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PEOPLE

[G.R. No. 117818. April 18, 1997]


OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROMAN
DERILO, ISIDORO BALDIMO y QUILLO, alias Sido, LUCAS
DOOS, ALEJANDRO COFUENTES, and JOHN DOE,
accused. ISIDORO
BALDIMO
y
QUILLO, alias Sido, accused-appellant.
DECISION

REGALADO, J.:
Roma n Deri l o, Is i doro Ba l di mo y Qui l l o, Luca s Doos ,
Al ejandro Cofuentes and one John Doe were cha rged wi th the s o ca l led crime of murder committed by a band before the First Branch
of the former Court of Fi rs t Ins ta nce of Boronga n, Ea s tern
Sa ma r.[1] The i nforma ti on fi l ed therefor a l l eges Tha t on Ja nuary 1, 1982 a t a bout 6:00 ocl ock P.M. a t
s i tio Palaspas, Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines and
wi thin the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
a bove-named a ccused with treachery a nd evident
premeditation, with intent to kill, with the use of firearm
a nd bolos, confederating and mutually helping one
a nother did then a nd there shot (sic) a nd s tabbed (sic)
one Perpetua Adalim thus inflicting injuries which caused
her death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[2]
Of the fi ve a ccused, only a ccused-appellant Isidoro Q. Ba ldimo
wa s a pprehe nded a nd brought wi thi n the tri a l courts
juri s diction. At his a rrai gnment on Ma rch 18, 1985, a nd a fter the
i nformation was translated i n the Waray di a l ect wi th whi ch he i s
wel l versed, a ppellant pleaded not guilty. [3] Tri al on the meri ts wa s
conducted therea fter.
However, by the ti me the Peopl e ha d forma l l y fi ni s hed
pres enting i ts evidence on Augus t 6, 1986, a ppel l a nt, through hi s
couns el de parte, ma nifested to the court a quo tha t he wa nted to
wi thdraw his earlier plea of not guilty a nd substitute the s a me wi th
one of guilty. Consequently, a re -arraignment wa s ordered by the
l ower court a nd, this ti me, a ppellant entered a plea of gui l ty to the
cha rge of murder.[4]
A s eries of questions was then propounded by the tri a l court
to tes t a ppel l a nts vol unta ri nes s a nd comprehens i on of the
cons equences in making his new plea of gui l ty. Sa ti s fi ed wi th the
a ns wers of appellant, the trial court convi cted hi m of the cri me of
murder defined and punished under Arti cle 248 of the Revised Penal
Code.[5]
A detailed account of the killing was furnished by prosecuti on
eyewi tnes s Cres enci o Lupi do. [6] Accordi ng to hi m, Perpetua C.
Ada l im went to his house at Sitio Pa laspas, Barangay Pol angi i n Ta ft,
Ea s tern Samar i n the ea rl y eveni ng of Ja nua ry 1, 1982 to l ook f or
fa rml ands willing a nd desiring to work i n her ri cefields. Lupi do wa s
a n a gricultural tenant of Perpetua and lived on one of the properties
owned by the latter. Upon her arrival, Perpetua instructed Lupidos
wi fe to get food from her house in the poblacion a s she had decided
to s pend the ni ght a t Si ti o Pa l a s pa s .
Whi le Perpetua was waiting a nd s ta ndi ng i n the ya rd of the
hous e, five a rmed men a rrived a nd confronted Perpetua . Lupi do
recognized two of the men as Roman Derilo and a ppel l a nt Is i doro
Ba l dimo, a s thes e two frequentl y pa s s ed by hi s hous e a t Si ti o
Pa l aspas. He did not know the other three men but he cl aimed tha t
he coul d i denti ty them i f brought before hi m.
Roma n Deri l o ta l ked momenta ri l y wi th Perpetua . Then,
wi thout a ny wa rning, Deri l o s hot Pe rpetua three ti mes wi th the
pi s tol he was carryi ng. After she fell to the ground, a ppel l a nt, who
wa s standing at the ri ght side of Derilo, approa ched Perpetua a nd
s ta bbed her s everal ti mes wi th a kni fe tha t l ooked l i ke ei ther a
Ba ta ngas knife or a bolo known l ocally a s depang. A thi rd member
of the group, wi th a s hort a nd s tout phys i que, fol l owed s ui t i n
s ta bbing Perpetua. After the repeated stabbings, the ga ng wa l ked
a round the ya rd for s ome time and left, walking i n the di recti on of
the mounta i ns . Al l of them ca rri ed l ong fi rea rms .

As s oon as the group had left the scene of the cri me, Lupi do
hurri edly went to Perpetuas house i n the poblacion of Ta ft where
he i nformed the fa mi l y of the decea s ed a bout the i nci dent. [7]
I
Appellant does not deny his participation in the commission of
the cri me. Rather, in his brief pitifully consi s ti ng of two pa ges , he
merely a sks for the modification of the dea th pena l ty i mpos ed by
the l ower court to l ife i mprisonment.[8] Al though a ppellant is a wa re
tha t he ha s ma de hi s pl ea of gui l ty a fter the pros ecuti on ha d
pres ented its evidence, thus foreclosing the application of paragraph
7, Arti cl e 13 of the Revi s ed Pena l Code, [9] he contends tha t hi s
unti mely a cknowledgment of cul pa bi l i ty ma y s ti l l be trea ted by
a na logy as a mitiga ti ng ci rcums ta nce under pa ra gra ph 10 of the
[10]
s a me article, i nvoki ng therefor the a fores a i d ca s e of Coronel.
Unfortuna tel y, tha t deci s i on rel i ed upon by a ppel l a nt i s
i na pplicable to his ca se. The death penal ty i n People vs. Coronel, et
al.[11] wa s modified to life i mprisonment not i n cons i dera ti on of
pa ra graph 10, Arti cl e 13 of the code but beca us e the number of
votes then required to a ffi rm a s entence of dea th i mpos ed by a
l ower court[12] wa s not secured by this Court in its automatic revi ew
of the judgment. Apparently, the required number for concurrence
wa s not obtained because some members of the Court trea ted the
bel ated confession of the accused therein a s a n i ndi ca ti on on hi s
pa rt to reform, and they felt that he s houl d onl y s uffer the s a me
pena l ty i mpos ed on s ome of hi s co -cons pi ra tors .
The l ate plea of guilty entered by herein a ppell a nt ca nnot be
cons idered mitigating because the plea ma de i s not of a s i mi l a r
na ture a nd a na l ogous to the pl ea of gui l ty contempl a ted i n
pa ra graph 7 of Arti cle 13. A pl ea of guilty is consi dered mi ti ga ti ng
on the ra tionale that an accused spontaneously a nd willingly a dmits
hi s guilt at the fi rst opportunity a s an a ct of repentance. An a ccused
s houl d not be a l l owed to s pecul a te on the outcome of the
proceedings by pleading not gui l ty on a rra i gnment, onl y to l a ter
s ubstitute the same with a plea of guilty a fter di s coveri ng tha t the
Peopl e has a s trong ca s e a ga i ns t hi m. Wi tha l , a l l i s not l os t for
a ppel l a nt.
The ki lling of the vi ctim, Perpetua C. Adalim, was found by the
l ower court to ha ve been qua l i fi ed to murder by
trea chery. Al though not a l l eged i n the i nforma ti on, the
ci rcums tances of s uperior s trength and cuadrilla were taken note of
by the court a quo ba s ed on the evi dence pres ented by the
pros ecution, but the same were correctly regarded by sai d court a s
a bs orbed in alevosia. However, it found that the generic a ggravating
ci rcums ta nce of evi dent premedi ta ti on l i kewi s e a ttended the
commi ssion of the cri me. Hence, with no mitigating ci rcumstance to
offs et thi s a ggra va ti ng ci rcums ta nce, the tri a l court s entenced
a ppellant to suffer the s upreme penalty of death a nd to i ndemni fy
a nd pa y da ma ges to the hei rs of the vi cti m.
It wi l l be obs erved from a rea di ng of the l ower courts
deci sion[13] tha t i ts judgment was obviously ba s ed not onl y on the
evi dence presented by the pros ecuti on but a l s o on a ppel l a nts
bel a ted a dmi s s i on of gui l t, together wi th s ome i nconcl us i ve
pronouncements of this Court on conspiracy. The former a pparently
proved the ci rcums ta nces of trea chery, s uperi or s trength
a nd cuadrilla, while the latter s upposedly s uppl i ed the ground for
the fi ndi ng of evi dent premedi ta ti on.
We a gree with the finding of the court bel ow tha t a ppel l a nt
pa rti ci pa ted i n the trea cherous ki l l i ng of Perpetua C. Ada l i m.
Appellants presence in the locus criminis and his i dentification were
pos i ti vel y s uppl i ed by the pros ecuti ons eyewi tnes s . The
unwa vering a nd unequivocal testimony of Lupido, corrobora ted by
tha t of Dr. Edua rdo S. Eva rdone who conducted
the postmortemexa mi na ti on on the corps e of the vi cti m [14] a nd
s ubmitted his corresponding autops y report, [15] i ndubi ta bl y s how
the deliberate employment by the a ccused of a reliable and unfailing
mea ns to ensure the killing without giving the vi ctim a n opportuni ty
to defend hers e l f.
However, we ca nnot give the same stamp of a pprova l to the
fi nding on premeditacion conocida declared by the tri a l court. The
di s turbing conclusions of s aid court thereon need to be cl a ri fi ed to
obvi a te misconceptions that may a ffect the stability of o ur pres ent
1

rul es on evidence and cri minal procedure. Said the l ower court on
thi s a s pect:
The a ggravating circumstance of evident premeditation
i s l ikewise present i n the commission of the offense of
murder a s the existence of the conspiracy a mong the
a ccus ed Baldimo and his co-accused having been duly
proven a lso beyond peradventure of doubt, presupposes
evi dent premeditation (People vs. Belen, L-13895, Sept.
30, 1963, 9 SCRA 39) whi ch the s aid accused himself
s upplied the evidence on this score by vi rtue of his plea
of gui lty, which ci rcumstance is not the l east disproven
by the evi dence on record. Thus, its a ppreciation a s an
a ggra vating circumstance i n this case.
A pl ea of guilty constitute(s) an admission of a ll material
fa cts alleged i n the information, including the
a ggra vating circumstances alleged, although the offense
cha rged be ca pital. (People vs. Boyl es, L-15308, Ma y 29,
1964, 11 SCRA 88; Peopl e vs. Mongado, L-24877, June
30, 1969, 28 SCRA 642; Peopl e vs. Tilos, L-27151, Nov.
29, 1969, 30 SCRA 734).
A pl ea of guilty i s mitigating and at the same ti me i t
cons titutes a n admission of all the material facts alleged
i n the i nformation, including the aggrava ting
ci rcums tances, and it matters not that the offense is
ca pi tal. Because of the a foresaid l egal effect of Pinedas
pl ea of guilty, i t was not incumbent upon the tri al court
to recei ve his evidence, much l ess require his presence in
court. (People vs. Jose, 37 SCRA 450; People vs.Es tebia,
40 SCRA 90).[16]
The tri a l court s houl d not ha ve concl uded tha t evi dent
premeditation a ttended the commission of the cri me of murder on
the ba ses of i ts findings regarding the admission of guilt by appellant
a nd the existence of cons pi ra cy wi th hi s co -a ccus ed. As ea rl i er
s ta ted, appellant entered his plea of guilty a fter the prosecution had
pres ented its evidence. Thereafter, no further evidence whatsoever
wa s a dduced by i t to prove the s uppos ed evi dent
premeditation. The records a nd the tra ns cri pts of s tenogra phi c
notes a re barren of a ny proof tending to show a ny pri or refl ecti on
on, fol l owed a fter s ome ti me by pers i s tence i n, the cri mi na l
res ol uti on of the fi ve a ccus ed.

the purpose of increasing the degree of the penalty to be i mpos ed


mus t be proved with equal certainty a nd cl ea rnes s a s tha t whi ch
es tablis hes the commi s s i on of the a ct cha rged a s the cri mi na l
offense.[21] It i s not only the centra l fa ct of a ki l l i ng tha t mus t be
s hown beyond reasonable doubt; every qua l i fyi ng or a ggra va ti ng
ci rcums tance alleged to have been pres ent a nd to ha ve a ttended
[22]
s uch killing, must similarly be s hown by the same degree of proof.
II
The foregoing doctrines cons equentl y poi nt to the need of
reconciling them with the old rule that a pl ea of gui l ty a dmi ts not
onl y the cri me but a lso its attendant ci rcumstances whi ch i s rel i ed
upon a nd i nvoked by the l ower court i n thi s ca s e to jus ti fy i ts
concl usion of evi dent premedi ta ti on to a ggra va te the l i a bi l i ty of
a ppel l a nt.
Over the yea rs a nd through numerous ca s es , thi s Court ha s
a dopted an exception to the erstwhile rule enunciating that there i s
no need to prove the presence of aggravating ci rcumstances alleged
i n a n information or complaint when the a ccus ed pl ea ds gui l ty to
the cha rge. Our rul ings rega rdi ng thi s pri nci pl e were expres s ed
more or l es s i n thi s wi s e:
Ha vi ng pleaded guilty to the i nformation, these
a ggra vating circumstances were deemed fully
es tablished, for the plea of guilty to the i nformation
covers both the cri me as well as its attendant
ci rcums tances qualifying and/or a ggravating the
cri me.[23]
We a re not, however, concerned here merel y wi th the
doctri ne i ts el f but more s peci fi ca l l y wi th the cons equences
[24]
thereof. Thus, i n People vs. Ra pirap, i t wa s formerl y expl a i ned
tha t the s ubject doctri ne ha s the fol l owi ng effects :
A pl ea of guilty does not merely join the issues of the
compl aint or i nformation, but a mounts to an admission
of gui lt a nd of the material facts a lleged i n the complaint
or i nformation a nd i n this sense takes the place of the
tri a l i tself. Such plea removes the necessity of
pres enting further evidence a nd for all intents and
purposes the case is deemed tri ed on i ts merits a nd
s ubmitted for decision. It l eaves the court with no
a l ternative but to i mpose the penalty prescribed by l aw.

It i s elementary l aw that to establish evident premedi ta ti on,


thes e must be proof of (1) the time when the offender determi ned
to commi t the cri me, (2) an act manifestly i ndicating that the culpri t
ha s clung to his determination, a nd (3) a s uffi ci ent l a ps e of ti me
between the determination a nd executi on to a l l ow hi m to refl ect
upon the consequences of his a ct a nd to a l l ow hi s cons ci ence to
overcome the resolution of his will had he desired to hearken to i ts
wa rni ngs .[17]

Then, i n People vs. La mbino,[25] we prevented the a ccus ed i n


cri mi nal a ctions from contradicting the outcome of hi s a dmi s s i on,
wi th our holding that by the plea of guilty, the a ccused a dmits all the
fa cts alleged i n the information and, by that pl ea , h e i s precl uded
from s howi ng tha t he ha s not commi tted them.

The essence of premedi ta ti on i s tha t the executi on of the


cri mi nal a ct was preceded by cool thought and reflecti on upon the
res olution to carry out the cri minal i ntent duri ng a s pa ce of ti me
s ufficient to a rrive a t a ca lm judgment.[18] When it i s not shown as to
how a nd when the plan to kill was hatched or what time had elapsed
before i t wa s ca rri ed out, evi dent premedi ta ti on ca nnot be
cons idered. Evi dent premeditation must be based on externa l a cts
a nd must be evi dent, not merely s uspected, i ndi ca ti ng del i bera te
pl a nning. Otherwis e s ta ted, there mus t be a demons tra ti on by
outwa rd a cts of a cri minal intent that is notorious a nd ma ni fes t. [19]

A pl ea of guilty i s an admission of a ll the material facts


a l leged i n the complaint or information. A pl ea of guilty
when formally entered in arraignment is sufficient to
s us tain a convi ction for any offense charged i n the
i nformation, without the necessity of requiring
a dditional evidence, since by s o pleading, the defendant
hi mself has s upplied the necessary proof. It matters not
even i f the offense is ca pital for the a dmission (plea of
gui lty) covers both the crime as well as i ts a ttendant
ci rcums tances.

As there is no proof, direct or ci rcums ta nti a l , offered by the


pros ecution to s how when appellant and his co-accused medi ta ted
a nd refl ected upon thei r deci s i on to ki l l the vi cti m a nd the
i ntervening time that elapsed before this plan wa s ca rri ed out, the
ci rcums tance of evident premeditation ca nnot be presumed agains t
a ppel l a nt. As ea rl y a s 1905, we l a i d down the rul e tha t the
ci rcums tances speci fyi ng a n offens e or a ggra va ti ng the pena l ty
thereof mus t be proved a s concl us i vel y a s the a ct i ts el f, mere
s uppositions or presumptions being insuffici ent to es ta bl i s h thei r
pres ence. No ma tter how truthful thes e s uppos i ti ons or
pres umptions ma y seem, they mus t not a nd ca nnot produce the
[20]
effect of a ggra va ti ng the l i a bi l i ty of the a ccus ed.

Fi nally, People vs. Apduhan, Jr. ci ted by s ome of the ca s es


rel i ed upon by the l ower court, decl a red tha t -

It i s a n a nci ent but revered doctri ne tha t qua l i fyi ng a nd


a ggra vating circumstance before being ta ken into considera ti on for

Peopl e vs. Ya ms on, et al.[26] therea fter expa nded the


a pplication of the doctrine to both ca pita l a nd non-ca pi ta l ca s es :

[27]

Whi le a n unqualified plea of guilty is mitigating, i t at the


s a me ti me constitutes an admission of a ll material facts
a l leged i n the information, including the aggrava ting
ci rcums tance therein recited. x x x The pros ecution does
not need to prove the three a ggravating circumstances
(a l l alleged in the second amended information) since
the a ccused, by his plea of guilty, has s upplied the
requisite proof.
Wi th the foregoing pres enta ti on, the tri a l court mus t ha ve
bel ieved that i t had acted correctly i n pres umi ng the exi s tence of
evi dent premeditation based on appellants pl ea of gui l ty wi thout
2

a ny proof bei ng pres ented to es ta bl i s h s uch a ggra va ti ng


ci rcums ta nce. However, the devel opmenta l growth of our
procedural rules did not s top there. With the advent of the revi s ed
Rul es on Cri mi na l Procedure on Ja nua ry 1, 1985, a new rul e,
s pecifically mandating the course that tri al courts s houl d fol l ow i n
ca pi tal ca ses where the a ccused pleads guilty, was i ntroduced i nto
our remedi a l l a w wi th thi s provi s i on:
SEC. 3. Plea of guilty to capital offense; reception of
evidence - When the a ccused pleads guilty to a capital
offense, the court s hall conduct a searching i nquiry i nto
the vol untariness and full comprehension of the
cons equences of his plea and require the prosecution to
prove hi s guilt and the precise degree of culpability. The
a ccus ed may a lso present evidence in his behalf. [28]
We expounded on thi s i n Peopl e vs. Ca ma y[29] wi th thi s
expl a na ti on:
Under the new formulation, three (3) things a re enjoined
of the tri al court after a plea of guilty to a ca pital offense
ha s been entered by the accused: 1. The court must
conduct a searching i nquiry i nto the voluntariness a nd
ful l comprehension of the consequences of his plea;
2. The court must require the prosecution to present
evi dence to prove the guilt of the accused and the
preci se degree of his culpability; a nd 3. The court must
a s k the accused if he desires to present evidence in his
behalf and allow him to do so i f he desires.
The a mended rule is a capsulization of the provisions of
the ol d rule a nd pertinent jurisprudence. We had
s everal occasions to i ssue the caveat that even if the trial
court i s satisfied that the plea of guilty was entered with
ful l knowledge of i ts meaning a nd consequences, the
Court mus t s till require the introduction of evidence for
the purpose of establishing the guilt and degree of
cul pability of the defendant. This i s the proper norm to
be fol lowed not only to s atisfy the tri al judge but also to
a i d the Court in determining whether or not the accused
rea lly a nd truly comprehended the meaning, full
s i gnificance and consequences of his plea.
The presentation of evidence is required in order to precl ude
a ny room for reasonable doubt i n the mind of the tri al court, or the
Supreme Court on review, as to the possibility that there might have
been some misunderstanding on the part of the a ccus ed a s to the
na ture of the charge to which he pleaded guilty, a nd to ascertain the
ci rcums tances a ttenda nt to the commi s s i on of the cri me whi ch
jus ti fy or requi re the exerci s e of a grea ter or l es s er degree of
[30]
s everi ty i n the i mpos i ti on of the pres cri bed pena l ty.
To empha s i ze i ts i mporta nce thi s Court hel d i n
Peopl e vs. Dayot[31] tha t the rule in Section 3, Rule 116 i s mandatory,
a nd i ssued the wa rni ng tha t a ny judge who fa i l s to obs erve i ts
comma nd commi ts a gra ve a bus e of di s creti on.
Thi s Court has come a l ong way i n a dopting a manda tory rul e
wi th regard to the presentation of evidence i n capita l ca s es where
the a ccused pleads guilty to the cri minal charge. From granting tri al
courts i n the ea rl i er Rul es of Court [32] s uffi ci ent di s creti on i n
requi ring evidence whenever guilt is admitted by the a ccus ed, the
Court ha s now made it ma ndatory on the part of the lower courts to
compel the pres enta ti on of evi dence a nd ma ke s ure tha t the
a ccus ed fully comprehends the nature and consequences of his plea
of gui l ty.
III
There is a nother reason why we have to reject the a fores a i d
concl usion reached by the lower court in this ca s e. Under s ettl ed
juri s prudence, the cons equences of a ggra va ti ng ci rcums ta nces
a l leged i n the information must be explained to the a ccus ed when
he pl ea ds gui l ty to a cri me i mputed a ga i n s t hi m.
A rea ding of the questions directed at a ppellant during hi s re a rra i gnment reveals a s hortcoming on the part of the tri a l court to
ful l y expl a i n to a ppel l a nt the cons equences of hi s pl ea . [33]

Al l ri ght, please come forward, Mr. Ba ldimo. Your


l a wyer, Atty. Ca mi lo Li ba na n ma ni fes ted to the
court tha t you i nti ma ted to hi m your des i re to
wi thdraw your plea of not guilty when arraigned in
thi s case and to s ubstitute the same with a plea of
not gui l ty a fter the pros ecuti on ha s a l rea dy
pres ented evi dence a nd i n fact cl osed i ts evidence
thi s morni ng. Wha t ha ve you to s a y a bout the
ma ni fes ta ti on of your l a wyer, Atty. Li ba na n?
ACCUSED:
Yes , your honor.
COURT:
Al l ri ght, re -a rra i gn the a ccus ed. Di d you
understand the i nformation charging you with the
cri me of murder a long with s ome other pers ons ?
A Yes , your honor.
Q Al l ri ght, wha t wi l l your pl ea be?
ACCUSED:
Gui l ty.
COURT:
When you withdraw your plea of not gui l ty to the
i nformation when a rra i gned the fi rs t ti me a nd
s ubs ti tute the s a me wi th a pl ea of gui l ty thi s
morni ng, did you do s o of your free a nd vol unta ry
wi l l ?
A Yes , s i r.
Q Were you not forced, threa tened, coe rced or
i nti midated to change your plea of not gui l ty a nd
s ubs ti tute the s a me wi th a pl ea of gui l ty?
A I wa s not.
Q Were you not under i nfl uence by a ny pers on or
pers ons who exerci s es l ega l a uthori ty over you
whi ch may have been the considera ti on why you
a re now pleading guilty to the offens e cha rged?
A None.
Q Do you rea lize the consequences of a pl ea , of your
pl ea of gui l ty?
A Yes , your honor.
Q You a re therefore a ware that by your plea of gui l ty
you wi l l be penalized by the court a nd ordered to
i ndemnify your vi ctim a s well a s other a cces s ory
pena l ti es provi ded for by l a w?
A Yes , your honor.
Q And thi s notwithstanding your realization of wha t a
pl ea of guilty entail, will you still i nsist on your plea
of gui lty to the information charging you wi th the
cri me of murder commi tted by a ba nd?
A Yes , your honor.
Q Wa s it your realization that you actually commi tted
the cri me cha rged a nd the proddi ng of your
cons cience that you now enter the plea of gui l ty?
A Yes , your honor.
Q Are you now repenta nt?
A I a m not repenta nt.
Q You a re not repenta nt for wha t you ha ve done?
A Yes , s i r, I a m repenta nt.
Q In other words, you regret ha vi ng commi tted the
a cts , ha vi ng commi tted the cri me cha rged?
A Yes , your honor.
COURT:
Al l ri ght, promul ga ti on i s s et on Augus t 18.
Al l ri ght, September 1.
A pl ea of guilty i s improvidently a ccepted where no effort wa s
even ma de to expl a i n to the a ccus ed tha t a pl ea of gui l ty to a n
i nforma ti on for a ca pi ta l offens e, a ttended by a n a ggra va ti ng
ci rcums ta nce, may result in the imposition of the death
penalty.[34] We ca nnot declare with reasonable certainty tha t when
a ppellant pleaded guilty to the crime charged in the informati on he
knew that he was at the s a me ti me a dmi tti ng the pres ence a nd
s eri ous effects of the a ggravating ci rcumstances a lleged therein. We
a re more inclined to believe, as a matter of judicial experience, tha t
when he a dmitted his role i n the ki l l i ng of the decea s ed, he onl y
i ntended to limit such admission to the crime charged and not to the
a ggra va ti ng ci rcums ta nces .

COURT:
3

The tri al judge did not himself try to i nform or a dvise appellant
rega rding the consequences of pleading guilty to ha vi ng ki l l ed the
vi cti m wi th both ci rcums ta nces of evi dent premedi ta ti on a nd
trea chery. More particularly, the tri al judge di d not hi ms el f try to
convey to a ppellant, i n ordinary l anguage that appel l a nt woul d be
a s sumed to understand, the meaning of evident premeditation a nd
trea chery a s ci rcumstances that would qualify the killi ng to murder
a nd to a ggravate the penalty a s to call for the maximum pena l ty of
dea th.[35]
We quote from the old but i nstructive and sti l l a uthori ta ti ve
ca s e of U.S. vs. Ja ma d.[36]
If the a ccused does not cl early a nd fully understand the
na ture of the offense charged, if he is not a dvised as to
the meaning a nd effect of the technical language so
often used i n formal complaints a nd i nformations in
qua lifying the acts constituting the offense, or i f he does
not cl early understand the consequences by way of a
hea vy a nd even a capital penalty flowing from his
a dmission of his guilt of the cri me in the precise
technical manner and form i n which it i s charged, his
pl ea of guilty s hould not be held to be sufficient to
s us tain a convi ction.
Our experi ence has ta ught us that it not infrequently
ha ppens that, upon a rraignment, accused persons plead
gui lty to the commission of the gravest offenses,
qua lified by marked aggravating circumstances, when in
truth a nd in fact they i ntend merely to a dmit that they
commi tted the act or a cts charged in the complaint, a nd
ha ve no thought of a dmitting the technical charges of
a ggra vating circumstances. It not infrequently happens
tha t a fter a formal plea of guilty i t develops under the
probe of the trial judge, or i n the course of the
s ta tement of the a ccused made a t the time of the entry
of hi s plea, or upon the witness stand, that the accused,
whi le a dmitting the commission of the acts charged i n
the i nformation, believes or pretends to believe that
thes e acts were committed under such circumstances as
to exempt him in whole or i n part from cri minal
l i ability. Cl early, a formal plea of guilty entered under
s uch ci rcumstances is not s ufficient to s ustain a
convi cti on of the a ggravated cri me charged in the
i nformation.
In People vs. Al amada ,[37] thi s Court found the tri a l court to
ha ve fa i l ed i n obs ervi ng tha t qua ntum of ca re whi ch i t ha d
pres cribed for the valid a dmission of a plea of guilty by a n a ccus ed,
es pecially i n ca pital ca ses, when i t did not explain to the accused the
na ture of the cha rges a ga i ns t hi m, pa rti cul a rl y the a l l ega ti ons
rega rding conspiracy, treachery, evi dent premeditation and abuse of
s uperior strength, which a re terms s o techni ca l tha t the l a yma n,
es pecially a n unschool ed one l i ke the a ccus ed i n the s a i d ca s e,
ca nnot pos s i bl y unders ta nd wi thout proper el uci da ti on.
It i s neither just nor reasonable to a ssume that an uneducated
pers on unders ta nds the a l l ega ti on tha t the a ggra va ti ng
ci rcums tances of treachery a nd premeditation were pres ent i n the
commi s s i on of the cri me, i na s much a s trea chery a nd
premeditation a re highly technical terms the juridical mea ni ng of
whi ch is beyond the understanding not of the i lli tera tes a l one but
even of thos e who, bei ng educa ted, a re not l a wyers . [38]
If ma ny members of the Ba r a re una bl e to ca l l to mi nd the
technical requisites of treachery a nd evident premedi ta ti on a s
qua lifying and aggrava ting ci rcums ta nces , there i s no rea s on for
s uppos i ng tha t the a ccus ed, who i s a fa rmer by occupa ti on,
understood such elements and requi s i tes a fter a few mi nutes of
whi s pered a dvi ce from a couns el de oficio i n open court.[39]
Another reason why we ca nnot agree wi th the l ower courts
pos ture on this issue is the consistent holding in several ca ses that a
pl ea of guilty to a n information alleging aggravating ci rcums ta nces
wi l l not be considered an admiss i on of s uch ci rcums ta nces i f the
evi dence presented by the pros ecuti on fa i l s to es ta bl i s h them.
Even the ca se of People vs. Boyl es [40] ci ted by the tri a l court
di s allowed the a ppreci a ti on of the a ggra va ti ng ci rcums ta nce of
ni ghttime when the Supreme Court found out tha t other tha n the

ti me of the commission of the crime, nothi ng el s e s ugges ted the


ci rcums tance of nocturnidad a s understood in crimi na l l a w, to wi t:
Not one of the prosecution evidence, oral or
documentary, makes the s lightest i ndication that the
protecti on of the nights darkness was deliberately
a va iled of by the appellants. In vi ew of this deficiency i n
the ca s e for the Government, we a re constrained to
di s allow the said ci rcumstance even as, technically, i t
ma y ha ve been a ccepted by them when they pl eaded
gui lty on a rraignment.
On the s ame ra tiocination, although herein a ppellant pleaded
gui l ty to the cha rge a s a l l eged i n the i nforma ti on, evi dent
premeditation may not be ta ken a ga i ns t hi m s i nce the evi dence
pres ented by the People does not adequately disclose the existence
of the s ame.[41] Where the aggrava ting ci rcumstance s l i s ted i n the
i nformation were not supported by the evidence adduced, a plea of
gui lty to a ca pital offense ca nnot cons ti tute a n a dmi s s i on of the
a ggra va ti ng ci rcums ta nces s et forth i n the i nforma ti on. [42]
The a bove rulings drew from People vs. Cora chea [43] whi ch, i n
turn, rei terated the dictum in People vs. Ga lapia[44] tha t even under
the old rule on judi cial confess i on of gui l t, to be a ppreci a ted the
a ggra va ti ng ci rcums ta nces mus t further be dul y proved.
The rul e is that a judicial confession of guilt admits a ll
the ma terial facts alleged in the i nformation i ncluding
the a ggravating circumstances listed therein. But, where
s uch ci rcumstances are disproven by the evi dence, i t
s hould be disallowed in the judgment. Thus, in
Peopl e vs. Gungab (64 Phil. 779), the Court ruled that
when a n accused, who lacks i nstruction, pleads guilty to
the cri me of parricide described in the i nformation as
ha vi ng been committed with the a ggravating
ci rcums tances of treachery a nd evident premeditation
a nd his testimony gi ven under oath before the trial
court, upon his petition fails to show the existence of
s uch a ggravating ci rcumstances, his plea of guilty s hall
be understood as being limited to the admission of
ha vi ng committed the crime of parri cide, not having
done so with treachery a nd evi dent premeditation.
In vi ew of the present requirement of Secti on 3, Rul e 116 for
the presentation of evidence but with due explanation to a ppel l a nt
of the s ignificance of the a ggravating circumsta nces a l l eged i n a n
i nformati on, a nd cons i deri ng the i ns uffi ci ency of the Peopl es
evi dence showing evident premedi ta ti on i n thi s ca s e, we ca nnot
cons ider a ppellants plea of guilty a s an admission of the exi s tence
of tha t a ggra va ti ng ci rcums ta nce .
As the pertinent principle l ays down a rul e of procedure, the
pl ea of guilty of an accused cannot stand i n pl a ce of the evi dence
tha t must be presented and is called for by s a i d Secti on 3 of Rul e
116. Tri a l courts s houl d no l onger a s s ume tha t a pl ea of gui l ty
i ncl udes a n admission of the attending ci rcumstances alleged i n the
i nforma ti on a s they a re now requi red to dema nd tha t the
pros ecution s hould prove the exa ct l i a bi l i ty of the a ccus ed. The
requi rements of Section 3 would become i dl e a nd frui tl es s i f we
were to a llow concl us i ons of cri mi na l l i a bi l i ty a nd a ggra va ti ng
ci rcums ta nces on the dubi ous s trength of a pres umpti ve rul e.
Whi le i t may be a rgued that a ppellant entered a n i mprovident
pl ea of gui l ty when re -a rra i gned, we fi nd no need, however, to
rema nd the ca s e to the l ower court for further recepti on of
evi dence. As a rule, this Court has s et aside convi cti ons ba s ed on
pl eas of guilty i n capital offenses because of i mprovi dence thereof
a nd when s uch pl ea i s the s ol e ba s i s of the condemna tory
judgment. However, where the tri a l court recei ves evi dence to
determi ne preci s el y whether or not the a ccus ed ha s erred i n
a dmitting his guilt, the manner i n which the plea of gui l ty i s ma de
(i mprovidently or not) l oses l egal significance, for the simple reas on
tha t the conviction is based on the evidence proving the commission
by the a ccus ed of the offens e cha rged. [45]
Thus , even without considering the plea of guilty of a ppella nt,
he ma y s till be convicted i f there is adequate evidence on record on
whi ch to predi ca te hi s convi cti on. [46] As a l rea dy obs erved, the
pros ecution had a lready rested when appellant deci ded to cha nge
hi s plea. The prosecution then had all the opportuni ty to veri fy the
4

ma terial allegations i n the i nformation. Despite s uch opportunity, i t


onl y s uccessfully established trea chery but fa i l ed to pres ent a ny
evi dence tendi ng to prove evi dent premedi ta ti on.

Ja nuary 1, 1932. Sa i d provision provided tha t a ny pers on gui l ty of


murder s hal l be puni s hed by reclusion temporal i n i ts ma xi mum
peri od to dea th.

We a l so doubt the applicability to the ca se at bar of People vs.


Belen,[47] ci ted by the l ower court, to the effect tha t cons pi ra cy
pres uppos es evi dent premedi ta ti on. A rea di ng of People vs.
Timbang, et al.[48] upon which Belen is based, does not state, ei ther
ca tegorically or i mpliedly, that evident premeditation exi s ts where
cons pi ra cy i s proven.

Then on February 2, 1987, a new Constitution ca me i nto force


a fter i ts ra ti fi ca ti on on tha t da te by the peopl e. The 1987
Cons ti tution, regarded by s ome as progressive since it contains new
provi sions not covered by our earlier two Constitutions, pros cri bed
i n Section 19, Arti cle III (Bill of Rights) thereof the i mpositi on of the
dea th pena l ty, a s fol l ows :

There is no doubt that conspiracy wa s s hown i n the i ns ta nt


ca s e from the concerted actions of the a ccus ed. The exi s tence of
thi s mode in the commission of a fel ony ca n be i nferred from the
s udden shooting of the vi ctim by Derilo and the successive s tabbi ng
of her pers on by a ppel l a nt a nd hi s uni denti fi ed compa ni on.

Sec. 19. (1) Exces s ive fines shall not be i mposed, nor
cruel , degrading or i nhuman punishment
i nflicted. Neither shall the death penalty be imposed,
unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes,
the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty
already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion
perpetua. (Ita lics supplied).

However, to claim that evident premeditation can be inferred


from cons piracy vi olates the fundamental principle that a ggravati ng
ci rcums tances should also be proved beyond reas ona bl e doubt a s
the cri me alleged to have been committed. While the court bel ow
di d not equate conspiracy with evi dent premedi ta ti on, the l a tter
ca nnot be deduced from the former as the elements of cons pi ra cy
a nd evi dent premedi ta ti on a re compl etel y di fferent.
There is conspiracy when two or more pers ons come to a n
a greement, the a greement concerned the commissi on of a fel ony,
a nd the execution of the felony is decided upon. However, unl i ke
evi dent premedi ta ti on, where a s uffi ci ent peri od of ti me mus t
el apse to a fford full opportunity for meditation a nd refl ecti on a nd
for the perpetra tor to del i bera te on the cons equences on hi s
i ntended deed, conspiracy a rises on the very i ns ta nt the pl otters
a gree, expressly or i mpliedly, to commi t the fel ony a nd forthwi th
deci de to pursue i t. Once thi s a s s ent i s es ta bl i s hed, ea ch a nd
everyone of the conspirators is made cri minally liable for the cri me
commi tted by a nyone of them.[49]
To es tablish conspiracy, i t is not essential that there be proof
a s to the previous a greement a nd decision to commi t the cri me, i t
bei ng sufficient that the ma l efa ctors s ha l l ha ve a cted i n concert
purs uant to the same objective.[50] To end a ny doubt on this ma tter,
we quote our rul i ng i n Peopl e vs. Ri za l :[51]
There is no proof, aside from conspiracy, that the
a ccus ed a nd his companions had sufficient time to plan
the ki lling, reflect on i t and after reflection decided to
commi t the evil deed. Under ordinary circumstances
where conspiracy is present with proof of attendant
deliberation and selection of the method, times and
means of executing the crime, the existence of evident
premeditation is taken for granted. But when conspiracy
is merely inferred from the acts of the accused and his
companions in the perpetration of the crime and there is
no showing that characterizes evident premeditation,
such aggravating circumstance cannot be taken for
granted but must be proved like any other of its
kind. (Emphasis supplied).
It ca n thus be said tha t evi dent premedi ta ti on ca n onl y be
deduced from cons pi ra cy i f i n the cours e of di rectl y provi ng
cons piracy, the elements of evi dent premedi ta ti on were l i kewi s e
pres ented a nd proven. But then, i n s uch a ca s e , evi dent
premedi ta ti on woul d not merel y be pres umed but a ctua l l y
es tablished. Hence, it foll ows tha t there i s rea l l y a need for the
pres entation of evidence indicating the exi s tence of premeditacion
conocida, whi ch wa s not done i n thi s ca s e.
IV
We coul d s top a t this juncture, with the vi tal points against the
dea th penalty havi ng been made, but there are certain facets of this
ca s e whi ch neces s i ta te el uci da ti on. Indeed, the pecul i a r
a ntecedents a nd chronological milieu of the i nstant case confront us
now wi th what appear to be the problematica l a ppl i ca ti on of two
pena l l a ws .
At the ti me of the commission of the cri me on January 1, 1982
a nd the convi cti on of the a ccus ed on October 12, 1986, the
s ubstantive law i n force dealing with the cri me of murder was Article
248 of the Revi s ed Pena l Code whi ch took effect wa y ba ck on

x x x
Res ponding to the alarming increase of horrible cri mes bei ng
commi tted in the country, Congres s pa s s ed a l a w i mpos i ng the
dea th penalty on certain heinous offenses a nd further a mending for
tha t purpos e the Revi s ed Pena l Code a nd other s peci a l pena l
l a ws. Said law was officially enacted as Republ i c Act No. 7659 a nd
took effect on December 31, 1993. Thi s is now the governing pena l
l a w a t the ti me of thi s revi ew of the ca s e a t ba r.
Al though the elements a nd ci rcums ta nces whi ch qua l i fy a
ki l ling to murder were maintained, Republic Act No. 7659 a mended
Arti cl e 248 of the Code by i mposing a hea vi er pena l ty fo r murder
tha n that originally prescribed, the new penalty provi ded i n Secti on
6 of s a i d a menda tory s ta tute bei ng reclusion perpetua to dea th.
Bei ng a penal l a w, s uch provi s i on of Republ i c Act No. 7659
ma y not be a pplied to the cri me of murder commi tted i n 1982 by
a ppel l a nt, ba s ed on the pri nci pl e of pros pecti vi ty of pena l
l a ws. Further, the presumption is that l aws opera te pros pecti vel y,
unl es s the contra ry cl ea rl y a ppea rs or i s cl ea rl y, pl a i nl y a nd
unequivocally expressed or necessarily i mpli ed. [52] In every ca s e of
doubt, the doubt will be resolved a gainst the retroactive opera ti on
[53]
of l a ws. Nor ca n the prospective a pplication of Republ i c Act No.
7659 be doubted just because of the constitutional provision leaving
to Congress the matter of the dea th pena l ty i n ca s es of hei nous
cri mes , s i nce Congres s di d not otherwi s e provi de.
The i nterpellations in the Constitutional Commission tasked to
dra w up the pres ent Cons ti tuti on i s enl i ghteni ng i n our
determi na ti on of the non-retroa cti vi ty of s a i d l a w, thus :
MR. BENGZON. And then, s upposing Congress passes a
l a w i mpos i ng the dea th pena l ty on thos e very
s a me cri mes commi tted by thos e tha t were
convi cted of the death penalty which pena l ty ha s
been commuted to reclusion perpetua, wi ll they go
ba ck?
MR. MONSOD.

No.

MR. BENGZON.

Not a nymore?

MR. MONSOD. Any new l aw pass ed by the Na ti ona l


As s embly woul d be pros pecti ve i n cha ra cter. [54]
One of the universally accepted characteristics of a pena l l a w
i s prospectivity. This general principle of criminal law i s embodied in
Arti cl e 21 of the Revised Penal Code which provi des that no fel ony
s ha ll be punishable by a ny penalty not prescribed by l aw prior to i ts
commi ssion, a nd was applied by the Supreme Court i n two ea rl y
ca s es to mean that no act or omission shall be hel d to be a cri me,
nor i ts author punished, except by vi rtue of a law i n force a t the time
the a ct wa s commi tted.[55]
Bes ides, to give retroactive effect to the pertinent provision of
Republ i c Act No. 7659 woul d be vi ol a ti ve of the cons ti tuti ona l
prohi bition a gainst ex post facto l a ws.[56] Among others , a n ex post
facto l a w has been defined as one which changes the puni s hment
a nd i nflicts a greater punishment than the l aw a nnexed to the cri me
when i t wa s commi tted. [57]
5

It i s s ettled that a penal law may have retroa cti ve effect onl y
when i t is favorable to the a ccus ed. [58] Obvi ous l y, wi th a pena l ty
more onerous than tha t provi ded by the Revi s ed Pena l Code for
murder, the pertinent a mendment thereof by Republic Act No. 7659
ca nnot fall within the exception to the general rule on prospecti vi ty
of pena l l a ws .
La s tly, observance of juridical uniformi ty i n the deci s i ons of
thi s Court requires that we refrain from a ppl yi ng Republ i c Act No.
7659 to the ca s e at bar. The present case i s not the fi rs t a nd on l y
i ns tance where the Court has had to revi ew a s entence for dea th
a fter this a mendatory l aw ca me i nto force. To give retroactive effect
to s a id law i n this case will disturb the numerous deci s i ons of the
Court i mposing reclusion perpetua on the accused who commi tted
ca pi tal offenses prior to the effectivi ty of the 1987 Constitution a nd
were convicted after i ts effecti vi ty but before tha t of Republ i c Act
No. 7659, even though the pena l ty i mpos a bl e woul d ha ve been
dea th.
Ha vi ng eliminated the possibility of a pplyi ng the death penalty
under Republic Act No. 7659 i n the present ca se, we now exa mi ne
the a pplicability of Arti cle 248 of the Revised Penal Code, prior to its
a foresaid a mendment. On Ma y 20, 1987, thi s Court issue d Ci rcul a r
No. 9 rega rding the i mpos i ti on of the dea th pena l ty, under the
ci rcums tances therein defined. In the said circular, a l l courts were
enjoined to impose only the pena l ty of reclusion perpetua, even i n
thos e ca ses wherein our penal l aws provi de for the imposition of the
dea th penalty, until Congres s s ha l l ha ve provi ded by l a w for the
defi ni ti on of the hei nous cri mes contempl a ted i n the 1987
Cons ti tuti on.
Pri or thereto, i n a n en banc res ol uti on da ted Apri l 30, 1987
i s sued i n Admi ni s tra ti ve Ma tter No . 87-5-3173-0, the Court took
cogni zance of the Ca binet Meeting hel d on Apri l 8, 1987 wherei n,
a mong others , the Pres i dent a greed to i s s ue a s ta tement
offi ci a l l y commuting to l i fe i mpri s onment the dea th s entence
theretofore imposed on some convicts, in a ccordance with the l etter
a nd s pirit of the 1987 Constitution. However, a verification with the
Executi ve Department, through the Department of Jus ti ce, revea l s
tha t the projected presidential commuta ti on never ma teri a l i zed.
It wi l l further be noted that s aid circular referred only to those
ca s es then under a utoma ti c revi ew by the Court, a nd the
a forestated res ol uti on quoted therei n l i kewi s e contempl a ted
pending cases before the Court, that i s, as of May 20, 1987. Those
i s suances could not therefore a pply to the pres ent ca s e s i nce, a s
hereinafter explained, the case a t bar was brought on appeal to thi s
Court onl y on Jul y 20, 1994.
Be tha t a s i t ma y, however, whether or not evi dent
premedi ta ti on wa s pres ent i n thi s ca s e a nd rega rdl es s of the
i na ppl i ca bi l i ty thereto of the a forementi oned ci rcul a r a nd
res olution, the Court i s reasonably convi nced that i t ca nnot va l i dl y
i mpose the capital puni s hment on a ppel l a nt. The words of the
Cons ti tution a re clear: Any death penalty already i mposed sha l l be
reduced toreclusion perpetua. Appell a nt, i t wi l l be reca l l ed, wa s
s entenced in 1986 to s uffer the dea th pena l ty a s then provi ded
under the Revi s ed Pena l Code. Wi th the ra ti fi ca ti on of the
Cons ti tuti on i n 1987, tha t s entence s houl d ha ve been reduced
to reclusion perpetua under s uch cons ti tuti ona l fi a t.
The fa ct that this Court wi l l ha ve the opportuni ty to revi ew
a ppellants case only now does not detra ct from the force of s uch
di rective of the Constitution. Neither will the fact that Ci rcular No. 9
wa s not yet i ssued when appellant was tri ed a nd convicted prevent
the a pplication to him of that Constitutional provision. It i s not the
a cti on of the courts whi ch, under the ci rcums ta nces , convert hi s
s entence of death to reclusion perpetua. Such reduction is di rected
a nd effected by the explicit words of the fundamenta l cha rter; the
courts merely a pply this express and self-executing provision of the
Cons ti tuti on when they i mpos e the pena l ty of reclusion
perpetua ra ther than the imposable penalty of death in appropri a te
ca s es .
Aga i n, the fol l owi ng proceedi ngs i n the Cons ti tuti ona l
Commi s s i on yi el d l i ght on the foregoi ng propos i ti on:
MR. DE CASTRO.
The proponents amendment is a
comma (,) a fter i nfl i cted on l i ne 29 to be
fol l owed by the clause UNLESS FOR COMPELLING

REASONS INVOLVING HEINOUS CRIMES THE


NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PROVIDES FOR THE DEATH
PENALTY. In thi s propos ed a mendment, there
wi l l still be a need for the Na ti ona l As s embl y to
pa ss a law providing for the death penalty. Is thi s
correct?
MR. MONSOD.

Yes .

MR. DE CASTRO.
Wha t ha ppens to those a waiting
execution, having a l rea dy the dea th pena l ty on
thei r heads, but there is no law yet pass ed by the
Na ti ona l As s embl y?
MR. MONSOD. Then the next s entence wi l l a ppl y:
Dea th pena l ty a l rea dy i mpos ed s ha l l be
commuted to reclusion perpetua.[59]
It ca n be readily s een that the reduction of the pena l ty i s not
a nd was not ma de dependent on a law, decree, condition, or period
before the a forementi oned Secti on 19 ca n be a ppl i ed by the
courts . It ca nnot be i nferred, ei ther from the wordi ngs of the
s ubject provi s i on or from the i ntenti on of the fra mers of the
Cons ti tuti on, tha t a dea th s entence s houl d be brought to the
Supreme Court for review within a certain ti me frame in order that it
ca n be reduced to reclusion perpetua.
The fundamental principle of constitutional construction i s to
gi ve effect to the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the
people adopting it. The intention to which force is to be given is that
whi ch is embodied a nd expressed in the consti tuti ona l provi s i ons
thems el ves .[60] Interpretatio fienda est ut res magis valeat quam
pereat. A l a w s hould be interpreted with a vi ew to upholding ra ther
tha n des troyi ng i t.
The fa ct that no proclamation or gra nt of commuta ti on wa s
offi ci a l l y i s s ued by the Pres i dent wi l l not prevent the
i mplementation a nd operation of Section 19 to a ppellant. To a rgue
otherwise would be subordinating the command of the Constitution
to the wi ll of the President. The fra mers of the Cons ti tuti on never
i ntended that the non-impos i ti on or non-executi on of the dea th
s entence under those constitutional provisions would be dependent
on the a ct or omi s s i on of the Chi ef Executi ve.
Res ort to the deliberations of the Constitutional Commi s s i on
wi l l jus ti fy thi s concl us i on:
MR. REGALADO. Ma y I a sk Commissioner Monsod about
thi s second s entence. Dea th pena l ty a l rea dy
i mpos ed s ha l l be commuted to reclusion
perpetua.
When we s a y commuted to reclusion perpetua, I
thi nk we refer to the power of the Pres i dent to
effect commutations because onl y the Pres i dent
ca n commute sentences a lready final a nd i mposed
by the courts . Is tha t correct?
MR. MONSOD. Ma da m Pres i dent, I a m not the
proponent of tha t s entence. Perha ps the
Commi ttee s houl d a ns wer tha t.
MR. REGALADO. That was the a nswer of the Gentlema n
i n res pons e to the i nqui ry of Commi s s i oner
Bengzon.
MR. MONSOD. My a ns wer i s refl ecti ve of wha t the
Commi ttee had answered before. And s i nce tha t
ha s not been cha nged, I s uppos e the a ns wer
woul d be the same. But i f the Commi ttee woul d
l i ke to answer i t in more detail, perhaps i t s houl d
be the one to a ns wer tha t.
FR. BERNAS. The i ntention of the provi s i on here i s ,
upon ra tification of thi s Cons ti tuti on, the dea th
penalty a lready i mposed is a utomatically - wi thout
need for a ny a ction by the President - commuted.
MR. REGALADO. Yes , beca us e the wordi ng here i s :
Dea th pena l ty a l rea dy i mpos ed s ha l l be
commuted to reclusion perpetua. The power of
commuta ti on i s a pres i denti a l preroga ti ve.
FR. BERNAS.
Or we ca n s a y ARE HEREBY
commuted, i f tha t i s cl ea rer. But tha t i s the
i ntenti on.
6

MR. REGALADO. Does the Commi s s i on mea n a re


hereby reduced?
FR. BERNAS.
Commuted to the dea th pena l ty.
MR. REGALADO. It s ha l l be REDUCED to reclusion
perpetua?
FR. BERNAS.
To reclusion perpetua, yes .
MR. REGALADO. Ma ybe the Commi s s i oner s houl d
el iminate the word commute beca us e we a re
i nva di ng the pres i denti a l preroga ti ve.
THE PRESIDENT.
Is the Gentlema n propos i ng a n
a mendment to the a mendment? [61]
Al though Commissioner Regala do wa s not a bl e to forma l l y
propose a n amendment beca us e of a n i nterveni ng ques ti on by
a nother commi s s i oner, hi s obs erva ti on wa s corres pondi ngl y
a ccepted by the Commi s s i on a s s hown by the us e of the word
reduced i n the present provision of the Cons ti tuti on, i ns tea d of
commute as originally proposed. The fact i s that he di d not ha ve
to propos e a n a mendment a s Commi s s i oner Berna s , who wa s
representing the commi ttee concerned, ha d a l rea dy ta ken note
thereof a nd a cceded the reto.
Thus , i n his work on the 1987 Cons ti tuti on, Commi s s i oner
Berna s ha d thi s to s a y on the ma tter:
x x x. But s i nce commutation is technically a n
executive prerogative, the Commission, i n order to make
the effect a utomatic without having to wait for
pres idential action, deliberately a voided the use of the
word commuted a nd, on the suggestion of
Commi ssioner Regalado, used i nstead reduced. Thus
the provi sion reads: Any death penalty a lready i mposed
s ha ll be reduced to reclusion perpetua. The phrase
s ha ll be reduced is not a description of s ome future act
but a command that is immediately
effective. (Nevertheless, President Aquino issued an
Executi ve Order, perhaps ad cautelam, commuting death
s entences already i mposed.)[62]
From the foregoing, i t is apparent that no presidential action is
necessary i n order that a ny a ccused s entenced to the death pena l ty
under the same circumstances as herein a ppellant may a va i l of the
benefi t of Secti on 19. The a ccus ed, ipso jure, i s enti tl ed to a
reducti on of his s entence. As the Cons ti tuti on i s not pri ma ri l y a
l a wyers document, its language should be understood in the s ens e
tha t i t ma y have i n common use. Its words s houl d be gi ven thei r
ordi na ry mea ni ng except where techni ca l terms a re
[63]
empl oyed. Whi l e to commute neces s i ta tes pres i denti a l
i ni ti a ti ve, to reduce does not.

5.
Tra ns mission of Records in Ca se of Death Penalty. - In a l l cases where the death penalty i s imposed by the
tri a l court, the records shall be forwarded to the
Supreme Court for automatic review and judgment,
wi thin twenty (20) da ys but not earlier than fifteen (15)
da ys a fter promulgation of the judgment or notice of
denial of any motion for new tri al or
reconsideration. The transcript shall also be forwarded
wi thin ten (10) days after the filing thereof by the
s tenographic reporter.
The Offi ce of the Court Administrator is a ccordingly directed to
i nvestigate this matter a nd s ubmit the corres pondi ng eva l ua ti on,
report a nd recommendation to thi s Court wi thi n ni nety (90) da ys
from noti ce hereof.
Al l cl erks of court a re hereby ordered to s crupulous l y compl y
wi th their duty a nd responsibility of s easonably tra nsmitting to thi s
Court the complete records of cases where the dea th pena l ty wa s
i mposed, especia l l y now tha t the tri a l courts ha ve i mpos ed the
dea th pena l ty i n ma ny ca s es i nvol vi ng hei nous cri mes .
Wi th respect to the case a t ba r, i n jus ti ce to a ppel l a nt thi s
a ppella te proceedi ng s ha l l be trea ted a s a n a utoma ti c revi ew
beca use there is no showing i n the records that he was advised tha t
the death penalty i mposed upon him has been reduced to reclusion
perpetua purs ua nt to the perti nent provi s i ons of the 1987
Cons ti tution; a nd that his ca s e i s no l onger s ubject to a utoma ti c
revi ew, as provi ded a nd requi red i n Ci rcul a r No. 9 of thi s Court,
hence a noti ce of a ppea l s houl d ha ve been fi l ed.
WHEREFORE, for fa i l ure of the pros ecuti on to prove the
a ggra vating circumstance of evident premeditation and by vi rtue of
the command of the 1987 Constitution, the judgment of the courta
quo i s a ccordingly MODIFIED. Accused-appellant Isidoro Q. Ba ldimo
i s hereby s entenced to suffer the penal ty of reclusion perpetua a nd
to i ndemnify the heirs of the victim i n the a mount ofP50,000.00 i n
cons ona nce wi th our current ca s e l a w a nd pol i cy on dea th
i ndemni ty.
SO ORDERED.

Therefore, with or without a n official executi ve i s s ua nce on


commuta tion, the death pena l ty pres cri bed i n Arti cl e 248 of the
Revi sed Penal Code a nd i mposed on a ppellant by the l ower court i n
1986 ca nnot be carried out even though the case was brought to the
Supreme Court only i n 1994 a fter Republi c Act No. 7659 ha d ta ken
effect. Nor ca n thi s l a w be deemed to ha ve revi ved the dea th
penalty i n the ca s e of a ppel l a nt, for rea s ons s ta ted ea rl i er. By
Februa ry 2, 1987, tha t pena l ty ha d a l rea dy been a utoma ti ca l l y
reduced to reclusion perpetua, not by the gra ce of the Pres i dent or
of the courts, but by the mandate of the funda menta l l a w of the
l a nd.
Before we end, we note the extremel y protra cted del a y i n
bri ngi ng a ppel l a nts convi cti on to the a ttenti on of thi s
Court. Al though the judgment of the lower court was promul ga ted
on October 12, 1986, the records of this case were eleva ted to thi s
Court onl y on July 20, 1994.[64] Even by thi s da te, the records were
not yet compl ete as some of the transcripts of s tenogra phi c notes
ta ken during the trial were not included i n the records forwarded to
thi s Court.
We ca n only blame the court of origin for this improbable a nd
unexplained del a y of a l mos t ei ght yea rs . It i s the expres s a nd
s pecific duty of the clerk thereof to tra nsmit to this Court, within the
peri ods allowed therefor, the complete records of the ca s e where
the death penalty i s imposed for a utoma ti c revi ew. Pa ra gra ph 5,
Secti on L (Appea l ), Cha pter VI (Duti es i n Cri mi na l Ca s es ) of the
Ma nua l for Cl erks of Court, whi ch i s a verbatim reproducti on of
Secti on 10, Rul e 122 of the Rul es of Court, provi des :
7