuracy against such documentary and any attempt to distort the truth can
thus be averted.

Indeed, a somewhat similar proposal for documentary recording of celebrated cases


or causes célèbres was made way back in 1971 by Paul Freund of the Harvard Law
School. As he explained:

In fairness let me refer to an American experience many of my lay friends found similarly
moving. An educational television network filmed a trial in Denver of a Black Panther leader
on charges of resisting arrest, and broadcast the document in full, in four installments, several
months after the case was concluded - concluded incidentally, with a verdict of acquittal.

No one could witness the trial without a feeling of profound respect for the painstaking
way in which the truth was searched for, for the ways whereby law copes with uncertainties
and ambiguities through presumptions and burden of proof, and the sense of gravity with
which judge and jury carried out their responsibilities.

I agree in general with the exclusion of television from the courtroom, for the familiar good
reasons. And yet the use of television at a trial for documentary purposes, not for the
broadcast of live news, and with the safeguards of completeness and consent, is an
educational experiment that I would be prepared to welcome. Properly safeguarded and with
suitable commentary, the depiction of an actual trial is an agency of enlightenment that could
have few equals in its impact on the public understanding.

Understanding of our legal process, so rarely provided by our educational system, is now
a desperate need.[7]

Professor Freund's observation is as valid today as when it was made thirty years ago. It
is perceptive for its recognition of the serious risks posed to the fair administration of justice
by live TV and radio broadcasts, especially when emotions are running high on the issues
stirred by a case, while at the same time acknowledging the necessity of keeping audio-visual
recordings of the proceedings of celebrated cases, for public information and exhibition, after
passions have subsided.

WHEREFORE, an audio-visual recording of the trial of former President Estrada before


the Sandiganbayan is hereby ordered to be made, for the account of the Sandiganbayan,
under the following conditions: (a) the trial shall be recorded in its entirety, excepting such
portions thereof as the Sandiganbayan may determine should not be held public under Rule
119, §21 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure; (b) cameras shall be installed inconspicuously
inside the courtroom and the movement of TV crews shall be regulated consistent with the
dignity and solemnity of the proceedings; (c) the audio-visual recordings shall be made for
documentary purposes only and shall be made without comment except such annotations of
scenes depicted therein as may be necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast of the
recordings before the Sandiganbayan shall have rendered its decision in all the cases against
the former President shall be prohibited under pain of contempt of court and other sanctions
in case of violations of the prohibition; (e) to ensure that the conditions are observed, the
audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be made under the supervision and control of
the Sandiganbayan or its Division concerned and shall be made pursuant to rules
promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with the release of the audio-visual recordings for
public broadcast, the original thereof shall be deposited in the National Museum and the
Records Management and Archives Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with
law.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

RE: PETITION FOR RADIO AND A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC


TELEVISION COVERAGE OF THE
MULTIPLE MURDER CASES
AGAINST MAGUINDANAO
GOVERNOR ZALDY AMPATUAN, ET
AL.,
x ----------------------------------- x
RE: PETITION FOR THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE PRESENT A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC
COURT HANDLING THE TRIAL OF
THE MASSACRE OF 57 PERSONS,
INCLUDING 32 JOURNALISTS, IN Present:
AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO INTO
A SPECIAL COURT HANDLING THIS CORONA,* C.J.,
CASE ALONE FOR THE PURPOSE CARPIO,
OF ACHIEVING GENUINE SPEEDY CARPIO MORALES,
TRIAL and FOR THE SETTING UP VELASCO, JR.,
OF VIDEOCAM AND MONITOR JUST LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
OUTSIDE THE COURT FOR BRION,
JOURNALISTS TO COVER AND FOR PERALTA,
THE PEOPLE TO WITNESS THE BERSAMIN,
“TRIAL OF THE DECADE” TO MAKE DEL CASTILLO,
IT TRULY PUBLIC AND IMPARTIAL ABAD,
AS COMMANDED BY THE VILLARAMA, JR.,
CONSTITUTION, PEREZ,
x ---------------------------------x MENDOZA, and
SERENO, JJ.

RE: LETTER OF PRESIDENT


BENIGNO S. AQUINO III FOR THE Promulgated:
LIVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE
MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE TRIAL. June 14, 2011

A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC

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

RESOLUTION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

On November 23, 2009, 57 people including 32 journalists and media practitioners


were killed while on their way to Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao. Touted as the worst election-
related violence and the most brutal killing of journalists in recent history, the tragic incident
which came to be known as the “Maguindanao Massacre” spawned charges for 57 counts of
murder and an additional charge of rebellion against 197 accused, docketed as Criminal Case
Nos. Q-09-162148-72, Q-09-162216-31, Q-10-162652-66, and Q-10-163766, commonly
entitled People v. Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr., et al. Following the transfer of venue and the
reraffling of the cases, the cases are being tried by Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of
Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) ofQuezon City inside Camp Bagong Diwa
in Taguig City.

Almost a year later or on November 19, 2010, the National Union of Journalists of the
Philippines (NUJP), ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, GMA Network, Inc., relatives of the
victims,[1] individual journalists[2] from various media entities, and members of the
academe[3] filed a petition before this Court praying that live television and radio coverage of
the trial in these criminal cases be allowed, recording devices (e.g., still cameras, tape
recorders) be permitted inside the courtroom to assist the working journalists, and reasonable
guidelines be formulated to govern the broadcast coverage and the use of devices. [4] The
Court docketed the petition as A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC.

In a related move, the National Press Club of the Philippines[5] (NPC) and Alyansa ng
Filipinong Mamamahayag[6](AFIMA) filed on November 22, 2010 a petition praying that the
Court constitute Branch 221 of RTC-Quezon City as a special court to focus only on the
Maguindanao Massacre trial to relieve it of all other pending cases and assigned duties,
and allow the installation inside the courtroom of a sufficient number of video cameras that
shall beam the audio and video signals to the television monitors outside the court.[7] The
Court docketed the petition as A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC.

President Benigno S. Aquino III, by letter of November 22, 2010[8] addressed to Chief
Justice Renato Corona, came out “in support of those who have petitioned [this Court] to
permit television and radio broadcast of the trial." The President expressed “earnest hope
that [this Court] will, within the many considerations that enter into such a historic deliberation,
attend to this petition with the dispatch, dispassion and humaneness, such a petition
merits.”[9] The Court docketed the matter asA.M. No. 10-11-7-SC.

By separate Resolutions of November 23, 2010,[10] the Court consolidated A.M.


No. 10-11-7-SC with A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC. The Court shall treat in a separate Resolution
A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC.

Meanwhile, various groups[11] also sent to the Chief Justice their respective resolutions
and statements bearing on these matters.

The principal accused in the cases, Andal Ampatuan, Jr. (Ampatuan), filed a
Consolidated Comment of December 6, 2010 in A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC and A.M. No. 10-11-7-
SC. The President, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), and NUJP, et al. filed
their respective Reply of January 18, 2011 and January 20, 2011. Ampatuan also filed a
Rejoinder of March 9, 2011.

On Broadcasting the Trial of the Maguindanao Massacre Cases

Petitioners seek the lifting of the absolute ban on live television and radio coverage of
court proceedings. They principally urge the Court to revisit the 1991 ruling in Re: Live TV
and Radio Coverage of the Hearing of President Corazon C. Aquino’s Libel Case[12] and
the 2001 ruling in Re: Request Radio-TV Coverage of the Trial in the Sandiganbayan of the
Plunder Cases Against the Former President Joseph E. Estrada[13] which rulings, they
contend, violate the doctrine that proposed restrictions on constitutional rights are to be
narrowly construed and outright prohibition cannot stand when regulation is a viable
alternative.

Petitioners state that the trial of the Maguindanao Massacre cases has attracted
intense media coverage due to the gruesomeness of the crime, prominence of the accused,
and the number of media personnel killed. They inform that reporters are being frisked and
searched for cameras, recorders, and cellular devices upon entry, and that under strict orders
of the trial court against live broadcast coverage, the number of media practitioners allowed
inside the courtroom has been limited to one reporter for each media institution.

The record shows that NUJP Vice-Chairperson Jose Jaime Espina, by January 12,
2010 letter[14] to Judge Solis-Reyes, requested a dialogue to discuss concerns over media
coverage of the proceedings of the Maguindanao Massacre cases. Judge Solis-Reyes
replied, however, that “matters concerning media coverage should be brought to the Court’s
attention through appropriate motion.”[15] Hence, the present petitions which assert the
exercise of the freedom of the press, right to information, right to a fair and public trial, right to
assembly and to petition the government for redress of grievances, right of free access to
courts, and freedom of association, subject to regulations to be issued by the Court.

The Court partially GRANTS pro hac vice petitioners’ prayer for a live broadcast
of the trial court proceedings,subject to the guidelines which shall be enumerated shortly.

Putt’s Law[16] states that “technology is dominated by two types of people: those who
understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not
understand.” Indeed, members of this Court cannot strip their judicial robe and don the
experts’ gown, so to speak, in a pretense to foresee and fathom all serious prejudices or risks
from the use of technology inside the courtroom.

A decade after Estrada and a score after Aquino, the Court is once again faced with the
same task of striking that delicate balance between seemingly competing yet
certainly complementary rights.

The indication of “serious risks” posed by live media coverage to the accused’s right to
due process, left unexplained and unexplored in the era obtaining in Aquino and Estrada, has
left a blow to the exercise of press freedom and the right to public information.

The rationale for an outright total prohibition was shrouded, as it is now, inside
the comfortable cocoon of a feared speculation which no scientific study in the
Philippine setting confirms, and which fear, if any, may be dealt with by safeguards and
safety nets under existing rules and exacting regulations.
In this day and age, it is about time to craft a win-win situation that
shall not compromise rights in the criminal administration of justice, sacrifice press freedom
and allied rights, and interfere with the integrity, dignity and solemnity of judicial
proceedings. Compliance with regulations, not curtailment of a right, provides a workable
solution to the concerns raised in these administrative matters, while, at the same time,
maintaining the same underlying principles upheld in the two previous cases.

The basic principle upheld in Aquino is firm ─ “[a] trial of any kind or in any court is a
matter of serious importance to all concerned and should not be treated as a means of
entertainment[, and t]o so treat it deprives the court of the dignity which pertains to it and
departs from the orderly and serious quest for truth for which our judicial proceedings are
formulated.” The observation that “[m]assive intrusion of representatives of the news media
into the trial itself can so alter and destroy the constitutionally necessary atmosphere and
decorum” stands.

The Court concluded in Aquino:

Considering the prejudice it poses to the defendant's right to due process


as well as to the fair and orderly administration of justice, and considering further
that the freedom of the press and the right of the people to information may be
served and satisfied by less distracting, degrading and prejudicial means, live
radio and television coverage of court proceedings shall not be allowed. Video
footages of court hearings for news purposes shall be restricted and limited to
shots of the courtroom, the judicial officers, the parties and their counsel taken
prior to the commencement of official proceedings. No video shots or
photographs shall be permitted during the trial proper.

Accordingly, in order to protect the parties' right to due process, to


prevent the distraction of the participants in the proceedings and in the last
analysis, to avoid miscarriage of justice, the Court resolved to PROHlBIT live
radio and television coverage of court proceedings. Video footage of court
hearings for news purposes shall be limited and restricted as above indicated.
[17]

The Court had another unique opportunity in Estrada to revisit the question of live radio
and television coverage of court proceedings in a criminal case. It held that “[t]he propriety of
granting or denying the instant petition involve[s] the weighing out of the constitutional
guarantees of freedom of the press and the right to public information, on the one hand, and
the fundamental rights of the accused, on the other hand, along with the constitutional power
of a court to control its proceedings in ensuring a fair and impartial trial.” The Court disposed:

The Court is not all that unmindful of recent technological and scientific
advances but to chance forthwith the life or liberty of any person in a hasty bid to
use and apply them, even before ample safety nets are provided and the
concerns heretofore expressed are aptly addressed, is a price too high to pay.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.[18]

In resolving the motion for reconsideration, the Court in Estrada, by Resolution of


September 13, 2001, provided a glimmer of hope when it ordered the audio-visual recording
of the trial for documentary purposes, under the following conditions:

x x x (a) the trial shall be recorded in its entirety, excepting such portions
thereof as the Sandiganbayan may determine should not be held public under
Rule 119, §21 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure; (b) cameras shall be installed
inconspicuously inside the courtroom and the movement of TV crews shall be
regulated consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings; (c) the
audio-visual recordings shall be made for documentary purposes only and shall
be made without comment except such annotations of scenes depicted therein
as may be necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast of the recordings
before the Sandiganbayan shall have rendered its decision in all the cases
against the former President shall be prohibited under pain of contempt of court
and other sanctions in case of violations of the prohibition; (e) to ensure that the
conditions are observed, the audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be
made under the supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or its Division
concerned and shall be made pursuant to rules promulgated by it; and (f)
simultaneously with the release of the audio-visual recordings for public
broadcast, the original thereof shall be deposited in the National Museum and
the Records Management and Archives Office for preservation and exhibition in
accordance with law.[19]

Petitioners note that the 1965 case of Estes v.


Texas[20] which Aquino and Estrada heavily cited, was borne out of the dynamics of a jury
system, where the considerations for the possible infringement of the impartiality of a jury,
whose members are not necessarily schooled in the law, are different from that of a judge
who is versed with the rules of evidence. To petitioners, Estesalso does not represent the
most contemporary position of the United States in the wake of latest jurisprudence[21] and
statistical figures revealing that as of 2007 all 50 states, except the District of Columbia, allow
television coverage with varying degrees of openness.

Other jurisdictions welcome the idea of media coverage. Almost all the proceedings
of United Kingdom’s Supreme Court are filmed, and sometimes broadcast.[22] The
International Criminal Court broadcasts its proceedings via video streaming in the internet.[23]

On the media coverage’s influence on judges, counsels and witnesses, petitioners point
out that Aquino and Estrada, likeEstes, lack empirical evidence to support the sustained
conclusion. They point out errors of generalization where the conclusion has been mostly
supported by studies on American attitudes, as there has been no authoritative study on the
particular matter dealing with Filipinos.

Respecting the possible influence of media coverage on the impartiality of trial court
judges, petitioners correctly explain that prejudicial publicity insofar as it undermines the right
to a fair trial must pass the “totality of circumstances” test, applied in People v. Teehankee,
Jr.[24] and Estrada v. Desierto,[25] that the right of an accused to a fair trial is not
incompatible to a free press, that pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an
accused to a fair trial, and that there must be allegation and proof of the impaired capacity of
a judge to render a bias-free decision. Mere fear of possible undue influence is not
tantamount to actual prejudice resulting in the deprivation of the right to a fair trial.

Moreover, an aggrieved party has ample legal remedies. He may challenge the validity
of an adverse judgment arising from a proceeding that transgressed a constitutional right. As
pointed out by petitioners, an aggrieved party may early on move for a change of venue, for
continuance until the prejudice from publicity is abated, for disqualification of the judge, and
for closure of portions of the trial when necessary. The trial court may likewise exercise its
power of contempt and issue gag orders.
One apparent circumstance that sets the Maguindanao Massacre cases apart from the
earlier cases is the impossibility of accommodating even the parties to the cases – the private
complainants/families of the victims and other witnesses – inside the courtroom. On public
trial, Estrada basically discusses:

An accused has a right to a public trial but it is a right that belongs to him,
more than anyone else, where his life or liberty can be held critically in
balance. A public trial aims to ensure that he is fairly dealt with and would not be
unjustly condemned and that his rights are not compromised in secrete
conclaves of long ago. A public trial is not synonymous with publicized trial; it
only implies that the court doors must be open to those who wish to come, sit in
the available seats, conduct themselves with decorum and observe the trial
process. In the constitutional sense, a courtroom should have enough facilities
for a reasonable number of the public to observe the proceedings, not too small
as to render the openness negligible and not too large as to distract the trial
participants from their proper functions, who shall then be totally free to report
what they have observed during the proceedings.[26] (underscoring supplied)

Even before considering what is a “reasonable number of the public” who may observe
the proceedings, the peculiarity of the subject criminal cases is that the proceedings already
necessarily entail the presence of hundreds of families. It cannot be gainsaid that the families
of the 57 victims and of the 197 accused have as much interest, beyond mere curiosity, to
attend or monitor the proceedings as those of the impleaded parties or trial participants. It
bears noting at this juncture that the prosecution and the defense have listed more than 200
witnesses each.

The impossibility of holding such judicial proceedings in a courtroom that will


accommodate all the interested parties, whether private complainants or accused, is
unfortunate enough. What more if the right itself commands that a reasonable number of the
general public be allowed to witness the proceeding as it takes place inside the
courtroom. Technology tends to provide the only solution to break the inherent limitations of
the courtroom, to satisfy the imperative of a transparent, open and public trial.

In so allowing pro hac vice the live broadcasting by radio and television of the
Maguindanao Massacre cases, the Court lays down the following guidelines toward
addressing the concerns mentioned in Aquino and Estrada:

(a) An audio-visual recording of the Maguindanao massacre cases may be made


both for documentary purposes and for transmittal to live radio and television
broadcasting.

(b) Media entities must file with the trial court a letter of application, manifesting
that they intend to broadcast the audio-visual recording of the proceedings and
that they have the necessary technological equipment and technical plan
to carry out the same, with an undertaking that they will faithfully comply with the
guidelines and regulations and cover the entire remaining proceedings until
promulgation of judgment.

No selective or partial coverage shall be allowed. No media entity shall


be allowed to broadcast the proceedings without an application duly approved by
the trial court.

(c) A single fixed compact camera shall be installed inconspicuously inside the
courtroom to provide a single wide-angle full-view of the sala of the trial
court. No panning and zooming shall be allowed to avoid unduly highlighting or
downplaying incidents in the proceedings. The camera and the necessary
equipment shall be operated and controlled only by a duly designated official or
employee of the Supreme Court. The camera equipment should not produce or
beam any distracting sound or light rays. Signal lights or signs showing the
equipment is operating should not be visible. A limited number of microphones
and the least installation of wiring, if not wireless technology, must be
unobtrusively located in places indicated by the trial court.

The Public Information Office and the Office of the Court Administrator
shall coordinate and assist the trial court on the physical set-up of the camera
and equipment.

(d) The transmittal of the audio-visual recording from inside the courtroom to the
media entities shall be conducted in such a way that the least physical
disturbance shall be ensured in keeping with the dignity and solemnity of the
proceedings and the exclusivity of the access to the media entities.

The hardware for establishing an interconnection or link with the camera


equipment monitoring the proceedings shall be for the account of the media
entities, which should employ technology that can (i) avoid the cumbersome
snaking cables inside the courtroom, (ii) minimize the unnecessary ingress or
egress of technicians, and (iii) preclude undue commotion in case of technical
glitches.

If the premises outside the courtroom lack space for the set-up of the
media entities’ facilities, the media entities shall access the audio-visual
recording either via wireless technology accessible even from outside the court
premises or from one common web broadcasting platform from which streaming
can be accessed or derived to feed the images and sounds.

At all times, exclusive access by the media entities to the real-time audio-
visual recording should be protected or encrypted.

(e) The broadcasting of the proceedings for a particular day must be continuous
and in its entirety, excepting such portions thereof where Sec. 21 of Rule 119 of
the Rules of Court[27] applies, and where the trial court excludes, upon motion,
prospective witnesses from the courtroom, in instances where, inter alia, there
are unresolved identification issues or there are issues which involve the security
of the witnesses and the integrity of their testimony (e.g., the dovetailing of
corroborative testimonies is material, minority of the witness).

The trial court may, with the consent of the parties, order only the
pixelization of the image of the witness or mute the audio output, or both.

(f) To provide a faithful and complete broadcast of the proceedings, no


commercial break or any other gap shall be allowed until the day’s proceedings
are adjourned, except during the period of recess called by the trial court and
during portions of the proceedings wherein the public is ordered excluded.

(g) To avoid overriding or superimposing the audio output from the on-going
proceedings, the proceedings shall be broadcast without any voice-overs, except
brief annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be necessary to explain
them at the start or at the end of the scene. Any commentary shall observe
the sub judice rule and be subject to the contempt power of the court;

(h) No repeat airing of the audio-visual recording shall be allowed until after the
finality of judgment, except brief footages and still images derived from or
cartographic sketches of scenes based on the recording, only for news
purposes, which shall likewise observe the sub judice rule and be subject to the
contempt power of the court;

(i) The original audio-recording shall be deposited in the National Museum and
the Records Management and Archives Office for preservation and exhibition in
accordance with law.

(j) The audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be made under the
supervision and control of the trial court which may issue supplementary
directives, as the exigency requires, including the suspension or revocation of
the grant of application by the media entities.

(k) The Court shall create a special committee which shall forthwith study, design
and recommend appropriate arrangements, implementing regulations, and
administrative matters referred to it by the Court concerning the live broadcast of
the proceedings pro hac vice, in accordance with the above-outlined
guidelines. The Special Committee shall also report and recommend on the
feasibility, availability and affordability of the latest technology that would meet
the herein requirements. It may conduct consultations with resource persons
and experts in the field of information and communication technology.

(l) All other present directives in the conduct of the proceedings of the trial court
(i.e., prohibition on recording devices such as still cameras, tape recorders; and
allowable number of media practitioners inside the courtroom) shall be observed
in addition to these guidelines.

Indeed, the Court cannot gloss over what advances technology has to offer in distilling
the abstract discussion of key constitutional precepts into the workable
context. Technology per se has always been neutral. It is the use and regulation thereof that
need fine-tuning. Law and technology can work to the advantage and furtherance of the
various rights herein involved, within the contours of defined guidelines.

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing disquisition, the Court PARTIALLY


GRANTS PRO HAC VICE the request for live broadcast by television and radio of the trial
court proceedings of the Maguindanao Massacre cases, subject to the guidelines herein
outlined.

SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justices

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
OMAR MAPALAO and REX MAGUMNANG, defendants-appellants.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Paterno Aquino for defendants-appellants.

GANCAYCO, J.:p
Highway robbery with homicide is a heinous offense. It is condemnable enough for a person to commit
robbery by way of a holdup but if in the process human life is taken, the criminal act is certainly
detestable. No less than the death penalty provided by law should be meted out if we are to contain the
proliferation of this odious offense. Unfortunately, unless Congress and Malacañang act accordingly to
consider by law this class of crimes as heinous offenses, the Courts must have to comply with the
constitutional injunction against the imposition of the supreme penalty.
The facts are accurately related by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City as follows:
It appears from the Evidence that Adolfo Quiambao is a businessman selling textile
materials. He has a stall in the Hilltop Market in Baguio where he sells his goods. But
sometimes on weekends, he goes to Abatan, Buguias, Benguet to sell his goods.
On September 19, 1987 at about 3:00 to 4:00 A.M., he went to Abatan, Buguias,
Benguet using his Ford Fiera with his driver Felizardo Galvez and a certain Jimmy
Jetwani (a bombay), where he sold his goods in the afternoon until at night and so,
stayed overnight thereat.
The next day, at about 7:00 A.M. of September 20, 1987, after breakfast, Adolfo
Quiambao, his driver Felizardo Galvez, and Jimmy Jetwani proceeded to Mankayan,
Benguet. This time four Muslims rode with them, namely: Omar Mapalao, Rex
Magumnang Aliman Bara-akal, and a certain Anwar Hadji Edris. Incidentally, Omar
Mapalao and Rex Magumnang had previously rode once with Adolfo Quiambao in the
latter's vehicle sometime September 13, 1987 while Anwar Hadji Edris (alias Randy)
was known to Adolfo Quiambao for sometime already. They arrived in Mankayan at
about 8:00 A.M. They stayed 4 hours in Mankayan to sell goods and collect from
customers.
At about 12:00 noon of the same day of September 20, 1987, they, the same passengers
previously, started from Mankayan going back to Abatan, Buguias, Benguet, with one
passenger added, Simeon Calama. At Abatan, Adolfo Quiambao collected amounts from
his customers for about an hour.
At about 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. on September 20,1987, Adolfo Quiambao proceeded on his
way back to Baguio They were 10 in all who rode in his Ford Fiera, namely: (1) his
driver Felizardo Galvez; (2) Jimmy Jetwani; (3) Simeon Calama, a son of his customer
in Mankayan; (4) Rene Salonga, a friend with whom he stayed in Abatan when he
started his business; (5) Eduardo Lopez, a co-vendor who sells also goods in Abatan; (6)
Omar Mapalao; (7) Rex Magumnang; (8) Aliman Bara-akal; (9) Anwar Hadji Edris; and
(10) Adolfo Quiambao himself.
On the way, they stopped at Natubleng, Buguias, Benguet at about 3:00 P.M. where
Jimmy Jetwani and Adolfo Quiambao collected their credits for less than an hour.
From there, they proceeded to Sayangan, Atok, Benguet where they stopped at about
5:00 P.M. for Adolfo Quiambao and Jimmy Jetwani to collect their credits. At Sayangan,
too, they ate in a restaurant.
It was about 6:00 P.M. already when they left Sayangan to proceed to Baguio. But when
they left Sayangan, Adolfo Quiambao noticed that there were now 5 Muslims with
apparently Gumanak Ompa joining them making them 11 passengers in all in his Ford
Fiera.
On the way back to Baguio, after about an hour of driving, one of the passengers stopped
the vehicle in order to urinate. So they all alighted to urinate. At this point, Adolfo
Quiambao took over driving telling his driver Felizardo Galvez to rest.
After about 30 minutes of driving from the time Adolfo Quiambao took over, one of the
Muslims stopped the vehicle at Km. 24, Caliking Atok, Benguet, in order to urinate. And
so again they stopped with the Muslims alighting to urinate.
Thereafter, when Adolfo Quiambao was about to start the vehicle to proceed to Baguio,
while waiting for the Muslims to board, Omar Mapalao went to the left side of the
vehicle near the driver's seat, pointed a gun (Exh. G) at Adolfo Quiambao and
announced "This is a holdup." Another Muslim went to the other side of the front seat
while another Muslim went to the back to guard the back door of the Ford Fiera. And
Gumanak Ompa and Rex Magumnang, each armed with a knife, went inside the back of
the Ford Fiera and pointed their knives on the passengers. Forthwith, Omar Mapalao,
while point the gun, ordered all passengers in front to go inside the back of the vehicle.
Adolfo Quiambao and Jimmy Jetwani complied. But as Adolfo Quiambao went inside
the back of the vehicle, he heard arguing outside and noticed a rumble and a commotion
by the left side of the vehicle involving his driver, Felizardo Galvez, and the Muslims.
As a consequence, the driver Galvez was injured. Adolfo Quiambao pleaded that they
are willing to give their money and valuables provided they (the Muslims) will not harm
them. Rex Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa, while poking their knives on the
passengers, divested Adolfo Quiambao of P40,000.00, Jimmy Jetwani of P14,000.00,
and Simeon Calama of P3,700.00 in cash, watch and clothes.
After divesting the passengers of their money, Rex Magumnang went to the driver's seat
to start the vehicle but could not and so he called for Adolfo Quiambao to start it. But
Adolfo Quiambao, too, could not start the vehicle. Angered, Omar Mapalao started
counting 1 to 3 threatening to shoot Quiambao if the vehicle would not start. Adolfo
Quimbao pleaded that he was not the driver and so called for Felizardo Galvez, despite
the latter being injured, to start the vehicle. After Galvez was able to start the engine,
immediately Rex Magumnang went by the side of the driver, Galvez, and took hold of
the steering wheel while ordering the latter to step on the accelerator and proceed to the
direction of the left side of the road towards the precipice (bangin) indicating an
intention to have the vehicle driven to the precipice. It was at this point when Galvez
struggled and fought with Rex Magumnang for control of the steering wheel as it was
being directed to the ravine. It was good Galvez was able to step on the brakes on time
to prevent it from falling into the precipice It was then that Rex Magumnang stabbed and
thrust the knife on Galvez with the latter jerking saying "aray" in pain. At this point, too,
the passengers panicked and jumped out of the vehicle scampering in different directions
for safety. Adolfo Quiambao jumped out into the ground first and when he saw Mapalao
pointing a gun at him he jumped into the precipice thinking it was better than to be shot
at and in doing so hurt himself. The driver Galvez fell to the ravine upon being stabbed.
Jimmy Jetwani jumped out of the vehicle and ran to the mountains without looking back.
Simeon Calama and Eduardo Lopez and Rene Salonga, too, jumped out and sought
safety on the road.
Meantime, a vegetable truck passed by and immediately Aliman Bara-akal boarded the
same on the front seat with the driver. Eduardo Lopez also ran after the same truck and
boarded it at the back. Not far behind the first vegetable truck was another vegetable
truck following it. Simeon Calama stopped it asking for help but Omar Mapalao, with
gun in his hand, prevented him. And so the second vegetable truck went on but before it
could fully pass by, Simeon Calama took the chance of boarding it when Omar
Mapalao's attention was diverted.
Thus, the two vegetable trucks proceeded on their way till they stopped at the toll gate at
Acop, Tublay, Benguet. Immediately, Simeon Calama and Eduardo Lopez alighted and
reported to the Police Station near the toll gate that they were help up and that one of the
Muslims who held them up was in the first truck parked near the toll gate. Aliman Bara-
akal was, thus, arrested by the Tublay Police and the amount of P4,015.00 was recovered
from him when frisked at the Police Station.
Meanwhile, at the crime scene, the 3 Muslims left thereat, Omar Mapalao, Rex
Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa, fled to the mountains leaving their victims and
avoided the road so as not to be seen.
It is not clear on record where Anwar Hadji Edris (alias Randy) went after the holdup
but in any case he eluded arrest.
After the Muslims have left, Adolfo Quiambao went up to the road level and by then saw
also his driver Galvez wounded lying in the precipice
Thereafter, another vegetable truck passed by, and Adolfo Quiambao asked the driver to
help them bring his wounded driver, Felizardo Galvez, from the ravine. Thus, Galvez
was brought up to the road and placed inside the Ford Fiera. The vegetable truck driver
helped in starting the Ford Fiera. And from there, they proceeded immediately to the
Benguet Hospital at La Trinidad, Benguet, but when there was no doctor, they brought
Galvez to the Baguio General Hospital.
At the Baguio General Hospital, efforts to save the life of Felizardo Galvez proved futile
as the next morning he died of his stab wounds.
Dr. Wi submitted an Autopsy Report (Exh. A) as follows:
I. STAB WOUNDS:
1. Right Mid-clavicular area, 7th Intercostal Space, penetrating with round edges, 0.5 x
0.5 cm.
2. Left Lumbar area, level 11th Intercostal Space, penetrating, with clean cut edges, 1.9
cm.
3. Anterior-superior right pre-auricular area, with clean cut edges, 3.5 cm., and 2 cm.
deep.
4. Right Mid-clavicular area level 2nd rib, non penetrating, 3 x 0.7 cm., and 2 cm. deep.
5. Left anterior Deltoid area, 9.5 cm. (extended Surgically).
6. Posterior leaf of the left Diaphragm 3 cm. with hemorrhages around the wound.
7. Through and through, Right lower lobe of the Lung, 0.5 x 0.5 cm. with round edges.
II. INCISED WOUNDS:
1. Right lateral neck, superficial, 2 cm.
2. Left supraclavicular to left submandibular area, superficial, 12.5 cm.
3. Left upper arm, lateral area, 2 cm. and 2 mm. deep.
Dr. Wi also, submitted a sketch of the human body showing the stab wounds sustained in
the body of Felizardo Galvez (Exh. B and Exh. C) and the Death Certificate (Exh. D)
showing the cause of death as Hypovolemic Shock secondary to Multiple Stab wounds
at the right anterior superior and auricular area, right anterior chest, left deltoid area, left
lumbar area, posterior with laceration of the right lower lobe of the lung, etc.
Adolfo Quiambao was also treated of his injuries as shown in his Medical Certificate
(Exh. E).
Subsequently, the Tublay Police were able to locate and apprehend on September 21,
1987 at Sto. Niño Tublay, Omar Mapalao, Rex Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa.
Also, Jimmy Jetwani, who fled to the mountains at the scene of the incident was found
and rescued the next morning after the holdup.
In a confrontation at the Tublay Police Station on September 22, 1987, Adolfo
Quiambao, Jimmy Jetwani and Simeon Calama positively identified the four (4)
Muslims in custody, Omar Mapalao, Rex Magumnang, Gumanak Ompa and Aliman
Bara-akal as among those who held them up at the Halsema Road (mountain trail), Km.
24, Caliking, Atok, Benguet.
Adolfo Quiambao, Jimmy Jetwani and Simeon Calama gave their statements (Exhs. F,
M and N) to the police.
At the Tublay Police Station, too, the gun caliber .38 paltik (Exh. G) with 5 live
ammunitions (Exhs. G-1 to G-5) and the knife (Exh. G-6) used in the holdup were
recovered from the possession of Gumanak Ompa.
Finally, the policemen who apprehended Aliman Bara-akal at the toll gate executed a
joint affidavit (Exhs. O and P) and the policemen who apprehended Mapalao, Ompa and
Magumnang at Sto. Niño Tublay, executed a joint affidavit (Exh. R). 1
In due course, an amended information was filed in the RTC of Baguio City charging Rex Magumnang,
Aliman Bara-akal, Anwar Hadji Edris, Gumanak Ompa and Omar Mapalao of the crime of Highway
Robbery with Homicide, defined and penalized under Presidential Decree No. 532, which was
allegedly committed on September 20, 1987 at Km. 24 along Halsema Road, Caliking, Atok, Benguet.
Upon arraignment, accused Omar Mapalao, Gumanak Ompa, Rex Magumnang and Aliman Bara-akal,
assisted by their counsel pleaded not guilty.
Accused Anwar Hadji Edris had not been arrested and remained at large. On March 17, 1988, accused
Aliman Bara-akal died in jail during the trial so the case was dismissed as to him on April 4, 1988.
Accused Rex Magumnang, after being positively identified by witnesses Adolfo Quiambao, Jimmy
Jetwani and Simeon Calama during the trial, escaped from detention on September 25, 1988 when
brought for medical treatment to the Baguio General Hospital, so the trial in absentia continued as to
him.
After the trial on the merits, a decision was rendered by the trial court on January 12, 1990 convicting
the accused of the offense charged as follows—
WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Omar Mapalao y Dianalan, Gumanak Ompa,
and Rex Magumnang guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principals by direct
participation, of the offense of Robbery with Homicide in a Highway in violation of PD
532, as charged, and hereby sentences each of them to suffer imprisonment of Reclusion
Perpetua, to indemnify jointly and severally the heirs of deceased Felizardo Galvez the
sum of Sixty Thousand (P60,000.00) Pesos for his death; to indemnify jointly and
severally the offended parties Adolfo Quiambao the sum of Forty Thousand
(P40,000.00) Pesos; Jimmy Jetwani the sum of Fourteen Thousand (P14,000.00) Pesos;
and Simeon Calama, the sum of Three Thousand Seven Hundred (P3,700.00) Pesos as
actual damages, all indemnifications being without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency, and to pay the costs.
The accused Omar Mapalao and Gumanak Ompa being detention prisoners are entitled
to 4/5 of their preventive imprisonment in accordance with Article 29 of the Revised
Penal Code in the service of their sentence.
The gun caliber .38 paltik (Exh. G) with 5 live ammunitions (Exhs. G-1 to G-5), and the
knife (Exh. G-6) being instruments of the crime are hereby declared forfeited and
confiscated in favor of the State.
SO ORDERED. 2
Not so satisfied therewith the accused Omar Mapalao and Rex Magumnang appealed the decision to
this Court alleging the following errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER SIGNIFICANT
EXCULPATORY FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE CONSTITUTIONAL
MANDATE ON THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE AND PROOF BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.
III
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS GUILTY
AS PRINCIPALS IN THE CRIME CHARGED AND SENTENCING THEM TO
SUFFER AN INDETERMINATE SENTENCE OF FROM 17 YEARS, 4 MONTHS
AND 1 DAY OF RECLUSION TEMPORAL AS MINIMUM TO 20 YEARS
OFRECLUSION TEMPORAL AS MAXIMUM. 3
Parenthetically, the appeal of appellant Rex Magumnang should be struck down. After arraignment and
during the trial, he escaped from confinement and had not been apprehended since then. Accordingly,
as to him the trial in absentia proceeded and thereafter the judgment of conviction was promulgated.
Nevertheless, through counsel, he appealed to this Court. Under Section 8, Rule 122 of the 1985 Rules
of Criminal Procedure, the Court, may "upon motion of the appellee or on its own motion, dismiss the
appeal if the appellant escapes from prison or confinement or jumps bail or flees to a foreign country
during the pendency of the appeal." In this case, appellant Magumnang remained at large even as his
appeal was pending. Hence, by analogy his appeal must be dismissed.
The reason for this rule is because once an accused escapes from prison or confinement or jumps bail
or flees to a foreign country, he loses his standing in court and unless he surrenders or submits to the
jurisdiction of the court he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court.
Thus when as in this case he escaped from confinement during the trial on the merits and after his
arraignment, and so the trial in absentia proceeded and the judgment against him was promulgated in
accordance with Section 14(2) Article III of the 1987 Constitution, nonetheless, as he remained at large,
he should not be afforded the right to appeal therefrom unless he voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction
of the court or is otherwise arrested, within fifteen (15) days from the notice of the judgment against
him. While at large as above stated he cannot seek relief from the Court as he is deemed to have waived
the same and he has no standing in court.
To this effect a modification is in order of the provision of the last sentence of Section 6, Rule 120 of
the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure which provides:
If the judgment is for conviction, and the accused's failure to appear was without
justifiable cause, the court shall further order the arrest of the accused, who may appeal
within fifteen (15) days from notice of the decision to him or his counsel.
It should provide instead that if upon promulgation of the judgment, the accused fails to appear without
justifiable cause, despite due notice to him, his bondsmen or counsel, he is thereby considered to have
waived his right to appeal. However, if within the fifteen (15) day period of appeal he voluntarily
surrenders to the court or is otherwise arrested, then he may avail of the right to appeal within said
period of appeal.
By the same token, an accused who, after the filing of an information, is at large and has not been
apprehended or otherwise has not submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court, cannot apply for
bail or be granted any other relief by the courts until he submits himself to its jurisdiction or is arrested.
In Gimenez vs. Nazareno, 4 this Court had occasion to rule on a similar case in this wise—
First of all, it is not disputed that the lower court acquired jurisdiction over the person of
the accused-private respondent when he appeared during the arraignment on August 22,
1973 and pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. In criminal cases, jurisdiction over the
person of the accused is acquired either by his arrest for voluntary appearance in court.
Such voluntary appearance is accomplished by appearing for arraignment as what
accused-private respondent did in this case.
But the question is this—was that jurisdiction lost when the accused escaped from the
custody of the law and failed to appear during the trial? We answer this question in the
negative. As We have consistently ruled in several earlier cases, jurisdiction once
acquired is not lost upon the instance of parties but continues until the case is terminated.
To capsulize the foregoing discussion, suffice it to say that where the accused appears at
the arraignment and pleads not guilty to the crime charged, jurisdiction is acquired by
the court over his person and this continues until the termination of the case,
notwithstanding his escape from the custody of the law.
Going to the second part of Section 19, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution aforecited a
"trial in absentia" may be had when the following requisites are present; (1) that there
has been an arraignment; (2) that the accused has been notified; and (3) that he fails to
appear and his failure to do so is unjustified.
In this case, all the above conditions were attendant calling for a trial in absentia. As the
facts show, the private respondent was arraigned on August 22, 1973 and in the said
arraignment he pleaded not guilty. He was also informed of the scheduled hearings set
on September 18 and 19, 1973 and this is evidenced by his signature on the notice issued
by the lower court. It was also proved by a certified copy of the Police Blotter that
private respondent escaped from his detention center. No explanation for his failure to
appear in court in any of the scheduled hearings was given. Even the trial court
considered his absence unjustified.
The lower court in accordance with the aforestated provisions of the 1973 Constitution,
correctly proceeded with the reception of the evidence of the prosecution and the other
accused in the absence of private respondent, but it erred when it suspended the
proceedings as to the private respondent and rendered a decision as to the other accused
only.
Upon the termination of a trial in absentia, the court has the duty to rule upon the
evidence presented in court. The court need not wait for the time until the accused who
escaped from custody finally decides to appear in court to present his evidence and
cross-examine the witnesses against him. To allow the delay of proceedings for this
purpose is to render ineffective the constitutional provision on trial in absentia. As it has
been aptly explained:
. . . The Constitutional Convention felt the need for such a provision as
there were quite a number of reported instances where the proceedings
against a defendant had to be stayed indefinitely because of his non-
appearance. What the Constitution guarantees him is a fair trial, not
continued enjoyment of his freedom even if his guilt could be proved.
With the categorical statement in the fundamental law that his absence
cannot justify a delay provided that he has been duly notified and his
failure to appear is unjustified, such an abuse could be remedied. That is
the way it should be, for both society and the offended party have a
legitimate interest in seeing to it that came should not go unpunished.
The contention of the respondent judge that the right of the accused to be presumed
innocent will be violated if a judgment is rendered as to him is untenable. He is still
presumed innocent. A judgment of conviction must still be based upon the evidence
presented in court. Such evidence must prove him guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Also,
there can be no violation of due process since the accused was given the opportunity to
be heard.
Nor can it be said that an escapee who has been tried in absentia retains his rights to
cross-examine and to present evidence on his behalf. By his failure to appear during the
trial of which he had notice, he virtually waived these rights. This Court has consistently
held that the right of the accused to confrontation and cross-examination of witnesses is
a personal right and may be waived. In the same vein, his right to present evidence on
his behalf, a right given to him for his own benefit and protection, may be waived by
him.
Finally, at this point, We note that Our pronouncement in this case is buttressed by the
provisions of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, particularly Section 1(c) of Rule
115 which clearly reflects the intention of the framers of our Constitution, to wit:
. . . The absence of the accused without any justifiable cause at the trial on
a particular date of winch he had notice shall be considered a waiver of
his right to be present during that trial. When an accused under custody
had been notified of the date of the trial and escapes, he shall be deemed
to have waived his right to be present on said date and on all subsequent
trial dates until custody is regained. . . .
Accordingly, it is Our considered opinion, and We so hold, that an escapee who has been
duly triedin absentia waives his right to present evidence on his own behalf and to
confront and cross-examine witnesses who testified against him.
Now to the appeal of appellant Omar Mapalao.
The main thrust of his appeal is a denial of his complicity. While he admitted to be among the
passengers of the vehicle on that fateful day and to be present during the holdup, he alleged that he did
not participate at all in the commission of the crime and that he did not know anything about its
commission as in fact he left with Magumnang after the alleged holdup. He also asserted that the
prosecution witnesses could not have identified him in view of the darkness of the night then. He said
that when they were apprehended by the police no firearm or money was found in his possession.
The Court finds that the appeal is devoid of merit.
The evidence shows very clearly that on the date of the holdup the appellant was already a passenger in
the vehicle of Adolfo Quiambao since 7:00 A.M. of September 20, 1987 which was driven by Felizardo
Galvez, with Jimmy Jetwani, Quiambao, Rex Magumnang, Aliman Bara-akal, Anwar Hadji Edris and
Calama. They were together the whole day up to the evening in going to Abatan, Buguias, Benguet and
in the afternoon of the same day they were also together on the way back to Baguio from Abatan until
the holdup occurred in the early evening of the same day at Km. 24, Caliking, Atok, Benguet. The
Muslims stopped the vehicle to urinate at said place. Appellant went to the left side of the vehicle near
the driver's seat and pointed a gun at Quiambao and announced "this is a holdup." A Muslim went to
the other side of the front sea while another Muslim went to the back to stand guard. Gumanak Ompa
and Rex Magumnang, each armed with a knife, went inside the back of the Ford Fiera and pointed their
knives at the passengers. Appellant while pointing the gun ordered the passengers to go to the back of
the vehicle so Quiambao and Jetwani complied. After Quiambao went to the back of the vehicle he
noticed a commotion near the left side of the vehicle involving his driver Galvez and the Muslims.
Galvez was harmed. Quiambao pleaded that they are willing to give their money and valuables
provided the Muslims will not harm them. Rex Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa divested Quiambao
of P40,000.00, Jetwani of P14,000.00 and Calama of P3,700.00 in cash, a watch and clothes while
poking their knives at them.
Magumnang lied to start the vehicle but as he could not he called Quiambao to start it but the latter also
failed. Angered, the appellant started counting 1 to 3 threatening to shoot Quiambao if the vehicle did
not start. Quiambao called Galvez who was able to start the engine. Magumnang went by the side of
Galvez and took the steering wheel and drove towards the precipice Galvez struggled and fought with
Magumnang for control of the steering wheel as it was directed to the ravine. Magumnang stabbed and
thrust the knife at Galvez. The passengers panicked and jumped and ran away in different directions.
Mapalao, Magumnang and Ompa fled to the mountains.
From the foregoing evidence of the prosecution there can be no question as to the participation of the
appellant. in the robbery holdup. He was positively identified by witnesses who were together with the
appellant from the morning up to the evening of the same day in the Ford Fiera. Quiambao
categorically testified that it was the appellant who was holding the gun with two hands ordered them
to give their cash collections and personal belongings to them. 5 Jimmy Jetwani corroborated
Quiambao's testimony in that it was the appellant who ordered them at gunpoint to get down from the
vehicle and to go to the back and to give their money to them. Although it was already dark there was a
light inside the vehicle. 6
On cross-examination Jetwani stuck to his identification of the appellant as one of the culprits as he
saw not only his face but the gun he used by the side of the door facing him and Quiambao. 7 Another
prosecution witness, Simeon Calama, also identified appellant as the one who pointed a gun at them in
front. He stated he is familiar with his voice as during the journey they were joking with each other. 8
The identification of the culprits in offenses of this nature is vital and decisive. In this case the
identification was made by eyewitnesses who were together with the appellant practically the whole
day in the same vehicle, and who themselves are the victims of the holdup staged by the appellant with
his other co-accused. Although it was already dark there was light in the vehicle. Moreover, there were
no other persons in the vicinity at the time of the holdup except the appellant, his co-accused and the
victims.
Contrary to the claim of appellant that he is innocent as he did not escape together with Edris who was
allegedly the principal player in the holdup, the fact remains that the appellant escaped to the
mountains together with his co-accused Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa. Their escape is evidence of
their guilt.
As the Court observed at the opening paragraph of this decision, robbery attended by homicide or
murder is certainly a heinous offense, more so when in this case it is committed in the highway. There
is hardly any justification for the court to share the leniency of the trial court by imposing only the life
imprisonment as penalty. The circumstances of the commission of the offense do not justify at all or
require any killing or injury to be inflicted on any of the victims. The appellant and his confederates
were all armed while the victims were not. They were at their mercy. None of them attempted to fight
back or to resist. They gave all their valuables and personal belongings. All they were pleading for was
that their lives be spared. It fell on deaf ears. It was a senseless killing for no valid reason. The
appellant and his confederates deserve the supreme penalty of death and no less.
But as the Court said, this is not possible under the Constitution.
Our peace and order situation today is very volatile. We have experienced several attempted coups and
we are warned of other possible coups. Our peace and order problem is a continuing one. The division
in our society is obvious and gaping. Our country is suffering from the economic depression caused not
only by the recent calamities that visited us which were compounded by the Gulf War. Thus, measures
should be undertaken in order to minimize if not entirely prevent serious crimes against life, chastity
and of property resulting in the wanton taking of human life. Our hope is for a lasting peace and order
in our society. A law must now be enacted defining what are the heinous offenses punishable with the
death penalty. We should not tarry too long.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED in toto, with costs against the defendants-
appellants.
SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ENGRACIO VALERIANO Y TUMAHIG, MACARIO E. ACABAL @ "MOMONG," JUANITO
RISMUNDO, ABUNDIO NAHID and JOHN DOES, accused.
MACARIO E. ACABAL, JUANITO RISMUNDO and ABUNDIO NAHID, accused-appellants.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Marcelo G. Flores for accused-appellants.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


In two separate informations dated 28 February 1981 and filed with the then Court of First Instance,
now Regional Trial Court, of Negros Oriental, Engracio Valeriano, Juanito Rismundo, Macario Acabal,
Abundio Nahid and several John Does were charged with the crimes of Murder and Frustrated Murder.
The accusatory portion in the information for murder, 1 docketed as Criminal Case No. 4585, reads as
follows:
That sometime in the evening of the 28th of January, 1980, at Nagbinlud, Municipality
of Sta. Catalina, Province of Negros Oriental, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, including several "John Does",
conspiring and confederating with one another, with intent to kill, and with treachery and
evident premeditation and being then armed with bolos and "pinuti", did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and use personal violence on the
person of one Rizalina Apatan Silvano while the latter was about to leave her house and
inflicting upon her injuries, to wit: "right leg amputated below the knee; left leg hacked
behind the knee; abdomen hacked with viscerae evacerated," and did then and there set
the house on fire while the aforementioned Rizalina Apatan Silvano was inside said
house trying to escape therefrom, and allowing her to be burned inside said house which
was burned to the ground, thereby causing upon said Rizalina Apatan Silvano her death
and burning her beyond recognition.
That the crime was committed with attendant aggravating circumstances of nighttime, by
a band, by means of fire, craft [,] fraud or disguise employed; and that means have been
employed which brought added ignominy to the natural effects of their acts.
Contrary to Article 248 in relation to Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code.
The information for frustrated murder, 2 docketed as Criminal Case
No. 4584, alleged that in the evening of the 28th of January 1980 — immediately after the commission
of the murder charged in Criminal Case
No. 4585 — the accused hacked and struck Wilson Silvano, son of the victim in the murder case, with
bladed weapons such as bolos and pinuti thereby inflicting upon him multiple hack wounds which
would have produced the crime of murder were it not for the timely and able medical assistance given
to him. It further alleged that the crime was committed with the qualifying circumstance of alevosia or
treachery and the aggravating circumstances of nighttime, by a band, with the aid of armed men or
persons who insure or afford impunity, and that craft, fraud or disguise were employed.
At the arraignment, all the accused, except the John Does who remained unidentified and at large,
pleaded not guilty in both cases. 3 Thereafter, upon agreement of the parties, joint trial was ordered by
the trial court. 4
Trial on the merits was conducted by Branch 37 of the court a quo presided over by Judge Temistocles
B. Diez. But on 16 May 1987, a fire gutted the building where Branch 37 was located and the records
of these two cases were burned. The records were subsequently reconstituted upon petition of the
prosecuting fiscal. 5 The testimonies of the witnesses were retaken, however, before it could
commence, accused Engracio Valeriano jumped bail and the warrant for his arrest issued on 16
November 1987 was returned unserved because he could not be found. 6 An alias warrant for his arrest
was issued on 26 June 1989, 7 but he remains at large up to the present.
The evidence for the prosecution, as disclosed by the testimonies of its witnesses, is as follows:
Antonio Silvano, then the barangay captain of Barangay Nagbinlud, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental,
testified that at about 8:30 o'clock in the evening of 28 January 1980, or two nights before the 30
January 1980 local election, three men entered his yard. He recognized these men as Juanito Rismundo,
his neighbor since 1964, Engracio Valeriano, also another neighbor, and Macario Acabal, his sub-
barangay captain. 8 The three men called him, but he did not answer. Instead, his wife, Rizalina, did
and she told them that he was attending a meeting "in the town." They did not believe her and replied
that they just saw Antonio enter the house. Juanito asked her whether they (Antonio and Rizalina) were
selling their votes because they will buy them but Rizalina answered in the negative. Juanito then said,
"You choose, if you want something to happen to you or not [sic]." Another man, Abundio Nahid,
asked Antonio to come down because they have something to tell him. As Antonio was about to kick
the door open, he saw the men outside his house increasing in number and were armed with bladed
weapons (pinuti). When he turned around, Antonio smelled gasoline and he saw Abundio Nahid set fire
to his store located at the right side of his house. 9 He and his wife Rizalina escaped to the roof of the
kitchen while the other members of their family who were in that house — their son Elmer Silvano and
eldest daughter Celsita Legaspina with her two children — escaped towards the sugarcane field which
was about thirty meters away. When Rizalina fell from the roof to the floor, Macario Acabal, Juanito
Rismundo and Engracio Valeriano hacked her. Each of them delivered a single blow with Abundio
Nahid hitting her four times. 10
On cross-examination, Antonio Silvano admitted that, as barangay captain of Nagbinlud, Sta. Catalina,
and as trusted man of Mrs. Clotilde Carballo in whose land his house is built, he supported the latter as
the official candidate of the KBL for Mayor of Sta. Catalina, as well as the other candidates of her party
for the local election of 30 January 1980, including Lorenzo Teves, the KBL's candidate for Governor
of the Province of Negros Oriental. On the other hand, the accused supported and campaigned hard for
Mrs. Carballo's opponent, a certain Jose Napigkit who was a candidate of the Pusyon Bisaya and who
eventually won in the election. In his barrio, Mrs. Carballo lost heavily to Napigkit. 11 He further
admitted that although he first reported the incident to the Philippine Constabulary (PC) which
investigated him, he cannot remember if he was made to sign anything by the PC investigator. On 15
February 1980, he was again investigated but this time in the office of Governor Teves. There, he was
made to subscribe and swear to an affidavit 12 that, as admitted by the prosecuting fiscal, was made the
basis for the filing of the information. No statement by the PC was presented to the fiscal. 13
Visitacion Silvano, wife of Wilson who is the son of Antonio and Rizalina, testified that she heard the
shouts for help of her mother-in-law 14 so she woke up Wilson. He then went down the house and
turned on the headlights of the truck parked in front of their house facing his parents' house which was
located three kilometers away. He ran towards the burning house of his parents but before he reached it,
he was met by Engracio Valeriano and the latter hacked him. When he ran away, Engracio's
companions, Juanito Rismundo, Macario Acabal and Abundio Nahid, chased him until he reached the
sugarcane fields. 15 Visitacion stayed in her house and saw Engracio Valeriano hack her husband. She
also saw the other accused-appellants in the vicinity of the house of her parents-in-law. 16
Dr. Avelino Torres, Chief of Hospital of Bayawan District Hospital, examined the body of Rizalina
Silvano at 1:00 o'clock in the early morning of
29 January 1980 and was presented as a witness for the prosecution. According to him, the body was
burned and charred beyond recognition but the parts thereof were still intact. It was still warm and
smelt of freshly burned flesh. 17 He found the following "evidence of hacking:"
(1) right leg amputated below the knee;
(2) left leg hacked behind the knee;
(3) abdomen hacked with viscerae eviscerated. 18
He concluded that the wounds were inflicted before the body was burned. 19 He also examined Wilson
Silvano at about 1:30 o'clock that same morning and found seven hack wounds on Wilson. He testified
at the trial that without, medical attention, Wilson could have bled to death. 20
Atty. Castulo Caballes, then the Clerk of Court of the Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental, stated
in court that on 7 February 1980, he was fetched from his house by someone from the office of
Governor Lorenzo Teves and was asked to assist the Governor in taking the affidavit of Juanito
Rismundo. 21 After the latter "admitted that that was his affidavit," he "subscribed to him the oath and
so [he] signed as a notary public." 22 In this affidavit, Rismundo implicated Jose Napigkit as having
ordered the kidnapping and killing of KBL leaders and the burning of their houses.
Also on 7 February 1980, according to Atty. Elson Bustamante, then Assistant Provincial Attorney, he
was called by Governor Teves to assist in the taking of the statements also of Juanito Rismundo. The
Governor himself propounded the questions to Juanito who was accompanied by the son of
Mrs. Carballo and a PC soldier named Lodove. Bustamante heard Mrs. Carballo's son tell the Governor
that Juanito went to their (Carballos') house and "confessed" to a certain incident which happened in
Sta. Catalina on 28 January 1980, and since there were PC soldiers still assigned to the Carballos'
residence at that time, they brought Juanito to Governor Teves, the Provincial Chairman of the KBL. 23
Another prosecution witness, Jufelinito Pareja, then Provincial Fiscal of Negros Oriental, told the court
that on 18 February 1980, accused Macario Acabal was brought to his office. Acabal subscribed and
swore to a statement before him. The latter first read it to Acabal and after ascertaining that Acabal
voluntarily executed the statement, he administered the oath to said affiant. 24 This sworn statement
also implicated Jose Napigkit.
Accused-appellants put up the defense of alibi. They allege that they were in different places when the
incident in question occurred. Macario Acabal was in sitio Canggabok, Nagbinlud, Sta. Catalina,
attending the wake for deceased barangay captain Filomeno Cumahig. 25 On 29 January 1980, he was
arrested by military men in the house of his aunt at the breakwater of Poblacion Sta. Catalina. One of
them struck him three times on his left and right chest with an armalite rifle. Thereafter, he was loaded
into a pick-up truck owned by Mrs. Clotilde Carballo and taken to her house. On 7 February 1980, he
was brought to Bayawan and was again manhandled, causing injuries to him which required treatment
at the Bayawan District Hospital, as certified by Dr. Torres. From the hospital, he was brought to the
municipal jail of Bayawan and then to the Provincial Jail in Dumaguete City. Later, he was taken to the
office of the Governor and was forced to sign an affidavit (Exhibit "F"). Prior to 28 January 1989, he
did not know the other accused in this case. 26
Juanito Rismundo was in Sitio Dinapo, Bgy. Alangilan, Sta. Catalina, graining corn in the house of
Alfreda Ortega. 27 On 6 February 1980, he met a PC soldier named Boy Gudobe (Lodove), who was
then stationed in Bgy. Kawitan, Sta. Catalina, accompanied by Diosdado Silvano, grandson of Antonio
Silvano, at the Sta. Catalina market. Gudobe allegedly hit him and, together with Diosdado and a Boy
Carballo, the son of Mrs. Clotilde Carballo, brought him to the Capitol Building in Dumaguete City.
While there, he averred that he was forced by a lawyer to sign an affidavit (Exhibit "D") in the office of
the Governor after he was struck with the handle of a revolver at the back of his head. 28
Abundio Nahid was in his house in Sugong Milagros, Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental, about 20
kilometers from Nagbinlud. He charged that Wilson Silvano testified against him because the Silvanos
supported Mrs. Carballo of the KBL while he led the supporters of Mrs. Carballo's opponent Jose
Napigkit of the Pusyon Bisaya. 29
The prosecution presented on rebuttal Mrs. Clotilde Carballo and Fiscal Wilfredo Salmin. The former
testified that on 7 February 1980 accused Juanito Rismundo voluntarily surrendered to her at her
residence in Sta. Catalina and told her that he wanted to see the Governor. She then asked her son to
bring Juanito to Dumaguete City. 30
Fiscal Wilfredo Salmin belied the claim of Acabal that he (Salmin) went to the Provincial Jail on 10
February 1980 and forced Acabal to sign a document. He alleged that on 16 February 1980, not on 10
February 1980 as claimed by Acabal, Acabal came to his office at the Provincial Attorney's Office and
executed a sworn statement, but Acabal did not sign the same upon the advice of Atty. Geminiano
Eleccion. 31
After the completion of the re-taking of the testimonies of the witnesses in Branch 37, Criminal Cases
Nos. 4584 and 4585 were re-raffled to Branch 33 of the trial court, then presided over by Judge
Pacifico S. Bulado. 32
The decision 33 of the trial court, per Judge Pacifico S. Bulado, dated
31 October 1991 but promulgated on 20 December 1991, contained no specific dispositive portion. Its
rulings are found in the last two paragraphs which read as follows:
The elements of murder in this case, Criminal Case No. 4585 for the killing of Rizalina
Apatan-Silvano having been proved by the prosecution beyond doubt, the accused
JUANITO RISMUNDO, MACARIO ACABAL and ABUNDIO NAHID, considering
the attendant qualifying aggravating circumstances of nighttime, use of fire by burning
the house of victim Rizalina Apatan-Silvano in order to forcibly drive her out of her
house and hack her to death, the abuse of superior strength, the penalty impossable [sic]
here will be in its maximum degree, that is reclusion perpetua taking into account
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty now for murder is Reclusion
Temporalto Reclusion Perpetua, and for all the accused to indemnify the heirs of the
victim the sum of Thirty Thousand (P30,00.00) Pesos since this case occurred [sic] in
1980. For the wounding of the victim Wilson A. Silvano, this Court believes that simple
frustrated homicide only is committed by the accused Engracio Valeriano only. But since
the person who actually inflicted the injuries of victim Wilson Silvano, accused Engracio
Valeriano only is nowhere to be found, hence, not brought to the bar of justice, he being
a fugitive or at large, no penalty could be imposed on him since he is beyond the
jurisdiction of this court to reach. All the other two (2) accused, JUANITO RISMUNDO
and ABUNDIO NAHID are hereby ordered and declared absolved from any criminal
responsibility from frustrated homicide.
The bail bond put up by the three accused, namely: Juanito Rismundo, Macario Acabal
and Abundio Nahid are hereby ordered cancelled and let a warrant of arrest be issued for
their immediate confinement.34
The trial court rejected the defense of alibi because "[i]t was not shown by plausible and convincing
evidence . . . that it was physically impossible for them to go to the scene of the crime and to return to
the place of residence (People vs. Solis, 182 SCRA 182)." Upon the other hand, it ruled that "the
prosecution witnesses . . . clearly, positively identified them as the culprits, they being neighbors for a
long time and co-worker." 35
Immediately after the promulgation of the decision, counsel for the accused manifested in open court
their intention to appeal the decision. On the same day, counsel for accused Abundio Nahid filed a
notice of appeal with a motion for the immediate release of his client, which was opposed by the
prosecution. The court a quodenied the motion also on the same day. 36
On 31 December 1991, all the convicted accused filed a motion for the reconsideration of the denial of
the motion for immediate release. The later motion was denied on 3 January 1992. A day earlier or on 2
January 1992, accused Macario Acabal and Juanito Rismundo had filed their notice of
appeal. 37
The records of both cases were transmitted to us and we accepted the appeal on 26 February 1992.
The accused-appellants raise in their Brief 38 the following assignment of errors:
I. THAT THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT ERRED IN
CANCELLING THE BAIL BONDS OF ACCUSED-APPELLANTS
AND ORDERING THEIR IMMEDIATE ARRESTS WHEN THE ONLY
PENALTY IMPOSED BY IT FOR ALL THE ACCUSED IS "TO
INDEMNIFY THE HEIRS OF THE VICTIM THE SUM OF THIRTY
THOUSAND (P30,000.00) PESOS.
II. THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN
FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER AS DEFINED
AND PUNISHED UNDER ARTICLE 248 OF THE REVISED PENAL
CODE.
III. THE HONORABLE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING
THAT THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES (ANTONIO SILVANO,
WILSON SILVANO, AND VISITACION SILVANO), HUSBAND AND
CHILDREN, RESPECTIVELY, OF THE DECEASED RIZALINA
APATAN-SILVANO, HAVE POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED THE
ACCUSED AS THE CULPRITS WHEN ONLY ANTONIO SILVANO
TESTIFIED AS TO WHO ALLEGEDLY KILLED HIS WIFE, AND
WHILE OTHER TWO (2) WITNESSES ONLY TESTIFIED AS TO THE
WOUNDING OF WILSON SILVANO BY ENGRACIO VALERIANO
AND ALL THESE WITNESSES WERE VERY VOCAL IN THEIR
SILENCE AS TO THE IDENTITIES OF THE ACCUSED FOR A LONG
TIME.
IV. AND, THAT THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT GRAVELY
ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING ALL THE ACCUSED FOR
INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE AND/OR AT LEAST ON THE
HYPOTHESIS OF REASONABLE DOUBT.
In support of the first assigned error, they claim that: (a) the trial court could not have ordered the
cancellation of their bail bonds and their arrest and immediate confinement because the only penalty it
imposed on them was "to indemnify the heirs of the victim the sum of thirty thousand (P30,000.00)
pesos" without imposing any sentence; it merely suggested that " . . . the penalty impossable [sic] here
will be in its maximum degree, that is reclusion
perpetua . . . "; and (b) since they already perfected their appeal immediately after the promulgation of
the sentence, the trial court lost jurisdiction over the case and could not validly cancel their bail bonds
and order their arrest. 39
In its Brief, 40 the Appellee asserts that the judgment appealed from is valid and enforceable. Although
the word "impossable" [sic] is "imprecise," it is clear that what the judge actually meant was that the
penalty of reclusion perpetua was what the law allowed or mandated him to impose. As to the grant of
bail, since they committed a capital offense and the court had already found that the evidence of their
guilt is strong, the accused-appellants should not be entitled to bail.
We find that the decision substantially complies with the Rules of Court on judgments as it did sentence
the accused-appellants to reclusion perpetua. A judgment of conviction shall state (a) the legal
qualification of the offense constituted by the acts committed by the accused, and the aggravating or
mitigating circumstances attending the commission, if there are any; (b) the participation of the accused
in the commission of the offense, whether as principal, accomplice or accessory after the fact; (c) the
penalty imposed upon the accused; and (d) the civil liability or damages caused by the wrongful act to
be recovered from the accused by the offended party, if there is any, unless the enforcement of the civil
liability by a separate action has been reserved or waived. 41As we earlier observed, the challenged
decision does not contain the usual dispositive portion. The last two paragraphs of the decision merely
embody its conclusions that: (1) the appellants are guilty of murder, and (2) taking into account the
"attendant qualifying aggravating circumstances of nighttime, use of fire by burning the house of the
victim, . . . the abuse of superior strength," "the penalty imposable . . . will be in its maximum degree,
that is reclusion perpetua" considering that "the penalty now for murder is reclusion
temporal toreclusion perpetua." While the decision leaves much to be desired, it nevertheless contains
the court's findings of facts, the law applicable to the set of facts and what it believes to be the
imposable penalty under the law, that is, reclusion perpetua which is actually the penalty imposed on
the accused-appellants. It is obvious that they clearly understood that they were found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and were sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua in Criminal Case
No. 4585. Were it otherwise, they would not have declared in open court their intention to appeal
immediately after the promulgation of the decision and would not have subsequently filed their written
notice of appeal.
Accused-appellants contend that the trial court did not impose any sentence and so cannot cancel
anymore their bail bonds and direct their arrest and immediate commitment because it already lost
jurisdiction over their persons when they perfected their appeal.
In connection with Section 3, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Court on bail, we ruled in People
vs. Cortez 42that:
. . . an accused who is charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable
by reclusion perpetua, and is thereafter convicted of the offense charged, shall no longer
be entitled to bail as a matter of right even if he appeals the case to this Court since his
conviction clearly imports that the evidence of his guilt of the offense charged is strong.
We have already said that the decision did impose the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Since the order
cancelling their bail bonds and directing their arrest is contained in the decision itself, it is apparent that
their abovementioned contention is highly illogical. At the time the order in question was made, the
trial court still had jurisdiction over the persons of the accused-appellants. For too obvious reasons,
their notices of appeal which they claim have put to an end to the trial court's jurisdiction over them
could not have been filed before the promulgation of the decision. The order is therefore valid and
enforceable. Also, it may be recalled that the accused-appellants had earlier raised this issue before us
in a petition for habeas corpus dated 16 January 1992 and docketed as G.R. Nos. 103602-03. We
dismissed that petition on 17 February 1992 for failure to comply with requirement No. (2) of Revised
Circular No. 1-88 and Circular No. 28-91 on forum shopping. 43 Their motion for reconsideration was
denied on 27 May 1993.
The trial court, however, erred in considering nighttime, use of fire and abuse of superior strength as
"attendant qualifying aggravating circumstances." The information in Criminal Case No. 4585 alleged
only treachery and evident premeditation as qualifying aggravating circumstances. Nighttime, band,
use of fire, craft, fraud or disguise and ignominy were alleged as generic aggravating circumstances
only. The trial court cannot elevate the status of any of the generic aggravating circumstances and
consider them as qualifying circumstances for the crime of murder. Moreover, nighttime is not a
qualifying circumstance under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.
It was likewise an error for the trial court to state that "the penalty now for murder is reclusion
temporal toreclusion perpetua." The penalty for murder remains to be reclusion temporal maximum to
death. But in view of paragraph (1), Section 19, Article III of the Constitution prohibiting the
imposition of the penalty of death, where death would have been the proper penalty in a case, the court
must instead impose the penalty of reclusion perpetua. 44
The trial court further erred in holding that no penalty could be imposed on accused Engracio Valeriano
in Criminal Case No. 4584 because he "is nowhere to be found, hence, not brought to the bar of justice,
he being a fugitive or at large." The court ignored the fact that Engracio jumped bail after he had been
arraigned, just before the retaking of evidence commenced. Paragraph (2), Section 14, Article III of the
Constitution permits trial in absentia after the accused has been arraigned provided he has been duly
notified of the trial and his failure to appear thereat is unjustified. One who jumps bail can never offer a
justifiable reason for his non-appearance during the trial. Accordingly, after the trial in absentia, the
court can render judgment in the case 45 and promulgation may be made by simply recording the
judgment in the criminal docket with a copy thereof served upon his counsel, provided that the notice
requiring him to be present at the promulgation is served through his bondsmen or warden and
counsel. 46
Having disposed of the first issue raised by accused-appellants, we now come to the second, third and
fourth assigned errors which shall be discussed jointly, considering that they are interrelated and deal
with the question of whether or not the guilt of the accused-appellants was proven beyond reasonable
doubt.
The accused-appellants contend that the trial court erred in relying on the testimonies of prosecution
witnesses Antonio Silvano, Wilson Silvano and Visitacion Silvano and in concluding that they clearly
and positively identified the accused-appellants as the culprits. According to him, only Antonio Silvano
testified that he saw the accused burn his house, kill his wife Rizalina and drag her into the fire. Neither
Visitacion Silvano nor Wilson Silvano testified that they saw what occurred in the elder Silvanos'
house. But even the testimony of Antonio Silvano is not reliable because it lacks truthfulness and
validity. They singled out his testimony that while the fire is ranging, his wife told him to save himself
as she will also save herself, then the direction of the wind changed and he jumped from the roof of the
house into the bushes. They concluded that he could not have seen who killed his wife. 47 Also, the
ruling that conclusions and findings of the lower court are entitled to great weight is not applicable in
this case because the judge who heard the testimonies of the witnesses in its entirety was not the same
judge who penned the decision. They further stressed the delay incurred by Antonio in reporting the
crime to the authorities. The crime was committed on 28 January 1980 but he reported it to the Office
of the Governor of Negros Oriental in Dumaguete City only on 18 February 1980 or some 21 days after
its commission. Finally, they maintain that they have sufficiently established their defense of alibi.
On the other hand, the Appellee seeks the affirmance of the judgment convicting the accused. The
Appellee reasons out that the accused-appellants were positively identified by prosecution witness
Antonio Silvano; and that even while it is true that only Antonio Silvano saw the murderers, Visitacion
and Wilson Silvano testified on the presence of the accused-appellant at the scene of the crime.
As the Appellee admits, however, the most damning testimony against the accused-appellants in this
case is only that of Antonio Silvano who claimed that he actually saw them hack and kill his wife. To
us, whether such testimony could be relied upon is altogether a different matter. Although it is a settled
rule that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses should be given the highest respect
because it had the advantage of observing the demeanor of the witnesses and can discern if such
witnesses are telling the truth or lying through their teeth, 48 we cannot rely on that rule in this appeal
because the judge who heard the testimonies of the witnesses was not the same judge who penned the
decision. Judge Temistocles Diez of Branch 37 received and heard the testimonies of the witnesses but
it was Judge Pacifico S. Bulado who rendered the decision. The latter had no opportunity to observe the
witnesses' deportment and manner of testifying, which are important considerations in assessing
credibility. 49
We have carefully read the transcripts of the testimony of Antonio Silvano. We cannot give him full
faith and credit for the following reasons:
1. Although he testified on cross-examination that he first reported the incident to and was investigated
by the PC, it is clear to this Court that it was only on 15 February 1980, or on the eighteenth day after
the incident that he was investigated at the office of the Governor. Being the barangay captain of
Nagbinlud, the owner of a house that was intentionally set on fire, the father of the man who was
hacked several times and almost died, and the husband of the murder victim whose body was charred
beyond recognition, the compelling call of duty and the mournful cry for justice cannot tolerate any
delay in reporting the incident to the proper authorities. The prosecution was hard put for an
explanation for this delay; it did not even attempt to make any. If Antonio Silvano could offer no
explanation therefor, it could only mean that, he was either unable to identify the real perpetrators of
the crime against his family or he was afraid to do so. For whichever reason, such failure only bolsters
the claim of the defense that the crime was committed by the "Salvatore" group whose operations
Antonio admitted he was very much aware of, thus:
Q As such barangay captain you remember that in the month of January,
1980 there was such a group of armed men referred to or commonly
called as Salvatore, is that correct that used to roam around in the interior
part of Sta. Catalina?
A Yes, that is true.
Q And this group of men used to plunder or steal from houses, kill certain
persons and burn also houses, is that correct?
A Yes, that is true.
Q And this group of men known as "Salvatore" continued to exist even
after January 1980?
A That was only up to 1980.
Q Yes, but after January 1980 this "Salvatore" group continued to exist for
sometime up to or beyond the year 1980, is that correct?
A They were only about 2 weeks because they were arrested by the
authorities.
Q That is two weeks after January 28, 1980?
A Yes. 50
Furthermore, it is doubtful whether Antonio did report the incident to the PC as no PC personnel
corroborated him thereon and according to him, he did not sign any statement during the said
investigation, which is unusual. The fiscal himself admitted in open court that no statement taken by
the PC was submitted to his office. 51 If indeed Antonio was investigated by the PC, the investigator
should have formally taken his statement in view of its importance. As no such statement was proved to
exist, it is logical to presume that Antonio did not or could not disclose to the investigator the names of
the perpetrators.
2. Antonio admitted on cross-examination that he had no quarrel and misunderstanding 52 or
grudges 53whatsoever with the accused-appellants. If that were so, it is odd that he could not explain
why he, a barangay captain which was expected to attend to the requests and problems of his
constituents, deliberately chose not to respond to the alleged call of the accused-appellants on the night
of the incident and instead allowed his wife to lie to them by saying that he was attending a meeting.
Again, the only plausible explanation for his behavior was that the men who came belonged to the
"Salvatore" group and this terrified him, for he knew that the group had been roaming around, killing
people and burning houses in his area.
3. Also, on cross-examination, Antonio affirmed as true the contents of his sworn statement 54 taken
two weeks after the incident. In it, he failed to state the fact that he witnessed the killing of his wife and
to identify her killers. 55 Since his sworn statement was precisely taken to obtain from him vital facts
relative to the incident, more specifically on the killing of his wife, and considering that he had already
stated therein that he saw the accused-appellants, it is contrary to human nature and inconsistent with
experience for him to fail to identify them as the killers of his wife, if such is the fact. It has been said
that where the omission in the affidavit refers to a very important detail such that the affiant would not
have failed to mention it, the omission could affect the affiant's credibility. 56 Verily, it was obvious
from his answer to Question No. 16 of the investigator that he had no opportunity to identify the killers:
Q Question No. 16, "Q — What else did you do?", and you answered, "A
— My wife told me to just save myself because she will also save herself.
Thereafter the wind changed it(s) course and (the) fire grow big and
because of this, I had the occasion to jumped (sic) from our house and
thereafter I ran towards the bushes." . . .
A Yes, sir, that is true.
Q How far is that bush to which you ran from your house which was
burning?
A It is about thirty (30) meters because it is a sugarcane field.
4. Antonio categorically declared that Engracio Valeriano, Juanito Rismundo and Macario Acabal each
hacked her once hitting her on the forehead, right leg and left arm, respectively, while Abundio Nahid
hacked her four times, hitting her at the forehead, left arm, right leg and stomach. 58 In other words,
from his testimony, his wife sustained seven wounds. Yet, the medical evidence belies this. Per the
findings of Dr. Avelino Torres, 59 there were only three "evidence" of hacking, viz.: at the right leg, left
leg and abdomen.
5. Nowhere in his sworn statement did Antonio mention the name of
accused-appellant Abundio Nahid. If in fact he saw the latter who he claimed in his direct testimony
hacked his wife four times, Nahid's name would have occupied a prominent place in his sworn
statement.
The testimony of the other witnesses for the prosecution likewise do not provide sufficient proof of the
accused-appellants' guilt. Visitacion Silvano's testimony that she saw and identified the accused-
appellants at the scene of the crime taxes the imagination. It was humanly impossible for her to seethe
accused-appellants even if she were aided by the light from the truck as she herself said that she was
then in her house, three kilometers away from the house of her parents-in-law. Wilson Silvano did not
testify at all that he saw the persons who hacked and killed his mother.
In conclusion, because of reasonable doubt as to their guilt, the accused-appellants must be acquitted.
Every accused is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved; that presumption is solemnly
guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The contrary requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that degree
of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. Short of this is not only the right of the
accused to be freed; it is even the constitutional duty of the court to acquit him. 60 Accordingly, unless
the prosecution discharges its burden of proving the guilt of the accused-appellants beyond reasonable
doubt, they need not even offer evidence in their behalf. 61 The weakness of their defense of alibi, thus
becomes irrelevant.
WHEREFORE, the challenged Decision of Branch 33 of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Oriental in
Criminal Case No. 4585 is hereby REVERSED. Accused-appellants MACARIO ACABAL, JUANITO
RISMUNDO and ABUNDIO NAHID are ACQUITTED on ground of reasonable doubt, and their
immediate release from confinement is hereby ordered, unless other lawful and valid grounds exist for
their further detention.
The trial court is directed to render judgment against accused-appellant ENGRACIO VALERIANO in
Criminal Case No. 4584.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Right to confrontation:

THE UNITED STATES,


plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
LAZARO JAVIER, ET AL.,
defendants-appellants.
Modesto Castillo, Eusebio Lopez and G. N. Trinidad for appellants.
Acting Attorney-General Paredes for appellee.
MALCOLM, J.:
We find the proven facts as brought out in the trial of this case to be as follows:
Doroteo Natividad on the afternoon of October 22, 1915, fastened his carabao valued at P150
in his corral situated in the barrio of Trapiche municipality of Tanauan, Province of Batangas.
On the following morning when he went to look after the animal, he found the gate to the
corral open and that the carabao had disappeared. He reported the matter to the
Constabulary, and a patrol of the Constabulary under the leadership of sergeant Presa, now
deceased, on the 20th of November following, encountered the accused Lazaro Javier,
Apolinario Mendoza, and Placido de Chavez leading the carabao. When the ladrones saw the
Constabulary, that scattered in all directions. On the following day, the Constabulary found
this carabao tied in front of the house of one Pedro Monterola in the barrio of Santa Clara,
municipality of San Pablo. The carabao was identified by Doroteo Natividad as the one which
had been taken from his corral on the night of October 22, 1915, and by the Constabulary as
the one seen in the possession of the accused.
As corroborative of such evidence, we have the well-known legal principle, which as applied
to cases of this character is that, although the persons who unlawfully took a certain carabao
are not recognized at the time, and their identity remains entirely unknown, nevertheless, if
the stolen animal is found in the possession of the accused shortly after the commission of
the crime and they make no satisfactory explanation of such possession they may be properly
convicted of the crime. (See U. S. vs. Divino [1911], 18 Phil., 425.) In the present instance,
the attempt of the accused to insinuate that one of the Constabulary soldiers testified against
them falsely because of enmity is hardly believable.
The foregoing statement of the facts and the law disposes of all but one assignment of error,
namely, that the lower court erred in admitting Exhibit B of the prosecution as evidence.
Exhibit B is the sworn statement of sergeant Presa, now deceased, whose signature was
identified, before the justice of the peace of the municipality of Santo Tomas, Province of
Batangas. Appellant’s argument is predicated on the provision of the Philippine Bill of Rights
which says, “That in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to meet the
witnesses face to face,” and the provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, section 15 (5),
which says that “In all criminal prosecutions the defendant shall be entitled: . . . to be
confronted at the trial by and to cross-examine the witnesses against him.” With reference to
the clause of the Bill of Rights, which we have quoted, Justice Day said in a case of the
Philippine origin (Dowdell vs. U. S. [1911], 221 U. S., 325) that it “intends to secure the
accused in the right to be tried, so far as facts provable by witnesses are concerned, by only
such witnesses as meet him face to face at the trial, who give their testimony in his presence,
and give to the accused an opportunity of cross-examination. It was intended to prevent the
conviction of the accused upon deposition or ex parte affidavits, and particularly to preserve
the right of the accused to test the recollection of the witness in the exercise of the right of
cross-examination.” In other words, confrontation is essential because cross-examination is
essential. A second reason for the prohibition is that a tribunal may have before it the
department and appearance of the witness while testifying. (U. S. vs. Anastacio [1906], 6
Phil., 413.) The Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands has applied this constitutional
provisions on behalf of accused persons in a number of cases. (See for example U. S. vs.
Tamjuanco [1902], 1 Phil., 374; U. S. vs. Bello [1908], 11 Phil., 526; U. S. vs. De la Cruz
[1908], 12 Phil., 87.) It is for us now to determine whether the present facts entitle the
accused to the protection of the Bill of Rights or whether the facts fall under some exception
thereto.
The sworn statement of Presa was not made by question and answer under circumstances
which gave the defense an opportunity to cross-examine the witness. The proviso of the Code
of Criminal Procedure as to confrontation is therefore inapplicable. Presa’s statement again is
not the testimony of a witness deceased, given in a former action between the same parties
relating to the same matter. Consequently, the exception provided by section 298, No. 8, of
the Code of Civil Procedure and relied upon by the prosecution in the lower court is also
inapplicable. Nor is the statement of Presa a dying declaration or a deposition in a former trial
or shown to be a part of the preliminary examination. Under these circumstances, not to
burden the opinion with an extensive citation of authorities, we can rely on the old and historic
case of R. vs. Paine (1 Salk., 281 [King's Bench Div.]) occurring in the year 1696. It appears
that a deposition of B., examined by the Mayor of Bristol under oath, but not in P’s presence,
was offered. It was objected that B, being dead, the defendant had lost all opportunity of
cross-examining him. The King’s Bench consulted with the Common Pleas, and “it was the
opinion of both courts that these deposition should not be given in evidence, the defendant
not being present when they were taken before the Mayor and so had lost the benefit of a
cross-examination.” Although we are faced with the alternative of being unable to utilize the
statements of the witness now deceased, yet if there has been no opportunity for cross-
examination and the case is not one coming within one of the exceptions, the mere necessity
alone accepting the statement will not suffice. In fine, Exhibit B was improperly received in
evidence in the lower court.
With such a resolution of this question, we could, as has been done in other cases, further
find this to be reversible error and remand the case for a new trial. We are convinced,
however, that this would gain the accused nothing except delay for the testimony of the owner
of the carabao and of the two Constabulary soldiers, rebutted by no reasonable evidence on
behalf of the accused, is deemed sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The facts come under article 518, No. 3, in connection with article 520, as amended, of the
Penal Code. Accordingly the defendants and appellants are each sentenced to four years,
two months, and one day of presidio correccional, with the accessory penalties provided by
law, and to pay one-third part of costs of both instances; the carabao shall be returned to
Doroteo Natividad, if this has not already been done. So ordered.

AGUSTIN V. TALINO, petitioner,


vs.
THE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

CRUZ, J.:
It is settled that if a separate trial is allowed to one of two or more defendants, his testimony therein
imputing guilt to any of the co-accused is not admissible against the latter who was not able to cross-
examine him. 1 The issue in this case is whether or not such testimony was considered by the
respondent court against the petitioner, who claims that it was in fact the sole basis of his conviction.
The petitioner, along with several others, were charged in four separate informations with estafa
through falsification of public documents for having allegedly conspired to defraud the government in
the total amount of P26,523.00, representing the cost of repairs claimed to have been undertaken, but
actually not needed and never made, on four government vehicles, through falsification of the
supporting papers to authorize the illegal payments. 2 Docketed as CC Nos. 6681, 6682, 6683 and
6684, these cases were tried jointly for all the accused until after the prosecution had rested, when
Genaro Basilio, Alejandro Macadangdang and petitioner Talino asked for separate trials, which were
allowed. 3 They then presented their evidence at such trials, while the other accused continued
defending themselves in the original proceedings, at which one of them, Pio Ulat gave damaging
testimony against the petitioner, relating in detail his participation in the questioned transactions. 4 In
due time, the Sandiganbayan rendered its decision in all the four cases finding Talino, Basilio,
Macadangdang Ulat and Renato Valdez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes charged while
absolving the other defendants for insufficient evidence. This decision is now challenged by the
petitioner on the ground that it violates his right of confrontation as guaranteed by the Constitution.
In its decision, the respondent court * makes the following remarks about the separate trial:
The peculiarity of the trial of these cases is the fact that We allowed, upon their petition,
separate trials for the accused Basilio and Talino and Macadangdang. This being the
case, We can only consider, in deciding these cases as against them, the evidence for the,
prosecution as wen as their own evidence. Evidence offered by the other accused can not
be taken up.
It would really have been simpler had there been no separate trial because the accused
Pio B. Ulat said so many incriminatory things against the other accused when he took
the stand in his own defense. But because Basilio, Talino and Macadangdang were
granted separate trials and they did not cross examine Ulat because, as a matter of fact,
they were not even required to be present when the other accused were presenting their
defenses, the latter's testimonies can not now be considered against said three accused.
We cannot understand why, after it had heard the long and sordid story related by Ulat
on the stand, the prosecution did not endeavor to call Ulat and put him on he stand as
part f its rebuttal evidence. Had this been done, there would have been no impediment
to the consideration of Ulat's testimony against all the accused. 5
The grant of a separate trial rests in the sound discretion of the court and is not a matter of right to the
accused, especially where, as in this case, it is sought after the presentation of the evidence of the
prosecution. 6 While it is true that Rule 119, Section 8, of the Rules of Court does not specify when the
motion for such a trial should be filed, we have held in several cases that this should be done before the
prosecution commences presenting its evidence, although, as an exception, the motion may be granted
later, even after the prosecution shall have rested, where there appears to be an antagonism in the
respective defenses of the accused. 7 In such an event, the evidence in chief of the prosecution shall
remain on record against an the accused, with right of rebuttal on the part of the fiscal in the separate
trial of the other accused. 8
The rule in every case is that the trial court should exercise the utmost circumspection in granting a
motion for separate trial, allowing the same only after a thorough study of the claimed justification
therefor, if only to avoid the serious difficulties that may arise, such as the one encountered and
regretted by the respondent court, in according the accused the right of confrontation.
The right of confrontation is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution 9 to the
person facing criminal prosecution who should know, in fairness, who his accusers are and must be
given a chance to cross-examine them on their charges. No accusation is permitted to be made against
his back or in his absence nor is any derogatory information accepted if it is made anonymously, as in
poison pen letters sent by persons who cannot stand by their libels and must shroud their spite in
secrecy. That is also the reason why ex parteaffidavits are not permitted unless the affiant is presented
in court 10 and hearsay is barred save only in the cases allowed by the Rules of Court, like the dying
declaration. 11
In United States v. Javier, 12 this Court emphasized:
... With reference to the clause of the Bill of Rights, which we have quoted, Justice Day
said in a case of Philippine origin (Dowdell v. U.S. 119111, 221 U.S. 325) that it intends
to secure the accused in the right to be tried, so far as facts provable by witnesses are
concerned, by only such witnesses as meet him face to face at the trial who give their
testimony in his presence, and give to the accused an opportunity of cross-examination.
It was intended to prevent the conviction of the accused upon depositions or ex parte
affidavits, and particularly to preserve the right of the accused to test the recollection of
the witness in the exercise of the right of cross-examination.' In other words,
confrontation is essential because cross-examination is essential. A second reason for the
prohibition is that a tribunal may have before it the deportment and appearance of the
witness while testifying. (U.S. v. Anastacio [1906], 6 Phil. 413.) The Supreme Court of
the Philippine Islands has applied this constitutional provision on behalf of accused
persons in a number of cases. (See for example U.S. v. Tanjuanco [1902], 1 Phil., 374;
U.S. v. Bello [1908], 11 Phil., 526; U.S. v. De la Cruz [1908], 12 Phil. 87.) ...
We have carefully studied the decision under challenge and find that the respondent court did not
consider the testimony given by Ulat in convicting the petitioner. The part of that decision finding
Talino guilty made no mention of Ulat at all but confined itself to the petitioner's own acts in approving
the questioned vouchers as proof of his complicity in the plot to swindle the government. Thus:
If, as claimed, by Macadangdang, he had no knowledge nor participation in the
conspiracy to defraud, he would have questioned this obvious irregularity. He would
have asked whoever was following up the vouchers why two biddings were conducted,
why the awards to "D" Alfenor' were cancelled, when the latter were cancelled, and
when the new bidding was made.
The very same case is true as regards the accused Agustin Talino. While his duty to
initial or sign the vouchers as regards the adequacy of funds may have been ministerial,
his failure to observe the obvious irregularity is clear evidence of his complicity in the
conspiracy.
Talino declared that in the morning of May 23, 1980, four vouchers (including three
made out in favor of "D" Alfenor Repair Shop') were brought to him for his certificate as
regards the availability of funds. He had signed all the four vouchers. In the afternoon of
the same day, three other vouchers were also presented to him for certification as to
funds these three were in substitution of Exhibits "A", "B" and "C" which he had earlier
signed but which, according to Talino, were disallowed and cancelled, Talino claims that
he had examined the supporting documents of the last three vouchers the RIV, the bids
signed by the repair shops and the abstract of bids. If what Talino says is true, at least the
abstract of bids submitted in the morning, where "D" Alfenor Motor Shop' appears to be
the lowest bidder, must have been different from the ones submitted together with
vouchers in the afternoon. This would have raised his suspicions as to why these last
three abstracts could be dated as they were (May 18, May 15 and May 11, respectively)
when it was only that morning that the abstracts containing the name of "D"; Alfenor
Motor Shop' were submitted. The fact that he readily approved the substitute vouchers
with the substitute winning bidders is a clear indication that he knew he was facilitating
an irregular transaction.
It is our view that the evidence on record has established beyond doubt the participation
of both Agustin Talino and Alejandro Macadangdang in all the four felonies charged in
the informations. 13
The petitioner makes much of the statement in the Comment that the petitioner's guilt could be deduced
"from the evidence for the prosecution and from the testimony of Pio Ulat," 14 but that was not the
respondent court speaking. That was the Solicitor General's analysis. As far as the Sandiganbayan was
concerned, the said testimony was inadmissible against the petitioner because he "did not cross
examine Ulat and was not even required to be present when the latter was testifying. In fact, the
respondent court even expressed the wish that Ulat had been presented as rebuttal witness in the
separate trial of the petitioner as there would then have been "no impediment to the use of his
testimony against the other accused. " As it was not done, the trial court could not and did not consider
Ulat's testimony in determining the petitioner's part in the offenses.
The factual findings of the respondent court being supported by substantial evidence other than Ulat's
testimony, we see no reason to disturb them. It is futile for the petitioner to invoke his constitutional
presumption of innocence because his guilt has in the view of the trial court been established beyond
reasonable doubt, and we agree.
WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is AFFIRMED, with costs against the petitioner.

Compulsory Processes:

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 158275. June 28, 2005]

DOMINGO ROCO, petitioner, vs. HON. EDWARD B. CONTRERAS, PEOPLE OF THE


PHILIPPINES and CAL’S POULTRY SUPPLY CORPORATION, respondents.
DECISION

GARCIA, J.:

Assailed and sought to be set aside in this appeal by way of a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are the following issuances of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66038, to wit:

1. Decision dated 20 August 2002,[1] dismissing the appeal filed by herein


petitioner Domingo Roco contra the 18 October 2000 resolution of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) at Roxas City, denying due course to and dismissing his petition
for certiorari in SP Case No. 7489; and

2. Resolution dated 12 May 2003,[2] denying petitioner’s motion for


reconsideration.

The material facts are not at all disputed:

Petitioner Domingo Roco was engaged in the business of buying and selling dressed
chicken. Sometime in 1993, he purchased his supply of dressed chicken from private
respondent Cal’s Poultry Supply Corporation (Cal’s Corporation, for short), a domestic
corporation controlled and managed by one Danilo Yap. As payment for his purchases,
petitioner drew five (5) checks payable to Cal’s Corporation against his account with the
Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (PCIB), which checks bear the following
particulars:
Check No. Date Amount
004502 26 April 1993 P329,931.40
004503 4 May 1993 P319,314.40
004507 19 May 1993 P380,560.20
004511 26 May 1993 P258,660.20
004523 22 May 1993 P141,738.55.
Cal’s Corporation deposited the above checks in its account with PCIB but the bank
dishonored them for having been drawn against a closed account. Thereafter, Cal’s
Corporation filed criminal complaints against petitioner for violation of Batas Pambasa Blg. 22
(BP 22), otherwise known as the Bouncing Checks Law.

After preliminary investigation, five (5) informations for violation of BP 22 were filed
against petitioner before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Roxas City, thereat
docketed as Crim. Cases No. 94-2172-12 to 94-2176-12, all of which were raffled to Branch 2
of said court.

Meanwhile, and even before trial could commence, petitioner filed with the Bureau of
Internal Revenue (BIR) at Iloilo City a denunciation letter against Cal’s Corporation for the
latter’s alleged violation of Section 258 in relation to Section 263 of the National Internal
Revenue Code in that it failed to issue commercial invoices on its sales of merchandise.
Upon BIR’s investigation, it was found that Cal’s Corporation’s sales on account were
unavoidable, hence, the corporation had to defer the issuance of “Sales Invoices” until the
purchases of its customers were paid in full. With respect to the sales invoices of petitioner,
the investigation disclosed that the same could not, as yet, be issued by the corporation
precisely because the checks drawn and issued by him in payment of his purchases were
dishonored by PCIB for the reason that the checks were drawn against a closed account.
Accordingly, the BIR found no prima facia evidence of tax evasion against Cal’s Corporation.
[3]

Thereupon, trial of the criminal cases proceeded. After the prosecution rested, the MTCC
declared the cases submitted for decision on account of petitioner’s failure to adduce
evidence in his behalf. Later, the same court rendered a judgment of conviction against
petitioner.

Therefrom, petitioner went on appeal to the Regional Trial Court, contending that he was
unlawfully deprived of his right to due process when the MTCC rendered judgment against
him without affording him of the right to present his evidence. Agreeing with the petitioner, the
RTC vacated the MTCC decision and remanded the cases to it for the reception of petitioner’s
evidence.

On 11 March 1999, during the pendency of the remanded cases, petitioner filed with the
MTCC a “Request for Issuance of Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Subpoena Duces Tecum”,
requiring Vivian Deocampo or Danilo Yap, both of Cal’s Corporation or their duly authorized
representatives, to appear and testify in court on 19 May 1999 and to bring with them certain
documents, records and books of accounts for the years 1993-1999, to wit:

a) Sales Journal for the year 1993;

b) Accounts Receivable Journal for the year 1993;

c) Sales Ledger for the year 1993;

d) Accounts Receivable Ledger for the year 1993 (in its absence, Accounts
Receivable Ledger for the years 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 or 1999);

e) Audited Income Statement for the years 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and
Income Statements as of February 1999;

f) Audited Balance Sheet for