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G.R. No. 175201 April 23, 2008


HONORABLE OMBUDSMAN SIMEON V. MARCELO, petitioner,
vs.
LEOPOLDO F. BUNGUBUNG and HON. COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, whereby
petitioner Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) prays for the reversal of the Decision
1
dated 30
June 2006 and Resolution
2
dated 26 October 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 89689
which, in turn, reversed and set aside the Ombudsman's Orders dated 11 January 2005 and 28
April 2005 in OMB-ADM-0-01-0502. The Ombudsman found respondent Leopoldo F. Bungubung
(Bungubung) administratively liable for grave misconduct, dismissing him from the service and
imposing the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and
his perpetual disqualification from reemployment in government service.
The Hon. Simeon V. Marcelo represented the Ombudsman, with powers and functions provided
under Article XI, Section 13 of the 1987 Constitution and the provisions of Republic Act No. 6770,
otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
Bungubung is the Manager of the Port District Office (PDO) of Manila, Philippine Ports Authority
(PPA), South Harbor, Port Area, Manila. He is also the Chairman of the Ports District Security Bids
and Awards Committee (PDSBAC) of the PPA.
On 24 September 2001, Roberto C. Doromal (Doromal), the President of Combat Security &
Executive Protection Agency (CSEPA), a security agency that participated in the bidding for
security services for the PPA, filed a Complaint-Affidavit
3
dated 7 September 2001 against
Bungubung before PPA Resident Ombudsman Manolo M. Mabini, alleging as follows:
3. That sometime in June 1995, my aforesaid wife was instrumental in negotiating and
concluding a contract for Security Services with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), more
particularly at the Port District of Manila (PDO-Manila) for two (2) years starting August 1,
1995;
x x x x
6. That after a service contract was signed by PPA and this agency on January 28, 1999, the
Port District Manager of PDO-Manila, Mr. Leopoldo Bungubung and other PPA officials
asked for certain amounts from my said wife as "balato" for winning the award where (sic)
the latter obliged herself to give;
7. That initially, Mr. Leopoldo Bungubung and other PPA officials demanded amounts
ranging from P10,000 a month down to P2,000 for him (Bungubung) and his subordinates,
respectively; and my wife directed our staff, particularly the Billing and Collection Clerk
and Cashier to include in our records and books of account these disbursements as
"Representation expense";
8. That when my late wife died on May 3, 2000, the same arrangement was pursued and
carried over through the period that I was already the one dealing with PPA, and that,
sometime in late April 2000, when the security force was increased to 184 Security guards
at North Harbor-Special Take-Over Unit (STU), the amount demanded by Mr. Bungubung
was also increased to P40,000 a month and sometimes P50,000;
x x x x
10. That sometime in late February, 2001, one of office staff received a telephone call from
a certain Capt. Valenzuela of the Port Police Dept. of PPA and because I was not around,
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said Capt. Valenzuela left a message advising me to see Mr. Leopoldo Bungubung for some
important matters;
11. That upon receipt of the advise (sic) from my office staff, I went to PPA, with my
secretary, Ms. Evalyn Cruz, to see Mr. Leopoldo Bungubung at his office located at old PNR
Bldg., South Harbor, Port Area, Manila and at the same time personally delivered a sum of
money amounting to P50,000 as earlier requested by him (Bungubung).
12. That during the course of my conversation with Mr. Leopoldo Bungubung after giving
the P50,000, he asked from me a vehicle, Mitsubishi Pajero (late model) van, to be due and
delivered supposedly to him in the middle part of March 2001 while there is no award of
the winning bidder yet; and that I asked the said Bid Committee Chairman, Mr. Bungubung
to give me a grace period of two (2) months to produce what he was asking from me.
Unfortunately, however, due to the expensive value of the said Pajero van, I was not able to
deliver. Hence, on March 30, 2001, I was served a Notice of Award of the winning bidder
which is STAR SPECIAL WATCHMAN & DETECTIVE AGENCY, INC. an agency comparatively
smaller than mine;
13. That taking a cue from the Pajero van being asked, I instructed my men to conduct an
investigation and there, they found a late model Pajero van with Plate No. WLA-674 parked
in from of the residence of Mr. Leopoldo Bungubung and later verified to have been
registered and transferred on 12 March 2001 under the name of Mr. Norman Vincent
Bungubung, son of Chairman Bungubung at #45 Buencamino St., BF Homes, Paranaque
City.
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In support of the allegations in his Complaint-Affidavit, Doromal submitted an affidavit of his
secretary Evalyn Cruz (Cruz) and an alleged "blue book" of CSEPA. Cruz recounted in her affidavit
another incident wherein she personally handed over the amount of P50,000.00 cash to
Bungubung at his office on 16 January 2001. The CSEPA blue book purportedly detailed monthly
balato or payola paid to PPA officials from July 2000 to February 2001, recorded therein as
representation expenses. It was allegedly prepared by a certain Evalyn M. Ebora (Ebora), and
approved by Doromal.
Thereafter, PPA Resident Ombudsman Mabini released a Memorandum/Investigation Report
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dated 25 September 2001, recommending the following:
a. That criminal complaint be filed against Mr. Leopoldo F. Bungubung for violation of
Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019; Section 7(d) of R.A. 6713 and Art. 211 of the RPC for demanding
and receiving "balato" from COMBAT in the total amount of P320,000 more or less;
b. That likewise, an administrative complaint be filed against Mr. Leopoldo F. Bungubung
for Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service arising
from the above criminal act;
c. That Mr. Leopoldo F. Bungubung be placed under Preventive Suspension for a period of
six (6) months without pay pursuant to Section 24 of R.A. 6770.
From the foregoing, the following complaints were filed against Bungubung before the
Ombudsman: (1) an administrative complaint for Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the
Best Interest of the Service, docketed as OMB-ADM-0-01-0502 (OMB-0-01-0793); and (2) a
criminal complaint for violation of Section 3(b) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
docketed as OMB-0-01-0793.
After the parties submitted the required pleadings, a preliminary conference was held on 21
February 2002 in OMB-ADM-0-01-0502, the administrative case. Bungubung manifested therein
that he was submitting the case for resolution. Doromal, however, was still undecided on whether
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to opt for the conduct of a formal investigation or to submit the case for resolution at once. In a
Manifestation filed on 25 February 2002, Doromal informed the Ombudsman that he was opting
instead for the conduct of a formal investigation for purposes of submission of evidence and
affidavits of witnesses.
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Doromal's aforecited manifestation notwithstanding, the Ombudsman, in an Order dated 6 March
2002, through Graft Investigation Officer II Joselito P. Fangon, ordered the submission of the case
for resolution.
The parties were then required to submit their respective Memoranda.
On 28 November 2002, Graft Investigation Officer II Fangon drafted a Decision
7
which
recommended the dismissal of the administrative case against Bungubung, without prejudice to
its re-filing.
However, Ombudsman Marcelo disapproved Graft Investigation Officer II Fangon's 28 November
2002 Decision, and issued another Order
8
dated 11 January 2005 finding Bungubung liable for
grave misconduct (which absorbed the lesser offense of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of
the service) and ordering Bungubung's dismissal from service, together with the accessory
penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and respondent's perpetual
disqualification from reemployment in government service. The dispositive part of Ombudsman
Marcelo's 11 January 2005 Order reads:
WHEREFORE, the 28 November 2002 Decision prepared by the former Administrative
Adjudication Bureau (AAB), this Office, recommending the dismissal (without prejudice to
its re-filing) of the administrative complaint against [Bungubung] is hereby DISAPPROVED.
Respondent LEOPOLDO F. BUNGUBUNG, Port District Manager, Manila Port District,
Philippine Ports Authority, is hereby found liable for Grave Misconduct and, as such, is
DISMISSED from the service. The penalty of dismissal shall carry with it the accessory
penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and [Bungubung's]
perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government service.
In the interim, the Ombudsman issued an Order
9
dated 10 September 2003 in OMB-0-01-0793, for
the filing of the criminal complaint against Bungubung, after finding that there was probable cause
to indict him for violation of Section 3(b) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
10

The Ombudsman took into consideration its aforementioned 10 September 2003 Order in OMB-0-
01-0793, when it found in OMB-ADM-0-01-0502 that Bungubung took advantage of his position as
Chairman of the PDSBAC of the PPA, using it as leverage in soliciting cash and a Mitsubishi Pajero
van from the bidders as consideration for the award of the security contract. According to the
Ombudsman, such actuations constitute conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the
service. It rejected Bungubung's denial and instead gave credence to the attestation of Cruz that
she personally delivered the P50,000.00 to Bungubung.
Bungubung filed a Motion for Reconsideration
11
of the 11 January 2005 Order of the Ombudsman
in OMB-ADM-0-01-0502, but it was denied by the Ombudsman in another Order
12
dated 28 April
2005, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration dated 21 January 2005 filed by respondent
Leopoldo F. Bungubung is DENIED. The Order dated 11 January 2005 finding him liable for
Grave Misconduct thereby ordering him dismissed from the service, together with its
accessory penalties, is hereby AFFIRMED.
Bungubung then sought recourse to the Court of Appeals via a Petition for Review under Rule 43
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 89689. He asserted therein that
the Ombudsman erred in (a) holding that there was substantial evidence to make him liable for
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grave misconduct, resulting in his dismissal from service and imposition upon him of the
accessory penalties; and (b) ordering him dismissed from the service, when the Constitution
merely empowered said office to make a recommendation of dismissal. Pending resolution of CA-
G.R. SP No. 89689 by the Court of Appeals, Bungubung filed therein a Motion for Issuance of a
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction to enjoin the
Ombudsman and the PPA General Manager from implementing the Order dated 11 January 2005
which dismissed him from service.
13
The Court of Appeals granted the TRO on 3 June 2005.
14

In the meantime, Doromal executed an Ex-Parte Manifestation and Motion to Withdraw
Complaint
15
dated 18 August 2005 and an Affidavit of Desistance
16
dated 23 August 2005, which
he filed before the Ombudsman. In his Ex-Parte Manifestation and Motion to Withdraw Complaint
and Affidavit of Desistance, Doromal expressed his desire to withdraw his Complaint-Affidavit
against Bungubung and desist from the continuance of both OMB-ADM-0-01-0502 and OMB-0-01-
0793. Doromal explicitly admitted in said documents that his allegations in the administrative and
criminal complaints against Bungubung were all fabricated. He further confessed that Bungubung
never demanded or received any balato from him or his wife in exchange for the award of the PPA
security service contract; nor did Bungubung ask for a Mitsubishi Pajero van from him.
On 30 June 2006, the Court of Appeals issued a Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 89689 ruling in
Bungubung's favor, and reversing and setting aside the Orders dated 11 January 2005 and 28
April 2005 of the Ombudsman. It further absolved Bungubung from liability for the charge of
grave misconduct, finding no substantial evidence that Bungubung committed the same.
According to the appellate court:
There is merit in the petition.
Indeed, there is absence of substantial evidence to hold [Bungubung] liable for grave
misconduct.
To begin with, [Doromal] and his witness failed to appear at the preliminary conference on
February 21, 2005 to attest to the truth of the contents of their affidavits. For such failure,
their affidavits are inadmissible as they are hearsay evidence.
x x x x
By not appearing at the preliminary conference and affirming their affidavits, We can not
readily conclude that the contents thereof are true. It is highly probable that [Doromal] is
only sour graping for losing the PPA 2001 service contract. As early as January 18, 2001,
the bids for the 2001 service contract were already opened and authenticated. Thus, it can
not be said that the bids were manipulated or rigged to favour somebody.
While rules of procedure do not strictly apply to administrative cases as long as
defendant's right to due process is not violated, its liberal application in administrative
cases does not allow admission of hearsay evidence, i.e. affidavits not identified by affiants,
as this would violate the constitutional right of petitioner to due process and his
substantive right not to be adjudged guilty on the basis of hearsay evidence.
x x x x
In the instant case, [Bungubung], in denying the assertion of Evalyn Cruz in her affidavit
that she gave him P50,000.00, and in describing her claim as a self-serving fabrication, is
positive evidence that what she claimed did not occur. This holds true with respect to
[Bungubung's] positive denial of [Doromal's] assertion that he gave [Bungubung] another
P50,000.00 in late February 2001 and that he also demanded a late model Pajero from
[Doromal].
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[The Ombudsman] accepted as credible [Doromal's] claim that [Bungubung] asked for a
late model Pajero in exchange for the 2001 security service contract. x x x
The following must, however, be considered:
1. The rule on positive and negative testimonies do not apply where a person who is
in a position to know if a fact occurred denies that it did. This is positive denial
which has the same weight as a contrary assertion.
2. The finding that the van was acquired after the failed solicitation and before the
award readily assumes as true private respondent's bare assertion that petitioner
asked him for a van.
Allegedly taking cue from his failure to deliver a Pajero van, [Doromal] had [Bungubung's]
home cased and saw a Pajero in front of his house. If this is the case, why was this not
mentioned by [Doromal] when he filed a civil case to stop the award of the security service
contract on ground of irregularities in the bidding? Neither was this matter brought up
during the hearing on the application for a TRO. [Doromal] only brought up this matter
about a Pajero in his affidavit-complaint of September 7, 2001 after hearing that
[Bungubung's] son has a newly-bought Pajero.
1. [Bungubung] presented proof that on May 4, 2001, [Doromal] filed a false "hit-
and-run" report involving the Pajero with plate WLA 674 of [Bungubung's] son. This
shows the extent that [Doromal] would go just to spite [Bungubung].
2. The President of Star Security Agency declared under oath that he did not give
[Bungubung] any Pajero;
3. The Pajero was acquired by [Bungubung's] son from a certain Teresito Uy as
evidenced by a notarized deed of sale;
4. It is unfair to assume that [Bungubung's] son could not afford the price of a used
Pajero. He put up a glass and aluminum business after getting married.
From the foregoing, [the Ombudsman] should have dismissed the complaint for lack of
substantial evidence to support it.
The fallo of the Court of Appeals' 30 June 2006 Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is GRANTED and GIVEN DUE COURSE. The Orders
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of the Ombudsman dated January 11, 200[5] and April 28, 200[5] are reversed and set
aside and a new one issued absolving petitioner from liability for the charge of grave
misconduct.
18

The Ombudsman filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the afore-quoted Decision, which the
appellate court denied in its Resolution dated 26 October 2006 for lack of merit, thus:
Notably, the issues raised in the motion have already been thoroughly threshed out and passed
upon in the assailed decision. No novel or new matters were introduced therein.
The disquisition made by the Supreme Court in Dela Cruz vs. Department of Education,
Culture and Sports-Cordillera Administrative Region is most helpful, "We have long held
that affidavits are deemed hearsay evidence because the adverse party is deprived of the
opportunity to cross-examine the affiants. Hence, affidavits are generally deemed
inadmissible or rejected outright unless the affiants themselves are placed on the witness
stand to testify thereon.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED
for lack of merit.
19

Consequently, the Ombudsman filed this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Revised Rules of Court based on the following grounds:
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I.
THE RELIANCE BY THE OMBUDSMAN ON THE AFFIDAVITS OF ROBERTO DOROMAL AND
HIS WITNESS IN DETERMINING [BUNGUBUNG]'S ADMINISTRATIVE LIABILITY WAS
PROPER. IT DID NOT DEPRIVE [BUNGUBUNG] OF DUE PROCESS;
II.
THE FINDING OF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFENSE FOR GRAVE MISCONDUCT AGAINST
[BUNGUBUNG] IS SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE;
III.
AS CONSEQUENTLY HELD BY THE SUPREME COURT, THE FINDINGS OF THE
OMBUDSMAN DESERVE GREAT WEIGHT, AND MUST BE ACCORDED FULL RESPECT AND
CREDIT.
The Ombudsman prays that this Court render a Decision nullifying and setting aside the Decision
dated 30 June 2006 and Resolution dated 26 October 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 89689, and affirming the Ombudsman's Orders dated 11 January 2005 and 28 April 2005 in
OMB-ADM-0-01-0502 which found Bungubung guilty of Grave Misconduct and dismissing him
from service with all the accessory penalties incident thereto.
Bungubung counters that the Court of Appeals correctly held that there was no substantial
evidence to hold him liable for grave misconduct; and that the reliance by the Ombudsman on the
affidavits of Doromal and Cruz in determining his administrative liability, despite the fact that the
contents thereof were not personally attested to by the affiants before the Ombudsman, was a
clear violation of his right to due process. He also avers that the Court of Appeals was correct in
giving credence to the Ex-Parte Manifestation and Motion to Withdraw the Complaint and
Affidavit of Desistance, filed by Doromal with the Ombudsman in August 2005, as proof of
Bungubung's lack of culpability.
The present Petition must fail.
Before proceeding to the merits of the instant Petition, this Court deems it necessary to first
address the allegation of Bungubung that he was denied due process by the Ombudsman. The fact
that no formal hearing took place is not sufficient ground to say that due process was not afforded
Bungubung. It is well-settled that in administrative proceedings, including those before the
Ombudsman, cases may be submitted for resolution on the basis of affidavits and pleadings. The
standard of due process that must be met in administrative tribunals allows a certain degree of
latitude as long as fairness is not ignored. It is, therefore, not legally objectionable for being
violative of due process for an administrative agency to resolve a case based solely on position
papers, affidavits or documentary evidence submitted by the parties as affidavits of witnesses
may take the place of their direct testimonies.
20
Undoubtedly, due process in administrative
proceedings is an opportunity to explain one's side or an opportunity to seek reconsideration of
the action or ruling complained of,
21
which requirement was afforded Bungubung.
22

In Manggagawa ng Komunikasyon sa Pilipinas v. National Labor Relations Commission,
23
this Court
held that:
[A]ctual adversarial proceeding becomes necessary only for clarification or when there is a
need to propound searching questions to unclear witnesses. This is a procedural right
which the employee must, however, ask for it is not an inherent right, and summary
proceedings may be conducted. This is to correct the common but mistaken perception that
procedural due process entails lengthy oral arguments. Hearings in administrative
proceedings and before quasi-judicial agencies are neither oratorical contests nor debating
skirmishes where cross examination skills are displayed. Non-verbal devices such as
7

written explanations, affidavits, positions papers or other pleadings can establish just as
clearly and concisely aggrieved parties' predicament or defense. What is essential is ample
opportunity to be heard, meaning, every kind of assistance that management must accord
the employee to prepare adequately for his defense.
After the filing of the Complaint, Bungubung was allowed by the Ombudsman to submit the
following: (a) a counter-affidavit refuting the charges against him; (b) a rejoinder-affidavit; and (c)
a Motion for Reconsideration of the 11 January 2005 Order of the Ombudsman. Moreover,
Bungubung had the option to subject the case to a formal investigation, but his Manifestation
dated 21 February 2002 before the Ombudsman was evidence that he did not choose to do so and,
instead, agreed to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the affidavits on record. These
facts establish that Bungubung was not deprived of his right to due process, having ample
opportunity to present his side before the Ombudsman. In fact, it was only later on in a
Manifestation filed on 25 February 2002 that Doromal changed his mind and informed the
Ombudsman that he was opting instead for the conduct of a formal investigation.
That point having been settled, this Court moves on to determine the merits of the Petition at bar.
The Petition primarily involves questions of fact, pitting against each other the findings of fact of
the Court of Appeals and those of the Ombudsman, both of which depended on the probative
weight to be given to the affidavits of Doromal, Cruz, and the alleged CSEPA blue book.
We stress the procedural tenet that a petition for review on certiorari filed with this Court under
Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court shall raise only questions of law.
24
A question of law has
been defined as one that does not call for any examination of the probative value of the evidence
presented by the parties;
25
a question of fact arises when the doubt or difference pertains to the
truth or falsehood of alleged facts or when the query necessarily solicits calibration of the whole
evidence considering mostly the credibility of witnesses, existence and relevancy of specific
surrounding circumstances, their relation to one another and to the whole and probabilities of the
situation.
26
We have consistently held that in a petition for review on certiorari, this Court does
not sit as an arbiter of facts for it is not the function of the Supreme Court to analyze or weigh all
over again the evidence already considered in the proceedings below.
27
Such factual findings can
be questioned only if, among other exceptions,
28
the findings of fact are conflicting and the
findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the lower court and/or administrative
agency, which exceptional circumstances are present herein, thus, justifying the review by this
Court of the factual findings of the Ombudsman and the Court of Appeals.
In Montemayor v. Bundalian,
29
this Court laid down the following guidelines for the judicial review
of decisions rendered by administrative agencies in the exercise of their quasi-judicial power:
First, the burden is on the complainant to prove by substantial evidence the allegations in
his complaint. Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla of evidence. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion,
even if other minds equally reasonable might conceivably opine otherwise. Second, in
reviewing administrative decisions of the executive branch of the government, the findings
of facts made therein are to be respected so long as they are supported by substantial
evidence. Hence, it is not for the reviewing court to weigh the conflicting evidence,
determine the credibility of witnesses, or otherwise substitute its judgment for that of the
administrative agency with respect to the sufficiency of evidence. Third, administrative
decisions in matters within the executive jurisdiction can only be set aside on proof of
gross abuse of discretion, fraud, or error of law. These principles negate the power of the
reviewing court to re-examine the sufficiency of the evidence in an administrative case as if
8

originally instituted therein, and do not authorize the court to receive additional evidence
that was not submitted to the administrative agency concerned.
As stated above, the fundamental rule in administrative proceedings is that the complainant has
the burden of proving, by substantial evidence, the allegations in his complaint. Section 27 of the
Ombudsman Act is unequivocal: Findings of fact by the Office of the Ombudsman when supported
by substantial evidence are conclusive. Conversely, therefore, when the findings of fact by the
Ombudsman are not adequately supported by substantial evidence, they shall not be binding upon
the courts. Such is the case in the present Petition.
Substantial evidence, which is more than a mere scintilla but is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, would suffice to hold one
administratively liable.
30
The standard of substantial evidence is satisfied when there is
reasonable ground to believe that respondent is responsible for the misconduct complained of,
31

even if such evidence might not be overwhelming or even preponderant.
32
While substantial
evidence does not necessarily import preponderance of evidence as is required in an ordinary civil
case,
33
or evidence beyond reasonable doubt as is required in criminal cases,
34
it should be enough
for a reasonable mind to support a conclusion. There is none here.
Bungubung is being charged with the administrative offense of Grave Misconduct, which has been
authoritatively defined in Amosco v. Judge Magro
35
as:
Misconduct in office has a definite and well-understood legal meaning. By uniform legal
definition, it is a misconduct such as affects his performance of his duties as an officer and
not such only as affects his character as a private individual. In such cases, it has been said
at all times, it is necessary to separate the character of the man from the character of the
officer x x x. It is settled that misconduct, misfeasance, or malfeasance warranting removal
from office of an officer, must have direct relation to and be connected with the
performance of official duties amounting either to maladministration or willful, intentional
neglect and failure to discharge the duties of the office. x x x.
In In re: Impeachment of Horilleno,
36
this Court authoritatively defined serious misconduct --
"[S]ufficient cause" must exist in the judgment of the Supreme Court involving "serious
misconduct." The adjective is "serious"; that is, important, weighty, momentous, and not
trifling. The noun is "misconduct"; that is, a transgression of some established and definite
rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public
officer. x x x.
Being guided accordingly by the aforementioned evidentiary rules and jurisprudence, this Court
finds that the evidence on record in the present case does not constitute substantial evidence of
Bungubung's administrative culpability for grave misconduct.
Within the field of administrative law, while strict rules of evidence are not applicable to quasi-
judicial proceedings, nevertheless, in adducing evidence constitutive of substantial evidence, the
basic rule that mere allegation is not evidence cannot be disregarded.
37

In his Affidavit-Complaint, Doromal accused Bungubung of soliciting and receiving P100,000.00
from him and a Mitsubishi Pajero van from another bidder in exchange for the award of the
security services contract of the PPA. Doromal also accused Bungubung and other PPA employees
of demanding and receiving balato in consideration of the award of the PPA Security Service
Contract.
In addition to his Complaint-Affidavit, Doromal submitted a Reply-Affidavit, as well as the
following supporting documents:
(a) Affidavit of Evalyn Cruz, his secretary;
9

(b) CSEPA blue book detailing the monthly "balato" or "payola" paid to PPA officials and
employees, referred to therein as representation expenses.
On the other hand, Bungubung filed his Counter-Affidavit and Rejoinder-Affidavit. In his defense,
Bungubung further submitted the following evidence:
(a) Affidavit of Celso A. Fernandez, President and Chairman of Star Special Watchman and
Detective Agency, Inc., the winning bidder, who denied giving any money or a Pajero to
Bungubung;
(b) Affidavit of a certain Rufino Valenzuela, who denied giving instructions for Doromal to
go to Bungubung's office;
(c) A copy of the petition in Civil Case No. 01-100678, entitled "Roberto C. Doromal, etc. v.
Philippine Ports Authority, et al.," questioning the legality of the case filed by Doromal
against Bungubung before the RTC to show that Doromal never mentioned therein that
Bungubung requested for a Pajero from him;
(d) A copy of the Deed of Sale of the Pajero executed by Teresito Uy in favor of Norman
Vincent Bungubung, as proof that the said vehicle was bought and is now owned by
Bungubung's son;
(e) A copy of the "Traffic Incident Report" of the Central Police Traffic Enforcement Office
to evidence the fabricated "hit and run" charge made by an employee of CSEPA against the
Pajero owned by Bungubung's son; and
(f) PSBAC Resolutions establishing that the award of the PPA Security Contracts was made
by public bidding.
The Ombudsman chose to give more credence to Doromal's allegations and evidence when it
found that Bungubung took advantage of his position as Chairman of the PSBAC and used it as
leverage in soliciting cash and a Mitsubishi Pajero van from the bidders as a consideration for the
award of the PPA security service contract. However, Doromal's evidence is hardly substantive.
First, Doromal's allegation that Bungubung acquired the Mitsubishi Pajero van from another
bidder after failing to successfully solicit the same from him is highly suspect, since Doromal only
narrated the alleged solicitation in his Affidavit-Complaint against Bungubung filed with the
Ombudsman on 7 September 2001. He failed to mention such a significant circumstance in Civil
Case No. 01100678, Roberto C. Doromal v. Philippine Ports Authority, before the RTC or in his
petition for TRO in the same case, both of which were filed ahead of his Affidavit-Complaint before
the Ombudsman.
Second, little weight should be given to the CSEPA blue book allegedly detailing the monthly
payola or balato paid to PPA officials and employees from July 2000 to February 2001, recorded
therein as representation expenses. According to the CSEPA blue book, the following PPA key
officials received monthly representation allowances:
NAME POSITION PERIOD TOTAL
AMOUNT
Mr. Cecilio AGM Operations July 2000-Feb
2001
P200,000.00
Leopoldo
Bungubung
Port District Manager July 2000-Feb
2001
P300,000.00
Ted Alcalde District Manager July 2000-Feb
2001
P144,000.00
10

Capt. Gamis Chief of Port Police
North Harbor
July 2000-Feb
2001
P144,000.00
Felix Barcala Chief of Port Police
South Harbor
July 2000-Feb
2001
P35,000.00
Alex Cruz July 2000- Feb
2001
P144,000.00
The CSEPA blue book, however, is evidently self-serving. The entries therein were purportedly
made by a certain Ebora, who was never presented to personally identify the entries she made or
confirm the same. The only other person involved in the preparation of the blue book was
Doromal who supposedly approved the entries therein. The blue book is not audited, nor is it
subject to review by an independent party. The blue book then can easily be manufactured.
Considering the seriousness of the charges which may arise against the public officers named
therein, the entries in the blue book must not be accepted at face value when the entries therein
are uncorroborated by any other evidence.
Third, while the Ombudsman gave much weight and credit to Doromal's evidence, it lightly
brushed aside that submitted by Bungubung. Among Bungubung's evidence which the
Ombudsman failed to consider was a copy of the "Traffic Accident Incident Report" prepared by
the Central Police Traffic Enforcement Office, stating that on 4 May 2001, Doromal filed a false
report of a "hit-and-run" incident which supposedly occurred on 1 May 2001 involving the
Mitsubishi Pajero van of Bungubung's son. The report was made by the police investigator in his
official capacity; thus, it enjoys the presumption of regularity and is a prima facie evidence of the
facts therein stated. The filing of the false report establishes ill motive on the part of Doromal
specifically directed against Bungubung.
Fourth, the main defense put up by Bungubung is complete denial, a defense which is said to be
the weakest, seldom believed or given weight, as it is easy to fabricate. Nonetheless, Bungubung's
denial of -- (a) Cruz's allegation in her affidavit that she personally gave Bungubung P50,000.00 on
16 January 2001; (b) Doromal's assertion in his affidavit that he gave Bungubung another
P50,000.00 in late February 2001; and (c) Doromal's assertion that Bungubung demanded from
him a late model Mitsubishi Pajero van -- is given weight in this instance.
In the absence of corroborative evidence, the Court would not be prepared to accept the usual
lame defense of denial over the straightforward and positive declaration of a witness since denials
constitute self-serving negative evidence which cannot be accorded greater evidentiary weight
than the declaration of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters. Thus, in the case of
contradictory declarations and statements, greater weight is generally given to positive
testimonies than to mere denials.
38

In this instance, however, Bungubung's denial of the allegations against him are supported by his
own controverting evidence. In contrast, Doromal's Complaint-Affidavit and Cruz's Affidavit
support only each other.
Finally, this Court cannot ignore Doromal's Ex-Parte Manifestation and Motion to Withdraw
Complaint dated 18 August 2005 and Affidavit of Desistance dated 23 August 2005, which he filed
with the Ombudsman. In both documents, Doromal expressed his desire to withdraw his
Complaint-Affidavit filed with the Ombudsman and desist from the continuance of the criminal
and administrative complaints against Bungubung. Doromal explicitly admitted therein that he
merely fabricated all his allegations against Bungubung.
11

While this Court looks with disfavor on affidavits of desistance, still, its effect on the instant case
cannot be ignored. Doromal's Affidavit of Desistance includes an explicit admission that he
fabricated the charges against Bungubung. Therefore, Doromal's Affidavit of Desistance is an
express repudiation of the material points alleged in his Complaint-Affidavit, and not a mere
expression of his lack of interest to pursue his complaints against Bungubung. Since Doromal
willfully and knowingly executed his Affidavit of Desistance, there being no showing that he was
made to do so fraudulently or under duress, then it may be admitted and considered as evidence
which considerably puts into question the probative value of the Affidavit-Complaint he executed
earlier and he now repudiates.
In Gaviola v. Salcedo,
39
which involved an administrative case for suspension or disbarment
against a lawyer, this Court gave probative value to the Affidavit of Desistance of the complainant,
pronouncing that while the filing of an Affidavit of Desistance by the complainant for lack of
interest does not ipso facto result in the termination of the administrative case, it was constrained
to dismiss the charges since such charges cannot be proven without the evidence of the
complainant and her witnesses. Such is the case at bar. Essentially, the administrative case against
Bungubung was based on the allegations made by Doromal in his Affidavit-Complaint, without
which, the case against Bungubung collapses.
The Court of Appeals therefore took proper notice of Doromal's Ex-Parte Motion to Withdraw the
Affidavit-Complaint and Affidavit of Desistance since they cast a different light on the evidence
previously considered by the Ombudsman.
After evaluating the totality of evidence on record, this Court reaches the inescapable conclusion
that complainant Doromal failed to present substantial evidence that Bungubung is
administratively liable for grave misconduct.
As this Court declared in Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations,
40
the assurance of a desirable
flexibility in administrative procedure does not go so far as to justify orders without a basis in
evidence having rational probative force.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED. The Decision
dated 30 June 2006 and Order dated 26 October 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
89689 are AFFIRMED.
No Costs.
SO ORDERED.

12

G.R. No. 177223 November 28, 2007
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs.
CASTOR BATIN, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
We are reviewing herein the Decision
1
of the Court of Appeals dated 6 February 2007, in CA-G.R.
CR HC No. 01396, affirming the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City,
convicting father and son, Castor and Neil Batin, of the crime of murder. The conviction was for the
killing of one Eugenio Refugio, who was shot in the afternoon of 21 October 1994, while he was
leaning against a mango tree near his house on St. Peter Street, San Paolo Subdivision,
Nagkakaisang Nayon, Novaliches, Quezon City.
The Information
2
against Castor and Neil Batin was filed by the Office of the City Prosecutor of
Quezon City on 11 April 1995, alleging as follows:
That on or about the 21st day of October, 1994, in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named
accused, conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping each other, did, then and
there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, with treachery, taking advantage of
superior strength, and with evident premeditation, attack, assault and employ personal violence
upon the person of one EUGENIO REFUGIO y ZOSA, by then and there shooting him with a
handgun, hitting him on the right side of his stomach, thereby inflicting upon him serious and
mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his untimely death, to the damage
and prejudice of the heirs of said Eugenio Refugio y Zosa, in such amount as may be awarded
under the provisions of the Civil Code.
Castor and Neil Batin entered pleas of not guilty.
The prosecution, presented as its witnesses Eusebio Farrales, Vilma Juadinez Rodriguez, Florante
Baltazar, Josephine Refugio, PO3 Marifor Segundo and Police Inspector Solomon Segundo, offered
the following version of the facts, as summarized by the trial court:
Eugenios wife, Josephine Refugio, was with him when he was shot, facing him as he leaned against
the mango tree and, in fact, had her arms resting on his shoulders. She recalled that before the
shooting, she was at home at No. 4-A St. Peter Street that afternoon when, looking out of the
window, she caught sight of Castor Batin washing his feet at a nearby faucet. Castor was angrily
muttering, and she distinctly heard him say, among the other things he said: "Mga matatandang
kunsintidor, dapat manahimik na." Then, being through with washing himself, Castor moved
towards the street. Seeing this, she went down and also went to the street because of a feeling of
uneasiness ("Para po akong kinakabahan, kasi, ganoon naman ang ginagawa nila lagi, eh, pag
nalalasing"). Finding her husband leaning against the mango tree on the side of St. Peter Street,
she went to him. She tried to talk Eugenio into going home with her because Castor was again into
one of his wild ways ("Nagwawala na naman, daldal ng daldal"). As he was talking with Eugenio,
she glanced to her left and saw Neil Batin standing at the gate to their (Batins) compound, looking
towards her and her husband. A few moments later, Neil went to one of the parked cars, opened
its door, and took a gun from inside. She next noticed Castor going towards Neil as the latter stood
at the side of the car and shouting: "Huwag!" Castor grabbed the gun from Neil. After the gun was
taken from him, Neil just proceeded towards the right rear of the car. Castor followed Neil and
handed the gun back to him.
When she shifted her glance from the Batins, Josephine heard Castor ordering his son: "Sige,
banatan mo na." Neil responded by drawing the gun from his waistline, raising and aiming it at her
13

and her husband, and firing twice from his eye-level. Both Josephine and Eugenio fell to the
ground, the former, backwards, and the latter landing on top of her. As they tried to get up,
Eugenio uttered to her: "Nanay, may tama ako." She then pulled her husband by the shoulder of
his shirt so that she could take him to their house as he was already slumped to the right. She later
rushed her husband to the Quezon City General Hospital, where he underwent surgery, but later
expired.
Other eyewitnesses from the neighborhood were presented and they substantially corroborated
her testimonial account.
One of them, Eusebio Farrales, a resident of No. 7 St. Paul Street, in relation to which St. Peter
Street was perpendicular, recalled being at the barangay outpost near the corner of St. Peter Street
and St. Paul Street between 3:00 and 3:30 pm of the afternoon of October 21, 1994 engaged in
the clearing of the debris of the recent typhoon when he heard someone cursing and challenging
to a fight. Walking towards St. Peter Street where the voice came, he saw that it was Castor. He
also saw other neighbors, namely, Eugenio, Josephine, and Eugenios mother, Emilia Refugio.
According to Farrales, Castor was moving aimlessly for around five minutes ("Walang direktion at
pa-ikot ikot lang siya doon") while cussing: "Putang ina ninyo, sino ang matapang lumabas."
Farrales stated that a white car and a white-and-yellow colored taxicab were parked on the side
portion of the street fronting the gate to the compound of the Batins and near where Eugenio and
Josephine stood. Emilia, the mother of Eugenio, then came towards him, but he advised her to seek
assistance from the barangay tanod. After Emilia proceeded towards St. Paul Street to do so, Neil
came out through the gate, opened the door of the white car, took out a gun from inside, and
handed the gun to Castor, but the latter returned the gun to Neil. Upon getting back the gun, Neil
reentered the yard through the gate.
Farrales asserted that in the meanwhile Eugenio remained leaning against the mango tree with
Josephine facing him and her arms resting on his shoulders. They were in this position when Neil
again came out through the gate a few moments later and proceeded to the right side of the car,
still holding the handgun. From there, Neil fired twice at the Refugios. The Refugios both fell to the
left of the mango tree. Farrales saw both Castor and Neil quickly enter the compound. At that
point, Farrales decided to run home in order to summon Alfredo Dizon, his tenant, who was a
police officer because he feared that the Batins might escape from the scene by car.
Farrales and Dizon lost no time in going to the place of the Batins. After Dizon talked with Castor
at the gate of the latters compound, the latter entered the house of his nephew, Ricky Basilio,
which was beside Castors own house. A few moments later, Castor came out of Basilios house to
let Dizon in through the gate. It was about this time that the responding police officers arrived at
the scene. The victim had been rushed to the hospital immediately.
Another neighbor, Vilma Juadines Rodriguez, resident of No. 7-A St. Peter Street, declared that
while she was at home taking care of her baby at between 3:00 and 3:30 pm of October 21, 1994,
she heard someone challenging others to a fight; that looking out of her window ("dungaw"), she
saw that it was Boy Batin Castor and he was then walking about on St. Peter Street; that just
then, her child cried, and so she went to him; that upon returning to the window to call her other
child, she saw Castor hand over a handgun to Neil, and the latter thereafter entered through their
gate; that she next saw Neil load bullets into the gun and then tucking it in his right waistline; that
after loading, Neil went out to the street, went between the parked white car and yellow taxicab,
aimed the gun at Eugenio and Josephine who were at the mango tree, and then asked Castor: "Tay,
banatan ko na?"; that Castor replied: "Sige, anak, banatan mo na." that, at that instant, Neil fired
two shots; that as she went down to get her other child upon hearing the gunshots, she heard
14

Josephine say: "Tay, may tama ka"; that she later reentered her house; and that she knew that
Eugenio died afterwards.
Although Eugenio was rushed to the Quezon City General Hospital right after the shooting and was
operated on, he expired the next day. His remains were properly identified in writing by his
brother, Tito Eugenio.
3

The medico-legal officer of the PNP Crime Laboratory Service, Dr. Florante Baltazar, conducted an
autopsy on Eugenios remains. In his Medico-Legal Report No. M-1715-94,
4
he indicated that
Eugenio sustained one gunshot wound, which was, however, fatal, because "it went slightly
upward, slightly anteriorward from the right to the left of the body, fracturing the right to [the] left
[of the] thoracic region, lacerating the right lumbar region." Dr. Baltazar made the certification as
to the cause of death in the death certificate.
5

Upon a written request
6
from the Novaliches Police Station, Quezon City, Police Inspector Solomon
Segundo, Chief of the Firearms Identification Branch of the Central Crime Laboratory, Northern
Police District Command, Quezon City, conducted the ballistics examination to ascertain whether
or not the bullet recovered from the victim was fired from the specimen firearm submitted for
examination. P/Insp. Segundo prepared Ballistics Report No. B-042-94,
7
wherein he certified that
the bullet from the recovery box
8
and the bullet recovered from the victims body
9
were fired from
the same specimen firearm.
10
This conclusion was arrived at after a test fire and a comparison
under the bullet comparison microscope.
The defense, on the other hand, presented accused Neil Batin, Castors common-law wife Maricon
Pantoja, and one Restituto Paller. Neil Batins testimony is summarized by the trial court as
follows:
Neil substantially claimed that it was his responsibility to conduct his younger brothers to school
and fetch them by car; that he also drove their taxicab; that it was about 7:00 oclock in morning of
October 21, 1994, while he was cleaning the family-owned taxicab, that he found a short gun ("de
bola") underneath it beside the right rear wheel; that he picked the gun and concealed it in the
compartment of the taxicab; that he continued with his chore of cleaning; that as soon as he
finished cleaning the taxicab, he drove the white Datsun car to Tondo to fetch his six-year old
brother Mark, the son of his father with Maricon Pantoja; that Mark was a pupil at the Magat
Salamat Elementary School in Tondo; that after picking up Mark, they drove to the house of his
uncle, Domingo Batin, in Marulas, Valenzuela, to get his clothes from his cousin; that they arrived
there at 11:00 am, and spent around two hours there; that from Marulas, they went home, arriving
at St. Peter Street at around 2:30 pm; that he parked the car on the road in front of their fence; that
he and Mark first entered the house to deposit Marks school things and later went outside to
await the arrival of Marks mother; that his other brothers were outside; that Castor was also
outside talking with a man whose name he did not know but whom he had seen thrice before as
well as with Boy Iigo in front of the latters house; that Iigos house was 15 meters from their
gate; that Pantoja soon arrived at around 2:45 pm; that he continued talking and playing with his
brothers; and that at that point he decided to take the gun from the compartment of the taxicab
then parked around 2 meters away from where he and his brothers were and tucked it in his
waistline.
Having thus tucked the gun, Neil went to stand at the right rear side of the Datsun car which was
parked facing the mango tree ("halos magkatapat lang po"). Maricon came out to the street at that
point to ask him about the time he had fetched Mark. It was while he was standing there with the
others that, according to Neil, he suddenly felt the impulse of drawing the gun from his waistline
("Bigla kong naisipang bunutin ang baril"). He thus drew the gun and turned around, but, as he did
15

so, he accidentally pulled the trigger, causing the gun to fire twice ("Tumalikod po ako, tapos
nakalabit ko, pumutok ng dalawang beses").
Neil admitted knowing the late Eugenio Refugio and his wife Josephine because they were his
neighbors with only a high wall separating their houses; but denied seeing them that afternoon
beside the mango tree.
At the sound of gunfire, Castor rushed towards Neil from where he was in front of Iigos house,
shouting twice to his son: "Huwag!" Pantoja, for her part, forced Neil to enter the compound,
where she brought him inside the house of his aunt. Neil concealed the gun in the ceiling of the
aunts house.
Neil said that he and his father did not grapple inside the Datsun car for possession of the gun; that
his father did not wrest the gun from him; that he did not enter the compound to put bullets in the
gun; that his father did not order him to shoot Eugenio; and that his father was not drunk and
challenging others to a fight. He insisted that he and the Refugios, with whom he was acquainted
since 1987, had no misunderstandings, for he even had shared drinks with the late Eugenio before
October 21, 1994.
11

As regards the testimonies of the defenses two other witnesses, the trial court could not make an
intelligible narrative of the version of the facts presented by them, considering the contradictions
it found in their testimonies. The trial court found glaring Maricon Pantojas "self-contradiction" as
to where she and the accused were when Eugenio was shot. During the trial, Maricon testified that
she, Neil and Castor were outside their house when Neil drew the gun and accidentally fired.
However, in her affidavit,
12
she alleged that they went outside their house upon hearing a gun
explosion and saw "Eugenio Refugio alone holding his stomach x x x we have no any knowledge
whether he was hit by a bullet."
13

On 8 June 1998, the trial court rendered its Decision finding both accused guilty of murder,
qualified by treachery, to wit:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused CASTOR BATIN and NEIL BATIN
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER as defined and penalized under Art. 248,
Revised Penal Code, as amended, and they are hereby each sentenced to suffer reclusion perpetua;
and ordered to pay the heirs of EUGENIO REFUGIO, through his wife, JOSEPHINE REFUGIO, as
follows:
1] P50,000.00, as death indemnity;
2] P61,500.00, as actual damages;
3] P500,000.00, as moral damages;
4] P307,920.00, as indemnity for lost of earning capacity; and
5] The costs of suit.
14

Neil and Castor Batin filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. However, on 13 November 2000,
accused Neil Batin filed an Urgent Motion to Withdraw Appeal. The People interposed no
objection to the Motion, which was granted.
On 6 February 2007, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision affirming, with
modification, the Decision of the trial court, to wit:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Metro Manila in Criminal Case No. Q-95-61003 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as to
civil liabilities. With the exception of the award of moral damages which is reduced to
P100,000.00 and the indemnity for loss of earning capacity which is increased to P723,840.00, the
awards for death indemnity and actual damages are retained.
15

Castor Batin now comes before this Court, assigning the following errors:
16

I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN
FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AS
PRINCIPAL FOR INDUCEMENT FOR THE CRIME CHARGED.
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN
APPRECIATING THE AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TRACHERY.
16

Castor Batin prays that the Decision of the Court of Appeals be reversed and set aside and a new
one entered acquitting him of the crime charged. In the alternative, he prays that he be held liable
for the crime of homicide only, arguing that the qualifying circumstance of treachery was not
sufficiently stated in the Information.
Whether there was conspiracy in the killing of Eugenio Refugio
It is evident from Castors Supplemental Brief and all his other issuances after the withdrawal of
Neils appeal that he had already discarded Neils theory of accidental shooting. Instead, his
arguments are geared toward his distancing himself from the act of Neil in shooting Eugenio
Refugio.
We cannot, however, dispose of the discussion of Neils theory of accidental shooting. As Neils
testimony had been the only evidence presented by the defense to rebut the prosecutions
evidence concerning the acts of Castor during the incident, we should carefully scrutinize Neils
testimony to determine his credibility.
Neil claims that while his back was still turned against the Refugios, he suddenly felt the impulse
to draw the gun from his waistline. He drew the gun, turned around with the gun in hand, and
accidentally fired it twice without aiming it at anyone.
As held by the trial court, this account is plainly far-fetched and incredible. As observed by the trial
court,
The revolver involved herein was a mechanical firearm which belonged to the so-called double-
action type of guns. This type has a firing mechanism which permits two methods of firing the
first is by manually cocking or retracting the hammer and then pressing the trigger to release the
hammer; the second is by applying continuous pressure on the trigger in order to cock the
hammer and then releasing the trigger. The drop of the hammer by either method propels the
firing pin forward so that its other end strikes the primer cap to explode the propellant charge
inside the shell which then forces out the bullet through the gun barrel. From the nature of the
firing mechanism of Exhibit O, and there being no evidence showing that the hammer was
manually cocked before the gun fired, it was absolutely physically impossible for the gun to fire
accidentally.
In order to determine for himself how much pressure was necessary to cock the hammer into
firing position, the undersigned presiding judge personally tested the trigger pull of Exhibit O.
Even assuming that the passage of time from the date of the shooting caused some change on the
efficiency of the firing mechanism, such change can only show up by way of a weakening of the
hammer spring. Nonetheless, it was not surprising for the undersigned presiding judge to find
heavy resistance at each trigger pull, such that he exerted some force to cock the hammer. This
actual testing easily validated the conclusion that firing the gun accidentally and unintentionally
was impossible.
17

Neils claim that he accidentally fired the gun twice in quick succession is, thus, even more
incredible. Given the difficulty of pulling the trigger to cock the hammer into firing position, it is
17

inconceivable how the gun could have been fired by Neil twice in quick succession except by a
deliberate and intentional pulling of the trigger.
Given the physical attributes and condition of the gun involved in the case at bar, the testimony of
Eusebio Farrales is likewise observed to be much more credible than that of Neil. Whereas Neil
claims that he accidentally fired the gun twice using only one hand, Eusebio Farrales testified that
Neil fired at the Refugios while holding the gun with both hands and from a standing position.
While the maxim falsus in uno falsus in omnibus is not an absolute rule of law and is in fact rarely
applied in modern jurisprudence,
18
Neils credibility has been severely tarnished by the foregoing
portion of his testimony. Thus, we should likewise take with a grain of salt the following parts of
his testimony which tend to refute the account of the prosecution concerning the acts of Castor
during the incident: (1) that Neil and Castor did not grapple inside the Datsun car for possession
of the gun; (2) that Castor did not wrest the gun from him; (3) that Neil did not enter the
compound to put bullets in the gun; (4) that Castor did not order Neil to shoot Eugenio; and (5)
that Castor was not drunk and challenging others to a fight.
As stated above, Castor has already discarded Neils theory of accidental shooting and, instead,
focuses on distancing himself from the act of Neil in shooting Eugenio Refugio. Castors principal
defense in this appeal is that the conviction of a person as a principal by inducement requires (1)
that the inducement be made with the intention of procuring the commission of the crime; and (2)
that such inducement be the determining cause of the commission by the material executor.
19

Castor claims that there is no conclusive proof that he participated in the shooting, and that "(h)is
alleged utterance of the words Sige, banatan mo na" cannot be considered as the moving cause of
the shooting. According to Castor, if he had wanted his son to shoot Eusebio Refugio, he would not
have shouted "Huwag" and struggled for possession of the gun.
We are not persuaded.
First of all, the theory presented by the prosecution in both the Information and in their
arguments before the courts is not Castors being a principal by inducement, but rather his being a
co-conspirator. If conspiracy is proven, the act of one is the act of all. As stated above, the widow,
Josephine Refugio, and the neighbors -- Eusebio Farrales and Vilma Juadinez Rodriguez -- testified
to the fact that Castor handed the gun to Neil and urged the latter to fire at the Refugio spouses.
The trial court, whose assessment of the credibility of witnesses deserves great respect, since it
had the important opportunity to observe first-hand the expression and demeanor of the
witnesses at the trial,
20
found these witnesses credible, thus:
From its careful and thorough evaluation of the record, the Court finds that Castor and Neil
conspired in shooting Eugenio. This finding is inexorable because the testimonies of the
Prosecution witnesses that Castor returned the gun back to Neil; that he instigated Neil to shoot
by shouting: "Sige, banatan mo na"; and that Neil then fired his gun twice were credible and
sufficed to prove Castors indispensable cooperation in the killing of Eugenio. Accordingly, Castor
was as much liable criminally for the death of Eugenio as Neil, the direct participant in the killing,
was.
The reliability of witnesses Farrales and Rodriguez, for one, cannot be doubted. Being the
neighbors of both the Batins and the Refugios, their claim of witnessing the events that culminated
into the shooting of Eugenio was unassailable. The accused, in fact, could not provide any reason
or motive for them to testify against the Batins unless it was upon the truth.
21

While Castor was indeed heard to have shouted "Huwag," this cannot be considered as reliable
evidence that he tried to dissuade Neil from firing the gun. It was established by credible
testimony that he handed back the gun to Neil and urged him to shoot the Refugio spouses.
18

Josephine Refugio plainly stated on cross-examination that Castor shouted "Huwag" while inside
the car grappling for possession of the gun, and not when Neil was aiming the gun at the spouses.
Thus:
(Atty. Siobal Cross-examining)
Q The second time around that you saw him was when he moved towards the right rear of the car?
A I did not remove my sight at Neil Batin as he moved towards this car, sir.
Q Also, without moving your glance or gaze at Neil Batin, you saw him proceed to the right rear
portion of the car and open the right rear door of said car, is it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q And without also removing your gaze or sight at Neil Batin, you saw him open and get a gun
inside the car?
A I saw Neil Batin opened the right rear door, as if he is putting all his body inside the car, when
Mang Boy took hold of Neil, they were grappling for possession of the gun, and raised it above, and
that was the time when my husband saw the gun raised, and I also saw the gun.
Court
So they were both inside the car, their arms were both inside the car and the gun was inside the
car when you and your husband saw this particular scene?
A Yes, your Honor.
Atty. Siobal
So you saw Castor Batin and Neil Batin grappling for the gun when they were inside the car?
A Yes, sir, and then Castor Batin shouted "huwag."
Q And at that time they were grappling for the gun inside the car and Castor Batin shouted
"huwag," after that, you and your husband saw the gun atop the roof of the car, is that what you
want to convey to the Court?
A The gun was still inside the car, only we saw it through the glass window, sir.
Q And what happened after that?
A Neil Batin got out of the car, followed by Castor Batin and then Castor gave the gun to Neil, and
after receiving the gun, Neil placed the gun at his waist, sir.
Q You said Neil Batin got out of the car ahead of Castor Batin, where did Neil Batin go or proceed,
to what direction?
A He proceeded to that place labeled as Exhibit G-7, sir.
Q And you said Castor Batin followed Neil Batin to the place where he proceeded here at Exhibit G-
7?
A Yes, sir.
Q Of course, when Neil Batin got out of the car ahead, his back, he must have turned his back from
you?
A He was sidewise in relation to me, sir.
Q How about Castor Batin, when he got out of the car, he must have turned his back from you?
A Yes, sir.
Q And where was Castor Batin facing when you said he gave the gun to Neil Batin?
A He was facing Neil, sir.
22

As concluded by the trial court, the circumstances surrounding Castors utterance of "Huwag!"
shows beyond doubt that Castor shouted the same, not to stop Neil from firing the gun, but to
force him to leave the use of the gun to Castor. These circumstances only confirm the conspiracy
between the Batins in committing the crime: after the Batins grappled for the gun and Castor
19

shouted "Huwag," Castor finally decided to give the gun to Neil a crystal-clear expression of the
agreement of the Batins concerning the commission of a felony.
Conspiracy may also be deduced from the acts of the appellants before, during, and after the
commission of the crime which are indicative of a joint purpose, concerted action, and
concurrence of sentiments.
23
Prosecution witnesses Josephine Refugio and Eusebio Farrales
positively indicated in their testimonies that prior to the shooting of Eugenio Refugio, Castor was
drunk, was openly challenging others to a fight, and was uttering angry words. It was at this
juncture that witnesses saw Neil retrieve his gun from the parked car, after which Castor grabbed
the gun from his son, grappled with it, returned it to his son, and ordered the latter to shoot the
Refugios.
Secondly, even if we pursue the theory that the defense is trying to stir us to, the results would be
the same. Castors argument is that "(h)is alleged utterance of the words Sige, banatan mo na
cannot be considered as the moving cause of the shooting and, therefore, he cannot be considered
a principal by inducement.
Inducement may be by acts of command, advice or through influence or agreement for
consideration. The words of advice or the influence must have actually moved the hands of the
principal by direct participation. We have held that words of command of a father may induce his
son to commit a crime. In People v. Tamayo,
24
we held that the moral influence of the words of the
father may determine the course of conduct of a son in cases in which the same words coming
from a stranger would make no impression.
There is no doubt in our minds that Castors words were the determining cause of the commission
of the crime. As stated above, Vilma Juadines Rodriguez testified that the eighteen-year-old Neil
Batin asked his father before shooting: "Tay, banatan ko na?" Neil Batin was clearly seeking the
consent of his father before proceeding with the act, and it was Castors words "Sige, banatan mo
na"
25
that sealed Eugenio Refugios fate.
Whether treachery was specifically alleged in the Information
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against a person, employing
means, methods, or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to ensure its
execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might
make.
26

According to the trial court, treachery was attendant in the killing of Eugenio because Castor
ordered Neil to fire at Eugenio after they clearly saw that he was still leaning against the mango
tree and being restrained by Josephine who had her arms on his shoulders. Thereby, "the accused
insured their safety from any defensive or retaliatory act of Eugenio who, in that position of
helplessness and unpreparedness, obviously had no opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate
even if he wanted to. The accused thus consciously used the firearm to assault from a distance, all
the more to enhance the chances of killing the victim without risk to themselves."
27

Castor does not refute the above findings of the trial court that treachery was sufficiently proven
during the trial. All that Castor claims before us is that the qualifying circumstance of treachery
was not specifically alleged in the Information. The Information filed against the Batins states that
"the accused, conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping each other, did, then
and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, with treachery, taking advantage
of superior strength, and with evident premeditation, attack, assault and employ personal violence
upon the person of one EUGENIO REFUGIO y ZOSA, by then and there shooting him with a
handgun, hitting him on the right side of his stomach, thereby inflicting upon him serious and
mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his untimely death."
28
Castor claims
20

that this charge does not allege the specific treacherous acts of the accused. According to Castor,
the allegation therein that the accused "with treachery x x x, attack, assault and employ personal
violence" is a mere conclusion of law by the one who drafted the said Information. Hence, it did
not satisfy the test of sufficiency of Information as provided in Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110 of the
Rules of Court.
Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110 provides:
SEC. 8. Designation of the offense.The complaint or information shall state the designation of the
offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense, and specify its
qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense, reference shall
be made to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.
SEC. 9. Cause of the accusation.The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense
and the qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be stated in ordinary and concise language
and not necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of
common understanding to know what offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and
aggravating circumstances and for the court to pronounce judgment.
Pertinently, we have held in Balitaan v. Court of First Instance of Batangas
29
that the main purpose
of requiring the various elements of a crime to be set forth in an Information is to enable the
accused to suitably prepare his defense. He is presumed to have no independent knowledge of the
facts that constitute the offense. We added in said case that
[I]t is often difficult to say what is a matter of evidence, as distinguished from facts necessary to be
stated in order to render the information sufficiently certain to identify the offense. As a general
rule, matters of evidence, as distinguished from facts essential to the description of the offense,
need not be averred. For instance, it is not necessary to show on the face of an information for
forgery in what manner a person is to be defrauded, as that is a matter of evidence at the trial.
We hold that the allegation of treachery in the Information is sufficient. Jurisprudence is replete
with cases wherein we found the allegation of treachery sufficient without any further explanation
as to the circumstances surrounding it. Here are some of the cases:
In People v. Lab-eo,
30
Wilson Lab-eo was indicted for murder under the following Information:
That on or about October 21, 1996, at the Barangay Hall, Poblacion, Tadian, Mountain Province,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused with intent to kill
and with the use of a sharp knife, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack,
assault, strike and stab Segundina Cay-no with a well-honed and pointed knife and thereby
inflicting a mortal stab wound upon the victim as reflected in that medico-legal certificate, to wit:
Stab wound infrascapular area left, penetrating with massive hemathorax, which caused the death
of the victim thereafter.
That the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation, treachery, abuse of superior
strength and craft attended the commission of the offense.
The accused in this case argued that the Information above, while captioned as "Murder," only
charged him with homicide as written. This Court found nothing wrong with the Information, and
ruled that the Information sufficiently charged the accused with murder, not even considering the
absence of an explanation of the treachery stated therein, thus:
The fact that the qualifying circumstances were recited in the second paragraph and not in the
first paragraph of the Information, as commonly done, is a matter of form or style for which the
prosecution should not be faulted. That the Provincial Prosecutor decided to write the Information
differently did not impair its sufficiency. Nothing in the law prohibits the prosecutor from
21

adopting such a form or style. As long as the requirements of the law are observed, the
Information will pass judicial scrutiny.
x x x x
The test of sufficiency of Information is whether it enables a person of common understanding to
know the charge against him, and the court to render judgment properly. The rule is that
qualifying circumstances must be properly pleaded in the Information in order not to violate the
accuseds constitutional right to be properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
against him. The purpose is to allow the accused to fully prepare for his defense, precluding
surprises during the trial. Significantly, the appellant never claimed that he was deprived of his
right to be fully apprised of the nature of the charges against him because of the style or form
adopted in the Information.
31

This Court went on to affirm the conviction of the accused therein with murder qualified by
treachery.
The allegation in the Information of treachery as a qualifying circumstance was similarly assailed
in People v. Opuran,
32
wherein the charge was as follows:
Criminal Case No. 4693
That on or about November 19, 1998, at nighttime, at Km. 1, South Road, Municipality of
Catbalogan, Province of Samar, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
said accused, with deliberate intent to kill and treachery, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully,
and feloniously attack, assault and stab Demetrio Patrimonio, Jr., with the use of a bladed weapon
(5" long from tip to handle with scabbard), thereby inflicting upon the victim fatal stab wounds on
the back of his body, which wounds resulted to his instantaneous death.
All contrary to law, and with attendant qualifying circumstance of treachery.
This Court again rejected the argument of the defense by finding the allegation of treachery
sufficient, and later on finding the accused therein guilty of murder qualified by treachery:
We do not find merit in appellants contention that he cannot be convicted of murder for the death
of Demetrio, Jr. because treachery was not alleged with "specificity" as a qualifying circumstance
in the information. Such contention is belied by the information itself, which alleged: "All contrary
to law, and with the attendant qualifying circumstance of treachery." In any event, even after the
recent amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure, qualifying circumstances need not be
preceded by descriptive words such as qualifying or qualified by to properly qualify an offense.
33

Finally, the following constitutes the Information in People v. Bajar
34
:
That on or about the 16th day of August 1999, at about 8:00 oclock in the evening, at sitio Mohon,
Barangay Mambayaan, Municipality of Balingasag, Province of Misamis Oriental, Republic of the
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, then
armed with a sharp bolo, with intent to kill, and with evident premeditation, and treachery, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously stab one 85 year old Aquilio Tiwanak,
accuseds father-in-law, hitting him on the different parts of his body, which caused his
instantaneous death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of Aquilio Tiwanak in such amounts
as may be allowed by law.
The aggravating circumstances of dwelling, taking advantage of superior strength, disregard of the
respect due the victim on account of his age, habitual intoxication and relationship attended the
commission of the crime.
CONTRARY to Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation [to] Article 14, paragraph 3 and
15, and Article 15 of the Revised Penal Code.
22

Like in the previous two cases, this Court found the Information to have sufficiently alleged
treachery as a qualifying circumstance. Evidentiary facts need not be alleged in the information
because these are matters of defense. Informations need only state the ultimate facts; the reasons
therefor could be proved during the trial.
35

Whether the civil liabilities of the accused were correctly awarded by the lower courts
The trial court ordered the accused, Neil and Castor Batin, to pay the heirs of Eugenio Refugio in
the following amounts:
1) P50,000.00, as death indemnity;
2) P61,500.00, as actual damages;
3) P500,000.00, as moral damages;
4) P307,920.00, as indemnity for loss of earning capacity; and
5) the costs of suit.
36

Jurisprudence pegs the death indemnity in the above amount (P50,000.00) pursuant to the
current judicial policy on the matter. No proof thereof is required. The P61,500.00 in actual
damages consists of the expenses incurred by the family of Eugenio Refugio, which Josephine
Refugio testified to and was summarized in Exhibit H:
37
(1) P25,000.00 for medicines, surgery and
other expenses for the hospitalization and emergency treatment;
38
(2) P20,000.00 for funeral
expenses, inclusive of the costs of coffin, funeral services, and expenses during the wake;
39
and (3)
P6,500.00 as for burial expenses.
The Court of Appeals also modified the trial courts computation of the indemnity for loss of
earning capacity. The trial court, finding the work of Eugenio Refugio to be hazardous, reduced his
life expectancy to 20 years.
This modification is in accord with our ruling in Pleyto v. Lomboy.
40
Pleyto offers the following
computation for the award for loss of earning capacity:
Net Earning = 2/3 x (80 Age at x (Gross Annual
Capacity time of death) Income Reasonable
& Necessary Living
Expenses)
Eugenio Refugio, who was 31 years old at the time of his death, had a daily income of P145.00. The
Court of Appeals multiplied this amount by 26 working days to get Eugenio Refugios monthly
income of P3,770.00. The Court of Appeals thus applied the Pleyto formula as follows:
Net Earning = 2/3 x (80 31) x [(P3770 x 12) (P3770 x 12)]
Capacity
Net Earning = 2/3 x (49) x [(P45,240) (P22,620)]
Capacity
Net Earning = 32 x [P22,620]
Capacity
Net Earning = P723,840
41

Capacity
Lastly, the Court of Appeals found the award of P500,000.00 as moral damages to be excessive,
and instead fixed the amount at P100,000.00. In accord with prevailing jurisprudence, however,
we further reduce this amount to P50,000.00.
42

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals affirming with modification the conviction of
accused-appellant Castor Batin for murder is AFFIRMED with FURTHER MODIFICATION as to the
amount of the moral damages, which is hereby reduced to P50,000.00.
SO ORDERED.
23


24

G.R. No. 155550 January 31, 2008
NORTHWEST AIRLINES, INC., petitioner,
vs.
STEVEN P. CHIONG, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
NACHURA, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the
reversal of the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision
1
in CA-G.R. CV No. 50308
2
which affirmed in toto the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Decision
3
holding petitioner Northwest Airlines, Inc. (Northwest) liable
for breach of contract of carriage.
On March 14, 1989, Philimare Shipping and Seagull Maritime Corporation (Philimare), as the
authorized Philippine agent of TransOcean Lines (TransOcean), hired respondent Steven Chiong
as Third Engineer of TransOceans vessel M/V Elbia at the San Diego, California Port. Under the
service crew agreement, Chiong was guaranteed compensation at a monthly salary of US$440.00
and a monthly overtime pay of US$220.00, or a total of US$7,920.00 for one year.
Subsequently, on March 27, 1989, Philimare dispatched a Letter of Guarantee to CL Hutchins &
Co., Inc., TransOceans agent at the San Diego Port, confirming Chiongs arrival thereat in time to
board the M/V Elbia which was set to sail on April 1, 1989 (California, United States time). For this
purpose, Philimare purchased for Chiong a Northwest plane ticket for San Diego, California with a
departure date of April 1, 1989 from Manila. Ten (10) days before his scheduled departure, Chiong
fetched his entire family from Samar and brought them to Manila to see him off at the airport.
On April 1, 1989, Chiong arrived at the Manila International Airport
4
(MIA), at about 6:30 a.m.,
three (3) hours before the scheduled time of departure. Marilyn Calvo, Philimares Liaison Officer,
met Chiong at the departure gate, and the two proceeded to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)
Counter to present Chiongs seaman service record book for clearance. Thereafter, Chiongs
passport was duly stamped, after complying with government requirements for departing
seafarers.
Calvo remained at the PCG Counter while Chiong proceeded to queue at the Northwest check-in
counter. When it was Chiongs turn, the Northwest personnel
5
informed him that his name did not
appear in the computers list of confirmed departing passengers. Chiong was then directed to
speak to a "man in barong" standing outside Northwests counters from whom Chiong could
allegedly obtain a boarding pass. Posthaste, Chiong approached the "man in barong" who
demanded US$100.00 in exchange therefor. Without the said amount, and anxious to board the
plane, Chiong queued a number of times at Northwests Check-in Counter and presented his ticket.
However, the Northwest personnel at the counter told him to simply wait and that he was being a
pest.
Frustrated, Chiong went to Calvo at the PCG counter and inquired if she had money so he could
obtain a boarding pass from the "man in barong." Calvo, who already saw that something was
amiss, insisted that Chiongs plane ticket was confirmed and as such, he could check-in smoothly
and board the plane without shelling out US$100.00 for a boarding pass. Ultimately, Chiong was
not allowed to board Northwest Flight No. 24 bound for San Diego that day and, consequently, was
unable to work at the M/V Elbia by April 1, 1989 (California, U.S.A. time).
It appears that Chiongs name was crossed out and substituted with "W. Costine" in Northwests
Air Passenger Manifest.
6

In a letter dated April 3, 1989, Chiongs counsel demanded as recompense: (1) the amount
equivalent to Chiongs salary under the latters Crew Agreement
7
with TransOcean; (2) P15,000.00
25

for Chiongs expenses in fetching and bringing his family from Samar to Manila; (3) P500,000.00
as moral damages; and (4) P500,000.00 as legal fees.
8

Northwest demurred. Thus, on May 24, 1989, Chiong filed a Complaint for breach of contract of
carriage before the RTC. Northwest filed a Motion to Dismiss
9
the complaint citing the trial courts
lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case, but the trial court denied the same.
10

In its Answer,
11
Northwest contradicted the claim that it breached its contract of carriage with
Chiong, reiterating that Chiong had no cause of action against it because per its records, Chiong
was a "no-show" passenger for Northwest Flight No. 24 on April 1, 1989.
In the RTCs Pre-trial Order
12
based on the parties respective Pre-trial Briefs,
13
the triable issues
were limited to the following:
(a) Whether [Chiong] was bumped-off by [Northwest] from Flight NW 24 or whether
[Chiong] "no-showed" for said flight.
(b) If defendant is found guilty of having breached its contract of carriage with plaintiff,
what damages are awardable to plaintiff and how much.
In the course of proceedings, Northwest, on September 14, 1990, filed a separate criminal
complaint for False Testimony
14
against Chiong based on the latters testimony that he did not
leave the Philippines after April 1, 1989 contrary to the notations in his seaman service record
book that he had left the country on April 17, 1989, and returned on October 5 of the same year.
Chiong did not participate in the preliminary investigation; thus, on December 14, 1990, the City
Prosecutor of Manila filed an Information against Chiong with the RTC Manila, Branch 54,
docketed as Criminal Case No. 90-89722.
In the meantime, after a flurry of motions filed by Northwest in the civil case were denied by the
RTC, Northwest filed a Petition for Certiorari before the CA imputing grave abuse of discretion to
the RTC.
15
Correlatively, Northwest moved for a suspension of the proceedings before the trial
court. However, both the Petition for Certiorari and Motion for Suspension of the proceedings
were denied by the CA and RTC, respectively.
16

After trial, the RTC rendered a Decision finding preponderance of evidence in favor of Chiong, and
holding Northwest liable for breach of contract of carriage. The RTC ruled that the evidence
adduced by the parties supported the conclusion that Chiong was deliberately prevented from
checking-in and his boarding pass unjustifiably withheld to accommodate an American passenger
by the name of W. Costine.
The dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, in consideration of all the foregoing, judgment is
hereby rendered, ordering the defendant liable to plaintiff in damages by reason of the
latters inability to take defendants NW Flight No. 24 on April 1, 1989, for the following
amounts:
1) U.S.$8,447.00
17
or its peso equivalent at the time of finality of this judgment with
legal interests until fully paid, representing compensatory damages due to plaintiffs
loss of income for one (1) year as a direct result of defendants breach of contract of
carriage;
2) P15,000.00, Philippine Currency, representing plaintiffs actual incurred damages
as a consequence of his failure to avail of defendants Flight No. 24 on April 1, 1989;
3) P200,000.00, Philippine Currency, representing moral damages suffered and
sustained by the plaintiff as a result of defendants breach of contract of carriage;
26

4) P200,000.00, Philippine Currency, representing exemplary or punitive damages
due to plaintiff from defendant, owing to the latters breach of contract of carriage
with malice and fraud; and
5) P200,000.00, Philippine Currency, for and as attorneys fees, plus costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
On appeal, the CA affirmed in toto the ruling of the RTC. Identical to the RTCs findings, those of the
CA were as follows: on April 1, 1989, Chiong was at the MIA three hours before the 10:15 a.m.
departure time for Northwest Flight No. 24. Contrary to Northwests claim that Chiong was a "no-
show" passenger, the CA likewise concluded, as the RTC did, that Chiong was not allowed to check-
in and was not issued a boarding pass at the Northwest check-in counter to accommodate a
certain W. Costine. As for Northwests defense that Chiong had left the country after April 1, 1989
and worked for M/V Elbia, the CA ruled that Northwests failure to raise this defense in its Answer
or Motion to Dismiss is equivalent to a waiver thereof. The CA declared that, in any event,
Northwest failed to present any evidence to prove that Chiong had worked under the original
crew agreement.
Hence, this recourse.
Northwest ascribes grievous errors to the CA when the appellate court ruled that: (1) Northwest
breached the contract of carriage with Chiong who was present at the MIA on April 1, 1989 to
board Northwests Flight No. 24; (2) As a result of the breach, Northwest is liable to Chiong for
compensatory, actual, moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and costs of suit; and (3)
Northwests Exhibits "2" and "3," the Flight Manifest and the Passenger Name Record,
respectively, were hearsay evidence and ought to be excluded from the records.
The petition must fail.
We are in complete accord with the common ruling of the lower courts that Northwest breached
the contract of carriage with Chiong, and as such, he is entitled to compensatory, actual, moral and
exemplary damages, attorneys fees and costs of suit.
Northwest contends that Chiong, as a "no-show" passenger on April 1, 1989, already defaulted in
his obligation to abide by the terms and conditions of the contract of carriage;
18
and thus,
Northwest could not have been in breach of its reciprocal obligation to transport Chiong. In sum,
Northwest insists that Chiongs testimony is a complete fabrication, supposedly demonstrated by
the following: (1) Chiongs seaman service record book reflects that he left the Philippines after
April 1, 1989, specifically on April 17, 1989, to board the M/V Elbia, and was discharged therefrom
upon his personal request; (2) the Information filed against Chiong for False Testimony; and (3)
the Flight Manifest and the Passenger Name Record both indicate that he was a "no-show"
passenger.
We are not convinced.
The records reveal that Chiong, as plaintiff in the trial court, satisfied the burden of proof required
in civil cases, i.e., preponderance of evidence. Section 1 of Rule 133 provides:
SECTION 1. Preponderance of evidence, how determined. In civil cases, the party having
the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining
where the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies, the
court may consider all the facts and circumstance of the case, the witnesses manner of
testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which
they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or
improbability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal
credibility so far as the same may legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also
27

consider the number of witnesses, though preponderance is not necessarily with the
greater number.
In this regard, the Court notes that, in addition to his testimony, Chiongs evidence consisted of a
Northwest ticket for the April 1, 1989 Flight No. 24, Chiongs passport and seaman service record
book duly stamped at the PCG counter, and the testimonies of Calvo, Florencio Gomez,
19
and
Philippine Overseas Employment and Administration (POEA) personnel who all identified the
signature and stamp of the PCG on Chiongs passport.
We have scoured the records, and found no reason to depart from the well-settled rule that factual
findings of the lower courts deserve the utmost respect and are not to be disturbed on appeal.
20

Indeed, Chiongs Northwest ticket for Flight No. 24 on April 1, 1989, coupled with the PCG stamps
on his passport showing the same date, is direct evidence that he was present at MIA on said date
as he intended to fly to the United States on board that flight. As testified to by POEA personnel
and officers, the PCG stamp indicates that a departing seaman has passed through the PCG counter
at the airport, surrendered the exit pass, and complied with government requirements for
departing seafarers. Calvo, Philimares liaison officer tasked to assist Chiong at the airport,
corroborated Chiongs testimony on the latters presence at the MIA and his check-in at the PCG
counter without a hitch. Calvo further testified that she purposely stayed at the PCG counter to
confirm that Chiong was able to board the plane, as it was part of her duties as Philimares liaison
officer, to confirm with their principal, TransOcean in this case, that the seafarer had left the
country and commenced travel to the designated port where the vessel is docked.
21
Thus, she had
observed that Chiong was unable to check-in and board Northwest Flight No. 24, and was actually
being given the run-around by Northwest personnel.
It is of no moment that Chiongs witnesses who all corroborated his testimony on his presence at
the airport on, and flight details for, April 1, 1989, and that he was subsequently bumped-off are,
likewise, employees of Philimare which may have an interest in the outcome of this case. We
intoned in Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,
22
thus:
(T)his Court has repeatedly held that a witness relationship to the victim does not
automatically affect the veracity of his or her testimony. While this principle is often
applied in criminal cases, we deem that the same principle may apply in this case, albeit
civil in nature. If a witness relationship with a party does not ipso facto render him a
biased witness in criminal cases where the quantum of evidence required is proof
beyond reasonable doubt, there is no reason why the same principle should not
apply in civil cases where the quantum of evidence is only preponderance of
evidence.
The foregoing documentary and testimonial evidence, taken together, amply establish the fact that
Chiong was present at MIA on April 1, 1989, passed through the PCG counter without delay,
proceeded to the Northwest check-in counter, but when he presented his confirmed ticket thereat,
he was not issued a boarding pass, and ultimately barred from boarding Northwest Flight No. 24
on that day.
In stark contrast is Northwests bare-faced claim that Chiong was a "no-show" passenger, and was
scheduled to leave the country only on April 17, 1989. As previously discussed, the records belie
this assertion. It is also noteworthy that Northwest did not present any evidence to support its
belated defense that Chiong departed from the Philippines on April 17, 1989 to work as Third
Engineer on board M/V Elbia under the original crew agreement.
It is true that Chiongs passport and seaman service record book indicate that he had left the
country on April 17, 1989 and come back on October 5 of the same year. However, this evidence
28

fails to debunk the facts established to have transpired on April 1, 1989, more particularly,
Chiongs presence at the airport and his subsequent bumping-off by Northwest despite a
confirmed ticket. Although initially, the burden of proof was with Chiong to prove that there was a
breach of contract of carriage, the burden of evidence shifted to Northwest when Chiong adduced
sufficient evidence to prove the facts he had alleged. At that point, Northwest had the burden of
going forward
23
to controvert Chiongs prima facie case. As the party asserting that Chiong was a
"no-show" passenger, Northwest then had the burden of evidence to establish its claim.
Regrettably, Northwest failed to do so.
Furthermore, it has not escaped our attention that Northwest, despite the declaration in its Pre-
Trial Brief, did not present as a witness their check-in agent on that contentious date.
24
This
omission was detrimental to Northwests case considering its claim that Chiong did not check-in at
their counters on said date. It simply insisted that Chiong was a "no-show" passenger and totally
relied on the Flight Manifest, which, curiously, showed a horizontal line drawn across Chiongs
name, and the name W. Costine written above it. The reason for the insertion, or for Chiongs
allegedly being a "no-show" passenger, is not even recorded on the remarks column of the Flight
Manifest beside the Passenger Name column. Clearly, the categorical declaration of Chiong and his
other witnesses, coupled with the PCG stamp on his passport and seaman service record book,
prevails over Northwests evidence, particularly the Flight Manifest. Thus, we are perplexed why,
despite the evidence presented by Chiong, and the RTCs specific order to Northwests counsel to
present the person(s) who prepared the Flight Manifest and Passenger Name Record for a proper
identification of, and to testify on, those documents, Northwest still insisted on presenting
Gonofredo Mendoza and Amelia Meris who were, admittedly, not competent to testify thereon.
25

In its desperate attempt to evade liability for the breach, Northwest claims that Chiong worked at
M/V Elbia when he left the Philippines on April 17, 1989. The argument was not only belatedly
raised, as we have repeatedly stated, but is off-tangent.
On this point, we uphold the RTCs and CAs ruling that the failure of Northwest to raise the
foregoing defense in its Motion to Dismiss or Answer constituted a waiver thereof. Section 1, Rule
9 of the Rules of Court provides:
SECTION 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. Defenses and objections not pleaded
either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. However, when it
appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no jurisdiction
over the subject matter, that there is another action pending between the same parties for
the same cause, or that the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations,
the court shall dismiss the claim. (Emphasis supplied)
Similarly, Section 8, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court reads:
SECTION 8. Omnibus Motion. Subject to the provisions of section 1 of Rule 9, a motion
attacking a pleading, order, judgment, or proceeding shall include all objections then
available, and all objections not so included shall be deemed waived.
Moreover, Northwest paints a scenario that ostensibly transpired on a different date. Even if
Chiong left the Philippines on April 17, 1989, it would not necessarily prove that Chiong was a "no-
show" on April 1, 1989. Neither does it negate the already established fact that Chiong had a
confirmed ticket for April 1, 1989, and first passed through the PCG counter without delay, then
reached and was at the Northwest check-in counters on time for the scheduled flight.
Essentially, Northwest argues that Chiong was a "no-show" passenger on two (2) separate
occasions, March 28 and April 1, 1989 because he was actually scheduled to depart for the US on
April 17, 1989 as ostensibly evidenced by his passport and seaman record book. Had this new
29

matter alleged been proven by Northwest, it would prevent or bar recovery by Chiong.
Unfortunately, Northwest was unsuccessful in proving not only the "no-show" claim, but that
Chiong, likewise, worked under the original crew agreement.
Northwest likewise insists now that there is a pending criminal case for False Testimony against
Chiong that a falsified part of Chiongs testimony would indicate the falsity of his entire
testimony, consistent with the "falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus"
26
doctrine. Following Northwests
flawed logic, this would invariably lead to the conclusion that the corroborating testimonies of
Chiongs witnesses are also false.
The legal maxim falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, cited by Northwest, is not a positive rule of law
and is not strictly applied in this jurisdiction. Before this maxim can be applied, the witness must
be shown to have willfully falsified the truth on one or more material points. The principle
presupposes the existence of a positive testimony on a material point contrary to subsequent
declarations in the testimony. However, the records show that Chiongs testimony did not contain
inconsistencies on what occurred on April 1, 1989. Yet, Northwest never even attempted to
explain or impugn the evidence that Chiong passed through the PCG counter on April 1, 1989, and
that his passport was accordingly stamped, obviously for purposes of his departure on that day.
As to the criminal case, it is well to note that there is no final determination, as yet, of Chiongs
guilt by the courts. But even if Chiong is adjudged guilty, it will have little effect on the outcome of
this case. As we held in Leyson v. Lawa:
27

The testimony of a witness must be considered in its entirety instead of in truncated parts.
The technique in deciphering a testimony is not to consider only its isolated parts and
anchor a conclusion on the basis of said parts. In ascertaining the facts established by a
witness, everything stated by him on direct, cross and redirect examinations must be
calibrated and considered.
It must be stressed that facts imperfectly or erroneously stated in answer to one question
may be supplied or explained as qualified by his answer to other question. The principle
falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is not strictly applied in this jurisdiction. The doctrine deals
only with the weight of evidence and is not a positive rule of law, and the same is not an
inflexible one of universal application. The testimony of a witness can be believed as to
some facts and disbelieved as to others:
x x x x
Professor Wigmore gives the following enlightening commentary:
It may be said, once for all, that the maxim is in itself worthless first, in point of
validity, because in one form it merely contains in loose fashion a kernel of truth
which no one needs to be told, and in the others, it is absolutely false as a maxim of
life; and secondly, in point of utility, because it merely tells the jury what they may
do in any event, not what they must do or must not do, and therefore it is a
superfluous form of words. It is also in practice pernicious, first, because there is
frequently a misunderstanding of its proper force, and secondly, because it has
become in the hands of many counsel a mere instrument for obtaining new trials
upon points wholly unimportant in themselves.
From the foregoing disquisition, the ineluctable conclusion is that Northwest breached its contract
of carriage with Chiong.
Time and again, we have declared that a contract of carriage, in this case, air transport, is
primarily intended to serve the traveling public and thus, imbued with public interest. The law
governing common carriers consequently imposes an exacting standard of conduct. As the
30

aggrieved party, Chiong only had to prove the existence of the contract and the fact of its non-
performance by Northwest, as carrier, in order to be awarded compensatory and actual damages.
We reiterate that Northwest failed to prove its claim that Chiong worked on M/V Elbia from April
17 to October 5, 1989 under the original crew agreement. Accordingly, we affirm the lower courts
finding on Chiongs entitlement to actual and compensatory damages.
We, likewise, uphold the findings of both courts on Northwests liability for moral and exemplary
damages, and attorneys fees.
Under Article 2220 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, an award of moral damages, in breaches of
contract, is in order upon a showing that the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith. Bad faith
does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence.
28
It imports a dishonest purpose or some
moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong.
29
It means breach of a known duty through some
motive, interest or ill will that partakes of the nature of fraud.
30
Bad faith is in essence a question
of intention.
31

In the case at bench, the courts carefully examined the evidence as to the conduct and outward
acts of Northwest indicative of its inward motive. It is borne out by the records that Chiong was
given the run-around at the Northwest check-in counter, instructed to deal with a "man in barong"
to obtain a boarding pass, and eventually barred from boarding Northwest Flight No. 24 to
accommodate an American, W. Costine, whose name was merely inserted in the Flight Manifest,
and did not even personally check-in at the counter.
32

Under the foregoing circumstances, the award of exemplary damages is also correct given the
evidence that Northwest acted in an oppressive manner towards Chiong.
33

As for the award of attorneys fees, while we recognize that it is sound policy not to set a premium
on the right to litigate,
34
we sustain the lower courts award thereof.
Attorneys fees may be awarded when a party is compelled to litigate or incur expenses to protect
his interest,
35
or where the defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in refusing to satisfy the
plaintiffs plainly valid, just and demandable claim.
36
In the case at bench, Northwest deliberately
breached its contract of carriage with Chiong and then repeatedly refused to satisfy Chiongs valid,
just and demandable claim. This unjustified refusal constrained Chiong to not only lose income
under the crew agreement, but to further incur expenses and exert effort for almost two (2)
decades in order to protect his interests and vindicate his right. Therefore, this Court deems it just
and equitable to grant Chiong P200,000.00 as attorneys fees. The award is reasonable in view of
the time it has taken for this case to be resolved.
37

Finally, the issue of the exclusion of Northwests Exhibits "2" and "3" need not detain us long.
Suffice it to state that the RTC and CA correctly excluded these documents as hearsay evidence. We
quote with favor the CAs holding thereon, thus:
As a rule, "entries made at, or near the time of the transactions to which they refer, by a
person deceased, or unable to testify, who was in a position to know the facts therein
stated, may be received as prima facie evidence, if such person made the entries in his
professional capacity or in the performance of a duty and in the ordinary or regular course
of business or duty". [Rule 130, Section 43, Revised Rules of Court]
Otherwise stated, in order to be admissible as entries in the course of business, it is
necessary that: (a) the person who made the entry must be dead or unable to testify; (b)
the entries were made at or near the time of the transactions to which they refer; (c) the
entrant was in a position to know the facts stated in the entries; (d) the entries were made
in his professional capacity or in the performance of a duty; and (e) the entries were made
in the ordinary or regular course of business or duty.
31

Tested by these requirements, we find the manifest and passenger name record to be mere
hearsay evidence. While there is no necessity to bring into court all the employees who
individually made the entries, it is sufficient that the person who supervised them while
they were making the entries testify that the account was prepared under his supervision
and that the entries were regularly entered in the ordinary course of business. In the case
at bench, while MENDOZA was the supervisor on-duty on April 1, 1989, he has no
personal knowledge of the entries in the manifest since he did not supervise the
preparation thereof. More importantly, no evidence was presented to prove that the
employee who made the entries was dead nor did the defendant-appellant set forth
the circumstances that would show the employees inability to testify.
38

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. The ruling of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 50308 is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 112968 February 13, 1997
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ARSENIO LETIGIO, TEDDY NEMENZO and AMAY RAVANES, Defendant.
ARSENIO LETIGIO, accused-appellant

KAPUNAN, J.:
In an Information filed on June 2, 1989, Arsenio Letigio, Teddy Nemenzo and Amay Ravanes
(Rabanes) were charged before the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City in Criminal Case No. TCS-
1092 with the crime of murder allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about 1:15 o'clock dawn of the 23rd day of May, 1989 at barangay Don
Andres Soriano (DAS), Toledo City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused conspiring, confederating and mutually
helping one another, all armed with firearms and a knife, with intent to kill and with
evident premeditation, treachery and abuse of superior strength, did then and there,
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, shoot one JIMMY REPUNTE, hitting him in his
body and while the victim fell down accused AMAY RAVANES, hack(ed) his neck and
stab(bed) him, which cause(d) his instantaneous death.
That the crime was committed with nighttime as an aggravating circumstance, same
being purposely sought by accused to facilitate and insure its commission.
1

Only accused Letigio was arrested. Nemenzo and Ravanes have remained at large. At his
arraignment on July 4, 1989, Letigio pleaded not guilty to the crime charged.
The prosecution thereafter presented evidence proving the following:
May 22, 1989 was the barangay fiesta of DASUNA, Toledo City. The Repunte family took the event
as a fitting occasion for a family reunion. The family, including the 26-year-old victim, Jimmy,
gathered for supper at their parents' home. Thereafter, at around 7:30 that evening, 24-year-old
Felix Repunte, Jr. went to his own home fifty (50) meters uphill from his parents' home. Not long
after, Felix went to bed.
Felix was awakened by the sound of plates being dropped. Then he heard his brother Jimmy who
was behind the house calling for help, saying that he was being chased by three persons.
2
Looking
out of the window, Felix saw Amay Ravanes, Arsenio Letigio and Teddy Nemenzo. They appeared
to be "looking for something."
3
Felix went downstairs and told Jimmy to just stay where he was, of
32

if he had the chance, to run to their parents' house some fifty meters away while he (Felix) would
rush to the PC headquarters to report the matter.
As the three men were approaching him, Jimmy ran towards the house of their parents pursued by
the three who passed in front of Felix's house. Felix followed them. Unfortunately, the three caught
up with Jimmy opposite the school near the house of Felix and Jimmy's parents. There upon,
Letigio shot Jimmy who fell down his face on the ground. The assailants then turned over Jimmy
and shot him at the breast. This was followed by Amay Ravanes slashing Jimmy's neck with a
knife.
4

Felix clearly saw the whole incident from a distance often (10) meters, the place being illuminated
by an electric bulb. Letigio used a "Frontier" revolver while the two others used .38 caliber
revolvers. Like Ravanes and Nemenzo, Letigio used to be the comrades of Felix in the Kadre, called
an "anti-com" group. When they noticed Felix, they fired at him three (3) times but missed. Felix
ran towards the PC headquarters inside the compound of the Atlas Consolidated Mining and
Development Company (ACMDC). He reported the incident to Sgt. Repollo who told a soldier to
accompany Felix to the crime scene.
Pedro Taneo, 37, was on his way home from work at ACMDC at around midnight on May 22, 1989
when he heard a gun burst. Instinctively, he hid behind the new elementary school building of
Lading at DASUNA, Toledo City. By the moonlight and the light coming from the houses around,
Taneo saw from a distance of around fifteen (15) meters three (3) armed men whom he
recognized as Letigio, Ravanes and Nemenzo, his neighbors. He identified the person shot as
Jimmy Repunte.
5
Thereafter, the three assailants passed by the place where Taneo was hiding.
When they were gone, Taneo ran to the PC headquarters and informed the soldiers of the shooting
incident. Together with PC men, Taneo went to the crime scene and found the victim, already
dead. They then reported the incident to the police for the latter to conduct the appropriate
investigation.
Jimmy Repunte sustained contused abrasions on the clavicular region and the right knee; an
abrasion on the right anterior thoracic region; a lacerated wound on the right forehead; a gaping
hack wound on the left side of the chin, and three (3) gunshot wounds on the thoraco-abdominal
region.
6
Dr. Jesus P. Cerna, a medico-legal officer at the PNP (formerly the PC-INP of the Cebu
Metrodiscom), concluded that Jimmy died of multiple gunshot wounds and hack wound on the
chin. He was certain that the second gunshot wound was caused by a .38 caliber revolver because
of the slug he recovered.
7

Jimmy's widow, Rafoncel was left with two (2) children to care for. when the incident happened,
she was around three (3) months pregnant with her second child. She and her son were then with
her mother in Luray 2, Toledo City. A cousin informed her at eight o'clock in the morning of May
23, 1989 that her husband had met an accident. In Lutopan, an aunt told her that Jimmy had died.
Jimmy's body remained at the hospital morgue for two (2) days while they waited for an
embalmer. An 8 to 9-day wake was held for him with the usual 9-day prayer practiced by
Catholics. Around P15,000 was spent from the time the deceased was embalmed until his burial.
The defense interposed a different version of the incident.
Rodolfo, Ginos, a 39-year old fisherman testified that he went to Letigio's house at around five
o'clock in the afternoon of May 22, 1989 to inform Letigio of an assembly of the Iglesia ni Kristo to
which they both belonged. After telling Letigio the purpose of his visit, Ginos was prevailed upon
to stay because of a birthday celebration in honor of the child of Boknoy Nemenzo, a brother of
accused Teddy.
33

Liquor was served but he did not partake of it because drinking liquor was prohibited by his
religion. At around 11:00 o'clock in the evening, Amay Ravanes arrived. Ravanes informed
Nemenzo that he had been mauled by Jimmy Repunte. Reacting to the information, Nemenzo said
that he and Ravanes would leave and look for Jimmy Repunte. They proceeded towards the
direction of the school. Letigio, who was then playing a guitar, told his wife that he would follow
the two. He left with his wife and Ginos tagging along.
They were around twenty-five (25) meters away from the school when they heard three (3) gun
bursts . Afraid Letigio's wife suggested that they go home. Just then, Nemenzo and Ravanes coming
from the direction of the school approached them and told Letigio, "Bay, it actually happen(ed),"
meaning that they killed Jimmy.
8
Ginos Eugenio Letigio and his wife then went home, while Teddy
Nemenzo and Amay Ravanes left towards a different direction.
Ginos did not report the incident to the police thinking that the same would ultimately be known
to them from other sources. He was also afraid that he might get implicated in the case
9

Cristita Letigio, appellant's wife, testified that at five o'clock in the afternoon of May 22, 1989, her
husband arrived from work at Atlas. There was then a birthday party in the neighborhood for one-
year-old Anan, the daughter of Boknoy Nemenzo. Rodolfo Ginos had been waiting for Letigio to tell
him about a meeting of the Iglesia ni Kristo. After telling Letigio of the purpose of his visit, Ginos
stayed for the party. At the height of the merriment, Letigio handed the guitar he was playing to
Cristita who waft upstairs and told her that he would follow Teddy Nemenzo and Amay Ravanes
who had earlier left to look for Jimmy Repunte. Cristita went downstairs and, together with Ginos,
followed her husband.
They were going down towards the elementary school building in Landing Lutopan, Toledo City,
when they heard three (3) gun bursts. Afraid they crouched close to the ground. Then Nemenzo,
and Ravanes arrived from the lower portion of the area where the gunfire came from. Letigio
asked the two what happened. Nemenzo said that "it really happen(ed) below." Ravanes told them
that Jimmy was dead. Nemenzo, and Ravanes then went to the upper portion of the area while the
test went home.
Corroborating the story of his with and Ginos, appellant Letigio testified that he had been working
for seven (7) years at Atlas until he was charged with murder in 1989 for allegedly participating in
the murder of Jimmy Repunte. Asserting that the accusation against him was untrue Letigio
narrated that he arrived home that Monday evening of May 22, 1989 to find Rodolfo Ginos, a
fellow member of the Iglesia ni Kristo, waiting for him. Ginos informed him of a committee meeting
of their church. Because Boknoy Nemenzo, whose house was around ten (10) meters away from
his, was celebrating the first birthday of his daughter, Letigio to join the party.
At around eleven o'clock in the evening, Letigio's neighbor, Amay Ravanes, arrived. Ravanes
requested help from Teddy Nemenzo because Jimmy Repunte's group mauled him. Responding
Nemenzo said that they should go downhill near the elementary school. Ravanes in a striped T-
shirt and maong pants and Nemenzo wearing a black jacket and a striped headband, both carrying
revolvers, proceeded towards the school building. Having heard the conversation between the
two, appellant Letigio wanted to counsel them against any rash action, but they proceeded to the
school before he could do anything. Thus, he gave his guitar to his wife, Cristita, and told her that
he was going to follow Nemenz oand Ravanes. Both Cristita and Ginos went with him.
Before they could reach their destination or around 25 meters from the school, they heard three
(3) gun shots. Afraid, they halted. Moments later, they saw Nemenzo and Ravanes hurriedly
walking from the school house and approaching them. Appellant asked them where the gunshots
34

came from. They replied that they killed Jimmy.
10
Then the two proceeded uphill while appellant,
Cristita and Ginos went home.
In the morning of May 23, 1993, Letigio was supposed to report for work but he did not do so
because he and his wife had to buy things for the wedding of their son which had been scheduled
for May 29. However, at 10:00 a.m., a member of the CAFGU, Mion Alegado, arrested him. Someone
had reported the incident to the CAFGU. He himself did not report the matter to the police because
he was afraid of Nemenzo and Ravanes who had not yet been arrested at that time. It was while he
was detained at the PC detachment that Letigio revealed that Nemenzo and Ravanes were
responsible for the killing of Jimmy Repunte.
On September 6, 1993, the trial court
11
rendered judgment convicting Letigio of the crime of
murder and imposing upon him the penalty of reclusion perpetua and the payment of civil
indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00. With respect to the other co-accused, the lower court
ordered the case archived pending their arrest.
Hence, appellant interposed this appeal, alleging that the lower court erred in: (a) overlooking and
ignoring certain facts of substance and value which, if considered, would have affected the
outcome of the case; (b) totally discrediting, if not ignoring, the defense testimonial evidence,
particularly that of Ginos, and; (c) not acquitting appellant upon the ground of reasonable doubt.
Because of the variance between the versions of the commission of the crime as presented by the
prosecution and the defense, the principal issue here is the credibility of the witnesses and their
testimonies. In this respect, the time- honored rule is that when the issue is one of credibility of
witnesses, appellate courts will generally not disturb the findings of the trial court unless it has
plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value that, if considered, might affect the result
of the case. This is so because the trial court is in a better position to decide the question having
heard the witnesses and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial
12

The appellant has failed to convince us that in this appeal, there is room to apply the exceptions to
the general rule of respect for the trial court's findings on the issue of credibility. Nonetheless, in
the interest of justice, appellant's arguments shall be considered and resolved.
Appellant assails the credibility of prosecution witnesses Pedro Taneo and Felix Repunte, Jr.,
especially as regards their identification of appellant as one of the perpetrators of the crime.
Firstly, appellant avers that Taneo could not have seen the actual shooting incident considering his
claim that he hid immediately upon hearing the first gun report. The particular portion of Taneo's
testimony on the matter, however, belies this averment. Taneo testified, thus:
Q: After hearing the gunburst what did you do?
A: I took safety of myself (sic).
Q: When you placed yourself on Safety what else transpired?
A: I have seen three persons.
Q: What did these three persons do?
A: I saw these three persons not far from the place where I hid they
were bringing with them arms.
Q: Aside bringing arms what were they doing?
A: Not from the place where I hid that was the last gunburst that I
heard that somebody shot by them (sic).
Q: Do you know who were these three persons bringing firearms
which you said shot somebody?
A: Yes.
Q: How did you come to know them?
35

A: Because they were my neighbors.
Q: About how far were you to the place where these persons shot
(sic)?
A: Fifteen (15) meters, more or less.
Q: What was the lighting condition where the three persons shot
somebody?
A: It was a moonlit night and there were lights in the houses there in
the place.
Q: Can you tell this Honorable Court the names of those three
persons?
A: They were Arsenio Letigio. Amay Ravanes and Teddy
Nemenzo.
13

On cross-examination, Taneo testified as follows:
Q: According to you when you heard gunburst you immediately hid or
sought cover and you hid?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And you have not seen any object yet or any person yet you just
wanted to know what you heard the gun-burst (sic)?
A: When I heard the gunburst I saw three men with arms.
Q: Now, again you only saw these three persons in a split of second
because according to you your reflex told you to seek cover?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And according to you you only saw three persons meaning you did
(sic) not able to identify these three persons at that particular time?
A: I was able to identify.
Q: You mean at that particular time you were startled at the three
gunbursts were you able to identify these three persons?
A: I was able to identify.
Q: Who were they?
A: Arsenio Letigio, Amy Ravanes and Teddy Nemenzo.
14

It is, therefore, clear that while Taneo might have hidden as soon as he heard the initial gunburst,
still, he endeavored to see what was happening. Borne out of curiosity, Taneo's reaction was
anything but unnatural. Not every witness to a crime can be expected to act reasonably and
conformably to the expectations of everyone. While it is true that the usual reaction of people who
hear a gun shot is to hide and seek shelter as an instinctive act of self-preservation, it is equally
true that there are people who are emboldened, after finding a secured place, to strive to
recognize the author of the crime as well as the identity of the victim. Still others might dare to
personally witness a startling event, like the shooting of a person, without taking the minimum
precaution for their safety. Or perhaps, the bravado is just the sudden or impulsive reaction of
certain people oblivious to the peril they face. Different persons have different reactions to similar
situations. There is no typical reaction to a sudden occurrence.
15

Secondly, appellant contends that at a distance of fifteen (15) meters, Taneo could not have
recognized the firearm (Frontier) that appellant was carrying. To the appellant, such testimony is
a "brazen lie" considering or. Cerna's testimony that the victim was shot by a .38 caliber revolver.

16
Obviously a futile attempt to cast a doubt on Taneo's credibility, appellant's contention deserves
36

scant consideration for it does not change the fact that appellant was with his co-accused
Nemenzo and Ravanes during the shooting incident. The pertinent testimony of Dr. Cerna states:
Q: What possibly was the caliber of the firearm used in inflicting the
gunshot wound number 3?
A: Just like gunshot wound numbers 1, 2 and 3, caliber .38 the same
caliber.
Q: Are you certain of that Doctor that it was used by the same firearm
(sic)?
A: Considering the sizes of gunshot wounds I am not certain but I am
taking (sic) of the possibility. It was only gunshot wound number 2
where I recovered the slug which I confirmed because it was inflicted
by .38 caliber because I recovered the .38 slug but in gunshot wound
number 1 and 3 although the Sizes are approximate with gunshot
wound number 2, I am not certain or accurate. Sometimes although
the sizes of the wound the entrance are the same (sic) but it could be
possibly inflicted by the different caliber because the shape and sizes
of the wound entrance could be cause(d) by some other factors.
17

The possibility that gunshot wounds Nos. 1 and 3 were caused by the "Frontier" firearm
cannot therefore be discounted.
Even if no "Frontier" slugs were recovered from the victim's body, appellant's culpability was
sealed by his duly proven complicity in the crime. There was conspiracy between appellant and
his co-accused as shown by appellant's cooperative act of firing at the victim before the others did
18
to attain the common criminal objective of killing Jimmy Repunte.
19
Besides, contradictions or
inconsistencies as to the type of firearm used and even the sequence in which it was fired refer to
minor and trivial matters
20
that do not derail the fact that appellant used a firearm in the shooting
incident.
In an effort to impair the credibility of Felix Repunte, Jr., appellant points to his testimony
suggesting that he did not allow his brother to enter his house for his safety; that Felix could not
tell who of the three malefactors was ahead in chasing Jimmy, and that the first time he testified,
Felix swore that it was appellant and not Ravanes who cut the neck of his brother.
Felix explained his failure to open their front door for his brother - he was in fear for his life and
those of his wife and children who might be shot by the assailants who were in front of his house.
21
It should be noted that Felix's house was made of wood and bamboo slats so that, without the
divider in the porch, he would have faced appellant who was just two (2) meters away from him.
He did not have to open any door at the back simply because that "back' was still unfinished
22

His failure to notice who of the three assailants was ahead in chasing his brother is immaterial.
Besides, the matter was satisfactorily explained by Felix - his attention was focused on his brother.
23
As regards the person who cut the victim's neck, Felix had consistently identified Ravanes as the
culprit. It is on record that the stenographer erred in placing appellant's name, instead of Ravanes,
in her notes the first time Felix testified.
24
The trial court in fact ordered that the stenographer's
manifestation that she was mistaken in writing the name of appellant in the transcript be placed
on record.
25

Appellant further alleges that Felix could not have been at the crime scene because Taneo testified
as follows:
37

Q: In other words, you can tell this Honorable Court in all honesty that
Felix Repunte was not at the scene of the crime because you only met
him on the way?
xxx xxx xxx
A: I have not seen because I was done.
26

That testimony, however, taken with the whole testimony of Taneo and that of Felix Repunte, Jr.
means no more than that Taneo did not see Felix and that Taneo was not with anyone then. Taneo
had come from work and he was walking. alone Immediately after hearing the first gun shot, he
sought cover behind the School building and thereafter concentrated on the exciting event
unfolding before his eyes. Moreover, ha could not have seen Felix who was following Jimmy. Felix
testified, thus:
Q: How far were you when accused Arsenio Letigio allegedly shot your
brother?
A: Ten meters.
Q: And what was your relative position to your brother?
A: I was facing at (sic) them.
Q: Were they facing you?
A: They were facing to (sic) my brother and I was facing at (sic) them
because their attention focused to (sic my) my brother.
Q: In other words you were at the same side of (sic) your brother?
A: Yes, sir.
27

Thus, far from discrediting the testimony of either prosecution witnesses, Taneo's
admission that he did not see Felix bespeaks of his sincerity in testifying in order that the
truth may surface.
Appellant also stresses the alleged inconsistency between the description of his attire by the two
prosecution witnesses Taneo depicted him as wearing a headband and a T-shirt with long pants
while Felix portrayed him as the polo jacket-wearing assailant.
28
This alleged inconsistency,
however, refers to a minor detail on a collateral matter. As such, it does not affect the witnesses'
credibility. In fact, said variation may indicate truth. Slight contradictions even serve to strengthen
the sincerity of a witness and prove that his testimony is not
rehearsed.
29

Alleging that both prosecution witnesses had "deliberately and wantonly lied" in inculpating him,
appellant contends that the maxim "falsus in unus, falsus in omnibus" should be applied for his
exculpation.
30
In People v. Manalansan,
31
the Court said:
. . . . The maxim falsus in unus, falsus in omnibus does not lay down a categorical test
of credibility. While the witnesses may differ in their recollections of an incident, it
does not necessarily follow from their disagreements that all of them should be
disbelieved as liars and their testimonies completely discarded as worthless.
In People v. Pacapac,
32
the Court added that the maxim.
. . . is not a positive rule of law or of universal application. It should not be applied to
portions of the testimony corroborated by other evidence, particularly where the
false portions could be innocent mistakes. Moreover, the rule is not mandatory but
merely sanctions a disregard of the testimony of a witness if the circumstances so
warrant. To completely disregard all the testimony of a witness on this ground, his
testimony must have been false as to a material point, and the witness must have a
conscious and deliberate intention to falsify a material point.
38

Verily, because appellant failed to unsettle the material point of his complicity in the killing of
Jimmy Repunte notwithstanding the grueling cross- examination of the two prosecution
witnesses, whatever contradictions and inconsistencies might have been present in their
testimonies as to peripheral and collateral matters may not result in the total abrogation of their
respective testimonies.
The defense attempted to besmirch Taneo's credibility by insinuating that he testified against
appellant because the latter was mad at him for pushing marijuana to appellant's son.
33
That
appellant did not even mention this matter in his repetitious 50-page Brief bespeaks of its falsity.
Absent any showing that Taneo was impelled by an ill motive in testifying against appellant, the
logical conclusion is that no such improper motive exists and that his testimony deserves full faith
and credit.
34

As regards Felix, the fact that he is the brother of Jimmy does not per se make him a biased
witness. Mere relationship of the victim to a witness does not automatically impair his credibility
and render his testimony less worthy of credence where no improper motive can be ascribed to
him for testifying.
35
On the contrary, such relationship lends more credence to a witness'
testimony considering his natural interest to see the guilty punished. It would be unnatural for a
relative who is interested in vindicating the crime to accuse anyone other than real culprit.
36

Appellant further asserts that the "real reason" why he was implicated in the crime is that by
Felix's own admission, there must be someone to answer for the death of his brother as shown by
this portion of his testimony.
Q: And at the time when your affidavit was taken you came to know
that of all the three accused or suspects only Arsenio Letigio remained
at his place of residence?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And when you saw your statement, your affidavit you have all the
blame on the accused Arsenio Letigio because after all he was the only
one who was captured and you placed the blame to Teddy Nemenzo
and Amay Ravanes would only complicate the case, is it not (sic)?
A: Yes, sir.
37

Once again, appellant's interpretation of Felix's testimony is slanted to his favor. It was but natural
for Felix, a simple carpenter, to heap the blame for his brother's death on appellant. After all, he
saw appellant fire at his brother. But it is not true that, as appellant wants us to understand, he
was simply a scapegoat because Ravanes and Nemenzo, had not been arrested. Felix testified that
appellant was not the sole perpetrator of the crime. He clearly implicated Ravanes and Nemenzo
in court as he did in the sworn statement he executed at five o'clock in the afternoon of May 23,
1989.
38

Appellant's defense of alibi cannot prevail over his positive identification as one of the
perpetrators of the crime.
39
Appellant admitted that he was within a 25-meter radius from the
crime scene when it occurred. However, the probability of his being with his wife and blend at the
crucial time is doubtful. His wife would not have taken the trouble of going with him thereby
unnecessarily exposing herself to danger if his purpose was merely to "advise" Nemenzo and
Ravanes against taking any rash action.
There is in fact another plausible explanation why his wife and friend were very near the crime
scene. They followed him knowing that he had an intention other than to assuage the feelings of
the enraged Ravanes and Nemenzo. His wife would naturally vouch for his innocence. By their
relationship as friends and members of the same religious sect, Ginos also bad a reason for
39

offering help towards his exoneration Aside from this, Ginos' reason for not reporting the crime to
the police, that is he did not want to be implicated in the case and that, anyway, the incident would
reach the ears of the authorities from other sources, is unacceptable. If he was the law-abiding
citizen that he portrayed himself to be, he should have reported the incident to the authorities, if
indeed the appellant had nothing to do with it.
The trial court correctly held that the crime committed was murder. The killing was qualified by
abuse of superior strength by the three assailants who used deadly weapons in snuffing out the
victim's life.
40
Because no aggravating or mitigating circumstances were proven, the trial court
correctly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua, the medium period of the penalty of reclusion
temporal in its maximum period to death imposable for the crime of murder.
41
In conformity with
prevailing jurisprudential law, the heirs of the victim shall be indemnified civilly in the amount of
Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00).
42

WHEREFORE, the herein questioned decision finding appellant Arsenio Letigio guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and imposing on him the penalty of reclusion perpetua
and civil indemnity of P50,000.00 is hereby AFFIRMED.
Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of
Investigation for than to exert further efforts in order that appellant's co-accused. Amay Ravanes
and Teddy Nemenzo may be brought to justice for their complicity in the murder of Jimmy
Repunte Costs against appellant.
SO ORDERED.

40

G.R. Nos. 76369-70 September 14, 1990
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
LEONARDO MANALANSAN, accused-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Antonio C. De Guzman for accused-appellant.

CRUZ, J.:
The accused-appellant was charged in two separate informations with the possession and sale of
prohibited drugs in violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. He was convicted in both cases and
sentenced accordingly. He now comes before this Court, alleging that:
(1) He should not have been prosecuted separately for possession of the marijuana because the
offense was already absorbed in the crime of selling the prohibited narcotic.
(2) He was deprived of due process because his first motion for postponement was denied by the
trial judge and the prosecution was allowed to present its evidence in the absence of his regular
counsel.
(3) He was convicted on the basis of flimsy and inconsistent evidence as against his definite proof
that he had been "framed" in retaliation for his earlier acts against two of the prosecution
witnesses.
As found by the trial court, Manalansan was arrested in the evening of March 29, 1983, at the foot
of the stairs leading to the provincial capitol in La Trinidad, Benguet. The arrest was the result of
an entrapment arranged by a NARCOM team headed by Major Percy Aldaba and consisting of Sgt.
Glenn Logan, Sgt. Pacifico Mugar, CIC Leo Quevedo, CIC Celerino Beltran, and P/Cpl. Danilo
Manalastas. Earlier that evening, Major Aldaba had given P750.00 to Manalastas and Quevedo,
who were to be the poseurs/buyers. The money consisted of several bills of various
denominations and had previously been photocopied. A little before 8:30 p.m., the team proceeded
to the residence of Manalansan in Trancoville, Baguio City. Meeting him on the way, Manalastas
and Quevedo told him they were interested in buying marijuana, or the "stuff," as they called it.
Manalansan was wary at first but finally agreed to sell them 500 grams of marijuana for the
stipulated price of P750.00. They decided to meet at 11 p.m. at the Chinese Temple but
Manalansan changed his mind and suggested a "safer spot" at the foot of the stairs to the
provincial capitol.
As planned, the three met at the appointed time and place, and the sale was consummated, with
Manalansan delivering the 500 grams of marijuana to Quevedo and Manalastas who paid him the
P750.00. Quevedo then lit a cigarette. At this pre-arranged signal, the other members of the team,
who had concealed themselves in several strategic places where they could view the transaction,
revealed themselves and arrested Manalansan. He was frisked and found with another 50 grams
of marijuana, which was confiscated along with the P750.00. All the marijuana was later sent to
the PC Crime Laboratory and the money to the office of the prosecutor.
The above narration was made on the stand by Manalastas, Quevedo, and Glenn Logan.
1
P/Lt.
Therese Ann Bugayong, a forensic chemist of the PC Crime Laboratory at Camp Dangwa, testified
that the contents of the brown paper bag delivered to Manalastas and Quevedo by Manalansan
and of the white plastic packet found on his person were marijuana flowering tops weighing
approximately 500 grams and 50 grams,
respectively.
2

41

For his part, Manalansan alleged that he was the victim of a "frame- up" motivated by a desire to
avenge his having previously reported Manalastas and Logan for offering a .45 caliber pistol in
exchange for marijuana. That was sometime in 1980. Nothing came out of the incident but the
agents were apparently still resentful of him, which was why he was arbitrarily picked up in the
evening of March 29, 1983. He was detained overnight, during which he was tortured and
compelled to sign a piece of paper the contents of which he was not allowed to read. He was then
made to subscribe to the document on the promise of his captors that they would release his wife
and daughter whom they had also arrested. Manalansan categorically denied that he was selling or
in possession of any marijuana at the time of his arrest and implied that this was merely "planted"
by the NARCOM agents.
3
Moreover, the defense sought to cast doubt on the Identity of the
marijuana presented at the trial, suggesting that it pertained to another case as indicated in its
markings.
4

On the first issue, we hold that the Government did not err in filing two separate informations for
possession and sale of marijuana, respectively, by the accused-appellant. He is correct in arguing
that the possession of the marijuana was absorbed in the sale thereof, but that is true only of the
500 grams he delivered to the poseurs/buyers for P750.00. It is not true of the other 50 grams
found in his possession which were not covered by the sale and were probably intended for a
different purpose like another sale or its direct use by the possessor. It was quite proper for the
trial judge to hold that the accused-appellant was guilty of two separate offenses, to wit, sale of the
500 grams of marijuana, and possession of the other 50 grams, at the time of his arrest.
We are also not prepared to sustain the second assigned error, for the record shows that the trial
judge had valid reasons to deny the motion for postponement. The prosecution witness scheduled
to testify at that hearing was the forensic chemist, who had come in response to a subpoena and
had a busy official schedule, including appearances at other court hearings. The trial judge was
only exercising his sound discretion in ordering the trial to proceed. Although his regular counsel
could not attend for medical reasons, Manalansan was nevertheless represented by a temporary
substitute lawyer, who did not really have to study the case in depth because the only evidence to
be introduced at that particular hearing dealt with the technical Identification of the marijuana. He
in fact even conducted a cross-examination.
If he really felt that the accused-appellant's interest would be prejudiced, he should have
expressed his objection and backed it up by refusing to participate in the examination of the
witness. Not having done so, he is deemed to have conformed to the order of the court. Lawyers
are not pliant robots at the complete mercy of the judge but can and must protest its acts if they
feel their client's rights are being violated.
Finally, we come to the credibility of the witnesses. We have held in numerous cases that the
evaluation of the witnesses by the trial court is received on appeal with the highest respect
because it is the trial court that has the direct opportunity to observe them on the stand and detect
if they are telling the truth or lying in their teeth. That assessment is accepted as correct by the
appellate court-is indeed binding upon it-in the absence of a clear showing that it was reached
arbitrarily.
There is no such showing in the case at bar. While it may be conceded that there are a number of
inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witness , they are not in our view substantial
enough to impair the veracity of the prosecution evidence of how the two crimes were committed
by the accused-appellant. The maxim falsus in unus falsus in omnibus does not lay down a
categorical test of credibility. While witnesses may differ in their recollections of an incident, it
42

does not necessarily follow from their disagreements that all of them should be disbelieved as
liars and their testimonies completely discarded as worthless.
The testimony of the accused-appellant is another matter. There is no proof whatever of his
alleged manhandling; he did not present any medical certificate of his supposed injuries, and
neither did he complain to the prosecutor before whom he says he subscribed a document which,
incidentally, was never presented in court by either the prosecution or the defense. And the
motive he imputes to the prosecution witnesses is not credible either as even his own witness who
was expected to corroborate his assertions actually belied them.
Manalansan claimed that when he learned that Manalastas and Logan (who later became Major
Aldaba's men) were looking for marijuana, he had reported the matter to Colonel Lomibao, who
ordered him to prepare two kilos of marijuana for their entrapment. On the stand, Col. Lomibao
denied he had given any such instruction and stressed he had nothing to do whatever with the
planned entrapment. In fact, he said, Manalansan was not a civilian informer and was the one who
was arrested, not the prospective buyers, who turned out to be CANU agents.
We find that the trial court committed no error in convicting the accused-appellant of the separate
offenses of selling and possessing marijuana in violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. We are
satisfied that his guilt of the two crimes has been proved beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence
of the prosecution.
For selling marijuana, Manalansan was sentenced to "the penalty of life imprisonment to death
and to pay a fine of P 25,000.00"; and for possession of marijuana, he was sentenced to "a penalty
of imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years, and to pay a fine of P
9,000.00" by Judge Nicodemo T. Ferrer of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio and Benguet. The first
penalty of "life imprisonment to death' is obviously erroneous and is hereby changed to life
imprisonment only plus the fine. The penalty for the second offense is sustained.
We need only add that the active support of everyone is needed to bolster the campaign of the
government against the evil of drug addiction. The merchants of all prohibited drugs, from the rich
and powerful syndicates to the individual street "pushers," must be hounded relentlessly and
punished to the full extent of the law, subject only to the inhibitions of the Bill of Rights.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED and the challenged decision AFFIRMED as modified, with
costs against the accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.

43

G.R. No. 90623 September 7, 1995
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
LEOPOLDO PACAPAC, NESTOR TRANGUIA, JOHN DOE and PETER DOE, accused. LEOPOLDO
PACAPAC and NESTOR TRANGUIA, accused-appellants.

ROMERO, J.:
Appellants Leopoldo Pacapac and Nestor Tranguia, together with two unidentified persons
designated as John Doe and Peter Doe, were charged with the crime of Robbery in Band with
Homicide
1
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu Mandaue City, Branch 28, in an Amended
Information dated August 15, 1986, which reads:
The State accused LEOPOLDO PACAPAC, NESTOR TRANGUIA JOHNDOE and PETER
DOE of robbery in band with homicide committed as follows:
That on or about the 17th day of January 1986 in the City of Mandaue,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the
aforesaid accused, Leopoldo Pacapac, Nestor Tranguia, John Doe and
Peter Doe, conspiring and confederating together and helping one
another, all armed with firearms, with intent to gain and with violence
and intimidation against persons, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously shoot Rogelio Collantes at his vital portion
which caused his death almost instantaneously did then and there take,
steal and carry away one (1) diamond ring with 12 stones valued at
P6,000.00 and cash in the amount of P3,000.00 in the total amount of
P9,000.00 belonging to the latter, to the damage and prejudice of his
(victim's) heirs in the amount aforesaid.
That the crime was committed with the aggravatting circumstances of
treachery, use of motor vehicle, and taking advantage of superior
strength.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
2

Both accused having pleaded not guilty when arraigned, trial ensued. The prosecution evidence
sought to establish that:
At around 9:30 o'clock in the evening of January 17, 1986, Patrolman Rogelio Collantes of the
Police Force of Mandaue City, was checking their bodega of scrap metals, bottles and cans, located
just across their house in Jagobiao, Mandaue City. After five (5) minutes, Flora Collantes,
Patrolman Collantes' wife heard sounds of bottles breaking and of footsteps coming from the
direction of the bodega.
3
Out of curiosity, she opened the window facing the bodega and saw a
man with closed-cut beard, wearing a blue and white striped
t-shirt, sleeveless jacket and head band, later identified as Leopoldo Pacapac, holding an
unconscious man with one hand and poking something at the latter's face with the other hand. She
did not recognize the unconscious man, as she could see only the back of his head. Two (2) other
men flanked the unconscious man on either side.
4

One of the men flanking the unconscious man ran to the left side of the street. The other man, who
was wearing a light brown long-sleeved jacket over a white and red t-shirt, later identified as
Nestor Tranguia, noticed her watching. He pointed a gun at her and ordered her to close the
window, saying, "Sirhe kay wa kay labot niini" (close that because you have nothing to do with
44

this). She obeyed out of fear. Moments later; she heard a gunshot and somebody shouting, "Tulis
kini, wa moy labot" (This is robbery, you have nothing to do with this)
5

Flora went back to the window and opened it halfway to avoid detection. She saw Pacapac
shouting, "Kuhaa ang kuwentas, singsing, ug pitaka" (Get the necklace, ring and wallet). After a
while, Pacapac knelt beside the man sprawled on the ground. After divesting the man of his
belongings, Pacapac stood up, looked down at the former and said, "Garboso kaayo ning tawhana
maong akong gipatay" (This man is very hooty and proud that is why I killed him). Thereafter, the
three (3) men left, heading toward Consolacion.
6

Faustino Collantes, Jr., a brother of Rogelio Collantes, was at home when the gunshot rang. When
he opened the door to investigate, a man, later identified as Nestor Tranguia, pointed a .38 caliber
revolver at him, saying, "Don't do anything because you have nothing to do this."
7

Domingo Semblante heard the gunshot while storing an amplifier in the bodega of a certain Mr.
Jordan; located behind Rogelio Collantes' house. In order to verify its source, he went out with
Calvin Emano, Robert Perez and two other companions to the source of the explosion. There, they
saw a bearded man wearing a short-sleeved jacket or a chaleco over a blue and white horizontal
striped t-shirt, red headband, maong pants and white shoes, holding a nickel-plated gun. That
man, later identified as Leopoldo Pacapac, pointed the gun at them, saying, "Do not come near
because this is the military." Semblante and his companions turned back. While slowly retracing
their way to Jordan's bodega, Semblante looked back and saw Pacapac and two(2) companions
leaving.
8

Moments later, Flora Collantes' found out that the man sprawled on the ground was her husband.
9

Shortly thereafter, Pat. Ernesto Entise, Officer-in-Charge of the Homicide Section of the Mandaue
Police Station, and other policemen arrived. In his initial investigation, Entise learned from
witnesses that there were four (4) persons involved. They were described through their attires
and facial appearances: One was bearded, wearing a blue and white horizontal striped
t-shirt, red head band and maong pants and armed with a .45 caliber nickel-plated revolver;
another was wearing a white t-shirt covered with a dark colored jacket and maong pants; and the
third was wearing a red and white striped t-shirt and dark pants. The fourth was wearing a brown
sweat shirt and dark pants.
10

Entise requested Barangay Captain Bataan Cosedo to drive him around the vicinity, hoping to
catch up with the assailants. While making a U-turn on Rizal St., Entise noticed a yellow Galant car
without a license plate with four (4) occupants and an armalite rifle sticking out from it. His
suspicion aroused, he asked Cosedo to give chase.
When they intercepted the car, the occupants shouted, "We are from R-2". Entise alighted from the
car and approached the Galant car whose driver likewise alighted and introduced himself as Sgt.
Leopoldo Pacapac, connected with the R-2. Entise informed Pacapac that a policeman had been
killed. Noticing that the attire of Pacapac fitted the description given by witnesses, he invited
Pacapac to the scene of the crime.
11

Pacapac acceded, but Entise observed that he mingled with the crowd. At that precise moment, the
Mayor arrived and called Entise. Thereafter, Entise looked for witnesses, but found only Faustino
Collantes, Jr. Pacapac having gone back to his group, Entise brought Faustino to where Pacapac
and his companions were located for identification. Faustino remained silent. However, after
Pacapac and his companions had left, Faustino told him that one of them was the one who pointed
a gun at him.
12

Before Pat. Collantes' body was brought to the funeral parlor in Mandaue, Flor was told to get all
the belongings of the deceased. She found her husband's ring worth P6,000.00 and wallet
45

containing the P3,000.00 paid to them by a customer earlier that afternoon, missing. Her
husband's necklace, which she thought was also missing, was later found under her husband's
shirt with its pendant in his armpit.
13

According to the Necropsy Report N-86-25
14
of Dr. Jesus P. Cerna, Medico-Legal Officer, the victim
died of a gunshot wound located at the right roof of his mouth, with exit wound at the back of his
head.
The case was endorsed to the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) for further investigation. In a
lineup conducted on March 13, 1986, Flora Collantes, Faustino Collantes, Jr. and Domingo
Semblante separately identified Pacapac and Tranguia as the persons who robbed and killed Pat.
Collantes.
Leopoldo Pacapac denied participation in the crime and interposed the defense of alibi. He
testified that on January 17, 1986, at around 12:00 o'clock noon, he was at his office at R-2
Division, Recom 7. He received a call which prompted him to go to Arkane International
Corporation located at Jagobiao, Mandaue City. Arriving at Arkane at around 1:30 o'clock in the
afternoon, he conferred with its owner Alex Ty about the killing of the production manager,
Nelson Fuentes.
15

At around 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, he cooked dogmeat with some security guards who were
already off-duty. Two (2) security guards, Nestor Tranguia and Jumamil Prescillas, approached
him to inquire whether he was going to the wake of Nelson Fuentes as they wanted to go with him.
After eating the dogmeat, at past 10:00 o'clock in the evening, he, together with Nestor Tranguia,
Jumamil Prescillas and Roy Cortes, left Arkane on board his yellow Galant car to go to the
Mandaue Funeral Parlor where the body of Nelson Fuentes was lying in state.
16

While on the highway near the Eversely Child Sanitarium, he noticed many people. The car of the
Mayor and the police cars were also there. He slowed down, but when they passed by the group, a
white car blocked their way and an armalite rifle was aimed at them. The occupants of the white
car introduced themselves as policemen, so he introduced himself as a PC soldier. One of the white
car's occupants, later identified as Pat. Entise, alighted and informed them that a policeman had
been killed. He alighted from his car because he knew that the place was infested with NPAs and
went to the place of the incident.
17

Upon reaching the crime scene, Pat. Entise asked for witnesses. When several persons approached
them, Pat. Entise directed a flashlight at his face, asking, "Is this the one?" Surprised, he asked
Entise, "What is this? Am I a suspect?" Pat. Entise said, "No, the one who killed the victim was
sporting a moustache." Also, one of the witnesses told them that the assailant was stout.
Thereafter, Pat. Entise asked Pacapac to let his companions alight from the car for purposes of
identification, but none of them was identified by the witnesses. Pat. Entise extended to the group
his apology and allowed them to go. The group proceeded to the funeral parlor.
18

Pacapac's testimony on the failure of the witnesses to identify any of them right after they were
intercepted by Pat. Entise was corroborated by other witnesses, namely: Nestor Tranguia, Jumamil
Prescillas, Bataan Cosedo, Alejandro Desierto and Joel Tajanlangit.
Nestor Tranguia, for his part, opted not to present evidence. Instead, he filed a Motion to Dismiss
based on the ground that the evidence of the prosecution "is not only grossly insufficient but
miserably failed to show the slightest degree of participation of accused Nestor Tranguia in the
alleged offense charged."
19
The prosecution opposed the motion to dismiss.
20

On July 6, 1989, the trial court delivered judgment of conviction,
21
thus:
WHEREFORE foregoing premises considered and finding the herein accused
LEOPOLDO PACAPAC and NESTOR TRANGUIA, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
46

the special complex crime of Robbery in Band with Homicide, the said accused are
hereby sentenced each to suffer the imprisonment of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to
pay severally and jointly the amount of P30,000.00 as indemnity to the heirs of Pat.
Rogelio Collantes by reason of his death and to pay their proportionate share of the
cost.
Both accused being detention prisoners shall be credited in the service of their
sentence full time during which they have undergone preventive imprisonment.
In the meantime that the two (2) accused, namely, John Doe and Peter Doe are not
yet brought before the jurisdiction of this Court, this case shall be ordered
ARCHIVED subject to be revived upon the arrest of the two accused.
SO ORDERED.
22

Hence, this appeal. Appellants insist on their innocence and contend that the lower court erred in:
1. . . . GIVING CREDENCE TO THE DECLARATIONS, OF WITNESSES, DOMINGO
SEMBLANTE, FLORA COLLANTES, AND OTHERS, WHOSE TESTIMONIES WERE ALL
INCREDIBLE AND NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ORDINARY COURSE OF
THINGS;
2. . . . CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS FOR THE STATE MISERABLY
FAILED TO ESTABLISH A PRIMA-FACIE CASE AGAINST THEM.
3. . . . CONVICTING THE ACCUSED AS THEIR GUILT WAS NOT ESTABLISHED WITH
MORAL CERTAINTY.
4. THERE WAS A DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS FOR THE DECIDING JUDGE WAS NOT
THE ONE WHO HEARD THE TESTIMONIES OF SOME PRINCIPAL WITNESSES.
23

The appeal is devoid of merit. Clearly, the core issue raised is factual and involves the credibility of
the testimonies of witnesses. Under prevailing jurisprudence, the assignment of values to the
testimony of witnesses is best performed by the trial courts.
24
The trial court's findings on the
credibility of witnesses are entitled to the highest degree of respect and will not be disturbed on
appeal, absent any clear showing that it overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or
circumstances of weight or substance which could have affected the result of the case.
25

Appellants had not successfully shown such oversight, misunderstanding or misapplication of
facts or circumstances that would warrant reversal of the trial court's findings and conclusions.
Accused-appellants point to certain alleged inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution
witnesses Flora Collantes, Pat. Ernesto Entise and Domingo Semblante which render their
testimonies unworthy of belief. Thus, they allege that Flora Collantes' testimony that the bearded
man shouted to his companions to get the victim's necklace, ring and wallet is inconsistent with
her testimony that she saw the bearded man himself divesting the victim of his belongings. We do
not regard these statements as inconsistent with each other, considering that it was not
impossible for Pacapac to do exactly what he ordered if his companions were otherwise busy
acting either as lookouts or in warding off onlookers. Records reveal that one of Pacapac's
companions had earlier fled toward the left side of the street, and that while Pacapac was
divesting the victim of his valuables, his other companion was pointing his gun at somebody.
The other alleged discrepancy in Flora Collantes' and Domingo Semblante's testimonies as to the
utterances of the assailants after the gunshot are minor details which are not sufficient to impair
the veracity of the prosecution's evidence on how the crime was committed by the appellants.
Witnesses may differ in their recollections of an incident, but it does not necessarily follow that
their testimonies should be disbelieved and be completely discarded as worthless.
26

47

Neither could the seeming contradiction between Flora Collantes' testimony that her husband's
necklace and ring were missing and her testimony that only the ring and wallet were missing,
erode her credibility. It was satisfactorily explained that the former testimony was only a first
impression which was later proved incorrect when the necklace was found under Pat. Collantes'
shirt, soaked in blood with the pendant under his armpit.
Domingo Semblante's testimony that he immediately went to Dr. Cerna's house on the evening of
the incident to ask him to perform the autopsy was not proven false by Dr. Cerna's testimony. The
question asked of Dr. Cerna was: "But you will agree that none from the Mandaue Police Station on
January 17, 1986 went to see you in order to conduct an autopsy of that killing incident involving
Pat. Rogelio Collantes, correct?" And his answer was, "I think nobody sir because if ever there was
a policeman who informed me that a certain member of the police force was shot, then, I made it a
point always that I will go thereat."
27
The question and answer specifically referred to a member
of the police force, of which Semblante was not.
Contrary to the averment of the appellants, the maxim or rule "falsus in unos, falsus in omnibus"
does not lay down a categorical test of credibility.
28
It is not a positive rule of law or of universal
application. It should not be applied to portions of the testimony corroborated by other evidence,
particularly where the false portions could be innocent mistakes. Moreover, the rule is not
mandatory but merely sanctions a disregard of the testimony of a witness if the circumstances so
warrant. To completely disregard all the testimony of a witness on this ground, his testimony must
have been false as to a material point, and the witness must have a conscious and deliberate
intention to falsify a material point.
29

The said rule cannot be applied to the case at bench. It has been held that as long as the mass of
testimony jibes on material points, the slight clashing statements neither dilute the witnesses'
credibility nor the veracity of their testimony.
30
Thus, inconsistencies and contradictions
referring to, minor details do not, in any way, destroy the credibility of witnesses.
31
Such
inconsistencies are but natural and even enhance credibility as these discrepancies indicate that
the responses are honest and unrehearsed.
32

Appellants further contend that Pat. Entise's testimony should not have been given credence for
his actuations were contrary to the ordinary course of things. According to appellants, if Pat.
Entise believed them to be responsible for the killing of Pat. Collantes, he should have arrested
them right then and there at the crime scene or at least confiscated their guns for ballistic
examination and required them to submit to a paraffin test to determine the presence of powder
burns on their hands.
Pat. Entise's explanation on this matter is well-taken. First, witness Faustino Collantes, Jr. did not
point to anyone in the group of Pacapac as the perpetrator of the crime. He just remained silent
and "scared stuff" (sic).
33
It was only after the group had left that he informed Entise that one of
them was the one he saw at the crime scene. Second, it would be easy to summon the members of
the group for investigation if they were in any way involved as one of them was known to Pat.
Entise as a member of the R-2.
34
Third, and most importantly, Pat. Entise was apprehensive that
trouble might arise at the crime scene if right then and there he would invite the group to his
office for investigation, considering that they were armed and Pacapac appeared to be angry when
he shouted to his group that the police were suspicious of them. Many persons, including the
mayor, might be involved should trouble arise.
35
While hindsight might require of Pat. Entise the
actions proposed by appellants, Pat. Entise should not also be faulted for what he judged as
prudent and circumspect under the circumstances.
48

The initial reluctance of witnesses to volunteer information about a criminal case and their
unwillingness to be involved in criminal investigations due to fear of reprisal are common and
have been judicially declared not to affect credibility
36
nor should the relationship of the
witnesses for the prosecution diminish their credibility.
37
Flora Collantes and Faustino Collantes,
Jr. are both related to the victim, being the widow and brother, respectively. However, as testified
to by Faustino, his initial reluctance to immediately report the identity of the offenders was
attributable to fear. At that time, he was scared that trouble might arise and in so far as he was
concerned, "one death in the family is enough."
38
It is quite understandable when the witnesses
do not immediately report the identity of the offender after a startling occurrence has taken place,
especially when they are related to the victim as they have just undergone a traumatic experience.
39

No motive has been established why the witnesses should falsely accuse appellants, who, if we
were to believe their testimonies, were not even acquainted with said parties on the date the
crime was committed. Appellant Pacapac himself admitted that he was not aware of any reason or
motive why the witnesses should testify falsely against them. Absent evidence to show any reason
or motive why witnesses for the prosecution should have testified falsely, the logical conclusion is
that no improper motive existed and that their testimony is worthy of full faith and credit.
40

Appellants contend that there was denial of due process as the judge who heard the testimonies of
the principal prosecution witnesses was not the one who penned the decision. While it is true that
the trial judge who conducted the hearing would be in a better position to ascertain the truth or
falsity of the testimonies of the witnesses, it does not necessarily follow that a judge who was not
present during the trial cannot render a valid and just decision, since the latter can very well rely
on the transcribed stenographic notes taken during the trial as the basis of his decision.
41

Appellants interposed alibi as their defense. Time and again, it has been held that alibi is a weak
defense and cannot prevail over the positive identification of the accused by the prosecution's
witness who has no motive to testify falsely against them.
42
For the defense of alibi to prosper, the
accused must show that he was at some other place for such a period of time that it was physically
impossible for him to have been at the place where the crime was committed at the time of its
commission.
43
In the case at bench, the place where appellants claimed to have been at the time of
the incident was only a few hundred meters away from the scene of the crime.
We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that appellants were the persons who killed and
robbed Pat. Rogelio Collantes. Contrary to appellants' third assigned error, the evidence of the
prosecution are sufficient to produce moral certainty as to their guilt and complicity in the crime
charged.
However, the denomination of the crime as Robbery in Band with Homicide is not correct. As we
explained in People v. Pedroso:
44

. . . There is no special complex crime of robbery in band with double homicide
and/or serious, less serious or slight physical injuries under the present code as
amended by Republic Act No. 373. If robbery with homicide or with the other crimes
enumerated above, is committed by a band, the indictable offense would still be
denominated as "robbery with homicide" under Article 294 (1), but the
circumstance that it was committed by a band is not an element of the crime but is
merely a generic aggravating circumstance which may be offset by mitigating
circumstances. The homicides or murders and physical injuries, irrespective of their
numbers, committed on the occasion or by reason of the robbery are merged in the
composite crime of "robbery with homicide."
49

The crime committed is, therefore, the special complex crime of Robbery with Homicide under
Article 294 (1) of the Revised Penal Code. All the elements of the crime of robbery, namely: intent
to gain, unlawful taking of personal property belonging to another and violence against or
intimidation of a person under Article 293 of the Revised Penal Code have been duly proven.
The victim was shot before he was robbed. In the crime of robbery with homicide, the homicide
may precede robbery or may occur after robbery. What is essential is that there is a direct
relation, an intimate connection between robbery and the killing, whether the latter be prior or
subsequent to the former or whether or both crimes be committed at the same time.
45

Likewise worth stressing is the rule that whenever homicide has been committed as a
consequence of, or on the occasion of the robbery, all those who took part as principals in the
robbery will also be held guilty as principals of the special complex crime of robbery with
homicide although they did not actually take part in the homicide, unless it clearly appears that
they endeavored to prevent the homicide. There is nothing in the records to show that the
exception applies in this case.
46

The crime of Robbery with Homicide carries the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death under
Article 294 (1) of the Revised Penal Code. Article 296 of the Revised Penal Code provides that
when more than three (3) armed malefactors take part in the commission of robbery, it should be
deemed to have been committed by a band. At least four (4) armed persons must take part in the
commission of robbery. In the instant case, the prosecution failed to indubitably show that more
than three (3) armed persons perpetrated the crime. Considering further that the alleged
aggravating circumstances of treachery, use of motor vehicle and taking advantage of superior
strength were not satisfactorily proven, the proper imposable penalty upon appellants is reclusion
perpetua. Conformably with the policy enunciated by this Court in several cases,
47
the indemnity
for the death of Pat. Rogelio Collantes should be increased to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00).
Furthermore, appellants should be required to indemnify his heirs the amount of P9,000.00.
representing the value of the ring and money stolen.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED, subject to the modification that accused-
appellants are sentenced to pay jointly and severally to the heirs of Pat. Rogelio Collantes civil
indemnity in the increased amount of P50,000.00 and the amount of P9,000.00 representing the
value of the ring and money stolen from said Pat. Collantes.
SO ORDERED.

50

G.R. Nos. 138874-75 January 31, 2006
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,
vs.
FRANCISCO JUAN LARRAAGA alias "PACO;" JOSMAN AZNAR; ROWEN ADLAWAN alias
"WESLEY;" ALBERT CAO alias "ALLAN PAHAK;" ARIEL BALANSAG; DAVIDSON VALIENTE
RUSIA alias 'TISOY TAGALOG;" JAMES ANTHONY UY alias "WANGWANG;" and JAMES
ANDREW UY alias "MM," Appellants.
R E S O L U T I O N
PER CURIAM:
Most jurisdictions recognize age as a barrier to having full responsibility over ones action.
1
Our
legal system, for instance, does not punish a youth as it would an adult, and it sees youthful
misconduct as evidence of unreasoned or impaired judgment. Thus, in a myriad of cases, we have
applied the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority embodied in Article 68 of the Revised
Penal Code -- the rationale of which is to show mercy and some extent of leniency in favor of an
accused who, by reason of his age, is presumed to have acted with less discernment. The case at
bar is another instance when the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority must apply.
For our resolution is the motion for reconsideration
2
filed by brothers James Anthony and James
Andrew, both surnamed Uy, praying for the reduction of the penalties we imposed upon the latter
on the ground that he was a minor at the time the crimes were committed.
A brief review of the pertinent facts is imperative.
On February 3, 2004, we rendered a Decision
3
convicting the Uy brothers, together with Francisco
Juan Larraaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Cao and Ariel Balansag of the crimes of
(a) special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and rape; and
(b) simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, Cebu City in Criminal Cases Nos.
CBU 45303 and 45304 is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:
(1) In Criminal Case No. CBU-45303, appellants FRANCISCO JUAN LARRAAGA alias
PACO; JOSMAN AZNAR; ROWEN ADLAWAN alias WESLEY; ALBERTO CAO alias
ALLAN PAHAK; ARIEL BALANSAG; and JAMES ANDREW UY alias MM, are found guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal
detention with homicide and rape and are sentenced to suffer the penalty of DEATH by
lethal injection;
(2) In Criminal Case No. CBU-45304, appellants FRANCISCO JUAN LARRAAGA alias
PACO; JOSMAN AZNAR; ROWEN ADLAWAN alias WESLEY; ALBERTO CAO alias
ALLAN PAHAK; ARIEL BALANSAG; and JAMES ANDREW UY alias MM, are found guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention and are
sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA;
(3) In Criminal Case No. CBU-45303, appellant JAMES ANTHONY UY who was a minor at
the time the crime was committed, is likewise found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and
rape and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA; in Criminal
Case No. CBU-45304, he is declared guilty of simple kidnapping and serious illegal
detention and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of TWELVE (12) years of prision mayor in
its maximum period, as MINIMUM, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal in its
medium period, as MAXIMUM;
51

(4) Appellants are ordered to pay jointly and severally the heirs of Marijoy and Jacqueline,
in each case, the amounts of (a) P100,000.00 as civil indemnity; (b) P25,000.00 as
temperate damages; (c) P150,000.00 as moral damages; and (d) P100,000.00 as exemplary
damages.
Three (3) Justices of the Court maintain their position that RA 7659 is unconstitutional insofar as
it prescribes the death penalty; nevertheless, they submit to the ruling of the majority that the law
is constitutional and the death penalty can be lawfully imposed in the case at bar.
In accordance with Article 83 of The Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 25 of RA No.
7659, upon the finality of this Decision let the records of this case be forthwith forwarded to the
Office of the President for the possible exercise of Her Excellencys pardoning power.
SO ORDERED.
On March 23, 2004, the Uy brothers filed a motion for reconsideration anchored on the following
grounds:
I
ACCUSED JAMES ANDREW S. UY WAS, LIKE HIS YOUNGER BROTHER JAMES ANTHONY S. UY,
A MINOR AT THE TIME THE OFFENSES AT BAR ALLEGEDLY HAPPENED LAST JULY 16, 1997;
II
THE IDENTITY OF THE DEAD BODY OF THE WOMAN FOUND IN TAN-AWAN, CARCAR, CEBU
LAST JULY 18, 1997 WAS NEVER CONCLUSIVELY ESTABLISHED THUS THE NEED FOR ITS
EXHUMATION FOR DNA TESTING.
4

The issues raised in the above motion being intertwined with those raised by Larraaga, Aznar,
Adlawan, Cao and Balansag in their separate motions for reconsideration, we deemed it
appropriate to consolidate the motions. After a painstaking evaluation of every piece and specie of
evidence presented before the trial court in response to the movants plea for the reversal of their
conviction, still we are convinced that the movants guilt has been proved beyond reasonable
doubt. Thus, in our Resolution dated July 21, 2005, we denied all the motions. However, left
unresolved is the issue of James Andrews minority.
Hence, this disquisition.
In their motion, the Uy brothers claim that James Andrew was only seventeen (17) years and two
hundred sixty two (262) days old at the time the crimes were committed. To substantiate such
claim, he begs leave and pleads that we admit at this stage of the proceedings his (1) Certificate of
Live Birth issued by the National Statistics Office, and (2) Baptismal Certificate. In the ultimate, he
prays that his penalty be reduced, as in the case of his brother James Anthony.
Considering that the entry of James Andrews birth in the proffered Certificate of Live Birth is not
legible, we required the Solicitor General (a) to secure from the City Civil Registrar of Cotobato, as
well as the National Statistics Office, a clear and legible copy of James Certificate of Live Birth, and
thereafter, (b) to file an extensive comment on the Uy brothers motion, solely on the issue of
James Andrews minority.
On November 17, 2005, the Solicitor General submitted his comment.1wphi1 Attached therewith
are clear and legible copies of James Certificate of Live Birth duly certified by the Office of the City
Civil Registrar of Cotobato and the National Statistics Office. Both documents bear the entry
October 27, 1979 as the date of his birth, thus, showing that he was indeed only 17 years and 262
days old when the crimes were committed on July 16, 1997.
Consequently, the Solicitor General recommended that the penalty imposed on James Andrew be
modified as follows:
52

In Criminal Case No. CBU-45303 for the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal
detention with homicide and rape, the death penalty should be reduced to reclusion perpetua.
In Criminal Case No. CBU-45304, for the crime of simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention,
the penalty of reclusion perpetua should be reduced to twelve (12) years of prision mayor in its
maximum period, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal in its medium
period, as maximum, similar to the penalty imposed on his brother James Anthony in Criminal
Case No. CBU-45303.
The motion is meritorious.
Article 68 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
ART. 68. Penalty to be imposed upon a person under eighteen years of age. When the offender
is a minor under eighteen years and his case is one coming under the provisions of the paragraph
next to the last of article 80 of this Code, the following rules shall be observed:
x x x
2. Upon a person over fifteen and under eighteen years of age the penalty next lower than that
prescribed by law shall be imposed, but always in the proper period.
Thus, the imposable penalty on James Andrew, by reason of his minority, is one degree lower than
the statutory penalty. The penalty for the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal
detention with homicide and rape, being death, one degree lower therefrom is reclusion perpetua.
5

On the other hand, the penalty for simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention is reclusion
perpetua to death. One degree lower therefrom is reclusion temporal.
6
There being no aggravating
and mitigating circumstance, the penalty to be imposed on James Andrew is reclusion temporal in
its medium period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, he should be sentenced to suffer the
penalty of twelve (12) years of prision mayor in its maximum period, as minimum, to seventeen
(17) years of reclusion temporal in its medium period, as maximum.
7

Accordingly, in Criminal Case No. CBU-45303, the penalty of reclusion perpetua should be imposed
upon James Andrew; while in Criminal Case No. CBU-45304, the imposable penalty upon him is
twelve (12) years of prision mayor in its maximum period, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of
reclusion temporal in its medium period, as maximum.
WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. Our Decision dated February 3,
2004 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that in Criminal Case No. CBU-45303, James Andrew
Uy is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua; while in Criminal Case No. CBU-45304,
the penalty of twelve (12) years of prision mayor in its maximum period, as MINIMUM, to
seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal in its medium period, as maximum.
SO ORDERED.

53

G.R. No. 176262 September 11, 2007
People of the Philippines, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs.
Edilberto Torres and Jose Torres, Accused-Appellants.
D E C I S I O N
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
For review is the Decision
1
dated 27 September 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 00994 which affirmed the Decision
2
dated 3 January 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 11, finding appellants Edilberto Torres and Jose Torres guilty of the
crime of murder and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
On 10 May 2002, appellants, together with their brother Rodolfo Torres, were charged before the
RTC of Malolos, Bulacan, with the crime of murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:
That on or about the 17th day of February, 2002, in the municipality of San Miguel, province of
Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, armed with a pointed instrument and firearm, with intent to kill Noel Yumang y Macasu,
conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping one another, with evident premeditation
and treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, stab and
shoot the said Noel Yumang y Macasu hitting him on the different parts of his body, thereby
inflicting upon him serious physical injuries which directly caused the death of the said Noel
Yumang y Macasu.
3

During their arraignment on 31 May 2002, appellants Edilberto Torres and Jose Torres, with the
assistance of counsel de oficio, entered their respective pleas of not guilty, while accused Rodolfo
Torres remains at large.
4
Thereafter, trial ensued.
At the trial, the prosecution proved the following:
On 17 February 2002, at around one oclock in the morning, witness Emilio Tamundez (Emilio)
was walking home after spending hours guarding the fruits of the mango trees owned by his
parents-in-law and a certain Feliciano Calbay. As he was passing through Feliciano Calbays rice
field, he noticed Noel Yumang (Noel), who was 40 to 50 meters away, also walking on his way
home. Suddenly, three men emerged from the middle of the rice field and attacked Noel, the
victim. Emilio recognized the assailants as appellants and accused Rodolfo Torres. While Rodolfo
held both arms of Noel behind his back, Edilberto seized the head of Noel by his left hand and
stabbed the victim on the nape and on the left side of his body. Rodolfo then pushed the victim to
the ground. When the victim hit the ground, Jose poked a gun on the victims head and shot the
latter. Thereafter, the Torres brothers left the scene.
At past 1:00 in the morning of the same day, a barangay official of Tibagan, San Miguel, Bulacan,
called up the PNP San Miguel Station to report the killing incident. In response, PO2 Ferdinand
Pagala went to the crime scene where he found the corpse of the victim. Thereafter, PO2 Pagala
brought the body to a funeral parlor for autopsy.
In the afternoon of the following day, Emilio met the barangay captain of Tibagan and informed
the barangay official of what he had witnessed. He was told that two of the assailants were already
arrested and were detained at the municipal jail, and that the victims wake was being held at
Feliciano Calbays house.
Dr. Agnes Carpio conducted an autopsy of the body. She confirmed that the victim died of cardiac
respiratory arrest secondary to gunshot wounds and stabbing. In her medico-legal report the
following were the findings:
54

Head: 1 inch clean edge wound in 3 inch depth at the postoccipital region
1 cm post auricular left stab wound
Trunk: 0.5 cm 2 inch depth at the post axillary side left
1 inch clean edge wound 3 inch depth left
bullet wound at the right shoulder as point of entry 9 holes.
5

For their defense, appellants denied authorship of the killing of the victim. They interposed the
defense of denial and alibi.
Appellant Jose testified that he is a native of San Miguel, Bulacan. He left his native place when he
was more or less 22 years old. Presently, he is a resident of Barangay Bongbongan II, Sibalom,
Antique. According to him, 10 days before the incident, he arrived at his daughters residence in
Meycauayan, Bulacan, as he was invited by his daughter to attend the baptism of his grandchild.
His son-in-law, Florante Zamora, asked him to go to Tibagan, San Miguel, Bulacan, to invite their
relatives there. At around 5:00 to 6:00 a.m. of 17 February 2002, he left for Tibagan, San Miguel, to
personally invite his siblings to the baptism. He reached the house of his brother, appellant
Edilberto, at around 10:00 a.m. where he came upon Edilbertos wife. After a while, a policeman
and the barangay captain arrived looking for Edilberto, who was then attending the wake of a
certain barangay councilman. The barangay captain asked Edilbertos wife to call her husband.
When Edilberto arrived, the barangay captain invited the former, who, in turn, requested
appellant Jose to accompany him to the barangay hall. Instead of being brought to the barangay
hall, appellants were brought to the municipal building of San Miguel, Bulacan. Moments later,
appellants were escorted to the police station, then the policeman and the barangay captain left.
When the policeman and the barangay captain returned, another person was with them and
pointed to them as the killers of Noel.
Appellant Edilberto denied having any participation in the death of Noel. He pointed to Feliciano
Calbay as the person responsible for implicating him and his brothers for the death of Noel.
Feliciano Calbay, whose wife is the aunt of the victim, wanted to get the farm lot that the Torres
brothers were leasing. Calbay even filed a case against the Torres brothers, but he lost the case.
This loss made him angry with the Torreses.
Florante Zamora, son-in-law of appellant Jose Torres, confirmed the latters testimony regarding
his arrival in Meycauayan and his trip to Tibagan at around 5:00 a.m. of 17 February 2002.
The trial court, however, was convinced that the prosecution had discharged the required
quantum of evidence to prove the guilt of the appellants of the crime charged. It convicted the
appellants of murder, qualified by treachery and imposed upon each of them the penalty of
reclusion perpetua. Appellants were also ordered to indemnify, jointly and severally, the heirs of
the victim in the amounts of P60,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and
P20,000.00 as exemplary damages, and to pay the costs. The dispositive portion of the RTC
decision reads:
WHEREFORE, this Court finds the herein accused JOSE TORRES and EDILBERTO TORRES, GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt of Murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and
hereby sentences both to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay jointly and severally
the heirs of the late Noel Yumang the following sums of money:
1. P60,000.00 as civil indemnity;
2. P50,000.00 as moral damages; and
3. P20,000.00 as exemplary damages.
The case against Rodolfo Torres is hereby ARCHIVED.
6

55

On 11 February 2005, appellants filed a notice of appeal.
7
The trial court ordered the transmittal
of the entire records of the case to the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals, on 27 September 2006, promulgated its Decision affirming in toto the
decision of the trial court. The Court of Appeals decreed:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision dated January 3, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11,
Malolos, Bulacan in Criminal Case No. 1225-M-2002, finding appellants Jose Torres and Edilberto
Torres guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder defined and penalized under Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code is hereby AFFIRMED.
8

Hence, the instant case.
In their brief, the appellants assign the following errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONCLUDING, SANS FACTUAL BASIS AND
CONCRETE EVIDENCE, THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS WERE THE ONES
RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING NOEL YUMANG.
II
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS OF THE
CRIME CHARGED ALTHOUGH THEIR IDENTITIES AND PARTICIPATION IN THE ALLEGED
ACT WERE NOT PROVEN WITH CERTAINTY.
Appellants impugned the trial courts verdict convicting them, which judgment was affirmed by
the Court of Appeals, since the same allegedly was not supported by evidence on record. They
assert that the prosecution failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators, as the eyewitness
did not see "at close range" the faces of the killers. Furthermore, the incident happened at 1:00
oclock in the morning when only the new moon was illuminating the vast rice field. The
moonlight provided blurred and pale brightness only and could not have provided sufficient
illumination. Thus, the identification of the appellants is unreliable.
Appellants submission lacks merit.
Emilio Tamundez, the eyewitness to the incident, described with clarity the circumstances prior
to, during and after the killing of the victim. He saw the incident and was able to identify the
assailants as he was about 40 to 50 meters away from the scene. Not only was the situs criminis lit
up by moonlight, it was also brightened by the flashlight held by the victim, which remained on
even when it fell from the victims hand. Thus, contrary to appellants postulation, the prosecution
witness sufficiently demonstrated that the scene received ample illumination when the killing
took place. Emilio Tamundez testified, thus:
Public Pros.:
Q: While you were walking in the ricefield of one Feliciano Calbay, do you remember any unusual
incident that happened?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And, what was that unusual incident?
A: While Noel Yumang was walking, he was just suddenly grabbed by three (3) men, sir.
Q: How far were you from Noel Yumang when he was grabbed by three (3) men.
A: 40 to 50 meters away from him, sir.
Q: Did you recognize these three (3) persons who suddenly grabbed Noel Yumang?
A: Yes, sir, I was able to recognize them.
Q: Who were they?
A: Rodolfo Torres grabbed and held him and after that he was stabbed by Edilberto Torres, sir.
Q: What about Jose Torres, what did he do?
56

x x x x
A: After Rodolfo Torres pushed him on the ground, he was shot by Jose Torres, sir.
Public Prosecutor
Q: What was Noel Yumang do when he was grabbed by the three (3) accused?
A: He was walking towards home, sir.
x x x x
Q: How did you recognize Rodolfo Torres, Edilberto Torres and Jose Torres at that time of the day
considering that you were 40 to 50 meters away?
A: Because of the moonlight, sir.
x x x x
Q: Will you kindly demonstrate before this court how Rodolfo Torres grabbed Noel Yumang by the
hand?
Court:
Assuming that Noel Yumang is the Fiscal.
Court:
The witness demonstrating that Rodolfo Torres held both arms of Noel Yumang at his back. His
left and right arms criss-crossing each other.
Public Pros:
Q: Will you also kindly demonstrate how Edilberto Torres stabbed Noel Yumang while he was
being held by the hand by Rodolfo Torres?
Interpreter:
Edilberto Torres was on the left side of Noel Yumang. He grabbed the head of Noel Yumang by his
left hand and stabbing him on the nape and on the left side of the body.
Public Pros:
Q: After Edilberto Torres stabbed Noel Yumang twice, what happened after that?
A: He was pushed to the ground by Rodolfo Torres, sir.
Q: And, after Rodolfo Torres pushed Noel Yumang to the ground, what happened next?
A: Jose Torres poked his gun and shot Noel Yumang, sir.
Q: Now, after Jose Torres shot Noel Yumang while on the ground, what happened next if any?
A: They scampered away, sir.
9

During cross-examination, Emilio Tamundez further revealed:
Q: And of course, Noel Yumang isnt holding anything at that time because he was immediately
grabbed?
A: He was holding a flashlight, sir.
Q: Of course, when Rodolfo Torres suddenly grabbed him, the flashlight would fell down?
A: Yes, it fell down, sir.
Q: Do you know thereafter where this flashlight was after the incident?
A: The flashlight was left there lighted, sir.
10

The autopsy report confirms the testimony of Tamundez that the victim died of cardiac
respiratory arrest due to the gunshot and stab wounds sustained by him. Moreover, the
eyewitness could not have been mistaken about the identity of appellants since he knew them.
11

In contrast to the trustworthy, positive and detailed evidence arrayed against appellants, all they
could muster for their defense was denial and alibi. Appellant Jose Torres claimed that he was in
Saluysoy, Meycauayan, Bulacan, at the time the crime was committed. He only left that place for
Tibagan, San Miguel, Bulacan, only at around 4:30 to 5:00 a.m. of the same day. He presented his
son-in-law to corroborate his alibi.
57

Alibi is an inherently weak defense and must be brushed aside when the prosecution has
sufficiently and positively ascertained the identity of the accused.
12
The prosecution witness had
categorically identified appellants as participants in the crime. With the positive identification of
the appellants, they must demonstrate by positive, clear and satisfactory proof that it was
physically impossible for them to be at the scene of the crime during its commission.
13
Hence, it is
not sufficient that the accused was somewhere else when the crime was committed. Physical
impossibility refers to the distance between the place where the accused was when the crime
happened and the place where it was committed, as well as the facility of the access between the
two places.
14
In the instant case, appellant Jose admitted that there are available means of going to
Tibagan from Saluysoy, and that it would take only about 2 hours to travel. His admission proves
fatal to his defense. He surreptitiously acknowledged that it was physically possible for him to be
at the scene when the crime happened.
This Court also finds unreliable the testimony of appellant Joses son-in-law confirming his alibi.
As previously held by this Court:
One can easily fabricate an alibi and ask friends and relatives to corroborate it. When a defense
witness is a relative of an accused whose defense is alibi, courts have more reason to view such
testimony with skepticism.
15

Appellant Edilberto Torres also failed to offer any evidence to prove that it was physically
impossible for him to be at the scene at the time and date in question. He claims that he was in
Tibagan attending the wake of a certain councilman when the killing happened. Since the wake
was held in the same barangay where the killing took place, there was a great possibility that
Edilberto was at the locus criminis when the crime occurred. Hence, Edilberto cannot avail himself
of the defense of alibi because it was physically possible for him to be at the crime scene when it
was committed.
Desperate to exculpate themselves from the charges, appellants make an issue on the credibility of
witness Emilio Tamundez. They claim that his actuation in not immediately revealing what he
witnessed is not in accord with ordinary human experience.1wphi1
There is no merit in appellants assertion. This Court has held time and again that there is no
standard behavior for a person who is confronted with a shocking incident.
16
One may
immediately report the incident to the proper authorities while others, in fear and/or avoiding
involvement in a criminal investigation, may keep to themselves what they witnessed.
17
In this
case, fear of reprisal or avoiding participation in the investigation could be a credible excuse for
the one-day silence of a prosecution witness before divulging to authorities what he had just
witnessed.
Appellants argue that the trial court erred in appreciating the qualifying circumstance of
treachery. They assert that in the absence of any proof of the manner in which the aggression was
commenced, as in the instant case, treachery cannot be appreciated.
The essence of treachery is a deliberate and sudden attack that renders the victim unable and
unprepared to defend himself by reason of the suddenness and severity of the attack.
18
It is an
aggravating circumstance that qualifies the killing of the person to murder. Two essential
elements are required in order that treachery can be appreciated: (1) The employment of means,
methods or manner of execution that would ensure the offenders safety from any retaliatory act
on the part of the offended party who has, thus, no opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; and
(2) deliberate or conscious choice of means, methods or manner of execution. Moreover, it must
be alleged in the information and proved during the trial.
58

In the wee hours of the morning, the unsuspecting victim, Noel Yumang, was walking home,
unarmed and unaware of the danger that lurked behind those thick grasses in the rice
fields.1wphi1 He had brought with him a flashlight to illumine his path. All of a sudden,
appellants, who came from the middle of the field, launched their attack. Rodolfo grabbed the
victims arms and held them behind his back. With the victim in that helpless position, Edilberto
stabbed him on the nape and on the side of his body. Then, Rodolfo pushed the victim to the
ground. As the victim was lying on the field, face down, Jose shot the former on the head.
Indubitably, it was impossible for the victim to defend himself against the onslaught of appellants
and their brother. They deliberately adopted means and methods in ensuring his barbaric demise.
Other than the aggravating circumstance of treachery, the information alleged evident
premeditation as well.1wphi1
The three requisites needed to prove evident premeditation are the following: (a) the time when
the offender determined to commit the crime; (b) an act manifestly indicating that the offender
had clung to his determination; and (c) a sufficient interval of time between the determination and
the execution of the crime to allow him to reflect upon the consequences of his act.
19
On this score,
the prosecution failed to prove any essential element of these circumstances.
In sum, this Court yields to the factual findings of the trial court which are affirmed by the Court of
Appeals, there being no compelling reason to veer away from the same. This is in line with the
precept stating that when the trial courts findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, said
findings are generally conclusive and binding upon this Court.
20

Also affirmed is the ruling of the trial court and the Court of Appeals imposing upon the appellants
the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Also in order is the award of moral damages in the amount of
P50,000.00.
21
However, the award of civil indemnity in the amount of P60,000.00 needs to be
reduced to P50,000.00 in accordance with the prevailing jurisprudence.
22
The award of exemplary
damages is likewise in order, since the qualifying circumstance of treachery was proven.
23
When a
crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance, either qualifying or generic, an award of
P25,000.00 as exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of the New Civil Code.
24
This
kind of damage is intended to serve as deterrent to serious wrongdoings, and as a vindication for
undue sufferings and wanton invasion of the rights of an injured or as punishment for those guilty
of outrageous conduct.
25

The award of temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00 to the heirs of the victim is
justified. Temperate damages are awarded where no documentary evidence of actual damages
was presented in the trial because it is reasonable to presume that, when death occurs, the family
of the victim incurred expenses for the wake and funeral.
26

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 27 September 2006 affirming in toto the
3 January 2005 Decision of the trial court is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS with respect
to the award of damages. Appellants are ordered to indemnify the heirs of Noel Yumang the
amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, P25,000.00 as exemplary
damages and another P25,000.00 as temperate damages. Costs against appellants.
SO ORDERED.

59

G.R. No. 157177 February 11, 2008
BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, petitioner,
vs.
JESUSA P. REYES and CONRADO B. REYES, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:.
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to
annul the Decision
1
of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated October 29, 2002 as well as its Resolution
2

dated February 12, 2003, which affirmed with modification the Decision of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Makati, Branch 142, in Civil Case No. 91-3453,
3
requiring Bank of Philippine Islands
(petitioner) to return to spouses Jesusa P. Reyes and Conrado B. Reyes (respondents) the amount
of P100,000.00 plus interest and damages.
The conflicting versions of the parties are aptly summarized by the trial court, to wit:
On December 7, 1990 at around 2:00 p.m., plaintiff Jesusa Reyes together with her daughter, Joan
Reyes, went to BPI Zapote Branch to open an ATM account, she being interested with the ongoing
promotions of BPI entitling every depositor with a deposit amounting to P2,000.00 to a ticket with
a car as its prize to be raffled every month.
She was accommodated, in lieu of the bank manager Mr. Nicasio, by Cicero Capati (Pats) who was
an employee of the bank and in charge of the new accounts and time deposits characteristically
described as having homosexual inclinations. They were entertained by Capati and were made to
sit at a table occupied by a certain Liza.
Plaintiff informed Capati that they wanted to open an ATM account for the amount of P200,000.00,
P100,000.00 of which shall be withdrawn from her exiting savings account with BPI bank which is
account no. 0233-2433-88 and the other P100,000.00 will be given by her in cash.
Capati allegedly made a mistake and prepared a withdrawal slip for P200,00.00 to be withdrawn
from her existing savings account with said bank and the plaintiff Jesusa Reyes believing in good
faith that Capati prepared the papers with the correct amount signed the same unaware of the
mistakes in figures.
While she was being entertained by Capati, her daughter Joan Reyes was filling up the signature
cards and several other forms.
Minutes later after the slips were presented to the teller, Capati returned to where the plaintiff
was seating and informed the latter that the withdrawable balance could not accommodate
P200,000.00.
Plaintiff explained that she is withdrawing the amount of P100,000.00 only and then changed and
correct the figure two (2) into one (1) with her signature super-imposed thereto signifying the
change, afterwhich the amount of P100,000.00 in cash in two bundles containing 100 pieces of
P500.00 peso bill were given to Capati with her daughter Joan witnessing the same. Thereafter
Capati prepared a deposit slip for P200,000.00 in the name of plaintiff Jesusa Reyes with the new
account no. 0235-0767-48 and brought the same to the teller's booth.
After a while, he returned and handed to the plaintiff her duplicate copy of her deposit to account
no. 0235-0767-48 reflecting the amount of P200,000.00 with receipt stamp showing December 7,
as the date.
Plaintiff and daughter then left.
On December 14, 1990, Mrs. Jesusa received her express teller card from said bank.
Thereafter on December 26, 1990, plaintiff left for the United States (Exhs. "T", "U"- "U-1")
and returned to Manila on January 31, 1991 (Exhs. "V"-"V-1").
60

When she went to her pawnshop, she was made aware by her statement of account sent to
her by BPI bank that her ATM account only contained the amount of P100,000.00 with
interest.
She then sent her daughter to inquire, however, the bank manager assured her that they
would look into the matter.
On February 6, 1991, plaintiff instructed Efren Luna, one of her employees, to update her
savings account passbook at the BPI with the folded deposit slip for P200,000.00 stapled at
the outer cover of said passbook. After presenting the passbook to be updated and when
the same was returned, Luna noticed that the deposit slip stapled at the cover was removed
and validated at the back portion thereof.
Thereafter, Luna returned with the passbook to the plaintiff and when the latter saw the
validation, she got angry.
Plaintiff then asked the bank manager why the deposit slip was validated, whereupon the
manager assured her that the matter will be investigated into.
When no word was heard as to the investigation made by the bank, Mrs. Reyes sent two (2)
demand letters thru her lawyer demanding return of the missing P100,000.00 plus interest
(Exhs. "B" and "C"). The same was received by defendant on July 25, 1991 and October 7,
1991, respectively.
The last letter prompted reply from defendant inviting plaintiff to sit down and discuss the
problem.
The meeting resulted to the bank promising that Capati will be submitted to a lie detector
test.
Plaintiff, however, never learned of the result of said test. Plaintiff filed this instant case.
Defendant on the other hand claimed that Bank of the Philippine Island admitted that
Jesusa Reyes had effected a fund transfer in the amount of P100,000.00 from her ordinary
savings account to the express teller account she opened on December 7, 1990 (Exhs. "3" to
"3-C"), however, it was the only amount she deposited and no additional cash deposit of
P100,000.00 was made. That plaintiff wanted to effect the transfer of P200,000.00 but the
balance in her account was not sufficient and could not accommodate the same. Plaintiff
thereafter agreed to reduce the amount to be withdrawn from P200,000.00 to P100,000.00
with plaintiffs signature superimposed on said corrections; that the original copy of the
deposit slip was also altered from P200,000.00 to P100,000.00, however, instead of
plaintiff signing the same, the clerk-in-charge of the bank, in this case Cicero Capati, signed
the alteration himself for Jesusa Reyes had already left without signing the deposit slip. The
documents were subsequently machine validated for the amount of P100,000.00 (Exhs. "2"
and "4").
Defendant claimed that there was actually no cash involved with the transactions which
happened on December 7, 1990 as contained in the banks teller tape (Exhs."1" to "1-C").
Defendant further claimed that when they subjected Cicero Capati to a lie detector test, the
latter passed the same with flying colors (Exhs. "5" to "5-C"), indicative of the fact that he
was not lying when he said that there really was no cash transaction involved when
plaintiff Jesusa Reyes went to the defendant bank on December 7, 1990; defendant further
alleged that they even went to the extent of informing Jesusa Reyes that her claim would
not be given credit (Exh. "6") considering that no such transaction was really made on
December 7, 1990.
4

61

On August 12, 1994, the RTC issued a Decision
5
upholding the versions of respondents, the
dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds in favor of the plaintiff Jesusa P. Reyes
and Conrado Reyes and against defendant Bank of the Philippine Islands ordering the latter
to:
1. Return to plaintiffs their P100,000.00 with interest at 14% per annum from December 7,
1990;
2. Pay plaintiffs P1,000,000.00 as moral damages;
2. Pay plaintiffs P350,000.00 as exemplary damages;
3. Pay plaintiffs P250,000.00 for and attorney's fees.
6

The RTC found that petitioner's claim that respondent Jesusa deposited only P100,000.00 instead
of P200,000.00 was hazy; that what should control was the deposit slip issued by the bank to
respondent, for there was no chance by which respondent could write the amount of P200,000.00
without petitioner's employee noticing it and making the necessary corrections; that it was
deplorable to note that it was when respondent Jesusa's bankbook was submitted to be updated
after the lapse of several months when the alleged error claimed by petitioner was corrected; that
Article 1962 of the New Civil Code provides that a deposit is constituted from the moment a
person receives a thing belonging to another with the obligation of safely keeping it and of
returning the same; that under Article 1972, the depositary is obliged to keep the thing safely and
to return it when required to the depositor or to his heirs and successors or to the person who
may have been designated in the contract.
Aggrieved, petitioner appealed to the CA which in a Decision dated October 29, 2002 affirmed the
RTC decision with modification as follows:
Nonetheless, the award of 14% interest per annum on the missing P100,000.00 can stand
some modification. The interest thereon should be 12% per annum, reckoned from May 12,
1991, the last day of the five day-grace period given by plaintiff-appellees' counsel under
the first demand letter dated May 6, 1991 (Exhibit B), or counted from May 7, 1991, the
date when defendant-appellant received said letter. Interest is demandable when the
obligation consist in the payment of money and the debtor incurs in delay.
Also, we have to reduce the P1 million award of moral damages to a reasonable sum of
P50,000.00. Moral damages are not intended to enrich a plaintiff at the expense of a
defendant. They are awarded only to enable the injured party to obtain means, diversion,
or amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral suffering he has undergone, by reason
of the defendant's culpable action. The award of moral damages must be proportionate to
the suffering inflicted.
In addition, we have to delete the award of P350,000.00 as exemplary damages. The
absence of malice and bad faith, as in this case, renders the award of exemplary damages
improper.
Finally, we have to reduce the award of attorney's fees to a reasonable sum of P30,000.00,
as the prosecution of this case has not been attended with any unusual difficulty.
WHEREFORE, with the modifications thus indicated, the judgment appealed from is in all
other respects AFFIRMED. Without costs.
7

In finding petitioner liable for the missing P100,000.00, the CA held that the RTC correctly gave
credence to the testimonies of respondent Jesusa and Joan Reyes to the effect that aside from the
fund transfer of P100,000.00 from Jesusa's savings account, Jesusa also made a cash deposit of
P100,000.00 in the afternoon of December 7, 1990; that it is unlikely for these two to concoct a
62

story of falsification against a banking institution of the stature of petitioner if their claims were
not true; that the duplicate copy of the deposit slip showed a deposit of P200,000.00; this,
juxtaposed with the fact that it was not machine-validated and the original copy altered by the
bank's clerk from P200,000.00 to P100,000.00 with the altered amount "validated," is indicative of
anomaly; that even if it was bank employee Cicero Capati who prepared the deposit slip, Jesusa
stood her ground and categorically denied having any knowledge of the alteration therein made;
that petitioner must account for the missing P100,000.00 because it was the author of the loss;
that banks are engaged in business imbued with public interest and are under strict obligation to
exercise utmost fidelity in dealing with its clients, in seeing to it that the funds therein invested or
by them received are properly accounted for and duly posted in their ledgers.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated February 12, 2003.
Hence, the present petition on the following grounds:
A. In affirming the decision of the trial court holding BPI liable for the amount of
P100,000.00 representing an alleged additional deposit of respondents, the Honorable
Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion by resolving the issue based on a conjecture
and ignoring physical evidence in favor of testimonial evidence.
B. The Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion, being as it is contrary to law, in
holding BPI liable to respondents for the payment of interest at the rate of 12% per annum.
C. This Honorable Court gravely abused its discretion, being as it is contrary to law, in
holding BPI liable for moral damages and attorney's fees at the reduced amounts of
P50,000.00 and P30,000.00, respectively.
8

The main issue for resolution is whether the CA erred in sustaining the RTC's finding that
respondent Jesusa made an initial deposit of P200,000.00 in her newly opened Express Teller
account on December 7, 1990.
The issue raises a factual question. The Court is not a trier of facts, its jurisdiction being limited to
reviewing only errors of law that may have been committed by the lower courts.
9
As a rule, the
findings of fact of the trial court when affirmed by the CA are final and conclusive and cannot be
reviewed on appeal by this Court, as long as they are borne out by the record or are based on
substantial evidence.
10
Such rule however is not absolute, but is subject to well-established
exceptions, which are: 1) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
2) when there is a grave abuse of discretion; 3) when the finding is grounded entirely on
speculations, surmises or conjectures; 4) when the judgment of the CA is based on a
misapprehension of facts; 5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; 6) when the CA, in making
its findings, went beyond the issues of the case, and those findings are contrary to the admissions
of both appellant and appellee; 7) when the findings of the CA are contrary to those of the trial
court; 8) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which
they are based; 9) when the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the
parties and which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion; and 10) when the
findings of fact of the CA are premised on the absence of evidence and are contradicted by the
evidence on record.
11
We hold that this case falls under exception Nos. 1, 3, 4, and 9 which
constrain us to resolve the factual issue.
It is a basic rule in evidence that each party to a case must prove his own affirmative allegations by
the degree of evidence required by law.
12
In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must
establish his case by preponderance of evidence,
13
or that evidence which is of greater weight or is
more convincing than that which is in opposition to it. It does not mean absolute truth; rather, it
63

means that the testimony of one side is more believable than that of the other side, and that the
probability of truth is on one side than on the other.
14

Section 1, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court provides the guidelines for determining preponderance
of evidence, thus:
SECTION 1. Preponderance of evidence, how determined.- In civil cases, the party having the
burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining
where the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies the
court may consider all the facts and circumstances of the case, the witnesses' manner of
testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which
they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or
improbability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal
credibility so far as the same legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also
consider the number of witnesses, though the preponderance is not necessarily with the
greater number.
For a better perspective on the calibration of the evidence on hand, it must first be stressed that
the judge who had heard and seen the witnesses testify was not the same judge who penned the
decision. Thus, not having heard the testimonies himself, the trial judge or the appellate court
would not be in a better position than this Court to assess the credibility of witnesses on the basis
of their demeanor.
Hence, to arrive at the truth, we thoroughly reviewed the transcripts of the witnesses' testimonies
and examined the pieces of evidence on record.
After a careful and close examination of the records and evidence presented by the parties, we find
that respondents failed to successfully prove by preponderance of evidence that respondent
Jesusa made an initial deposit of P200,000.00 in her Express Teller account.
Respondent Jesusa and her daughter Joan testified that at the outset, respondent Jesusa told
Capati that she was opening an Express Teller account for P200,000.00; that she was going to
withdraw and transfer P100,000.00 from her savings account to her new account, and that she
had an additional P100,000.00 cash. However, these assertions are not borne out by the other
evidence presented. Notably, it is not refuted that Capati prepared a withdrawal slip
15
for
P200,000.00. This is contrary to the claim of respondent Jesusa that she instructed Capati to make
a fund transfer of only P100,000.00 from her savings account to the Express Teller account she
was opening. Yet, respondent Jesusa signed the withdrawal slip. We find it strange that she would
sign the withdrawal slip if her intention in the first place was to withdraw only P100,000.00 from
her savings account and deposit P100,000.00 in cash with her.
Moreover, respondent Jesusa's claim that she signed the withdrawal slip without looking at the
amount indicated therein fails to convince us, for respondent Jesusa, as a businesswoman in the
regular course of business and taking ordinary care of her concerns,
16
would make sure that she
would check the amount written on the withdrawal slip before affixing her signature. Significantly,
we note that the space provided for her signature is very near the space where the amount of
P200,000.00 in words and figures are written; thus, she could not have failed to notice that the
amount of P200,000.00 was written instead of P100,000.00.
The fact that respondent Jesusa initially intended to transfer the amount of P200,000.00 from her
savings account to her new Express Teller account was further established by the teller's tape
presented as petitioner's evidence and by the testimony of Emerenciana Torneros, the teller who
had attended to respondent Jesusa's transactions.
The teller's tape,
17
Exhibit "1" unequivocally shows the following data:
64

151159 07DEC90 1370 288A 233324299
151245 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***200000.00
18

BIG AMOUNT
151251 07DEC90 1601 288J 233243388
***200000.00
151309 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***200000.00
PB BALANCE ERROR
BAL. 229,257.64
151338 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***200000.00
BIG AMOUNT
151344 07DEC90 1601 288J 233243388
***200000.00
151404 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***200000.00
TOD
151520 07DEC90 1601 288A 233320145
***2000.00
151705 07DEC90 1789 288A 233324299
***22917.00
151727 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***100000.00
BIG AMOUNT
151730 07DEC90 1601 288J 233243388
***100000.00
151746 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***100000.00
19

151810 07DEC90 1370 288A 235076748
151827 07DEC90 1790 288A 235076748
***100000.00 ***100000.00
20

151903 07DEC90 1301 288A 233282405
151914 07DEC90 1690 288A 235008955
***1778.05
152107 07DEC90 1601 288A 3333241381
***5000.00
152322 07DEC90 1601 288A 233314374
***2000.00
152435 07DEC90 1370 288A 235076764
152506 07DEC90 1790 288A 235076764
***4000.00 ***4000.00
152557 07DEC90 1601 288A 233069469
***2000.00
152736 07DEC90 1601 288A 233254584
***2000.00
65

152849 07DEC90 0600 288A 231017585
***3150.00 686448
152941 07DEC90 1790 288A 3135052255
***2800.00 ***2800.00
153252 07DEC90 1601 288A 233098264
(Emphasis supplied)
The first column shows the exact time of the transactions; the second column shows the date of
the transactions; the third column shows the bank transaction code; the fourth column shows the
teller's code; and the fifth column shows the client's account number. The teller's tape reflected
various transactions involving different accounts on December 7, 1990 which included
respondent Jesusa's Savings Account No. 233243388 and her new Express Teller Account No.
235076748. It shows that respondent Jesusa's initial intention to withdraw P200,000.00, not
P100,000.00, from her Savings Account No. 233324299 was begun at 3 o'clock, 12 minutes and
45 seconds as shown in Exhibit "1-c."
In explaining the entries in the teller's tape, Torneros testified that when she was processing
respondent Jesusa's withdrawal in the amount of P200,000.00, her computer rejected the
transaction because there was a discrepancy;
21
thus, the word "BIG AMOUNT" appeared on the
tape. "Big amount" means that the amount was so big for her to approve,
22
so she keyed in the
amount again and overrode the transaction to be able to process the withdrawal using an officer's
override with the latter's approval.
23
The letter "J" appears after Figure 288 in the fourth column
to show that she overrode the transaction. She then keyed again the amount of P200,000.00 at 3
o'clock 13 minutes and 9 seconds; however, her computer rejected the transaction, because the
balance she keyed in based on respondent Jesusa's passbook was wrong;
24
thus appeared the
phrase "balance error" on the tape, and the computer produced the balance of P229,257.64, and so
she keyed in the withdrawal of P200,000.00.
25
Since it was a big amount, she again had to override
it, so she could process the amount. However, the withdrawal was again rejected for the reason
"TOD, overdraft,"
26
which meant that the amount to be withdrawn was more than the balance,
considering that there was a debited amount of P30,935.16 reflected in respondent Jesusa's
passbook, reducing the available balance to only P198,322.48.
27

Torneros then called Capati to her cage and told him of the insufficiency of respondent Jesusa's
balance.
28
Capati then motioned respondent Jesusa to the teller's cage; and when she was already
in front of the teller's cage, Torneros told her that she could not withdraw P200,000.00 because of
overdraft; thus, respondent Jesusa decided to just withdraw P100,000.00.
29

This explains the alteration in the withdrawal slip with the superimposition of the figure "1" on
the figure "2" and the change of the word "two" to "one" to show that the withdrawn amount from
respondent Jesusa's savings account was only P100,000.00, and that respondent Jesusa herself
signed the alterations.
The teller's tape showed that the withdrawal of the amount of P100,000.00 by fund transfer was
resumed at 3 o'clock 17 minutes and 27 seconds; but since it was a big amount, there was a need
to override it again, and the withdrawal/fund transfer was completed. At 3 o'clock 18 minutes and
27 seconds, the amount of P100,000.00 was deposited to respondent Jesusa's new Express Teller
Account No. 235076748.
The teller's tape definitely establishes the fact of respondent Jesusa's original intention to
withdraw the amount of P200,000.00, and not P100,000.00 as she claims, from her savings
account, to be transferred as her initial deposit to her new Express Teller account, the
insufficiency of her balance in her savings account, and finally the fund transfer of the amount of
66

P100,000.00 from her savings account to her new Express Teller account. We give great
evidentiary weight to the teller's tape, considering that it is inserted into the bank's computer
terminal, which records the teller's daily transactions in the ordinary course of business, and there
is no showing that the same had been purposely manipulated to prove petitioner's claim.
Respondent Jesusa's bare claim, although corroborated by her daughter, that the former deposited
P100,000.00 cash in addition to the fund transfer of P100,000.00, is not established by physical
evidence. While the duplicate copy of the deposit slip
30
was in the amount of P200,000.00 and
bore the stamp mark of teller Torneros, such duplicate copy failed to show that there was a cash
deposit of P100,000.00. An examination of the deposit slip shows that it did not contain any entry
in the breakdown portion for the specific denominations of the cash deposit. This demolishes the
testimonies of respondent Jesusa and her daughter Joan.
Furthermore, teller Torneros's explanation of why the duplicate copy of the deposit slip in the
amount of P200,000.00 bore the teller's stamp mark is convincing and consistent with logic and
the ordinary course of business. She testified that Capati went to her cage bringing with him a
withdrawal slip for P200,000.00 signed by respondent Jesusa, two copies of the deposit slip for
P200,000.00 in respondent Jesusa's name for her new Express Teller account, and the latter's
savings passbook reflecting a balance of P249,657.64
31
as of November 19, 1990.
32
Thus, at first
glance, these appeared to Torneros to be sufficient for the withdrawal of P200,000.00 by fund
transfer. Capati then got her teller's stamp mark, stamped it on the duplicate copy of the deposit
slip, and gave the duplicate to respondent Jesusa, while the original copy
33
of the deposit slip was
left in her cage.
34
However, as Torneros started processing the transaction, it turned out that
respondent Jesusa's balance was insufficient to accommodate the P200,000.00 fund transfer as
narrated earlier.
Since respondent Jesusa had signed the alteration in the withdrawal slip and had already left the
teller's counter thereafter and Capati was still inside the teller's cage, Torneros asked Capati about
the original deposit slip and the latter told her, "Ok naman iyan,"
35
and Capati superimposed the
figures "1" on "2" on the deposit slip
36
to reflect the initial deposit of P100,000.00 for respondent
Jesusa's new Express Teller account and signed the alteration. Torneros then machine-validated
the deposit slip. Thus, the duplicate copy of the deposit slip, which bore Torneross stamp mark
and which was given to respondent Jesusa prior to the processing of her transaction, was not
machine-validated unlike the original copy of the deposit slip.
While the fact that the alteration in the original deposit slip was signed by Capati and not by
respondent Jesusa herself was a violation of the bank's policy requiring the depositor to sign the
correction,
37
nevertheless, we find that respondents failed to satisfactorily establish by
preponderance of evidence that indeed there was an additional cash of P100,000.00 deposited to
the new Express Teller account.
Physical evidence is a mute but eloquent manifestation of truth, and it ranks high in our hierarchy
of trustworthy evidence.
38
We have, on many occasions, relied principally upon physical evidence
in ascertaining the truth. Where the physical evidence on record runs counter to the testimonial
evidence of the prosecution witnesses, we consistently rule that the physical evidence should
prevail.
39

In addition, to uphold the declaration of the CA that it is unlikely for respondent Jesusa and her
daughter to concoct a false story against a banking institution is to give weight to conjectures and
surmises, which we cannot countenance.
In fine, respondents failed to establish their claim by preponderance of evidence.
Considering the foregoing, we find no need to tackle the other issues raised by petitioner.
67

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals dated October 29,
2002 as well as its Resolution dated February 12, 2003 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
The complaint filed by respondents, together with the counterclaim of petitioner, is DISMISSED.
No costs.
G.R. No. 173282 March 4, 2008
JOSE INGAL y SANTOS, Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Assailed before Us is the Decision
1
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01056, dated 31
August 2005, which affirmed in toto the decision
2
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila,
Branch 2, convicting petitioner Jose S. Ingal of the crime of murder.
For the death of one Rolando N. Domingo a.k.a. Toto, petitioner was charged with murder in an
information which reads:
That on or about March 2, 1987, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and
confederating together with one RICARDO LIDOT who has already been convicted of the said
offense under Crim. Case No. 87-53676 with RTC of Manila, Branch V, and with others whose true
names, identities and present whereabouts are still unknown and helping one another, taking
advantage of their superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawful and feloniously, with
intent to kill, and with treachery and evident premeditation, attack, assault and use personal
violence upon the person of one ROLANDO DOMINGO y NALANGAN @ TOTO by then and there
stabbing the latter on different parts of his body with a deadly weapon, thereby inflicting upon
him mortal stab wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his death thereafter.
3

When arraigned on 27 September 1994, petitioner, with the assistance of counsel de oficio,
pleaded not guilty to the crime charged.
4

The prosecution presented the following witnesses, namely: (1) Myrna Nalangan Domingo;
5
(2)
Aida Bona;
6
(3) Rosalinda Tan;
7
(4) Dr. Marcial G. Ceido;
8
(5) SPO2 Leon Salac, Jr.;
9
and (6) PFC
Benjamin C. Boco.
10

Myrna Nalangan Domingo, the mother of the victim, testified that her son was a nineteen-year-old
student when he died on 2 March 1987. She said she was at home when she learned that her son
was stabbed and was brought to the Mary Johnston Hospital. Upon learning of the news, she
immediately went to the hospital to see her son. She said her son was still alive when she arrived
in the hospital, but he eventually passed away that same day. She said she incurred hospital and
funeral expenses. The death of her son caused her anguish and pain.
The next witness for the prosecution was Aida Bona, a resident of Perla Street, Tondo, Manila, and
the owner of the carinderia where the stabbing took place. She narrated that at around 9:00 p.m.
of 2 March 1987, she was in front of her carinderia and the victim, Rolando Domingo, nicknamed
Toto, was eating thereat. While Toto was eating, petitioner Jose Ingal approached him, pulled his
hair and repeatedly stabbed him. She was around an arms length away from Toto when he was
stabbed. After petitioner stabbed Toto, he just walked away as if nothing happened. She shouted
for help but nobody came to help. She said she was certain the assailant was the petitioner
because of the right mole on his eyelid. She added she did not see anyone helping the petitioner
when he stabbed the victim. Aside from the victim, only she, Rosalinda Tan, and the girlfriend of
the victim were in the carinderia.
68

Mrs. Bona explained she gave her first written statement about the incident on 26 August 1994.
On the night of the incident, she told the police about the appearance of the suspect. What she
revealed was reduced into writing but she did not sign it and told the police she would sign the
same only if the suspect would be apprehended. She said she first saw the petitioner on 2 March
1987 and saw him the second time when he was arrested on 26 August 1994.
Rosalinda Tan, a helper at the carinderia of Mrs. Bona, testified that at around 9:00 p.m. of 2 March
1987, she was attending to the needs of the customers in the carinderia. A person, later identified
as the petitioner, came to the carinderia and stabbed Rolando Domingo. She disclosed she was in
front of the victim, about two meters away, when petitioner placed a towel on the neck of the
victim and stabbed him thrice. Petitioner thereafter removed the towel and walked away towards
the end of Perla Street. Like Mrs. Bona, she executed a sworn statement when petitioner was
arrested. She explained that only one person stabbed the victim.
11

Former Medico-Legal Officer of the Western Police District (WPD) Dr. Marcial G. Ceido testified
that on 3 March 1987, he conducted the autopsy on Rolando Domingos body which was
identified
12
by the latters sister, Nympha Mationg. He said the victim suffered four stab wounds,
two of which were penetrating and fatal. The first wound was non-penetrating and located at the
right upper thorax, right chest. The second one was penetrating and located at the left cheek on
the left side. The third one penetrated the left anterior while the fourth was non-penetrating at the
back. He said the bladed weapon used was a tres cantos. The primary cause of death was a
penetrating stab wound on the chest. He issued Autopsy Report No. W-87-167
13
and the victims
Certificate of Death.
14

The testimony of Solomon Batallar, member of the WPD, was dispensed with when the parties
stipulated that his testimony would show that he accompanied the mother of the victim to the
residence of the petitioner, and that the petitioner was brought to the police station.
Testifying next for the prosecution was SPO2 Leon Salac, Jr., a member of the WPD Command
assigned to the Homicide Section. He testified that on 27 August 1994, he was assigned as an
investigator in the Special Team of the WPDC that handles cases pertaining to crimes against
persons. He remembered handling the case involving the murder of Rolando Domingo in which
the suspect was the petitioner. He said he prepared documents - Progress Report dated 27 August
1994 and the statements of witnesses - and thereafter placed the petitioner under arrest.
However, he was not the one who took the statements of Aida Bona and Rosalinda Tan.
The other witness was Benjamin C. Boco, retired Police Inspector of the WPD assigned to the
Homicide Section. He recounted that on 3 March 1987, he received a call from a certain Mr.
Garrote, a Security Guard of Mary Johnston Hospital, informing him that a stabbing victim died.
Upon receipt of said information, he proceeded to the hospital and saw the victim at the morgue.
The victim was Rolando Domingo. He thereafter went to the crime scene and talked to Aida Bona,
the owner of the carinderia where the stabbing happened. Mrs. Bona told him that the victim was
eating in her carinderia when the suspect, Jose Ingal, suddenly arrived and stabbed the victim.
Boco said he tried to get a written statement from Mrs. Boco who declined and told him that she
would be willing to give her statement upon the apprehension of the suspect. Boco said he then
went to a certain house where the suspect was allegedly hiding, but the suspect was not there. So,
he went back to the office and prepared an Advance Report.
15

The prosecution formally offered Exhibits "A" to "G," inclusive, with sub-markings which the trial
court admitted.
16

For the defense, the following took the witness stand: (1) Juanito Yang;
17
(2) SPO1 Loreto A.
Concepcion;
18
(3) Ricardo de Leon;
19
(4) petitioner Jose Ingal;
20
and (5) Remedios A. Ibajo.
21

69

Sgt. Juanito Yang, retired police officer, testified that on 3 April 1987, he was assigned to the
Command of Investigation Follow-up Unit, Homicide Section of the WPD. He was assigned a case
involving the murder of Rolando Domingo in which there were four suspects, namely: Ricardo
Lidot, a certain Joseph and two others. In the Progress Report
22
dated 3 April 1987 that he
prepared, it is stated that Ricardo Lidot admitted to him that he (Lidot) stabbed Rolando Domingo.
He likewise prepared the Booking and Information Sheet
23
of Ricardo Lidot alias Carding Daga. He
revealed it was Lidot who told him there were three more suspects.
SPO1 Loreto A. Concepcion of the WPD Homicide Section declared that on 31 March 1987 he, then
a Patrolman, took and prepared the statement
24
of Gina dela Cruz regarding the murder of
Rolando Domingo.
Ricardo de Leon, a laborer, testified that on 2 March 1987, he was a resident of Perla Street,
Tondo, Manila. At around 9:00 p.m. of said date, he was about to buy food at the carinderia of Aling
Bona at Perla St. While he was approaching the carinderia, he saw Rolando Domingo a.k.a. Toto,
with a lady companion eating in the carinderia. He saw the group of Joseph, Ricardo Lidot a.k.a.
Carding Daga and two others arrive. Joseph and Carding Daga entered the carinderia with the
latter handing a tres cantos to the former, while the other two stood as lookouts. He saw Joseph
approach Toto and stab the latter three times with the tres cantos. De Leon said he was five arms
length away when Carding Daga gave the weapon to Joseph. After the stabbing of Toto, he heard
the four agree that they would meet at Smokey Mountain. Thereafter, the four left.
De Leon said it is not true that Jose Ingal stabbed Rolando Domingo, because Ingal was not there in
the carinderia. Joseph, De Leon insists, is not Jose Ingal. De Leon did not tell anybody that he saw
the stabbing incident. This was the first time he divulged that he witnessed the crime. He broke his
silence and decided to testify because his sister requested him to do so.
Petitioner Jose Ingal testified for his defense. He narrated that on 2 March 1987, at around 9:00
p.m., he was in his place of work in Navotas. His work was to deliver fish to Divisoria every night.
He reported for work before 8:00 p.m. and at around midnight, he, together with five others,
delivered fish at Elcano St., Divisoria. He finished his delivery at around 7:00 a.m. of 3 March 1987.
During the time he reported for work up to the time he finished his job, he said he did not go
anywhere.
Ingal said that he knew Rolando Domingo to be a loafer, and that he only learned what happened
to Domingo a day after the latter was stabbed to death. He came to know that a certain Joseph
stabbed the victim. Ingal disclosed that his only nickname is Joe. He explained that upon learning
of the death of Domingo, he still stayed in his house at Coral St., Tondo, for two months before
transferring to Dagupan, Tondo. From the time Domingo was stabbed until petitioner was
arrested in 1994, the latter worked as a delivery man of fish and never lived outside of Tondo.
Ingal testified he did not know Ricardo Lidot alias Carding Daga. He likewise disputed the
declarations of Mmes. Aida Bona and Rosalinda Tan that he was the one who stabbed Rolando
Domingo. He first saw Mrs. Bona when she testified in court, while it was at the police
headquarters that he first saw Mrs. Tan. He did not know any reason why these two women
testified against him.
Ingal disclosed that it took him twenty minutes by jeepney to travel from his residence to his place
of work in the Navotas Fish Port, and that Elcano St. where he delivered fish on 2 March 1987 was
only one ride away from his house. After finishing delivery at 7:00 a.m. of 3 March 1987, he went
home and slept. He learned of the stabbing incident three days after from his neighbor. He denied
he was called Bobot or Joseph.
70

Remedios Ibajo testified that on 2 March 1987, she was a resident of 85 Quezon St., Tondo, Manila.
She said she had known petitioner Ingal for a long time prior to 2 March 1987. She narrated that
on said date, at around 9:00 p.m., she was in the carinderia of Aling Bona which was located in
Perla St., Tondo, Manila. While looking at the food being sold there, she noticed a man (whom she
later learned was named Toto) and a woman eating in the carinderia. She then saw two persons,
who arrived together, approach Toto. One of them tapped the shoulder of Toto and told him
"Sumama ka sa amin." Toto did not answer. The one who tapped the shoulder of Toto asked his
companion - whom she knew to be Carding Daga - for a weapon. This Carding Daga drew a tres
cantos from his waist and handed it to another person. Upon receiving the weapon, the person
who tapped the shoulder of Toto stabbed the latter three times. Mrs. Ibajo said she was two to
three feet away from the victim who was on her left. She saw that Carding Daga and the person
who stabbed the victim had two more companions who waited at the corner. The two who
approached the victim went toward the two persons in the corner and told them, "Let us go and
see each other at Smokey Mountain." Then they walked away as if nothing happened. Toto was
picked up by his lady companion, was placed in a pedicab, and was taken to the hospital.
Mrs. Ibajo explained that she knew the petitioner because she knew his relatives. She bared that
this was the first time she revealed what she knew about the stabbing incident. She did not see
Jose Ingal at the carinderia before or after 9:00 p.m. She added that her residence in March 1987
was only a block away from the crime scene.
After formally offering Exhibits "1" to "5," inclusive, with sub-markings, and with the admission
thereof by the trial court, the defense rested its case.
25

As rebuttal witnesses, the prosecution presented (1) Rosalinda Tan
26
and (2) Elizabeth R. De
Paz.
27

Rosalinda Tan took the witness stand anew as rebuttal witness. She said she did not know any
person by the name of Remedios Ibajo. She had known Aida Bona long before the stabbing
incident, the latter was fondly called Aida, and there was no instance when the former was called
Aling Bona.
Elizabeth R. De Paz, Punong Barangay and resident of 94 Quezon Street, Tondo, Manila, testified
she had been residing in Quezon St. since 1962. As Punong Barangay in said place, she issued a
Certification
28
stating that Remedios Ibajo had not been a resident of 85 Quezon St., Tondo, Manila.
Said address was only four houses away from her residence. She did not know anybody by that
name, the owner of the house told her that the place had never been rented or leased, and no
Remedios Ibajo lived there. She added that she knew the residents in their place, because they had
a census in their barangay.
On 29 January 1999, the trial court convicted petitioner of murder in a decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the accused Jose Ingal y Santos guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder defined and penalized under Article 248 of the Revised
Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment
ranging from EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS and TWENTY-ONE (21) DAYS as
minimum to TWENTY (20) YEARS of reclusion temporal in its maximum period as maximum.
Since accused Jose Ingal is detained, in the service of his sentence, he shall be credited the full
period of his temporary detention.
It is likewise ordered that the accused be transmitted to the National Bureau of Prison thru the
Philippine National Police (PNP) pursuant to the Supreme Court Resolution En Banc laid down in
71

the case of People vs. Ricardo C. Carlos (GR-92860, October 15, 1991) cited in the case of People
vs. Crescencia C. Reyes, En Banc, GR-101127-31, August 7, 1992.
29

The trial court gave credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses Aida Bona and
Rosalinda Tan vis--vis petitioners defenses of denial and alibi. Mrs. Bona, the owner of the
carinderia where the stabbing happened, informed the authorities that petitioner was the one who
stabbed Rolando Domingo and said that she would not give a written statement until and unless
the suspect had been apprehended. Seven years later, after the arrest of the petitioner, Mmes.
Bona and Tan finally gave their sworn statements pointing to petitioner as the assailant. The court
a quo said that the weapon used (tres cantos) and the manner in which the victim was stabbed
(four times with two penetrating stab wounds on the chest) clearly indicated the intention of
petitioner to kill the victim. The victim was unarmed and was suddenly stabbed several times by
the petitioner.
On 11 February 1999, the prosecution filed a Motion for Reconsideration asking that the penalty
imposed on petitioner be modified to reclusion perpetua as prescribed by law.
30
On 12 February
1999, petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal.
31
In an Order
32
dated 9 March 1999, the trial court,
finding the motion to be meritorious, modified its decision and sentenced petitioner to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua. Consequently, it forwarded the records of the case to this Court.
Pursuant, however, to our ruling in People v. Mateo,
33
the case was remanded to the Court of
Appeals for appropriate action and disposition.
On 31 August 2005, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision affirming in toto the decision of the
trial court, the decretal portion reading:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed December 9, 1998 Decision of the Regional Trial
Court is AFFIRMED in toto. This case is hereby transmitted to the Honorable Supreme Court for
final disposition.
34

In our Resolution
35
dated 19 June 2006, the parties were required to simultaneously file their
respective supplemental briefs, if they so desired, within thirty (30) days from notice. The Office of
the Solicitor General manifested that it was not submitting a Supplemental Brief, considering that
the arguments raised by petitioner had been discussed and refuted in its appellees brief dated 8
November 2000. On the part of the petitioner, he manifested that it was likewise unnecessary to
file a supplemental brief since the allegations contained in his appellants brief would be the same
arguments he would submit to the Court.
Petitioner assails his conviction, arguing there was error:
I
IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE CLAIMS OF THE TWO (2) ALLEGED EYEWITNESSES THAT
THERE IS ONLY ONE (1) SUSPECT IN THE KILLING OF VICTIM ROLANDO DOMINGO, THAT
IS, THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT HEREIN, CONTRARY TO THE INFORMATION GATHERED BY
THE POLICE INVESTIGATOR, PFC. JUANITO B. YANG, POLICE INVESTIGATOR OF THE
WESTERN POLICE DISTRICT WHO CONDUCTED FOLLOW-UP INVESTIGATION ON APRIL 3,
1987 TO THE EFFECT THAT THERE WERE, IN FACT, FOUR (4) SUSPECTS, ONE OF WHOM
IS RICARDO LIDOT WHO WAS ALREADY CHARGED AND CONVICTED FOR THE DEATH OF
THE VICTIM.
II
IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON THE BASIS OF THE TESTIMONIES OF TWO
(2) ALLEGED EYEWITNESSES WHOSE STATEMENTS WERE GIVEN TO THE POLICE MORE
THAN SEVEN (7) YEARS AFTER THE COMMISSION OF THE CRIME ON MARCH 2, 1987.
III
72

IN HOLDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE
CRIME CHARGED, IN THE ABSENCE OF SUFFICIENT PROOF TO JUSTIFY HIS CONVICTION.
The prosecution relies primarily on the testimonies of Aida Bona and Rosalinda Tan, who
allegedly witnessed the stabbing of Rolando Domingo in the carinderia they operate. On the other
hand, petitioner raises the defense of denial and alibi. He claims he was in his place of work when
the stabbing happened. Ricardo de Leon and Remedios Ibajo, both of whom allegedly witnessed
the stabbing, testified that petitioner was not the one who stabbed the victim because he was not
there.
Petitioner contends that the trial court should not have given credence to the allegations of Mmes.
Bona and Tan that they saw petitioner, who was alone, stab the victim, because their testimonies
contradicted the testimony of defense witness Sgt. Juanito Yang, who testified that in the course of
his follow-up investigation, he came to know that there were four (4) suspects in the killing of the
victim and one of them Ricardo Lidot alias Carding Daga who was arrested, admitted to him
that it was he who stabbed the victim for which he was convicted and jailed.
We find his contention untenable.
Sgt. Juanito Yang testified that Ricardo Lidot alias Carding Daga admitted to him that he was the
one who stabbed the victim,
36
which declaration was contained in the Progress Report
37
dated 3
April 1987 and the Booking and Information Sheet
38
that he prepared. However, after going over
these two documents, we find therein that Ricardo Lidot alias Carding Daga never admitted that
he stabbed Rodolfo Domingo. What he admitted was that "it was he who handed the death weapon
to alias Joseph who stabbed the deceased." This is further supported by Progress Report II
39
dated
27 August 1994 prepared by SPO2 Leon Salac, which stated that "Lidot was established and found
to have handed the assailant the bladed weapon used in stabbing aforenamed victim." From these,
it is clear that Sgt. Yangs testimony in court was not in accord with the statements contained in
the documents he prepared.
The defense tries to destroy the credibility of Mmes. Bona and Tan by arguing that their
testimonies that petitioner was alone at the time when he stabbed the victim was not consistent
with the testimony of Sgt. Yang that there were four suspects in the killing of the victim. There
being statements that there were allegedly four witnesses to the stabbing of victim does not
diminish the credibility of the two eyewitnesses. The two prosecution witnesses were one in
saying it was petitioner whom they saw stab the victim. This was very clear. The fact that they did
not see the other alleged accomplices in the execution of the crime does not detract from the
veracity of their testimony that petitioner stabbed the victim. Their failure to mention the three
other malefactors simply means that they did not see them when the assault was made. We agree
with the Office of the Solicitor General when it said that:
Said witnesses merely testified that they did not see anybody else helping appellant in stabbing
the victim. Their testimonies did not rule out the presence of other assailants as subsequently
established by the progress report naming one Ricardo Lidot alias Carding Daga, Joseph alias
Bebot and Jose Ingal, and two (2) unidentified persons as the suspects. Indeed, defense witness
Ricardo de Leon testified that it was Lidot who handed the "tres cantos" to Joseph who in turn
stabbed the victim thrice. Certainly, there is no inconsistency between the progress report and the
testimonies of the prosecution eyewitnesses.
40

On the second assigned error, petitioner faults Mrs. Bona for having waited for the apprehension
of the assailant after more than seven years to divulge to the policemen what had transpired on
the night of 2 March 1987. If she truly were able to witness the crime, the fact that she revealed
73

what she saw only after seven years was contrary to ordinary human experience and conduct,
thereby rendering her testimony unworthy of credence.
We find the testimony of Mrs. Bona to be worthy of belief. The statement of the defense that Mrs.
Bona waited for seven years after divulging what she knew about the stabbing incident is awry.
After the incident, Mrs. Bona immediately gave her statement to the police that petitioner was the
one who stabbed the victim. This is evidenced by the Advance Report
41
dated 3 March 1987
prepared by PFC Benjamin Boco. It is not true that she waited for seven years before revealing
what she knew. What she did not immediately give to the police was her written statement under
oath, because she was fearful that something bad might happen to her because the suspect was
still at large. She explained she would only give her written statement when the suspect was
apprehended, because the crime was a grave offense.
42
This was what she did once petitioner was
arrested and jailed.
She cannot be faulted for doing what she did. Fear of reprisal and the natural reluctance of a
witness to get involved in a criminal case are sufficient explanations for a witness delay in
reporting a crime to the authorities.
43
Initial reluctance to volunteer information regarding a
crime due to fear of reprisal is common enough that it has been judicially declared as not affecting
a witness credibility.
44
The fact that Mrs. Bona did not right away submit a written statement to
the police was natural and within the bounds of expected human behavior. Her action revealed a
spontaneous and natural reaction of a person who had yet to fully comprehend a shocking and
traumatic event. Besides, the workings of the human mind are unpredictable. People react
differently to emotional stress. There is simply no standard form of behavioral response that can
be expected from anyone when confronted with a strange, startling or frightful occurrence.
45
In
her case, Mrs. Bona said she was shocked and lost her composure because that was the first time
she saw someone being killed in front of her.
46

The defense further tries to discredit Mrs. Bona by showing alleged inconsistencies in her
testimony regarding the presence of petitioner while she was giving her Sinumpaang Salaysay at
the WPD. The defense points out that Mrs. Bona contradicted her statement in her Sinumpaang
Salaysay that she saw petitioner while she was being investigated in the WPD, but in her
testimony in court she said she had not seen him in the WPD. As to Mrs. Tan, the defense claims
that she did not see the petitioner while her statement was being taken by the police which is
contrary to what was stated in her Sinumpaang Salaysay that she saw petitioner while she was
giving her statement.
We find these inconsistencies to be too trivial to diminish the credibility of these two witnesses.
From their testimonies in court, it is evident that they saw petitioner in the police station when he
was arrested.
47
Whether they saw petitioner before, during or after the preparation of their
statements is of no moment because they have clearly and unequivocally identified petitioner as
the person who stabbed the victim. Settled is the rule that inconsistencies on minor and trivial
matters only serve to strengthen rather than weaken the credibility of witnesses, for they erase
the suspicion of rehearsed testimony.
48

The testimonies of the prosecution eyewitnesses are more convincing than those of the supposed
defense eyewitnesses (Ricardo de Leon and Remedios Ibajo). Both De Leon and Ibajo are friends
of the petitioner. De Leon said he was requested by petitioners sister to testify, because petitioner
was asking for assistance. Ibajo revealed that she knows the relatives of petitioner. The
testimonies of close relatives and friends are necessarily suspect.
49
Moreover, it has been amply
demonstrated that Ibajo has never been a resident of the place where victim was stabbed.
74

We find the evidence of the prosecution to be more credible than that adduced by petitioner.
When it comes to credibility, the trial courts assessment deserves great weight, and is even
conclusive and binding, if not tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of some fact or circumstance
of weight and influence. The reason is obvious. Having the full opportunity to observe directly the
witnesses deportment and manner of testifying, the trial court is in a better position than the
appellate court to evaluate testimonial evidence properly.
50

The Court of Appeals further affirmed the findings of the RTC. In this regard, it is settled that when
the trial courts findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, said findings are generally
conclusive and binding upon this Court. We find no compelling reason to deviate from their
findings.
Petitioner interposes the defenses of denial and alibi. As against the damning evidence of the
prosecution, they must necessarily fail. A denial unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence
is negative, self-serving, merits no weight in law, and cannot therefore be given greater
evidentiary value than the testimony of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters.
51

Further, denial cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of prosecution witnesses who were
not shown to have any ill motive to testify against appellants. Absence of improper motives makes
a testimony worthy of full faith and credence.
52
In this case, petitioner testified that he did not
know of any reason why Mmes. Bona and Tan testified against him.
53

Petitioner likewise interposes the defense of alibi. No jurisprudence in criminal law is more
settled than that alibi is the weakest of all defenses, for it is easy to contrive and difficult to
disprove, and for which reason it is generally rejected.
54
For the defense of alibi to prosper, it is
imperative that the accused establish two elements: (1) he was not at the locus delicti at the time
the offense was committed; and (2) it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene at the
time of its commission.
55
Petitioner failed to do so.
In the case at bar, petitioner avers that he was working when the stabbing happened. He said that
it takes him twenty minutes by jeepney to travel from his residence to his place of work in the
Navotas Fish Port, and that Elcano St. where he delivered fish on 2 March 1987 was only one ride
away from his house. Thus, it was not possible for him to have been at the scene of the crime when
the crime was being committed. On top of this, he failed to present witnesses like his employer or
any of his five companions who was allegedly with him when he went to Elcano St., Divisoria, who
could testify that he was somewhere else when Rolando Domingo was attacked.
Anent the third assigned error, petitioner maintains that the prosecution failed to discharge the
quantum of proof required to support a conviction because it failed to establish all the elements of
the crime charged as alleged in the information. The information, he states, accuses him of the
crime of murder in conspiracy with Ricardo Lidot and two others. Since the testimonies of Mmes.
Bona and Tan only show that the assailant, supposedly the petitioner, was alone when he attacked
the victim then conspiracy was not established as alleged in the information, and he should thus
be exonerated.
The information alleged that petitioner, together with Ricardo Lidot and others whose names are
still unknown, conspired in killing Rolando Domingo. Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code provides
that there is conspiracy when two or more persons agree to commit a crime and decide to commit
it. It is hornbook doctrine that conspiracy must be proved by positive and convincing evidence, the
same quantum of evidence as the crime itself.
56
Once conspiracy is established, all the conspirators
are answerable as co-principals regardless of their degree of participation, for in the
contemplation of the law, the act of one becomes the act of all, and it matters not who among the
accused inflicted the fatal blow to the victim.
57

75

Conspiracy is not an element of the crime of murder or homicide. Conspiracy assumes pivotal
importance in the determination of the liability of the perpetrators.
58
Thus, if the evidence
adduced by the prosecution fails to prove conspiracy, only those whose liability can be established
can be held liable for the crime charged. In the case under consideration, the prosecution was able
to prove that petitioner was the one who stabbed the victim. But since conspiracy was not shown
in the instant case, the other accused cannot be convicted because their respective liabilities were
not satisfactorily proved as well. Petitioner alone is liable for the death of the victim.
We now go to the nature of the crime committed. The information alleged treachery in the
commission of the crime. As correctly found by the trial court, treachery attended the killing.
There is treachery in a sudden and unexpected attack which renders the victim unable to defend
himself by reason of the suddenness and severity of the attack.
59
The essence of treachery is the
sudden and unexpected attack by the aggressor on an unsuspecting victim, depriving the latter of
any real chance to defend himself, thereby ensuring its commission without risk to the aggressor,
and without the slightest provocation on the part of the victim.
60
In the case at bar, the victim was
attacked from behind while he was eating. The victim was not able to defend himself or retaliate
because the attack was so sudden and unexpected. Since treachery was properly alleged in the
information, the same can be used to qualify the killing to murder.1avvphi1
Without a doubt, the intention of petitioner was to kill the victim. This intention was very clear
when he treacherously attacked the victim when the latter was eating at the carinderia. The
number of times (four) petitioner stabbed the victim in the chest area supports this conclusion.
The intent to kill is shown by the weapon used by the offender and the parts of the victims body at
which the weapon was aimed.
61

The Information likewise alleged the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation. Evident
premeditation, however, may not be appreciated where there is no proof as to how and when the
plan to kill was hatched or the time that elapsed before it was carried out.
62
In the case at bar, the
prosecution failed to establish that evident premeditation attended the killing.
We now go to the imposition of the penalty. Petitioner is guilty of murder. The crime was
committed on March 2, 1987. At that time the penalty for murder under Article 248 of the Revised
Penal Code was reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death. The penalty for murder is
reclusion perpetua to death. There being neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances, the
penalty for murder should be imposed in its medium period or reclusion perpetua.
63
Thus, for the
murder of Rolando Domingo, there being no other mitigating or aggravating circumstance
attending the same, the penalty imposed on petitioner is reclusion perpetua.
With respect to award of damages, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals did not award any.
When death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex
delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4)
exemplary damages; and (5) temperate damages.
64

Civil indemnity is mandatory and granted to the heirs of the victim without need of proof other
than the commission of the crime.
65
Under prevailing jurisprudence,
66
the award of P50,000.00 to
the heirs of the victim as civil indemnity is in order.
67

As to actual damages, the heirs of the victim are not entitled thereto because said damages were
not duly proved with reasonable degree of certainty.
68
It is necessary for a party seeking actual
damages to produce competent proof or the best evidence obtainable, such as receipts, to justify
an award therefor.
69
The hospitalization and funeral expenses were not supported by receipts.
However, the award of P25,000.00 in temperate damages in homicide or murder cases is proper
when no evidence of burial and funeral expenses is presented in the trial court.
70
Under Article
76

2224 of the Civil Code, temperate damages may be recovered, as it cannot be denied that the heirs
of the victim suffered pecuniary loss, although the exact amount was not proved.
71

Moral damages must also be awarded because it is mandatory in cases of murder and homicide,
without need of allegation and proof other than the death of the victim.
72
The award of P50,000.00
as moral damages is in order.
The heirs of the victim are likewise entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00
since the qualifying circumstance of treachery was firmly established.
73

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C.
No. 01056, dated 31 August 2005, is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. Petitioner is found GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt of murder as defined in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, qualified
by treachery. There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance in the commission of the
crime, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is ORDERED to pay
the heirs of Rolando Domingo the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral
damages, P25,000.00 as temperate damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. Costs against
the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.