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G.R. No.

187733

February 8, 2012

PEOPLE
OF
THE
vs.
TEOFILO "REY" BUYAGAN, Appellant.

PHILIPPINES, Appellee,

BRION, J.:
We resolve the appeal, filed by Teofilo "Rey" Buyagan (appellant), from the
decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated December 19, 2008 in CA-G.R.
CR-H.C. No. 01938. The CA decision 2 affirmed with modification the October
30, 2000 decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 6, Baguio City,
finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the special complex
crime of robbery with homicide, and sentencing him to suffer the death
penalty.
The RTC Ruling
In its October 30, 2000 decision, the RTC found the appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the special complex crime of robbery with homicide. It
gave credence to the testimonies of witnesses Cristina Calixto and Melvyn
Pastor that they saw the appellant shoot Jun Calixto after the latter grabbed
the appellants companion (herein referred to as John Doe) who had robbed
the WT Construction Supply store. The lower court likewise gave credence to
the testimonies of witnesses Allan Santiago, Joel Caldito, Jeanie Tugad,
Carlos Maniago and Orlando Viray that they saw the appellant shoot Police
Officer 2 (PO2) Arsenio Osorio while the latter was chasing him. The lower
court further added that the gun recovered from the appellant tested positive
for the presence of gunpowder nitrates. In its dispositive portion, the RTC
ordered the appellant to pay the heirs of Calixto the amounts of P50,000.00
as civil indemnity, P22,400.00 as actual damages, and P592,000.00 as
unearned income; and to pay the heirs of PO2 Osorio P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity, P200,000.00 as moral damages, P50,690.00 as actual damages,
and P1,588,600.00 as unearned income.3
The CA Decision
On intermediate appellant review, the CA affirmed the RTC decision, but
modified the penalty imposed on the appellant from death to reclusion
perpetua. The CA held that the appellant acted in concert with John Doe in

committing the crime; in fact, he shot Calixto to facilitate the escape of John
Doe. It explained that in the special complex crime of robbery with homicide,
as long as the intention of the felon is to rob, the killing may occur before,
during or after the robbery. The appellate court also ruled that the appellant
failed to impute any ill motive against the prosecution witnesses who
positively identified him as the person who shot Calixto and PO2 Osorio. It
also disregarded the appellants denial for being incredible. 4
Our Ruling
In this final review, we deny the appeal, but further modify the
penalty imposed and the awarded indemnities.
Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence
Essential for conviction of robbery with homicide is proof of a direct relation,
an intimate connection between the robbery and the killing, whether the latter
be prior or subsequent to the former or whether both crimes were committed
at the same time.5 In the present case, we find no compelling reason to
disturb the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA. The eyewitness
accounts of the prosecution witnesses are worthy of belief as they were clear
and straightforward and were consistent with the medical findings of Dr.
Vladimir Villaseor. Melvyn Pastor and Cristina Calixto positively identified
the appellant as the person who shot Calixto at the back of his head as the
latter was grappling with John Doe; Orlando Viray, Jeanie Tugad, Allan
Santiago, and Joel Caldito all declared that the appellant shot PO2 Osorio at
the market while the latter was chasing him. Significantly, the appellant never
imputed any ill motive on the part of these witnesses to falsely testify against
him.
The lower courts correctly ruled that the appellant and John Doe acted in
conspiracy with one another. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons
come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to
commit it. Conspiracy may be inferred from the acts of the accused before,
during, and after the commission of the crime which indubitably point to and
are indicative of a joint purpose, concert of action and community of interest.
For conspiracy to exist, it is not required that there be an agreement for an
appreciable period prior to the occurrence; it is sufficient that at the time of
the commission of the offense, the malefactors had the same purpose and
were united in its execution.6

The records show that after John Doe robbed the WT Construction Supply
store, he casually walked away from the store but Calixto grabbed him. While
John Doe and Calixto were grappling with each other, the appellant suddenly
appeared from behind and shot Calixto on the head. Immediately after, both
the appellant and John Doe ran towards the Hilltop Road going to the
direction of the Hangar Market. Clearly, the two accused acted in concert to
attain a common purpose. Their respective actions summed up to collective
efforts to achieve a common criminal objective.
In People v. Ebet,7 we explained that homicide is committed by reason or on
the occasion of robbery if its commission was (a) to facilitate the robbery or
the escape of the culprit; (b) to preserve the possession by the culprit of the
loot; (c) to prevent discovery of the commission of the robbery; or, (d) to
eliminate witnesses in the commission of the crime. As long as there is a
nexus between the robbery and the homicide, the latter crime may be
committed in a place other than the situs of the robbery.
Under the given facts, the appellant clearly shot Calixto to facilitate the
escape of his robber-companion, John Doe, and to preserve the latters
possession of the stolen items.
The Proper Penalty
The special complex crime of robbery with homicide is penalized, under
Article 294, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, with reclusion perpetua
to death. Since the aggravating circumstance of the use of an unlicensed
firearm had been alleged and proven during trial, the lower court correctly
sentenced the appellant to suffer the death penalty pursuant to Article 63 8 of
the Revised Penal Code, as amended. Nonetheless, we cannot impose the
death penalty in view of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9346, entitled "An Act
Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines." Pursuant to
this law, we affirm the CAs reduction of the penalty from death to reclusion
perpetua for each count, with the modification that the appellant shall not be
eligible for parole.
Civil Liabilities
For the deaths of Calixto and PO2 Osorio, we increase the amounts of the
awarded civil indemnities fromP50,000.00 to P75,000.00, as the imposable

penalty against the appellant would have been death were it not for the
enactment of R.A. No. 9346.9
We affirm, to be duly supported by evidence, the award of P1,588,600.00 as
indemnity for loss of earning capacity to PO2 Osorios heirs. We, however,
delete the award for loss of earning capacity to Calixtos heirs because the
prosecution failed to establish this claim. As a rule, documentary evidence
should be presented to substantiate a claim for loss of earning capacity.
While there are exceptions to this rule, these exceptions do not apply to
Calixto as he was a security guard when he died; he was not a worker
earning less than the current minimum wage under current labor laws.
With respect to actual damages, established jurisprudence only allows
expenses duly supported by receipts. Out of the P50,690.00 awarded by the
RTC to PO2 Osorios heirs, only P15,000.00 was supported by receipts. The
difference consists of unreceipted amounts claimed by the victims wife.
Considering that the proven amount is less than P25,000.00, we award
temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00 in lieu of actual damages,
pursuant to our ruling in People v. Villanueva. 10 For the same reasons, we
also award temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00, in lieu of actual
damages, to the heirs of Calixto since the proven actual damages amounted
to only P22,400.00.
The existence of one aggravating circumstance also merits the grant of
exemplary damages under Article 2230 of the New Civil Code. Pursuant to
prevailing jurisprudence, we award exemplary damages of P30,000.00,
respectively, to the heirs of PO2 Osorio and of Calixto. 11
Finally, we uphold the award of moral damages to the heirs of PO2 Osorio
and to the heirs of Calixto, but reduce the amount awarded
from P200,000.00
to P75,000.00
to
conform
to
prevailing
jurisprudence.12 However, we observed that the dispositive portion of the
RTC decision, as affirmed by the CA, only awarded moral damages to the
heirs of PO2 Osorio. " While the general rule is that the portion of a decision
that becomes the subject of execution is that ordained or decreed in the
dispositive part thereof, there are recognized exceptions to this rule: (a)
where there is ambiguity or uncertainty, the body of the opinion may be
referred to for purposes of construing the judgment, because the dispositive
part of a decision must find support from the decision's ratio decidendi; and

(b) where extensive and explicit discussion and settlement of the issue is
found in the body of the decision."13
We find that the second exception applies to the case. The omission to state
in the dispositive portion the award of moral damages to the heirs of Calixto
was through mere inadvertence.1wphi1 The body of the RTC decision
shows the clear intent of the RTC to award moral damages to the heirs of
Calixto.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated December 19,
2008 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01938 isAFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS.
Appellant Teofilo "Rey" Buyagan is hereby declared guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of robbery with homicide and is sentenced to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole. For the death of
Calixto, the appellant is ordered to pay the victims heirs the following
amounts: P75,000.00
as
civil
indemnity; P75,000.00
as
moral
damages; P30,000.00 as exemplary damages; andP25,000.00 as temperate
damages, in lieu of actual damages. For the death of PO2 Osorio, the
appellant is ordered to pay the victims heirs the amounts of P75,000.00 as
civil indemnity; P75,000.00 as moral damages;P30,000.00 as exemplary
damages; P25,000.00 as temperate damages, in lieu of actual damages;
andP1,588,600.00 as loss of earning capacity.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 181071

March 15, 2010

LADISLAO ESPINOSA, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION

This case comes before this Court as an appeal, by way of a Petition for
Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, from the
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals affirming the conviction of herein petitioner,
Ladislao Espinosa, for the crime of Serious Physical Injuries under the third
paragraph of Article 263 of the Revised Penal Code.2 The dispositive portion
of the assailed decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Iba, Zambales,
Branch 71 dated 30 March 2005, finding appellant Ladislao Espinosa
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of SERIOUS PHYSICAL
INJURIES is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that he will suffer the
straight penalty of six (6) months of Arresto Mayor and pay the amount
of P54,925.50 as actual damages.
With costs against accused-appellant.
The Facts
The undisputed facts of the case, as found by the Regional Trial Court, and
as confirmed by the Court of Appeals on appeal, may be so summarized:
On 6 August 2000, at about 10 oclock in the evening, private complainant
Andy Merto, bearing a grudge against the petitioner, went to the house of the
latter in the Municipality of Sta. Cruz, Zambales. While standing outside the
house, private complainant Merto shouted violent threats, challenging the
petitioner to face him outside.
Sensing the private complainants agitated state and fearing for the safety of
his family, petitioner went out of his house to reason with and pacify Merto.
However, as soon as he drew near the private complainant, the latter hurled
a stone at the petitioner. The petitioner was able to duck just in time to avoid
getting hit and instinctively retaliated by hitting the left leg of the private
complainant with a bolo scabbard. The private complainant fell to the ground.
Petitioner then continuously mauled the private complainant with a bolo
scabbard, until the latters cousin, Rodolfo Muya, restrained him. 3

PEREZ, J.:
The Case

As a consequence of the incident, private complainant Merto sustained two


(2) bone fractures, one in his left leg and another in his left wrist. It took about
six (6) months for these injuries to completely heal.4

On 22 September 2000, petitioner was originally charged with Frustrated


Homicide, under an Information5 which reads as follows:

pay private complainant Andy Merto the amount of P54,925.50 as and by


way of actual damages.

That on or about the 6th day of August 2006 at about 10 oclock in the
evening, at Brgy. Pagatpat, in the Municipality of Sta. Cruz, Province of
Zambales, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
said accused, with treachery, evide[nt] premeditation and intent to kill, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, assault, attack and hack
several times one Andy Merto, thereby inflicting upon the latter the following
physical injuries, to wit:

Undeterred, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated 7 February


2005, before the trial court, invoking for the first time complete self-defense,
under the first paragraph of Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code. In a
Resolution7 dated 30 March 2005, the trial court denied petitioners motion
for reconsideration holding that self-defense cannot be appreciated to justify
the act of petitioner. The trial court cites the means adopted by the petitioner
in repelling the attack as not reasonably necessary in view of the surrounding
circumstances and the severity of the victims injuries.

1. Fracture open III A P/3 Tibia left secondary to Hacking Wound;


2. Incised wound, wrist joint with Incised Extensor Pollicis Brevis
Tendon, Left S/P F Debridement Right Wrist S/P Long Circular Cast,
Left
thus performing all the acts of execution which would produce the crime of
murder as a consequence, but nevertheless, did not produce it by reason of
causes independent of his will, that is by the timely and able medical
assistance rendered to said Andy Merto which prevented his death.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction with the
modification that the penalty imposed by the trial court should be lowered by
one degree in accordance with the privileged mitigating circumstance of
incomplete self-defense under Article 698 of the Revised Penal Code.
Consequently, the Motion for Reconsideration9 filed by the petitioner was
also denied by the Court of Appeals via a Resolution 10 dated 4 January 2008.
Hence, this appeal.
The Issue

CONTRARY TO LAW.
Petitioner pleaded not guilty, and trial thereafter ensued.
On 14 December 2004, the Regional Trial Court of Iba, Zambales, Branch
71, convicted petitioner only of Serious Physical Injuries under the third
paragraph of Article 263 of the Revised Penal Code, noting that the
prosecution had failed to prove the element of "intent to kill," which is
necessary to a conviction for Frustrated Homicide. The dispositive 6 portion of
the ruling reads:
WHEREFORE premises considered, judgment is rendered finding accused
Ladislao Espinosa GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Serious
Physical Injuries defined and penalized under Art. 263, paragraph 3 of the
Revised Penal Code and is hereby sentenced [to] suffer the penalty of six (6)
months of Arresto Mayor as minimum to two (2) years, eleven (11) months
and ten (10) days of prision correccional as maximum. Accused is ordered to

The sole issue raised in this appeal is whether under the set of facts given in
this case, complete self-defense may be appreciated in favor of the
petitioner.
The Ruling of the Court
The Court rules in the negative.
The requirements of self-defense as a justifying circumstance are found in
the first paragraph of Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code, to wit:
Article 11. Justifying circumstances. The following do not incur any criminal
liability:
1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that the
following requisites concur:

First. Unlawful aggression;


Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or
repel it;
Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person
defending himself.
In their decisions, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals found that the
first and third elements of self-defense are present in the case at bar. This
finding was never questioned by either of the parties and, as such, may be
taken as established for purposes of this appeal. Nonetheless, to dispel any
doubts, the Court hereby affirms the existence of the first and third elements
of self-defense, based on the following reasons:
First, unlawful aggression on the part of private complainant Merto was
manifested by his attack upon the person of the petitioner in throwing a stone
at the latter. This sudden and unexpected assault posed actual danger on the
life or limb of the petitioner, prompting the latter to take steps in his defense.
To the mind of the Court, this is an offensive positively strong enough to be
the basis for a defensive action.
Second, there is lack of sufficient, if not total absence of, provocation on the
part of the petitioner. The facts are clear that it is private complainant Merto
who invited the confrontation with petitionerby shouting violent threats at
the latter.
The argumentation is on the existence of the second element, i.e.,
reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel the unlawful
aggression. The trial court and the Court of Appeals were in agreement that
the means employed by the petitioner in conducting his defense is
disproportionate to what was necessary to prevent or deter the attack of
private complainant Merto.
In arguing that the means employed was reasonable to repel the unlawful
aggression, the petitioner invokes the application of the "doctrine of rational
equivalence," delineated in People v. Gutual,11 to wit:
x x x It is settled that reasonable necessity of the means employed does not
imply material commensurability between the means of attack and

defense. What the law requires is rational equivalence, in the consideration


of which will enter the principal factors the emergency, the imminent danger
to which the person attacked is exposed, and the instinct, more than the
reason, that moves or impels the defense, and the proportionateness thereof
does not depend upon the harm done, but rests upon the imminent danger of
such injury. (Emphasis supplied)
Tersely put, petitioner contends that the trial court and the Court of Appeals
erred in citing the severity of the injuries sustained by private complainant
Merto, as an indicator that belies the reasonableness of the means adopted
by the former to repel the attack of the latter. Instead, petitioner wants to
place emphasis on the fact that he merely acted out of instinct and that he
used a bolo scabbardas opposed to using the bolo itselfin incapacitating
the private complainant.
The Court is not impressed.
The very application of the doctrine of rational equivalence, invoked by the
petitioner, militates against his claim. The doctrine of rational equivalence
presupposes the consideration not only of the nature and quality of the
weapons used by the defender and the assailantbut of the totality of
circumstances surrounding the defense vis--vis, the unlawful aggression.
Significantly, a perusal of the facts shows that after petitioner was successful
in taking down private complainant Mertothe former continued to hack the
latter, who was, by then, already neutralized by the blow. This fact was
clearly established by the testimony of Rodolfo Muya, who recounted having
seen the petitioner continuously hacking the private complainant with the
bolo scabbard, even as the latter lay almost motionless upon the muddy
ground.12 Clearly, this "continuous hacking" by the petitioner constitutes force
beyond what is reasonably required to repel the private complainants attack
and is therefore unjustified.
People v. Beltran, Jr.,13 which also involves repetitious hacking by the
accused even after the aggressor had been neutralized, is especially
instructive:
The act of appellant in repeatedly hacking Norman on his head and neck was
not a reasonable and necessary means of repelling the aggression allegedly
initiated by the latter. As stated earlier, no convincing evidence was

presented to show that Norman was armed with an ice-pick at the time of the
incident. In fact, no ice-pick was found in the crime scene or in the body of
the victim. There was also no proof showing that Norman attempted to stab
appellant or tried to barge into the latter's house. Granting arguendo that
Norman was armed with an ice-pick, the repeated hackings were not
necessary since he can overpower or disable Norman by a single blow on
non-vital portion/s of his body.
Again, as correctly observed by the OSG, had the appellant merely wanted
to protect himself from what he perceived as an unlawful aggression of
Norman, he could have just disabled Norman. When Norman fell on the
ground, appellant should have ceased hacking the former since the alleged
aggression or danger no longer exists. By appellant's own testimony,
however, he hacked Norman with his bolo even when the latter was already
lying on the ground. It appears, therefore, that the means used by appellant,
which were simultaneous and repeated hackings, were adopted by him not
only to repel the aggression of Norman but to ensure the latter's death. In
sum, such act failed to pass the test of reasonableness of the means
employed in preventing or repelling an unlawful aggression. (Emphasis
supplied)
Notwithstanding the fact that the petitioner merely used a scabbard in
fending off the unlawful aggressionthe totality of the circumstances shows
that after the aggressor was taken down to the ground, the petitioner ceased
to be motivated with the lawful desire of defending himself. He was, by then,
acting with intent to harm the private complainant whose aggression had
already ceased.
Finally, in trying to disprove the testimony of Rodolfo Muya that there was
"continuous hacking," the petitioner also posits that the injuries sustained by
the private complainant could not have been serious enough to be the
product of repeated hacks, and claims that the same are merely a product of
a single blow. This contention has had ample study and consideration in the
trial court and in the Court of Appeals. It deserves no further ado.1avvphi1
As to whether the fractures suffered by the private complainant resulted from
a single blow or a product of multiple hackings is a question of fact best left
to the judgment of the trial court. It is a well-settled principle that factual
findings of the trial courtespecially if already affirmed by an appellate court
are binding and conclusive upon this Court, save only for certain

compelling reasons which are absent in this case.14 Hence, the Court refuses
to disturb the facts, and defers to the determination of the Regional Trial
Court and of the Court of Appeals.
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED for lack of merit. Accordingly,
the appealed Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 25 September 2007, in
CA-G.R. CR No. 29633 is hereby AFFIRMED IN TOTO. No pronouncement
as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 195534

June 13, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
EDUARDO GONZALES, Appellant.
DECISION
BRION, J.:
We review the judgment of conviction for murder of Eduardo Gonzales
(appellant) in the decision dated July 28, 2010 of the Court of Appeals 1 (CA)
in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03840. The CA affirmed the decision 2 dated January
5, 2009 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 57, San Carlos City,
Pangasinan, in Criminal Case No. 2814 whose decretal portion reads:
WHEREFORE, in light of all the foregoing, this Court finds accused
EDUARDO GONZALES, having failed to prove by clear and convincing
evidence that his act was justified, GUILTY of the crime of Murder and
hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Accused
Eduardo Gonzales is directed to pay the heirs of the victim Eligio Donato the
sum of P20,000.00 as actual damages; P50,000.00 as civil indemnity
and P50,000.00 as moral damages.3 (italics ours)
The Facts
The appellant and his brother, co-accused Edmundo Gonzales, 4 were
charged with murder under a criminal information which alleged conspiracy,
evident premeditation and treachery in the killing of Eligio Donato (victim).
The records5 show that the victim went to the house of the appellant at the
invitation of Edmundo. When the victim arrived, he was met by the appellant

who was armed with a .22 caliber firearm. The appellant and Edmundo
immediately fired at the victim six (6) times, hitting him three (3) times - in the
arm, in his left thigh and in his left chest.6 The victim expired before he could
receive medical treatment.
The appellant denied the charge and claimed that he had acted in selfdefense. He narrated that he was at his house watching television when the
victim suddenly arrived, armed with a short firearm. The victim shouted
invectives at the appellant and threatened to kill him. When efforts by the
appellant to pacify the victim proved to be futile, the appellant retrieved his
own firearm inside his house. A struggle for the possession of the appellants
firearm then ensued between the appellant and the victim which caused the
appellants gun to discharge three times; thus, hitting the victim.
The RTC found the prosecutions version more consistent with the physical
findings that the victim was not shot at close range, in the absence of powder
burns on his skin.7 The RTC rejected the appellants self-defense theory in
the absence of evidence of unlawful aggression. The RTC ruled that the
appellant was guilty of murder, qualified by treachery and evident
premeditation, given the manner and the means employed in attacking the
unsuspecting victim, leaving him no time or opportunity to resist. 8
In due course, the appellant appealed his judgment of conviction with the CA,
contending that the RTC committed reversible errors in the appreciation of
the evidence, namely: (1) in giving weight and credence to the highly
inconsistent and questionable testimony of the prosecution eyewitness; (2) in
disregarding the justifying circumstance of self-defense; and (3) in finding
that the qualifying circumstances of treachery and evident premeditation
attended the killing.
The CA rejected the appellants arguments and affirmed the RTCs decision
holding that the prosecution eyewitness account of the shooting was
straightforward, categorical and without any established ill-motive. The CA
also held that the eyewitness testimony was compatible with the physical
evidence showing that the appellant, not the victim, started the attack. The
CA agreed with the RTC that the killing was qualified by treachery since the
attack was executed in a manner that rendered the victim defenseless and
unable to retaliate.9 The CA did not rule on whether evident premeditation
was present in the victims killing.

The Courts Ruling


We find no reversible error in the CAs decision and affirm the appellants
conviction for murder.
The Claim of Self-Defense
Self-defense as a justifying circumstance under Article 11 of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended, implies the admission by the accused that he
committed the acts which would have been criminal in character had it not
been for the presence of circumstances whose legal consequences negate
the commission of a crime. By invoking self-defense in this case, the
appellant admitted that he shot the victim. With this admission, the burden of
evidence shifted to the appellant to prove that he acted in accordance with
the law. The appellant, in this regard, must satisfactorily prove the
concurrence of the following requisites under the second paragraph of Article
11 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, to relieve him of any criminal
liability:
First, unlawful aggression;
Second, reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it;
Third, lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending.
We find that the appellant failed to discharge this burden.
(a) Unlawful aggression
The existence of unlawful aggression is the basic requirement in a plea of
self-defense.10 In other words, no self-defense can exist without unlawful
aggression since there is no attack that the accused will have to prevent or
repel.11 In People v. Dolorido,12 we held that unlawful aggression
"presupposes actual, sudden, unexpected or imminent danger not merely
threatening and intimidating action. It is present only when the one attacked
faces real and immediate threat to ones life." The unlawful aggression may
constitute an actual physical assault, or at least a threat to inflict real
imminent injury upon the accused.13 In case of a "threat, it must be offensive
and strong, positively showing the x x x intent to cause injury." 14

The Issue
On the basis of the same arguments raised before the CA, the appellant
questions the sufficiency of the evidence proving his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt.

In this case, the requisite of unlawful aggression on the part of the victim is
patently absent. The records fail to disclose any circumstance showing that
the appellants life was in danger when he met the victim. What the evidence
shows is that the victim was unarmed when he went to the house of the

appellant. Likewise, there was also no evidence proving the gravity of the
utterances and the actuations allegedly made by the victim that would have
indicated his wrongful intent to injure the appellant.
We note that the appellants claim of self-defense was even disproved by the
narration of his own witness, Teofilo Posadas, who came into the scene to
witness the ongoing attack by the appellant on the victim. As Posadas
testified:
Q Mr. Witness, how did you know Mr. Witness that it was Eligio Donato
shouting at Eduardo Gonzales "Anggapo lay Balam" [You have no more
bullet]?
A When Eduardo fired his gun in the air twice, maam.
Q Which came first Mr. Witness, Eduardo Gonzales firing his gun in the air
twice or Eligio Donato shouting at Eduardo Gonzales "Anggapo lay Balam"?
A The firing in the air, maam.
xxxx
Q By the way Mr. Witness, you mentioned a while ago that Eduardo
Gonzales fired his gun in the air twice, did you notice what kind of gun did
(sic) Eduardo Gonzales used [in] firing two gunshot or two shots in the air?
A [.]22 caliber long barrel, maam.
Q And how did you know that Eduardo Gonzales fired a [.]22 caliber gun or a
long barrel gun?
A I saw that gun before while he was using it in targeting fish and birds,
maam.
Q So Mr. Witness did Eligio Donato and Eduardo Gonzales get near each
other?
A Yes, maam.
Q What did they do when they got close [to] each other, Mr. Witness?
A They scuffled over the possession of the gun, maam.

xxxx
Q When they were scuffling over the possession of the gun, what happened
Mr. Witness?
A The gun fired, maam.
xxxx
Q How many gun burst did you hear Mr. Witness?
A Two (2) or more, maam.
Q After you heard two (2) or more gun burst Mr. Witness, what happened to
Eligio [Donato], if any?
A He fell down, maam.15
The testimony of Posadas reveals that: first, the appellant who was armed
met the victim; second, while at a distance, the appellant fired twice at the
victims direction; and third, the appellant fired at the victim when the latter
tried to take away his firearm.
Posadas testimony, taken together with the testimony of prosecution
eyewitness Eduardo Rodriguez,16 provides a clear picture on how the
unlawful aggression was initiated by the appellant, not by the victim. The
unlawful aggression started when the appellant immediately fired at the
victim as the latter alighted from a tricycle and continued when the appellant
fired at the victim six (6) times. The assault ended when the appellant fired at
the victim when the latter tried to take away his firearm.
More importantly, Posadas testimony was even corroborated by the physical
evidence that should clearly defeat the claim of unlawful aggression on the
part of the victim, in that: first, it was only the victim who was wounded in the
assault; and second, the physical evidence showed that the victim had three
(3) gunshot wounds thereby indicating that he had already been shot by the
appellant when he tried to gain possession of the appellants firearm.
(b) Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel the
victims attack
The second requisite of self-defense could not have been present in the
absence of any unlawful aggression on the part of the victim. However, even
granting that it was the unarmed victim who first acted as the aggressor, we

find that the means employed by the appellant in repelling the attack - the
use of a firearm, the number of times he fired at the victim and the number of
gunshot wounds sustained by the victim - were not reasonably necessary.
On the contrary, we find that the number of gunshot wounds reveals a clear
intent to kill, not merely to repel the attack of the unarmed victim.
(c) Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the appellant
The records disclose that the struggle between the victim and the appellant
occurred after the appellant fired at the victim. In other words, the third
requisite was not established given the sufficient provocation by the appellant
in placing the victims life in actual danger. Thus, any aggression made by the
victim cannot be considered unlawful as it was made as an act of selfpreservation to defend his life.
In addition to the above considerations, the appellants claim of self-defense
was also belied by his own conduct after the shooting. The records show that
the appellant went into hiding after he was criminally charged. 17 He also
stayed in hiding for four (4) years and could have continued doing so had it
not been for his arrest.18 Self-defense loses its credibility given the
appellants flight from the crime scene and his failure to inform the authorities
about the incident.19
Credible Eyewitness Testimony
As the appellant failed to prove that he had acted in self-defense, he
effectively admitted to the unlawful shooting and the unlawful killing of the
victim. Accordingly, we no longer need to examine the issue relating to the
credibility of the prosecution witness testimony. We reiterate, however, that
the findings of the trial court on matters relating to the credibility of the
witnesses and their testimonies will not be disturbed on appeal unless some
weight and serious facts or circumstances have been overlooked,
misapprehended or misinterpreted so as to materially affect the disposition of
the case.20 Under the circumstances, we find no compelling reason to deviate
from this rule.
The Nature of the Killing
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, provides that [a]ny
person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246, shall kill another,
shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua, to
death if committed with x x x treachery. Both the RTC and the CA ruled that
the crime committed was murder, taking into account the presence of the
qualifying circumstance of treachery. The CA held:

As established on record and as found by the trial court, the victim lost that
opportunity to defend himself because of x x x appellants unexpected attack.
[The victim], who was then unarmed, was alighting a tricycle when x x x
appellant suddenly shot him. Such swiftness of the attack even made it
physically impossible for [the victim] to run for his safety. Clearly, the killing of
[the victim] was attended by treachery which qualifies the crime to
murder.21(emphases supplied)
We agree with the CAs findings. There is treachery (alevosia) when the
offender commits any of the crimes against the 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.22The two elements that must be proven to
establish treachery are: "(a) the employment of means of execution which
would ensure the safety of the offender from defensive and retaliatory acts of
the victim, giving the victim no opportunity to defend himself; and (b) the
means, method and manner of execution were deliberately and consciously
adopted by the offender."23 The two elements are present in this case.
The first element was established by the prosecution eyewitness testimony
showing the sudden attack by the appellant on the unsuspecting victim who
had just alighted from a tricycle. The victim was then unarmed and had no
opportunity to defend himself.1wphi1
The second element was established by the prosecution eyewitness
testimony showing that the appellant deliberately and consciously adopted a
pre-conceived plan on how to kill the victim. The evidence showed that the
unsuspecting victim was first lured in going to the house of the appellant by
Edmundo. The appellant who was armed waited for the arrival of the victim.
Afterwards, the appellant immediately fired at the victim.
The Penalty and the Civil Liability
The CA correctly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua there being no
mitigating or aggravating circumstances established.24 We find that the
prosecution failed to establish that the aggravating circumstance of evident
premeditation was present in the case. The prosecution failed to prove the
concurrence of the following requisites to establish evident premeditation: (1)
the time when the offender was determined to commit the crime; (2) an act
manifestly indicating that the offender clung to his determination; and (3) 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. The
prosecution failed to prove how and when the plan to kill the victim was
planned and determined.25

With respect to damages, the CA correctly awarded the amounts


of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages, they
being consistent with prevailing jurisprudence.26 In People of the Philippines
v. David Maningding,27 we ruled that when the circumstances surrounding the
crime call for the imposition of reclusion perpetua only, the proper amounts
should be P 50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P 50,000.00 as moral
damages.
However, we modify the CAs decision on the other awards of damages.
In accordance with current jurisprudence, we delete the award of P20,000 as
actual damages and, in its stead, award P30,000.00 as temperate
damages.28 We also award the heirs of the victim compensatory damages for
the loss of the victims earning capacity, there being testimonial and
documentary evidence on record to support the award. 29 The wife of the
victim testified that the victim was 36 years old and was a soldier receiving a
monthly salary of more than P9,000.00. The victims pay slip was also
presented, showing his earnings of P9,576.00 a month.30 The award of
compensatory damages for loss of earning capacity is computed using the
following formula:

1) P50,000.00 as civil indemnity;


2) P1,685,184.48 as compensatory damages for loss of earning
capacity;
3) P30,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of actual damages;
4) P50,000.00 as moral damages; and
5) P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 192183

November 11, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ANDY ZULIETA a.k.a. "Bogarts," Accused-Appellant.
DECISION

Net earning capacity (x) = life expectancy x gross annual income -living
expenses (50% of gross annual income)31
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
Under this formula, we award to the heirs of the victim the amount
of P1,685,184.48 as compensatory damages for the victims loss of earning
capacity, calculated as follows:
2(80-36)
x

x [P 114,912.00 57,456.00]
3

=
=

29.33

x P 57,456.00

P 1,685,184.48

Finally, we also award P30,000.00 as exemplary damages, in accordance


with prevailing jurisprudence, since the killing was attended by treachery.32
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DISMISS the appeal and AFFIRM
with MODIFICATION the decision dated July 28, 2010 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03840. Appellant Eduardo Gonzales is
found guilty of murder, penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended. He is hereby ordered to pay the heirs of Eligio Donato
the following sums:

On appeal is the August 13, 2009 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00568-MIN which affirmed with modification the
October 24, 2007 Judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court RTC) of Cagayan de
Oro City, Branch 38, finding appellant Andy Zulieta a.k.a. Bogarts guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of he crime of Murder.
Factual Antecedents
On July 21, 2006, an Information3 was filed charging appellant with the crime
of Murder, the accusatory portion of which reads:
That on June 13, 2006, at around 10:00 o'clock in the evening, more or less,
at Sto. Nio, Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with
treachery and with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously stab one Armand Labando, with the use of a Batangas knife,
hitting on the chest x x x the latter thereby inflicting mortal wounds which

caused his immediate death. Contrary to Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code,
in relation to RA 7659, as amended.

which could be a knife and by the location of the wound, the assailant was in
front of the victim.

When arraigned on November 3, 2006, appellant pleaded not guilty.4 During


the pre-trial, no stipulation of facts was made hence trial on the merits
ensued.5

After the testimony of Dr. Villaflor, the prosecution offered their exhibits:
exhibit "A", the Death Certificate of Armand Labando, Jr. and exhibit "B", the
Autopsy Report of Dr. Villaflor, which were admitted by the defense. The
prosecution then rested its case.

Summary of Facts
The Facts as summarized by the trial court are as follows:
The first witness for the prosecution was SPO1 Apolinario Ubilas who
testified that on June 13, 2006, at about 10:00 oclock in the evening, Police
Precinct Commander Police Inspector Ladao directed him to verify and
investigate x x x a stabbing incident x x x which took place in Sto. Nio,
Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City. The victim was no longer at the crime scene
as he was reportedly brought to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center
(NMMC) so he made inquiries as to possible witnesses of the incident and
learned that Bryan Pascua witnessed the incident. He then proceeded to
NMMC and saw the body of the victim, which was declared dead-on-arrival.
Per order of their Precinct Commander, a police team conducted a pursuit
operation and was able to arrest, on the following day, Jonathan Zaporteza
and Rey Sabado, companions of the accused Andy Zulieta.
The next witness was Bryan Pascua who testified that on June 13, 2006, at
about 10:30 in the evening, he and deceased Armand Labando, Jr. were
outside their boarding house, seated at the bench just outside the store of
Jimmy Saura. While they were eating bananas, Bogarts, Rey and Tantan
approached them. Bogarts, who had with him a pitcher, dropped it in front of
them so they immediately stood up. He then heard Tantan shout, "birahi na
na" (hit him now), then saw Bogarts pull a batangas knife and stab the
deceased, hitting him on his chest. He ran towards their boarding house,
afraid that he will be attacked next.
The next witness for the prosecution was Dr. Francisco Romulo C. Villaflor, a
Medico-Legal Officer of the Philippine National Police, who testified that he
conducted an autopsy of the deceased Armand Labando, Jr. and found that
the stab wound was inflicted on the anterior chest hitting the most vital organ
of the body, the right ventricle of the heart. Based on his analysis, the
instrument used in inflicting the wound was a bladed, pointed instrument,

Accused set up denial and alibi as his defense claiming that on June 13,
2006 at 10:00 oclock in the evening, he was asleep in his house in Gingoog
City with his wife and in-laws. Sometime in November, 2006, he was arrested
by Police Officer Radam and companions at his house in Gingoog City for
being accused of killing the deceased Armand Labando, Jr. Accused claimed
that he does not know the deceased Armand Labando, Jr., Rey Sabando,
Jonathan Zaporteza or witness Bryan Pascua. When cross-examined by the
Court, accused claimed that his nickname is Andy as his real name is Zandy
and he is not known in Sto. Nio as Bogarts. He, however, admitted that he
was born in Sto. Nio, Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City in 1985, lived and
stayed with his parents in Sto. Nio, Lapasan, until he got married in x x x
2005. He then transferred residence with his own family to Gingoog.
The next witness for the defense was Maryflor Mamba Zulieta, wife of the
accused, who testified that she married the accused [o]n August 28, 2005 in
Nazareno Parish, Cagayan de Oro City. They resided in Gingoog City from
the time they got married until the day that her husband was arrested. Her
husband works at the farm of Mr. Lugod, in Cabuyuan, Gingoog City,
planting, weeding and harvesting rice, from 7:00 oclock in the morning until
4:00 oclock in the afternoon, but goes home at noontime to eat lunch. On
July 13, 2006, at around 10:00 oclock in the evening, they were asleep in
their house in Gingoog City. Sometime in October or November, 2006, at
around 4:00 oclock in the morning, while they were still sleeping, they were
surprised when some men entered their house, went upstairs and
handcuffed her husband as he is said to be under arrest. 6
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
On October 24, 2007, the RTC rendered its Judgment finding appellant guilty
of killing the victim Armand Labando, Jr. (Labando) with the attendant
qualifying circumstance of treachery. The dispositive portion of the Judgment
reads as follows:

Accordingly, the Court finds accused Andy Zulieta guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of murder and he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua, with accessory penalties provided by law. He is also
liable to pay the heirs of Armand Labando, Jr. civil damages in the amount of
Php50,000.00, moral damages of Php50,000.00 and costs of suit.

posits that the prosecution failed to show that he employed means or


methods to ensure that Labando would not be able to defend himself.
Our Ruling
The appeal lacks merit.

SO ORDERED.7
Aggrieved, appellant filed his Notice of Appeal8 which was approved by the
RTC.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In its Decision dated August 13, 2009, the CA affirmed with modification the
Judgment of the RTC, viz:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 38
in Cagayan de Oro City finding appellant Andy Zulieta guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of Murder, is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION, in that
appellant is further ORDERED to pay the heirs of Armand Labando, Jr., the
amount of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, in addition to the amount
of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages.
SO ORDERED.9
Hence, this present appeal.
Assignment of Error
Appellant seeks his acquittal by assigning the lone error that:
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING HEREIN
ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION
TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.10
Appellant insists on his alibi that on June 13, 2006, at around 10 oclock in
the evening, he was sleeping at his house in Gingoog City. He argues further
that even assuming his presence at the scene of the crime at Sto. Nio,
Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, and that he killed Labando, the killing could
not have been attended by the qualifying circumstance of treachery. He

Appellants alibi, being inherently weak, deserves no credence at all


especially when measured up against the positive identification by the
prosecution witness, Bryan Pascua (Pascua), pointing to appellant as the
perpetrator of the crime. Besides, nobody corroborated appellants alibi other
than his wife who is obviously biased in his favor thus making her testimony
self-serving. Moreover, appellant failed to prove that it was physically
impossible for him to be present at the crime scene at the time of its
commission. As observed by the CA, Cagayan de Oro City could be
traversed from Gingoog City within two hours;11 hence, it is not physically
impossible for appellant to commit the crime in Cagayan de Oro City and still
go home to Gingoog City after its commission.
Aside from having been positively identified by prosecution witness Pascua,
appellant failed to impute any ill motive to Pascua. Thus, the trial court
correctly lent credence to Pascuas testimony:
The testimony of witness Bryan Pascua is clear, spontaneous and
straightforward when he said that accused Andy Zulieta stabbed the
deceased. When asked if he can identify the accused, the witness pointed
his finger at the accused Andy Zulieta who was in the courtroom. Asked how
he knew of such fact, he categorically said that he knew the accused long
before the incident, recognized his face that night because the place was
lighted and at the time of the stabbing incident, he was one (1) meter away
from the assailant and the victim. He further testified that he was surprised
when the accused, together with his companions, approached them, dropped
the pitcher in front of them and suddenly stabbed the deceased on his chest
when in fact there was no prior heated argument or statement made by
deceased Armand Labando, Jr. which could have caused the ire of accused
Andy Zulieta.12
We likewise affirm the findings of both the RTC and the CA that treachery
attended the killing.1wphi1 "There is treachery when the offender commits
any of the crimes against the person, employing means, methods or forms in

the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution,
without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party
might make."13 "The essence of treachery is that the attack comes without a
warning and in a swift, deliberate, and unexpected manner, affording the
hapless, unarmed, and unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or
escape."14 Otherwise stated, an unexpected and sudden attack which
renders the victim unable and unprepared to put up a defense is the essence
of treachery. In this case, the victim Labando was totally unaware of the
threat. He was merely sitting on the bench in front of a sari-sari store eating
bananas when appellant, without any provocation or prior argument,
suddenly stabbed him on his chest, piercing the right ventricle of his heart
thus causing his instantaneous death. The stabbing was deliberate,
unexpected, swift and sudden which foreclosed any escape, resistance or
defense coming from the victim. This is a classic example of treachery.
Settled is the rule that factual findings of the trial court and its assessment on
the credibility of witnesses deserve utmost respect by this Court. In this case,
we find no reason to deviate from the findings or assessment of the trial court
there being no showing that it has overlooked or mis-appreciated some facts
which if considered would materially impact on or change the outcome of the
case. On the contrary, we find that the trial court meticulously studied the
case and properly weighed the evidence presented by the parties. Thus, we
stand by its pronouncement thatAfter a careful review and analysis of the evidence for the prosecution and
the defense and recalling the mien and manner of testimony by the
witnesses, especially the positive testimony and identification by eyewitness
Bryan Pascua of the accused, the Court is convinced that it is accused Andy
Zulieta a.k.a. "Bogarts" who suddenly stabbed the deceased, resulting in his
instantaneous death.15
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the penalty for the crime
of murder is reclusion perpetua to death. Both the trial court and the CA
correctly found appellant guilty of murder and imposed upon him the penalty
of reclusion perpetua, the lower of the two indivisible penalties, due to the
absence of an aggravating circumstance attending the commission of the
crime.16
"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."17 Both the RTC and the CA properly awarded civil
indemnity to the heirs of the victim but the same must be increased
to P75,000.00 in line with prevailing jurisprudence.18 The heirs of the victim
are likewise entitled to moral damages which the trial court and the CA
properly awarded in the amount ofP50,000.00. The award of exemplary
damages in view of the aggravating circumstance of treachery is likewise
correct however the same must be increased to P30,000.00 in line with
prevailing jurisprudence.19 "Moreover, while actual damages cannot be
awarded since there was no evidence of actual expenses incurred for the
death of the victim, in lieu thereof, the sum of P25,000.00 may be granted, as
it is hereby granted, by way of temperate damages as it cannot be denied
that the heirs of the victim suffered pecuniary loss although the exact amount
was not proved."20 In addition) all damages awarded shall earn interest at the
rate of 6% per annum from date of finality of this Decision until fully paid. 21
WHEREFORE, the August 13 2009 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR-H.C. No. 00568-MIN is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS as
follows: a) the award of civil indemnity is increased to P75,000.00; b) the
award of exemplary damages is increased to P30,000.00; c) temperate
damages in the amount of P25,000.00 is awarded in lieu of actual damages;
and d) all damages awarded shall earn interest at the rate of 6% per annum
from date of finality of this judgment until fully paid.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 191256

September 18, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
GARY ALINAO, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
This is an appeal from the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated October
28, 2009 in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 03567, which affirmed with modification
the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court of Luna, Apayao in Crim. Case No.

38-2006 finding accused-appellant Gary Alinao guilty beyond reasonable


doubt of the crime of murder.
Accused-appellant Gary Alinao, together with his son, Jocel Alinao, was
charged in an Information dated September 5, 2006 with the crime of Murder
with the Use of Illegally Possessed Firearm under Article J.48 of the Revised
Penal Code. The Information states:
That on or about February 27, 2006 in Badduat, Kabugao, Apayao and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused did, then and there
and with intent to kill and with evident premeditation, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously set on fire the house of Antonio Ardet knowing it to be occupied at
the time and when said Antonio Ardet came out from his burning house shot
him with an illegally possessed shotgun hitting him on his face that caused
his instantaneous death.3
With Jocel Alinao still at large, only accused-appellant Gary Alinao was
arraigned. He pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.
The first witness for the prosecution was Police Officer (PO) 1 Armando
Arnais, an operation and investigation officer of the Kabugao Municipal
Police Station. He testified that his office was assigned to investigate the
case. During said investigation, he was able to secure the sworn statements
of several witnesses to the incident. Hence, he filed a criminal complaint
which he identified in the course of his testimony.4
Dr. Cynthia T. Melchor conducted the postmortem examination on the body
of Antonio Ardet and executed a postmortem report. She testified that there
were seven entry gunshot wounds on the head of the victim, and that all
seven wounds were fatal.5
Nestor Ardet, half-brother of the victim Antonio Ardet, testified that on
February 27, 2006 at around 11:00 p.m., he was inside his house, which was
eight meters away from the house of the deceased Antonio Ardet. He was
awakened by the barking of dogs. He stood and slowly opened his window,
and saw Antonio Ardets house burning. Gary Alinao was pointing his gun at
the door of Antonio Ardet, with Jocel Alinao behind him. 6 On cross, Nestor
later corrected himself and said that it was a door, not a window, through
which he peeped and saw the incident.7

Antonio Ardet tried to get out of his house, but Gary Alinao shot him and fell
inside the burning house. Gary and Jocel Alinao ran towards Barangay
Baduat. Nestor Ardet went out of the house and shouted, asking for help to
bring Antonio Ardet out of the burning house. Boyet Tamot, Elvis Singsing,
Tano Singsing and Wally Sipsip responded to his call. The premises were
bright because of the fire.8 When the police came, the accused were also in
the vicinity of the crime.9 Nestor likewise saw accused-appellant go to
Antonios wake once.10
The deceaseds daughter, Annie Ardet, testified that accused-appellant Gary
Alinao is the husband of her fathers sister (and was thus the deceaseds
brother-in-law). Jocel Alinao is Gary Alinaos son and Annie Ardets cousin.
She incurred more than P112,000.00 as burial expenses. After her father was
buried, Annie Ardet reported her fathers death to the Municipal Hall of
Kabugao, Apayao and she was issued a Death Certificate. She testified that
when her father died, her family grieved so much and could not sleep or eat
well.11
Boyet Tamot, nephew of the victim Antonio Ardet and accused-appellants
wife, Linda Ardet, testified that he was inside his house with his wife and two
children on February 27, 2006. His house was around 10meters away from
that of Antonio Ardet. At around 11:00 p.m., he heard dogs barking and went
to the cornfield beside his house. He saw Gary and Jocel Alinao going near
the house of Antonio Ardet. Gary Alinao took a container from Jocel and
poured the contents on the wall of Antonio Ardets house. Gary Alinao set the
house on fire. Boyet Tamot went inside his house as the place grew brighter
from the fire. He heard gunshots. When he peeped outside, he saw that Gary
and Jocel Alinao had left.12 On cross, Boyet Tamot explained that he only
revealed what he saw on November 23,2006 as he was afraid of accusedappellant Gary Alinao. Gary did not threaten Boyet Tamot personally, but as
he and his son have already killed somebody, Boyet was afraid they could do
it to him as well. Accused-appellant Gary Alinao was already in jail on
November 23, 2006. Boyet did not, however, see Gary Alinao shoot Antonio
Ardet or even point a gun at him.13
Edison Beltran, another nephew of the victim Antonio Ardet and accusedappellants wife, Linda Ardet, testified that on February 27, 2006,he was in
the house of his cousin Nio Singsing Beltran. He saw Gary and Jocel Alinao
pass by, going upstream to the house of Antonio Ardet. Gary Alinao was
holding a plastic gallon container and a winch ester shotgun. Five minutes

later, Edison heard gunshots and saw fire. He ran towards the fire to help.
Gary Alinao, holding a short homemade shotgun, and Jocel Alinao, holding a
win chester shotgun, were running back to the place where they came from.
On cross, Edison Beltran explained that he only went to the police on May
26, 2006, which was after the burial, because he was frightened of Gary
Alinao, who said in public that anyone who will give his testimony will be
killed. Edison changed his mind when people were telling him that reporting
the incident would stop the criminal activities of the accused. 14

Era arrived, and the five of them went to the scene of the crime aboard two
motorcycles. He left his other son, co-accused Jocel Alinao, in the house. On
the way, they dropped by the house of Rene and Aldrin Ukong, who were
nephews of Antonio, but nobody came out of the house. When they reached
the house of Antonio, Gary Alinao went directly to the body of Antonio to look
at him. He told Nestor Ardet to move the body of Antonio, but Nestor
answered, "later." Nevertheless the body was moved into the house of
Nestor.20

For the defense, 71-year old Manuel Morta testified that on February27,
2006, he attended the wake of Elvie Agculao at around 7:00 a.m. and left the
place at around midnight. Gary Alinao was among the many people who
attended the wake. Gary was there from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Garyinvited
him to sleep in the house but he refused. Two minutes after Gary left, they
heard that Antonio Ardet was dead.15

The police arrived at around 2:00 a.m. and started asking Gary questions. He
told them to ask Nestor instead. The police proceeded to talk to Nestor, with
Gary one meter away from them. He heard Nestor tell the police "I heard
something running towards upward (sic), sir." He stayed at Nestors house
until morning, drinking gin with Edison, his co-barangay tanod Stewart Alinao,
Celso Tallong and Junior Siddayao.21

Senior Police Officer (SPO) 3 Marcelino Tenay testified that onFebruary 27,
2006, his office received information from the Vice Mayor thatthere was an
incident at Sitio Colilimtao, Barangay Baduat wherein a certainBoy Ardet was
shot to death and his house was burned. SPO3 Tenay called the fire station
and requested a car from the Vice Mayor to bring him and hiscompanions to
the area.16

Sometime during his stay that night, the vice mayor talked to him onthe
cellular phone to ask him if Rene Ukkong, Aldrin Ukkong and Edison Beltran
were there. He went home at around 10:00 a.m. His wife, Linda Alinao,
arrived home at 5:00 p.m. from Tuguegarao. The following day, he went to
the house of Antonio to help.22

At the crime scene, SPO3 Tenay and his companions saw that while the fire
was still blazing, the house was already completely burned and that only the
posts were left standing. Antonio Ardets body was brought to the backyard,
which was around 7 to 10 meters away from the house. SPO3Tenay was
able to talk to a person who claimed to be the brother of the victim. This
alleged brother saw two persons ascending towards Sitio Tabba. 17
Accused-appellant Gary Alinao testified that on February 27, 2006,he went to
the house of Elvy18 Agculao for the latters wake. Elvys house is300 meters
away from his own, or around four minutes walk. He stayed in Elvys house
from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. He knew that he left at 11:00 p.m. because he
partook of the last merienda at that time.19
A few minutes after arriving home, accused-appellant Gary Alinao heard
someone call his name. He went out of the house and saw three persons,
Warry Mahuray, Elvis Singsing, and his son Edgar. They told him that
"Manong Antonio is dead," and that the house of Antonio was burned. Jesus

Accused-appellant Gary Alinao believes that Edison Beltran was only


boasting about seeing Gary and Jocel Alinao pass by his house. Gary Alinao
claims that Edisons house is 500 meters away from Antonios house, and
that one cannot see Antonios house from Edisons.23
On cross, accused-appellant Gary Alinao testified that Elvy Agculaos house
is 300 meters away from his own, and 5 kilometers away from the house of
Antonio Ardet. He also testified that when the police came to arrest him, he
pointed to his son and told them to arrest him. The police told him theyll do
so later.24 The court proceeded to order the arrest of a certain police officer
Robles for dereliction of duty in failing to arrest Jocel Alinao.Robles was
asked in a later hearing why he did not arrest Jocel Alinao whenGary Alinao
pointed at him. Robles answered that the person Gary pointed at was Edgar
Alinao, and not Jocel. Gary Alinao affirmed that this was what happened. 25
Linda Alinao, the wife of accused-appellant Gary Alinao and sister of both
deceased Antonio Ardet and prosecution witness Nestor Ardet, testified that
her brother, prosecution witness Nestor Ardet, told her that he was forced to

testify by Aldrin Ukkong and Rosendo Ukkong by hitting him with a firearm.
She claimed that the mark of the gun can be seen on Nestor Ardets body.26
SPO3 Felipe Erving testified that they reached the crime scene between 1:00
a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on February 27, 2006. The house was burned and the
body of Antonio Ardet was retrieved by his neighbor and placed 10 meters
away from the burning house. It was a moonless night. He asked the people
at the scene about the incident, but they told him nothing. 27
SPO3 Erving went to the house where the body was brought and got the
chance to talk to Nestor Ardet. SPO3 Erving asked Nestor Ardet where he
was when the victim was shot and his house was burned. Nestor Ardet told
him that he was sleeping inside his room at that time. SPO3 Ervingasked
Nestor Ardet if he noticed any person during the incident, but Nestor replied
"None, sir." Upon further questioning, Nestor said that he peeped through the
windows when he heard a shot from the burning house. He saw two persons
running towards Sitio Tabba, but did not recognize them. He estimated the
house of Nestor to be 29 meters away from Antonio Ardetshouse. He saw
accused-appellant Gary Alinao at the scene, but did not talk to him. 28
The prosecution then presented rebuttal witnesses.
Benito Agculao testified that his house was considered a public place on
February 27, 2006 during the wake of his daughter, Elvy Agculao. While he
had seen accused-appellant playing cards on February 25, he did not seehim
on the 26thand the 27th. On the 27th, he did not see accused-appellant from
5:00 p.m. until midnight, although he admittedly had to go out sometimes and
urinated twice or thrice.29
Nestor Ardet was recalled to the witness stand. He admitted that he was
asked by SPO3 Erving if he saw who burned and shot the victim and that he
told SPO3 Erving that he did not recognize the two persons running away.
He testified that he was frightened at that time because both Gary and Jocel
Alinao had firearms and were not yet arrested. He denied the claim of Linda
Ardet that Rosendo Ukkong forced him to testify in favor of complainant and
stated that he voluntarily testified to tell the truth. On February 28, Nestor
Ardet revealed the names of the perpetrators to Annie Ardet. The court asked
Nestor to show if there was really a scar on his breast allegedly caused by
Rosendo Ukkong. The court interpreter identified a white portion on his
breast, but the opposing counsels disagreed as to whether it was a scar.30

As surrebuttal evidence, the defense recalled Linda Alinao to the stand.


Linda Alinao reiterated that Nestor was maltreated by Rosendo Ukkong and
was forced to testify. She claims that she would not make a false statement
since the victim, Antonio Ardet, is her full-blood brother, while Nestor is her
half-brother. She admitted that she was not present when Nestor was
maltreated, but that was what Nestor told her and that Nestor even showed
her his torn and dirty clothes.31
On September 9, 2008, the trial court rendered its Decision finding accusedappellant guilty of murder with evident premeditation as the qualifying
circumstance. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused Gary Alinao y Aridao guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder charged against him, the court
hereby sentences said accused to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of (sic)
RECLUSION PERPETUA.
Accused, Gary Alinao is further ordered to pay the aggrieved party the sum
of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) by way of civil indemnity for the
death of Antonio Ardet, plus moral damages in the amount of ONE
HUNDRED TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS(P120,000.00) and actual and
exemplary damages in the amount of SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND PESOS
(P75,000.00) and THIRTYTHOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00) respectively.
Whatever imprisonment the accused have (sic) undergone in this case shall
be credited in his favor.
The case as against Jocel Alinao is ordered ARCHIVED and to be retrieved
upon his arrest.
Let an Alias Warrant of arrest be issued for his apprehension. 32
Accused-appellant appealed through a Notice of Appeal 33 dated September
12, 2008. The Court of Appeals rendered its Decision on October 28, 2009,
with the following dispositive portion:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 09September 2008
of the Regional Trial Court of Luna, Apayao, Branch 26 in Crim. Case No. 382006 finding accused-appellant Gary Alinao guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of Murder, as defined in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, and

sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua is AFFIRMED with


MODIFICATION in that accused-appellant is further ORDERED to pay to the
heirs of the victim Antonio Ardet, P75,000.00 as civil indemnity ex
delicto, P50,000.00 as moral damages, andP25,000.00 as temperate
damages, all with interest at the legal rate of six percent (6%) per annum
from this date until fully paid. The award of P30,000.00 as exemplary
damages is hereby DELETED.34
Accused-appellant appealed to this Court through another Notice of
Appeal35 dated November 9, 2009. On June 1, 2010, accused-appellant filed
a Supplemental Brief adopting his Appellants Brief which he filed with the
Court of Appeals as well as asserting new arguments and adducing the
following additional assignment of error:
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTINGTHE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE PROSECUTIONSFAILURE TO
PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.36
Whether or not accused-appellant killed Antonio Ardet
Taken together, accused-appellants Supplemental Brief and Appellants Brief
pose the following arguments to show that the prosecution failed to prove
that he was one of the culprits responsible for the death of Antonio Ardet:
1. Nestor Ardets testimony is highly suspect. Nestor did not immediately
execute an affidavit to implicate accused-appellant despite the fact that the
victim is his brother.37 When Nestor was investigated by the police officers,
he failed to identify the alleged malefactors.38 Nestor and Antonios sister,
Linda Ardet, testified that Nestor had admitted to her his being mauled,
assaulted, intimidated and forced to testify against accused-appellant.
Although Nestor denied the same, Linda Ardets testimony that there was a
scar on Nestors breast as a result of the mauling was purportedly confirmed
when the Court asked Nestor to show his breast.39
Nestor Ardets identification of accused-appellant is questionable. Nestor
testified that he peeped through a slightly opened window or door measuring
only three inches in width. Nestor likewise testified that he was 12
meters40 away from the accused-appellant when the latter allegedly shot
Antonio Ardet.41

Nestors barbed-wire fence, the roof of his porch,and the elevation of


Antonios house allegedly further obstructed Nestors view of the crime
scene.42
2. The testimonies of Edison Beltran and Boyet Tamot, who both claimed that
they were aided by the light of the moon, were incredible. Edisons testimony
that he saw accused-appellant holding a short firearm at around 11:00 p.m.,
and Boyets testimony that he saw accused-appellant burn Antonios house
at around that time were negated by the testimonies of SPO3 Tenay and
SPO3 Erving, who both stated and presented evidence that the evening of
February 27, 2006 was a moonless night.43
Edison Beltran and Boyet Tamots assertion that they did not immediately
report what they saw because they were afraid to do so was a "lame excuse"
since they later came out in the open despite the knowledge that one of the
accused remains at large.44
After a thorough review of the testimonies of all the witnesses and other
evidence presented, we find no reason to disturb the findings of fact of the
trial court. As we have held time and again, factual findings of the trial court,
especially those affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are generally conclusive
on this Court when supported by the evidence on record. 45 In People v.
Sapigao, Jr.,46 we explained the reason for this rule:
It is well settled that the evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and their
testimonies is a matter best undertaken by the trial court because of its
unique opportunity to observe the witnesses firsthand and to not etheir
demeanor, conduct, and attitude under grilling examination. These are
important in determining the truthfulness of witnesses and in unearthing the
truth, especially in the face of conflicting testimonies. For, indeed, the
emphasis, gesture, and inflection of the voice are potent aids in ascertaining
the witness credibility, and the trial court has the opportunity and can take
advantage of these aids. These cannot be incorporated in the record so that
all that the appellate court can see are the cold words of the witness
contained in transcript of testimonies with the risk that some of what the
witness actually said may have been lost in the process of transcribing. As
correctly stated by an American court, "There is an inherent impossibility of
determining with any degree of accuracy what credit is justly due to a witness
from merely reading the words spoken by him, even if there were no doubt
as to the identity of the words. However artful a corrupt witness may be,

there is generally, under the pressure of a skillful cross-examination,


something in his manner or bearing on the stand that betrays him, and
thereby destroys the force of his testimony. Many of the real tests of truth by
which the artful witness is exposed in the very nature of things cannot be
transcribed upon the record, and hence they can never be considered by the
appellate court." (Citations omitted.)
This Court observes that in the case at bar, counsels for both sides went the
extra mile in questioning the witnesses through in-depth cross-examinations,
re-direct and re-cross examinations, and even bringing them back as rebuttal
and sur-rebuttal witnesses. The trial court, for its part, was also very active in
trying to ascertain the credibility of the witnesses. The trial court thus had
every opportunity to take advantage of observing the witnesses demeanor,
conduct, and attitude, as well as the emphasis, gesture, and inflection of their
voices, as potent aids in ascertaining which of them were telling the truth. As
we find nothing material in the records which the trial court seems to have
ignored, misunderstood or misconstrued that could warrant the reversal of its
factual findings, said findings should be affirmed.
Accused-appellant hinges his defense mainly on discrediting Nestor Ardet,
Antonio Ardets brother.1wphi1 The testimony of Nestor Ardet, however,
was clear and straightforward. The defenses contentions against his ability
to have seen the incident are likewise merely excessive nitpicking. Based on
experience, a three-inch opening of either a door or a window is certainly
wide enough to give the observer a full view of the outside if he
"peeps"(peering with the eyes very close to the crevice) through it, as Nestor
said he did. The defense likewise failed to show how the barbed-wire fence,
the roof of the porch, and the elevation of Antonios house could have
completely blocked Nestors view of the house.
We are also more inclined to believe the testimony of Nestor Ardet over that
of his sister, Linda Alinao. While both are siblings of the deceased, Antonio
Ardet, Linda Alinao is the wife of accused-appellant himself, and is naturally
expected to be protective of him. Linda Alinaos testimony is likewise hearsay
as she was not present when Nestor Ardet was allegedly maltreated and
forced to testify against her husband. Furthermore, we cannot emphasize
enough that Nestor Ardet and Linda Alinao were recalled on the same trial
date to refute each others testimonies. The trial court was thus afforded an
even better opportunity to observe their demeanor, conduct, attitude, gesture,
and inflection of their voices, and ultimately believed Nestor over Linda.

As regards the distance of the houses of Antonio and Nestor, we agree with
the finding that Nestors estimation of 12 meters should be considered more
accurate as he is certainly more familiar with the surroundings of the place
than SPO3 Erving, who estimated the distance to be 29 meters.
Accused-appellant emphasizes the testimonies of defense witnesses that
there was no moon on the night of February 27, 2006. Nestor Ardet,
however, testified that the surroundings were very bright because of the fire
that razed the victims house. It should be furthermore stressed that the three
eye witnesses, Nestor Ardet, Boyet Tamot and Edison Beltran are all
relatives of accused-appellant and his son Jocel. As correctly held by the
Court of Appeals, it was settled in People v. Amodia 47 that "once a person
knows an other through association, identification becomes an easy task
even from a considerable distance; most often, the face and body
movements of the person identified have created a lasting impression on the
identifier's mind that cannot easily be erased."
Finally, Nestor Ardet, Boyet Tamot and Edison Beltran all adequately
explained their delay in revealing what they saw. We cannot underestimate
how they feared for their lives as they all saw firsthand what accusedappellant can do to them. Edison Beltran even heard accused-appellants
warning that anyone who will give his testimony will be killed. As regards
Nestor Ardet, it is certainly very understandable that he would refrain from
identifying accused-appellant as the perpetrator to the police officer, with the
armed accused-appellant close by. Accused-appellant himself testified that
he was merely one meter away when SPO3 Erving was asking Nestor
questions and can actually hear what they were saying. Neither does Jocel
Alinaos remaining at large at the time they revealed what they witnessed
affect their credibility. Having seen that it was accused-appellant and not
Jocel Alinao who actually started the fire and shot Antonio Ardet, it makes
perfect sense that Nestor Ardet, Boyet Tamot and Edison Beltran are more
frightened of accused-appellant than his son.
The appellate court committed no error in applying the jurisprudential
principle that delay in revealing the identity of the perpetrators of a crime
does not necessarily impair the credibility of a witness, especially where
sufficient explanation is given.48
Whether or not evident premedition should be considered

Accused-appellant likewise claims that there was no evidence categorically


showing evident premeditation.
For evident premeditation to be appreciated, the following elements must be
proved: a) the time when the accused determined to commit the crime; b) an
act manifestly indicating that the accused has clung to his determination;
and, c) sufficient lapse of time between the determination and execution to
allow him to reflect upon the consequences of his act. 49 The essence of
evident premeditation is that the execution of the criminal act must be
preceded by cool thought and reflection upon the resolution to carryout the
criminal intent during a space of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment. 50
In the case at bar, accused-appellant, in razing Antonio Ardets house in
order to drive him out and shooting him the moment he appears at his front
door, clearly had a previously and carefully crafted plan to kill his victim. We
are convinced that the time it took accused-appellant and his son to device
their plan, plot where the gasoline should be poured, and procure the
gasoline and the firearms, as well as the time it took to go to Antonio Ardets
house, and even the time when they waited for Antonio Ardet to come out of
the house, all afforded accused-appellant sufficient opportunity to reflect
upon the consequences of his act to kill his brother-in-law and his
determination to commit the cold-blooded deed from the time of its
conception until it was carried out.
Award of exemplary damages
The Court of Appeals deleted the trial court's award of exemplary damages
on the ground that no aggravating circumstance was established in
evidence,51 This Court, however, has ruled that an award of exemplary
damages is justified if an aggravating circumstance, either qualifying or
generic, accompanies the crime.52 In the case at bar, the qualifying
circumstance of evident premeditation was duly alleged in the Information
and proved during the trial. Therefore, in line with current jurisprudence, 53 we
reinstate the trial court's award of the amount of P30,000.00 as exemplary
damages to heirs of the victim, Antonio Ardet.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated October28, 2009
in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 03567, which affirmed with modification the
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Luna, Apayao in Crim. Case No. 382006 finding accused-appellant Gary Alinao GUILTY beyond reasonable

doubt of the crime of murder is hereby AFFIRMED, with MODIFICATION


reinstating the trial court's award of the amount of P-30,000.00 as exemplary
damages to the heirs of the victim, Antonio Ardet. Accused-appellant Gary
Alinao is likewise ORDERED to pay the heirs of Antonio Ardet interest at the
legal rate of six percent (6%) per annum on all the amounts of damages
awarded, commencing from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. Nos. 153304-05

February 7, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. SANDIGANBAYAN (FOURTH DIVISION), IMELDA R. MARCOS,
JOSE CONRADO BENITEZ and GILBERT C. DULAY,* Respondents.
DECISION
BRION, J.:
Before us is a petition for certiorari filed by the People of the Philippines
(petitioner) assailing the decision dated March 22, 2002 of the
Sandiganbayan1 in Criminal Case Nos. 20345 and 20346 which granted the
demurrers to evidence filed by Imelda R. Marcos, Jose Conrado Benitez
(respondents) and Rafael Zagala.
The Facts
The petition stemmed from two criminal informations filed before the
Sandiganbayan, charging the respondents with the crime of malversation of
public funds, defined and penalized under Article 217, paragraph 4 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended. The charges arose from the transactions
that the respondents participated in, in their official capacities as Minister and
Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS) under the MHS
Kabisig Program.
In Criminal Case No. 20345, respondents, together with Gilbert C. Dulay,
were charged with malversation of public funds, committed as follows:

That on or about April 6, 1984 or sometime and/or [subsequent] thereto, in


Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, all public officers charged with the
administration of public funds and as such, accountable officers, Imelda R.
Marcos being then the Minister of Human Settlements, Jose Conrado
Benitez being then the Deputy Minister of Human Settlements and Gilbert C.
Dulay being then [the] Assistant Manager for Finance, Ministry of Human
Settlements, while in the performance of their official functions, taking
advantage of their positions, acting in concert and mutually helping one
another thru manifest partiality and evident bad faith did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and criminally, in a series of anomalous transactions,
abstract the total amount of P57.954 Million Pesos (sic), Philippine Currency
from the funds of the Ministry of Human Settlements in the following manner:
accused Conrado Benitez approved the series of cash advances made and
received by Gilbert C. Dulay, and made it appear that the funds were
transferred to the University of Life, a private foundation represented likewise
by Gilbert C. Dulay when in truth and in fact no such funds were transferred
while Imelda R. Marcos concurred in the series of such cash advances
approved by Jose Conrado Benitez and received by Gilbert C. Dulay and in
furtherance of the conspiracy, in order to camouflage the aforesaid
anomalous and irregular cash advances and withdrawals, Imelda R. Marcos
requested that the funds of the KSS Program be treated as "Confidential
Funds"; and as such be considered as "Classified Information"; and that the
above-named accused, once in possession of the said aggregate amount
ofP57.954 Million Pesos (sic), misappropriated and converted the same to
their own use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of the government in
the said amount.

the same time Presidential Action Officer, while in the performance of their
official functions, taking advantage of their positions, acting in concert and
mutually helping one another thru manifest partiality and evident bad faith[,]
did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and criminally, in a series of
anomalous transactions, abstract from the funds of the Ministry of Human
Settlements the total amount of P40 Million Pesos (sic), Philippine Currency,
in the following manner: Jose Conrado Benitez approved the cash advances
made by Rafael Zagala and Imelda R. Marcos concurred in the series of
cash advances approved by Jose Conrado Benitez in favor of Rafael G.
Zagala; and in furtherance of the conspiracy, Imelda R. Marcos in order to
camouflage the aforesaid anomalous and irregular cash advances,
requested that funds of the KSS Program be treated as "Confidential Funds";
and as such be considered as "Classified Information"; and the above-named
accused, once in possession of the total amount of P40 Million Pesos (sic),
misappropriated and converted the same to their own use and benefit to the
damage and prejudice of the government in the said amount.
CONTRARY TO LAW. [Emphasis ours]4
Only the respondents and Zagala were arraigned for the above charges to
which they pleaded not guilty; Dulay was not arraigned and remains at large.
On March 15, 2000, Zagala died, leaving the respondents to answer the
charges in the criminal cases.
After the pre-trial conference, a joint trial of the criminal cases ensued. The
prosecutions chief evidence was based on the lone testimony of
Commission of Audit (COA) Auditor Iluminada Cortez and the documentary
evidence used in the audit examination of the subject funds. 5

CONTRARY TO LAW. [Emphasis ours]2


In Criminal Case No. 20346, respondents together with Zagala were charged
with malversation of public funds under these allegations:

The gist of COA Auditor Cortez direct testimony was summarized by the
Sandiganbaya, as follows:
In Criminal Case No. 20345

That on or about April 6 to April 16, 19843 and/or sometime or subsequent


thereto, in Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, all public officers charged with
the administration of public funds and as such, accountable officers, Imelda
R. Marcos being then the Minister of Human Settlements, Jose Conrado
Benitez being then the Deputy Minister of Human Settlements[,] and Rafael
Zagala being then [the] Assistant Manager for Regional Operations and at

[s]he was appointed on March 31, 1986 by then COA Chairman Teofisto
Guingona, Jr. to head a team of COA auditors. Upon examination of the
documents, she declared that an amount of P100 Million Pesos (sic) from the
Office of Budget and Management was released for the KSS Project of the
Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS) by virtue of an Advice of Allotment for
Calendar Year 1984. Also, an amount of P42.4 Million Pesos (sic) was

separately disbursed for the Kabisig Program of the Ministry of Human


Settlements. With regard to the amount ofP100 Million Pesos (sic) received
by the MHS, P60 Million Pesos (sic) [was] disbursed through cash advances.
Of the P60 Million Pesos (sic) in cash advances, accused Zagala
received P40 Million Pesos (sic) in four (4) disbursements while accused
Dulay received the remaining P20 Million Pesos (sic) in two disbursements.
With respect to accused Rafael Zagala, the cash advances consist of four (4)
disbursement vouchers in the amount of P5 Million Pesos (sic), P10 Million
Pesos (sic), P10 Million Pesos (sic) and P15 Million Pesos (sic). All of these
vouchers are in the name of accused Zagala as claimant and accused
Benitez as approving officer and are accompanied by their corresponding
Treasury Warrants that were countersigned by accused Benitez and
approved by accused Dulay.
In contrast, x x x a disbursement voucher in the amount of P10 Million Pesos
(sic) was drawn in favor of accused Gilbert Dulay and approved by accused
Benitez. Pursuant to this, a Treasury Warrant was issued to the order of
accused Dulay, countersigned by accused Benitez and approved by accused
Zagala. Another voucher was drawn in favor of accused Dulay in the amount
of P10 Million Pesos (sic) and approved by accused Benitez. Again, a
Treasury Warrant was issued to the order of accused Dulay in the amount
of P10 Million Pesos (sic), which was countersigned by accused Benitez and
approved by accused Zagala.
x x x [A]ccused Marcos sent a letter to then President Ferdinand E. Marcos
requesting that the fund intended for the KSS Project in the amount of P100
Million Pesos (sic) be deemed as "Confidential Fund".
x x x [T]he liquidation of accused Zagalas account, which was contained in a
Journal Voucher dated November 27, 1984, was without any supporting
documents. Upon this discovery, witness requested and secured a
certification from the Manager of the National Government Audit Office to the
effect that the COA did not receive any document coming from the MHS.
However, this liquidation voucher which contained figures in the total amount
of P50 Million Pesos (sic), comprised the entire cash advances of accused
Zagala in the amount of P40 Million Pesos (sic) and the P10 Million Pesos
(sic) cash advance made by accused Dulay. Since the amount ofP10 Million
Pesos (sic) was already contained in Zagalas Journal Voucher, the witness
and her team of auditors tried to locate the remaining P10 Million Pesos (sic)

and found out that accused Dulay had liquidated the same
amount.6 (footnotes omitted)
According to COA Auditor Cortez, Zagalas cash advances were supported
by a liquidation report and supporting documents submitted to the resident
auditor even before the P100 Million Kilusang Sariling Sikap (KSS) fund was
made confidential.7 The witness also testified that the COA resident auditor
found no irregularity in this liquidation report.8
COA Auditor Cortez stated that since the P100 Million KSS fund was
classified as confidential, the liquidation report should have been submitted
to the COA Chairman who should have then issued a credit memo. No credit
memo was ever found during the audit examination of the MHS
accounts.9 COA Auditor Cortez admitted that she did not verify whether the
supporting documents of Zagalas cash advances were sent to the COA
Chairman.10
Respondent Marcos was prosecuted because of her participation as Minister
of the MHS, in requesting that theP100 Million KSS fund be declared
confidential. Respondent Benitez was prosecuted because he was the
approving officer in these disputed transactions.
In Criminal Case No. 20346
Regarding the Kabisig Program of the MHS, the COA team of auditors
examined the vouchers of the MHS, which upon inspection revealed that
there were at least three (3) memoranda of agreements entered into between
the MHS and University of Life (UL). With reference to the first Memorandum
of Agreement dated July 2, 1985, an amount of P21.6 Million Pesos (sic) was
transferred by the MHS to the UL to pay for the operations of the Community
Mobilization Program and the Kabisig Program of the MHS. Accused Benitez
as the Deputy Minister of the MHS and accused Dulay as Vice President of
the UL were the signatories of this agreement. Although there is no
disbursement voucher in the records, it is admitted that a Treasury Warrant
was drawn in the sum of P21.6 Million Pesos (sic). The second
Memorandum of Agreement dated July 10, 1985 provided for a fund transfer
in the amount of P3.8 Million Pesos (sic) for the Human Resources
Development Plan of the MHS. Accordingly, a Disbursement Voucher
certified by accused Dulay and approved by accused Benitez was drawn in
the sum ofP3.8 Million Pesos (sic). The third Memorandum of Agreement in

the sum of P17 Million Pesos (sic) was granted for the acquisition of motor
vehicles and other equipment to support the Kabisig Program of the MHS.
For that reason, a Disbursement Voucher pertaining thereto accompanied by
a Treasury Warrant was drafted.
Similarly, the witness declared that although they did not examine any of the
records of the UL, the abovementioned sums were not received by the UL
based on the affidavit of the UL Comptroller named Pablo Cueto. In the same
way, an affidavit was executed by the UL Chief Accountant named Ernesto
Jiao attesting that there is no financial transaction on record covering the
purchase of motor vehicles. Again, witness Cortez admitted that they did not
examine the books of the UL on this matter but only inquired about it from Mr.
Jiao. The affidavit of Mr. Jiao with respect to the nonexistence of the
purchases of motor vehicles was further corroborated by the affidavit of one
Romeo Sison, who was the Administrative Assistant of the Property Section
of the UL.
The respective treasury warrants representing the various sums of P21.6
Million Pesos (sic), P17 Million Pesos (sic) and P3.8 Million Pesos (sic) were
subsequently deposited with the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB),
Shaw Blvd. Branch, Mandaluyong, under various accounts. Soon after,
several checks were drawn out of these funds as evidenced by the Photostat
copies recovered by the COA auditors. In the course of the testimony of the
witness, she revealed that her team of auditors classified said several checks
into different groups in accordance with the account numbers of the said
deposits.
x x x [T]he amount of P3.8 Million Pesos (sic), the same was intended for the
Human Resource Development Plan of the UL. x x x [T]he aforesaid amount
is not a cash advance but rather paid as an expense account, which is
charged directly as if services have already been rendered. Hence, UL is not
mandated to render liquidation for the disbursement of P3.8 Million Pesos
(sic).
The sums of P21.6 Million Pesos (sic) and P17 Million Pesos (sic) were
deposited under x x x the name of the UL Special Account. Out of these
deposits, the following first sequence of withdrawals of checks 11 payable
either to its order or to cash x x x reached a total sum of P5,690,750.93
Million Pesos (sic).

The second list of checks12 [which] consists of numerous [Managers] Checks


x x x reached the amount ofP18,416,062.15.
A third set of checks allegedly consists of nine (9) ordinary checks and two
(2) managers checks in the sum ofP1,971,568.00 and P4,566,712.18[,]
respectively. x x x
Moreover, [a] witness confirmed that as regards the amount of P17 Million
Pesos (sic) intended for the acquisition of motor vehicles, P10.4 Million
Pesos (sic) was spent for the purchase of some five hundred (500) units of
motorcycles while P2.1 Million Pesos (sic) was used to procure eight (8)
brand new cars. The balance of P4.5 Million Pesos (sic) was later refunded
to the MHS. As regards the five hundred (500) units of motorcycle, the
Presidential Task Force furnished the witness documents attesting to the
transfers of some two hundred seventy-one (271) units of motorcycles from
the UL to the MHS by virtue of Deed of Assignments allegedly executed on
February 17, 1986. However, of the two hundred seventy-one (271) units of
motorcycle, only one hundred ninety (190) units were covered with complete
documents. With respect to the eight (8) brand new cars, the team of
auditors did not see any registration papers. (footnotes omitted;
underscorings ours)13
COA Auditor Cortez admitted that the audit team did not conduct a physical
inventory of these motor vehicles; it based its report on the information given
by the Presidential Task Force.14 She emphasized that the audit team found it
highly irregular that the motor vehicles were registered in the name of
University of Life (UL) and not in the name of MHS; and for this reason, she
believed that no proper liquidation was made of these vehicles by MHS. 15
After COA Auditor Cortez testimony, the prosecution submitted its formal
offer of evidence and rested its case.
Subsequently, separate motions to dismiss the criminal cases, by way of
demurrers to evidence, were filed by Zagala and the respondents on
November 15, 1997, January 5, 1998 and January 28, 1998; on January 27,
1998, the prosecution filed a Manifestation stating that it was not opposing
the demurrers to evidence.16
The Sandiganbayans Ruling

The Sandiganbayan granted the demurrers to evidence and acquitted the


respondents in its assailed decision dated March 22, 2002. The dispositive
portion of this decision reads:

funds involved and the special prosecutors failure to oppose the demurrers
to evidence.
The Courts Ruling

Wherefore, the Demurrers to Evidence are hereby granted. Accused Imelda


R. Marcos, Jose Conrado Benitez and Gilbert C. Dulay are hereby acquitted
of the crime of Malversation in Criminal Case No. 20435 for insufficiency of
evidence to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Accused Imelda R.
Marcos, Jose Conrado Benitez and Rafael G. Zagala are likewise acquitted
of the offense of Malversation in Criminal Case No. 20346 for insufficiency of
evidence in proving their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. 17
In dismissing these criminal cases, the Sandiganbayan found no evidence of
misappropriation of the subject funds in the two criminal cases considering
the unreliability and incompleteness of the audit report. 18
The Issues

We do not find the petition meritorious.


We are called to overturn a judgment of acquittal in favor of the respondents
brought about by the dismissal, for insufficiency of evidence, of the
malversation charged in the two criminal cases. As a rule, once the court
grants the demurrer, the grant amounts to an acquittal; any further
prosecution of the accused would violate the constitutional proscription on
double jeopardy.20 Notably, the proscription against double jeopardy only
envisages appeals based on errors of judgment, but not errors of jurisdiction.
Jurisprudence recognizes two grounds where double jeopardy will not attach,
these are: (i) on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction;21 and/or (ii) where there is a denial of a partys due
process rights.22

The issues for our consideration are:


1. Whether the prosecutors actions and/or omissions in these cases
effectively deprived the State of its right to due process; and
2. Whether the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in
granting the demurrers to evidence of the respondents.
The petitioner claims that the State was denied due process because of the
nonfeasance committed by the special prosecutor in failing to present
sufficient evidence to prove its case. It claims that the prosecutor failed to
protect the States interest in the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan. To
support its position, petitioner cites the case of Merciales v. Court of
Appeals19 where the Court nullified the dismissal of the criminal cases due to
the serious nonfeasance committed by the public prosecutor.
The petitioner argues that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction that resulted in a
miscarriage of justice prejudicial to the States interest when it took the
demurrers to evidence at face value instead of requiring the presentation of
additional evidence, taking into consideration the huge amounts of public

A judgment of acquittal sought to be reviewed on the basis of grave abuse of


discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction or on the ground of
denial of due process implies an invalid or otherwise void judgment. If either
or both grounds are established, the judgment of acquittal is considered void;
as a void judgment, it is legally inexistent and does not have the effect of an
acquittal.23 Thus, the defense of double jeopardy will not lie in such a case. 24
Accordingly, a review of a dismissal order of the Sandiganbayan granting an
accuseds demurrer to evidence may be done via the special civil action of
certiorari under Rule 65, based on the narrow ground of grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.25 Mere allegations of
grave abuse of discretion, however, are not enough to establish this ground;
so also, mere abuse of discretion is not sufficient.26 On the petitioner lies the
burden of demonstrating, plainly and distinctly, all facts essential to establish
its right to a writ of certiorari. 27
In the present case, the petitioner particularly imputes grave abuse of
discretion on the Sandiganbayan for its grant of the demurrer to evidence,
without requiring the presentation of additional evidence and despite the lack
of basis for the grant traceable to the special prosecutors conduct. The

special prosecutors conduct allegedly also violated the States due process
rights.
There is grave abuse of discretion when the public respondent acts in a
capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic manner, amounting to lack of
jurisdiction, in the exercise of its judgment.28 An act is done without
jurisdiction if the public respondent does not have the legal power to act or
where the respondent, being clothed with the power to act, oversteps its
authority as determined by law,29 or acts outside the contemplation of law.
For the grant of the present petition, the petitioner must prove, based on the
existing records, action in the above manner by the Sandiganbayan.
I. States right to due process
In People v. Leviste,30 we stressed that the State, like any other litigant, is
entitled to its day in court; in criminal proceedings, the public prosecutor acts
for and represents the State, and carries the burden of diligently pursuing the
criminal prosecution in a manner consistent with public interest. 31 The States
right to be heard in court rests to a large extent on whether the public
prosecutor properly undertook his duties in pursuing the criminal action for
the punishment of the guilty.32
The prosecutors role in the administration of justice is to lay before the court,
fairly and fully, every fact and circumstance known to him or her to exist,
without regard to whether such fact tends to establish the guilt or innocence
of the accused and without regard to any personal conviction or presumption
on what the judge may or is disposed to do.33 The prosecutor owes the State,
the court and the accused the duty to lay before the court the pertinent facts
at his disposal with methodical and meticulous attention, clarifying
contradictions and filling up gaps and loopholes in his evidence to the end
that the courts mind may not be tortured by doubts; that the innocent may
not suffer; and that the guilty may not escape unpunished. 34 In the conduct of
the criminal proceedings, the prosecutor has ample discretionary power to
control the conduct of the presentation of the prosecution evidence, part of
which is the option to choose what evidence to present or who to call as
witness.35
The petitioner claims that the special prosecutor failed in her duty to give
effective legal representation to enable the State to fully present its case
against the respondents, citing Merciales v. Court of Appeals 36 where we

considered the following factual circumstances - (1) the public prosecutor


rested the case knowing fully well that the evidence adduced was insufficient;
(2) the refusal of the public prosecutor to present other witnesses available to
take the stand; (3) the knowledge of the trial court of the insufficiency of the
prosecutions evidence when the demurrer to evidence was filed before it;
and (4) the trial courts failure to require the presentation of additional
evidence before it acted on the demurrer to evidence. All these
circumstances effectively resulted in the denial of the States right to due
process, attributable to the inaction of the public prosecutor and/or the trial
court.
Merciales was followed by Valencia v. Sandiganbayan,37 where we
recognized the violation of the States right to due process in criminal
proceedings because of sufficient showing that the special prosecutor
haphazardly handled the prosecution. In upholding the prosecutions right to
present additional evidence under the circumstances, Valencia took into
account the fact that the former special prosecutor rested his case solely on
the basis of a Joint Stipulation of Facts that was not even signed by the
accused.
These two cases, to our mind, not only show the existing factual
considerations38 that led to the conclusion that the public prosecutor willfully
and deliberately failed to perform his mandated duty to represent the States
interest, but stress as well that there must be sufficient facts on record
supporting this conclusion. In the absence of these supporting facts, no
conclusion similar to the Merciales and Valencia outcomes can be reached.
The requirement for supporting factual premises finds complement in the
general rule founded on public policy39that the negligence or mistake of a
counsel binds the client. While this rule admits of exceptions 40 (as when the
gross negligence of a counsel resulted in depriving the client of due process),
the application of the exception likewise depends on a showing of facts on
record demonstrating a clear violation of the clients due process rights.
II. The factual premises cited in the petition and the issue of due process
In the present case, we find that the State was not denied due process in the
proceedings before the Sandiganbayan. There was no indication that the
special prosecutor deliberately and willfully failed to present available
evidence or that other evidence could be secured. For purposes of clarity, we

shall address the instances cited in the petition as alleged proof of the denial
of the States due process rights, and our reasons in finding them
inadequate.
First. The petitioner bewails the alleged lack of efforts by the special
prosecutor to ascertain the last known addresses and whereabouts, and to
compel the attendance of Pablo C. Cueto, Ernesto M. Jiao and Romeo F.
Sison, UL officers who executed affidavits in connection with the alleged
anomalous fund transfers from MHS to UL.
The special prosecutor likewise allegedly did not present the records of the
UL to show that the sums under the Memoranda of Agreement were not
received by UL (based on the affidavit of UL Comptroller Cueto) and that no
financial transactions really took place for the purchase of the motor vehicles
(based on the affidavit of UL Chief Accountant Jiao, as corroborated by the
affidavit of UL Administrative Assistant Sison).
We note that, other than making a claim that these instances demonstrate
the serious nonfeasance by the special prosecutor, the petitioner failed to
offer any explanation showing how these instances deprived the State of due
process. An examination of the records shows that the affidavits of
Cueto,41 Jiao and Sison surfaced early on to prove the alleged anomalous
fund transfers from MHS to UL. The records further show that during the
hearing of December 5, 1995 - when the special prosecutor was asked by
the presiding judge what she intended to do with these affidavits the
special prosecutor replied that she planned to present Jiao and Cueto who
were the chief accountant and the designated comptroller, respectively, of
UL.42 The same records, however, show that, indeed, an attempt had been
made to bring these prospective witnesses to court; as early as April 20,
1994, subpoenas had been issued to these three individuals and these were
all returned unserved because the subjects had RESIGNED from the service
sometime in 1992, and their present whereabouts were unknown. 43
We consider at this point that these individuals executed their respective
affidavits on the alleged anomalous transactions between MHS and UL
sometime in 1986; from that period on, and until the actual criminal
prosecution started in 1994, a considerable time had elapsed bringing
undesirable changes one of which was the disappearance of these
prospective witnesses.

Significantly, no evidence exists or has been submitted showing that the


special prosecutor willfully and deliberately opted not to present these
individuals. The petitioner also failed to show that the whereabouts of these
individuals could have been located by the exercise of reasonable diligence
in order to prove that the special prosecutor had been remiss in performing
her duties. We can in fact deduce from the allegations in the petition that
even at present, the petitioner has not and cannot ascertain the whereabouts
of these prospective witnesses.
Further, the records show that the affidavits of these individuals (who denied
the transfer of the funds in the amounts of P21.6 Million, P3.8 Million
and P17 Million from MHS to UL) were refuted by contrary evidence of the
prosecution itself. The records indicate that the special prosecutor presented
treasury warrants and disbursement vouchers issued in the name of UL,
bearing the respective amounts for transactions between MHS and UL. 44
The special prosecutor admitted that the audit team failed to examine the
records of UL to support the prosecutions allegation of an anomalous fund
transfer. COA Auditor Cortez admitted, too, that the amounts (P21.6 Million
and P3.8 Million) were transferred45 to UL46 and that a portion of the amount
of P17 Million, i.e.,P12.5 Million, was used to purchase 500 motorcycles and
eight cars, while the remaining amount of P4.5 Million was refunded by UL to
MHS.47
Under these facts, and in the absence of indicators too that other persons
could have testified, we cannot give weight to the petitioners allegation that
no efforts were exerted by the special prosecutor. On the contrary, we find
under the circumstances that the special prosecutor exerted reasonable
efforts to present these individuals in court, but failed to do so for reasons
beyond her control. One of these reasons appears to be the simple lack of
concrete evidence of irregularities in the respondents handling of the MHS
funds.
Second. The petitioner alleged that the special prosecutor failed to present
the resident auditor to testify on the physical inventory of the vehicles, or to
produce documents showing that an inspection was conducted on the
vehicles.
The prosecutions theory, as the records would show, was to prove that there
had been misappropriation of funds since the motor vehicles were registered

in ULs name instead of the MHS.48 In this regard, the special prosecutor
presented COA Auditor Cortez who testified that the audit team did not assail
the existence of the motor vehicles and she also did not dispute that the
amount of P12.5 Million (out of P17 Million) was used to purchase 500
motorcycles and eight cars. The witness stated that the audit team was more
concerned with the documentation of the disbursements made rather than
the physical liquidation (inventory) of the funds.49 The witness further
explained that it was the Presidential Task Force which had the duty to keep
track of the existence of the motor vehicles.50 She reiterated that the audit
team was only questioning the registration of the vehicles; it never doubted
that the vehicles were purchased.51
More importantly, COA Auditor Cortez stated that at the time the team made
the audit examination in April 1986, 500 registration papers supported the
purchase of these motorcycles;52 none of the audit team at that time found
this documentation inadequate or anomalous.53 The witness also stated that
the Presidential Task Force gave the audit team a folder showing that P10.4
Million was used to purchase the motorcycles and P2.1 Million was used to
purchase the cars.54 Checks were presented indicating the dates when the
purchase of some of the motor vehicles was made.55 COA Auditor Cortez
also testified that 270 of these motorcycles had already been transferred by
UL in the name of MHS.56 She stated that all the documents are in order
except for the registration of the motor vehicles in the name of UL. 57
Given these admissions regarding the existence of the motor vehicles, the
presentation of the resident auditor who would simply testify on the physical
inventory of the motor vehicles, or that an inspection had been conducted
thereon, was unnecessary. Her presentation in court would not materially
reinforce the prosecutions case; thus, the omission to present her did not
deprive the State of due process. To repeat, the prosecutions theory of
misappropriation was not based on the fact that the funds were not used to
purchase motor vehicles, in which case, the testimony of the resident auditor
would have had material implications. Rather, the prosecutions theory, as
established by the records, shows that the imputed misappropriation
stemmed from the registration of the motor vehicles in ULs name an
administrative lapse in light of the relationship of UL to MHS simply as an
implementing agency.58
Third. Despite the Sandiganbayans warning on June 7, 1996 that the various
checks covering the cash advances for P40 Million were "photostatic" copies,

the special prosecutor still failed to present the certified copies from the legal
custodian of these commercial documents.
The petitioner faults the special prosecutor for failing to present the original
copies of the checks drawn out of theP21.6 Million and P17 Million
combination account from the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), as well
as theP3.8 Million expense account with the same bank. The presentation
would have allegedly proven the misappropriation of these amounts. 59
Records show that instead of presenting the original copies of these checks,
the special prosecutor tried to establish, through the testimony of COA
Auditor Cortez, that these checks were photocopied from the original checks
in the possession of UCPB, which were obtained through the assistance of
the UL management.60 Thus, while the originals of these checks were not
presented, COA Auditor Cortez testified that the photostatic copies were
furnished by the UCPB which had custody of the original checks. 61 Further,
the witness also testified that at the time she made the examination of these
documents, the entries thereon were legible.62 She also presented a
summary schedule of the various micro film prints of the UCPB checks that
she examined.63
At any rate, we observe that the defense never objected 64 to the submission
of the photostatic copies of the UCPB checks as evidence, thus making the
production of the originals dispensable. This was our view in Estrada v. Hon.
Desierto65 where we ruled that the production of the original may be
dispensed with if the opponent does not dispute the contents of the
document and no other useful purpose would be served by requiring its
production. In such case, we ruled that secondary evidence of the content of
the writing would be received in evidence if no objection was made to its
reception.66 We note, too, that in addition to the defenses failure to object to
the presentation of photostatic copies of the checks, the petitioner failed to
show that the presentation of the originals would serve a useful purpose,
pursuant to our ruling in Estrada.
We reiterate in this regard our earlier observation that other than
enumerating instances in the petition where the State was allegedly deprived
of due process in the principal case, no explanation was ever offered by the
petitioner on how each instance resulted in the deprivation of the States right
to due process warranting the annulment of the presently assailed
Sandiganbayan ruling.

Fourth. The petitioner faults the special prosecutor for making no effort to
produce the "final audit report" dated June 6, 1986, referred to in the last
paragraph of the Affidavit67 dated June 10, 1987 of COA Auditor Cortez.
The records show that although this final audit report dated June 6, 1986 was
not presented in court, the prosecution questioned her on the contents of this
audit report since she had a hand in its preparation. COA Auditor Cortez
directly testified on the audit teams findings and examination, which took
three hearings to complete; the cross-examination of COA Auditor Cortez
took two hearings to complete; and subsequently, the Sandiganbayan
ordered that a clarificatory hearing be held with respect to COA Auditor
Cortez testimony. In addition to her testimony, the special prosecutor did
present, too, other pieces of documentary evidence (from which the final
audit report was based) before the Sandiganbayan.
Under these circumstances, we are reluctant to consider the special
prosecutors omission as significant in the petitioners allegation of serious
nonfeasance or misfeasance.
Fifth. The petitioner presents the special prosecutors failure to oppose the
demurrer to evidence as its last point and as basis for the applicability of the
Merciales ruling.
The failure to oppose per se cannot be a ground for grave abuse of
discretion. The real issue, to our mind, is whether the special prosecutor had
basis to act as she did. As the point-by-point presentation above shows, the
dismissal of the criminal cases cannot be attributed to any grossly negligent
handling by the special prosecutor. To begin with, the prosecutions case
suffered from lack of witnesses because, among others, of the time that
elapsed between the act charged and the start of the actual prosecution in
1994; and from lack of sufficient preparatory investigation conducted,
resulting in insufficiency of its evidence as a whole. In sum, in the absence of
circumstances approximating the facts of Merciales and Valencia, which
circumstances the petitioner failed to show, no basis exists to conclude that
the special prosecutor grossly erred in failing to oppose the demurrer to
evidence.
Neither are we persuaded by the petitioners position that the special
prosecutors Manifestation of non-opposition to the demurrer needed to be
submitted to, and approved by, her superiors.68 The petitioners argument

assumes that the special prosecutor lacked the necessary authority from her
superiors when she filed her non-opposition to the demurrers to evidence.
This starting assumption, in our view, is incorrect. The correct premise and
presumption, since the special prosecutor is a State delegate, is that she had
all incidental and necessary powers to prosecute the case in the States
behalf so that her actions as a State delegate bound the State. We do not
believe that the State can have an unbridled discretion to disown the acts of
its delegates at will unless it can clearly establish that its agent had been
grossly negligent69 or was guilty of collusion with the accused or other
interested party,70 resulting in the States deprivation of its due process rights
as client-principal.
Gross negligence exists where there is want, or absence of or failure to
exercise slight care or diligence, or the entire absence of care. It involves a
thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid
them.71 As the above discussions show, the State failed to clearly establish
the gross negligence on the part of the special prosecutor (or to show or
even allege that there was collusion in the principal case between the special
prosecutor and the respondents) that resulted in depriving the petitioner of its
due process rights; and, consequently prevent the application of the rule on
double jeopardy. If at all, what the records emphasized, as previously
discussed, is the weakness of the prosecutions evidence as a whole rather
than the gross negligence of the special prosecutor. In these lights, we must
reject the petitioners position.
III. Grave abuse of discretion
Under the Rules on Criminal Procedure, the Sandiganbayan is under no
obligation to require the parties to present additional evidence when a
demurrer to evidence is filed. In a criminal proceeding, the burden lies with
the prosecution to prove that the accused committed the crime charged
beyond reasonable doubt, as the constitutional presumption of innocence
ordinarily stands in favor of the accused. Whether the Sandiganbayan will
intervene in the course of the prosecution of the case is within its exclusive
jurisdiction, competence and discretion, provided that its actions do not result
in the impairment of the substantial rights of the accused, or of the right of
the State and of the offended party to due process of law.72
A discussion of the violation of the States right to due process in the present
case, however, is intimately linked with the gross negligence or the fraudulent

action of the States agent. The absence of this circumstance in the present
case cannot but have a negative impact on how the petitioner would want the
Court to view the Sandiganbayans actuation and exercise of discretion.
The court, in the exercise of its sound discretion, may require or allow the
prosecution to present additional evidence (at its own initiative or upon a
motion) after a demurrer to evidence is filed. This exercise, however, must be
for good reasons and in the paramount interest of justice. 73 As mentioned,
the court may require the presentation of further evidence if its action on the
demurrer to evidence would patently result in the denial of due process; it
may also allow the presentation of additional evidence if it is newly
discovered, if it was omitted through inadvertence or mistake, or if it is
intended to correct the evidence previously offered.74
In this case, we cannot attribute grave abuse of discretion to the
Sandiganbayan when it exercised restraint and did not require the
presentation of additional evidence, given the clear weakness of the case at
that point. We note that under the obtaining circumstances, the petitioner
failed to show what and how additional available evidence could have helped
and the paramount interest of justice sought to be achieved. It does not
appear that pieces of evidence had been omitted through inadvertence or
mistake, or that these pieces of evidence are intended to correct evidence
previously offered. More importantly, it does not appear that these
contemplated additional pieces of evidence (which the special prosecutor
allegedly should have presented) were ever present and available. For
instance, at no point in the records did the petitioner unequivocally state that
it could present the three UL officers, Cueto, Jiao and Sison. The petitioner
also failed to demonstrate its possession of or access to these documents
(such as the final audit report) to support the prosecutions charges the
proof that the State had been deprived of due process due to the special
prosecutors alleged inaction.
IIIa. Grave abuse of discretion and the demurrers to evidence
In Criminal Case No. 20345 that charged conspiracy for abstracting P57.59
Million out of the P100 Million KSS fund, the prosecutions evidence showed
that P60 Million of this fund was disbursed by respondent Benitez, as
approving officer, in the nature of cash advances to Zagala (who received a
total amount of P40 Million) and Dulay (who received P20 Million).

To prove the misappropriation, the prosecution tried to establish that there


was an irregularity in the procedure of liquidating these amounts on the basis
of COA Auditor Cortez testimony that the liquidation should have been made
before the COA Chairman (not to the resident auditor of the MHS) because
these funds were confidential.75
Quite evident from the prosecutions position is that it did not dispute whether
a liquidation had been made of the whole amount of P60 Million; rather, what
it disputed was the identity of the person before whom the liquidation should
have been made. Before the directive of former President Marcos was made
which declared the KSS funds (of which the P60 Million formed part) to be
confidential, the liquidation of this amount must be made before the resident
auditor of the MHS. With the issuance of the directive, liquidation should
have been made to the COA Chairman who should have then issued a credit
memo to prove proper liquidation.76
To justify conviction for malversation of public funds, the prosecution has to
prove that the accused received public funds or property that they could not
account for, or was not in their possession and which they could not give a
reasonable excuse for the disappearance of such public funds or
property.77 The prosecution failed in this task as the subject funds were
liquidated and were not shown to have been converted for personal use by
the respondents.
The records reveal that the amounts of P50 Million and P10 Million were
liquidated by Zagala and Dulay, respectively.78 On Zagalas part, the
liquidation of P50 Million (P10 Million of which was the cash advance given to
Dulay) was made to resident auditor Flerida V. Creencia on September 25,
1984 or before the directive of former President Marcos (declaring the said
funds confidential) was issued on November 7, 1984.79 Hence, at the time
the liquidation of the amount was made, the liquidation report submitted to
the resident auditor was the proper procedure of liquidation. Respondent
Benitez, for his part, submitted Journal Voucher No. 4350208 dated
November 27, 1984 stating, among others, that as early as June 22, 1984,
the supporting papers for the liquidation of the P50 Million had already been
submitted to the COA.80
Moreover, even if the liquidation should have been made in compliance with
the former Presidents directive, the prosecutions evidence did not
sufficiently establish the non-existence of a credit memo. As admitted by

COA Auditor Cortez, certain documents they were looking for during the audit
examination (including the credit memo) could no longer be located after the
(EDSA) revolution.81 She further declared that she did not know if COA
Chairman Alfredo Tantingco complied with the required audit examination of
the liquidated P60 Million.82
In Criminal Case No. 20346, respondents are sought to be held liable under
the criminal information for converting P40 Million (subdivided to P21.6
Million, P3.8 Million and P17 Million or a total of P42.4 Million) to their own
use given that these funds were never allegedly transferred to UL, the
intended beneficiary.
Records show that the disputed amount allegedly malversed was
actually P37,757,364.57 Million because of evidence that an amount of P4.5
Million was returned by respondent Benitez.83 As previously mentioned, the
documentary evidence adduced reveals the existence of treasury warrants
and disbursement vouchers issued in the name of UL bearing the amounts
of P21.6 Million, P3.8 Million and P17 Million.84 Documentary evidence also
exists showing that these amounts were deposited in the UCPB and drawn
afterwards by means of checks issued for purchases intended for the Kabisig
Program of the MHS.

showed that the total amount of P21.6 Million was exhausted in the Kabisig
Program.87
With respect to the P17 Million, evidence adduced showed that 270 units of
the motorcycles have already been transferred in the name of MHS by
UL.88 There is also evidence that the audit team initially found nothing
irregular in the documentation of the 500 motorcycles during the audit
examination conducted in April 1986; the same goes for the eight cars
purchased.
Under the circumstances, we agree with the Sandiganbayan that registration
of these vehicles in ULs name alone did not constitute malversation in the
absence of proof, based on the available evidence, to establish that the
respondents benefited from the registration of these motor vehicles in ULs
name, or that these motor vehicles were converted by the respondents to
their own personal use.89 In the end, the prosecutions evidence tended to
prove that the subject funds were actually used for their intended
purpose.1wphi1
IV. Conclusion

Except for the appropriated P17 Million, the petitioners evidence does not
sufficiently show how the amounts ofP21.6 Million and P3.8 Million were
converted to the personal use by the respondents. The testimony of COA
Auditor Cortez revealed that documents showing the disbursements of the
subject funds were in possession of one Flordeliz Gomez as the Records
Custodian and Secretary of UL. For undisclosed reasons, however, COA
Auditor Cortez failed to communicate with Gomez but merely relied on the
documents and checks, which the audit team already had in its possession. 85

In dismissing this petition, we observe that the criminal cases might have
been prompted by reasons other than injury to government interest as the
primary concern.90 These other reasons might have triggered the hastiness
that attended the conduct of audit examinations which resulted in evidentiary
gaps in the prosecutions case to hold the respondents liable for the crime of
malversation.91 As matters now stand, no sufficient evidence exists to support
the charges of malversation against the respondents. Hence, the
Sandiganbayan did not commit any grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction when it granted the demurrers to evidence and,
consequently, dismissed the criminal cases against the respondents.

This omission, in our view, raises doubts on the completeness and accuracy
of the audit examination pertaining to the P21.6 Million and P3.8 Million
funds. Such doubt was further strengthened by COA Auditor Cortez
testimony showing that P3.8 Million was listed in the books of the MHS as a
direct expense account to which UL is not required to render an accounting
or liquidation.86 Also, she admitted that the amount of P21.6 Million was
contained in a liquidation voucher submitted by Dulay, which was included in
the transmittal letter signed by the respondents to the COA and accompanied
by a performance report on the Kabisig Program. This performance report

We take this opportunity to remind the prosecution that this Court is as much
a judge in behalf of an accused-defendant whose liberty is in jeopardy, as it
is the judge in behalf of the State, for the purpose of safeguarding the
interests of society.92 Therefore, unless the petitioner demonstrates, through
evidence and records, that its case falls within the narrow exceptions from
the criminal protection of double jeopardy, the Court has no recourse but to
apply the finality-of-acquittal rule.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition.


SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 178626

June 13, 2012

CECILIA U. LEGRAMA, Petitioner,


vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision 1 dated
January 30, 2007 of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 25204 finding
petitioner guilty of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds, and the
Resolution2 dated May 30, 2007 denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration.
The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:
On September 5, 1996, the Office of the Provincial Auditor of the
Commission on Audit (COA) for the Province of Zambales issued PAO Office
No. 96-093 directing an Audit Team composed of State Auditor 1 Virginia D.
Bulalacao, State Auditor 1 Teresita Cayabyab and Auditing Examiner II
Lourdes Castillo, to conduct an examination of the cash and account of
petitioner Cecilia Legrama, the Municipal Treasurer of the Municipality of San
Antonio, Zambales.
After the audit, the COA prepared a Special Cash Examination Report on the
Cash and Accounts of Ms. Cecilia U. Legrama4 dated October 1, 1996. The
report contained the findings that petitioners cash accountability was short
of P289,022.75 and that there was an unaccounted Internal Revenue
Allotment (IRA) in the amount ofP863,878.00, thereby showing a total
shortage in the amount of P1,152,900.75. Included in the shortage is the
amount of P709,462.80, representing the total amount of various sales
invoices, chits, vales, and disbursement vouchers,5 which were disallowed in
the audit for lack of supporting documents. From the total amount of the
shortage, petitioner was able to restitute the initial amount of P60,000.00,6

Consequently, petitioner and Romeo D. Lonzanida (Lonzanida), the


Municipal Mayor of San Antonio, Zambales at the time the audit was
conducted, were charged in an Information7 dated December 15, 1998 with
the crime of Malversation of Public Funds. The accusatory portion of which
reads:
That on or about October 1, 1996 and for sometime prior or subsequent
thereto, in the Municipality of San Antonio, Province of Zambales, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable tribunal, the above named
accused ROMEO D. LONZANIDA, being then Municipal Mayor of San
Antonio, Zambales, in connivance and conspiracy with co-accused CECILIA
U. LEGRAMA, being then Municipal Treasurer of San Antonio, Zambales,
who, as such, is accountable for public funds received and/or entrusted to
her by reason of her office, both, while in the performance of their respective
official functions, taking advantage of their official positions, and committing
the offense in relation to their respective functions, did then and there,
wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously and with grave abuse of confidence, take,
misappropriate and convert to their personal use and benefit, the amount
ofP1,152,900.758 from such public funds, to the damage of the government,
in the aforesaid amount.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Both petitioner and Lonzanida voluntarily surrendered and posted their
respective cash bonds.
Upon arraignment, petitioner and Lonzanida pleaded not guilty to the offense
charged; hence, trial on the merits ensued.
To establish its case, the prosecution presented the testimony of the Audit
Team leader, Virginia D. Bulalacao. On the other hand, the defense
presented both the testimonies of petitioner and Lonzanida. After the parties
have submitted their respective pleadings and evidence, the Sandiganbayan
rendered a Decision9 acquitting Lonzanida. However, the tribunal concluded
that petitioner malversed the total amount of P1,131,595.05 and found her
guilty of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds and sentenced her
accordingly the dispositive portion of the Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, for failure of the prosecution to prove


his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, accused ROMEO D. LONZANIDA, is
hereby acquitted of the instant crime charged.
The Hold Departure Order issued against him is hereby ordered lifted. The
cash bond which he posted to obtain his provisional liberty is hereby ordered
returned to him subject to the usual auditing and accounting procedures.
Accused CECILIA U. LEGRAMA is hereby declared guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds.
The amount involved in the instant case is more than Php22,000.00. Hence,
pursuant to the provisions of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, the
penalty to be imposed is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to
reclusion perpetua.
Considering the absence of any aggravating circumstance and the presence
of two mitigating circumstances, viz., accused Legramas voluntary surrender
and partial restitution of the amount involved in the instant case, and being
entitled to the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, she is hereby
sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of 4 years, 2 months and 1 day
of prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years and 1 day of prision mayor,
as maximum.
Further, she is ordered to pay the amount of Php299,204.65, representing
the balance of her incurred shortage after deducting therein the restituted
amount of Php832,390.40 and the Php200.00 covered by an Official Receipt
dated August 18, 1996 issued in the name of the Municipality of San Antonio
(Exhibit "22"). She is also ordered to pay a fine equal to the amount
malversed which is Php1,131,595.05 and likewise suffer the penalty of
perpetual special disqualification and to pay costs.
SO ORDERED.10
In convicting petitioner of the crime charged against her, the Sandiganbayan
concluded that the prosecution established all the elements of the crime of
malversation of public funds. Although petitioner was able to restitute the
total amount of P832,390.40,11 petitioner failed to properly explain or justify
the shortage in her accountability. However, the same conclusion against
petitioners co-accused was not arrived at by the court, considering that there

was no evidence presented to prove that he conspired with the petitioner in


committing the crime charged.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,12 but it was denied in the
Resolution13 dated May 30, 2007.
Hence, the petition assigning the following errors:
I.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN ERRED AND GRAVELY
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED
CECILIA U. LEGRAMA BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE
CRIME OF MALVERSATION AND IN DIRECTING THE ACCUSED
TO PAY THE AMOUNT OF PHP299,204.65 AND A FINE EQUAL TO
THE AMOUNT MALVERSED WHICH IS PHP1,131,595.05.
II.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN ERRED AND GRAVELY
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED
CECILIA U. LEGRAMA BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE
CRIME OF MALVERSATION IN NOT FINDING THAT SHE
SUCCEEDED TO OVERTHROW THE PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE
OF CONVERSION/MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER ARTICLE 217 OF
THE REVISED PENAL CODE AND IN REJECTING HER
EXPLANATION AS REGARDS THE VOUCHERS AND "VALE."14
Petitioner argues that the Sandiganbayan failed to consider the testimonial
and documentary exhibits presented to support her claim that she did not
appropriate or misappropriate for her use and benefit the subject fund nor did
she allow her co-accused to use the said fund without the proper
acknowledgment such as receipts, vales or sign chits. Petitioner maintains
that she has satisfactorily explained the shortage on the basis of the
documentary evidence submitted.
As for her failure to make the necessary liquidation of the amount involved,
petitioner posits that this is not attributable to her, considering that before she
could make the proper liquidation, she was already relieved from duty and
was prevented by the COA team from entering her office.

On its part, respondent maintains that petitioners failure to account for the
shortage after she was demanded to do so is prima facie proof that she
converted the missing funds to her personal use. It insists that the
prosecution has sufficiently adduced evidence showing that all the elements
of the crime of Malversation of public funds are present in the instant case
and that it was proper for the Sandiganbayan to convict her of the crime
charged.

In all cases, persons guilty of malversation shall also suffer the penalty of
perpetual special disqualification and a fine equal to the amount of the funds
malversed or equal to the total value of the property embezzled.
The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or
property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized
officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or
property to personal use.

The petition is bereft of merit.


Malversation of public funds is defined and penalized in Article 217 of the
Revised Penal Code, which reads:
Art. 217. Malversation of public funds or property; Presumption of
malversation. - Any public officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is
accountable for public funds or property, shall appropriate the same, or shall
take or misappropriate or shall consent, or through abandonment or
negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public funds or
property, wholly or partially, or shall, otherwise, be guilty of the
misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property, shall suffer:
1. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum
periods, if the amount involved in the misappropriation or
malversation does not exceed 200 pesos.
2. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods,
if the amount involved is more than 200 pesos but does not exceed
6,000 pesos.
3. The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion
temporal in its minimum period, if the amount involved is more than
6,000 pesos but is less than 12,000 pesos.
4. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum
periods, if the amount involved is more than 12,000 pesos but is less
than 22,000 pesos. If the amount exceeds the latter, the penalty shall
bereclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua.

Malversation may be committed by appropriating public funds or property; by


taking or misappropriating the same; by consenting, or through abandonment
or negligence, by permitting any other person to take such public funds or
property; or by being otherwise guilty of the misappropriation or malversation
of such funds or property.15 The essential elements common to all acts of
malversation under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code are:
(a) That the offender be a public officer;
(b) That he had the custody or control of funds or property by reason
of the duties of his office;
(c) That those funds or property were public funds or property for
which he was accountable; and
(d) That he appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented, or
through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to
take them.
More importantly, in malversation of public funds, the prosecution is
burdened to prove beyond reasonable doubt, either by direct or
circumstantial evidence, that the public officer appropriated, misappropriated
or consented, or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another
person to take public property or public funds under his custody. Absent such
evidence, the public officer cannot be held criminally liable for malversation.
Mere absence of funds is not sufficient proof of conversion; neither is the
mere failure of the public officer to turn over the funds at any given time
sufficient to make even the prima facie case. In fine, conversion must be
proved. However, an accountable officer may be convicted of malversation
even in the absence of direct proof of misappropriation so long as there is
evidence of shortage in his account which he is unable to explain. 16

Under Article 217, a presumption was installed that upon demand by any
duly authorized officer, the failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming
any public funds or property with which said officer is accountable should
be prima facie evidence that he had put such missing funds or properties to
personal use. When these circumstances are present, a "presumption of law"
arises that there was malversation of public funds or properties as decreed
by Article 217.17 To be sure, this presumption is disputable and rebuttable by
evidence showing that the public officer had fully accounted for the alleged
cash shortage.
In the case at bar, after the government auditors discovered the shortage and
informed petitioner of the same,18petitioner failed to properly explain or justify
the shortage that was subject to her accountability. Petitioner denied that she
put the amount involved to personal use and presented various sales invoice,
chits, vale forms, and disbursement voucher to prove her claim. 19 Petitioner
even went further by testifying that the total amount ofP681,000.00 appearing
in a disbursement voucher20 were cash advances given to the mayor during
the height of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. However, the date when the eruption
occurred was way before the period subject of the audit. As aptly found by
the court a quo:
This Court takes judicial notice that the Mt. Pinatubo erupted in June 1991,
and has not erupted again up to the present.1wphi1 As stated earlier, the
COA audit conducted on the account of accused Legrama covers the
financial transactions of the municipality from June 24, 1996 to September 4,
1996. Therefore, the said cash advances, which accused Legrama confirmed
were given to accused Lonzanida "during the height of the Mt. Pinatubo
eruption," which occurred five years before the subject audit, are not
expenses of the municipality during the period of audit covered in the instant
case. As it is, it has been disallowed by the COA for lack of necessary
supporting papers. Even if the said disbursement voucher had been
completely accomplished, and granting that all the necessary supporting
documents had been attached thereto, it would nonetheless be disallowed
because it covers a transaction which is not subject of the audit. 21

painstakingly identified in open court each and every sales invoice, chit, vale
and the disbursement voucher which are likewise the evidence of the
prosecution marked as Exhibits "B-3" to "B-3NN" (Exhibits "1" to "1-NN") and
in addition, presented various sales invoice, chit and vale form marked as
Exhibits "3" to "72," all in the total amount of Php1,169,099.22, an amount
more than what is involved in the instant indictment. 22
To reiterate, the subject of the audit from which the instant case stemmed
from are financial transactions of the municipality from June 24, 1996 to
September 4, 1996. Therefore, official receipts, chits or vales, even if they
are in the name of the municipality, but nonetheless issued to it for
transactions as far back as the year 1991 are immaterial to the instant case.
It is sad and even deplorable that accused Legrama, in an attempt to
extricate herself from liability, tried to deceive this Court in this manner.
Having obtained a degree in Bachelor of Science Major in Accounting and
being the municipal treasurer for eight (8) years, accused Legrama is
presumed to be aware that she knowingly attempted to deceive this Court. 23
Undoubtedly, all the elements of the crime are present in the case at bar.
First, it is undisputed that petitioner was the municipal treasurer at the time
material to this case. Second, it is the inherent function of petitioner, being
the municipal treasurer, to take custody of and exercise proper management
of the local governments funds. Third, the parties have stipulated during the
pre-trial of the case that petitioner received the subject amount as public
funds24 and that petitioner is accountable for the same.25 Fourth, petitioner
failed to rebut the prima facie presumption that she has put such missing
funds to her personal use.
Verily, in the crime of malversation of public funds, all that is necessary for
conviction is proof that the accountable officer had received the public funds
and that he failed to account for the said funds upon demand without offering
sufficient explanation why there was a shortage. In fine, petitioners failure to
present competent and credible evidence that would exculpate her and rebut
the prima facie presumption of malversation clearly warranted a verdict of
conviction.

xxxx
In her defense, accused Legrama testified that except for the expenses she
incurred for her official travels, she did not put the amount involved in the
instant case to personal use. As proof of her claim, she produced and

As for the appropriate penalty, since the amount involved is more


than P22,000.00, pursuant to the provisions of Article 217 of the Revised
Penal Code, the penalty to be imposed is reclusion temporal in its maximum
period to reclusion perpetua.

However, as aptly concluded by the Sandiganbayan, petitioner enjoys the


mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and restitution. Although
restitution is akin to voluntary surrender,26 as provided for in paragraph 727 of
Article 13, in relation to paragraph 1028 of the same Article of the Revised
Penal Code, restitution should be treated as a separate mitigating
circumstance in favor of the accused when the two circumstances are
present in a case, which is similar to instances where voluntary surrender
and plea of guilty are both present even though the two mitigating
circumstances are treated in the same paragraph 7, Article 13 of the Revised
Penal Code.29Considering that restitution is also tantamount to an admission
of guilt on the part of the accused, it was proper for the Sandiganbayan to
have considered it as a separate mitigating circumstance in favor of
petitioner.
Taking into consideration the absence of any aggravating circumstance and
the presence of two mitigating circumstance, i.e., petitioners voluntary
surrender and partial restitution of the amount malversed, 30 the prescribed
penalty is reduced to prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion
temporal in its medium period, which has a range of ten (10) years and one
(1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months. In accordance with
paragraph 1, Article 64 of the Revised Penal Code31 and considering that
there are no other mitigating circumstance present, the maximum term
should now be the medium period of prision mayor maximum toreclusion
temporal medium, which is reclusion temporal minimum and applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term should be anywhere within
the period of prision correccional maximum to prision mayormedium. Hence,
the penalty imposed needs modification. Accordingly, petitioner is sentenced
to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and one
(1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to twelve (12) years, five (5)
months and eleven (11) days of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Decision
dated January 30, 2007 and the Resolution dated May 30, 2007 of the
Sandiganbayan are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner is hereby
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years, two (2)
months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum term, to twelve
(12) years, five (5) months and eleven (11) days of reclusion temporal,as
maximum term.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 184908

July 3, 2013

MAJOR JOEL G. CANTOS, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Petitioner Major Joel G. Cantos appeals the Decision 1 of the Sandiganbayan
in Criminal Case No. SB-07-A/R-0008, which affirmed with modification the
judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 47, convicting
him of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds under Article 217 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended.
In an Information3 dated February 19, 2003, Major Cantos was charged as
follows:
That on or about December 21, 2002 or sometime prior or subsequent
thereto, in the City of Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public officer, being then the
Commanding Officer of the 22"d Finance Service Center, based in the
Presidential Security Group, Malacaang Park, Manila and as such is
accountable for public funds received and/or entrusted to him by reason of
his office, acting in relation to his office and taking advantage of the same,
did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, misappropriate
and convert to his personal use and benefit the amount of THREE MILLION
TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P3,270,000.00),
Philippine Currency, from such public funds received by him by reason of his
Office to the damage and prejudice of the Government in the aforestated
amount.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Upon motion by the prosecution, the trial court issued an Order 4 granting the
amendment of the date of the commission of the offense from December 21,
2002 to December 21, 2000, the error being merely clerical. When arraigned,
Major Cantos entered a plea of not guilty.5

At the trial, the prosecution presented as witness Major Eligio T. Balao,


Jr.6 He testified that on December 21, 2000, he reported for duty as
Disbursing Officer at the 22nd Finance Service Unit (FSU), Presidential
Security Group (PSG), Malacaang Park, Manila. At that time, he did not
notice any unusual incident in the office. He picked up some Bureau of
Internal Revenue (BIR) forms which he filed with the BIR Office at the Port
Area, Manila. He returned to the office at around 10:00 a.m. At around 12:00
noon, his commanding officer, Major Cantos, called him to his office and
informed him that the money he (Major Cantos) was handling, the Special
Duty Allowance for the month of December, and other Maintenance
Operating Expenses in the amount of more or less P3 Million was missing
from his custody. Shocked, he asked Major Cantos where he kept the money,
to which the latter replied that he placed it in the steel cabinet inside his
room. He then inquired why Major Cantos did not use the safety vault, but
Major Cantos did not reply.7
Major Balao further testified that Major Cantos asked him to get a
screwdriver so he went out of the office and got one from his vehicle. He
gave the screwdriver to Major Cantos, who used it to unscrew the safety
vault. Then, he left the office and handed the screwdriver to Sgt. Tumabcao.
After a few minutes, Major Cantos instructed him to go to the house of Major
Conrado Mendoza in Taguig to get the safety vaults combination number.
However, Major Mendoza was not around. When he returned to the office at
around 4:00 p.m., the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) personnel took
his fingerprints. He learned that all the personnel of the 22nd FSU were
subjected to fingerprinting. Thereafter, Col. Espinelli tried to force him to
admit that he took the money, but he maintained that he was not the one who
took it.8
In his defense, Major Cantos testified that on July 2000, he was assigned as
the Commanding Officer of the 22nd FSU of the PSG, Malacaang Park,
Manila. His duty was to supervise the disbursement of funds for the PSG
personnel and to perform other finance duties as requested by the PSG
Commander, Gen. Rodolfo Diaz. On December 19, 2000, he received a
check from Director Aguas in the amount of P1,975,000 representing the
Special Allowance of PSG personnel. Accompanied by two personnel, he
went to the Land Bank branch just across Pasig River and encashed the
check. He placed the money in a duffel bag and kept it inside the steel
cabinet in his office together with the P1,295,000 that was earlier also

entrusted to him by Gen. Diaz. Major Cantos added that as far as he knows,
he is the only one with the keys to his office. Although there was a safety
vault in his office, he opted to place the money inside the steel cabinet
because he was allegedly previously informed by his predecessor, Major
Conrado Mendoza, that the safety vault was defective. He was also aware
that all personnel of the 22nd FSU had unrestricted access to his office
during office hours.9
Major Cantos also narrated that on December 20, 2000, he arrived at the
office at around 9:00 a.m. and checked the steel filing cabinet. He saw that
the money was still there. He left the office at around 4:00 p.m. to celebrate
with his wife because it was their wedding anniversary. On the following day,
December 21, 2000, he reported for work around 8:30 a.m. and proceeded
with his task of signing vouchers and documents. Between 9:00 a.m. to
10:00 a.m., he inspected the steel cabinet and discovered that the duffel bag
which contained the money was missing. He immediately called then Capt.
Balao to his office and asked if the latter saw someone enter the room. Capt.
Balao replied that he noticed a person going inside the room, but advised
him not to worry because he is bonded as Disbursing Officer.10
In a state of panic, Major Cantos asked for Capt. Balaos help in finding the
money. Capt. Balao asked him how the money was lost and why was it not in
the vault, to which he replied that he could not put it there because the vault
was defective. Capt. Balao then suggested that they should make it appear
that the money was lost in the safety vault. In pursuit of this plan, Capt. Balao
went out of the office and returned with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.
Upon his return, Capt. Balao went directly to the vault to unscrew it. At this
point, Major Cantos told him not to continue anymore as he will just inform
Gen. Diaz about the missing funds. Major Cantos was able to contact Gen.
Diaz through his mobile phone and was advised to just wait for Col. Espinelli.
When Col. Espinelli arrived at the office, Col. Espinelli conducted an
investigation of the incident.11
Lt. Col. Al I. Perreras, Executive Officer of the Judge Advocate General Office
(JAGO), likewise conducted an investigation of the incident. His testimony
was however dispensed with as the counsels stipulated that he prepared the
Investigation Report, and that if presented, the same would be admitted by
defense counsel.12 It likewise appears from the evidence that Police
Inspector Jesus S. Bacani of the Philippine National Police (PNP)

administered a polygraph examination on Major Cantos and the result


showed that he was telling the truth.13
On April 27, 2007, the RTC rendered a decision convicting Major Cantos of
the crime charged, to wit:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the Court finds the
accused Major Joel G. Cantos GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Malversation of Public Funds, under paragraph 4 of Article 217 of
the Revised Penal Code, and, there being no mitigating or aggravating
circumstance present, hereby sentences him to an indeterminate penalty of
imprisonment for a period of ten (10) years and one (1) day of Prision Mayor,
as minimum, to Eighteen (18) Years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of
Reclusion Temporal, as maximum; to reimburse the AFP Finance Service
Center, Presidential Security Group, Armed Forces of the Philippines the
amount of Three Million Two Hundred Seventy Thousand Pesos
(P3,270,000.00); to pay a fine of Three Million Two Hundred Seventy
Thousand Pesos (P3,270,000.00); to suffer perpetual special disqualification
from holding any public office; and to pay the costs.

G. Cantos GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Malversation of


Public Funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code is hereby
AFFIRMED, with the modification that instead of being convicted of
malversation through negligence, the Court hereby convicts the accused of
malversation through misappropriation. The penalty imposed by the lower
court is also likewise AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.15
The Sandiganbayan sustained the ruling of the RTC. It held that in the crime
of malversation, all that is necessary for conviction is proof that the
accountable officer had received public funds and that he did not have them
in his possession when demand therefor was made. There is even no need
of direct evidence of personal misappropriation as long as there is a shortage
in his account and petitioner cannot satisfactorily explain the same. In this
case, the Sandiganbayan found petitioner liable for malversation through
misappropriation because he failed to dispute the presumption against him.
The Sandiganbayan noted that petitioners claim that the money was taken
by robbery or theft has not been supported by sufficient evidence, and is at
most, self-serving.

SO ORDERED.14
In rendering a judgment of conviction, the RTC explained that although there
was no direct proof that Major Cantos appropriated the money for his own
benefit, Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, provides that
the failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or
property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized
officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or
property to personal uses. The RTC concluded that Major Cantos failed to
rebut this presumption.
Aggrieved, Major Cantos appealed to the Sandiganbayan questioning his
conviction by the trial court.
On July 31, 2008, the Sandiganbayan promulgated the assailed Decision,
the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

Contending that the Sandiganbayan Decision erred in affirming his


convicting, Major Cantos filed a motion for reconsideration. In its
Resolution16 dated October 6, 2008, however, the Sandiganbayan denied the
motion.
Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner assails the
Decision of the Sandiganbayan based on the following grounds:
I.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN ERRED IN AFFIRMING
PETITIONER'S CONVICTION FOR MALVERSATION DESPITE ABSENCE
OF EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT THE FUNDS WERE CONVERTED TO
THE PERSONAL USE OF PETITIONER.
II.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Decision promulgated on May 3, 2007


in Criminal Case No. 03-212248 of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital
Judicial Region, Branch 47, Manila finding the accused-appellant Major Joel

THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN ERRED IN AFFIRMING


PETITIONER'S CONVICTION ON THE BASIS OF THE MERE

PRESUMPTION CREATED BY ARTICLE 217, PARAGRAPH 4, OF THE


REVISED PENAL CODE IN VIEW OF THE ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES
IN THE PRESENT CASE.17
Essentially, the basic issue for our resolution is: Did the Sandiganbayan err in
finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of malversation
of public funds?
Petitioner argues that mere absence of funds is not sufficient proof of
misappropriation which would warrant his conviction. He stresses that the
prosecution has the burden of establishing his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt. In this case, petitioner contends that the prosecution failed to prove
that he appropriated, took, or misappropriated, or that he consented or,
through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take the
public funds.
On the other hand, the People, represented by the Office of the Special
Prosecutor (OSP), argues that petitioner, as an accountable officer, may be
convicted of malversation of public funds even if there is no direct evidence
of misappropriation. The OSP asserts that the only evidence required is that
there is a shortage in the officers account which he has not been able to
explain satisfactorily.

4. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods, if


the amount involved is more than twelve thousand pesos but is less than
twenty-two thousand pesos. If the amount exceeds the latter, the penalty
shall be reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua.
In all cases, persons guilty of malversation shall also suffer the penalty of
perpetual special disqualification and a fine equal to the amount of the funds
malversed or equal to the total value of the property embezzled.
The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or
property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized
officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or
property to personal use. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
Thus, the elements of malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the
Revised Penal Code are:
1. that the offender is a public officer;
2. that he had the custody or control of funds or property by reason
of the duties of his office;

The petition must fail.

3. that those funds or property were public funds or property for


which he was accountable; and

The Sandiganbayan did not commit a reversible error in its decision


convicting petitioner of malversation of public funds, which is defined and
penalized under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, as
follows:

4. that he appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented or,


through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to
take them.18

Art. 217. Malversation of public funds or property. Presumption of


malversation. Any public officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is
accountable for public funds or property, shall appropriate the same, or shall
take or misappropriate or shall consent, or through abandonment or
negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public funds or
property, wholly or partially, or shall otherwise be guilty of the
misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property shall suffer:
xxxx

We note that all the above-mentioned elements are here present. Petitioner
was a public officer occupying the position of Commanding Officer of the
22nd FSU of the AFP Finance Center, PSG. By reason of his position, he
was tasked to supervise the disbursement of the Special Duty Allowances
and other Maintenance Operating Funds of the PSG personnel, which are
indubitably public funds for which he was accountable. Petitioner in fact
admitted in his testimony that he had complete control and custody of these
funds. As to the element of misappropriation, indeed petitioner failed to rebut
the legal presumption that he had misappropriated the fees to his personal
use.

In convicting petitioner, the Sandiganbayan cites the presumption in Article


217 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, which states that the failure of
a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with
which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer, is prima
facie evidence that he has put such missing fund or property to personal
uses. The presumption is, of course, rebuttable. Accordingly, if petitioner is
able to present adequate evidence that can nullify any likelihood that he put
the funds or property to personal use, then that presumption would be at an
end and the prima facie case is effectively negated.
In this case, however, petitioner failed to overcome this prima facie evidence
of guilt.1wphi1 He failed to explain the missing funds in his account and to
restitute the amount upon demand. His claim that the money was taken by
robbery or theft is self-serving and has not been supported by evidence. In
fact, petitioner even tried to unscrew the safety vault to make it appear that
the money was forcibly taken. Moreover, petitioners explanation that there is
a possibility that the money was taken by another is belied by the fact that
there was no sign that the steel cabinet was forcibly opened. We also take
note of the fact that it was only petitioner who had the keys to the steel
cabinet.19 Thus, the explanation set forth by petitioner is unsatisfactory and
does not overcome the presumption that he has put the missing funds to
personal use.
Malversation is committed either intentionally or by negligence. The dolo or
the culpa present in the offense is only a modality in the perpetration of the
felony. Even if the mode charged differs from the mode proved, the same
offense of malversation is involved and conviction thereof is proper.20 All that
is necessary for conviction is sufficient proof that the accountable officer had
received public funds, that he did not have them in his possession when
demand therefor was made, and that he could not satisfactorily explain his
failure to do so. Direct evidence of personal misappropriation by the accused
is hardly necessary as long as the accused cannot explain satisfactorily the
shortage in his accounts.21 To our mind, the evidence in this case is
thoroughly inconsistent with petitioner's claim of innocence. Thus, we sustain
the Sandiganbayan's finding that petitioner's guilt has been proven beyond
reasonable doubt.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated July 31, 2008 of
the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. SB-07-A/R-0008 convicting Major

Joel G. Cantos of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds is AFFIRMED


and UPHELD.
With costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 197807

April 16, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
CECILIA LAGMAN y PIRING, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
This is an appeal from the May 14, 2010 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03289, which affirmed the January 18, 2008
Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 18 in Manila, in Criminal
Case No. 02-200106 for Murder and Criminal Case No. 02-200107 for
Frustrated Murder.
The Facts
Two Informations3 charged accused Cecilia Lagman as follows:
Criminal Case No. 02-200106
That on or about February 24, 2002, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the
said accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with
intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, attack, assault and
use personal violence upon the person of Jondel Mari Davantes Santiago, by
then and there stabbing him with a knife with an approximate length of 6
inches (blade and handle) hitting his neck and trunk, thereby inflicting upon
said Jondel Mari Davantes Santiago stab wounds which are necessarily fatal
and mortal, which were the direct cause of his death immediately thereafter.
Criminal Case No. 02-200107

That on or about February 24, 2001, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the
said accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with
intent to kill, attack, assault and use personal violence upon the person of
Violeta Sicor y Sapitula, by then and there stabbing her hitting her buttocks,
thereby inflicting upon the said Violeta Sicor y Sapitula mortal wounds which
were necessarily fatal, thus, performing all the acts of execution which would
produce the crime of Homicide as a consequence, but nevertheless, did not
produce it by reason of causes independent of her will, that is, by the timely
and able medical assistance rendered to said Violeta Sicor y Sapitula which
prevented her death.

On cross-examination, Maniego testified that she had known the accused for
almost ten years and had a close relationship with her. She stated that the
accused got angry with her when she eloped with Santiago. 8

During her arraignment, the accused gave a negative plea to both charges.

PO3 Alateit testified that on the day of the incident, he was riding his
motorcycle on his way home. While he was on the corner of Juan Luna and
Moriones Streets, it was reported to him that a stabbing incident had taken
place. He headed towards an area where a crowd was causing a commotion.
He then saw a woman who looked like a lesbian running towards him. Her
head was bloodied. He handcuffed the injured woman after he was informed
that she had stabbed someone. At the time of her arrest, a sharp object fell
from the womans waist. He confiscated the item and brought the woman to
the police station and to Gat Andres Bonifacio Hospital. He identified the
woman as the accused.10

At the trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: Donna


Maniego (Maniego), Violeta Sicor (Sicor), Police Officer 3 Ricardo M. Alateit
(PO3 Alateit), and PO3 Ronaldo Samson (PO3 Samson).
On February 24, 2002, at about 1:30 p.m, Maniego was in front of her
banana cue store on Lakandula Street, Tondo, Manila. She was seated
alongside her mother, Sicor, inside the sidecar of a motorcycle. Without
warning, the accused approached her and punched her face several times.
The accused turned on Sicor, grabbed her and stabbed her in the middle of
her buttocks with a small knife. Maniego got out of the sidecar and ran to the
barangay hall for help. Upon finding that the barangay chairman was not
around, Maniego went to check on her common-law spouse, Jondel Santiago
(Santiago), at the house of Santiagos mother.4 On her way there, she saw
the accused stab Santiago four (4) times from a distance of five (5) to six (6)
meters. The distance between where Maniego was punched and where
Santiago was stabbed was about nine (9) meters.5 Maniego then saw the
accused flee the scene of the crime carrying a knife and heading towards
Juan Luna Street. Seeing that Santiago was mortally hurt, Maniego rushed
Santiago to Gat Andres Bonifacio Hospital but he later expired. While
Maniego was at the hospital, she saw the accused, who was being treated
after an angry crowd mauled her. Maniego informed the policeman who was
escorting the accused that it was the latter who had stabbed and killed
Santiago.6
After receiving the information from Maniego, the accused was arrested and
brought to police headquarters.7

Sicor, Maniegos mother, corroborated Maniegos testimony. She saw the


accused punch Maniego several times while they were inside the sidecar on
February 24, 2002. The accused then grabbed her and stabbed her in her
buttocks with a small knife. She said that after she was stabbed, two sidecar
boys came to her aid and brought her to the hospital. She added that she
was released from the hospital two hours after receiving treatment. 9

Both the prosecution and the defense stipulated that Senior Police Officer 2
Edison Bertoldo was the police investigator in the case against the accused
and that he prepared the following:
(1) Sworn Statement of Maniego, Exhibit "A";
(2) Affidavit of Apprehension of PO3 Alateit, Exhibit "C";
(3) Booking Sheet and Arrest Report, Exhibit "E";
(4) Crime Report dated February 25, 2002, Exhibits "F," "F-1" and "F2"; and
(5) Request for Laboratory Examination dated February 27, 2002,
Exhibit "F-3."11
The last witness for the prosecution, PO3 Samson, testified that on the date
of the incident, he was assigned at the Western Police District Crime

Laboratory Division. He presented before the court the sharp object used in
stabbing the victim (Exhibit "M") and the Request for Laboratory Examination
(Exhibit "M-1").12

SO ORDERED.16

For their part, the defense offered the testimonies of the accused and Dr.
Mario Lato.

On appeal, accused-appellant faulted the trial court for not considering the
inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimony of prosecution witness
Maniego. She also averred that the same witness credibility was improperly
appreciated, as the judge who heard the case was different from the one who
rendered the decision.

Chiefly relying on denial as her defense, the accused claimed that on the
date of the stabbing incident, she confronted Maniego and asked her if it was
true that she had been spreading the rumor that the accused was insane.
Maniego answered in the affirmative. Angered, the accused slapped Maniego
and left, leaving Santiago, Sicor, and Maniego in pursuit. Santiago then hit
her with a lead pipe. Since she needed medical treatment after the attack,
she was brought to Gat Andres Bonifacio Medical Hospital by her mother and
a barangay kagawad.13
At the police station, the accused denied killing Santiago. She averred that
nothing was found on her body when she was frisked. She said that the knife
recovered by PO3 Alateit was not hers and that there were other people in
the area where it was found. She added that she had an argument only with
Maniego, not with Sicor or Santiago.14

Ruling of the Appellate Court

The CA affirmed the findings of the RTC. The appellate court ruled that the
totality of the prosecutions evidence showed that accused-appellants guilt
was proved beyond reasonable doubt. It added that accused-appellant failed
to show any ill motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses to falsely
testify against her. The dispositive portion of the May 14, 2010 CA Decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated January 18, 2008
of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 18 in Criminal Case Nos. 02200106 and 02200107 is AFFIRMED.17
Hence, We have this appeal.

Dr. Mario Lato testified that on February 24, 2002, he treated the accused,
who had a laceration on the head which was possibly caused by a hard
object such as a pipe. He said that the accused sustained a two-centimeter
laceration in her mid-pectoral area.15
Ruling of the Trial Court
On January 18, 2008, the RTC convicted the accused of Murder in Crim.
Case No. 02-200106 and Less Serious Physical Injuries in Crim. Case No.
02-200107. The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, this court finds accused Cecilia Lagman y Pring guilty of
Murder in Crim. Case No. 02-200106. She is sentenced to suffer reclusion
perpetua and to pay the heirs of the victim Jondel Lari Santiago, the amount
of P50,000 as civil indemnity. In Crim. Case No. 02-200107, this court finds
same accused guilty of Less Serious Physical Injuries. She is sentenced to
suffer six (6) months of arresto mayor and to pay Violeta Sicor the amount of
P25,000 as temperate damages.

The Issues
I
Whether the CA erred in finding accused-appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt
II
Whether the CA erred in giving credence to the testimony of the
prosecutions witness despite patent inconsistencies
III
Whether the CA erred in finding that the killing of the victim was
attended by treachery

The defense reiterates previous arguments calling for an acquittal of


accused-appellant.1wphi1 It casts doubt on Maniegos testimony, claiming
that it has irreconcilable inconsistencies which affected her credibility.
The defense also calls attention to the fact that Maniego testified before
Judge Romulo A. Lopez, while the Decision was penned by Judge Myra
Garcia-Fernandez.18 It is further contended that Maniego did not actually
witness Santiago being stabbed, because she admitted in court that she
found out that Santiago had been stabbed when she was already at the
hospital attending to her injured mother.
Moreover, it is pointed out by the defense that the victim was 58" in height
and of average built while accused-appellant is only 411". It is, thus,
incredible that she could have inflicted fatal wounds on the victim.
Lastly, the defense argues that the prosecution was unable to prove that the
killing of Santiago was accompanied by treachery. Assuming that accusedappellant did stab the victim, the defense claims that it was not proved that
she deliberately and consciously adopted her mode of attack. The encounter
was even preceded by a confrontation between accused-appellant and
Maniego, and it was Sicor and Santiago who followed accused-appellant
after the confrontation. The stabbing incident should have been considered
as having occurred in the spur of the moment.
Our Ruling

16, Art. 14 of the RPC defines treachery as the direct employment of means,
methods, or forms in the execution of the crime against persons which tend
directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to the offender
arising from the defense which the offended party might make.
Maniegos testimony proved the presence of treachery in this case, as
follows:
Q What did you do after Cecilia Lagman punched you in your face?
A I went outside of the side car x x x, and I went to the barangay hall
to ask help x x x.
Q And what happened after that?
xxxx
A Papauwi na po ako sa bahay ng biyenan ko sakto po ng pagpunta
ko ho doon nasalubong po ni Cecilia Lagman si Jondel Mari wala
hong sabi sabi inundayan po niya ng saksak si Jondel Mari. (When I
went home to the house of my mother-in-law because the barangay
chairman was not in the barangay hall Jondel Mari meet [sic] Cecilia
Lagman and without any word Cecilia Lagman stabbed Jondel Mari.)
Q And in what place was that where Cecilia Lagman suddenly
stabbed Jondel Mari Santiago?

We deny the appeal, but modify the CA Decision.


A At Asuncion, Lakandula [in Tondo Manila] x x x.
Elements of Murder Established
The elements of murder that the prosecution must establish are (1) that a
person was killed; (2) that the accused killed him or her; (3) that the killing
was attended by any of the qualifying circumstances mentioned in Article 248
of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); and (4) that the killing is not parricide or
infanticide.19
The prosecution was able to clearly establish that Santiago was killed and
that it was accused-appellant who killed him as there was an eyewitness to
the crime. Santiagos killing was attended by the qualifying circumstance of
treachery as testified to by the prosecution eyewitness, Maniego. Paragraph

Q When you saw Cecilia Lagman stabbed Jondel Santiago how far
were you?
A (Witness demonstrating 5 to 6 meters away).
xxxx
Q What was Jondel Santiago doing when he was stabbed by Cecilia
Lagman?
A He was lighting a cigarette x x x.

Q And what was the reaction of Jondel Santiago when he was


stabbed by Cecilia Lagman?

Q What part of the body of Jondel Santiago was hit when he was
stabbed?

Regardless of the alleged disparity in height between accused-appellant and


the victim, We affirm the finding of the trial court, as affirmed by the CA, that
accused-appellants method of inflicting harm ensured that she would fatally
wound Santiago without risk to herself. The perceived advantage of the
victim in terms of height was of no use to him as accused-appellant
employed treachery in attacking him. He was not afforded a means to defend
himself as accused-appellant suddenly started stabbing him repeatedly with
an improvised knife.

A One at the chest and two at the back and one at the neck. x x x

Finally, the killing of Santiago was neither parricide nor homicide.

Q x x x [I]f the person who boxed you on the face is in court, will you
be able to identify her?

Credibility of Prosecution Witnesses

A Nabigla po kasi hindi naman niya alam na sasaksakin siya eh. [He
was shocked because he did not know he was going to be stabbed.]

A Yes x x x.
xxxx
x x x [Witness pointing to a woman, Cecilia Lagman]
Q x x x [I]f the person whom you saw stabbed Jondel Santiago four
times is in court will you be able to identify him or her?
A Siya rin po." [She is the same person.]20
In order for treachery to be properly appreciated, two elements must be
present: (1) at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to
defend himself; and (2) the accused consciously and deliberately adopted
the particular means, methods, or forms of attack employed by him. 21 The
essence of treachery is that the attack is deliberate and without warning,
done in a swift and unexpected way, affording the hapless, unarmed and
unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or escape.22 These elements were
present when accused-appellant stabbed Santiago. We quote with approval
the appellate courts finding on the presence of treachery:
In the case at bar, the victim was caught off guard when appellant, without
warning, stabbed him four times successively leaving the latter no chance at
all to evade the knife thrusts and defend himself from appellants onslaught.
Thus, there is no denying that appellants act of suddenly stabbing the victim
leaving the latter no room for defense is a clear case of treachery.23 x x x

We see no reason to overturn the findings on the credibility of the


prosecution witnesses. It has been long settled that when the issues raised
concern the credibility of a witness, the trial courts findings of fact, its
calibration of testimonies, and its assessment of the testimonies probative
weight, including its conclusions based on said findings, are generally given
conclusive effect. It is acknowledged that the trial court has the unique
opportunity to observe the demeanor of witnesses and is in the best position
to discern whether they are telling the truth.24Furthermore, accused-appellant
failed to show why Maniego and her mother would falsely accuse her of
committing a terrible crime. Maniego was the common-law spouse of the
victim and she would naturally want to seek justice for his death as well as
the injury sustained by her mother.
An examination of the records shows that there is no truth to the allegation of
accused-appellant that Maniego did not witness the stabbing of Santiago.
She clearly testified that accused-appellant first stabbed Santiago on the
chest, then on the side of his neck, then twice on his back. 25
On the other allegation of accused-appellant, We have earlier held that the
fact that the judge who rendered judgment was not the one who heard the
witnesses does not adversely affect the validity of conviction. 26 That the trial
judge who rendered judgment was not the one who had the occasion to
observe the demeanor of the witnesses during trial but merely relied on the
records of the case does not render the judgment erroneous, especially
where the evidence on record is sufficient to support its conclusion. 27
Alibi as a Defense

The defense of alibi is likewise unconvincing. Accused-appellant was


positively identified by eyewitnesses. She herself admitted that she
confronted one of the eyewitnesses, Maniego, moments before she was
seen attacking Maniego, Santiago and Sicor. It is well-settled that alibi cannot
be sustained where it is not only without credible corroboration but also does
not, on its face, demonstrate the physical impossibility of the presence of the
accused at the place of the crime or in its immediate vicinity at the time of its
commission.28 In accused-appellants case, there is no corroborative
evidence of her alibi or proof of physical impossibility of her being at the
scene of the incident to shore up her defense.
Elements of Less Serious Physical Injuries Not Established
We modify the conviction of accused-appellant with regard to Criminal Case
No. 02-200107. Originally charged with frustrated murder, accused-appellant
was convicted of less serious physical injuries in Criminal Case No. 02200107. The RTC reasoned that the stabbing injury sustained by Sicor was
not on a vital part of the body and she was able to leave the hospital two
hours after receiving medical treatment. The RTC properly ruled that the
crime committed was not frustrated murder as it was not shown that there
was intent to kill.29 However, while the RTC correctly ruled that the accusedappellant is not guilty of frustrated murder in Criminal Case No. 02-200107,
the records do not support a conviction for less serious physical injuries.
Art. 265 of the RPC provides, "Any person who shall inflict upon another
physical injuries not described [as serious physical injuries] but which shall
incapacitate the offended party for labor for ten (10) days or more, or shall
require medical attendance for the same period, shall be guilty of less
serious physical injuries and shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor."
Nothing in the records, however, supports the finding that Sicor was
incapacitated for labor for ten (10) days or more or that she required medical
attention for the same period. After the wound on her buttocks was treated,
Sicor was released two hours after she was admitted to the hospital. 30She
later returned to the hospital for the removal of the suture on her wound,
according to the RTC, "after a certain period of time." 31 The Medico-Legal
Report on Sicor (Exhibit "H") does not indicate how many days of medical
treatment her injury would need.32 Sicor, however, testified that she lost two
(2) days of work on account of the injury she sustained. 33 The testimony of
her attending physician, Dr. Christian Dennis Cendeno, on the other hand,
was dispensed with following a stipulation by the parties on his

testimony.34 The prosecution was, therefore, unable to establish that the


injury sustained by Sicor falls under less serious physical injuries absent the
requirement that her injury required medical attention for 10 days or
incapacitated her for the same period.
The Court can, thus, only convict accused-appellant of slight physical
injuries. Under par. 1, Art. 266 of the RPC, the penalty for slight physical
injuries is arresto menor "when the offender has inflicted physical injuries
which shall incapacitate the offended party for labor from one to nine days, or
shall require medical attendance during the same period." There being no
modifying circumstances to be appreciated, and in accordance with par. 1 of
Art. 64,35 accused-appellant should be meted a penalty of imprisonment of
arresto menor in its medium period, which has a duration of eleven (11) to
twenty (20) days under Art. 76 of the RPC.
Pecuniary Liability
The CA affirmed the award of PhP 50,000 as civil indemnity in Criminal Case
No. 02-200106 and PhP 25,000 as temperate damages in Criminal Case No.
02-200106.
People v. Combate36 reiterated the rule on civil indemnity and damages:
When death occurs due to a crime, the following may be recovered: (1) civil
indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory
damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; (5) attorneys fees
and expenses of litigation; and (6) interest, in proper cases. In People v.
Tubongbanua, interest at the rate of six percent (6%) was ordered to be
applied on the award of damages. This rule would be subsequently applied
by the Court in several cases such as Mendoza v. People, People v. Buban,
People v. Guevarra, and People v. Regalario. Thus, we likewise adopt this
rule in the instant case. Interest of six percent (6%) per annum should be
imposed on the award of civil indemnity and all damages, i.e., actual or
compensatory damages, moral damages and exemplary damages, from the
date of finality of judgment until fully paid.
In accordance with the rules cited above, We modify the award of damages.
In line with prevailing jurisprudence,37 the award of civil indemnity ex delicto
of PhP 50,000 in favor of the heirs of Santiago is in order. Moral damages of

PhP 50,000 and PhP 30,000 in exemplary damages, with an interest of six
percent (6%) per annum, are also proper.38
We delete the award of PhP 25,000 in temperate damages to Sicor, since
only slight physical injuries were committed and no proof of medical
expenses was presented during trial.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 03289 finding accused-appellant guilty of Murder in Criminal Case No.
02-200106 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Accused-appellant is
ordered to indemnify the heirs of the late Jondel Mari Davantes Santiago the
sum of PhP 50,000 as civil indemnity, PhP 50,000 as moral damages, PhP
30,000 as exemplary damages, and interest on all damages at the rate of six
percent (6%) per annum from the finality of judgment until fully paid. With
respect to Criminal Case No. 02-200107, accused-appellant is convicted of
SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES and is sentenced to twenty (20) days of
arresto menor. The award of temperate damages is DELETED.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 181036

July 6, 2010

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ADRIANO LEONARDO y DANTES, Accused-Appellant.
PEREZ, J.:
For review is the Decision1 dated 28 May 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR-H.C. No. 01092 affirming in toto the Joint Decision 2 dated 28
January 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Valenzuela City, Branch
172, in Criminal Case Nos. 348-V-02, 544-V-02, 545-V-02, 549-V-02, 552-V02 and 553-V-02, finding herein appellant Adriano Leonardo y Dantes guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of six counts of rape, and in Criminal Case Nos.
546-V-02, 547-V-02, 548-V-02, 554-V-02 and 555-V-02 for five counts of
sexual abuse as defined and penalized under Section 5(b), Article III of
Republic Act No. 7610,3 committed against AAA.4 The appellant was
sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count of rape
and the indeterminate penalty of 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor as
minimum to 15 years, 6 months and 20 days of reclusion temporal as

maximum for each count of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of
Republic Act No. 7610. The appellant was further ordered to pay the victim
the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral
damages for each count of rape and the amount of P25,000.00 as civil
indemnity and P25,000.00 as moral damages for each count of sexual abuse
under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610.
In Criminal Case Nos. 550-V-02 and 551-V-02, however, the appellant was
acquitted of the charges of rape for failure of the prosecution to prove his
guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Appellant Adriano Leonardo y Dantes was charged in 13 separate
Informations5 with the crime of rape, in relation to Republic Act No. 7610,
committed against AAA, the accusatory portion of which state:
In Criminal Case No. 348-V-02:
That on or about [11 May 2002] in XXX City and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named [appellant], with lewd design, by means
of force and intimidation employed upon AAA, 12 years old, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of said AAA,
thereby subjecting the said minor to sexual abuse which debased, degraded
and demeaned her intrinsic worth and dignity as a human being. 6
In Criminal Case No. 544-V-02:
That on or about [10 May 2002] in XXX City and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named [appellant], being then the uncle-in-law of
AAA, with lewd design, by means of force and intimidation employed upon
AAA, 12 years old, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
have carnal knowledge of said AAA, thereby subjecting the said minor to
sexual abuse which debased, degraded and demeaned her intrinsic worth
and dignity as a human being.7
The Informations in Criminal Case Nos. 545-V-02, 546-V-02, 547-V-02, 548V-02, 549-V-02, 550-V-02, 551-V-02, 552-V-02, 553-V-02, 554-V-02 and 555V-02 contained similar averments except for the different dates of
commission on the first week of April 2002, second week of April 2002, 1 May
2002, 2 May 2002, 3 May 2002, 4 May 2002, 5 May 2002, 6 May 2002, 7
May 2002, 8 May 2002 and 9 May 2002, respectively.

Upon arraignment, the appellant, assisted by counsel de parte, pleaded NOT


GUILTY8 to all the charges against him. At the pre-trial conference, the
prosecution and the defense stipulated9 that AAA is a minor having been
born on 28 July 1989 as evidenced by her Certificate of Live Birth. 10 After the
pre-trial was terminated, trial on the merits ensued.
The prosecution presented the following witnesses, namely: AAA, the private
complainant; BBB, the biological mother of AAA; Police Senior Inspector
Pierre Paul F. Carpio (P/Sr. Insp. Carpio), Medico-Legal Officer of the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, Camp Crame, Quezon
City, who examined AAA; and CCC, the aunt of AAA who allegedly had an
illicit relationship with the appellant, as rebuttal witness. The prosecution also
submitted pieces of documentary evidence marked as Exhibits "A" to
"H,"11 inclusive of submarkings.
The evidence for the prosecution, culled from the testimonies of the aforesaid
witnesses, established that:
AAA was 12 years old when the appellant desecrated her. She was then
living with her aunt, DDD, and the latters husband, who became her foster
parents from the time her biological mother, BBB, left her under their care
when she was only six months old, in order to work and earn a living. Now,
AAA is already under the care of her biological mother.12
The harrowing experience of AAA in the hands of the appellant, who is the
brother-in-law of her foster mother, DDD, and the brother of her foster father,
EEE,13 began in the afternoon of the first week of April 2002. On the said
date, the appellant saw AAA while he was gathering vegetables in the garden
near his house. He immediately instructed AAA to buy him cigarettes and to
bring the same inside the warehouse located at the back of his house.
Following the instruction of the appellant, AAA brought the cigarettes inside
the warehouse. Once inside, the appellant did not allow her to go out
anymore; instead, he showed her a knife and he then closed the door of the
warehouse. Subsequently, the appellant told AAA to undress and to lie down
on a piece of lumber located in the warehouse to which she acceded
because the appellant was holding a knife. While AAA was lying down, the
appellant removed his shorts and showed his sex organ to AAA while still
wearing his brief. Later, the appellant went on top of AAA, inserted his sex
organ into AAAs vagina, touched AAAs breasts and made push and pull
movements. AAA felt pain in her private part but she did not bleed. The

appellant stopped what he was doing to AAA when he heard his daughter
calling him. He then ordered AAA to dress up. AAA did not report to anyone
the said incident because she was afraid of the appellant. 14
Then, in the second week of April 2002 at around 4:30 in the afternoon, while
AAA was alone in their house because her foster mother was working as a
laundrywoman and her foster father was in a drinking spree with his friends,
the appellant suddenly came in drunk and immediately closed the door of
their house. The appellant then began touching AAAs breasts, however, the
latters foster mother arrived. At once, the appellant went out of the house
through the back door.15
Again, on 1 May 2002 at around 8:30 in the morning, while AAA was left
alone inside their house, the appellant surprisingly arrived thereat. Upon
knowing that AAA had no other companion, he began touching AAAs breasts
and vagina. Afterwards, CCC, the aunt of AAA, arrived and this prompted the
appellant to leave the house.16
The following day, or on 2 May 2002 at around 8:00 oclock in the morning,
while AAA was cleaning their house, the appellant arrived. He then inquired if
there were other persons inside the house. As he found no other person
thereat, except AAA, he commanded AAA to close the windows and the door
located at the back of the house. He then opened the television set,
increased its volume and closed the main door of the house. Thereafter, he
touched the private parts of AAA and told her to remove her clothes. After
removing her clothes, the appellant held her breasts and touched her vagina.
However, upon hearing his daughters voice calling and looking for him, he
instantly went out of the house.17
On 3 May 2002 at around 2:00 oclock in the afternoon, AAA was sleeping
alone inside their house. Since the door was unlocked, the appellant entered
the house, woke up AAA and asked her if there were other persons inside.
He himself inspected the room of the house, finding none, he asked AAA to
get him a glass of water and to buy him cigarettes. When AAA returned, the
appellant requested her to turn on the television set. Then, he began
touching AAAs private parts and he even instructed AAA to undress.
Thereafter, the appellant told AAA to lie down on the bed inside the room to
which she acceded because the appellant was holding a knife that he got
from his waist. The appellant followed AAA inside the room where he
removed his shorts and underwear. He then inserted his penis into AAAs

vagina and made push and pull movements. After satisfying his lust, he told
AAA to dress up and he went out of the house.18
In the afternoon of 4 May 2002, when AAA was hanging their washed clothes
in the clothesline located at the back of the house of the appellant, which was
only adjacent to their house, the appellant called her and asked her to buy
cigarettes. After buying cigarettes, she brought the same to the appellant
who was already inside the warehouse at the back of his house. While they
were inside the warehouse, the appellant touched her breasts and vagina.
This same incident of appellants touching AAAs breasts and vagina was
repeated the following day, 5 May 2002.19
Then again, on 6 May 2002 at around 3:30 oclock in the afternoon, AAA saw
the appellant circumcising children. Afterwards, the appellant went to the
house of AAA who was watching television at that time. Once inside, the
appellant closed the main door of the house, instructed AAA to go inside the
room and to remove her clothes. The appellant then told AAA to lie down on
the bed. Subsequently, the appellant went on top of AAA, inserted his penis
into her vagina and made push and pull movements. After doing such bestial
act, the appellant went out of the house.20
The next day, or on 7 May 2002, at around 7:00 oclock in the evening while
AAAs foster parents were not yet home and AAA had just finished washing
the dishes, the appellant entered their house through the main door and
asked AAA to buy him cigarettes as he would always do. When AAA came
back, she handed the cigarettes to the appellant. The latter then ordered AAA
to turn on the television and to lock the door. The appellant also told AAA to
sit beside him on the sofa and he then began touching AAAs private parts.
The appellant, thereafter, instructed AAA to go inside the room, to remove
her shorts and panty and to lie down on the bed, to which she complied
because the appellant was holding a knife. The appellant then placed the
knife beside the bed, removed his shorts and undergarment, lay on top of
AAA, inserted his penis into AAAs vagina and made push and pull
movements. After satisfying his hideous desire, the appellant asked AAA to
put on her clothes. He then proceeded to the sala and watched a television
program. When AAAs foster mother arrived at around 9:00 oclock in the
evening, the appellant was no longer there.21
On 8 May 2002 at around 8:30 oclock in the morning, AAA was once again
left alone in their house because her foster parents and their children went to

work. The appellant then went inside the house and asked AAA to buy him
cigarettes. When AAA came back, she gave the cigarettes to the appellant
who was then watching a television program. AAA proceeded to the kitchen
to clean the table and to put the dishes outside of their house. While the
appellant was still watching a television program at the sala, AAA went
upstairs but the appellant called her and told her to go inside the room where
the appellant began touching her vagina. The appellant likewise told AAA to
undress and thereafter, he started fondling her breasts. Suddenly, the
appellant heard AAAs cousin calling her from the outside. The appellant
promptly told AAA to dress up and to go out of the room. 22
On 9 May 2002 at around 3:30 oclock in the afternoon, AAA was at the back
of their house playing with her sister. The appellant called her and asked her
if her foster mother and the latters children were in their house to which AAA
replied in the negative. The appellant again asked AAA to buy him cigarettes.
AAA then brought the cigarettes at the back of their house believing that the
appellant was still there. Unknowingly, the appellant was already inside their
house. When AAA saw the appellant inside their house, she gave him the
cigarettes and the appellant asked her to switch on the television. When AAA
was about to get out of the house, the appellant prevented her, instead, he
ordered AAA to go inside the room, but AAA insisted to go out as she wanted
to continue playing with her sister. The appellant then showed AAA his knife
and told her to remove all her clothing. Afraid, AAA could not do anything but
to submit to the vicious desire of the appellant. The latter then touched AAAs
breasts and vagina. Thereafter, the appellant ordered AAA to put on her
clothes and left.23
On 10 May 2002, at around 6:30 oclock in the afternoon, while AAA was
playing in front of their house, the appellant saw her and commanded her to
buy him cigarettes. He also told AAA to bring the same to the warehouse.
Upon giving the cigarettes to the appellant, the latter instructed AAA to go
inside the warehouse but she refused as she was still playing outside. The
appellant, however, did not allow her to go out anymore and he, once again,
showed his knife to AAA. Out of fear, AAA stayed inside the warehouse.
Later, the appellant told AAA to undress and he proceeded to touch her
breasts. He also inserted his finger into the vagina of AAA. Thereafter, he
removed his finger into AAAs vagina and made her lie down on the floor. He
then removed his shorts, mounted AAA, inserted his penis into AAAs vagina
and made push and pull movements. AAA felt pain in her private organ. After
being satisfied, the appellant instructed AAA to dress up and to go home. 24

The last sexual advances of the appellant to AAA happened on 11 May 2002
at around 7:00 oclock in the evening near the well located at the back of the
house of the appellant. During that time AAA was removing their washed
clothes from the clothesline at the back of the house of the appellant. The
appellant, who was then taking a bath at the well near their house, saw her,
called her and requested her to buy him one stick of cigarette. After she
bought cigarette, she gave it to the appellant who was still taking a bath at
the well. When AAA was about to go home, the appellant prevented her and
showed her his knife tucked on his waist. The appellant instructed AAA to
undress to which the latter obeyed because the appellant was holding a
knife. When AAA was totally naked, the appellant touched her private parts
and told her to lie down on the grassy ground. She felt itchy as she was lying
on the grassy ground. While in that position, the appellant went on top of
AAA, inserted his penis into her vagina and made push and pull movements.
AAA felt pain. When the appellant heard his wife calling him, he stopped
what he was doing to AAA and told the latter to put on her clothes. AAA went
home. At the time this incident happened, the appellant was drunk as he just
came from a birthday party.25
When AAA went home, her aunt, CCC, who was there cooking, asked her
why she was pale and uneasy. Her aunt also wondered why she was
scratching her back. AAA did not immediately tell CCC what truly happened.
However, when CCC became so persistent to know what really happened to
her, AAA began to cry. She then disclosed to CCC what happened to her on
that day, as well as all her harrowing experiences in the hands of the
appellant.26 CCC instantly called up AAAs biological mother, BBB, whose
house was only three meters away from CCC and informed her of AAAs
ordeal. Thereafter, BBB came to accompany AAA in going to the police
station to report what the appellant did to her. At the police station, AAA gave
her written statements against the appellant.27
The following day, AAA was subjected to a medical examination by P/Sr.
Insp. Carpio, a medico-legal officer of the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp
Crame, Quezon City, which examination yielded the following results: 28
EXTERNAL AND EXTRAGENITAL
PHYSICAL BUILT: Light built.
MENTAL STATUS: Coherent female child.

BREAST: Conical with light brown areola and nipples from which no
secretions could be pressed out.
ABDOMEN: Flat.
PHYSICAL INJURIES: No external signs of application of any form of
trauma.
GENITAL
PUBIC HAIR: Absent growth.
LABIA MAJORA: Full, convex and coaptated.
LABIA MINORA: light brown; non-hypertrophied.
HYMEN: deep healed laceration at 8 oclock position.
POSTERIOIR FOURCHETTE: sharp.
EXTERNAL VAGINAL ORIFICE: Offers strong resistance of the
examining index finger.
VAGINAL CANAL: Narrow.
CERVIX:
PERIURETHRAL AND VAGINAL SMEARS: Negative for
spermatozoa.
CONCLUSION:
Subject is in non-virgin state physically. There are no external signs
of application of any form of trauma. [Emphasis supplied]. 29
Thereafter, 13 separate Informations for rape, in relation to Republic Act No.
7610, were filed against the appellant.
For its part, the defense presented the following witnesses, to wit: the
appellant, who interposed the defense of denial and alibi; Candida Urbina

(Candida), neighbor and cousin of the appellant; Lea Mae Leonardo (Lea
Mae), niece of the appellant; and Ma. Victoria Leonardo (Ma. Victoria), wife
of the appellant. The defense likewise submitted pieces of documentary
evidence marked as Exhibits "1" to "6,"30 inclusive of submarkings.
When the appellant took the witness stand, he admitted that he knows AAA
because she was his neighbor and her foster father who reared her since
childhood is his brother, which is the reason why AAA called him Mama
Adring, although he was not related to her by blood in any manner. The
appellant even described AAA as "gala" as she used to roam around, and
there were times that her foster father would ask him as to the whereabouts
of AAA.31
The appellant, however, denied all the rape charges against him and claimed
that they were all lies and that he was just framed up. He argued that these
cases were only filed against him by AAA upon the initiative of her aunt,
CCC, with whom he had an illicit affair.32 The appellant even professed that in
April 2002, AAAs aunt, CCC, made a proposal to him to leave their
respective spouses and children so that the two of them can begin to live
together as husband and wife in Pampanga. The appellant claimed that CCC
even offered to buy him a tricycle. When the appellant did not agree with
CCCs proposal, the latter threatened him that she would file a case against
him.33
The appellant also maintained that it was impossible for him to rape AAA on
1 May 2002 because on the said date at around 7:00 oclock in the morning,
he was in Angat, Bulacan, with his children as they had an excursion with the
members of AMATODA, an association of tricycle owners and drivers in their
place. It was already 10:00 oclock in the evening when they got home. 34
Similarly, the appellant denied having raped AAA on 2 May 2002 until 4 May
2002. The appellant stated that on 4 May 2002, he was again in an excursion
in Angat, Bulacan, this time, with CCC and her mother. While in the said
place, he and CCC had an intimate moment with one another.35 On the
succeeding dates beginning 5 May 2002 up to 10 May 2002, the appellant
also denied having raped AAA without giving any explanations therefor.36
The appellant also denied having raped AAA on 11 May 2002. He avowed
that as early as 9:00 oclock in the morning of the said date, he was already
at the house of his cousin, Candida, located at 103 NY Street, Bisalao,

Bagbaguin, Valenzuela City, where he assisted in the cooking of the food for
the birthday celebration of Candidas nephew. In the evening thereof, the
appellant engaged in a drinking session with his cousins and friends who
attended the said birthday party. He stayed there until 10:00 oclock in the
evening and then he went home. At around 11:00 oclock in the evening, he
was arrested by the police authorities because AAA had filed a complaint
against him charging him with 13 counts of rape.37
To buttress the theory of the defense, Candida testified affirming that on 11
May 2002, the appellant was at their house as early as 9:00 oclock in the
morning as she had invited him as a cook for the birthday celebration of her
nephew. She stated that the appellant stayed at their house the whole day
because after the preparation of the food they had a drinking session which
started at around 5:00 oclock in the afternoon and lasted until 10:00 0clock
in the evening. To prove the same, the defense even presented pictures
depicting that the appellant was among those having a drinking spree at the
house of Candida. The latter admitted, however, that there was an instance
on that date when the appellant left her house when she requested him to
get the big casserole from the house of his sister living nearby. After less
than an hour, the appellant returned. Candida also disclosed that her house
was just a 15 minute-walk away from the house of the appellant. 38
To establish that AAA is a girl of ill repute, the defense presented Lea Mae,
the niece of the appellant, who testified that she knows AAA as she is her
neighbor and friend. Lea Mae declared in open court that AAA has two
boyfriends, one whose name is "alias Pogi" and the other is known to her
only as "Frankie." She knew that they were AAAs boyfriends because AAA
herself told her so. Lea Mae further testified that on one occasion AAA
requested her to deliver a letter to "Frankie" but she was not able to do so as
her mother might get angry. Having failed to deliver the said letter, Lea Mae,
instead of giving it back to AAA, just kept the same. Later, Lea Mae gave the
said letter to her aunt, the wife of the appellant, after the filing of the rape
cases against the latter. Her only reason for doing so is because she trusted
her aunt. Lea Mae divulged, however, that she did not see AAA writing the
said letter.39
The defense also presented the wife of the appellant who testified that prior
to the filing of the rape cases against the appellant, she and CCC had a
quarrel regarding the rumor that the latter and the appellant were having an
illicit affair.

On rebuttal, the prosecution presented CCC who denied having an illicit affair
with the appellant. She maintained that before the rape cases against the
appellant commenced, their family are in good terms as neighbors. She used
to sell food and the appellants wife used to buy from her. However, from the
time the appellant was arrested and incarcerated in connection with the rape
cases filed against him by her niece, AAA, both the appellant and his wife did
not talk to her anymore.40
After trial, a Joint Decision was rendered by the court a quo on 28 January
2005 giving credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
particularly of AAA and rejecting the defense of denial and alibi proffered by
the appellant. The trial court thus decreed:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. In Crim. Cases Nos. 550-V-02 and 551-V-02, the Court finds the
guilt of [appellant] ADRIANO LEONARDO not to have been proven
beyond reasonable doubt and acquits him of the charges therein for
insufficiency of evidence, with costs de officio;
2. In Crim. Cases Nos. 348-V-02, 544-V-02, 545-V-02, 549-V-02,
552-V-02 and 553-V-02, the Court finds [appellant] ADRIANO
LEONARDO guilty beyond reasonable doubt and as principal of six
(6) counts of rape without any mitigating or aggravating circumstance
and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty ofreclusion
perpetua in each case with all the accessory penalties provided for
by law. Further, the [appellant] is sentenced to pay [private]
complainant AAA the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity, and the
amount ofP50,000.00 as moral damages in each case, without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. Finally, the [appellant]
is sentenced to pay the costs of suit; and
3. In Crim. Cases Nos. 546-V-02, 547-V-02, 548-V-02, 554-V-02 and
555-V-02 the Court finds [appellant] ADRIANO LEONARDO guilty
beyond reasonable doubt and as principal of the crime of sexual
abuse as defined in and penalized under Section 5(b) of Article III of
Republic Act No. 7610 without any attending mitigating or
aggravating circumstance and hereby sentences him to suffer the
penalty of EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as
minimum to FIFTEEN (15) YEARS, SIX (6) MONTHS and TWENTY

(20) DAYS of reclusion temporal as maximum in each case with all


the accessory penalties provided for by law. Further, the [appellant]
is sentenced to pay [private] complainant AAA the amount of
P25,000.00 as indemnity and the amount of P25,000.00 as moral
damages in each case without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency. Finally, the [appellant] is sentenced to pay the costs of
suit.
The [appellant] being a detention prisoner, he shall be credited the preventive
imprisonment he has undergone in the service of his sentence. 41 [Emphasis
supplied].
The appellant appealed his convictions to the Court of Appeals. In his brief,
the appellant assigned the following errors:
1. THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FINDING THAT
[APPELLANT] IS GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT IN
CRIMINAL CASES NOS. 348-V-02, 544-V-02, 545-V-02, 549-V-02,
552-V-02 AND 553-V-02 WITHOUT GIVING WEIGHT AND
CREDENCE TO THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE
[APPELLANT].
2. THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FINDING THAT
[APPELLANT] IS GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT IN
CRIMINAL CASES NOS. 546-V-02, 547-V-02, 548-V-02, 554-V-02
AND 555-V-02 WITHOUT GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO
THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE [APPELLANT].
3. THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN CONCLUDING
THAT THE PROSECUTION SUFFICIENTLY PROVED THE
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME AS CHARGED. THE
PROSECUTIONS EVIDENCE FELL SHORT OF THE DEGREE OF
PROOF THAT IS PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
REQUIRED BY LAW TO BE ESTABLISHED IN ORDER TO
OVERCOME THE CONSTITUTIONALLY ENSHRINED
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE IN FAVOR OF [APPELLANT].42
On 28 May 2007, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision affirming in toto
the 28 January 2005 Joint Decision of the trial court. The appellate court
ratiocinated as follows:

Based on the records and transcript of stenographic notes taken during the
proceedings of the cases, appellant has nothing to offer but denial and alibi
for his defense. He now faults the trial court for his conviction as it allegedly
relied solely on AAAs declarations in court.
xxxx
In finding appellant guilty, it is not as if the trial court relied only on AAAs
testimony, without any critical assessment at all, as appellant would like it to
appear. It should be noted that the testimony of AAA was corroborated by the
findings of [P/Sr. Insp. Carpio] that she was indeed violated. Where a rape
victims testimony is corroborated by the physical findings of penetration,
there is sufficient basis for concluding that sexual intercourse did take
place.43 The proceedings before the trial court indicated that the trial court
gave credence to her testimony only after it has satisfied itself that the same
was competent and credible as shown by the manner in which she testified
and her demeanor on the witness stand.
xxxx

the rape incidents created doubts that she was raped by the appellant. Thus,
the self-serving allegations of AAA that she was raped many times by the
appellant deserved scant consideration.
The appellant further argues that the court a quo failed to consider that AAA
was merely forced by her aunt, CCC, who has moral ascendancy and
authority over her to file the rape cases against him as a form of revenge for
his refusal to live with her in Pampanga.
Finally, the appellant posits that the essential elements of the crimes charged
were not sufficiently proven by the prosecution and that the pieces of
evidence presented by the prosecution fell short of the degree of proof
required by law to convict him of the crimes charged. Therefore, the
appellant strongly calls for his acquittal.
The appellants contentions are bereft of merit.
This Court will concurrently discuss the aforesaid arguments raised by the
appellant.

Anent the third assigned error, appellant insists that the prosecution failed to
sufficiently establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes
charged. It is doctrinal that the requirement of proof beyond reasonable
doubt in criminal law does not mean such a degree of proof as to exclude the
possibility of error and produce absolute certainty. Only moral certainty is
required or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an
unprejudiced mind.44 All the prosecution needs to prove, which it did, was
carnal knowledge of the victim by the [appellant] against her will and without
her consent and that she was sexually abused and molested through
appellants lascivious conduct.45 [Emphasis supplied].

The appellant attempts to convince this Court of his innocence by averring


that the prosecution failed to sufficiently prove the elements of the crimes of
which he was convicted and that the pieces of evidence presented fell short
of the degree of proof required to establish his guilt thereof.

The appellant appealed to this Court contending that his convictions for the
crimes charged were based mainly on the bare allegations of AAA as there
were no evidences presented to corroborate her allegations that he truly
raped her. The appellant also harps on the possibility that the laceration
found on AAAs vagina may be due to her having sex with her boyfriends
because the prosecution did not submit or present even a single evidence or
witness who actually saw that he raped AAA. Moreover, the appellant asserts
that AAAs testimony contains inconsistencies that would readily show that
she is not telling the truth. Also, the long delay on the part of AAA in reporting

1) By a man who have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the


following circumstances:

This Court holds otherwise.


Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code provides:
ART. 266-A. Rape; When and How Committed. Rape is committed:

a) Through force, threat or intimidation;


x x x x [Emphasis supplied].
In this case, the records reveal that the prosecution was able to prove
appellants carnal knowledge of AAA through threat or intimidation. The

records support his conviction of six counts of rape. During her testimony
before the trial court, AAA clearly, candidly, straightforwardly and explicitly
narrated before the trial court how the appellant took advantage of her on the
1st week of April 2002, 3 May 2002, 6 May 2002, 7 May 2002, 10 May 2002
and 11 May 2002. AAA repeatedly pointed out the horrendous part of her
ordeal when the appellant would command her to undress, would place
himself on top of her, would insert his penis into her vagina and would make
push and pull movements. She was cowed into submission to the appellants
beastly desires because the latter always had a knife tucked to his waist and
whenever she would resist his sexual advances, the appellant would draw
the knife from his waist and wield it on her. Considering that AAA was barely
out of childhood at the time when her person was criminally violated, the
mere sight of the deadly weapon in the hands of the appellant intimidated
her; and easily so because appellant was a 49 year-old man of superior
strength to the child. On top of these, the appellant is not just AAAs neighbor
- he is also the brother of AAAs foster father. These concurring
circumstances provided the occasion for the infliction of appellants bestiality
upon AAAs hapless helplessness.
It is a well-entrenched law that intimidation in rape includes the moral kind of
intimidation or coercion. Intimidation is a relative term, depending on the age,
size and strength of the parties, and their relationship with each other. It can
be addressed to the mind as well. For rape to exist it is not necessary that
the force or intimidation employed be so great or of such character as could
not be resisted. It is only necessary that the force or intimidation be sufficient
to consummate the purpose which the accused had in mind. Intimidation
must be viewed in the light of the victim's perception and judgment at the
time of the rape and not by any hard and fast rule. It is therefore enough that
it produces fear -- fear that if the victim does not yield to the bestial demands
of the accused, something would happen to her at the moment or thereafter,
as when she is threatened with death if she reports the incident. Intimidation
would also explain why there are no traces of struggle which would indicate
that the victim fought off her attacker.46
With the aforesaid, the prosecution, indeed, has proven beyond reasonable
doubt the existence of carnal knowledge through threat or intimidation, which
is enough to establish the crime of rape.
The prosecution likewise proved the essential elements of sexual abuse
under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610. It thus provides:

SEC. 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. Children, whether male
or female, who for money, profit, or any other consideration or due to the
coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual
intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in
prostitution and other sexual abuse.
The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua
shall be imposed upon the following:
xxxx
(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious
conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other
sexual abuse: Provided, That when the victim is under twelve (12)
years of age, the perpetrators shall be prosecuted under Article 335,
paragraph 3, for rape and Article 336 of Act No. 3815, as amended,
the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious conduct, as the case
may be:Provided, That the penalty for lascivious conduct when the
victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall bereclusion temporal in
its medium period; x x x.
The elements of sexual abuse under the above provision are as
follows: (1) the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or
lascivious conduct; (2) the said act is performed with a child
exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and (3)
the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age. 47
AAA testified that on the 2nd week of April 2002, 1 May 2002, 2 May
2002, 8 May 2002 and 9 May 2002, the appellant touched her
breasts and vagina. The said incidents happened inside the house of
AAAs parents whenever AAA was left alone. In all instances, there
was no penetration, or even an attempt to insert appellants penis
into AAAs vagina.
The aforesaid acts of the appellant are covered by the definitions of
"sexual abuse" and "lascivious conduct" under Section 2(g) and (h)
of the Rules and Regulations on the Reporting and Investigation of
Child Abuse Cases promulgated to implement the provisions of
Republic Act No. 7610:

(g) "Sexual abuse" includes the employment,


use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to
engage in, or assist another person to engage in, sexual intercourse
or lascivious conduct or the molestation, prostitution, or incest with
children;
(h) "Lascivious conduct" means the intentional touching, either
directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner
thigh, or buttocks, or the introduction of any object into the genitalia,
anus or mouth, of any person, whether of the same or opposite sex,
with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or
gratify the sexual desire of any person, bestiality, masturbation,
lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a person. 48
The second element is also present. Section 5 of Republic Act No. 7610
does not merely cover a situation of a child being abused for profit, but also
one in which a child is coerced to engage in lascivious conduct. 49 To repeat,
intimidation need not necessarily be irresistible. It is sufficient that some
compulsion equivalent to intimidation annuls or subdues the free exercise of
the will of the offended party. This is especially true in the case of young,
innocent and immature girls who could not be expected to act with
equanimity of disposition and with nerves of steel. Young girls cannot be
expected to act like adults under the same circumstances or to have the
courage and intelligence to disregard the threat.50
The circumstances of the rapes are the same as that which occasioned the
sexual abuses. AAA was a 12 year-old girl who was the object of the criminal
carnality of a male adult. Access to the girl was easy for the predator is one
of the folks being a neighbor and a brother of AAAs foster father. Moreover,
to repeat the statement of AAA on cross-examination, she was afraid of the
appellant because he was always carrying a knife and he showed it to her
whenever she failed to follow his wishes. Appellant virtually enslaved AAA.
As regards the third element, it is undisputed that AAA was below 18 years of
age when she was sexually abused by the appellant.
Thus, all the elements of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of
Republic Act No. 7610 were also proven by the prosecution.

No significance can be given to the claim of the appellant that his convictions
for the crimes charged were based mainly on the bare allegations of AAA, as
there was no evidence presented to corroborate her allegations that he truly
raped her.
It is a fundamental rule that the trial courts factual findings, especially its
assessment of the credibility of witnesses, are accorded great weight and
respect and binding upon this Court, particularly when affirmed by the Court
of Appeals.51 This Court has repeatedly recognized that the trial court is in
the best position to assess the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies
because of its unique position of having observed that elusive and
incommunicable evidence of the witnesses deportment on the stand while
testifying, which opportunity is denied to the appellate courts. Only the trial
judge can observe the furtive glance, blush of conscious shame, hesitation,
flippant or sneering tone, calmness, sigh, or the scant or full realization of an
oath.52 These are significant factors in evaluating the sincerity of witnesses,
in the process of unearthing the truth.53 The appellate courts will generally
not disturb such findings unless it plainly overlooked certain facts of
substance and value that, if considered, might affect the result of the
case.54 In this case, none of these circumstances are present.
Credible witness and credible testimony are the two essential elements for
the determination of the weight of a particular testimony. This principle could
not ring any truer where the prosecution relies mainly on the testimony of the
complainant, corroborated by the medico-legal findings of a physician. Be
that as it may, the accused may be convicted on the basis of the lone,
uncorroborated testimony of the rape victim, provided that her testimony is
clear, convincing and otherwise consistent with human nature. 55
Needless to say, this is a matter best assigned to the trial court which had the
first-hand opportunity to hear the testimonies of the witnesses and observe
their demeanor, conduct, and attitude during cross-examination. Such
matters cannot be gathered from a mere reading of the transcripts of
stenographic notes. Hence, the trial courts findings carry great weight and
substance.56
As aptly stated by the Court of Appeals in its Decision, the trial court did not
unthinkingly rely on the testimony of AAA in finding the appellant guilty of the
crimes charged. There was a critical assessment of her testimony and the
manner it was given. The first hand observation was that AAAs testimony

was spontaneous, positive, straightforward and candid. Without flourish and


innuendo, AAA recounted in detail how the appellant took advantage of her
from the first week of April 2002 until 11 May 2002. The trial court noted that
AAA was crying while testifying. The crying was a natural display of emotion
indicating the pain that the victim feels when asked to recount her traumatic
experience.57 The tears indicate truth and sincerity.
Moreover, AAAs testimony that she was repeatedly raped and sexually
abused by the appellant was corroborated by the medico-legal findings of the
examining physician, P/Sr. Insp. Carpio. Settled is the rule that where a rape
victim's testimony is corroborated by the physical findings of penetration,
there is sufficient basis for concluding that sexual intercourse did take
place.58
While it is true that aside from AAA herself, the prosecution did not present
any other witness who actually saw that the appellant raped and sexually
abused AAA, such fact was not fatal to the prosecutions cause. There is no
claim that other witnesses saw or could have seen the crime but were not
presented in court. Indeed, credibility does not go with numbers. The
testimony of a single witness, if categorical and candid, suffices. It is of
judicial notice that the crime of rape is usually committed in a private place
where only the aggressor and the rape victim are present. 59 Further, AAA has
positively identified the appellant as the person who raped and sexually
abused her and this negates the theory proffered by the appellant that the
laceration found on AAAs vagina could have been caused by AAAs sexual
intercourse with either of her two boyfriends.
It is time once more to stress that no woman would concoct a story of
defloration, allow the examination of her private parts and subject herself to
public trial or ridicule if she has not, in truth, been a victim of rape and
impelled to seek justice for the wrong done to her. It is a settled jurisprudence
that when a woman says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that
is necessary to show that rape was indeed committed. A woman would think
twice before she concocts a story of rape unless she is motivated by a patent
desire to seek justice for the wrong committed against her.60 When her
testimony passes the test of credibility, the accused can be convicted on the
basis thereof. This is because from the nature of the crime, the only evidence
that can be offered to establish the guilt of the accused is the complainants
testimony.61

We cannot sustain appellants contention that AAAs testimony contains


inconsistencies that put her credibility in doubt. The supposed
inconsistencies or contradictions refer to alleged variance in the dates and
times that the appellant committed the crimes. Particularly alluded to was
AAAs testimony that the two sons of her foster parents reported for work on
1 May 2002 despite the fact that it was a regular holiday. AAA testified that
she was sexually assaulted by the appellant on 1 May 2002 at 8:30 oclock in
the morning, however, on the said date the appellant claimed that he left their
house at 7:00 oclock in the morning to attend an excursion and he returned
home only at 10:00 oclock in the evening. Also, AAA stated that on 11 May
2002, the appellant raped her at 7:00 oclock in the evening but the appellant
avowed that on the said date he was at the house of her cousin, Candida,
from 7:00 oclock in the morning until 10:00 oclock in the evening. Further,
AAA initially said that on 1 May 2002 the two sons of her foster parents
reported for work, however, she changed her statement that they did not
report for work on that date, then again, she claimed that she was not sure
whether they reported for work or not but she was certain that they left the
house.
The appellate court satisfactorily explained the aforesaid inconsistencies in
this wise:62
The perceived inconsistencies or contradictions referred to by the appellant
pertain only to the date and time differences on the commission of the act
which are minor and insignificant details which, even if considered, would not
alter the fact that indeed appellant raped and sexually abused AAA. x x x
Besides both the prosecution and the defense merely gave estimates of time
as to when the act complained of happened and where the appellant was, at
that particular time. x x x Moreover, the date and time are not an essential
element of the crime.63 It is not even necessary to state in the complaint or
information the precise date the offense was committed except when it is a
material ingredient of the offense. The offense may be alleged to have been
committed on a date as near as possible to the actual date of its
commission.64
Indeed, it is clear that the inconsistencies regarding the date and time of
commission pointed out by the appellant are not really inconsistencies in the
statement of AAA, but more of contradictions between the testimonies
offered by him and by AAA. Naturally, the appellant would contradict the
statements of AAA as a matter of defense to exonerate himself of the crimes

charged. Further, the inconsistent statements of AAA as to whether or not the


two sons of her foster parents reported for work on 1 May 2002 is too trivial
and inconsequential and would not alter the fact that the appellant had raped
and sexually abused AAA. Time-honored is the doctrine that discrepancies
referring to minor details and collateral matters do not affect the veracity of
the witnesses declarations. In fact, they strengthen, rather than impair, the
witnesses credibility, for they erase any suspicion of rehearsed testimony.65
Similarly, the delay on the part of AAA in reporting the rape incidents cannot
cast doubt on her credibility. It must be emphasized that people may react
differently to the same set of circumstances. There is no standard reaction of
a victim in a rape incident. Not every victim of rape can be expected to act
with reason or in conformity with the usual expectations of everyone. The
workings of a human mind placed under emotional stress are unpredictable;
people react differently. Some may shout, some may faint, while others may
be shocked into insensibility.66 The delay on the part of AAA in disclosing the
sexual defilement to her aunt, CCC, and to her mother is understandable. As
adequately elucidated by the appellate court, AAAs complete obedience to
appellant, her lack of struggle and silence about her ordeal were all brought
about by a genuine fear posed upon her by the appellant who always had a
knife tucked to his waist whenever he wanted to see AAA to satisfy his
lust.67 The appellant is the brother of AAAs foster father and their houses are
adjacent to each other. Well-entrenched is the rule that delay in reporting an
incident of rape is not an indication of a fabricated charge, nor does it cast
doubt on the credibility of a complainant.68 More significantly, a one-month
delay cannot be regarded as unreasonable. We have had cases where the
delay in reporting the crime lasted for months, yet the testimonies of the
victims therein were found to be plausible and credible. 69
As regards appellants assertions that the rape charges against him were
fabricated and initiated only by the aunt of AAA in revenge for his refusal to
live with her in Pampanga, the same remains unsubstantiated, thus, stands
on hollow ground. Here we quote the trial courts pronouncement on this
matter:
The [appellant] would want this Court to believe that the charges against him
were trumped up, borne by the desire of CCC, the sister of the [biological]
mother of AAA to exact revenge upon him. The [appellant] would have it that
CCC was his lover, having had carnal knowledge of her once in a local motel
but became furious of him and threatened to bring the fury of hell to him

when he denied her request to live with her as husband and wife in
Pampanga. Such a defense burdens the imagination. It is utterly
preposterous and unthinkable. Both the [appellant] and CCC are presently
married to and living with their respective spouses. The Court failed to see
anything so appealing on the part of the [appellant] as to drive CCC, who
was already 41 years of age x x x and with six (6) children with her husband,
out of her mind to make such proposal to the [appellant]. As a laundrywoman
and a food vendor on the side, CCC would not be financially in a position to
offer to buy for the [appellant] a passenger tricycle as their means of
livelihood in Pampanga. In any event, the [appellant] failed to substantiate his
said claim by document or other evidence of relationship like mementos, love
letters, notes, pictures and the like.
Even in the remote possibility that CCC was indeed so obsessed to have the
[appellant] as her live-in partner, it does not follow that she can impose her
will on AAA and her mother for them to concoct a story of not just one but
multiple rape alleged to have been committed against AAA. The [biological]
mother of AAA would particularly not allow her daughter to be used by her
sister as an engine of malice, specially (sic) since to do so would expose her
daughter to embarrassment and public trial.70
As has been repeatedly stated by this Court in a number of cases, it is
unnatural for a parent to use her offspring as an engine of malice if it will
subject her to embarrassment and even stigma. No mother would stoop so
low as to subject her daughter to the hardships and shame concomitant to a
rape prosecution just to assuage her own hurt feelings, more so, of her sister.
It is unthinkable that a mother would sacrifice her daughters honor to satisfy
her grudge or even her sisters grudge, knowing fully well that such an
experience would certainly damage her daughters psyche and mar her
entire life. A mother would not subject her daughter to a public trial with its
accompanying stigma on her as the victim of rape, if said charges were not
true.71
In contrast, the evidence presented by the defense consisted mainly of bare
denials and alibi. As the Court has oft pronounced, both denial and alibi are
inherently weak defenses which cannot prevail over the positive and credible
testimony of the prosecution witness that the accused committed the
crime.72 For the defense of alibi to prosper, it is not sufficient that appellant
prove that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed, he must
also show that it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus criminis

or its immediate vicinity when the crime was perpetrated. 73 Further, the
defense of alibi may not prosper if it is established mainly by the accused
themselves and their relatives like in this case and not by credible persons. 74

May 2002 there was an instance when the appellant left her house for about
an hour and then returned to continue with the drinking session. This
indicates the possibility that it was during that hour that appellant raped AAA.

In the case at bench, the appellant vehemently averred that at the time of the
incidents on 1 May 2002 and on 11 May 2002 he was in Angat, Bulacan, and
in Bagbaguin, Valenzuela City, respectively. On 1 May 2002, the appellant
insisted that it was impossible for him to sexually abuse AAA at 8:30 in the
morning because as early as 7:00 oclock in the morning he already went out
of his house to join the excursion of his co-drivers in Angat, Bulacan, and
returned home only at 10:00 oclock in the evening. Also, on 11 May 2002, at
around 7:00 oclock in the evening, the appellant claimed that it was not
possible for him to rape AAA because as early as 9:00 oclock in the morning
he was already at the house of his cousin in Bagbaguin, Valenzuela City, to
assist in the cooking of food for the birthday celebration of his cousins
nephew and he went home only at around 10:00 oclock in the evening.
However, these assertions of time and hour are bare and bereft of support.
Neither is there any evidence to prove that it was physically impossible for
him to be present at the place where the crimes were committed at the time
they happened.

For failure of the appellant to support by clear and convincing evidence his
defense of denial and alibi, and in light of the positive declaration of AAA,
who in a simple and straightforward manner convincingly identified the
appellant as her ravisher, the defense offered by the appellant must
necessarily fail.

Additionally, it is worthy to note the findings of the trial court, which was
affirmed by the appellate court, that from the time the appellant left his house
on 1 May 2002 at 7:00 oclock in the morning up to the time the incident of
sexual abuse happened at 8:30 in the morning of the same day, there is only
a time difference of one and one-half hour, thus, it was entirely possible that
before leaving his house he had already committed the act complained of
against AAA. Besides, the appellant can easily give a different time to make it
appear that at the time of the incident he was no longer at the place where it
happened. In the same breath, though the appellant was at the house of his
cousin at the time the crime of rape was committed on 11 May 2002, it was
not physically impossible for him to be present at the crime scene at the time
it happened because the records clearly show that his cousins house is only
a 15-minute-walk away from the house of AAA.
The testimonies of the appellants wife, cousin and niece designed to
strengthen his defense of denial and alibi cannot be given any value for their
testimonies are suspect because of their relationship to appellant. This Court
has held that relatives would freely perjure themselves for the sake of their
loved ones.75 Notably, the cousin of the appellant even admitted that on 11

Given the foregoing, this Court affirms appellants convictions in Criminal


Case Nos. 545-V-02, 549-V-02, 552-V-02, 553-V-02, 544-V-02 and 348-V-02
for six counts of rape and in Criminal Case Nos. 546-V-02, 547-V-02, 548-V02, 554-V-02 and 555-V-02 for five counts of sexual abuse under Section
5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610.
This Court holds that the lower courts properly convicted the appellant in
Criminal Case Nos. 546-V-02, 547-V-02, 548-V-02, 554-V-02 and 555-V-02
for five counts of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act
No. 7610 even though the charges against him in the aforesaid criminal
cases were for rape in relation to Republic Act No. 7610. The lower courts
ruling is in conformity with the variance doctrine embodied in Section 4, in
relation to Section 5, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,
which specifically provides:
SEC. 4. Judgment in case of variance between allegation and proof. When
there is variance between the offense charged in the complaint or information
and that proved, and the offense as charged is included in or necessarily
includes the offense proved, the accused shall be convicted of the offense
proved which is included in the offense charged, or of the offense charged
which is included in the offense proved.
SEC. 5. When an offense includes or is included in another. An offense
charged necessarily includes the offense proved when some of the essential
elements or ingredients of the former, as alleged in the complaint or
information, constitute the latter. And an offense charged is necessarily
included in the offense proved, when the essential ingredients of the former
constitute or form part of those constituting the latter.

With the aforesaid provisions, the appellant can be held guilty of a lesser
crime of acts of lasciviousness performed on a child, i.e., sexual abuse under
Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610, which was the offense
proved because it is included in rape, the offense charged.
As to penalty. This Court similarly affirms the penalty of reclusion
perpetua76 imposed by the lower courts against the appellant for each count
of rape in Criminal Case Nos. 545-V-02, 549-V-02, 552-V-02, 553-V-02, 544V-02 and 348-V-02.
This Court, however, modifies the penalty imposed by the lower courts
against the appellant in Criminal Case Nos. 546-V-02, 547-V-02, 548-V-02,
554-V-02 and 555-V-02 for sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of
Republic Act No. 7610.
For acts of lasciviousness performed on a child under Section 5(b), Article III
of Republic Act No. 7610, the penalty prescribed is reclusion temporal in its
medium period to reclusion perpetua. Notwithstanding that Republic Act No.
7610 is a special law, the appellant may enjoy the benefits of the
Indeterminate Sentence Law.77
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the appellant shall be entitled to a
minimum term to be taken within the range of the penalty next lower to that
prescribed by Republic Act No. 7610. The penalty next lower in degree is
prision mayor medium to reclusion temporal minimum, the range of which is
from 8 years and 1 day to 14 years and 8 months. On the other hand, the
maximum term of the penalty should be taken from the penalty prescribed
under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610, which is reclusion
temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua, the range of which is
from 14 years, 8 months and 1 day to reclusion perpetua. The minimum,
medium and maximum term of the same is as follows: minimum 14 years,
8 months and 1 day to 17 years and 4 months; medium 17 years, 4 months
and 1 day to 20 years; and maximum reclusion perpetua.
In this case, the trial court imposed on the appellant an indeterminate
sentence of 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 15 years, 6
months and 20 days of reclusion temporal as maximum for each count of
sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610. The
minimum term imposed is correct because it is within the range of prision
mayor medium to reclusion temporal minimum, the penalty next lower in

degree to that imposed by Republic Act No. 7610. But the maximum term
thereof is wrong. The maximum term of the indeterminate sentence should
be anywhere from 14 years, 8 months and one day to reclusion perpetua.
We, thus, impose on the appellant the indeterminate sentence of 8 years and
1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of
reclusion temporal as maximum for each count of sexual abuse under
Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610 in Criminal Case Nos. 546V-02, 547-V-02, 548-V-02, 554-V-02 and 555-V-02.
As to damages. This Court affirms the awards of P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages given by the lower courts to
AAA for each count of rape. Civil indemnity, which is actually in the nature of
actual or compensatory damages, is mandatory upon the finding of the fact
of rape.78 Moral damages in rape cases should be awarded without need of
showing that the victim suffered trauma of mental, physical, and
psychological sufferings constituting the basis thereof. These are too obvious
to still require their recital at the trial by the victim, since we even assume
and acknowledge such agony as a gauge of her credibility.79
In line with this Courts ruling in Abenojar v. People, 80 this Court deems it
proper to reduce the award of civil indemnity from P25,000.00 to P20,000.00,
as well as the award of moral damages from P25,000.00 toP15,000.00 for
each count of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No.
7610. In the same breath, in line with this Courts ruling in People v.
Sumingwa,81 this Court impose a fine of P15,000.00 on the appellant for each
count of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01092 dated 28 May 2007 finding herein appellant
guilty beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal Case Nos. 545-V-02, 549-V-02,
552-V-02, 553-V-02, 544-V-02 and 348-V-02 of six counts of rape and in
Criminal Case Nos. 546-V-02, 547-V-02, 548-V-02, 554-V-02 and 555-V-02 of
five counts of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No.
7610 is hereby AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS: (1) the
maximum term of the indeterminate sentence to be imposed upon the
appellant for each count of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of
Republic Act No. 7610 should be 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal; (2) the awards of civil indemnity and moral damages for each count
of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610 are
reduced from P25,000.00 to P20,000.00 and from P25,000.00 to P15,000.00,

respectively; and (3) a fine of P15,000.00 is imposed on the appellant also


for each count of sexual abuse under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act
No. 7610. Costs against appellant.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 181544

April 11, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
JULIUS TAGUILID y BACOLOD, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
For resolution is the final appeal of Julius Taguilid y Bacolod from his
conviction for rape by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 106, in Quezon
City on April 21, 2006,1 which the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed through its
decision promulgated on August 16, 2007.2
Antecedents
Taguilid was charged in the RTC with rape in relation to Republic Act No.
7610 (Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and
Discrimination Act) under the following information, to wit:
That on or about the 29th day of May, 2002, in Quezon City, Philippines, the
above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
by means of force and intimidation suddenly entered the bedroom of private
complainant,3 a minor, 12 yrs of age, located at xxx Brgy. Talayan, this City,
and once inside, pushed said complainant to lie down, forcibly inserted his
finger to her private part, removed her panty and thereafter had sexual
intercourse with said offended party, all against her will, and without her
consent, which acts further debase, degrade and demean the intrinsic worth
and dignity of said private complainant as a human being, to her damage and
prejudice.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4

The evidence of the Prosecution shows that at about 4:00 pm on May 29,
2002 Taguilid suddenly entered AAAs room while she was resting; that the
room was in the third floor of the house owned by her parents and located in
Barangay Talayan, Quezon City; that he was a cousin of her mother who had
been living with her family in that house since 2000; that upon entering her
room, he pushed her down on her back, then inserted his finger in her vagina
and later on inserted his penis in her vagina; that she cried and pushed him
away, but to no avail; that he next turned her over and penetrated her anus
with his penis while in that position; and that she did not shout for help
because he threatened to kill her if she did.5
At the time of the rape, AAA was 12 years and ten months old, having been
born on July 28, 1989.
The Prosecution further established that BBB, AAAs father, was at the time
tending to the family store at the ground floor when he decided to go up to
the third floor to look for and talk to AAA; that upon reaching her room, he
found Taguilid standing by her bed in the act of raising the zipper of his
pants, and AAA was on her bed, crying and uttering inaudible words; that
BBB saw that her skirt was raised up to her waist, and her panties, though
still on her, were disheveled (wala sa ayos); and that it seemed to BBB that
his sudden appearance in the room had taken Taguilid by surprise, causing
the latter to hurriedly leave the room even before BBB could say anything to
him.
BBB later on brought his daughter to the United Doctors Medical Center
(UDMC) in Quezon City for a medico-legal examination before reporting the
matter to the barangay office. He lodged a complaint for rape with the police
authorities in order to seek their assistance in the arrest of Taguilid. 6
The RTC summarized the medico-legal findings on AAA thuswise:
Dr. Jerico Angelito Q. Cordero, 28 years old, physician and a medico-legal
officer assigned as Deputy Chief of DNA Analysis Center conducted medical
and physical examination upon the victim on May 29, 2002 at 7:50 in the
evening. His findings, marked as Exhibit "E" show that under genital
category, the hymen is annular with deep healed laceration at 4 and 9 oclock
positions. Under labia minora, it is light brown slightly hypertrophied
(increased in size) labia minora; that the fourchette (part of the sex organ
located just below the hymen), was abraded, meaning "nagasgas or

nalagusan" (TSN, September 20, 2002, p. 6). He found out that AAA is in a
non-virgin state physically and there are no signs of application of any form
of physical trauma. He said that deep-healed laceration means that the injury
has healed 5 to 10 days from the time of the injury.7

was raped by the accused not only on that fateful day of May 29, 2002, but
several times before.

Taguilid denied the accusation. He testified that AAAs mother was his third
cousin; that he lived with AAAs family because his means of livelihood was
playing their drums at birthday parties and fiestas; that on May 28, 2002, he
and AAA had an argument after she refused to follow his instruction to wash
the dishes; that he whipped her with two sticks of walis tingting, but she
retaliated by stabbing his shorts, causing his shorts to fall off; that it was
while he was pulling up his shorts and zipping them when BBB suddently
appeared and found him inside her room in that pose; and that he
immediately rushed down the stairs, with BBB saying to him: Hintayin mo ako
sa ibaba. Pinakain na, pinatulog pa, ahas sa bahay na ito. 8

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, accused JULIUS TAGUILID Y


BACOLOD is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE
and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA.

Ruling of the RTC

xxx

The accused is further ordered to pay the private complainant the amount of
FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000) as civil indemnity in consonance with
prevailing jurisprudence (People v. Obejaso, 299 SCRA 549; People v. Ibay,
233 SCRA 15); the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000) as
moral damages; and the amount of TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS
(P25,000) as exemplary damages.
SO ORDERED.9

As stated, the RTC pronounced Taguilid guilty of rape, holding:


The Court finds that AAA was actually violated in her own room. The act was
already consummated when her father entered her room, looking for her. The
accused was putting and zipping up his pant inside the room of the victim
who was crying on her bed, hair and dress disheveled, shaken and visibly
afraid of the accused. Her panty was on, but "wala sa ayos," as explained by
her father who was shocked to see his daughter on bed with the accused in
the act of zipping up his pants. Whipping up a young girl with two sticks
of walis tingting would perhaps make her cry but would not certainly make
her lie on bed, shaking in fear and uttering words inaudibly. This condition of
AAA is a manifestation that she was threatened and forced sexually. Her
testimony was firm she was abused and raped. The accused even used his
finger on her vagina before he slipped his penis inside her vagina. The
accused also "pinataob" her and did anal sex (TSN, Feb. 7, 2003, pp. 4-7).
When asked how many times the accused raped her, she said outrightly,
"Ten (10) times" (Ibid).
The testimony of AAA was honest, straightforward and clear. She answered
all questions of her ordeal in clearcut language. She mentioned the word
"pinataob" to describe the next position the accused assumed to penetrate
her anus. Young as she is, her purpose was to unearth the truth that she

Ruling of the CA
On appeal, the CA affirmed Taguilids conviction, decreeing:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision dated April 21, 2006 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 106 of Quezon City in Criminal Case No. 02109810 finding accused-appellant Julius Taguilid y Bacolod GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.10
The CA explained its affirmance in the following manner, viz:
In the instant case, we agree with the trial court that the testimony of private
complainant should be accorded full faith and credit as it amply supports a
finding of guilt on the part of accused-appellant for the commission of the
said offense. Indeed, the narration of her ordeal was honest, straightforward
and clear and all through her entire testimony she remained firm and
steadfast in identifying accused-appellant as the perpetrator of the offense.
On the other hand, accused-appellant can only set up the defense of denial.
Denial, although a legitimate defense, is an inherently weak defense that

crumbles in the face of positive and categorical identification of the private


complainant. Denial, if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evident, is a
self-serving assertion that deserves no weight in law. As between the positive
declaration of the prosecution witness and the negative statement of the
accused, the former deserves more credence.

perpetua for absent any circumstance that would qualify the rape under the
instances enumerated under Sec. 11 of R.A. 7659, the proper imposable
penalty is reclusion perpetua.11

Incidentally, we cannot also help but observe that the weakness of accusedappellants defense becomes all the more apparent in this appeal
considering as to how he is now trying to change his theory as to what had
transpired on May 29, 2002. For instance, during the trial of the case,
accused-appellant contended that there was no rape but a serious case of
misunderstanding between him and the father of the private complainant as
his shorts fell as a result of private complainants retaliation for beating her
with walis tingting. On appeal however, a reading of the arguments of the
accused-appellant shows that while he still maintains that there was no rape,
he avers that the sexual congress was consensual as there was absence of
physical struggle or resistance on the part of the private complainant.

Taguilid reiterates his assignment of errors in the CA, namely:

Lastly, the absence of fresh lacerations on private complainants genitalia is


not a factor that is conclusively relied upon to establish the non-existence of
rape. Indeed, the absence of external signs of physical injuries does not
cancel out the commission of rape, since proof of injuries is not an essential
element of the crime. In fact, even the absence of fresh lacerations does not
preclude the finding of rape.
This holds true in the instant case considering that coupled with the
testimony of private complainant on the rape and her identification of the
accused-appellant as the culprit therein, the medico-legal report and the
medico-legal, Dr. Cordero testified that private complainant is in a non-virgin
state. To repeat, proof of injuries is not essential to the crime itself.
Significantly, let it also be emphasized that the gravamen of the offense is
[sexual intercourse without consent].
That having been said, we find no reversible error committed by the trial
court in convicting accused-appellant of the offense of rape. The records of
the case show that the prosecution had satisfactorily proven his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt and that he had carnal knowledge of the private
complainant against her will through the use of force and intimidation. Such
being the case, the trial court correctly imposed the penalty of reclusion

Issues

I.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING FULL WEIGHT AND
CREDENCE TO THE HIGHLY INCREDIBLE TESTIMONY OF THE PRIVATE
COMPLAINANT AND IN NOT CONSIDERING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANTS DEFENSE.
II.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSEDAPPELLANT OF RAPE DESPITE THE PROSECUTIONS FAILURE TO
PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
III.
THE FINDINGS/PHYSICAL EVIDENCE AS CONTAINED IN THE MEDICOLEGAL REPORT DOES NOT SHOW AND/OR IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH
THE OFFENSE OF RAPE.12
Taguilid argues that AAAs testimony on how the rape had happened and
how easily he had undressed her indicated that he did not use force and
intimidation against her; that her fear of him had been only the product of her
imagination; and that her silence during the entire event, and her failure to
escape from him or to report his allegedly previous sexual assaults had
revealed her having voluntarily consented to the sexual act. 13
Taguilid submits that the State did not prove that he had any moral
ascendancy over AAA; that the age gap between them did not suffice to
establish his moral ascendancy over her;14 and that the medico-legal findings
of the hymenal lacerations found on her on the same date of the rape being
already healed, not fresh, were inconsistent with rape. 15

Ruling
The Court affirms the conviction.
First of all, it is basic that findings of the CA affirming those of the RTC as the
trial court are generally conclusive on the Court which is not a trier of
facts.16 Such conclusiveness derives from the trial courts having the firsthand opportunity to observe the demeanor and manner of the victim when
she testified at the trial.17 It also looks to the Court that both the RTC and the
CA carefully sifted and considered all the attendant circumstances. With
Taguilid not showing that the RTC and the CA overlooked any fact or material
of consequence that could have altered the outcome if they had taken it into
due consideration, the Court must fully accept the findings of the CA.
Secondly, the medico-legal finding made on May 29, 2002 showing AAAs
hymenal laceration as "deep-healed" and as having healed "5 to 10 days
from the time of (infliction of) the injury" did not detract from the commission
of the rape on May 29, 2002. For one, hymenal injury has never been an
element of rape, for a female might still be raped without such injury
resulting. The essence of rape is carnal knowledge of a female either against
her will (through force or intimidation) or without her consent (where the
female is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious, or is under 12 years
of age, or is demented).18 It is relevant to know that carnal knowledge is
simply the act of a man having sexual bodily connections with a
woman.19 Thus, although AAA testified on her sexual penetration by Taguilid,
the fact that her hymenal injury was not fresh but already deep-healed was
not incompatible with the evidence of rape by him. In this regard, her claim
that he had previously subjected her to similar sexual assaults several times
before May 29, 2002, albeit not the subject of this prosecution, rendered the
absence of fresh hymenal injury not improbable even as it showed how the
deep-healed laceration might have been caused.
Thirdly, AAAs failure to shout for help although she knew that her father was
tending to the family store just downstairs was not a factor to discredit her or
to diminish the credibility of her evidence on the rape. She explained her
failure by stating that Taguilid had threatened to harm her should she shout.
She thereby commanded credence, considering that she was not expected
to easily overcome her fear of him due to her being then a minor just under
13 years of age at the time of the rape. Nor would it be reasonable to impose
on her any standard form of reaction when faced with a shocking and

horrifying experience like her rape at the hands of Taguilid. The Court has
recognized that different people react differently to a given situation involving
a startling occurrence.20 Indeed, the workings of the human mind placed
under emotional stress are unpredictable, and people react differently - some
may shout, others may faint, and still others may be shocked into insensibility
even if there may be a few who may openly welcome the intrusion. 21
There can be no question that the testimony of a child who has been a victim
in rape is normally given full weight and credence. Judicial experience has
enabled the courts to accept the verity that when a minor says that she was
raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was
committed against her.22 The credibility of such a rape victim is surely
augmented where there is absolutely no evidence that suggests the
possibility of her being actuated by ill-motive to falsely testify against the
accused.23 Truly, a rape victims testimony that is unshaken by rigid crossexamination and unflawed by inconsistencies or contradictions in its material
points is entitled to full faith and credit.24
And, fourthly, Taguilids defense at the trial was plain denial of the positive
assertions made against him.1wphi1 He then declared that the charge of
rape against him resulted from BBBs misunderstanding of what had really
occurred in AAAs bedroom just before BBB had appeared unannounced.
Yet, such denial was devoid of persuasion due to its being easily and
conveniently resorted to, and due to denial being generally weaker than and
not prevailing over the positive assertions of both AAA and BBB. Also,
Taguilids explanation of why he was then zipping his pants when BBB found
him in AAAs bedroom, that AAAs stabbing had caused his pants to fall off,
was implausible without him demonstrating how the pants had been
unzipped from AAAs stabbing of him as to cause the pants to fall off.
Besides, Taguilids act of quickly leaving the room of AAA without at least
attempting to tell BBB the reason for his presence in her room and near the
bed of the sobbing AAA if he had been as innocent as he claimed exposed
the shamness and insincerity of his denial.
In this connection, the Court is not surprised that Taguilid changed his
defense theory on appeal, from one of denial based on the charge having
resulted from a misunderstanding of the situation in AAAs bedroom on the
part of BBB to one admitting the sexual congress with AAA but insisting that it
was consensual between them. Such shift, which the CA unfailingly noted,
revealed the unreliability of his denial, if not also its inanity.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on August 16,


2007 by the Court of Appeals.
The appellant shall pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 188979

September 5, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
CHRISTOPHER PAREJA y VELASCO, Appellant.
DECISION
BRION, J.:
This is an appeal from the June 15, 2009 decision1 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 02759. TheCA affirmed the February 22, 2007
decision2
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 209, Mandaluyong City, finding
appellant Christopher Pareja guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
THE CASE
The prosecution charged the appellant before the RTC with the crime of rape
under an Amended Information that reads:
That on or about the 16th day of June 2003, in the City of Mandaluyong,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously lie and
have carnal knowledge of AAA,3 13 years of age, sister of the common law
spouse of accused, against her will and consent, thus debasing and/or
demeaning the intrinsic worth and dignity of the victim thereby prejudicing her
normal development as a child.4
The evidence for the prosecution disclosed that at around 3:30 a.m. of June
16, 2003, AAA was sleeping beside her two-year old nephew, BBB, on the

floor of her sisters room, when the appellant hugged her and kissed her
nape and neck.5 AAA cried, but the appellant covered her and BBB with a
blanket.6 The appellant removed AAAs clothes, short pants, and underwear;
he then took off his short pants and briefs.7 The appellant went on top of
AAA, and held her hands. AAA resisted, but the appellant parted her legs
using his own legs, and then tried to insert his penis into her vagina. 8 The
appellant stopped when AAAs cry got louder; AAA kicked the appellants
upper thigh as the latter was about to stand up. The appellant put his clothes
back on, and threatened to kill AAA if she disclosed the incident to anyone.
Immediately after, the appellant left the room.9 AAA covered herself with a
blanket and cried.10
At around 6:00 a.m. of the same day, AAAs brother, CCC, went to her room
and asked her why she was lying on the floor and crying. AAA did not
answer, and instead hurled invectives at CCC.11 AAA went to the house of
her other brother, but the latter was not in his house. AAA proceeded to the
house of her older sister, DDD, at Block 19, Welfareville Compound, and
narrated to her what had happened. Afterwards, AAA and her two (2) siblings
went to the Women and Childrens Desk of the Mandaluyong City Police
Station and reported the incident.12
For his defense, the appellant declared on the witness stand that he hauled
"filling materials" at his house, located at Block 38, Fabella Compound, on
the evening of June 15, 2003. At around 10:00 p.m., he went to his room and
slept.13 On the next day, the appellant, accompanied by his mother and
brother-in-law, went to the municipal hall to ask for financial assistance for his
wife who was confined in the hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, the doctor
told him that his wife needed blood. Immediately after, the appellant and his
companions went to Pasig City to find blood donors. 14
On the evening of June 16, 2003, and while the appellant was folding the
clothes of his son, two policemen entered his house and informed him that a
complaint for attempted rape had been filed against him. The police brought
him to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, forced him to admit
the crime, mauled him, and then placed him in a detention cell. 15 The
appellant added that he filed a complaint before the Office of the
Ombudsman against the police officers who beat him up. 16
The RTC convicted the appellant of rape in its decision of February 22, 2007,
under the following terms:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused CHRISTOPHER PAREJA y


VELASCO GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE and
hereby sentences him as he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua; and to indemnify the victim, AAA, the amount
of P 50,000.00 as moral damages and P 50,000.00 as civil indemnity.17
The CA, in its decision dated June 15, 2009, affirmed the RTC decision. It
explained that a slight penetration of the labia by the male organ is sufficient
to constitute rape, and held that a slight penetration took place when the
appellants penis touched AAAs vagina as he was trying to insert it.
The appellate court further ruled that the presence of people in the other
room did not make it impossible for the appellant to have raped the victim,
because lust is no respecter of time and place. It also held that the victims
lack of tenacity in resisting the appellants sexual aggression did not amount
to consent or voluntary submission to the criminal act. 18
In his brief,19 the appellant argued that the lower courts erred in convicting
him for the crime of rape, as the prosecution failed to prove even the slightest
penetration of his penis into the victims vagina. He added that the victims
testimony was incredible and contrary to human experience.
THE COURTS RULING
We find that the prosecution failed to prove the appellants guilt beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of consummated rape. We convict him instead
of attempted rape, as the evidence on record shows the presence of all the
elements of this crime.
Carnal Knowledge Not Proven With
Moral Certainty
By definition, rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman with
the use of force, threat or intimidation, or when she is deprived of reason or
otherwise unconscious, or when she is under 12 years of age or is
demented.20 "Carnal knowledge is defined as the act of a man having sexual
intercourse or sexual bodily connections with a woman." 21 Carnal knowledge
of the victim by the accused must be proven beyond reasonable doubt,
considering that it is the central element in the crime of rape. 22

In her testimony of February 9, 2004, AAA recounted the alleged rape, as


follows:
FISCAL TRONCO:
Q: You said that the three of you then was (sic) sleeping on the floor, what
is it that happened on that particular day and time that is unusual?
A:

It was like somebody was embracing me or hugging me, maam.

Q: When you felt that some (sic) is embracing and hugging you, what did
you do?
A: I didnt mind it because I thought that the person beside me just moved
and when he made the movement, its like that I was embraced, maam.
Q:

Whom are you referring to?

A:

My brother-in-law, maam.

Q:

And after that, what else happened, if any, AAA?

A: Before that happened, my nephew cried and so I picked him up and put
him on my chest and after a while, I slept again and brought him down again
and then "dumapa po ako" and I felt that somebody was kissing my nape,
maam.
Q:

Were you able to see who was that somebody kissing your nape?

A: When I tried to evade, I looked on my side where the room was not that
dark that I could not see the person and so, I saw that it was my brother-inlaw, maam.
xxxx
Q: When you saw that it was your brother-in-law kissing your nape while
you were on a prone position, what else happened, if any?
A:

He kissed my neck, maam.

Q:

What was your position while he was kissing your neck?

A:

My short pants and underwear, maam.

A:

I was on my side at that time and I was also crying, maam.

Q: While he was taking off your short pants and your underwear, what did
you do, if any?

xxxx
A:
Q:

Why were you crying at that time while he was kissing your neck?

A:

I was afraid of what will happen next, maam.

I tried to fight him off, maam.

xxxx

Q: Aside from that incident that he was kissing your neck, was there any
other previous incident that happened?
A:

Q: You said that he was trying to take off your clothes and undergarments,
what was your position at that time?
A:

I was lying down, maam.

Q:

What about him?

A:

He was on my lap, maam.

Yes, maam.

xxxx
Q:

What incident was that?


xxxx

A: At that time, my brother-in-law covered me and my nephew with a


blanket and he tried to get my clothes off, maam.

Q:

You said that you saw him take off his short pants?

Q:

When did this happen, AAA?

A:

Yes, maam.

A:

Also on said date, maam.

xxxx

Q: You said that he covered you and your nephew with a blanket and then
taking (sic) off your clothes?
A:

Q:

Did he also take off his brief?

A:

Yes, maam.

Yes, maam.
xxxx

xxxx
Q:
Q:

And after that what happened, AAA?

Was he able to take off your clothes?

A:

Yes, maam.

Q:

What particular clothing was he able to take off?

A: After removing his undergarments, he suddenly brought his body on top


of me and he held my hands. At that time I was crying and still resisting and
then he was trying to get my legs apart. I was still resisting at that time, and
at some point in time I felt weak and he was able to part my legs, maam.
Q:

Could you please tell us how did (sic) he able to part your legs?

A:

He did that with his legs while he was holding my hands, maam.

Q:

And when he was able to part your legs, what happened next?

A:

He tried to insert his sexual organ but he was not able to do so, maam.

Q:

How did you know that he was trying to insert his sexual organ?

A:

"Naidikit po niya sa ari ko."

Q:

Which part of your body was he able to touch his sexual organ? (sic)

A:

On my sexual organ, maam.

xxxx
Q: You mentioned earlier that he was not able to penetrate your private
part, AAA?
A:

Yes, maam.

Q:

So, what happened after that?

A: I cried and then while I was resisting, I hit my wrist on the wall and my
wrist was "nagasgas," maam.
xxxx
Q:

And were you able to successfully resist?

A: Yes, maam, I was able to kicked (sic) his upper thigh, maam. 23 (italics
supplied; emphasis ours)
From the foregoing, we find it clear that the appellants penis did not
penetrate, but merely touched (i.e.,"naidikit"), AAAs private part. In fact, the
victim confirmed on cross-examination that the appellant did not
succeed in inserting his penis into her vagina. Significantly, AAAs
Sinumpaang Salaysay24 also disclosed that the appellant was holding the
victims hand when he was trying to insert his penis in her vagina. This
circumstance coupled with the victims declaration that she was resisting

the appellants attempt to insert his penis into her vagina makes penile
penetration highly difficult, if not improbable. Significantly, nothing in the
records supports the CAs conclusion that the appellants penis penetrated,
however slightly, the victims female organ.
Did the touching by the appellants penis of the victims private part amount
to carnal knowledge such that the appellant should be held guilty of
consummated rape?
In People v. Campuhan,25 the Court laid down the parameters of genital
contact in rape cases, thus:
Thus, touching when applied to rape cases does not simply mean mere
epidermal contact, stroking or grazing of organs, a slight brush or a scrape of
the penis on the external layer of the victim's vagina, or the mons pubis, as in
this case. There must be sufficient and convincing proof that the penis indeed
touched the labias or slid into the female organ, and not merely stroked the
external surface thereof, for an accused to be convicted of consummated
rape. As the labias, which are required to be "touched" by the penis, are by
their natural situs or location beneath the mons pubis or the vaginal surface,
to touch them with the penis is to attain some degree of penetration beneath
the surface, hence, the conclusion that touching the labia majora or the labia
minora of the pudendum constitutes consummated rape.
The pudendum or vulva is the collective term for the female genital organs
that are visible in the perineal area, e.g., mons pubis, labia majora, labia
minora, the hymen, the clitoris, the vaginal orifice, etc. The mons pubis is the
rounded eminence that becomes hairy after puberty, and is instantly visible
within the surface. The next layer is the labia majora or the outer lips of the
female organ composed of the outer convex surface and the inner surface.
The skin of the outer convex surface is covered with hair follicles and is
pigmented, while the inner surface is a thin skin which does not have any
hair but has many sebaceous glands. Directly beneath the labia majora is the
labia minora. Jurisprudence dictates that the labia majora must be entered
for rape to be consummated, and not merely for the penis to stroke the
surface of the female organ. Thus, a grazing of the surface of the female
organ or touching the mons pubis of the pudendum is not sufficient to
constitute consummated rape. Absent any showing of the slightest
penetration of the female organ, i.e., touching of either labia of the pudendum

by the penis, there can be no consummated rape; at most, it can only be


attempted rape, if not acts of lasciviousness.26 (italics supplied)

pudendum of the victim. We further held that the appellant could not be
convicted of consummated rape by presuming carnal knowledge out of pain.

Simply put, "rape is consummated by the slightest penile penetration of the


labia majora or pudendum of the female organ." 27 Without any showing of
such penetration, there can be no consummated rape; at most, it can only be
attempted rape [or] acts of lasciviousness."28

The Court had a similar ruling in People v. Miranda, 31 where the accused
tried to insert his penis into the victims private parts, but was unsuccessful,
so he inserted his fingers instead. We convicted the accused of attempted
rape only due to lack of evidence to establish that there was even a slight
penile penetration. We noted, however, that the appellants act of inserting
his fingers would have constituted rape through sexual assault had the
offense occurred after the effectivity of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997.

As earlier discussed, the prosecution failed to present sufficient and


convincing evidence to establish the required penile penetration. AAAs
testimony did not establish that the appellants penis touched the labias or
slid into her private part. Aside from AAAs testimony, no other evidence on
record, such as a medico-legal report, could confirm whether there indeed
had been penetration, however slight, of the victims labias. In the absence of
testimonial or physical evidence to establish penile penetration, the appellant
cannot be convicted of consummated rape.
Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, states that there is an
attempt when the offender commenced the commission of the crime directly
by overt acts but does not perform all the acts of execution by reason of
some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous desistance.
In People v. Publico,29 we ruled that when the "touching" of the vagina by
the penis is coupled with the intent to penetrate, attempted rape is
committed; otherwise, the crime committed is merely acts of lasciviousness.
In the present case, the appellant commenced the commission of rape by the
following overt acts: kissing AAAs nape and neck; undressing her; removing
his clothes and briefs; lying on top of her; holding her hands and parting her
legs; and trying to insert his penis into her vagina. The appellant, however,
failed to perform all the acts of execution which should produce the crime of
rape by reason of a cause other than his own spontaneous desistance, i.e.,
the victim's loud cries and resistance. The totality of the appellants acts
demonstrated the unmistakable objective to insert his penis into the victims
private parts.
A review of jurisprudence reveals that the Court has not hesitated to strike
down convictions for consummated rape when the evidence failed to show
that penetration, however slight, of the victims vagina took place. In People
v. Bon,30 the Court found the appellant guilty of attempted rape only, as there
was no indication that the appellants penis even touched the labia of the

In People v. Alibuyog,32 the victim declared that the accused placed his penis
on her vagina; and claimed that it touched her private parts. The Court set
aside the accuseds conviction for rape, and convicted him of attempted rape
only, because we found the victims testimony too ambiguous to prove the
vital element of penile penetration. We added that the victims testimony was
"replete with repeated denial of penile insertion." 33
Similarly, in People v. Quarre,34 the evidence for the prosecution consisted
only of the victims testimony that the accused tried, but failed, to insert his
penis into her vagina, and she felt pain in the process. No medico-legal
examination report was presented in evidence. Accordingly, the Court
reversed the accuseds conviction for rape, and found him guilty of attempted
rape only.
In People v. Ocomen,35 the Court also set aside the appellants conviction for
rape because no proof was adduced of even the slightest penetration of the
female organ, aside from a general statement of the victim that she had been
"raped."
People v. Monteron36 is another noteworthy case where the Court set aside
the appellants conviction for rape. In this case, the victim testified that the
accused placed his penis on top of her vagina, and that she felt pain. In
finding the accused guilty of attempted rape only, we held that there was no
showing that the accuseds penis entered the victims vagina. We added that
the pain that the victim felt might have been caused by the accuseds failed
attempts to insert his organ into her vagina.
In People v. Mariano,37 the accused tried to insert his penis into the victims
vagina, but failed to secure penetration. The Court set aside the accuseds

conviction for three (3) counts of rape and found him guilty of attempted rape
only. We explained the necessity of carefully ascertaining whether the penis
of the accused in reality entered the labial threshold of the female organ to
accurately conclude that rape had been consummated.
In People v. Arce, Jr.,38 the Court found the accused guilty of attempted rape
only, because the victim did not declare that there was the slightest
penetration, which was necessary to consummate rape. On the contrary, she
categorically stated that the accused was not able to insert his penis into her
private parts because she was moving her hips away. We further ruled that
the victims attempt to demonstrate what she meant by "idinidikit ang ari" was
unavailing to prove that rape had been consummated.
In People v. Francisco,39 the victim testified that the accused "poked" her
vagina. The Court set aside the accuseds conviction for qualified rape, and
convicted him instead only of attempted rape after failing to discern from the
victim's testimony that the accused attained some degree of penile
penetration, which was necessary to consummate rape.1wphi1
In People v. Dimapilis,40 the Court refused to convict the accused for
consummated rape on the basis of the victim's testimony that she felt the
accused's penis pressed against her vagina as he tried to insert it. We
explained that in order to constitute consummated rape, there must be entry
into the vagina of the victim, even if only in the slightest degree.
Finally, in People v. Tolentino,41 the Court reversed the accuseds conviction
for rape and convicted him of attempted rape only, as there was paucity of
evidence that the slightest penetration ever took place. We reasoned out that
the victims statements that the accused was "trying to force his sex organ
into mine" and "binundol-undol ang kanyang ari" did not prove that the
accuseds penis reached the labia of the pudendum of the victims vagina.
"In rape cases, the prosecution bears the primary duty to present its case
with clarity and persuasion, to the end that conviction becomes the only
logical and inevitable conclusion."42 We emphasize that a conviction cannot
be made to rest on possibilities; strongest suspicion must not be permitted to
sway judgment. In the present case, the prosecution failed to discharge its
burden of proving all the elements of consummated rape.
The Proper Penalty and Indemnities

Under Article 51 of the Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty for
attempted rape is two degrees lower than the prescribed penalty of reclusion
perpetua for consummated rape. Two degrees lower from reclusion perpetua
is prision mayor whose range is six (6) years and one (1) day to 12 years.
Without any attendant aggravating or mitigating circumstances and applying
the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum of the penalty to be imposed
upon the appellant is prision mayor in its medium period, while the minimum
shall be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, which is prision
correccional whose range is six (6) months and one (1) day to six (6) years,
in any of its periods. Accordingly, we sentence the appellant to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of six (6) years of prision correccional, as minimum, to
10 years of prision mayor, as maximum.
In addition, we order the appellant to pay the victim P 30,000.00 as civil
indemnity, P 25,000.00 as moral damages and P 10,000.00 as exemplary
damages, in accordance with prevailing jurisprudence on attempted rape
cases.43
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the June 15, 2009 decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 02759 is MODIFIED, as follows:
The appellant's conviction for the crime of rape is VACATED, and
(1) we find appellant Christopher Pareja y Velasco GUILTY of the
crime of ATTEMPTED RAPE;
(2) we SENTENCE him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six ( 6)
years of prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years of prision
mayor, as maximum; and
(3) we ORDER him to PAY the victim the amounts of P 30,000.00 as
civil indemnity; P 25,000.00 as moral damages; and P 10,000.00 as
exemplary damages.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 181202

December 5, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
EDGAR PADIGOS, Accused-Appellant.

which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the
victim as a human being.5
Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to both charges. 6

DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
This is an appeal from the Decision1 dated July 20, 2007 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-CR.-H.C. No. 00344, entitled People of the
Philippines v. Edgar Padigos, which affirmed with modification the
Judgment2 dated September 26, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Cebu City, Branch 14 in Criminal Case Nos. CBU-64584 & CBU-64585. The
trial court found appellant Edgar Padigos guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of rape as defined and penalized under Article 266-A of the
Revised Penal Code, in relation to Republic Act No. 7610 or the "Special
Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination
Act."
The Information in Criminal Case No. CBU-64584 charged appellant with the
crime of rape in relation to Republic Act No. 7610, while the Information in
Criminal Case No. CBU-64585 charged him with the crime of acts of
lasciviousness also in relation to Republic Act No. 7610. The relevant
portions of said Informations read:
CRIMINAL CASE NO. CBU-64584
That sometime in the evening of the 26th day of August, 2002, at x x x and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
moved by lewd design, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
have carnal knowledge with his own daughter, "AAA" 3 who is a minor 6 years
of age, that resulted to devirginizing her and causing her great dishonor.4
CRIMINAL CASE NO. CBU-64585
That sometime in the evening of the 27th day of August, 2002, at x x x and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
with deliberate intent and with lewd design, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously let his own daughter, "AAA" who is a minor 6 years
of age, masturbate his penis, which act is constitutive of physical abuse

The facts of this case, as narrated in the assailed July 20, 2007 Decision of
the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
The government presented as its witnesses, the minor victim and Dr. Naomi
Poca. The defense, on the other hand, only had accused-appellant for its
witness.
THE PROSECUTIONS THEORYThe evidence for the State discloses that "AAA" who was then only six-years
old was sleeping inside their house on August 26, 2002 when her father,
herein accused-appellant raped her. He undressed her and removed her
panty. He also took off his pants. He inserted his penis into her vagina and
made push and pull movements. She felt pain in her private organ. Her
mother was not around as it was only her and her father who were home.
The next day or on August 27, 2002, accused-appellant made her hold his
penis. He, on the other hand, touched her genitals and inserted his fingers
into her vagina causing her to feel pain.
She related the incidents to her mother who simply gave her father a fierce
piercing stare but did nothing. She also confided to her aunt, sister of her
mother, who brought her to a doctor for medical examination and to the
police station to report the matter.
She was examined by Dr. Yu and Dr. Aznar of the Vicente Sotto Memorial
Medical Center. Since the two physicians were no longer connected with the
said hospital, it was one Dr. Naomi Poca who was called to the witness stand
who, testifying on the medical certificate (Exh. "B") issued by the two doctors,
came-up with the following declarations, thus
"Based on the medical certificate issued by Dr. Yu and Dr. Aznar, their written
findings include, 1x1 cm. healed circular scar frontal lateral side left sec. to
varicella, healed circular scar with the torso back abdomen sec. to varicella,
3x3 cm. wound in left foot aspect sec. to varicella, height 110.5 cm., weight,

17.65 cm., well developed nourished cooperative if not explain, tunner


crescent in shape with 2x1 11:00 oclock position with minimal amount of
vaginal bleeding. The first finding, 1x1 cm. healed circular scar refers to head
and nect, (sic) the second, healed 1x1 cm. circular torso back refers to torso
and abdomen, the third, 3x3 cm. open wounds refers to extremities, the well
developed nourished cooperative refers to general development and the next
finding, Tanner 1 refers to the hymen and the last."
THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS THEORY
The present charges were merely fabricated by his wife as they have been
estranged from each other because she was cohabiting with another man
prior to the incidents complained of. His wife prevented their daughter/victim
herein from returning to their house. On or before August 26, 2002, he met
his wife and requested her to allow their daughter to live with him because
she did not want their child to live under immoral circumstances. His wife
strongly refused telling her he could get their child only over their childs dead
body. A few days hence, to his surprise, he was arrested by police authorities
and was detained at the Talisay City Jail for having raped his own daughter.
Their daughter never returned to their house since he and his wife
separated.7 (Citation omitted.)
After trial on the merits, the trial court convicted appellant of the crimes of
rape and acts of lasciviousness both in relation to Republic Act No. 7160.
The dispositive portion of the September 26, 2005 Judgment of the trial court
reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the court finds accused,
EDGAR PADIGOS, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of RAPE in relation to
R.A. 7610 and, considering the aggravating qualifying circumstance of
relationship to and minority of the victim, imposes upon him the supreme
penalty of DEATH by lethal injection.
Accused is, likewise, sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment of TEN (10)
YEARS and ONE (1) DAY to TWELVE (12) YEARS of PRISION MAYOR for
the ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS he committed and found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt.
In addition, Accused is ordered to pay the victim, AAA, the following amounts:

1.) P50,000.00, as damages ex delito;


2.) P50,000.00, as moral damages;
3.) P25,000.00, as exemplary damages;
The Department of Social Welfare and Development, Region VII, Cebu City
is ordered to take custody of the minor, AAA, for her to undergo
rehabilitation.8
Hoping for a reversal of his conviction, appellant elevated his case to the
Court of Appeals which denied his appeal and affirmed with modification the
trial court judgment in a Decision dated July 20, 2007, the dispositive portion
of which states:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision of the court a quo is AFFIRMED with
modification as to the penalty.
Accused-appellant is found guilty of the crimes of Rape and Acts of
Lasciviousness in relation to Republic Act 7610 and is hereby sentenced to
reclusion perpetua for the first crime and to an indeterminate penalty of
twelve (12) years, ten (10) months and twenty (20) days as minimum to
seventeen (17) years and four (4) months as maximum of reclusion temporal.
The award of civil damages is retained.9 (Italicization added.)
Hence, appellant now seeks redress with this Court through the present
appeal wherein he merely adopted the Appellants Brief he submitted to the
Court of Appeals in lieu of submitting a Supplemental Brief as permitted by
this Court. In this appeal, appellant puts forward a single assignment of error,
to wit:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT
OF THE CRIMES CHARGED AGAINST HIM DESPITE THE FACT THAT HIS
GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.10
In his appeal, appellant asserts that the trial court should not have given full
credence and weight to the testimony of AAA because she allegedly failed to
give a straightforward and consistent narration of the events surrounding the
incidents at issue. Appellant maintains that AAAs testimony is not worthy of

belief because it allegedly lacked details as to how the crimes of rape and
acts of lasciviousness were actually committed.

A. I was raped, Sir.


Q. Who raped you?

We are not persuaded.


A. My father.
Appellants appeal is hinged principally on the credibility of the victims
testimony. Appellant insists that AAAs testimony is not credible enough to
warrant appellants conviction of the two felonies attributed to him.

Q. Is your father around?


A. Yes, Sir.

In the recent case of People v. Bosi,11 we reiterated a long held principle that
when the credibility of the victim is at issue, the Court gives great weight to
the trial courts assessment. Expounding on the said principle, we declared in
that case that the trial courts finding of facts is even conclusive and binding if
it is not shown to be tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of some fact or
circumstance of weight and influence. The wisdom behind this rule is that the
trial court had the full opportunity to observe directly the witnesses
deportment and manner of testifying, thus, it is in a better position than the
appellate court to properly evaluate testimonial evidence.
In the case at bar, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals categorically
held that AAA is a credible witness and that her testimony deserves full faith
and belief. In spite of the brevity of her testimony, the trial court considered
the same as delivered in a clear and straightforward manner that is devoid of
any pretense or equivocation.
An examination of the transcript of AAAs testimony would indicate that the
crime of rape was indeed committed by appellant. The relevant portion of
said testimony reads:
PROS. CALDERON:
Q. Now, you were then in your house at that time. Can you remember now?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. While you were sleeping, can you remember what happened to you?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Can you tell this court what happened to you?

Q. Can you please point him out?


A. That one.
COURT INTERPRETER:
The witness is pointing to the accused who responded to his name as Edgar
Padigos.
PROS. CALDERON:
Q. Do you understand the word rape?
A. Yes.
Q. What do you understand by the word rape?
A. It is a malicious word.
Q. What did your father do to you?
A. I was raped.
Q. How did he do it?
A. His penis was inserted in my vagina, Sir.
Q. How did he do it?

A. He made push and pull movements.

b. When the offended party is deprived of reason or is


otherwise unconscious;

Q. What about your dress, were you still wearing it?


A. He undressed me, Sir.
Q. What about your panty?
A. Also without my panty.
Q. What about his pants?
A. He also took off his pants.
Q. When your father raped you, what did you do?

c. By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of


authority;
d. When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age
or is demented, even though none of the circumstances
mentioned above be present;
2. By any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in
paragraph 1 hereof, shall commit an act of sexual assault by
inserting his penis into another persons mouth or anal orifice, or any
instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person.

A. In my vagina.12

As cemented in jurisprudence, the elements of rape under the said provision


of law are: (1) the offender had carnal knowledge of the victim; and (2) such
act was accomplished through force or intimidation; or when the victim is
deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; or when the victim is under 12
years of age.14 Thus, sexual intercourse with a girl below 12 years old, which
is the subject of this case, is considered as statutory rape in this jurisdiction.

Pertinently, this Court has repeatedly stressed that no young girl would
concoct a sordid tale of so serious a crime as rape at the hands of her own
father, undergo medical examination, then subject herself to the stigma and
embarrassment of a public trial, if her motive was other than a fervent desire
to seek justice.13

According to the sixth paragraph of Article 266-B, the death penalty shall be
imposed if the crime of rape is committed "when the victim is under eighteen
(18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, stepparent,
guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or
the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim."

Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code which deals with the offense of rape
provides:

It would appear from the death penalty imposed by the trial court that it found
appellant guilty of qualified rape. This ruling was affirmed by the Court of
Appeals, albeit reduced to reclusion perpetua in accordance with Republic
Act No. 9346.

A. Very painful, Sir.


Q. Where did you feel the pain?

Art. 266-A. Rape, When and How Committed. Rape is committed

1. By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any


of the following circumstances:
a. Through force, threat or intimidation;

After a careful review of the records of this case, we are persuaded that
appellant is indeed guilty of qualified rape. In People v. Pruna, 15 we
formulated a set of guidelines that will serve as a jurisprudential benchmark
in appreciating age either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying
circumstance in order to address the seemingly conflicting court decisions
regarding the sufficiency of evidence of the victims age in rape cases. The
Pruna guidelines are as follows:

1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an


original or certified true copy of the certificate of live birth of such
party.
2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic
documents such as baptismal certificate and school records which
show the date of birth of the victim would suffice to prove age.
3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to
have been lost or destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony,
if clear and credible, of the victims mother or a member of the family
either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to testify on
matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of
the offended party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on
Evidence shall be sufficient under the following circumstances:
a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what
is sought to be proved is that she is less than 7 years old;
b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what
is sought to be proved is that she is less than 12 years old;
c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and
what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 18 years
old.
4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document, or
the testimony of the victims mother or relatives concerning the
victims age, the complainants testimony will suffice provided that it
is expressly and clearly admitted by the accused.
5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the
offended party. The failure of the accused to object to the testimonial
evidence regarding age shall not be taken against him.

during trial, however, that failure to present relevant evidence will not deter
this Court from upholding that qualified rape was indeed committed by
appellant because he himself admitted, in his counter-affidavit which formed
part of the evidence for the defense and the contents of which he later
affirmed in his testimony in open court, that AAA was below 7 years old
around the time of the rape incident. In the Courts view, this admission from
appellant, taken with the testimony of the victim, sufficiently proved the
victims minority.
Parenthetically, we are not unmindful of the observation of the trial court, to
wit:
Back to the instant case, by no stretch of even a fertile imagination can this
Court, observing her frail and diminutive mien, hold that AAA, at the age of 6
when she was raped, could be mistaken to be above eleven (11) years old
for the offense to fall under simple rape, much more could it be mistaken that
she was above 17 years old, for the accused to be saved from the supreme
penalty: death. The offense of rape could, thus, only fall under subparagraph
d), par. 1), ART. 266-A of R.A. 7877 The Anti-Rape Law of 1997 (statutory
rape).17
Anent the charge of acts of lasciviousness, Article 336 of the Revised Penal
Code provides:
Art. 336. Acts of lasciviousness. Any person who shall commit any act of
lasciviousness upon other persons of either sex, under any of the
circumstances mentioned in the preceding article, shall be punished by
prision correccional.
Therefore, the crime of acts of lasciviousness is composed of the following
elements:
(1) That the offender commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness;
(2) That it is done under any of the following circumstances:

6. The trial court should always make a categorical finding as to the


age of the victim.16 (Citation omitted.)
In the case at bar, the prosecution may have been unable to present AAAs
birth certificate or other authentic document such as a baptismal certificate

a. By using force or intimidation; or


b. When the offended party is deprived of reason or
otherwise unconscious; or

c. When the offended party is under 12 years of age; and


(3) That the offended party is another person of either sex. 18 (Citation
omitted.)
Utilizing the foregoing definition as a guide, it is beyond cavil that appellants
act of making AAA hold his penis and, subsequently, of touching her vagina
with his fingers can be both characterized as constituting acts of
lasciviousness. As previously discussed, the moral influence or ascendancy
exercised by appellant over AAA takes the place of the element of force and
intimidation.

Q. What did you feel?


A. I felt pain, Sir.19
In view of the foregoing, we therefore affirm the conviction of appellant for
qualified rape and acts of lasciviousness. Further, he is to suffer the penalty
imposed by the Court of Appeals which is reclusion perpetua.1wphi1
The amount of actual damages and moral damages awarded by the trial
court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals which is P50,000.00 each is
correct. However, in line with jurisprudence, the award of exemplary
damages should be increased from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00. 20

AAAs testimony in this regard provides adequate basis for appellants guilt:
PROS. CALDERON:
Q. What about the following day?
A. He told me to hold his penis.
Q. That was the next day?

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated July 20, 2007 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-CR.-H.C. No. 00344, finding appellant
Edgar Padigos guilty in Criminal Case Nos. CBU-64584 and CBU-64585, is
hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS that:
(1) The award of exemplary damages is increased to Thirty Thousand Pesos
(P30,000.00); and (2) Appellant Edgar Padigos is ordered to pay the private
offended party interest on all damages awarded at the legal rate of six
percent ( 6%) per annum from the date of finality of this judgment.

A. Yes, Sir.
No pronouncement as to costs.
Q. That would be on August 27, 2002?
SO ORDERED.
A. Yes, Sir.
G.R. No. 192941

November 13, 2013

Q. When he made you hold his penis, what happened?


A. My father also touched my vagina.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
DANIEL ALCOBER, Accused-Appellant.

Q. How did he touch your vagina?


A. He touched all the parts of my vagina.
Q. Did he insert his fingers?
A. Yes, Sir.

DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
This is an appeal1 from the Decision2 of the Court of Appeals dated May 29,
2009 in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00063, which affirmed with modification the
Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court RTC) of Carigara, Leyte finding

accused-appellant Daniel Alcober guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the


crime of rape.
Accused-appellant Alcober was charged m an Information dated February
12, 2001, as follows:
That on or about the 20th day of July, 1999, in the municipality of Tuiiga,
Province of Leyte, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, with deliberate intent and with lewd
designs and by use of force and intimidation then armed with a long bolo
(sundang), taking advantage o the minority of the victim and their
relationship, the accused being [the] common-law spouse of the victims
mother, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously had (sic) carnal
knowledge with AAA,4 against her will and to her damage and prejudice. 5
Accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.
During the pre-trial, accused-appellant admitted that the incident happened
on the 20th day of July 1999 in the municipality of Tunga, Leyte, and that he
is "the common-law spouse of the victims mother." The prosecution
furthermore proposed to have the accused-appellant admit that AAA was a
minor at the time of the incident, but the court insisted that it be proven with a
Birth Certificate.6
AAA testified that she was around 10 years old and was in Grade 5 when
accused-appellant and her mother started living together as husband and
wife. She considered accused-appellant to be her father and calls him
"Tatay." Her mother is the one earning for the family, by selling bananas in
Carigara, Leyte.7
On July 20, 1999, at around 2:00 a.m., AAA was in their house in Tunga,
Leyte. Her mother was away, selling bananas in Carigara, while her younger
siblings were upstairs, sleeping. At that time, AAA was in second year high
school and was thirteen years old. After working on her school assignment,
AAA cooked rice downstairs in the kitchen. While she was busy cooking rice,
she did not notice the arrival of accused-appellant, who suddenly embraced
her from her back. She identified accused-appellant as the person who
embraced her since she immediately turned around and the place was
illuminated by a kerosene lamp. AAA resisted and was able to release herself
from accused-appellants hold. Accused-appellant unsheathed the long bolo,

locally called a sundang, from the scabbard on his waist and ordered her to
go upstairs. Poking the sundang at AAAs stomach, he then ordered AAA to
take off her shorts, and told her he will kill her, her siblings and her mother if
she does not do as she was told.8
AAA complied with accused-appellants orders. When she was lying on the
floor, already undressed, accused-appellant placed the sundang beside her
on her left side. He took off his shirt and shorts and went on top of her. AAA
did not shout since accused-appellant threatened to kill them all if she did.
He held her hair with his right hand and touched her private parts with his left
hand. He then "poked" his penis into her vagina and made a push and pull
movement. AAA felt pain. Accused-appellant kissed her and said "Ah, youre
still a virgin." When accused-appellant was done, he stood and said "If you
will tell this to anybody, I will kill you."9
AAA did not tell her mother about the incident as she was afraid accusedappellant will execute his threat to kill them all. The sexual advances were
thereafter repeated every time AAAs mother sold bananas on Wednesdays
and Sundays.10
On January 8, 2001, accused-appellant ordered AAA to pack and go with him
to Tabontabon, Leyte, threatening once more to kill her siblings if she does
not comply. In Tabontabon, accused-appellant once again forced AAA to
have sex with him. The following day, AAAs mother, accompanied by police
officers of Tunga, Leyte, arrived, searching for AAA and the accusedappellant. AAA was finally able to talk to her mother, which led to AAAs filing
a complaint for rape against accused-appellant. Accused-appellant was
arrested a few days later on January 11, 2001.11
Dr. Rogelio Gariando, Municipal Health Officer IV of the Carigara District
Hospital, requested a vaginal smear in the course of his physical examination
of AAA. Dr. Gariando testified that the specimen secured from AAA at around
2:00 p.m. of January 10, 2001 was positive for the presence of
spermatozoa.12 Medical Technologist II of Carigara District Hospital, Alicia
Adizas, confirmed the finding of Dr. Gariando.13
BBB, the mother of AAA, testified that she and accused-appellant Alcober
lived together from 1989 to 2001. BBB and accused-appellant had three
children, who were three, eight and ten years old, as of her testimony on
October 30, 2001. AAA, however, was her daughter with a previous live-in

partner. AAA was six years old when she and accused-appellant Alcober
started living together. BBB was the one who supported their family the entire
time they lived together, since accused-appellant was not always gainfully
employed. AAA called accused-appellant "Tatay."14

watched him having sexual intercourse with AAA and that BBB was crying
while watching them. To prove that the sexual intercourse was consensual,
accused-appellant presented in court what he claimed was the underwear of
AAA, alleging that they agreed to exchange underwear with each other.19

BBB resided in Tunga, Leyte, while AAA was living with BBBs sister, CCC.
The house of CCC was around one kilometer away from her and accusedappellants house. AAA, however, was frequently in BBBs house since she
had lunch there and since it was nearer to her school than CCCs house.
BBB remembered AAA crying on July 20, 1999, but when she asked AAA,
the latter told her that she was merely fondled by accused-appellant. AAA
was 13 years old on July 20, 1999.15

On March 15, 2002, the RTC of Carigara, Leyte rendered its Decision finding
accused-appellant guilty of the crime of rape. The dispositive portion of the
Decision is as follows:

On January 8, 2001, when BBB learned that accused-appellant took AAA to


Tabontabon, Leyte, she immediately looked for them in Burauen, Leyte.
When she failed to find them there, she reported the apparent abduction of
AAA to the PNP in Tunga. Together with an uncle of accused-appellant, she
reached Tabontabon at around 9:30 in the morning, but found only AAA. She
asked AAA why she went with accused-appellant, to which AAA replied that
she was threatened by accused-appellant that he would kill them all. AAA
also told her that she was actually raped by accused-appellant on July 20,
1999.16
For the defense, Tunga resident Ernesto Davocol testified that sometime on
July 20, 1999, he saw AAA and accused-appellant, carrying a bag and a
bolo, in front of the municipal cemetery of Tunga, Leyte. They hailed and
boarded a jeep bound for Tacloban.17
Accused-appellant Alcober testified that on October 20, 1999, 18 at around
2:00 a.m., he was inside their house in Tunga, Leyte, drinking coffee in the
kitchen when AAA unzipped her shirt and told him that "this is the gift that I
am offering you that you are longing for too long." They then proceeded to
have consensual sexual intercourse. He claimed that this was the only time
that they had sexual intercourse. On cross-examination, accused-appellant
admitted that AAA sometimes called him Papa and that he did not give her
monetary support since she grew up at her uncles house. Accused-appellant
clarified that AAA was not in their house on July 20, 1999 and that their
sexual intercourse occurred on October 20, 1999. Accused-appellant
categorically admitted that he had sex with his 13-year old stepdaughter on
October 20, 1999. Accused-appellant further testified on cross that BBB

WHEREFORE, premises considered, pursuant to paragraph 1(a), Art. 266-A


and the second paragraph of Art. 266-B (Rape Law of 1997, R.A. No. 8353)
of the Revised Penal Code as amended, and further amended by R.A. No.
7659, (The Death Penalty Law), the Court found DANIEL ALCOBER,
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape and sentenced to
suffer the maximum penalty of DEATH, and indemnify [AAA] the amount of
Seventy[-]Five (P75,000.00) Thousand Pesos and pay moral damages in the
amount of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos and pay the cost.20
On May 29, 2009, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC Decision with
several modifications:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the assailed Decision of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 13 in Carigara, Leyte in Criminal Case No.
4025 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Finding accusedappellant Daniel Alcober GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal of
the crime of rape qualified by the use of a deadly weapon, the Court
sentences him to reclusion perpetua. Accused-appellant is further ordered to
pay the following sums: Php75,000 as civil indemnity; Php75,000 as moral
damages; and Php25,000 as exemplary damages. Costs against accusedappellant.21
Accused-appellant appeals to this Court with the following Assignment of
Errors:
I
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN COMPLETELY IGNORING THE
SWEETHEART THEORY INTERPOSED BY ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
II

II THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSEDAPPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF
RAPE.22
Accused-appellant asserts that AAAs testimony that the sexual intercourse
between them was not consensual is "patently incredible." According to
accused-appellant, AAA could have escaped after she was raped for the first
time on July 20, 1999. Since AAA was already residing in her aunts house,
she should never have returned to BBB and accused-appellants house in
order to prevent the repeated sexual intercourse after July 20, 1999 and the
before the incident in Tabontabon.23 Accused-appellant furthermore claim that
the delay in revealing her alleged sexual ordeals from July 20, 1999 up to
January 10, 2001 creates serious doubts as to her contention that she was
raped.24
We must emphasize that when the accused in a rape case claims, as in the
case at bar, that the sexual intercourse between him and the complainant
was consensual, the burden of evidence shifts to him, such that he is now
enjoined to adduce sufficient evidence to prove the relationship. Being an
affirmative defense, it must be established with convincing evidence, such as
by some documentary and/or other evidence like mementos, love letters,
notes, pictures and the like.25

that the sordid version of facts presented by accused-appellant is nothing but


a depraved concoction by a very twisted and obnoxious imagination.
Accused-appellants tale of being seduced by his 13-year old stepdaughter
who calls him "Tatay" or "Papa," and having sexual intercourse with her while
her mother was watching and crying is not only nauseatingly repulsive but is
likewise utterly incredible. It is unthinkable for BBB, who helped AAA file the
complaint and testified against accused-appellant, to just passively endure
such an outrage happening before her very eyes. The trial court, which
observed the demeanor of AAA, BBB and the accused-appellant on the
witness stand, did not find accused-appellants account plausible, and
instead gave full faith and credence to the testimonies of AAA and BBB. The
trial court, in fact, described accused-appellants demeanor as boastful and
his narration as a make-believe story:
While at the witness stand, the accused boastfully testified and took out from
the back pocket of his pants a panty of a woman which according to him was
given to him by [AAA] after their sexual intercourse to which he exchanged it
with his own brief as a proof that [AAA] enjoyed having sexual intercourse
with him; viz:
xxxx
PROS. MERIN:

Thus, in People v. Mirandilla, Jr.,26 we held:


Q So, you are telling this court that [AAA] was enjoying?
The sweetheart theory as a defense, however, necessarily admits carnal
knowledge, the first element of rape. Effectively, it leaves the prosecution the
burden to prove only force or intimidation, the coupling element of rape. x x x.

A Yes, sir, and her panty is even here. I brought this to the Court as
evidence.

This admission makes the sweetheart theory more difficult to defend, for it is
not only an affirmative defense that needs convincing proof; after the
prosecution has successfully established a prima facie case, the burden of
evidence is shifted to the accused, who has to adduce evidence that the
intercourse was consensual. (Citations omitted.)

Q What was then in your mind that you would make your own stepdaughter
without a panty after you had sex with her? What was in your mind?

Other than his self-serving testimony, however, accused-appellant failed to


adduce evidence of his supposed relationship with AAA. The testimony of
Davocol as regards seeing AAA and accused-appellant on July 20, 1999
boarding a jeep bound for Tacloban does not in any way suggest a romantic
or sexual relationship between them. On the other hand, we are convinced

Q And it was in the presence of her mother?

A Because this was given to me by her and we exchanged our underwear,


she gave me her panty and I gave her my brief.

A Yes sir. TSN p[p]. 10-11. March 5, 2002.)

This make-believe story of the sex escapade of accused Daniel Alcober and
the minor [AAA], conveying to the court that the 13 year old [AAA] enjoyed
the morbid situation that [befell] on her life is unavailing and deserves no
credence. The trauma, the shame and the embarrassment and the public
humiliation to which [accused-appellant] has forced the minor child to stop
her studies, denying her the proper education and a bright future, all because
of the [insatiable] beastful lust of her stepfather who virtually reduced her to a
sex slave, a pawn for almost two (2) years, who cannot do anything but obey
the whims and caprices of the accused Alcober until he was apprehended
and formally charged in court on March 21, 2001. x x x.27

Q: Where, what portion of your body?

Accused-appellants incredulous testimony appears even more unconvincing


in contrast to the believable account of AAA of the incident on July 20, 1999:

A: Because, he told me that if I will not follow him, he will kill me, my brothers
and sisters and my mother.

Q: After you noticed that it was your stepfather who embraced you, what else
transpired, if any? A: I resisted, but at that time he was always bringing with
him a long bolo, locally known as "sundang." He took it off from the scabbard.

xxxx

Q: You mean when he embraced you, he was already holding a long bolo?
A: It was still tucked at his waist, together with the scabbard.
Q: You said that you resisted. When was that time when he unsheathed his
bolo then tucked on his waist?
A: When I resisted.

Q: Did you comply with his order that you would have to undress yourself
and took your attire?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Why did you have to comply to that?

Q: After you were already undressed, what next transpired, if any?


A: That was the time that he placed his long bolo "sundang" beside me on
my left side.
Q: You mean, you were already lying on the floor?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Now, after he placed that bolo beside you, what next transpired, if any?

xxxx
Q: When you went upstairs, what next transpired, if any?
A: He ordered me to take off my short pants.
Q: What was then your attire that time?
A: I was then wearing shorts and t-shirt.
Q: How about that bolo, what did the accused do with that bolo?
A: It was poked on me.

A: Towards my stomach.

A: He took off his t-shirt and shorts and thereafter, he placed himself on top
of me.
Q: Did you not make any shout that which you would be heard?
A: I did not shout, because he told me not to shout or make any noise.
Q: Did you comply to such order?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Why?

A: Because, he threatened me that if I shout, he will kill me, all of us.

Q: How? A: He poked his penis to my vagina.

Q: After he placed himself on top of you, what did the accused do, if any?
A: He held every part of my body.

xxxx
Q: After the accused poked his penis to your vagina, what did the accused
then do after poking his penis to your vagina?

xxxx
A: He did the act of pulling and pushing.
Q: What portion of your body was touched by the accused?
xxxx
A: My breast.
Q: What else, if any?

Q: When this penis of the accused was placed in your vagina as you earlier
testified, what else did you feel?

A: Until down.

A: I felt the pain.

Q: You mean, to include your vagina?

Q: After he was through with this push and pull movement, what did the
accused do next, after he caressed you and told you that statement that you
are still a virgin?

A: Yes sir.
Q: How did he touch your breast, your vagina and other extremities of your
body. Describe that. A: While he places himself on top of me, his other hands
was used in touching other parts of my body.

A: He stood up and said this things, "if you will tell this to anybody, I will kill
you."
Q: Did you tell your mother of what the accused did to you?

Q: What hand was touching the other parts of your body?


A: I did not.
A: His right hand.
Q: Why? A: Because I was afraid he will execute his threats to kill us all. 28
Q: And where was his left hand, then?
A: It was on my hair.
xxxx
Q: After he did that touching of your private parts, your breast, vagina and
touching your hair gently, what transpired next?
A: He took my womanhood.

Contrary to the assertions of accused-appellant, the fact that AAA was not
able to escape when she had the opportunity to do so, her continued visit to
their home after the incident, and her delay in filing the complaint does not at
all contradict her credibility. As discussed by the Court of Appeals, when a
rape victim is paralyzed with fear, she cannot be expected to think and act
coherently. Her failure to take advantage of an opportunity to escape does
not automatically vitiate the credibility of her account.29 Similarly, in People v.
Lazaro,30 we propounded on the impropriety of judging the actions of child
rape victims by the norms of behavior that can be expected from adults
under similar circumstances:

It is not uncommon for a young girl to conceal for some time the assault on
her virtue. Her initial hesitation may be due to her youth and the molesters
threat against her. Besides, rape victims, especially child victims, should not
be expected to act the way mature individuals would when placed in such a
situation. It is not proper to judge the actions of children who have undergone
traumatic experience by the norms of behavior expected from adults under
similar circumstances. x x x. It is, thus, unrealistic to expect uniform reactions
from them. Certainly, the Court has not laid down any rule on how a rape
victim should behave immediately after she has been violated. This
experience is relative and may be dealt with in any way by the victim
depending on the circumstances, but her credibility should not be tainted with
any modicum of doubt. Indeed, different people react differently to a given
stimulus or type of situation, and there is no standard form of behavioral
response when one is confronted with a strange or startling or frightful
experience. x x x. (Citations omitted.)

The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed
with any of the following aggravating/qualifying circumstances:

Indeed, AAAs explanation for the delay in reporting the crime is more than
adequate:

In People v. Pruna,33 the Court established the guidelines in appreciating


age, either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance, as
follows:

Q: Would you kindly tell the Court the reason why you did not immediately
file a case against your stepfather on July 20, 1999?
A: Because I was afraid of his threat that he will kill my mother, my brother
and sisters including me.
Q: When was this threat by the way?

1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a
parent, ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity
within the third civil degree, or the common law spouse of the parent of the
victim.
The Court of Appeals, however, found the fifth paragraph of Article 266-B
inapplicable. According to the appellate court, although it is undisputed that
accused-appellant is the common-law spouse of the victims mother, the
records are bereft of independent evidence to prove that AAA is a minor,
apart from the testimonies of AAA and her mother.32
We disagree.

1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an


original or certified true copy of the certificate of live birth of such
party.
2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic
documents such as baptismal certificate and school records which
show the date of birth of the victim would suffice to prove age.

A: At the time when I was already at the kitchen.


Q: You mean this date of July 20, 1999?
A: Yes, sir.31
In all, we do not find sufficient ground to overturn the guilty verdict rendered
by the lower courts. We note, however, that the trial court and the Court of
Appeals differed in the penalty imposed and in their appreciation of
aggravating circumstances. We proceed to pass upon these matters. The
trial court imposed the death penalty upon accused-appellant on the basis of
the fifth paragraph, number 1, of Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code,
which provides:

3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to


have been lost or destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony,
if clear and credible, of the victims mother or a member of the family
either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to testify on
matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of
the offended party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on
Evidence shall be sufficient under the following circumstances:
a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what
is sought to be proved is that she is less than 7 years old;

b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what


is sought to be proved is that she is less than 12 years old;

accused-appellants answers plainly showed that he was fully cognizant of


this fact:

c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and


what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 18 years
old.

Q: But you would admit that you have sexual intercourse with [AAA] while
she was still 13 years old?

4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document, or


the testimony of the victims mother or relatives concerning the
victims age, the complainants testimony will suffice provided that it
is expressly and clearly admitted by the accused.
5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the
offended party. The failure of the accused to object to the testimonial
evidence regarding age shall not be taken against him.
6. The trial court should always make a categorical finding as to the
age of the victim. (Emphases supplied, citation omitted.)

A: No, sir, it was her uncle who raped her and that was according to [AAA] on
that date of July 20, 1999.
Q: I am referring to October 20, 1999 when she accompanied her mother you
[had] sex with your stepdaughter on October 20, 1999 when she was still 13
years of age?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Is it not a conscious revolting act in your part to have sex with your
stepdaughter who was still a minor when your wife was in the premises
where you live?

In the case at bar, no birth or baptismal certificate or school record showing


the date of birth of AAA was presented.

A: The mother of [AAA] knew that sexual intercourse happened to us on that


early morning.

Pursuant to number 4 of the guidelines, however, in the absence of the


foregoing documents (certificate of live birth or authentic document), the
complainants testimony will suffice provided that it is expressly and clearly
admitted by the accused. In the case at bar, AAA testified that she was 13
years old on July 20, 1999 and that her birthday was in February.34 Accusedappellant, who insists that the incident occurred on October 20, 1999,
expressly and clearly admitted that AAA was still 13 years old on that date,
which was three months later:

Q: You mean to tell this Court that you made sex with a minor daughter of
your common-law-wife in her presence?

Q: I am referring to October 20, 1999 when she accompanied her mother,


you made sex with your stepdaughter on October 20, 1999 when she was
still 13 years of age?

Q: You would like this Court to believe that your own wife was there looking
at you having sex with her daughter, her eldest minor daughter?

A: Yes, sir.35

A: It depends to the Court if the Court will believe to that I have stated but
that is the truth.36

Several more questions were propounded to accused-appellant to ascertain


that he was aware of AAAs minority at the time of the sexual intercourse, and

A: Yes, sir she was by the door.


Q: You mean, she was looking at both of you having sex?
A: Yes, sir.

Furthermore, BBB categorically testified that AAA was 13 years old at the
time material to this case.1wphi1 To be sure, there is no disparity between
the evidence for the prosecution and the defense on the point that the

accused had carnal knowledge of AAA when she was only 13 years old.
Taking into account that the minority of the victim and accused-appellants
being the common-law spouse of the victims mother, this Court finds it
proper to appreciate this qualifying circumstance under the fifth paragraph,
item number 1, Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code.
The Court of Appeals also made several modifications with regard to the
appreciation of aggravating circumstances. The trial court considered the
aggravating circumstances of dwelling, use of weapon, force and
intimidation, nighttime and ignominy.37 The Court of Appeals correctly
modified the RTC Decision in finding the appreciation of force and
intimidation improper for being an element of the crime of rape. The Court of
Appeals likewise correctly reversed the consideration of dwelling, nocturnity
and ignominy as these circumstances were not alleged in the Information.
Furthermore, this Court observes that nocturnity cannot be appreciated in
this case since there was no showing that it was deliberately sought to
prevent the accused from being recognized or to ensure his escape. 38
The Court of Appeals, however, affirmed the appreciation of the aggravating
circumstance of use of a deadly weapon. We agree with this assessment. As
discussed by the Court of Appeals, this circumstance was sufficiently alleged
in the Information and proven during the trial through AAAs credible
testimony, which clearly showed that the sundang was used to make the
victim submit to the will of the offender.
The proper penalty for qualified rape is reclusion perpetua pursuant to
Republic Act No. 9346 which prohibited the imposition of the death penalty.
Consistent with prevailing jurisprudence, we modify the amount of exemplary
damages for qualified rape by increasing the same from Twenty-Five
Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) to Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00)
following established jurisprudence.39
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 29, 2009 in
CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00063 which affirmed with modifications the finding of
the Regional Trial Court of Carigara, Leyte finding accused-appellant Daniel
Alcober guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape, is further
MODIFIED as follows: (1) accused-appellant Alcober is hereby found
GUILTY of the crime of rape qualified by minority and relationship under
number 1, fifth paragraph, Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code for which
the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole is imposed; (2)

aside from the civil indemnity of P75,000.00 and moral damages


ofP75,000.00, the liability of accused-appellant for exemplary damages is
hereby increased to P30,000.00; and (3) accused-appellant Alcober is
likewise ORDERED to pay AAA interest at the legal rate of six percent (6%)
per annum in all amounts of damages awarded, commencing from the date
of finality of this Decision until fully paid.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 199210

October 23, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
RICARDO M. VIDAA, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
This is an appeal from a Decision1 dated March 18, 2011 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04019, entitled People of the Philippines v.
Ricardo M Vidana which affirmed the Decision2 dated June 26, 2009 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Guimba, Nueva Ecija, Branch 33 in Criminal
Case No. 2163~G The trial court convicted appellant Ricardo M. Vidaa of
one (1) count of rape in relation to Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known
as the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and
Discrimination Act.
The accusatory portion of the lnformation3 dated February 6, 2004 for rape in
relation to Republic Act No. 7 61 0 reads as follows:
That on or about the 16th day of September 2003, at x x x Province of Nueva
Ecija, Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused with lewd designs and intent to have carnal
knowledge of [AAA4], his own daughter, a minor, 15 years old, and while
using his influence as a father, over said minor, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of and sexual intercourse
with said minor against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.

After more than a year of being at large since the issuance on September 1,
2004 of the warrant for his arrest,5appellant was finally arrested and
subsequently arraigned on January 30, 2006 wherein he pleaded "NOT
GUILTY" to the charge of rape.6
The prosecutions version of the events that transpired in this case was
narrated in the Plaintiff-Appellees Brief in this manner:
[Appellant] and wife [BBB] were separated in 1998. They have four (4)
children namely: [AAA], [CCC], [DDD] and [EEE]. In 1999, [appellant] began
living in with a certain Irene Valoria, his common-law wife, who became the
aforementioned childrens stepmother. They were staying in a one-bedroom
house owned by a certain Edgar Magsakay at Sta. Maria, Licab, Nueva
Ecija. At night, [appellant] and his common-law wife sleep in the sala while
the children occupy the bedroom. [AAA] is the eldest of the brood and was
15 years old in the year 2003, having been born on 13 June 1988.
Around midnight of 16 September 2003, [appellant] was alone at the sala
and the children were asleep inside the bedroom. [AAA] suddenly was jolted
from her sleep when somebody pulled her out of the bed and brought her to
the sala . She later recognized the person as her father, herein [appellant],
who covered her mouth and told her not to make any noise. At the sala,
[appellant] forcibly removed [AAA]s short pants, t-shirt, bra and panty. As she
lay naked, [appellant] inserted his penis into [AAA]s vagina. [AAA]s ordeal
lasted for about five (5) minutes and all the while she felt an immense pain.
[Appellant] tried to touch [AAA]s other private parts but she resisted. During
the consummation of [appellant]s lust upon his daughter, he warned her not
to tell anybody or else he will kill her and her siblings.
The next day, [AAA] went to the house of Francisco and Zenny Joaquin.
Spouses Joaquin are friends of [appellant], whose house is about 500 meters
away. Zenny Joaquin noticed something was bothering [AAA] so she
confronted the latter. [AAA] broke down and revealed to Zenny what
happened to her at the hands of [appellant]. Taken aback by the trauma
suffered by the young lass, Zenny promptly accompanied [AAA] to the police
to report the incident.
The examination of the medico-legal officer on [AAA] revealed "positive
healed laceration at 7 oclock position positive hymenal tag." 7 (Citations
omitted.)

On the other hand, the defense presented a contrasting narrative which was
condensed in the Accused-Appellants Brief, to wit:
[Appellant] together with his family were living in the house of Edgar
Magsakay in Sta. Maria, Licab, Nueva Ecija. He has four children but only
three, namely: [EEE], [CCC] and [DDD] were staying with him. His daughter
[AAA] was staying with his kumpare Francisco Joaquin at Purok 2, Sta.
Maria, Licab, Nueva Ecija, since August 15, 2003. He did not have the
opportunity to visit her nor was there an occasion that the latter visited them.
On September 16, 2003 at 4:00 to 5:00 in the morning, he was at the fields
harvesting together with Irene Valoria (his wife and stepmother of his
children). They finished at around 5:00 to 6:00 in the evening, then they
proceeded home (TSN November 14, 2008, pp. 2-4).
[EEE] corroborated in material points the testimony of his father [appellant].
(TSN, February 13, 2009, pp. 2-5)8
Trial on the merits ensued and at the conclusion of which the trial court
rendered judgment against appellant by finding him guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of violation of Section 5 in relation to Section 31 of Republic Act No.
7610. The dispositive portion of the assailed June 26, 2009 RTC Decision is
reproduced here:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime charged, this court sentences him to reclusion perpetua and to pay
[AAA] P50,000 in moral damages.9
Insisting on his innocence, appellant appealed the guilty verdict to the Court
of Appeals but was foiled when the appellate court affirmed the lower court
ruling in the now assailed March 18, 2011 Decision, the dispositive portion of
which states:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 26 June 2009 of
the Regional Trial Court, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, Branch 33, in Criminal Case
No. 2163-G, finding the accused-appellant RICARDO M. VIDAA GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.10
Hence, appellant takes the present appeal and puts forward a single
assignment of error:

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT OF VIOLATION OF SECTION 5 IN RELATION TO SECTION
31 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7610.11

We are of the opinion that the testimony of AAA regarding her ordeal was
delivered in a straightforward and convincing manner that is worthy of belief.
The pertinent portions of her testimony are reproduced below:

Appellant vehemently denies his eldest childs (AAAs) allegation of rape by


asseverating that he could not have raped AAA because, on the date when
the alleged rape took place, she was living in Francisco and Zenny Joaquins
house and not in his residence where the alleged rape was consummated.
This assertion was corroborated on material points by appellants son, EEE.
Furthermore, appellant insists that the credibility of AAA is suspect since her
narration of the alleged rape incident does not indicate that she resisted
appellants carnal desires.

[PROS.] FLORENDO
Q We are referring to this particular case. During the last setting, you stated
that you were raped on September 16, 2003. Is that right Miss Witness?
A Yes Sir.
Q And where were you at that time on September 16, 2003 when your father
raped you?

We find no merit in appellants contention.


A In our house at x x x, Nueva Ecija, Sir.
Not unlike most rape cases, appellant hinges his hopes for freedom on
undermining the credibility of AAAs testimony. Since AAA is the only witness
that can connect appellant to the crime, appellant beseeches this Court to
take a closer look at AAAs testimony and, at the end of which, render a
judgment of acquittal.
It is jurisprudentially settled that in a prosecution for rape, the accused may
be convicted solely on the basis of the testimony of the victim that is credible,
convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of
things.12 Furthermore, it is likewise settled that the factual findings of the trial
court, especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are entitled to great
weight and respect, if not conclusiveness, since the trial court was in the best
position as the original trier of the facts in whose direct presence and under
whose keen observation the witnesses rendered their respective versions of
the events that made up the occurrences constituting the ingredients of the
offense charged.13
A careful review of the evidence and testimony brought to light in this case
does not lead to a conclusion that the trial court and the Court of Appeals
were mistaken in their assessment of the credibility of AAAs testimony.
Absent any demonstration by appellant that both tribunals overlooked a
material fact that otherwise would change the outcome of the case or
misunderstood a circumstance of consequence in their evaluation of the
credibility of the witnesses, we are thus inclined to affirm the facts as
established by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Q And what were you doing before your father raped you on September 16,
2003?
A We were sleeping with my siblings, Sir.
Q And where was your father at that time?
A He was also there in our house, Sir.
Q He was sleeping with you?
A No Sir. They were sleeping in the sala.
Q You said "they". You mean your father has companions?
A When my stepmother is present, she was sleeping with my father, Sir, but
when she was not there, my father sleeps alone in the sala, Sir.
Q So, about what time of the day on September 16, 2003 that you said you
were raped by your father?
A I cannot remember exactly the time, Sir. As far as I can recall, it was almost
midnight, Sir.

Q And you said you were sleeping?

A No Sir.

A Yes Sir.

Q So, he pulled you out of the bed, out of the bedroom and took you to the
sala?

Q How were you awakened?


A Yes Sir.
A He pulled me out of the place where we were sleeping, Sir.
Q What did he do to you while you were already in the sala?
Q You were sleeping on a bed?
A He forcibly removed the shorts I was wearing then, Sir.
A Yes Sir.
Q You were only wearing shorts at that time?
Q You said you were pulled. Who pulled you from your bed?
A Yes Sir. Shorts and also a dress.
A My father, Sir.
Q What dress was that?
[PROS.] FLORENDO
A T-shirt, Sir.
At this point, Your Honor, may we just have it on record that the witness is
crying again.

Q Aside from the shots and t-shirt, you were not wearing anything?

PROS.] FLORENDO

A I was wearing shorts, t-shirt, panty and bra, Sir.

Q He pulled you to what place?

Q Did your father succeed in removing your shorts?

A He pulled me to the sala where he was sleeping, Sir.

A Yes Sir.

Q I thought your father had a companion in the sala at that time?

Q What else did he do after removing your shorts?

A When my stepmother was not there, he was alone in the sala, Sir.

A He also removed my panty and inserted his penis into my vagina with a
warning that I should not tell it to anybody because he will kill us all, Sir.

Q When your father pulled you, you did not shout, you did not scream?
Q What do you mean by "penis"?
A I was not able to shout or scream because he covered my mouth and told
me not to make noise, Sir.
Q Was that your first time that your father raped you on September 16,
2003?

A "Titi", Sir. (Male sexual organ)


Q His sexual organ was erected or not at that time?
A Erected, Sir.

Q And he inserted it to what part of your body?


A Inside my vagina, Sir.
Q And what did you feel when he inserted his penis inside your vagina?
A It was painful, Sir.
Q And how long was his penis inserted inside your vagina?
A About five (5) minutes, Sir.
Q Aside from that, he did nothing to you? He only inserted his penis?
A Yes Sir.
Q He did not kiss you?
A No Sir.
Q He did not touch your other private parts?
A He was trying to touch my other private parts but I resisted, Sir.
Q And after doing that, what did he do next if there was any?
A Nothing more, Sir.14
The quoted transcript would show that when AAA testified and, thus, was
constrained to recount the torment she suffered at the hands of her own
father, she broke down in tears in more than one instance. This can only
serve to strengthen her testimony as we have indicated in past jurisprudence
that the crying of a victim during her testimony is evidence of the truth of the
rape charges, for the display of such emotion indicates the pain that the
victim feels when asked to recount her traumatic experience. 15 It is also worth
noting that appellants counsel did not even bother to cross-examine AAA
after her direct examination by the prosecutor.
We have previously held that it is against human nature for a young girl to
fabricate a story that would expose herself as well as her family to a lifetime

of shame, especially when her charge could mean the death or lifetime
imprisonment of her father.16 That legal dictum finds application in the case at
bar since appellant did not allege nor prove any sufficient improper motive on
the part of AAA to falsely accuse him of such a serious charge of raping his
own flesh and blood. His allegation that AAAs admission in open court, that
she is not close to him and that they do not agree on many things, 17 cannot
suffice as a compelling enough reason for her to fabricate such a sordid and
scandalous tale of incest.
With regard to appellants contention that AAAs lack of resistance to the rape
committed against her, as borne out by her own testimony, negates any truth
to her accusation, we rule that such an argument deserves scant
consideration. It is settled in jurisprudence that the failure to shout or offer
tenuous resistance does not make voluntary the victims submission to the
criminal acts of the accused since rape is subjective and not everyone
responds in the same way to an attack by a sexual fiend. 18
Furthermore, we have reiterated that, in incestuous rape cases, the fathers
abuse of the moral ascendancy and influence over his daughter can
subjugate the latters will thereby forcing her to do whatever he wants. 19 In
other words, in an incestuous rape of a minor, actual force or intimidation
need not be employed where the overpowering moral influence of the father
would suffice.20
We likewise rule as unmeritorious appellants assertion that he could not
have committed the felony attributed to him because, at the date of the
alleged rape, AAA was not residing at the place where the alleged rape
occurred. Jurisprudence tells us that both denial and alibi are inherently weak
defenses which cannot prevail over the positive and credible testimony of the
prosecution witness that the accused committed the crime, thus, as between
a categorical testimony which has a ring of truth on one hand, and a mere
denial and alibi on the other, the former is generally held to prevail. 21
Moreover, we have held that for alibi to prosper, it is necessary that the
corroboration is credible, the same having been offered preferably by
disinterested witnesses.22 Based on this doctrine, the corroborating testimony
of appellants son, EEE, who, undoubtedly, is a person intimately related to
him cannot serve to reinforce his alibi.

In view of the foregoing, we therefore affirm the conviction of


appellant.1wphi1 However, the trial court erred in impliedly characterizing
the offense charged as sexual abuse under Sections 5 and 31 of Republic
Act No. 7610.

1) When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a
parent, ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity
within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the
victim.

Under Rule 110, Section 8 of the Rules of Court, it is required that "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." The information clearly charged appellant with rape, a crime
punishable under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, the relevant
portions of which provide:

In the case at bar, appellant was accused in the information with feloniously
having carnal knowledge of his own minor daughter against her will by using
his influence as a father. Considering further that the minority of AAA and her
relationship to appellant were both alleged in the information and proven in
court, the proper designation of appellants felony should have been qualified
rape. As such, the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility of parole, in
lieu of the death penalty, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346 23 must be
imposed. Furthermore, in line with jurisprudence, the award of moral
damages should be increased to P75,000.00 in addition to the award of civil
indemnity and exemplary damages in the amounts of P75,000.00
and P30,000.00, respectively.24 Likewise, interest at the rate of 6% per
annum shall be imposed on all damages awarded from the date of the finality
of this judgment until fully paid.25

Article 266-A. Rape; When And How Committed. Rape is committed


1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the
following circumstances:
a) Through force, threat or intimidation;
b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or is otherwise
unconscious;
c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority;
d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is
demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above
be present.
The same statute likewise states:
Article 266-B. Penalties. Rape under paragraph 1 of the next preceding
article shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.
xxxx
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed
with any of the following aggravating/qualifying circumstances:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated March 18, 2011 of


the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04019, affirming the conviction
of appellant Ricardo M. Vidaa in Criminal Case No. 2163-G, is hereby
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS that:
(1) The penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility of parole is
imposed upon appellant Ricardo M. Vidaa;
(2) The moral damages to be paid by appellant Ricardo M. Vidaa is
increased from Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) to Seventy-Five
Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00);
(3) Appellant Ricardo M. Vidaa is ordered to pay civil indemnity in
the amount of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00);
(4) Appellant Ricardo M. Vidaa is ordered to pay exemplary
damages in the amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00); and
(5) Appellant Ricardo M Vidaa is ordered to pay the private
offended party interest on all damages at the legal rate of six percent

(6) per annum from the date of finality of this judgment. No


pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 192123

March 10, 2014

DR. FERNANDO P. SOLIDUM, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
This appeal is taken by a physician-anesthesiologist who has been
pronounced guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical
injuries by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Court of Appeals (CA). He
had been part of the team of anesthesiologists during the surgical pullthrough operation conducted on a three-year old patient born with an
imperforate anus.1
The antecedents are as follows:
Gerald Albert Gercayo (Gerald) was born on June 2, 1992 2 with an
imperforate anus. Two days after his birth, Gerald underwent colostomy, a
surgical procedure to bring one end of the large intestine out through the
abdominal wall,3 enabling him to excrete through a colostomy bag attached
to the side of his body.4
On May 17, 1995, Gerald, then three years old, was admitted at the Ospital
ng Maynila for a pull-through operation.5 Dr. Leandro Resurreccion headed
the surgical team, and was assisted by Dr. Joselito Luceo, Dr. Donatella
Valea and Dr. Joseph Tibio. The anesthesiologists included Dr. Marichu
Abella, Dr. Arnel Razon and petitioner Dr. Fernando Solidum (Dr.
Solidum).6 During the operation, Gerald experienced bradycardia, 7 and went
into a coma.8 His coma lasted for two weeks,9 but he regained
consciousness only after a month.10 He could no longer see, hear or move.11

Agitated by her sons helpless and unexpected condition, Ma. Luz Gercayo
(Luz) lodged a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in serious
physical injuries with the City Prosecutors Office of Manila against the
attending physicians.12
Upon a finding of probable cause, the City Prosecutors Office filed an
information solely against Dr. Solidum,13alleging:
That on or about May 17, 1995, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said
accused, being then an anesthesiologist at the Ospital ng Maynila, Malate,
this City, and as such was tasked to administer the anesthesia on three-year
old baby boy GERALD ALBERT GERCAYO, represented by his mother, MA.
LUZ GERCAYO, the former having been born with an imperforate anus [no
anal opening] and was to undergo an operation for anal opening [pull through
operation], did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously fail and
neglect to use the care and diligence as the best of his judgment would
dictate under said circumstance, by failing to monitor and regulate properly
the levels of anesthesia administered to said GERALD ALBERT GERCAYO
and using 100% halothane and other anesthetic medications, causing as a
consequence of his said carelessness and negligence, said GERALD
ALBERT GERCAYO suffered a cardiac arrest and consequently a defect
called hypoxic encephalopathy meaning insufficient oxygen supply in the
brain, thereby rendering said GERALD ALBERT GERCAYO incapable of
moving his body, seeing, speaking or hearing, to his damage and prejudice.
Contrary to law.14
The case was initially filed in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, but was
transferred to the RTC pursuant to Section 5 of Republic Act No. 8369 (The
Family Courts Act of 1997),15 where it was docketed as Criminal Case No.
01-190889.
Judgment of the RTC
On July 19, 2004, the RTC rendered its judgment finding Dr. Solidum guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting to serious
physical injuries,16 decreeing:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused DR.
FERNANDO P. SOLIDUM GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal of

the crime charged and is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate


penalty of TWO (2) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of arresto mayor as
minimum to ONE (1) YEAR, ONE (1) MONTH and TEN (10) DAYS of prision
correccional as maximum and to indemnify, jointly and severally with the
Ospital ng Maynila, Dr. Anita So and Dr. Marichu Abella, private complainant
Luz Gercayo, the amount of P500,000.00 as moral damages
and P100,000.00 as exemplary damages and to pay the costs.
Accordingly, the bond posted by the accused for his provisional liberty is
hereby CANCELLED.

pre-operation tests were conducted to ensure that the child could withstand
the surgery. Except for his imperforate anus, the child was healthy. The tests
and other procedures failed to reveal that he was suffering from any known
ailment or disability that could turn into a significant risk. There was not a hint
that the nature of the operation itself was a causative factor in the events that
finally led to hypoxia.
In short, the lower court has been left with no reasonable hypothesis except
to attribute the accident to a failure in the proper administration of
anesthesia, the gravamen of the charge in this case. The High Court
elucidates in Ramos vs. Court of Appeals 321 SCRA 584

SO ORDERED.17
Upon motion of Dr. Anita So and Dr. Marichu Abella to reconsider their
solidary liability,18 the RTC excluded them from solidary liability as to the
damages, modifying its decision as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused Dr. Fernando
Solidum, guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime charged
and is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of two (2)
months and one (1) day of arresto mayor as minimum to one (1) year, one
(1) month and ten (10) days of prision correccional as maximum and to
indemnify jointly and severally with Ospital ng Maynila, private complainant
Luz Gercayo the amount of P500,000.00 as moral damages and P100,000
as exemplary damages and to pay the costs.
Accordingly, the bond posted by the accused for his provisional liberty is
hereby cancelled.19

In cases where the res ipsa loquitur is applicable, the court is permitted to
find a physician negligent upon proper proof of injury to the patient, without
the aid of expert testimony, where the court from its fund of common
knowledge can determine the proper standard of care.
Where common knowledge and experience teach that a resulting injury
would not have occurred to the patient if due care had been exercised, an
inference of negligence may be drawn giving rise to an application of the
doctrine of res ipsa loquitur without medical evidence, which is ordinarily
required to show not only what occurred but how and why it occurred. When
the doctrine is appropriate, all that the patient must do is prove a nexus
between the particular act or omission complained of and the injury sustained
while under the custody and management of the defendant without need to
produce expert medical testimony to establish the standard of care. Resort to
res ipsa loquitur is allowed because there is no other way, under usual and
ordinary conditions, by which the patient can obtain redress for injury
suffered by him.

Decision of the CA
On January 20, 2010, the CA affirmed the conviction of Dr.
Solidum,20 pertinently stating and ruling:
The case appears to be a textbook example of res ipsa loquitur.
xxxx
x x x [P]rior to the operation, the child was evaluated and found fit to undergo
a major operation. As noted by the OSG, the accused himself testified that

The lower court has found that such a nexus exists between the act
complained of and the injury sustained, and in line with the hornbook rules on
evidence, we will afford the factual findings of a trial court the respect they
deserve in the absence of a showing of arbitrariness or disregard of material
facts that might affect the disposition of the case. People v. Paraiso 349
SCRA 335.
The res ipsa loquitur test has been known to be applied in criminal cases.
Although it creates a presumption of negligence, it need not offend due
process, as long as the accused is afforded the opportunity to go forward

with his own evidence and prove that he has no criminal intent. It is in this
light not inconsistent with the constitutional presumption of innocence of an
accused.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the modified decision of the lower court is
affirmed.

OVERDOSING IN THE APPLICATION OF THE ANESTHETIC


AGENT BECAUSE THERE WAS NO 100% HALOTHANE
ADMINISTERED TO THE CHILD, BUT ONLY ONE (1%) PERCENT
AND THE APPLICATION THEREOF, WAS REGULATED BY AN
ANESTHESIA MACHINE. THUS, THE APPLICATION OF THE
PRINCIPLE OF RES IPSA LOQUITOR (sic) CONTRADICTED THE
ESTABLISHED FACTS AND THE LAW APPLICABLE IN THE CASE.

SO ORDERED.21
III.
Dr. Solidum filed a motion for reconsideration, but the CA denied his motion
on May 7, 2010.22
Hence, this appeal.
Issues
Dr. Solidum avers that:
I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING
THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT IN UPHOLDING THE
PETITIONERS CONVICTION FOR THE CRIME CHARGED BASED
ON THE TRIAL COURTS OPINION, AND NOT ON THE BASIS OF
THE FACTS ESTABLISHED DURING THE TRIAL. ALSO, THERE IS
A CLEAR MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS WHICH IF
CORRECTED, WILL RESULT TO THE ACQUITTAL OF THE
PETITIONER. FURTHER, THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN
AFFIRMING THE SAID DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT, AS
THIS BREACHES THE CRIMINAL LAW PRINCIPLE THAT THE
PROSECUTION MUST PROVE THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE
INFORMATION BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, AND NOT ON
THE BASIS OF ITS PRESUMPTIVE CONCLUSION.
II.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING
THE PRINCIPLE OF RES IPSA LOQUITOR (sic) WHEN THE
DEFENSE WAS ABLE TO PROVE THAT THERE IS NO
NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AND NO

THE AWARD OF MORAL DAMAGES AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES


IS NOT JUSTIFIED THERE BEING NO NEGLIGENCE ON THE
PART OF THE PETITIONER. ASSUMING THAT THE CHILD IS
ENTITLED TO FINANCIAL CONSIDERATION, IT SHOULD BE
ONLY AS A FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO
NEGLIGENCE, AND NO OVERDOSING OF ANESTHETIC AGENT
AND AS SUCH, THE AWARD IS SO EXCESSIVE, AND NO
FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS.23
To simplify, the following are the issues for resolution, namely: (a) whether or
not the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur was applicable herein; and (b) whether or
not Dr. Solidum was liable for criminal negligence.
Ruling
The appeal is meritorious.
Applicability of the Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur
Res ipsa loquitur is literally translated as "the thing or the transaction speaks
for itself." The doctrine res ipsa loquitur means that "where the thing which
causes injury is shown to be under the management of the defendant, and
the accident is such as in the ordinary course of things does not happen if
those who have the management use proper care, it affords reasonable
evidence, in the absence of an explanation by the defendant, that the
accident arose from want of care."24 It is simply "a recognition of the postulate
that, as a matter of common knowledge and experience, the very nature of
certain types of occurrences may justify an inference of negligence on the
part of the person who controls the instrumentality causing the injury in the
absence of some explanation by the defendant who is charged with

negligence. It is grounded in the superior logic of ordinary human experience


and on the basis of such experience or common knowledge, negligence may
be deduced from the mere occurrence of the accident itself.
Hence, res ipsa loquitur is applied in conjunction with the doctrine of common
knowledge."25
Jarcia, Jr. v. People26 has underscored that the doctrine is not a rule of
substantive law, but merely a mode of proof or a mere procedural
convenience. The doctrine, when applicable to the facts and circumstances
of a given case, is not meant to and does not dispense with the requirement
of proof of culpable negligence against the party charged. It merely
determines and regulates what shall be prima facie evidence thereof, and
helps the plaintiff in proving a breach of the duty. The doctrine can be
invoked when and only when, under the circumstances involved, direct
evidence is absent and not readily available.27
The applicability of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in medical negligence
cases was significantly and exhaustively explained in Ramos v. Court of
Appeals,28 where the Court said
Medical malpractice cases do not escape the application of this doctrine.
Thus, res ipsa loquitur has been applied when the circumstances attendant
upon the harm are themselves of such a character as to justify an inference
of negligence as the cause of that harm. The application of res ipsa loquitur
in medical negligence cases presents a question of law since it is a judicial
function to determine whether a certain set of circumstances does, as a
matter of law, permit a given inference.
Although generally, expert medical testimony is relied upon in malpractice
suits to prove that a physician has done a negligent act or that he has
deviated from the standard medical procedure, when the doctrine of res ipsa
loquitur is availed by the plaintiff, the need for expert medical testimony is
dispensed with because the injury itself provides the proof of negligence. The
reason is that the general rule on the necessity of expert testimony applies
only to such matters clearly within the domain of medical science, and not to
matters that are within the common knowledge of mankind which may be
testified to by anyone familiar with the facts. Ordinarily, only physicians and
surgeons of skill and experience are competent to testify as to whether a
patient has been treated or operated upon with a reasonable degree of skill

and care. However, testimony as to the statements and acts of physicians


and surgeons, external appearances, and manifest conditions which are
observable by any one may be given by non-expert witnesses. Hence, in
cases where the res ipsa loquitur is applicable, the court is permitted to find a
physician negligent upon proper proof of injury to the patient, without the aid
of expert testimony, where the court from its fund of common knowledge can
determine the proper standard of care. Where common knowledge and
experience teach that a resulting injury would not have occurred to the
patient if due care had been exercised, an inference of negligence may be
drawn giving rise to an application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur without
medical evidence, which is ordinarily required to show not only what occurred
but how and why it occurred. When the doctrine is appropriate, all that the
patient must do is prove a nexus between the particular act or omission
complained of and the injury sustained while under the custody and
management of the defendant without need to produce expert medical
testimony to establish the standard of care. Resort to res ipsa loquitur is
allowed because there is no other way, under usual and ordinary conditions,
by which the patient can obtain redress for injury suffered by him.
Thus, courts of other jurisdictions have applied the doctrine in the following
situations: leaving of a foreign object in the body of the patient after an
operation, injuries sustained on a healthy part of the body which was not
under, or in the area, of treatment, removal of the wrong part of the body
when another part was intended, knocking out a tooth while a patients jaw
was under anesthetic for the removal of his tonsils, and loss of an eye while
the patient plaintiff was under the influence of anesthetic, during or following
an operation for appendicitis, among others.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that the scope of res ipsa loquitur has been
measurably enlarged, it does not automatically apply to all cases of medical
negligence as to mechanically shift the burden of proof to the defendant to
show that he is not guilty of the ascribed negligence. Res ipsa loquitur is not
a rigid or ordinary doctrine to be perfunctorily used but a rule to be cautiously
applied, depending upon the circumstances of each case. It is generally
restricted to situations in malpractice cases where a layman is able to say, as
a matter of common knowledge and observation, that the consequences of
professional care were not as such as would ordinarily have followed if due
care had been exercised. A distinction must be made between the failure to
secure results, and the occurrence of something more unusual and not
ordinarily found if the service or treatment rendered followed the usual

procedure of those skilled in that particular practice. It must be conceded that


the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur can have no application in a suit against a
physician or surgeon which involves the merits of a diagnosis or of a
scientific treatment. The physician or surgeon is not required at his peril to
explain why any particular diagnosis was not correct, or why any particular
scientific treatment did not produce the desired result. Thus, res ipsa loquitur
is not available in a malpractice suit if the only showing is that the desired
result of an operation or treatment was not accomplished. The real question,
therefore, is whether or not in the process of the operation any extraordinary
incident or unusual event outside of the routine performance occurred which
is beyond the regular scope of customary professional activity in such
operations, which, if unexplained would themselves reasonably speak to the
average man as the negligent cause or causes of the untoward
consequence. If there was such extraneous intervention, the doctrine of res
ipsa loquitur may be utilized and the defendant is called upon to explain the
matter, by evidence of exculpation, if he could.
In order to allow resort to the doctrine, therefore, the following essential
requisites must first be satisfied, to wit: (1) the accident was of a kind that
does not ordinarily occur unless someone is negligent; (2) the instrumentality
or agency that caused the injury was under the exclusive control of the
person charged; and (3) the injury suffered must not have been due to any
voluntary action or contribution of the person injured. 29
The Court considers the application here of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur
inappropriate. Although it should be conceded without difficulty that the
second and third elements were present, considering that the anesthetic
agent and the instruments were exclusively within the control of Dr. Solidum,
and that the patient, being then unconscious during the operation, could not
have been guilty of contributory negligence, the first element was undeniably
wanting. Luz delivered Gerald to the care, custody and control of his
physicians for a pull-through operation. Except for the imperforate anus,
Gerald was then of sound body and mind at the time of his submission to the
physicians. Yet, he experienced bradycardia during the operation, causing
loss of his senses and rendering him immobile. Hypoxia, or the insufficiency
of oxygen supply to the brain that caused the slowing of the heart rate,
scientifically termed as bradycardia, would not ordinarily occur in the process
of a pull-through operation, or during the administration of anesthesia to the
patient, but such fact alone did not prove that the negligence of any of his
attending physicians, including the anesthesiologists, had caused the injury.

In fact, the anesthesiologists attending to him had sensed in the course of


the operation that the lack of oxygen could have been triggered by the vagovagal reflex, prompting them to administer atropine to the patient. 30
This conclusion is not unprecedented. It was similarly reached in Swanson v.
Brigham,31 relevant portions of the decision therein being as follows:
On January 7, 1973, Dr. Brigham admitted 15-year-old Randall Swanson to a
hospital for the treatment of infectious mononucleosis. The patient's
symptoms had included a swollen throat and some breathing difficulty. Early
in the morning of January 9 the patient was restless, and at 1:30 a.m. Dr.
Brigham examined the patient. His inspection of the patient's air passage
revealed that it was in satisfactory condition. At 4:15 a.m. Dr. Brigham
received a telephone call from the hospital, advising him that the patient was
having respiratory difficulty. The doctor ordered that oxygen be administered
and he prepared to leave for the hospital. Ten minutes later, 4:25 a.m., the
hospital called a second time to advise the doctor that the patient was not
responding. The doctor ordered that a medicine be administered, and he
departed for the hospital. When he arrived, the physician who had been on
call at the hospital had begun attempts to revive the patient. Dr. Brigham
joined him in the effort, but the patient died.
The doctor who performed the autopsy concluded that the patient died
between 4:25 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. of asphyxia, as a result of a sudden, acute
closing of the air passage. He also found that the air passage had been
adequate to maintain life up to 2 or 3 minutes prior to death. He did not know
what caused the air passage to suddenly close.
xxxx
It is a rare occurrence when someone admitted to a hospital for the treatment
of infectious mononucleosis dies of asphyxiation. But that is not sufficient to
invoke res ipsa loquitur. The fact that the injury rarely occurs does not in itself
prove that the injury was probably caused by someone's negligence. Mason
v. Ellsworth, 3 Wn. App. 298, 474 P.2d 909 (1970). Nor is a bad result by
itself enough to warrant the application of the doctrine. Nelson v. Murphy, 42
Wn.2d 737, 258 P.2d 472 (1953). See 2 S. Speiser, The Negligence Case
Res Ipsa Loquitur 24:10 (1972). The evidence presented is insufficient to
establish the first element necessary for application of res ipsa loquitur
doctrine. The acute closing of the patients air passage and his resultant

asphyxiation took place over a very short period of time. Under these
circumstances it would not be reasonable to infer that the physician was
negligent. There was no palpably negligent act. The common experience of
mankind does not suggest that death would not be expected without
negligence. And there is no expert medical testimony to create an inference
that negligence caused the injury.
Negligence of Dr. Solidum
In view of the inapplicability of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the Court next
determines whether the CA correctly affirmed the conviction of Dr. Solidum
for criminal negligence.
Negligence is defined as the failure to observe for the protection of the
interests of another person that degree of care, precaution, and vigilance that
the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other person suffers
injury.32Reckless imprudence, on the other hand, consists of voluntarily doing
or failing to do, without malice, an act from which material damage results by
reason of an inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person
performing or failing to perform such act.33
Dr. Solidums conviction by the RTC was primarily based on his failure to
monitor and properly regulate the level of anesthetic agent administered on
Gerald by overdosing at 100% halothane. In affirming the conviction, the CA
observed:
On the witness stand, Dr. Vertido made a significant turnaround. He affirmed
the findings and conclusions in his report except for an observation which, to
all intents and purposes, has become the storm center of this dispute. He
wanted to correct one piece of information regarding the dosage of the
anesthetic agent administered to the child. He declared that he made a
mistake in reporting a 100% halothane and said that based on the records it
should have been 100% oxygen.
The records he was relying on, as he explains, are the following:
(a) the anesthesia record A portion of the chart in the record was
marked as Exhibit 1-A and 1-B to indicate the administration at
intervals of the anesthetic agent.

(b) the clinical abstract A portion of this record that reads as follows
was marked Exhibit 3A. 3B Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes
through the operation, patient was noted to have bradycardia (CR =
70) and ATSO4 0.2 mg was immediately administered. However, the
bradycardia persisted, the inhalational agent was shut off, and the
patient was ventilated with 100% oxygen and another dose of ATSO4
0.2 mg was given. However, the patient did not respond until no
cardiac rate can be auscultated and the surgeons were immediately
told to stop the operation. The patient was put on a supine position
and CPR was initiated. Patient was given 1 amp of epinephrine
initially while continuously doing cardiac massage still with no
cardiac rate appreciated; another ampule of epinephrine was given
and after 45 secs, patients vital signs returned to normal. The entire
resuscitation lasted approximately 3-5 mins. The surgeons were then
told to proceed to the closure and the childs vital signs throughout
and until the end of surgery were: BP = 110/70; CR = 116/min and
RR = 20-22 cycles/min (on assisted ventilation).
Dr. Vertido points to the crucial passage in the clinical abstract that the
patient was ventilated with 100% oxygen and another dose of ATSO4 when
the bradycardia persisted, but for one reason or another, he read it as 100%
halothane. He was asked to read the anesthesia record on the percentage of
the dosage indicated, but he could only sheepishly note I cant understand
the number. There are no clues in the clinical abstract on the quantity of the
anesthetic agent used. It only contains the information that the anesthetic
plan was to put the patient under general anesthesia using a nonrebreathing
system with halothane as the sole anesthetic agent and that 1 hour and 45
minutes after the operation began, bradycardia occurred after which the
inhalational agent was shut off and the patient administered with 100%
oxygen. It would be apparent that the 100% oxygen that Dr. Vertido said
should be read in lieu of 100% halothane was the pure oxygen introduced
after something went amiss in the operation and the halothane itself was
reduced or shut off.
The key question remains what was the quantity of halothane used before
bradycardia set in?
The implication of Dr. Vertidos admission is that there was no overdose of
the anesthetic agent, and the accused Dr. Solidum stakes his liberty and
reputation on this conclusion. He made the assurance that he gave his

patient the utmost medical care, never leaving the operating room except for
a few minutes to answer the call of nature but leaving behind the other
members of his team Drs. Abella and Razon to monitor the operation. He
insisted that he administered only a point 1% not 100% halothane, receiving
corroboration from Dr. Abella whose initial MA in the record should be
enough to show that she assisted in the operation and was therefore
conversant of the things that happened. She revealed that they were using a
machine that closely monitored the concentration of the agent during the
operation.
But most compelling is Dr. Solidums interpretation of the anesthesia record
itself, as he takes the bull by the horns, so to speak. In his affidavit, he says,
reading from the record, that the quantity of halothane used in the operation
is one percent (1%) delivered at time intervals of 15 minutes. He studiedly
mentions the concentration of halothane as reflected in the anesthesia
record (Annex D of the complaint-affidavit) is only one percent (1%) The
numbers indicated in 15 minute increments for halothane is an indication that
only 1% halothane is being delivered to the patient Gerard Gercayo for his
entire operation; The amount of halothane delivered in this case which is only
one percent cannot be summated because halothane is constantly being
rapidly eliminated by the body during the entire operation.
xxxx
In finding the accused guilty, despite these explanations, the RTC argued
that the volte-face of Dr. Vertido on the question of the dosage of the
anesthetic used on the child would not really validate the non-guilt of the
anesthesiologist. Led to agree that the halothane used was not 100% as
initially believed, he was nonetheless unaware of the implications of the
change in his testimony. The court observed that Dr. Vertido had described
the condition of the child as hypoxia which is deprivation of oxygen, a
diagnosis supported by the results of the CT Scan. All the symptoms
attributed to a failing central nervous system such as stupor, loss of
consciousness, decrease in heart rate, loss of usual acuity and abnormal
motor function, are manifestations of this condition or syndrome. But why
would there be deprivation of oxygen if 100% oxygen to 1% halothane was
used? Ultimately, to the court, whether oxygen or halothane was the object of
mistake, the detrimental effects of the operation are incontestable, and they
can only be led to one conclusion if the application of anesthesia was really
closely monitored, the event could not have happened. 34

The Prosecution did not prove the elements of reckless imprudence beyond
reasonable doubt because the circumstances cited by the CA were
insufficient to establish that Dr. Solidum had been guilty of inexcusable lack
of precaution in monitoring the administration of the anesthetic agent to
Gerald. The Court aptly explained in Cruz v. Court of Appeals35 that:
Whether or not a physician has committed an "inexcusable lack of
precaution" in the treatment of his patient is to be determined according to
the standard of care observed by other members of the profession in good
standing under similar circumstances bearing in mind the advanced state of
the profession at the time of treatment or the present state of medical
science. In the recent case of Leonila Garcia-Rueda v. Wilfred L. Pacasio, et.
al., this Court stated that in accepting a case, a doctor in effect represents
that, having the needed training and skill possessed by physicians and
surgeons practicing in the same field, he will employ such training, care and
skill in the treatment of his patients. He therefore has a duty to use at least
the same level of care that any other reasonably competent doctor would use
to treat a condition under the same circumstances. It is in this aspect of
medical malpractice that expert testimony is essential to establish not only
the standard of care of the profession but also that the physician's conduct in
the treatment and care falls below such standard. Further, inasmuch as the
causes of the injuries involved in malpractice actions are determinable only in
the light of scientific knowledge, it has been recognized that expert testimony
is usually necessary to support the conclusion as to causation.
xxxx
In litigations involving medical negligence, the plaintiff has the burden of
establishing appellant's negligence and for a reasonable conclusion of
negligence, there must be proof of breach of duty on the part of the surgeon
as well as a causal connection of such breach and the resulting death of his
patient. In Chan Lugay v. St Luke's Hospital, Inc., where the attending
physician was absolved of liability for the death of the complainants wife and
newborn baby, this Court held that:
"In order that there may be a recovery for an injury, however, it must be
shown that the injury for which recovery is sought must be the legitimate
consequence of the wrong done; the connection between the negligence and
the injury must be a direct and natural sequence of events, unbroken by
intervening efficient causes. In other words, the negligence must be the

proximate cause of the injury. For, negligence, no matter in what it consists,


cannot create a right of action unless it is the proximate cause of the injury
complained of. And the proximate cause of an injury is that cause, which, in
natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening
cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have
occurred."
An action upon medical negligence whether criminal, civil or administrative
calls for the plaintiff to prove by competent evidence each of the following
four elements, namely: (a) the duty owed by the physician to the patient, as
created by the physician-patient relationship, to act in accordance with the
specific norms or standards established by his profession; (b) the breach of
the duty by the physicians failing to act in accordance with the applicable
standard of care; (3) the causation, i.e., there must be a reasonably close
and causal connection between the negligent act or omission and the
resulting injury; and (4) the damages suffered by the patient. 36
In the medical profession, specific norms or standards to protect the patient
against unreasonable risk, commonly referred to as standards of care, set
the duty of the physician to act in respect of the patient. Unfortunately, no
clear definition of the duty of a particular physician in a particular case exists.
Because most medical malpractice cases are highly technical, witnesses with
special medical qualifications must provide guidance by giving the knowledge
necessary to render a fair and just verdict. As a result, the standard of
medical care of a prudent physician must be determined from expert
testimony in most cases; and in the case of a specialist (like an
anesthesiologist), the standard of care by which the specialist is judged is the
care and skill commonly possessed and exercised by similar specialists
under similar circumstances. The specialty standard of care may be higher
than that required of the general practitioner.37
The standard of care is an objective standard by which the conduct of a
physician sued for negligence or malpractice may be measured, and it does
not depend, therefore, on any individual physicians own knowledge either. In
attempting to fix a standard by which a court may determine whether the
physician has properly performed the requisite duty toward the patient,
expert medical testimony from both plaintiff and defense experts is required.
The judge, as the trier of fact, ultimately determines the standard of care,
after listening to the testimony of all medical experts. 38

Here, the Prosecution presented no witnesses with special medical


qualifications in anesthesia to provide guidance to the trial court on what
standard of care was applicable. It would consequently be truly difficult, if not
impossible, to determine whether the first three elements of a negligence and
malpractice action were attendant.
Although the Prosecution presented Dr. Benigno Sulit, Jr., an
anesthesiologist himself who served as the Chairman of the Committee on
Ethics and Malpractice of the Philippine Society of Anesthesiologists that
investigated the complaint against Dr. Solidum, his testimony mainly focused
on how his Committee had conducted the investigation. 39 Even then, the
report of his Committee was favorable to Dr. Solidum, 40 to wit:
Presented for review by this committee is the case of a 3 year old male who
underwent a pull-thru operation and was administered general anesthesia by
a team of anesthesia residents. The patient, at the time when the surgeons
was manipulating the recto-sigmoid and pulling it down in preparation for the
anastomosis, had bradycardia. The anesthesiologists, sensing that the cause
thereof was the triggering of the vago-vagal reflex, administered atropine to
block it but despite the administration of the drug in two doses, cardiac arrest
ensued. As the records show, prompt resuscitative measures were
administered and spontaneous cardiac function re-established in less than
five (5) minutes and that oxygen was continuously being administered
throughout, unfortunately, as later become manifest, patient suffered
permanent irreversible brain damage.
In view of the actuations of the anaesthesiologists and the administration of
anaesthesia, the committee find that the same were all in accordance with
the universally accepted standards of medical care and there is no evidence
of any fault or negligence on the part of the anaesthesiologists.
Dr. Antonio Vertido, a Senior Medico-Legal Officer of the National Bureau of
Investigation, was also presented as a Prosecution witness, but his testimony
concentrated on the results of the physical examination he had conducted on
Gerald, as borne out by the following portions of his direct examination, to
wit:
FISCAL CABARON Doctor, what do you mean by General Anesthetic Agent?

WITNESS General Anesthetic Agent is a substance used in the conduction of


Anesthesia and in this case, halothane was used as a sole anesthetic agent.
xxxx
Q Now under paragraph two of page 1 of your report you mentioned that
after one hour and 45 minutes after the operation, the patient experienced a
bradycardia or slowing of heart rate, now as a doctor, would you be able to
tell this Honorable Court as to what cause of the slowing of heart rate as to
Gerald Gercayo?
WITNESS Well honestly sir, I cannot give you the reason why there was a
bradycardia of time because is some reason one way or another that might
caused bradycardia.
FISCAL CABARON What could be the possible reason?
A Well bradycardia can be caused by anesthetic agent itself and that is a
possibility, were talking about possibility here.

the heart is to pump or to do not a bradycardia but a to counter act the


Hypoxia that is being experienced by the patient
(sic).
xxxx
Q Now, you made mention also doctor that the use of general anesthesia
using 100% halothane and other anesthetic medications probably were
contributory to the production of hypoxia.
A Yes, sir in general sir.41
On cross-examination, Dr. Vertido expounded more specifically on his
interpretation of the anesthesia record and the factors that could have
caused Gerald to experience bradycardia, viz:
ATTY. COMIA I noticed in, may I see your report Doctor, page 3, will you
kindly read to this Honorable court your last paragraph and if you will affirm
that as if it is correct?

Q What other possibility do you have in mind, doctor?


A Well, because it was an operation, anything can happen within that
situation.
FISCAL CABARON Now, this representation would like to ask you about the
slowing of heart rate, now what is the immediate cause of the slowing of the
heart rate of a person?
WITNESS Well, one of the more practical reason why there is slowing of the
heart rate is when you do a vagal reflex in the neck wherein the vagal
receptors are located at the lateral part of the neck, when you press that, you
produce the slowing of the heart rate that produce bradycardia.
Q I am pro[p]ounding to you another question doctor, what about the
deficiency in the supply of oxygen by the patient, would that also cause the
slowing of the heart rate?
A Well that is a possibility sir, I mean not as slowing of the heart rate, if there
is a hypoxia or there is a low oxygen level in the blood, the normal thing for

A "The use of General Anesthesia, that is using 100% Halothane probably


will be contributory to the production of Hypoxia and - - - -"
ATTY COMIA And do you affirm the figure you mentioned in this Court
Doctor?
WITNESS Based on the records, I know the - - Q 100%?
A 100% based on the records.
Q I will show you doctor a clinical record. I am a lawyer I am not a doctor but
will you kindly look at this and tell me where is 100%, the word "one hundred"
or 1-0-0, will you kindly look at this Doctor, this Xerox copy if you can show to
this Honorable Court and even to this representation the word "one hundred"
or 1-0-0 and then call me.
xxxx

ATTY. COMIA Doctor tell this Honorable Court where is that 100, 1-0-0 and if
there is, you just call me and even the attention of the Presiding Judge of this
Court. Okay, you read one by one.

xxxx
ATTY. COMIA How will you classify now the operation conducted to this
Gerald, Doctor?

WITNESS Well, are you only asking 100%, sir?


WITNESS Well, that is a major operation sir.
ATTY. COMIA Im asking you, just answer my question, did you see there
100% and 100 figures, tell me, yes or no?
WITNESS Im trying to look at the 100%, there is no 100% there sir.
ATTY. COMIA Okay, that was good, so you Honor please, may we request
also temporarily, because this is just a xerox copy presented by the fiscal,
that the percentage here that the Halothane administered by Dr. Solidum to
the patient is 1% only so may we request that this portion, temporarily your
Honor, we are marking this anesthesia record as our Exhibit 1 and then this
1% Halothane also be bracketed and the same be marked as our Exhibit "1A".
xxxx
ATTY. COMIA Doctor, my attention was called also when you said that there
are so many factors that contributed to Hypoxia is that correct?
WITNESS Yes, sir.
Q I remember doctor, according to you there are so many factors that
contributed to what you call hypoxia and according to you, when this Gerald
suffered hypoxia, there are other factors that might lead to this Hypoxia at the
time of this operation is that correct?
WITNESS The possibility is there, sir.
Q And according to you, it might also be the result of such other, some or it
might be due to operations being conducted by the doctor at the time when
the operation is being done might also contribute to that hypoxia is that
correct?
A That is a possibility also.

Q In other words, when you say major operation conducted to this Gerald,
there is a possibility that this Gerald might [be] exposed to some risk is that
correct?
A That is a possibility sir.
Q And which according to you that Gerald suffered hypoxia is that correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q And that is one of the risk of that major operation is that correct?
A That is the risk sir.42
At the continuation of his cross-examination, Dr. Vertido maintained that
Geralds operation for his imperforate anus, considered a major operation,
had exposed him to the risk of suffering the same condition. 43 He then
corrected his earlier finding that 100% halothane had been administered on
Gerald by saying that it should be 100% oxygen.44
Dr. Solidum was criminally charged for "failing to monitor and regulate
properly the levels of anesthesia administered to said Gerald Albert Gercayo
and using 100% halothane and other anesthetic medications." 45However, the
foregoing circumstances, taken together, did not prove beyond reasonable
doubt that Dr. Solidum had been recklessly imprudent in administering the
anesthetic agent to Gerald. Indeed, Dr. Vertidos findings did not preclude the
probability that other factors related to Geralds major operation, which could
or could not necessarily be attributed to the administration of the anesthesia,
had caused the hypoxia and had then led Gerald to experience bradycardia.
Dr. Vertido revealingly concluded in his report, instead, that "although the
anesthesiologist followed the normal routine and precautionary procedures,
still hypoxia and its corresponding side effects did occur." 46

The existence of the probability about other factors causing the hypoxia has
engendered in the mind of the Court a reasonable doubt as to Dr. Solidums
guilt, and moves us to acquit him of the crime of reckless imprudence
resulting to serious physical injuries. "A reasonable doubt of guilt," according
to United States v. Youthsey:47
x x x is a doubt growing reasonably out of evidence or the lack of it. It is not a
captious doubt; not a doubt engendered merely by sympathy for the
unfortunate position of the defendant, or a dislike to accept the responsibility
of convicting a fellow man. If, having weighed the evidence on both sides,
you reach the conclusion that the defendant is guilty, to that degree of
certainty as would lead you to act on the faith of it in the most important and
crucial affairs of your life, you may properly convict him. Proof beyond
reasonable doubt is not proof to a mathematical demonstration. It is not proof
beyond the possibility of mistake.
We have to clarify that the acquittal of Dr. Solidum would not immediately
exempt him from civil liability.1wphi1 But we cannot now find and declare
him civilly liable because the circumstances that have been established here
do not present the factual and legal bases for validly doing so. His acquittal
did not derive only from reasonable doubt. There was really no firm and
competent showing how the injury to Gerard had been caused. That meant
that the manner of administration of the anesthesia by Dr. Solidum was not
necessarily the cause of the hypoxia that caused the bradycardia
experienced by Gerard. Consequently, to adjudge Dr. Solidum civilly liable
would be to speculate on the cause of the hypoxia. We are not allowed to do
so, for civil liability must not rest on speculation but on competent evidence.
Liability of Ospital ng Maynila
Although the result now reached has resolved the issue of civil liability, we
have to address the unusual decree of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, of
expressly holding Ospital ng Maynila civilly liable jointly and severally with Dr.
Solidum. The decree was flawed in logic and in law.
In criminal prosecutions, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability that is
deemed instituted with the criminal action refers only to that arising from the
offense charged.48 It is puzzling, therefore, how the RTC and the CA could
have adjudged Ospital ng Maynila jointly and severally liable with Dr. Solidum
for the damages despite the obvious fact that Ospital ng Maynila, being an

artificial entity, had not been charged along with Dr. Solidum. The lower
courts thereby acted capriciously and whimsically, which rendered their
judgment against Ospital ng Maynila void as the product of grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
Not surprisingly, the flawed decree raises other material concerns that the
RTC and the CA overlooked. We deem it important, then, to express the
following observations for the instruction of the Bench and Bar.
For one, Ospital ng Maynila was not at all a party in the proceedings. Hence,
its fundamental right to be heard was not respected from the outset. The R
TC and the CA should have been alert to this fundamental defect. Verily, no
person can be prejudiced by a ruling rendered in an action or proceeding in
which he was not made a party. Such a rule would enforce the constitutional
guarantee of due process of law.
Moreover, Ospital ng Maynila could be held civilly liable only when subsidiary
liability would be properly enforceable pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised
Penal Code. But the subsidiary liability seems far-fetched here. The
conditions for subsidiary liability to attach to Ospital ng Maynila should first
be complied with. Firstly, pursuant to Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code,
Ospital ng Maynila must be shown to be a corporation "engaged in any kind
of industry." The term industry means any department or branch of art,
occupation or business, especially one that employs labor and capital, and is
engaged in industry.49 However, Ospital ng Maynila, being a public hospital,
was not engaged in industry conducted for profit but purely in charitable and
humanitarian work.50Secondly, assuming that Ospital ng Maynila was
engaged in industry for profit, Dr. Solidum must be shown to be an employee
of Ospital ng Maynila acting in the discharge of his duties during the
operation on Gerald. Yet, he definitely was not such employee but a
consultant of the hospital. And, thirdly, assuming that civil liability was
adjudged against Dr. Solidum as an employee (which did not happen here),
the execution against him was unsatisfied due to his being insolvent.
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for review on certiorari;
REVERSES AND SETS ASIDE the decision promulgated on January 20,
2010; ACQUITS Dr. Fernando P. Solidum of the crime of reckless
imprudence resulting to serious physical injuries; and MAKES no
pronouncement on costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 138696

July 7, 2010

FELIZARDO S. OBANDO and JUAN S. OBANDO, Petitioners,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION

opposed the probate of the alleged will, as well as petitioner Felizardos


prayer for the issuance of a letter of administration, on the ground that the
alleged will was done either under duress or the same was a forgery.
Later, both Special Proceeding Nos. 61567 and 123948 were consolidated
under Branch 17 of the RTC of Manila which, after hearing, denied petitioner
Felizardos prayer to be named as executor. Petitioner Felizardo appealed
the matter to the CA which partially reversed the RTC by appointing Eduardo
and petitioner Felizardo as co-administrators of the joint estates of Jose and
Alegria Figueras.

PERALTA, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioners Felizardo
and Juan Obando seeking to annul and set aside the Decision 1 dated August
13, 1998 and the Resolution2 dated May 17, 1999 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 20187.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Sometime in 1964, Alegria Strebel Vda. de Figueras (Alegria), together with
Eduardo and Francisco Figueras, sons of her husband Jose Figueras by
previous marriage, filed a petition for the intestate proceedings of the estate
of Jose Figueras, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 61567. Alegria was
named administratrix of Joses estate without opposition from her stepsons.
While the settlement of Joses estate was still pending considerations in the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Alegria died in May 1979. Eduardo was issued
new Letters of Administration with the duty to administer both Joses and
Alegrias estates. Fritz Strebel, as brother of Alegria, came forth claiming part
of Alegrias estate as Alegria died without issue which the Figueras brothers
made no opposition.
Subsequently, the Figueras brothers and Fritz Strebel were served with
copies of a Petition for Probate of the alleged last will and testament of
Alegria filed by petitioner Felizardo Obando, which petition was docketed as
Special Proceeding No. 123948. In his petition, petitioner Felizardo asked to
be named as executor of Alegrias last will and testament, which bequeathed
Alegrias rights and interest in the real properties left by the Figueras couple,
as well as personal properties, including all her pieces of jewelry to
petitioners Felizardo and Juan, and their families. The Figueras brothers

Eduardo and Fritz still opposed the probate of the alleged Alegrias will,
insisting that the will was a forgery. Subsequently, these conflicting parties
agreed to submit the alleged will to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
for examination and comparison with the common standard signatures of
Alegria.3
After the examination and comparison of the submitted documents, NBI
Document Examiner Zenaida Torres submitted her report 4 dated March 26,
1990, with the findings that the questioned and standard sample signatures
of Alegria S. Vda. de Figueras were NOT written by one and same person.
By reason of the forged will which was the basis of the CA in appointing
Felizardo as co-administrator of the Figueras estates, petitioners had taken
possession of the pieces of jewelry, furniture and other personal properties
enumerated in the alleged will, as well as the rentals of the Figueras
residence in Gilmore Street, Quezon City being leased to the Community of
Learners.
Eduardo and Fritz questioned these acts of petitioner Felizardo and, since
the latter could not account for these properties which were under his
possession when the probate court required him to do so, they sued him for
Estafa thru Falsification of Public Document since the alleged will which
petitioner Felizardo submitted for probate was found to be forged.
On July 26, 1990, an Information was filed with the RTC of Manila, charging
petitioners Felizardo S. Obando and Juan S. Obando, together with the
persons who signed in the alleged will, namely, Cipriano C. Farrales,
Mercedes B. Santos, Victorino Cruz, and Franklin A. Cordon, with the crime
of estafa thru falsification of public document, committed as follows:

That on or about November 11, 1978, and for sometime prior or subsequent
thereto, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused Felizardo S.
Obando, Juan S. Obando, Mercedes B. Santos, [Victorino] Cruz and Franklin
A. Cordon, being then private individuals, and accused Cipriano C. Farrales,
a Notary Public, conspiring and confederating together and helping one
another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud
Eduardo F. Figueras thru falsification of public document in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused forged and falsified or caused to be forged
and falsified, a document denominated as the Last Will and Testament of
Alegria Strebel Vda. de Figueras, dated November 11, 1978, duly notarized
by accused Cipriano C. Farrales and, therefore, a public document, by
stating in said Last Will and Testament, among others, that the said Alegria
Strebel Vda. de Figueras had bequeathed to her nephews, herein accused
Felizardo S. Obando and Juan S. Obando, all her rights and interests over all
her jewelries (sic), except those given to her other relatives, with an
aggregate total value of P2,000,000.00, that she had appointed accused
Felizardo S. Obando as the sole executor of her Last Will and Testament and
the exclusive administrator of her estate, and thereafter, feigning, simulating
and counterfeiting or causing to be feigned, simulated and counterfeited the
signature of the said Alegria Strebel Vda. de Figueras appearing on the left
hand margin of pages 1 and 2 and over the typewritten name Alegria Strebel
Vda. de Figueras on page 3 of said document, thus making it appear, as it
did appear, that the said Alegria Strebel Vda. de Figueras had, in fact,
bequeathed all her rights and interests over the said jewelries (sic) to
accused Felizardo S. Obando and Juan S. Obando, and that she had
appointed the said Felizardo S. Obando as the sole executor of her Last Will
and Testament and the exclusive Administrator of her estate, and causing it
to appear further that the said Alegria Strebel Vda. de Figueras participated
and intervened in the signing of said document when in truth and in fact as
the said accused well knew, such was not the case in that the said Last Will
and Testament is an outright forgery; that the late Alegria Strebel Vda. de
Figueras did not bequeath all her rights or interests over the aforementioned
jewelries to accused Felizardo S. Obando and Juan S. Obando, that she did
not appoint accused Felizardo S. Obando as the sole executor of her Last
Will and Testament and the exclusive Administrator of her estate, and that
she did not participate and intervene in the signing of said document, much
less did she authorize the said accused, or anybody else, to sign her name
or affix her signature thereon; that once the said document has been forged
and falsified in the manner above set forth, the said accused Felizardo S.
Obando and Juan S. Obando presented the same for probate with the
Regional Trial Court of Manila wherein an ensuing litigation which ultimately

reached the Court of Appeals, said accused Felizardo S. Obando was


appointed co-administrator of said Eduardo F. Figueras, and who, as such
co-administrator, forthwith took possession of the jewelries mentioned above
which the said accused subsequently, with intent to defraud,
misappropriated, misapplied and converted to their own personal use and
benefit to the damage and prejudice of the said Eduardo F. Figueras in the
aforesaid amount of P2,000,000.00, Philippine currency.
Contrary to law.5
Notary Public Farrales asked for a re-investigation claiming innocence and
good faith and was, subsequently, deleted from the Information.
When arraigned, all the accused, with the exception of Franklin Cordon who
is at-large, assisted by counsel de parte, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
They posted bail for their temporary liberty.
Trial thereafter ensued.
In its Order dated October 10, 1992, the RTC stated that the parties
stipulated that whatever testimony of witnesses utilized in the intestate and
probate proceedings of the will, as well as the documentary evidence
submitted therein, shall be utilized in the criminal case in toto subject to
further cross of the defense lawyer only on matters not touched in the former
proceedings.6
On October 7, 1996, the RTC rendered its Decision,7 the dispositive portion
of which reads, thus:
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Court holds accused
FELIZARDO S. OBANDO and JUAN S. OBANDO GUILTY of violating Article
315, paragraph 1, sub-paragraph (b) of the Revised Penal Code, in relation
to Article 172, paragraph 1, Revised Penal Code, their culpability having
been proven beyond reasonable doubt and are hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period, from seventeen (17)
years, four (4) months, and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. Finding no
evidence of culpability in their persons, accused MERCEDES B. SANTOS
and VICTORINO CRUZ are hereby ACQUITTED.

With respect to accused FRANKLIN A. CORDON, who remains at-large up to


the present, this case against him is hereby ordered ARCHIVED, to be
revived upon his apprehension. Let an Alias Warrant of Arrest be issued
against accused Franklin A. Cordon for his immediate apprehension.
SO ORDERED.

In so ruling, the RTC found that: the fact of damage was sufficiently
established with the testimonies of Felizardo and Juan that Alegria's rights
and interests in the real and personal properties of the Figueras couple were
to go to them, and that they already gave the pieces of jewelry to their sister,
to Juan's wife and his two daughters, and Felizardo's daughter which showed
that they had already profited from the estate of the Figueras couple even
before the same was brought to the court for settlement. As to the matter of
forgery, the RTC gave more credence to the findings of NBI Document
Examiner Zenaida Torres than that of PNP Document Section Chief
Francisco Cruz, since (1) Torres was the common choice of all the parties,
thus by which act, petitioners became bound to the results of said findings;
(2) Torres was definite in her conclusion that the question and standard/
sample signatures of Alegria S. Vda. de Figueras were not written by one
and same person unlike Cruz's report stating that no definite conclusion can
be made due to the limited amount of appropriate standard signatures for
comparison; and (3) Torres was not paid for her services and, therefore,
impartial while Cruz received honorarium from Juan Obando; that while
petitioners presented copies of pictures showing Alegria allegedly signing the
will in the presence of Mercedes Santos Cruz, Victorino Cruz and Franklin
Cordon, nothing would establish what document was being held by them.
The RTC found petitioners to have conspired to commit forgery as
established by the following evidence, to wit: (a) Felizardo admitted that the
last will and testament which Alegria voiced out to him was dictated by him to
a certain Atty. Alcantara; (b) that Felizardo retained the services of Atty.
Alcantara and Atty. Farrales who notarized the alleged will; (c ) Juan was the
one who enticed Mercedes Santos Cruz, his sister-in-law, and Victorino Cruz
into acting as attesting witnesses and Juan's taking pictures of the entire
signing ceremony which was a sign of evil intention because it was an
expectancy of future rift or trouble; (d) Felizardo held and kept the alleged will
from the time of alleged signing up to Alegria's death which possession and
control lasted for several months; (e) the testimony of Torres that the first two
pages of Exhibit "A," which contained the dispositions of the properties of the

Figueras estates, as well as the forged signatures were substitutes for the
originals; and (g) that petitioners and their respective families gained
enormously by reason of said will.1avvphi1
The RTC said that even if the alleged will was found to be authentic, it will
still be contested as the dispositions made therein were contrary to law most
particularly that portion bequeathing to petitioners the whole residential
property of the spouses Jose and Alegria Figueras, which was conjugal, to
the exclusion of Eduardo and Francisco Figueras and Fritz Strebel who are
forced heirs; that because of such disposition, the RTC was convinced that
the alleged will was not that of Alegria but of petitioners, since Alegria being
the administratrix of the estate of her husband Jose would be the last person
to give this property outside of the Figueras family. Mercedes Santos and
Victorino Cruz were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Petitioners filed their appeal with the CA.
On August 13, 1988, the CA issued its assailed Decision affirming in toto the
decision of the RTC.
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated May
17, 1999.
Hence, this petition for review filed by petitioners on the following grounds:
A. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAD OVERLOOKED AND
FAILED TO CONSIDER THE SIGNIFICANT FACTS AND
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE WHICH, IF PROPERLY CONSIDERED,
SHOULD HAVE DRAWN A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION AND WHICH SHALL
CONSIDERABLY AFFECT THE RESULT OF THIS CASE.
B. THE NON-PRODUCTION AND/OR NON-PRESENTATION OF THE
ORIGINAL COPY OF THE ALLEGED FALSIFIED LAST WILL AND
TESTAMENT OF ALEGRIA STREBEL VDA. DE FIGUERAS BEFORE THE
TRIAL COURT IS A FATAL DEFECT WHICH ENTITLES HEREIN
APPELLANTS TO ACQUITTAL.
C. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CONSPIRACY TO WARRANT
CONVICTION OF FELIZARDO AND [JUAN] OBANDO.

D. THE WILL OF ALEGRIA STREBEL VDA. DE FIGUERAS DISPOSES


ONLY OF HER RIGHTS AND INTERESTS OVER THE PROPERTIES
BEQUEATHED TO FELIZARDO AND JUAN OBANDO.

due execution of said Last Will and Testament," but nowhere did they object
to such submission of the machine copy. In fact, petitioners never sought
reconsideration when the RTC admitted the machine copy of the alleged will.

E. CONFLICTING EXPERT TESTIMONIES, COUPLED WITH THE


POSITIVE EVIDENCE AS TO THE DUE EXECUTION AND AUTHENTICITY
OF THE WILL SHOULD FAVOR APPELLANTS.

More importantly, we note that a duplicate original copy of the alleged will
was formally offered in evidence13 as one of petitioners' documentary
evidence and the same was already admitted by the RTC. Thus, a duplicate
original copy of the alleged will was already admitted in the records of the
case which the RTC used for comparison of the questioned signatures with
that of the standard signatures of Alegria.

F. THE ABSENCE IN THE NBI FINDINGS (EXHIBIT "D-1") AS TO THE


GENUINENESS AND/OR FALSITY OF THE SIGNATURES OF MERCEDES
SANTOS CRUZ, VICTORINO CRUZ AND ATTY. FRANKLIN CORDON ON
THE "LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT" (EXHIBIT "A"), NEGATES THE
FALSIFICATION AND/OR SUBSTITUTION OF THE FIRST AND SECOND
PAGES OF THE SAID "LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF DOA ALEGRIA
STREBEL VDA. DE FIGUERAS."
G. THERE IS NO ESTAFA COMMITTED BY APPELLANTS, NEITHER DID
THE PROSECUTION PROVE THE COMPLEX CRIME OF ESTAFA
THROUGH FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENT.9
Petitioners contend that the non-presentation of the original copy of the
alleged falsified will before the RTC was a fatal defect which entitles them to
an acquittal.
We are not persuaded.
We note that during the trial of this case, petitioners did not raise any
objection when the alleged will was presented and testified to by NBI
Document Examiner Torres. We also note that in the Offer of Prosecution
Evidence,10 where the machine copy of the alleged will was marked as
Exhibit "A," the prosecution, in the last paragraph of such offer, stated that
"all these (documents) form the bulk of evidence in Special Proceeding Nos.
123948 and 61567 and were simply reproduced here as agreed upon by the
parties. We are compelled to mention this so that the accused will have no
reason for questioning their authenticity."11 In their Comment/Objection to the
Offer of Prosecution Evidence,12 petitioners merely stated that: "If this
particular document is the original copy of the Last Will and Testament of
Doa Alegria Strebel Vda. de Figueras, which was marked as Exhibits "J," "J1" to "J-17" in Special Proceedings Nos. 61567 and 123948, then the
accused admits not only of its existence but also its validity, authenticity and

Petitioners fault the RTC and the CA for giving more weight to the findings of
NBI Document Examiner Torres that the signature in the alleged will was
forged as against the findings of PNP Document Examination Chief Cruz that
the questioned signature was genuine.
The rule is that the findings of fact of the trial court, its calibration of the
testimonies of the witnesses and its assessment of the probative weight
thereof, as well as its conclusions anchored on said findings, are accorded
high respect if not conclusive effect. This is more true if such findings were
affirmed by the appellate court. When the trial courts findings have been
affirmed by the appellate court, said findings are generally binding upon this
Court unless when that determination is clearly without evidentiary support
on record, or when the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts or
overlooked certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, would justify a
different conclusion,14 which we do not find in this case.
In examining the questioned signatures of Alegria, Torres used the standard
specimen signatures submitted by petitioners, Eduardo and Fritz, the parties
in the probate proceedings. Torres found that the questioned and
standard/sample signatures of Alegria were not written by one and the same
person. However, as petitioners did not agree with such findings, petitioners
moved for another examination of the same documents together with three
additional documents to be conducted by the PNP. PNP Document Examiner
Chief Francisco Cruz submitted his report where he found that the
questioned signatures and the standard signatures executed in 1978
indicated that they were written by one person. Both Torres and Cruz testified
in court.

Torres, in her direct and cross-examinations, thoroughly explained her


findings by establishing the fundamental differences in the writing
characteristics and habits existing in the questioned and standard signatures.
First, in the alignment characteristics, i.e., the relationship of the letters in the
name with the base line or where the letters rest. She pointed out that in the
standard signatures, all the letters in the name were written in an even
straight base notwithstanding that some of the standard signatures were
written without the horizontal line. In the questioned signatures, the name
Alegria S. Vda. de Figueras was written either in a going up or going down
direction, i.e., there was no even placement of the letters. 15
Second, in the arrangement characteristics, i.e., the position of the written
signature in relation to the typewritten name. Torres found that the one who
wrote the questioned signatures had the habit of affixing the signatures
across and covering the entire typewritten name. While in the standard
signatures, the writer affixed the signatures above the typewritten name and
there was no instance where the signature crossed the typewritten name.
Torres intimated that such arrangement characteristic in handwriting
identification was very significant, because it was considered to be an
inconspicuous characteristic which meant that even the writers themselves
would not notice that manner of signing.16
Third, the slight but consistent difference in the slant of the letter "g" in the
name Alegria. Torres stated that slant meant the slope of the letter in relation
to the base line. She found that in the standard signatures, the slopes of the
letter "g" in Alegria formed an angle of less than 90 degrees; that the letter
"g" was slanting to the right. While in the questioned signatures, the slopes of
letter "g" formed an angle of more than 90 degrees. 17
Fourth, the proportion characteristic which meant the relationship of one
letter to the next letter.18
Fifth, the manner of execution of the questioned signatures was different
from that of the standard signatures. Torres found that in the questioned
signatures, there were presence of hesitations, tremors, slow drawing
movement, and consciousness which were not found in the standard
signatures, which she had explained in details in her testimony.

On the other hand, PNP Document Examiner Cruz stated that there was a
wide range of variations existing between the questioned signatures made in
1978 and the standard signatures executed in 1974, 1976 and 1978,
indicating that there was a radical change in the physical condition of the
writer wherein the muscle and nerves were affected resulting in the loss of
muscular control. He also stated that while the questioned signatures and the
standard signatures were dissimilar in the manner of execution, quality of
lines, alignment and size of letter, no definite conclusion can be reached in
view of the wide gap of execution. He then stated that the questioned
signatures executed on November 11, 1978 and the standard signature
executed in December 1978, which was most contemporaneous to the date
of the execution of the questioned signatures, he found they were similar and
showed that they were written by one person.19
We note that Cruzs findings as to the loss of muscular control in Alegrias
hand allegedly due to her physical condition was contradicted by Torres'
testimony that the standard signature executed by Alegria in December 1978,
i.e., one month after the alleged will was executed, showed that she was in
good physical condition, because her signature was smooth with flowing
strokes with an even alignment which indicated that Alegria had good
muscular control and coordination.20 Notably, Dr. Elena Cariaso, the doctor
who was tasked by the probate court to examine the physical and mental
condition of Alegria in December 1978, testified that Alegria was physically
and mentally fit with only a weakness in her lower extremities; thus,
corroborating Torres finding that Alegria's hand had good muscular control
and coordination. In fact, Torres established that the standard signatures
written in 1966, 1974, 1976 and in December 1978, all showed that the
signatures were made in a continuous, spontaneous and unconscious
manner21 unlike that of the questioned signatures.
Expert opinions are not ordinarily conclusive. They are generally regarded as
purely advisory in character. The courts may place whatever weight they
choose upon and may reject them, if they find them inconsistent with the
facts in the case or otherwise unreasonable. When faced with conflicting
expert opinions, as in this case, courts give more weight and credence to that
which is more complete, thorough, and scientific.22 The value of the opinion
of a handwriting expert depends not upon his mere statements of whether a
writing is genuine or false, but upon the assistance he may afford in pointing
out distinguishing marks, characteristics and discrepancies in and between

genuine and false specimens of writing which would ordinarily escape notice
or detection from an unpracticed observer.23
We agree with the RTC and the CA in giving more weight and credence to
the testimony of Torres as the examination conducted by Torres was
complete, thorough and scientific. We find that the RTC had the opportunity
to examine the relevant documents and make comparisons thereof. In fact,
upon our own comparison of the questioned signatures and the standard
signatures taking into consideration inconspicuous differences noted by
Torres on the questioned and standard signatures, we find that the
questioned signatures showed substantial differences with that of the
standard signatures of Alegria.
Petitioner claims that the testimonies of the notary public, as well as the two
attesting witnesses that they saw Alegria sign the will in their presence,
should have outweighed the testimony of Torres.
We are not persuaded.
In his testimony, Notary Public Farrales testified that when he, together with
another lawyer, Atty. Cordon, went inside the room of Alegria who was in bed,
he presented to her copies of the will which he brought from his office; 24 that
Alegria read the same and called in petitioner Felizardo to bring some small
board where she could write; after Felizardo handed the same, he again left
the room. Farrales said that Alegria signed the will in his presence, as well as
in the presence of Atty. Cordon and the other attesting witnesses, Mercedes
and Victorino; that petitioner Felizardo was just outside the room when the
signing was on-going;25 that Farrales was the one who assisted Alegria in
turning the pages of the documents and was the one who pointed to her the
portion where she was to affix her signatures;26 and that after the signing and
notarization of the will, Alegria requested them to call on petitioner Felizardo
and once Felizardo was inside the room, Alegria gave the documents to the
latter who placed the will in an envelope.27
On the other hand, Mercedes testified that when she and Victorino entered
Alegria's room, she saw Alegria, Felizardo, Attys. Farrales and Cordon; that
Alegria instructed petitioner Felizardo to read aloud the will which Felizardo
did;28 and that Alegria and the other witnesses signed the will in the presence
of each other and was duly notarized; and that she saw Felizardo keep the
will inside the vault. 29

Victorino testified that when he and Mercedes entered Alegria's room, he saw
Atty. Farrales, Cordon, Felizardo and Alegria who was in a reclined position
in her bed; that Alegria asked Felizardo to get the sealed document from a
cabinet;30 that Alegria told petitioner Felizardo to give each one of them a
copy of the document and instructed petitioner Felizardo to read the contents
of the will aloud;31 and that he saw Alegria signed the will in their presence.
Notably, their testimonies showed material inconsistencies which affected
their credibilities. Farrales testified that the copies of the alleged will came
from his office and he was the one who gave the same to Alegria which,
however, was contrary to Victorinos claim that petitioner Felizardo got the
alleged will from the cabinet. Farrales testified that petitioner Felizardo was
not inside the room when the signing was ongoing which was again contrary
to the claims of both Mercedes and Victorino that petitioner Felizardo was
inside the room while the signing was on-going; and that Alegria even
instructed Felizardo to read aloud the contents of the same to them. Notably,
Farrales testified that he was the one who turned the pages of the will and
was also the one who pointed to Alegria the portion where to affix her
signatures and that no other person rendered such assistance except
him.32However, in petitioner Felizardo's testimony, he said that he was
present when the will was being signed by Alegria.33 In fact, petitioner
Felizardo submitted photographs which were admittedly taken by copetitioner Juan to prove the former's presence during the signing and to show
that he was the one assisting Alegria in signing the will.
Such contradictory statements coming from persons who allegedly were
present when the will was executed render doubtful the genuineness of the
alleged forged will. Thus, we find no error committed by the RTC in not giving
credence to their testimonies.
We find the elements of falsification of public document present in this case.
Essentially, the elements of the crime of Falsification of Public Document
under Article 172 (1) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) are: (1) that the
offender is a private individual; (2) that the offender committed any of the acts
of falsification enumerated under Article 171; and (3) that the act of
falsification is committed in a public document. Under paragraph 2 of Article
171, a person may commit falsification of a public document by causing it to
appear in a document that a person or persons participated in an act or
proceeding, when such person or persons did not, in fact, so participate in
the act or proceeding.

In this case, petitioners are private individuals who presented the alleged will
to the probate court and made it appear that Alegria signed the alleged will
disposing of her rights and interest in the real properties, as well as all of her
personal properties to petitioners when in fact petitioners knew that Alegria
never signed such alleged will as her signatures therein were forged.
We find apropos the findings of the RTC that petitioners conspired to
perpetuate such forgery, to wit:
1. The so-called Will and Testament was admitted by Felizardo S.
Obando in open hearing to have been dictated by him to a certain
Atty. Alcantara allegedly as voiced out to him by Alegria;
2. He said he procured the service of said lawyer and the very notary
public, one Atty. C. Farrales to notarize it;
3. Juanito Obando enticed the couple Mercedes B. Santos and
Victorino Cruz into acting as witnesses, Mercedes being his sister-inlaw, and his taking pictures of the entire ceremony of signing such
document. This taking of such pictures is itself a sign of evil intention,
because it is an expectancy of future rift or trouble;
4. Felizardo held and kept the questioned document with him from its
inception to its alleged signing and up to Alegrias death which
possession and complete control lasted for several months;
5. Felizardo and Juanito Obando and their respective families again
by their joint admissions, gained enormously and by reason of said
will.
The crime of falsification of public document was the means for petitioners to
commit estafa. The elements ofestafa under Article 315, par. 1 (b) of the
RPC34 are as follows: (1) that money, goods or other personal property is
received by the offender in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or
under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return
the same; (2) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or
property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; and (3) that
such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another.

Petitioner Felizardo argued that he already had in his possession the


personal properties of Alegria which included the pieces of jewelry by virtue
of an alleged general power of attorney executed by Alegria in his favor.
However, as correctly argued by the Solicitor General, such agency between
Alegria and petitioner Felizardo, was terminated upon Alegrias death; thus,
he had no basis for taking possession and custody of Alegrias properties
after her death. However, by virtue of the falsified will which petitioners
presented for probate, and by which petitioner Felizardo became a coadministrator of the estate of the Figueras couple, and had gained
possession of the jewelry, he was not able to account for the same when
ordered to do so by the probate court.
On the other hand, co-petitioner Juan admitted that the pieces of jewelry
went to his daughters and nieces, while the real properties were already sold
even while the intestate and probate proceedings were still pending in court.
Petitioners' misappropriation of the jewelry was to the prejudice of Eduardo
Figueras who also has the right to Alegria's jewelry in general which were
part of the declared conjugal estate of his father Jose and Alegria Figueras.
Notably, Alegria, as administratrix of the estate of Jose, submitted in 1966 an
inventory of the conjugal real and personal properties of the Figueras couple
and one of those listed under conjugal personal properties was jewelry in the
amount of P2,150.00. Such inventory was contained in the Order dated
September 10, 1980 of the probate court and which was submitted in
evidence by petitioners.
The crime committed was estafa through falsification of public document.
Being a complex crime, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be
imposed in its maximum period.35 While we sustain the conviction of
petitioners of the crime charged, we found, however, that the penalty
imposed by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals was not
proper.
The amount of damages is the basis of the penalty for estafa. However, we
note that the prosecution failed to satisfactorily show that the amount of
jewelry misappropriated was indeed two million pesos. The only evidence on
record which would establish the amount of the jewelry was the inventory
submitted in 1966 by Alegria where she listed the jewelry in the amount
of P2,150.00.

Since the amount misappropriated by petitioners was established to be only


in the amount of P2,150.00, the applicable provision is paragraph (3) of
Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, which imposes the penalty ofarresto
mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period,
where the amount defrauded is over P200.00 but does not
exceed P6,000.00. Thus, in this case, it appears that the most serious crime,
which should be the basis of penalty for the complex crime of estafa through
falsification of public document, would be the falsification and, under Article
172 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty is prision correccional in its
medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than P5,000.00.
Thus, the maximum penalty to be imposed in this case is the medium period
of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, there being no
mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the minimum penalty should be taken from the penalty next
lower in degree which is arresto mayor maximum to prision correccional
minimum in any of its period.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated August 13, 1998
and the Resolution dated May 17, 1999 of the Court of Appeals are
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as to the penalty imposable. Petitioners are
hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of one (1) year and one (1) day of
prision correccional, as minimum, to four (4) years, nine (9) months and ten
(10) days of prision correccional, as the maximum, and to pay a fine
ofP5,000.00.

denied the appeal of Carmina G. Brokmann (petitioner). The CA affirmed the


judgment3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 132, Makati City,
convicting the petitioner of the crime of estafa, defined and penalized under
Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
As borne by the records, the criminal charge stemmed from the failure of the
petitioner to return or remit the proceeds of jewelries amounting
to P1,861,000.00. The prosecution anchored its case on the testimony of
Anna de Dios (private complainant), and the Memorandum of Agreement
(MOA) executed between the private complainant and the petitioner. The gist
of the MOA provides: (1) the petitioners acknowledgment and receipt, on
various dates, of jewelries from the private complainant amounting
to P1,861,000.00; (2) the petitioner failed to remit the proceeds of the sale of
the subject jewelries; and (3) the private complainant filed the estafa case
against the petitioner for the non-remittance of the proceeds of the sale of the
jewelries.
The petitioner asserted in defense her lack of bad faith and intention to
deceive the private complainant. She narrated that she and the private
complainant had been engaged in the buy and sell of jewelries for 15 years.
She admitted receiving the subject jewelries on a consignment basis but she
averred that not all the jewelries were sold. The petitioner emphasized that
she made partial payments of her obligation and had no intention of
absconding. With respect to the MOA, she insisted that there was no period
in the agreed terms as to when the remittance of the proceeds for the sale of
the jewelries or the return of the unsold jewelries should be made.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 199150

February 6, 2012

CARMINA G. BROKMANN, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
BRION, J.:
We review, pursuant to Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the decision 1 and the
resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31887 which

The RTC found the petitioner liable for estafa, and sentenced the petitioner
to imprisonment of six (6) years and six (6) months of prision mayor, as
minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum. 4 The RTC
also ordered the petitioner to restitute the private complainant P1,047,720.00
as actual damages.
The petitioner appealed the judgment of the RTC to the CA which affirmed
the petitioners conviction. The CA held:
As to the first element, without a doubt[,] appellant acquired material
possession of the jewelry. She admitted that she received the subject pieces
of jewelry from De Dios.

xxxx
Additionally, by the terms and conditions of the memorandum of agreement,
Brokmann agreed to hold in trust the said pieces of jewelry for the purpose of
selling them to the customers and with the obligation to remit the proceeds of
those sold and return the items unsold. What was created was an agency for
the sale of jewelry, in which Brokmann as an agent has the duty to return
upon demand of its owner, herein appellee.
On the second element, misappropriation was clearly evident. Appellee sent
a demand letter to appellant, reminding the latter of her subsisting obligation,
however, it was simply ignored. x x x. The demand for the return of the thing
delivered in trust and the failure of the accused-agent to account for it are
circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. x x x.
xxxx
The third element, it is apparent that appellee was prejudiced when appellant
did not return the pieces of jewelry upon her demand. x x x. Damage as an
element of estafa may consist in 1) the offended party being deprived of his
money or property as a result of the defraudation; 2) disturbance in property
right; or 3) temporary prejudice. x x x.
Lastly, the fourth element, it has duly been established that appellee
demanded for the payment and return of the pieces of jewelry, however, the
same was unheeded.5 (Emphases supplied.)
The petitioner elevated her judgment of conviction to the Court under Rule 45
of the Rules of Court.

of People v. Singson6 and People v. Ojeda7 where the Court acquitted the
accused for the failure of the prosecution to prove the element of deceit.
The Courts Ruling
Except for the penalty imposed, we find no reversible error in the CAs
decision.
First, the offense of estafa, in general, is committed either by (a) abuse of
confidence or (b) means of deceit.8The acts constituting estafa committed
with abuse of confidence are enumerated in item (1) of Article 315 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended; item (2) of Article 315 enumerates estafa
committed by means of deceit. Deceit is not an essential requisite of estafa
by abuse of confidence; the breach of confidence takes the place of fraud or
deceit, which is a usual element in the other estafas. 9 In this case, the charge
against the petitioner and her subsequent conviction was for estafa
committed by abuse of confidence. Thus, it was not necessary for the
prosecution to prove deceit as this was not an element of the estafa that the
petitioner was charged with.
Second, the cases cited by the petitioner are inapplicable. Our
pronouncements in Singson and Ojeda apply to estafa under Article 315,
paragraph 2(d) where the element of deceit was necessary to be proven.
Nevertheless, we find the modification of the penalty imposed to be in order
to conform to the prevailing jurisprudence. The second paragraph of Article
315 provides the appropriate penalty if the value of the thing, or the amount
defrauded, exceeds P22,000.00:

The petitioner raises the sole issue of whether the CA committed a reversible
error in affirming the judgment of the RTC finding her guilty of estafa beyond
reasonable doubt.

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision


mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos
but does not exceed 22,000 pesos; and if such amount exceeds the latter
sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum
period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but the total
penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years.

The petitioner prays for her acquittal for the prosecutions failure to prove the
element of deceit. She argues that her actions prior to, during and after the
filing of the estafa case against her negated deceit, ill-motive and/or bad faith
to abscond with her obligation to the private complainant. She cites the cases

The minimum term of imprisonment imposed by the CA and the RTC does
not conform with the Courts ruling in People v. Temporada, 10 where we held
that the minimum indeterminate penalty in the above provision shall be one
degree lower from the prescribed penalty for estafa which is anywhere within

The Issue

the range of prision correccional, in its minimum and medium periods, or six
(6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months. In this case,
the minimum term imposed by the CA and the RTC of six (6) years and six
(6) months of prision mayor is modified to four (4) years and two (2) months
of prision correccional, consistent with the prevailing jurisprudence.1wphi1
ACCORDINGLY, premises considered, we AFFIRM with MODIFICATION the
decision dated May 4, 2011 and the resolution dated October 26, 2011 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31887. We find petitioner Carmina G.
Brokmann GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of estafa defined and penalized
under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
We MODIFY the penalty imposed and sentence her to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as
minimum term, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum term.

the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, which was raffled to Branch 223
(RTC Quezon City).
On 7 February 2005, petitioner received summons to appear before the
Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 72 (RTC Antipolo) for the pretrial and trial of Civil Case No. 04-7392 (Maria Chrysantine Lorenza L.
Pimentel v. Joselito Pimentel) for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under
Section 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological incapacity.
On 11 February 2005, petitioner filed an urgent motion to suspend the
proceedings before the RTC Quezon City on the ground of the existence of a
prejudicial question. Petitioner asserted that since the relationship between
the offender and the victim is a key element in parricide, the outcome of Civil
Case No. 04-7392 would have a bearing in the criminal case filed against
him before the RTC Quezon City.

SO ORDERED.
The Decision of the Trial Court
G.R. No. 172060

September 13, 2010

JOSELITO R. PIMENTEL, Petitioner,


vs.
MARIA CHRYSANTINE L. PIMENTEL and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the Decision2 of the Court
of Appeals, promulgated on 20 March 2006, in CA-G.R. SP No. 91867.
The Antecedent Facts
The facts are stated in the Court of Appeals decision:
On 25 October 2004, Maria Chrysantine Pimentel y Lacap (private
respondent) filed an action for frustrated parricide against Joselito R.
Pimentel (petitioner), docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415, before

The RTC Quezon City issued an Order dated 13 May 20053 holding that the
pendency of the case before the RTC Antipolo is not a prejudicial question
that warrants the suspension of the criminal case before it. The RTC Quezon
City held that the issues in Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 are the injuries
sustained by respondent and whether the case could be tried even if the
validity of petitioners marriage with respondent is in question. The RTC
Quezon City ruled:
WHEREFORE, on the basis of the foregoing, the Motion to Suspend
Proceedings On the [Ground] of the Existence of a Prejudicial Question is,
for lack of merit, DENIED.
SO ORDERED.4
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 22 August 2005 Order,5 the
RTC Quezon City denied the motion.
Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with application for a writ of preliminary
injunction and/or temporary restraining order before the Court of Appeals,
assailing the 13 May 2005 and 22 August 2005 Orders of the RTC Quezon
City.

The Decision of the Court of Appeals


In its 20 March 2006 Decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition.
The Court of Appeals ruled that in the criminal case for frustrated parricide,
the issue is whether the offender commenced the commission of the crime of
parricide directly by overt acts and did not perform all the acts of execution
by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous
desistance. On the other hand, the issue in the civil action for annulment of
marriage is whether petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to comply with
the essential marital obligations. The Court of Appeals ruled that even if the
marriage between petitioner and respondent would be declared void, it would
be immaterial to the criminal case because prior to the declaration of nullity,
the alleged acts constituting the crime of frustrated parricide had already
been committed. The Court of Appeals ruled that all that is required for the
charge of frustrated parricide is that at the time of the commission of the
crime, the marriage is still subsisting.
Petitioner filed a petition for review before this Court assailing the Court of
Appeals decision.
The Issue
The only issue in this case is whether the resolution of the action for
annulment of marriage is a prejudicial question that warrants the suspension
of the criminal case for frustrated parricide against petitioner.
The Ruling of this Court
The petition has no merit.
Civil Case Must be Instituted
Before the Criminal Case
Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure 6 provides:
Section 7. Elements of Prejudicial Question. - The elements of a prejudicial
question are: (a) the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar
or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent criminal action and
(b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action
may proceed.

The rule is clear that the civil action must be instituted first before the filing of
the criminal action. In this case, the Information 7 for Frustrated Parricide was
dated 30 August 2004. It was raffled to RTC Quezon City on 25 October
2004 as per the stamped date of receipt on the Information. The RTC
Quezon City set Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 for pre-trial and trial on 14
February 2005. Petitioner was served summons in Civil Case No. 04-7392
on 7 February 2005.8 Respondents petition9 in Civil Case No. 04-7392 was
dated 4 November 2004 and was filed on 5 November 2004. Clearly, the civil
case for annulment was filed after the filing of the criminal case for frustrated
parricide. As such, the requirement of Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules
on Criminal Procedure was not met since the civil action was filed
subsequent to the filing of the criminal action.
Annulment of Marriage is not a Prejudicial Question
in Criminal Case for Parricide
Further, the resolution of the civil action is not a prejudicial question that
would warrant the suspension of the criminal action.
There is a prejudicial question when a civil action and a criminal action are
both pending, and there exists in the civil action an issue which must be
preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed because
howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be
determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal
case.10 A prejudicial question is defined as:
x x x one that arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent
of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another
tribunal. It is a question based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime
but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of
the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only
that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the
criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the
issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused
would necessarily be determined.11
The relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element in the
crime of parricide,12 which punishes any person "who shall kill his father,
mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, or any of his ascendants
or descendants, or his spouse."13 The relationship between the offender and

the victim distinguishes the crime of parricide from murder14 or


homicide.15 However, the issue in the annulment of marriage is not similar or
intimately related to the issue in the criminal case for parricide. Further, the
relationship between the offender and the victim is not determinative of the
guilt or innocence of the accused.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 20 March 2006


Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91867.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 167567

The issue in the civil case for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of the
Family Code is whether petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to comply
with the essential marital obligations. The issue in parricide is whether the
accused killed the victim. In this case, since petitioner was charged with
frustrated parricide, the issue is whether he performed all the acts of
execution which would have killed respondent as a consequence but which,
nevertheless, did not produce it by reason of causes independent of
petitioners will.16 At the time of the commission of the alleged crime,
petitioner and respondent were married. The subsequent dissolution of their
marriage, in case the petition in Civil Case No. 04-7392 is granted, will have
no effect on the alleged crime that was committed at the time of the
subsistence of the marriage. In short, even if the marriage between petitioner
and respondent is annulled, petitioner could still be held criminally liable
since at the time of the commission of the alleged crime, he was still married
to respondent.1avvphi1
We cannot accept petitioners reliance on Tenebro v. Court of Appeals17 that
"the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity retroacts to the date of the celebration of the
marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is concerned x x x."
First, the issue in Tenebro is the effect of the judicial declaration of nullity of a
second or subsequent marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity on
a criminal liability for bigamy. There was no issue of prejudicial question in
that case. Second, the Court ruled inTenebro that "[t]here is x x x a
recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage, although void ab
initio, may still produce legal consequences."18 In fact, the Court declared in
that case that "a declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the
ground of psychological incapacity is of absolutely no moment insofar as the
States penal laws are concerned."19
In view of the foregoing, the Court upholds the decision of the Court of
Appeals. The trial in Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 may proceed as the
resolution of the issue in Civil Case No. 04-7392 is not determinative of the
guilt or innocence of petitioner in the criminal case.

September 22, 2010

SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION, Petitioner,


vs.
BARTOLOME PUZON, JR., Respondent.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
This petition for review assails the December 21, 2004 Decision 1 and March
28, 2005 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 83905,
which dismissed the petition before it and denied reconsideration,
respectively.
Factual Antecedents
Respondent Bartolome V. Puzon, Jr., (Puzon) owner of Bartenmyk
Enterprises, was a dealer of beer products of petitioner San Miguel
Corporation (SMC) for Paraaque City. Puzon purchased SMC products on
credit. To ensure payment and as a business practice, SMC required him to
issue postdated checks equivalent to the value of the products purchased on
credit before the same were released to him. Said checks were returned to
Puzon when the transactions covered by these checks were paid or settled in
full.
On December 31, 2000, Puzon purchased products on credit amounting
to P11,820,327 for which he issued, and gave to SMC, Bank of the Philippine
Islands (BPI) Check Nos. 27904 (for P309,500.00) and 27903
(forP11,510,827.00) to cover the said transaction.
On January 23, 2001, Puzon, together with his accountant, visited the SMC
Sales Office in Paraaque City to reconcile his account with SMC. During
that visit Puzon allegedly requested to see BPI Check No. 17657. However,
when he got hold of BPI Check No. 27903 which was attached to a bond

paper together with BPI Check No. 17657 he allegedly immediately left the
office with his accountant, bringing the checks with them.
SMC sent a letter to Puzon on March 6, 2001 demanding the return of the
said checks. Puzon ignored the demand hence SMC filed a complaint
against him for theft with the City Prosecutors Office of Paraaque City.
Rulings of the Prosecutor and the Secretary of Department of Justice
(DOJ)

SO ORDERED.7
The motion for reconsideration of SMC was denied. Hence, the present
petition.
Issues
Petitioner now raises the following issues:
I

The investigating prosecutor, Elizabeth Yu Guray found that the "relationship


between [SMC] and [Puzon] appears to be one of credit or creditor-debtor
relationship. The problem lies in the reconciliation of accounts and the nonpayment of beer empties which cannot give rise to a criminal prosecution for
theft."3 Thus, in her July 31, 2001 Resolution,4 she recommended the
dismissal of

WHETHER X X X PUZON HAD STOLEN FROM SMC ON JANUARY 23,


2001, AMONG OTHERS BPI CHECK NO. 27903 DATED MARCH 30, 2001
IN THE AMOUNT OF PESOS: ELEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED TEN
THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN (Php11,510,827.00)
II

the case for lack of evidence. SMC appealed.


On June 4, 2003, the DOJ issued its resolution5 affirming the prosecutors
Resolution dismissing the case. Its motion for reconsideration having been
denied in the April 23, 2004 DOJ Resolution,6 SMC filed a petition for
certiorari with the CA.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA found that the postdated checks were issued by Puzon merely as a
security for the payment of his purchases and that these were not intended to
be encashed. It thus concluded that SMC did not acquire ownership of the
checks as it was duty bound to return the same checks to Puzon after the
transactions covering them were settled. The CA agreed with the prosecutor
that there was no theft, considering that a person cannot be charged with
theft for taking personal property that belongs to himself. It disposed of the
appeal as follows:

WHETHER X X X THE POSTDATED CHECKS ISSUED BY PUZON,


PARTICULARLY BPI CHECK NO. 27903 DATED MARCH 30, 2001 IN THE
AMOUNT OF PESOS: ELEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED TEN
THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN (Php11,510,827.00),
WERE ISSUED IN PAYMENT OF HIS BEER PURCHASES OR WERE
USED MERELY AS SECURITY TO ENSURE PAYMENT OF PUZONS
OBLIGATION.
III
WHETHER X X X THE PRACTICE OF SMC IN RETURNING THE
POSTDATED CHECKS ISSUED IN PAYMENT OF BEER PRODUCTS
PURCHASED ON CREDIT SHOULD THE TRANSACTIONS COVERED BY
THESE CHECKS [BE] SETTLED ON [THE] MATURITY DATES THEREOF
COULD BE LIKENED TO A CONTRACT OF PLEDGE.
IV

WHEREFORE, finding no grave abuse of discretion committed by public


respondent, the instant petition is herebyDISMISSED. The assailed
Resolutions of public respondent, dated 04 June 2003 and 23 April 2004,
areAFFIRMED. No costs at this instance.

WHETHER X X X SMC HAD ESTABLISHED PROBABLE CAUSE TO


JUSTIFY THE INDICTMENT OF PUZON FOR THE CRIME OF THEFT
PURSUANT TO ART. 308 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE.8

Petitioner's Arguments

probable cause for theft, which at this point is more properly resolved through
another more clear cut route.

SMC contends that Puzon was positively identified by its employees to have
taken the subject postdated checks. It also contends that ownership of the
checks was transferred to it because these were issued, not merely as
security but were, in payment of Puzons purchases. SMC points out that it
has established more than sufficient probable cause to justify the indictment
of Puzon for the crime of Theft.
Respondents Arguments
On the other hand, Puzon contends that SMC raises questions of fact that
are beyond the province of an appeal on certiorari. He also insists that there
is no probable cause to charge him with theft because the subject checks
were issued only as security and he therefore retained ownership of the
same.
Our Ruling
The petition has no merit.
Preliminary Matters
At the outset we find that as pointed out by Puzon, SMC raises questions of
fact. The resolution of the first issue raised by SMC of whether respondent
stole the subject check, which calls for the Court to determine whether
respondent is guilty of a felony, first requires that the facts be duly
established in the proper forum and in accord with the proper procedure. This
issue cannot be resolved based on mere allegations of facts and affidavits.
The same is true with the second issue raised by petitioner, to wit: whether
the checks issued by Puzon were payments for his purchases or were
intended merely as security to ensure payment. These issues cannot be
properly resolved in the present petition for review on certiorari which is
rooted merely on the resolution of the prosecutor finding no probable cause
for the filing of an information for theft.
The third issue raised by petitioner, on the other hand, would entail venturing
into constitutional matters for a complete resolution. This route is
unnecessary in the present case considering that the main matter for
resolution here only concerns grave abuse of discretion and the existence of

Probable Cause for Theft


"Probable cause is defined as such facts and circumstances that will
engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the
respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial." 9 On the
fine points of the determination of probable cause, Reyes v. Pearlbank
Securities, Inc.10 comprehensively elaborated that:
The determination of [the existence or absence of probable cause] lies within
the discretion of the prosecuting officers after conducting a preliminary
investigation upon complaint of an offended party. Thus, the decision whether
to dismiss a complaint or not is dependent upon the sound discretion of the
prosecuting fiscal. He may dismiss the complaint forthwith, if he finds the
charge insufficient in form or substance or without any ground. Or he may
proceed with the investigation if the complaint in his view is sufficient and in
proper form. To emphasize, the determination of probable cause for the filing
of information in court is an executive function, one that properly pertains at
the first instance to the public prosecutor and, ultimately, to the Secretary of
Justice, who may direct the filing of the corresponding information or move
for the dismissal of the case. Ultimately, whether or not a complaint will be
dismissed is dependent on the sound discretion of the Secretary of Justice.
And unless made with grave abuse of discretion, findings of the Secretary of
Justice are not subject to review.
For this reason, the Court considers it sound judicial policy to refrain from
interfering in the conduct of preliminary investigations and to leave the
Department of Justice ample latitude of discretion in the determination of
what constitutes sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for the
prosecution of supposed offenders. Consistent with this policy, courts do not
reverse the Secretary of Justice's findings and conclusions on the matter of
probable cause except in clear cases of grave abuse of discretion.
In the present case, we are also not sufficiently convinced to deviate from the
general rule of non-interference. Indeed the CA did not err in dismissing the
petition for certiorari before it, absent grave abuse of discretion on the part of
the DOJ Secretary in not finding probable cause against Puzon for theft.

The Revised Penal Code provides:


Art. 308. Who are liable for theft. - Theft is committed by any person who,
with intent to gain but without violence against, or intimidation of persons nor
force upon things, shall take personal property of another without the latters
consent.
xxxx
"[T]he essential elements of the crime of theft are the following: (1) that there
be a taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs to another; (3)
that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without
the consent of the owner; and (5) that the taking be accomplished without the
use of violence or intimidation against persons or force upon things." 11
Considering that the second element is that the thing taken belongs to
another, it is relevant to determine whether ownership of the subject check
was transferred to petitioner. On this point the Negotiable Instruments Law
provides:
Sec. 12. Antedated and postdated The instrument is not invalid for the
reason only that it is antedated or postdated, provided this is not done for an
illegal or fraudulent purpose. The person to whom an instrument so dated
is delivered acquires the title thereto as of the date of delivery. (Underscoring
supplied.)
Note however that delivery as the term is used in the aforementioned
provision means that the party delivering did so for the purpose of giving
effect thereto.12 Otherwise, it cannot be said that there has been delivery of
the negotiable instrument. Once there is delivery, the person to whom the
instrument is delivered gets the title to the instrument completely and
irrevocably.
If the subject check was given by Puzon to SMC in payment of the obligation,
the purpose of giving effect to the instrument is evident thus title to or
ownership of the check was transferred upon delivery. However, if the check
was not given as payment, there being no intent to give effect to the
instrument, then ownership of the check was not transferred to SMC.

The evidence of SMC failed to establish that the check was given in payment
of the obligation of Puzon. There was no provisional receipt or official receipt
issued for the amount of the check. What was issued was a receipt for
the document, a "POSTDATED CHECK SLIP."13
Furthermore, the petitioner's demand letter sent to respondent states "As per
company policies on receivables, all issuances are to be covered by postdated checks. However, you have deviated from this policy by forcibly taking
away the check you have issued to us to cover the December
issuance."14 Notably, the term "payment" was not used instead the terms
"covered" and "cover" were used.
Although the petitioner's witness, Gregorio L. Joven III, states in paragraph 6
of his affidavit that the check was given in payment of the obligation of
Puzon, the same is contradicted by his statements in paragraph 4, where he
states that "As a standard company operating procedure, all beer purchases
by dealers on credit shall be coveredby postdated checks equivalent to the
value of the beer products purchased"; in paragraph 9 where he states that
"the transaction covered by the said check had not yet been paid for," and in
paragraph 8 which clearly shows that partial payment is expected to be made
by the return of beer empties, and not by the deposit or encashment of the
check.1avvphi1 Clearly the term "cover" was not meant to be used
interchangeably with "payment."
When taken in conjunction with the counter-affidavit of Puzon where he
states that "As the [liquid beer] contents are paid for, SMC return[s] to me the
corresponding PDCs or request[s] me to replace them with whatever was the
unpaid balance."15 it becomes clear that both parties did not intend for the
check to pay for the beer products. The evidence proves that the check was
accepted, not as payment, but in accordance with the long-standing policy of
SMC to require its dealers to issue postdated checks to cover its receivables.
The check was only meant to cover the transaction and in the meantime
Puzon was to pay for the transaction by some other means other than the
check. This being so, title to the check did not transfer to SMC; it remained
with Puzon. The second element of the felony of theft was therefore not
established. Petitioner was not able to show that Puzon took a check
that belonged to another. Hence, the prosecutor and the DOJ were correct in
finding no probable cause for theft.

Consequently, the CA did not err in finding no grave abuse of discretion


committed by the DOJ in sustaining the dismissal of the case for theft for lack
of probable cause.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The December 21, 2004 Decision
and March 28, 2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP. No.
83905 are AFFIRMED.

CONTRARY TO LAW.5
The appellant entered a plea of "not guilty" during her arraignment.
Thereafter, trial ensued.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 177761

feloniously take, steal, and carry away cash money amounting to Four
Hundred Seventeen Thousand Nine Hundred Twenty-two [Pesos] and ninety
centavos (P417,922.90) [from] said Complainant, to the damage and
prejudice of the latter x x x.

April 18, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
REMEDIOS TANCHANCO y PINEDA, Appellant.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
Theft becomes qualified when it is committed with grave abuse of
confidence.1
Factual Antecedents
On appeal is the September 27, 2006 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-GR. CR-H.C. No. 01409 which affirmed with modification the July 4,
2005 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Pias City, Branch
198, finding appellant Remedios Tanchanco y Pineda (appellant) guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of qualified theft.
The Information4 against appellant contained the following accusatory
allegations:
That during the period from October 2000 to May 8, 2001, in the City of Las
Pias, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
abovenamed Accused, being then employed as Legal Secretary and
Liaison Officer of Complainant ATTY. REBECCA MANUEL Y AZANZA, with
intent [to] gain, with grave abuse of confidence and without the knowledge
and consent of the owner thereof, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and

Version of the Prosecution


Private complainant Atty. Rebecca Manuel y Azanza (Rebecca) knew
appellant for more than 25 years, the latter being the niece of her long-time
neighbor. During this period, Rebecca and her children established a close
relationship with appellant to the point that they treated her as a member of
their family. In June 1999, Rebecca hired appellant to work in her office as
legal secretary and liaison officer. One of appellants tasks as liaison officer
was to process the transfer of titles of Rebeccas clients.
In the course of appellants employment, Rebecca noticed that the
completion of the transfer of titles was taking longer than usual. Upon inquiry,
appellant attributed the delay to the cumbersome procedure of transferring
titles, as well as to the fact that personnel processing the documents could
not be bribed. Rebecca took appellants word for it. However, appellant
suddenly abandoned her job on April 18, 2001. And when Rebecca reviewed
appellants unfinished work, she discovered that the latter betrayed her trust
and confidence on several occasions by stealing sums of money entrusted to
her as payment for capital gains tax, documentary stamp tax, transfer tax
and other expenses intended for the transfer of the titles of properties from
their previous owners to Rebeccas clients.
According to Rebecca, she gave appellant P39,000.00 as payment for
donors tax in connection with a Deed of Donation and Acceptance and Deed
of Partition by Donees/Co-Owners, which her client Tomas Manongsong
(Tomas) paid for the partitioning of a parcel of land located in Batangas.
Upon verification from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), however, it
turned out that appellant paid only P31,709.08. This was confirmed by the
Bank of Commerce,6 where appellant made such payment.

Appellant also received P20,000.00 from Tomass wife, Mila Manongsong, for
the processing of the properties land titles. Appellant liquidated the same in a
handwritten statement7 in which she indicated payment ofP10,089.45 for
transfer tax under Official Receipt (OR) No. 1215709 and of P7,212.00 for
registration with the Registry of Deeds of Bauan, Batangas under OR No.
5970738. An inquiry, however, later revealed that OR No. 1215709 was
issued only for the amount of P50.00, representing payment for the issuance
of a certified true copy of a tax declaration,8 while OR No. 5970738 was
never issued per Certification9 from the same Registry of Deeds. Rebecca
also found out that the documents relevant to the said transfer of titles are
still with the BIR since the amount of P4,936.24 had not yet been paid.
Appellant also duped Rebecca relative to the P105,000.00 for the payment of
the capital gains and documentary stamp taxes. Said taxes arose from the
sale of a house and lot covered by TCT No. (62911) T-33899-A to her client
Dionisia Alviedo (Alviedo). Appellant submitted a liquidation
statement10 stating that she paid the sums ofP81,816.00 as capital gains tax
and P20,460.00 for documentary stamp tax under Equitable Bank OR Nos.
937110 and 937111, respectively. However, said bank certified that said ORs
do not belong to the series of ORs issued by it.11 As a result, Rebecca was
constrained to pay these taxes with the corresponding penalties and
surcharges.
Rebecca further alleged that in connection with the payment of the capital
gains and documentary stamp taxes imposed on the property of another
client, Carmelita Sundian (Sundian), she gave appellant P120,000.00.
Appellant purportedly presented a handwritten liquidation report stating that
she paid the amounts of P94,281.00 as capital gains tax and P23,571.00 as
documentary stamp tax under Equitable Bank OR Nos. 717228 12 and
717229.13 Appellant also stated that the balance from the money intended for
processing the papers of Sundian was only P2,148.00.14 However, Rebecca
discovered upon verification that the receipts submitted by appellant are
bogus as Equitable Bank issued a Certification15 that said ORs were issued
to different persons and for different amounts. Rebecca was again forced to
refund the sum to Sundian.
With regard to Rebeccas client Rico Sendino, Rebecca claimed that she
gave appellant P35,000.00 for the payment of capital gains and transfer
taxes in connection with the deed of sale executed between one Priscilla
Cruz and her said client. In the handwritten liquidation statement 16 submitted

to her by appellant, the latter claimed to have paid the amount of P35,000.00
under Traders Royal Bank OR No. 1770047.17 Again, the receipt turned out
to be a fake as said bank issued a Certification18 negating the issuance of
said OR. And just as in transactions with her other clients, Rebecca was
forced to shell-out money from her own funds to pay the same.
Leilani Gonzaga (Gonzaga) was another client of Rebecca who engaged her
services to pay the capital gains tax imposed on the sale of a property. After
Rebecca told appellant to go to the BIR, the latter indicated in her
handwritten liquidation statement that she paid the capital gains tax using
two Equitable PCI Managers Checks for which she was issued OR Nos.
1770016 and 1770017, and cash payments of P71,184.00 under OR No.
1770018 and P17, 805.00 under OR No. 1770019.19 However, no payments
were actually made. To complete the processing of the transaction, Rebecca
had to pay the sum of P3,273.00 to the Registry of Deeds andP9,050.00 for
the transfer tax imposed on the transaction.
The same thing happened with the payment of capital gains tax as a result of
a Deed of Transfer with Partition Agreement of a Land executed between
Rebeccas client Edmer and his siblings, Evelyn and Renato, all surnamed
Mandrique.20 This time, appellant showed Rebecca a donors tax
return21 accomplished in her own handwriting as proof of payment of the sum
of P12,390.00. Appellant also liquidated the amount of P6,250.00 as advance
payment made to a geodetic engineer for the purpose of subdividing the
property.22 Again, Rebecca was later able to verify that no payments in such
amounts were made.
According to Rebecca, appellant likewise pocketed the sum of P10,000.00
intended for the processing of 15 titles that the latter claimed to have paid in
her liquidation report. Also, Rebecca asserted that appellant did not pay or
file the proper application for the issuance of title of the Grand Del Rosario
property. Aside from the above, Rebecca was likewise constrained to
complete the processing of one of the three other titles recovered from
appellant and had to pay the capital gains tax imposed on the purchase of
the land in the sum of more thanP100,000.00.
All in all, the money supposed to be used as payments for capital gains and
transfer taxes as well as for the registration of sale of properties of Rebeccas
various clients amounted to P427,992.90. Aside from this sum, Rebecca also
spent at least P650,000.00 for the reconstitution of all the documents,

payment of surcharges for late filing of capital gains tax returns,


transportation expenses and other incidental expenses.

representing the total amount taken by the accused, without subsidiary


imprisonment in case of insolvency, with costs.

Version of the Appellant

SO ORDERED.24

Appellant admitted that she used to be the legal secretary and liaison officer
of Rebecca. In particular, as liaison officer, she attended to the transfer of
titles of Rebeccas clients such as Gonzaga, Manongsong, Alviedo and
others whose names she could no longer remember. She claimed that the
processing of the title of the Manongsong property was her last transaction
for Rebecca. She was given money to pay the capital gains tax at the BIR.
When confronted with the charges filed against her, appellant merely denied
the allegations.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


The appellate court affirmed the trial courts ruling but came up with a
different figure as to the total amount taken by the appellant. The CA noted
that there was no clear justification for the award of P407,711.68 as an
examination of the records revealed that appellant failed to pay or padded
her expenses only in the total amount of P248,447.45, computed as follows:
On the Manongsong property:

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court


P 10,089.45 Transfer tax25
23

In its Decision of July 4, 2005, the trial court found the existence of a high
degree of confidence between Rebecca and appellant. It noted that the
relationship between the two as employer-employee was not an ordinary
one; appellant was being considered a part of Rebeccas family. Because of
this trust and confidence, Rebecca entrusted to appellant cash in
considerable sums which were liquidated through appellants own
handwritten statements of expenses. However, appellant gravely abused the
trust and confidence reposed upon her by Rebecca when she pocketed the
money entrusted to her for processing the clients land titles. And as a cover
up, she presented to Rebecca either fake or altered receipts which she did
not even deny during trial. The trial court thus found appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime charged.
However, the trial court ruled that the total amount stolen by appellant
was P407,711.68 and not P417,907.90 as claimed by Rebecca. It disposed
of the case as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the court finds the accused
Remedios Tanchanco y Pineda GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Qualified Theft as defined and penalized under Article 309,
paragraph 1 and Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code, and hereby
sentences said accused to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to
indemnify the offended party in the sum of Four Hundred Seven Thousand
Seven Hundred Eleven Pesos and Sixty Eight Centavos (P407,711.68)

P 7,212.00 Registration of the documents26


P 2,000.00 Estate tax27
P 8,000.00 Difference between the donors tax that accused- appellant
claimed she paid and that which she actually paid per certification of the
Bank of Commerce28
P 27,301.45 Sub-total
On the Alviedo property:
P 81,816.00 Capital gains tax29
P 20,460.00 Documentary stamp tax30
P 102,276.00 Sub-total
On the Sundian property:
P 94,281.00 Capital gains tax31
P 23,571.00 Documentary stamp tax32

P 117,852.00 Sub-total

Appellant maintains that there is no direct evidence to prove that she actually
received the alleged amounts intended for the processing of various
documents. She also denies the claim that she took the money entrusted to
her during the period from May 2000 to May 8, 2001 as alleged in the
Information.

On the Sendino property:


P 6,018.00 Ueda donors tax33

Our Ruling

P 35,000.00 Capital gains tax and documentary stamp tax34


P 41,018.00 Sub-total

The appeal is not meritorious.

On the Mandrique property:

Courts below correctly held appellant liable for qualified theft

P 10,000.00 Difference between donors tax per accused- appellants


liquidation report and the amount she actually paid 35

P 248,447.45 Total36 (Footnotes supplied.)

"The elements of the crime of Theft as provided for in Article 308 of the
Revised Penal Code [(RPC)] are: (1) x x x there [was] taking of personal
property; (2) x x x [the] property belongs to another; (3) x x x the taking [was]
done with intent to gain; (4) x x x the taking [was] without the consent of the
owner; and (5) x x x the taking was accomplished without the use of violence
against or intimidation of persons or force upon things." 40

Thus, the dispositive portion of its Decision37 dated September 27, 2006
reads:

As to the first and second elements, we quote with approval the CAs
discussion on the matter:

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated July 4, 2005 is AFFIRMED with


MODIFICATION in that accused-appellant, Remedios Tanchanco Pineda is
hereby ordered to indemnify the private complainant Rebecca Manuel y
Azanza the sum of Two Hundred Forty-Eight Thousand Four Hundred FortySeven Pesos and Forty Five Centavos (P248,447.45) representing the total
amount she took from the private complainant.

Accused-appellant contends that the prosecution failed to prove by direct


evidence the first and basic element of the offense that is, the taking of the
sum of Php417,922.90 during the period from May 2000 up to May 8, 2001.
She claims that the prosecution failed to adduce any evidence that would
prove that the accused actually received the alleged amounts handed to her
for the processing of various documents.

SO ORDERED.38

xxxx

P 10,000.00 Sub-total

Issue
In this appeal, appellant again raises the lone issue she submitted to the CA,
viz:
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED
OF QUALIFIED THEFT DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION
TO OVERTHROW THE CONSTITUTIONAL PRESUMPTION OF
INNOCENCE IN HER FAVOR.39

Regarding x x x the prosecutions failure to present direct evidence to prove


the accused-appellants taking of the questioned amount, it is Our view that
the absence of direct evidence proving accused-appellants stealing and
carrying away of the alleged Php417,922.90 from private respondent would
not matter as long as there is enough circumstantial evidence that would
establish such element of taking. After all, Sec. 4, Rule 133 of the Revised
Rules of Court provides that an accused may be convicted on the basis of
circumstantial evidence if more than one circumstance is involved, the facts
of which, inferring said circumstances have been proven, and provided that

the combination of all such circumstances would suffice to produce a


conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

7. The accused-appellant did not specifically deny her submitting


altered or fake receipts in liquidating her expenses for said taxes.

There is no doubt, as held by the trial court, that the prosecution was able to
establish the following circumstances:

8. And conceding her guilt, the accused-appellant suddenly


disappeared leaving some of her tasks, unfinished.

1. Accused-appellant was the legal secretary and liaison officer of


private complainant from June 1999 to April 18, 2001. She was the
only person working for the private complainant during said period.
2. As legal secretary and liaison officer, accused-appellant was
tasked to process land titles of private complainants clients. Her
duties included the payment of taxes (documentary stamp taxes,
capital gains taxes, transfer tax) for the transfer of title from previous
owners to new owners/buyers of the property.
3. Because of the nature of accused appellants work and the trust
reposed in her by private complainant, the latter confidently gave her
considerable amounts of cash without need of receipts. The
accused-appellant even admitted that she often received money
from private complainant for payment of capital gains and transfer
taxes.
4. There were also instances when accused-appellant was
authorized by private complainant to collect money from her clients
especially when the accused-appellant ran out of money needed in
the processing of titles.
5. The accused-appellant was given a free hand in liquidating her
expenses in her own handwriting.
6. Upon verification from banks and government agencies with which
the accused-appellant transacted in relation to her tasks, the private
complainant discovered that what the accused-appellant submitted
were handwritten padded liquidation statements because her
reported expenses turned out to be higher than what she actually
spent; and worse, the official receipts she submitted to private
complainant were fake. x x x.
xxxx

xxxx
[These] pieces of circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution
constitute an unbroken chain leading to a fair and reasonable conclusion that
accused-appellant took sums of money that were entrusted to her by the
private complainant. x x x41
Circumstantial evidence may prove the guilt of appellant and "justify a
conviction if the following requisites concur: (a) there is more than one
circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven;
and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a
conviction beyond reasonable doubt."42 In other words, "[f]or circumstantial
evidence to be sufficient to support conviction, all circumstances must be
consistent with each other, consistent with the hypothesis that the accused is
guilty and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that he is
innocent, and with every other rational hypothesis except that of
guilt."43 Here, we agree with the CA that the circumstances above
enumerated lead to the reasonable conclusion that appellant took amounts of
money from Rebecca.
With regard to the third element, "[i]ntent to gain (animus lucrandi) is
presumed to be alleged in an information, in which it is charged that there
was unlawful taking (apoderamiento) and appropriation by the offender of the
things subject of asportation."44 In this case, it was established that appellant
padded her expenses and submitted fake receipts of her supposed payment
for the processing of the transfer of land titles, to gain from the money
entrusted to her by Rebecca. Her intentional failure to properly and correctly
account for the same constitutes appropriation with intent to gain.
Anent the fourth element pertaining to Rebeccas lack of consent, same is
manifested by the fact that it was only after appellant abandoned her job on
April 18, 2001 that Rebecca discovered the missing sums of money. Her
subsequent acts of confirming the payment or non-payment of fees and of
verifying from different banks the issuance of the purported ORs presented to

her by appellant in liquidating the amounts she entrusted to the latter,


negates consent on Rebeccas part.
With regard to the fifth element, it is clear from the facts that the taking was
accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons
or force upon things.
From these, it is clear that all the elements of theft are obtaining in this case.
The next crucial question now is, did appellant commit the crime with grave
abuse of confidence as to make her liable for qualified theft? "Under Article
310 of the [RPC], theft [becomes] qualified when it is, among others,
committed with grave abuse of confidence. x x x" 45 The grave abuse of
confidence must be the result of the relation by reason of dependence,
guardianship, or vigilance, between the appellant and the offended party that
might create a high degree of confidence between them which the appellant
abused.46
Here, it is undisputed that appellant was a close friend of Rebecca and her
family.1wphi1 It was due to this personal relationship that appellant was
employed by Rebecca as a legal secretary and liaison officer. The latter
position necessarily entails trust and confidence not only because of its
nature and the functions attached to it, but also because appellant makes
representations on behalf of Rebecca as regards third parties. By reason of
this, all matters essentially pertaining to the conduct of business of the law
office were known by, and entrusted to, appellant. This included the
safekeeping of important documents and the handling of money needed for
the processing of papers of Rebeccas clients. It is thus safe to assume that
Rebecca relied on appellant when it comes to the affairs of her law office as
to create a high degree of trust and confidence between them. And as
Rebecca trusted appellant completely, and by reason of her being the liaison
officer, she handed the monies to appellant without requiring the latter to sign
any paper to evidence her receipt thereof. She also allowed appellant to
liquidate the expenses incurred through mere handwritten liquidation
statements solely prepared by appellant and treated them, as well as the
official receipts presented, as true and correct. It thus becomes clear that it is
because of the trust and confidence reposed by Rebecca upon appellant that
the latter was able to make it appear from her liquidation statements that she
spent the sums she received from Rebecca for their intended purposes. To
conceal this, she presented to Rebecca fake or altered receipts for the
supposed payment, all of which form part of the records as evidence.

Unfortunately for appellant, she was not able to refute Rebeccas allegations
against her as well as the evidence supporting the same since what she
advanced during trial were mere bare denials. The Court has "oft pronounced
that x x x denial x x x [is] an inherently weak [defense] which cannot prevail
over the positive and credible testimony of the prosecution witness that the
accused committed the crime."47 The Court therefore concludes that
appellant took undue advantage of Rebeccas confidence in her when she
appropriated for herself sums of money that the latter entrusted to her for a
different purpose. The theft in this case was thus committed with grave abuse
of confidence. Hence, appellant was correctly held by the lower courts as
liable for qualified theft.
With respect to appellants contention that she could not have taken the
alleged amount of money until May 8, 2001 since her employment with
Rebecca lasted only until April 18, 2001, same fails to impress. The
Information alleged that the crime was committed "during the period from
October 2000 to May, 2001". The word "during" simply means "at some point
in the course of"48 or "throughout the course of a period of time" 49 from
October 2000 to May 8, 2001. In the Information, "during" should therefore
be understood to mean at some point from October 2000 to May 8, 2001,
and not always until May 8, 2001. Further, the period alleged in the
Information, which is from October 2000 to May 8, 2001 is not distant or far
removed from the actual period of the commission of the offense, which is
from October 2000 to April 17, 2001.
As to the total amount unlawfully taken by appellant, we hold that the sum
of P407,711.68 which the trial court came up with has no basis. After a
thorough review of the records, we find as correct instead the result of the
detailed computation made by the CA as to the total amount of money that
appellant stole or padded as expenses, which is only P248, 447.75.
The Proper Penalty
Article 310 of the RPC provides that the crime of qualified theft shall be
punished by the penalties next higher by two degrees than those respectively
specified in Art. 309. Under paragraph 1, Art. 309 of the RPC, the penalty of
prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods is to be imposed if the
value of the thing stolen is more thanP12,000.00 but does not
exceed P22,000.00. But if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter
amount, the penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in

said paragraph [prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods], and one
year for each additional P10,000.00, but the total of the penalty which may
be imposed shall not exceed twenty (20) years. In such cases and in
connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the
purpose of the other provisions of the RPC, the penalty shall be termed
prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be. Here, the amount
stolen by appellant, as correctly found by the CA, isP248,447.75. Since the
said amount exceeds P22,000.00, "the basic penalty is prision mayor in its
minimum and medium periods to be imposed in the maximum period, which
is eight (8) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to ten (10) years of
prision mayor."50 To determine the additional years of
imprisonment, P22,000.00 must be deducted from the said amount and the
difference should then be divided by P10,000.00, disregarding any amount
less than P10,000.00. Hence, we have twenty-two (22) years that should be
added to the basic penalty. However, the imposable penalty for simple theft
should not exceed a total of twenty (20) years. Thus, had the appellant
committed simple theft, the penalty for this case would be twenty (20) years
of reclusion temporal. But as the penalty for qualified theft is two degrees
higher, the proper penalty as correctly imposed by both lower courts is
reclusion perpetua.51
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DENIED. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01409 finding appellant Remedios
Tanchanco y Pineda guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of qualified
theft is AFFIRMED.
Costs against the appellant.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 187736

February 8, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
FLORDELIZA ARRIOLA y DE LARA, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:

This is an appeal from the August 14, 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
(CA), in CA-G.R. CR-HC. No. 02870, which affirmed the April 23, 2007
Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 76, Malolos City, Bulacan
(RTC).3 The RTC convicted accused Flordeliza Arriola (Arriola) of having
committed a violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165,
otherwise known as The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
On December 17, 2002, Criminal Case No. 3503-M-2002 was filed with the
RTC charging accused Arriola with illegal sale of dangerous drugs in violation
of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. The Information reads:
That on or about the 13th day of December, 2002, in San Jose del Monte,
province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, without the authority of law and legal
justification, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver,
dispatch in transit and transport dangerous drug consisting of four (4) heatsealed transparent plastic sachets having a total weight of 0.186 gram.
Contrary to law.4
The evidence for the prosecution would show that a buy-bust operation was
conducted on December 13, 2002 based on an information received by Col.
Makusi, the Chief of Police of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, from a barangay
tanod. On the basis of said report, surveillance was conducted around the
house of Arriola located at Phase 1, Section 7 of Pabahay 2000. It was
observed that men were going in and out of the house and that Arriola was
peddling shabu therein.
Subsequently, a buy-bust operation team was formed to act on the
intelligence report they had gathered. SPO4 Abelardo Taruc (SPO4
Taruc) was designated as the poseur-buyer and he was to be assisted by
four (4) police aides and a civilian asset. Before going to the target site, they
prepared the marked money that would be used. Two (2) one hundred
(P 100) peso bills with serial numbers LE627251 and FP609651 were
marked by placing SPO4 Tarucs initial "AT" on the bills.
When the team reached Arriolas house, the civilian asset told Arriola that
"Iiscore daw siya," referring to SPO4 Taruc who was just beside him. Arriola
replied by asking, "Magkano?" The asset answered, "P 200.00 po," and then
simultaneously handed over the marked money. In exchange for the amount,

Arriola gave them four (4) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing
crystalline substance. After the exchange of the marked money and the
merchandise, SPO4 Taruc arrested Arriola. Upon her arrest, he recovered
the marked money that was earlier paid to her. The asset, on the other hand,
turned over the four (4) sachets that Arriola gave in exchange for
the P 200.00 paid to her.
After the operation, the buy-bust team brought Arriola and the seized articles
to the police station, where the four (4) confiscated sachets of shabu were
marked "AT" and "FA," the initials, of SPO4 Taruc and that of Flordeliza
Arriola, respectively. Thereafter, they reported to the office of the Bulacan
provincial police the successful buy-bust operation which resulted in the
apprehension of Arriola. Also, a laboratory examination request for the seized
articles was prepared and the said four (4) sachets of shabu were then
brought to the Bulacan Provincial Crime Laboratory Office.
The resident forensic chemical officer, P/Insp. Nelson Cruz Sta.
Maria (P/Insp. Sta. Maria), conducted a qualitative examination of the
specimen submitted. His findings contained in Chemistry Report No. D-7422002, showed that the four (4) sachets with markings AT-FA, Exhibits A-1 to
A-4, containing white crystalline substance yielded a positive result of the
presence of methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.
Arriola, however, has a different version of what happened on the day of the
buy-bust operation. According to her, at around 2:00 oclock in the afternoon
of December 13, 2002, she was at home with her child resting when all of a
sudden policemen with firearms kicked the door of her house. She tried to
block the door but she was shoved aside by one of the men. She told them
not to push because she was pregnant but to no avail since one of them
simply said, "Wala akong pakialam." She also testified that one of the men
asked her if she knew the whereabouts of a certain Ogie dela Cruz. When
she answered that the man they were looking for was not residing in her
house but in the "kanto" or corner, she was the one who was brought to the
precinct.
Arriola further testified that while at the police station, they entered the office
of the Chief of Police, Col. Makusi, where she was asked her name and her
address. Then, he brought out a plastic sachet which he took from another
room. Later, she was brought outside the office and escorted to a room with
a group of men where she was made to point at the plastic sachet.

Afterwards, she was brought back to the office of Col. Makusi but this time
SPO4 Taruc was already inside. It was at this moment when he asked her,
"Gusto mong makalaya? Pagbigyan mo lang ako ng kahit isang gabi." Arriola
replied by saying that she would not agree to his proposal because, to begin
with, she did not commit any crime. This reply angered SPO4 Taruc. In sum,
she was saying that there was no valid buy-bust operation as everything was
a set-up. The drugs as well as the marked money were all just taken from the
table of Col. Makusi and not from her as claimed by the prosecution.
On April 23, 2007, RTC rendered the assailed decision convicting Arriola.
The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, accused Flordeliza Arriola y Lara is hereby convicted for sale
of the dangerous drugs methylamphetamine hydrochloride commonly known
as shabu in violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165,
otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002" and
is sentenced to suffer life imprisonment and to pay the fine of five hundred
thousand pesos (Php500,000.00).
The specimen subject matter of this case which consists of four (4) heat
sealed transparent plastic sheets having a total weight of 0.186 gram is
hereby confiscated in favor of the government. The Clerk of Court is directed
to dispose of said specimen in accordance with the existing procedure, rules
and regulations.
Furnish both parties of this judgment and the Provincial Jail Warden.
SO ORDERED.5
Aggrieved by the pronouncement of the RTC, Arriola interposed an appeal
with the CA. On August 14, 2008, the CA denied the appeal and affirmed the
RTC decision based on the testimony of SPO4 Taruc whom the said court
considered to be the best witness as he was the poseur-buyer.
According to the CA, the account of SPO4 Taruc, the poseur-buyer, was
corroborated in every material detail by the affidavits executed under oath by
the buy-bust team, debunking the version of Arriola that what transpired was
a set-up. The CA held that denial and frame-up were intrinsically weak
defenses as they were viewed with disfavor as they could easily be
concocted.

As to the position of Arriola that the buy-bust operation was illegal because of
the absence of coordination between the buy-bust team and the Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the CA debunked it citingPeople v. Sta.
Maria6 where the Court held that there is nothing in R.A. No. 9165 which
indicates an intention on the part of the legislature to consider an arrest
made without the participation of the PDEA illegal and evidence obtained
pursuant to such an arrest inadmissible.

The Court finds no merit in the petition.

Finally, the CA also agreed with the RTC that failure of the operatives to
strictly comply with Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 was not fatal. It did not
render the arrest of Arriola illegal and the evidence gathered against her
inadmissible. As noted by the CA, the alleged violations of Sections 21 and
86 of R.A. No. 9165 were never raised before the RTC but were brought out
for the first time only on appeal. This, according to the CA, was against the
ruling in the case of People v. Uy7 where it was held that when a party wants
a court to reject the evidence offered, he must so state in the form of
objection. In other words, one cannot raise said question for the first time on
appeal.

Time and again, this Court has ruled that alibi and frame up are weak forms
of defense usually resorted to in drug-related cases. In this regard, the Court
is careful in appreciating them and giving them probable value because this
type of defense is easy to concoct. This Court is, of course, not unaware of
instances when our law enforcers would utilize means like planting evidence
just to extract information, but then again the Court does realize the
disastrous consequences on the enforcement of law and order, not to
mention the well-being of society, if the courts, solely on the basis of the
police officers' alleged rotten reputation, accept in every instance this form of
defense which can be so easily fabricated. It is precisely for this reason that
the legal presumption that official duty has been regularly performed exists.
Bare denial cannot prevail over the positive identification by SPO4 Taruc of
Arriola as the one who sold them the shabu.8 For the defense position to
prosper, the defense must adduce clear and convincing evidence to
overcome the presumption that government officials have performed their
duties in a regular and proper manner.9 This, unfortunately, Arriola failed to
supply. What she made was a bare allegation of frame-up without presenting
any credible witness that would support her claim.

Hence, the present appeal.


From the records, the following are the principal issues raised by the Arriola
for our consideration, to wit:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT THERE WAS REALLY A BUY-BUST
OPERATION.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY RULE HAS BEEN
PROPERLY OBSERVED.
III.
WHETHER OR NOT NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE
REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 21 OF R.A. NO. 9165 IS
DETRIMENTAL TO THE PROSECUTIONS CASE.

On the first issue, Arriola argues that no buy-bust operation took place but
rather a frame-up with her as the victim. She stuck to her story that when the
policemen arrived at her house, they were looking for a certain Ogie Dela
Cruz. And when she could not help them, she was brought to the police
station where all the evidence against her were produced by Col. Makusi.

Furthermore, she failed to show any motive on the part of the arresting
officers to implicate her in a crime she claimed she did not commit. On this
point, it is good to note the case of People v. Dela Rosa, where this Court
held that in cases involving violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act, credence
is given to prosecution witnesses who are police officers for they are
presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there is
evidence to the contrary suggesting ill-motive on the part of the police
officers.10 In fact, Arriola herself testified that it was the first time she saw
SPO4 Taruc and the rest of the arresting team and that she did not know of
any motive why SPO4 Taruc or any of the police aides would arrest
her.11 Thus, there could be no reason for SPO4 Taruc or any member of the
buy-bust team to begrudge her since they did not know each other. This only
goes to show that she was not arrested by reason of any personal vendetta

or prejudice on the part of the raiding team as what Arriola was trying to
impress. The simple fact was that she was caught in flagrante
delicto peddling prohibited drugs.

Fiscal

In the prosecution of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the following elements


must be established: (1) identities of the buyer and seller, the object, and the
consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment
thereof.12 What is material is the proof that the transaction or sale actually
took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti. The
delivery of the contraband to the poseur-buyer and the receipt of the marked
money consummate the buy-bust transaction between the entrapping officers
and the accused.13 In other words, the commission of the offense of illegal
sale of dangerous drugs, like shabu, merely requires the consummation of
the selling transaction, which happens the moment the exchange of money
and drugs between the buyer and the seller takes place.

A: Just beside him.

In the present case, all the elements have been clearly established during
the direct and cross-examination of SPO4 Taruc:

A: I marked them with my initials to prepare the request to be brought to the


crime laboratory.

Fiscal:

Fiscal

Q: What happened when you reached the place?


A: We conducted the buy bust operation, Sir.

Q: Will you be able to identify those 4 sachets [since] you were the one who
saw the transaction and [was] the one who prepared the request for
laboratory examination?

Q: How did you carry out the buy bust?

A: Yes, Sir.

A: After I gave the money to our civilian asset, we proceeded to the house,
Sir, of the target.

Q: Why?

Q: And when you said you proceeded to the house of Flordeliza together with
your civilian asset, what happened next?

Q: How far were you when the exchange was made?

Fiscal
Q: You said you arrested her, what did you do upon the arrest of Flordeliza?
A: After I have arrested her, I brought her to our police station and marked
the evidence with my initials and prepared the request for the laboratory
examination for me to bring the items for examination.
Q: What happened to the 4 sachets handed to by Flordeliza to your asset?

A: I placed my initial and the initial of Flordeliza Arriola.


Q: Where were you at the time you placed your initials?

A: The civilian asset gave the P 200.00 to Flordeliza in exchange of what


Flordeliza gave him, the 4 sachet of shabu, Sir. And after that, I arrested her
and introduced myself as a police officer.

A: She was there at the investigating room, Sir.

Q: Who actually received the 4 pieces of sachet?

I am showing to you 4 sachets; please identify the relevance of these 4


sachets to one you referred earlier as the subject of [the] transaction
between your asset and Flordeliza.

A: The civilian asset who is in my company.

Fiscal

A: These are the items bought from her and in fact here are the initials I
placed. Sachet with initials "AT" and FA 1, 2, 3, 4.

A: These were the bills used, Sir.


Fiscal

Q: The brown envelope on which these 4 sachets was placed were already
marked as Exh. C. And the medium size transparent plastic sachet as Exh.
C-1. The 4 sachets in which shabu were placed were previously marked as
Exh. C-2, 3, 4, 5.

Witness is identifying the photocopies the first 100 peso bill with serial
number LE627251 we request as Exh. D.
Q: In this bill, can you please point to us the initials you mentioned.

Q: How about the money, what happened to the testimony given to Flordeliza
by your asset?

A: Here Sir. (Witness pointing to the initial "AT" on the left collar of the person
in the bill).

A: In arresting her, I recovered money from her.


Q: In what part of her body were you able to recover that?
A: In her hand, Sir.
Q: Now, will you be able to identify those bills used in that buy bust
operation?

Q: We request likewise for the marking of the initial pointed to by the witness
in the collar of Manuel Roxas as Exh. D-1. The second bill with serial number
FP609605 earlier identified as Exh. E and E-1 for the initial. Provisional
marking your Honor.
Court: Mark them.
Fiscal

A: Yes sir.
Q: I have here a photocopy of the bills, by the way what marking did you
place?

You mentioned of the preparation for drug examination, tell us who delivered
the request as well as the accompanying specimen to the Crime Laboratory.
A: My entrusted co-police officer in the investigation section, Sir.14

A: The initial of my name, "AT", Sir.


XXX
Fiscal
Atty. Mendoza
Do you remember where you placed the initials "AT"?
A: Yes Sir.

Q: Mr. Witness, when you conducted the said buy bust operation and you
told this Honorable Court that you were near with the poseur buyer, what
happened Mr. Witness?

Q: Where?
A: In the collar of the picture depicted in the said bills
Q: I am showing to you 2 photocopies of P 100 peso bills, please identify if
these were the one you used in the operation.

A: I have seen the transaction Sir while they were talking and when our
civilian asset was able to buy.
XXX
Q: What exactly Mr. Witness if you have said any?

A: When we arrived there, our civilian asset told that he will buy.
Q: Can you tell this Honorable Court the phrase that the poseur buyer told
the accused?
A: He said that "iiscore daw siya."

Regarding the second issue, Arriola is of the position that there was no proof
that the alleged confiscated shabuwas taken from her. She adds that there
was violation of the chain of custody on the part of the buy-bust team.
Specifically, she claims that SPO4 Taruc did not explain how the corpus
delicti transferred hands from the time it was supposedly confiscated from
her to the time it was presented in court as evidence. 16

A: P 200.00

In the prosecution of drug related cases, it is of paramount importance that


the existence of the drug, the corpus delicti of the crime, be established
beyond doubt. Its existence is a condition sine qua non. It is precisely in this
regard that central to this requirement is the question of whether the drug
submitted for laboratory examination and presented in court was actually the
one that was seized from or sold by Arriola.17 As such, the chain of custody
rule has been adopted in order to address this core issue.

Q: And then what happened?

Black's Law Dictionary explains chain of custody in this wise:

A: Our asset immediately gave her the money.

In evidence, the one who offers real evidence, such as the narcotics in a trial
of drug case, must account for the custody of the evidence from the moment
in which it reaches his custody until the moment in which it is offered in
evidence, and such evidence goes to weight not to admissibility of
evidence. Com. v. White, 353 Mass. 409, 232 N.E.2d 335.

Q: And what will be the response if the person allegedly selling?


A: Magkano?
Q: Then what is the reply?

Court
Q: How about the seller, what did she do after the money was paid to her?
A: After giving the money, she took from her pocket 4 sachets and gave it to
our asset.15
As shown by the above-quoted testimony, SPO4 Taruc, as the poseur- buyer,
was able to positively identify the seller. He categorically stated that it was
Arriola who dealt with their civilian asset who was just beside him. According
to him, Arriola was the one who asked "Magkano?" when their civilian asset
told her that "Iiscore daw siya," referring to SPO4 Taruc. She was the one
who handed the 4 heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets with white
crystalline substance to the civilian asset, which later on tested positive
for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, in exchange of the P 200.00
that she received as payment. He was also able to identify the marked
money with serial numbers LE627251 and FP609605 both bearing the initials
"AT" as well as the sachets with initials "AT" and "FA" that contained the
shabu. Clearly, the exchange of the buy-bust money and the four (4) heatsealed transparent plastic sachets of shabu established the fact that Arriola
was, without a doubt, engaged in the sale of illegal drugs.

Likewise, Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of


2002 which implements R.A. No. 9165 defines "chain of custody" as follows:
"Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and
custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of
dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of
seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to
presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody
of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held
temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time when such transfer
of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as
evidence, and the final disposition[.]
Instructive in this issue is the case of Malilin v. People 18 which discussed how
the chain of custody of the seized items should be established. In said case,
the Court said:

As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires


that the admission of an exhibit be preceded by evidence sufficient to support
a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to be. It
would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the
item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that
every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom it
was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness
possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which
it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then
describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in
the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to
have possession of the same.
Further, in the case of People v. Kamad,19 the Court enumerated therein the
different links that the prosecution must endeavor to establish with respect to
the chain of custody in a buy-bust operation, namely: first, the seizure and
marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the
apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the
apprehending officer to the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the
investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory
examination; and fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal
drug seized by the forensic chemist to the court.
Bearing in mind the abovementioned guidelines in the application of the
chain of custody rule, the prosecution in the present case adequately proved
all the links in the chain. This could be deduced from the testimony of their
lone witness, SPO4 Taruc. Pertinent portions of his testimony are hereafter
quoted, to wit:
Q: You said you arrested her, what did you do upon the arrest of Flordeliza?
A: After I have arrested her, I brought her to our police station and marked
the evidence with my initials and prepared the request for the laboratory
examination for me to bring the items for examination.
Q: What happened to the 4 sachets handed to by Flordeliza to your asset?
A: I marked them with my initials to prepare the request to be brought to the
crime laboratory.

Fiscal
Q: Will you be able to identify those 4 sachets [since] you were the one who
saw the transaction and [was] the one who prepared the request for
laboratory examination?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: Why?
A: I placed my initial and the initial of Flordeliza Arriola.
Q: Where were you at the time you placed your initials?
A: She was there at the investigating room, Sir.
Fiscal
I am showing to you 4 sachets; please identify the relevance of these 4
sachets to one you referred earlier as the subject of [the] transaction
between your asset and Flordeliza.
A: These are the items bought from her and in fact here are the initials I
placed. Sachet with initials "AT" and FA 1, 2, 3, 4.
Q: The brown envelope on which these 4 sachets was placed were already
marked as Exh. C. And the medium size transparent plastic sachet as Exh.
C-1. The 4 sachets in which shabu were placed were previously marked as
Exh. C-2, 3, 4, 520
XXX
Fiscal
You mentioned of the preparation for drug examination, tell us after the
preparation, who delivered the request as well as the accompanying
specimen to the Crime Laboratory?
A: My trusted co-police officer in the investigation section, Sir.

Fiscal

A: Before I turned them over Sir, I arranged the evidence and put my marking
on it.

I am showing to you the request for laboratory examination dated December


13, 2002, is this the one you prepared?

Q: So, you only put your marking only when you were at the police station?

A: Yes, Sir.21

A: Yes sir in the presence of the accused.


XXX

Q: From the time that you received the said alleged shabu or drugs from your
asset, where did you put the drugs?

ATTY. MENDOZA:
A: In my hand.
Afterwards you immediately brought her to the police station?
ATTY. MENDOZA:
A: Yes, Sir.
Up to the police station?
Q: In the police [station] what happened next?
A: Yes, Sir.
A: The statement was taken then at our office and we learned that her full
name is Flordeliza Arriola.

Q: Who [accompanied] the accused when she [was] brought to the police
station?

Q: Did you bring this case [to] the investigator?


A: Me and my back-up.
A: Yes, Sir
Q: Mr. Witness, who brought the alleged shabu to the crime lab?
Q: Together with the shabu?
A: I am not sure but it is our investigator Sir.22
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: From the scene of the crime or from the house of the accused, upon
arriving at the police station did you immediately turn over the accused and
the drug to the police investigator?
A: Yes, Sir.
ATTY. MENDOZA
When you arrived [at] the police station, did you immediately turn over the
accused and the drug to the investigator?

For the first link, SPO4 Taruc testified that after the buy-bust, the civilian
asset turned over the sachets to him.1wphi1From the site, he brought
Arriola and the sachets to their police station where he marked the items. He
marked the evidence with his initials and the initials of Arriola and all these
were done in her presence. As to the second link, he told the court that after
he put his markings on the seized items, he turned them over, together with
Arriola, to the investigating officer. With respect to the third link, SPO4 Taruc
said that the person who brought the specimen to the crime laboratory for
examination was his trusted co-police in the investigating section. Forensic
chemist, P/Insp. Sta. Maria, examined the specimens submitted to him which
tested positive for shabu and issued a chemistry report 23 dated December
13, 2002, or within the same day that the buy-bust operation was conducted.
Therefore, from the account made by SPO4 Taruc, the RTC did not err in

convicting Arriola as there seemed to be no showing that the evidence might


have been altered.
The position of Arriola that the prosecution failed to discuss in detail the
different links in the chain as to the transfer of hands of the evidence will not
necessarily render said evidence to be incompetent to convict Arriola for the
crime of sale of illegal drugs. It must be remembered that testimony about a
perfect chain is not always the standard as it is almost always impossible to
obtain an unbroken chain.24 As such, what is of utmost importance is the
preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized
items.25 The integrity of the evidence is presumed to be preserved, unless
there is a showing of bad faith, ill will, or proof that the evidence has been
tampered. Besides, all that Arriola did in her supplemental brief was make a
general allegation that prosecution failed to observe the chain of custody rule
without pinpointing the exact link or links that may have been compromised
to bring doubt to the integrity of the evidence.
So, in this case, Arriola has the burden to show that the evidence was
tampered or meddled with to overcome a presumption of regularity in the
handling of exhibits by public officers, as well as a presumption that said
public officers properly discharged their duties.26 Resultantly, since she failed
to discharge such burden, it cannot be disputed that the drugs seized from
her were the same ones examined in the crime laboratory. The prosecution,
therefore, established the crucial link in the chain of custody of the seized
drugs.27
Finally, Arriola raised the issue of the prosecutions non-compliance with the
requirements of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165, particularly the fact that the
buy-bust operation was conducted without the proper coordination or
clearance with the PDEA or with the barangay authorities of the place where
the operation was made. This supposition is misguided.
In the case of People v. Roa,28 the Court explained that the requirement of
coordination with the PDEA with respect to a buy-bust operation is not
indispensable. In said case, it said:
In the first place, coordination with the PDEA is not an indispensable
requirement before police authorities may carry out a buy-bust operation.
While it is true that Section 86 of Republic Act No. 9165 requires the National
Bureau of Investigation, PNP and the Bureau of Customs to maintain "close

coordination with the PDEA on all drug-related matters," the provision does
not, by so saying, make PDEA's participation a condition sine qua nonfor
every buy-bust operation. After all, a buy-bust is just a form of an
in flagrante arrest sanctioned by Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of the
Court, which police authorities may rightfully resort to in apprehending
violators of Republic Act No. 9165 in support of the PDEA. A buy-bust
operation is not invalidated by mere non-coordination with the PDEA.
WHEREFORE, the August 14, 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals, in CAG.R. CR-HC. NO. 02870 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 180177

April 18, 2012

ROGELIO S. REYES, Petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The burden rests in the Prosecution to see to it that the evidence of guilt
satisfies the standard of moral certainty demanded in all criminal
prosecutions. The standard demands that all the essential elements of the
offense are established as to leave no room for any doubt about the guilt of
the accused. The courts should unfailingly impose the standard in order to
prevent injustice from being perpetrated against the accused.
Under review is the decision promulgated on September 28, 2007 by the
Court of Appeals (CA),1 whereby the CA affirmed the conviction of petitioner
by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 2, in Manila2 for violations of
Section 5 and Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 (The
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).
Antecedents
On February 23, 2005, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila filed two
informations charging petitioner with illegal sale of shabu and illegal

possession of shabu defined and punished, respectively, by Sections 5 and


11 of R.A. No. 9165,3 to wit:
Criminal Case No. 05234564
That on or about January 20, 2005, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said
accused, not being been (sic) authorized by law to sell, trade, deliver or give
away to another any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and knowingly sell One (1) heat sealed transparent plastic sachet containing
zero point zero two two (0.022) gram, of white crystalline substance known
as "SHABU" containing methylamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a
dangerous drug.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4
Criminal Case No. 05234565
That on or about January 20, 2005, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said
accused, not being then authorized by law to possess any dangerous drug,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession
and under his custody and control One (1) heat sealed transparent plastic
sachet containing zero point zero two four (0.024) gram of white crystalline
substance known as "SHABU" containing methylamphetamine hydrochloride,
a dangerous drug.
CONTRARY TO LAW.5
After petitioner pled not guilty, trial ensued. The summary of the evidence of
the parties adduced at trial follows.
In the morning of January 20, 2005, a lady confidential informant went to the
Police Station 8 of the Western Police District to report on the drug-dealing
activities of a certain alias Boy (later identified as petitioner) on M. Mapa
Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila.6 A buy-bust team of ten members,7 including PO2
Erwin Payumo as designated poseur-buyer,8 was formed. PO2 Payumo then
prepared the necessary documents prior to the operation. 9
From the police station, the lady confidential informant called petitioner by
phone. The latter instructed her to wait on M. Mapa Street. 10 Thus, the buybust team proceeded to that area and arrived at around 4:20 p.m. of January

20, 2005.11 PO2 Payumo and the lady confidential informant arrived together
to wait for petitioner. The rest of the buy-bust team, who had gone to the area
on board an L300 van,12 took positions nearby. Petitioner came by five
minutes later,13 and, after asking the lady confidential informant whether PO2
Payumo was the buyer, instructed Payumo to follow him to his house where
he told PO2 Payumo to wait. Two other individuals, later identified as
Conchita Carlos and Jeonilo Flores, were also waiting for petitioner.14
Upon getting back, petitioner asked PO2 Payumo for the payment, 15 and the
latter complied and handed the marked money consisting of three P50.00
bills all bearing the initials "TF".16 Petitioner then went into a room and
returned with a plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance that he
gave to PO2 Payumo. Receiving the plastic sachet, PO2 Payumo placed a
missed call to PO1 Miguelito Gil, a member of the buy-bust team, thereby
giving the pre-arranged signal showing that the transaction was completed.
PO2 Payumo then arrested petitioner after identifying himself as an officer.
PO2 Payumo recovered another sachet containing white crystalline
substance from petitioners right hand, and the marked money from
petitioners right front pocket.17 The rest of the buy-bust team meanwhile
came around and recovered two sachets also containing white crystalline
substance from the sofa where Conchita and Jeonilo were sitting. The buybust team thus also arrested Conchita and Jeonilo. 18
Back at the police station, PO2 Payumo placed on the plastic sachet that
petitioner had handed him the marking "RRS-1" and on the other sachet
recovered from petitioners right hand the marking "RRS-2." 19 The seized
items were thereafter turned over to the Western Police District Crime
Laboratory for examination by P/Insp. Judycel Macapagal, who found the
items positive for methampethamine hydrochloride or shabu. 20
On the other hand, petitioner denied that there had been a buy-bust
operation, and claimed that he had been framed up.
Petitioner testified that he was at his house entertaining his visitors Conchita
and Jeonilo in the afternoon of January 20, 2005; 21 that Conchita was selling
to him a sofa bed for P800.00, while Jeonilo was only contracted by Conchita
to drive the jeepney carrying the sofa bed;22 that the three of them were
surprised when a group of armed men in civilian clothes barged into his
house and conducted a search, and arrested them; that he was also
surprised to see a plastic sachet when the armed men emptied his pocket;

that the plastic sachet did not belong to him;23 that PO2 Payumo was not
among those who entered and searched his house; 24 that the three of them
were made to board a van where PO1 Rudolf Mijares demanded P30,000.00
for his release;25 and that because he told them he had no money to give to
them, one of the men remarked: Sige, tuluyan na yan; and that they were
then brought to the police station.26
Jeonilo corroborated petitioners story.27
Ruling of the RTC
As stated, on May 23, 2006, the RTC found petitioner guilty beyond
reasonable doubt, to wit:
Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the members of the buybust team were inspired by any improper motive or were not properly
performing their duty, their testimonies with respect to the operation deserve
full faith and credit.
However like alibi, we view the defense of frame up with disfavor as it can
easily be concocted and is commonly used as a standard line of defense in
most prosecution arising from violations of the Dangerous Drugs Acts.

"A police officer or private person, without warrant, may arrest a person:
(a) when, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; xxx
"It has been held that the testimonies of police officers involved in a buy-bust
operation deserve full faith and credit, given the presumption that they have
performed their duties regularly. This presumption can be overturned if clear
and convincing evidence is presented to prove either two things: (1) that they
were not properly performing their duty, or (2) that they were inspired by any
improper motive." (People of the Philippines vs. Reynaldo Remarata et al.,
G.R. No. 147230, April 29, 2003)
The positive identification of appellants by the prosecution witness should
prevail over the formers denials of the commission of the crime for which
they are charged, since greater weight is generally accorded to the positive
testimony of the prosecution witness than the accuseds denial. Denial, like
alibi, is inherently a weak defense and cannot prevail over the positive and
credible testimony of the prosecution witness that the accused committed the
crime. (People of the Philippines vs. Edwin Belibet, Manny Banoy and
Ronnie Rosero, G.R. No. 91260, July 25, 1991) 28
The dispositive portion of the decision of the RTC reads:

Having established that a legitimate buy-bust operation occurred in the case


at bar, there can now be no question as to the guilt of the accused-appellant.
Such operation has been considered as an effective mode of apprehending
drug pushers. If carried out with due regard to the constitutional and legal
safeguards, it deserves judicial sanction." (People of the Philippines vs.
Lowell Saludes, et al., G.R. No. 144157, June 10, 2003)
The accused failed to show any ill motive on the part of the policeman to
testify falsely against him. Indeed, the prosecution showed that the police
were at the place of the incident to do exactly what they are supposed to do
to conduct an operation. The portrayal put forward by accused and his lone
witness remained uncorroborated. Evidence to be believed must not only
come from a credible witness but must in itself be credible.
The entrapment operation paved the way for the valid warrantless arrest of
accused, Sec. 5(a) of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court provides thus:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows, to wit:


1. In Criminal Case No. 05-234564, finding accused, Rogelio Reyes
y Samson, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged,
he is hereby sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay the fine of
P500,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency
and to pay the costs.
2. In Criminal Case No. 05-234565, finding accused, Rogelio Reyes
y Samson, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged,
he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 12
years and 1 day as minimum to 17 years and 4 months as maximum;
to pay a fine of P300,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case
of insolvency and to pay the costs.

The specimens are forfeited in favor of the government and the Branch Clerk
of Court, accompanied by the Branch Sheriff, is directed to turn over with
dispatch and upon receipt the said specimen to the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for proper disposal in accordance with the law
and rules.

Petitioner wants the Court to give credence to his defense of frame-up, and
to believe the testimony of Jeonilo Flores who had no reason to testify falsely
against the arresting officers.

SO ORDERED.29

The appeal is meritorious.

With his motion for reconsideration being denied by the RTC, petitioner filed
his notice of appeal.30

In this jurisdiction, we convict the accused only when his guilt is established
beyond reasonable doubt. Conformably with this standard, we are mandated
as an appellate court to sift the records and search for every error, though
unassigned in the appeal, in order to ensure that the conviction is warranted,
and to correct every error that the lower court has committed in finding guilt
against the accused.32

Ruling of the CA
On appeal, the CA affirmed the findings of the RTC thuswise:
A fortiori, viewed in the light of the foregoing, We are strongly convinced that
the prosecution has proven the guilt of the Appellant for the crimes charged
beyond reasonable doubt.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Appeal is DENIED. The
challenged Decision of the court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.31
The CA gave more weight to the testimony of poseur buyer PO2 Payumo,
and believed the findings of the laboratory examination conducted by P/Insp.
Macapagal. It recognized the validity of the buy-bust operation.
Issue
Petitioner is now before the Court seeking to reverse the decision of the CA
upon the sole error that:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN NOT FINDING WORTHY OF CREDENCE PETITIONERS
WITNESS TESTIMONY CREATING DOUBT ON THE GUILT OF THE
PETITIONER OF THE CRIME CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION.

Ruling

Guided by the standard, we acquit petitioner.


The buy-bust operation mounted against petitioner resulted from the tip of an
unnamed lady confidential informant. Such an operation, according to People
v. Garcia,33 was "susceptible to police abuse, the most notorious of which is
its use as a tool for extortion," and the possibility of that abuse was
great.34 The susceptibility to abuse of the operation led to the institution of
several procedural safeguards by R.A. No. 9165, mainly to guide the law
enforcers. Thus, the State must show a faithful compliance with such
safeguards during the prosecution of every drug-related offense. 35
The procedural safeguards start with the requirements prescribed by Section
21 of R.A. No. 9165 relating to the custody and disposition of the confiscated,
seized, and surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of the dangerous
drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments and
paraphernalia, and laboratory equipment. The provision relevantly states:
Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or
Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs,
Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia
and/or Laboratory Equipment. xxx:
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the
drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically
inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or

the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or
his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be
required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof; xxx
(Emphasis supplied)
This appeal involves two distinct drug-related offenses, namely: illegal sale of
dangerous drugs, and illegal possession of dangerous drugs. The successful
prosecution of illegal sale of dangerous drugs requires: (a) proof that the
transaction or sale took place, and (b) the presentation in court as evidence
of the corpus delicti, or the dangerous drugs themselves. On the other hand,
the prosecution of illegal possession of dangerous drugs necessitates the
following facts to be proved, namely: (a) the accused was in possession of
dangerous drugs, (b) such possession was not authorized by law, and (c) the
accused was freely and consciously aware of being in possession of
dangerous drugs.36 For both offenses, it is crucial that the Prosecution
establishes the identity of the seized dangerous drugs in a way that the
integrity thereof has been well preserved from the time of seizure or
confiscation from the accused until the time of presentation as evidence in
court. Nothing less than a faithful compliance with this duty is demanded of
all law enforcers arresting drug pushers and drug possessors and
confiscating and seizing the dangerous drugs and substances from them.
This duty of seeing to the integrity of the dangerous drugs and substances is
discharged only when the arresting law enforcer ensures that the chain of
custody is unbroken. This has been the reason for defining chain of custody
under Section 1(b) of the Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series
of 2002, viz:
(b) "Chain of custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements
and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of
dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of
seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping
to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and
custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the
person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and
time when such transfer or custody were made in the course of
safekeeping and used in court as evidence, and the final disposition;
(Emphasis supplied)

In Mallilin v. People,37 the need to maintain an unbroken chain of custody is


emphasized:
As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires
that the admission of an exhibit be preceded by evidence sufficient to support
a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to be. It
would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the
item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that
every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom it
was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness
possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which
it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then
describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in
the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to
have possession of the same.
While testimony about a perfect chain is not always the standard because it
is almost always impossible to obtain, an unbroken chain of custody
becomes indispensable and essential when the item of real evidence is not
distinctive and is not readily identifiable, or when its condition at the time of
testing or trial is critical, or when a witness has failed to observe its
uniqueness. The same standard likewise obtains in case the evidence is
susceptible to alteration, tampering, contamination and even substitution and
exchange. In other words, the exhibits level of susceptibility to fungibility,
alteration or tamperingwithout regard to whether the same is advertent or
otherwise notdictates the level of strictness in the application of the chain
of custody rule.
Cogently, Mallilin v. People is reiterated in Catuiran v. People, 38 People v.
Garcia,39 and People v. Villanueva,40among others.
Here, the Prosecution failed to demonstrate a faithful compliance by the
arresting lawmen of the rule on chain of custody. To start with, the fact that
the dangerous drugs were inventoried and photographed at the site of arrest
upon seizure in the presence of petitioner, a representative of the media, a
representative of the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
official, was not shown. As such, the arresting lawmen did not at all comply
with the further requirement to have the attending representative of the
media, representative of the DOJ, and elected public official sign the
inventory and be furnished a copy each of the inventory. Instead, the records

show that PO2 Payumo placed the markings of "RRS-1" on the sachet
allegedly received from petitioner and "RRS-2" on the two sachets allegedly
seized from petitioners hand already at the police station with only petitioner
present. Yet, the Prosecution did not also present any witness to establish
that an inventory of the seized articles at least signed by petitioner at that
point was prepared.
We clarified in People v. Sanchez41 that in compliance with Section 21 of R.A.
No. 9165, supra, the physical inventory and photographing of the seized
articles should be conducted, if practicable, at the place of seizure or
confiscation in cases of warrantless seizure. But that was true only if there
were indications that petitioner tried to escape or resisted arrest, which might
provide the reason why the arresting team was not able to do the inventory
or photographing at petitioners house; otherwise, the physical inventory and
photographing must always be immediately executed at the place of seizure
or confiscation.
In People v. Pringas,42 the non-compliance by the buy-bust team with Section
21, supra, was held not to be fatal for as long as there was justifiable ground
for it, and for as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the
confiscated or seized articles were properly preserved by the apprehending
officer or team. The Court further pronounced therein that such noncompliance would not render an accuseds arrest illegal or the items seized
or confiscated from him inadmissible, for what was of utmost importance was
the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized or
confiscated articles, considering that they were to be utilized in the
determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused.
However, the omissions noted herein indicated that the State did not
establish the identity of the dangerous drugs allegedly seized from petitioner
with the same exacting certitude required for a finding of guilt.
To be sure, the buy-bust operation was infected by lapses. Although PO2
Payumo declared that he was the one who had received the sachet of shabu
("RRS-1") from petitioner and who had confiscated the two sachets of shabu
("RRS-2") from petitioner, all of which he had then sealed, nothing more to
support the fact that the evidence thus seized had remained intact was
adduced. In fact, the State did not anymore establish to whom the seized
articles had been endorsed after PO2 Payumo had placed the markings at
the station, and with whose custody or safekeeping the seized articles had

remained until their endorsement to P/Insp. Macapagal for the laboratory


examination. Presently, we cannot justifiably presume that the seized articles
had remained in the possession of PO2 Payumo in view of the testimony of
P/Insp. Macapagal to the effect that the party requesting the laboratory
examination had been a certain Police Officer Alano,43 whom the Prosecution
did not at all particularly identify or present as its witness. In this regard,
Laboratory Report No. D-085-05,44 the report prepared by P/Insp.
Macapagal, also stated that the party requesting the conduct of the
laboratory examination was the "OIC-SAID-SOTU, PS-8, Western Police
District." Also, the Prosecution did not show to whom the seized articles had
been turned over following the conduct of the laboratory examination, and
how the seized articles had been kept in a manner that preserved their
integrity until their final presentation in court as evidence of the corpus delicti.
Such lapses of the Prosecution were fatal to its proof of guilt because they
demonstrated that the chain of custody did not stay unbroken, thereby raising
doubt on the integrity and identity of the dangerous drugs as evidence of the
corpus delicti of the crimes charged.
We are then not surprised to detect other grounds for skepticism about the
evidence of guilt.
Firstly, PO2 Payumo testified that the lady confidential informant had gone to
Police Station 8 to report the alleged drug-selling activities of petitioner for
the first time in the morning of January 20, 2005. That report led to the
forming of the buy-bust team,45 for purposes of which he prepared the preoperation documents. His veracity was suspect, however, considering that
his so-called Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet appeared to have been
prepared on the day before, as its date "January 19, 2005" disclosed. 46 The
date of January 19, 2005 also appeared in the Certification of Coordination
issued by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in reference to the buybust operation against petitioner.47 Considering that the Prosecution did not
explain the discrepancy, the impression is unavoidable that the buy-bust
operation was already set in motion even before the lady informant actually
made her report against petitioner. Thereby, his defense of frame-up was
bolstered.
Secondly, the Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet indicated that there were
ten members "and three (3) others" that comprised the buy-bust team. 48 Yet,
the Joint Affidavit submitted by the members of the buy-bust team was
executed and signed by only six officers (excluding even poseur buyer PO2

Payumo himself), namely: PO1 Mijares, PO1 Mark Dave Vicente, PO1
Maurison Ablaza, PO1 Elmer Clemente and PO1 Gil.49 The Prosecutions
failure to explain why only six members of the buy-bust team actually
executed and signed the Joint Affidavit might indicate that the incrimination of
petitioner through the buy-bust operation was probably not reliable.1wphi1

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appelle,


vs.
CATALINO DULAY y CADIENTE, Accused-Appellant.

And, thirdly, both the Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet and the Certification


of Coordination revealed that the confidential information received involved
two suspects of illegal drug trade in Bacood, Sta. Mesa known as alias Boy
and alias Totoy Tinga. PO2 Payumo recalled, however, that the lady
confidential informant had tipped the police off only about alias Boy. It seems
from such selectiveness that PO2 Payumo deliberately omitted the other
target and zeroed in only on alias Boy (petitioner), which might suggest that
PO2 Payumo was not as reliable as a poseur buyer-witness as he presented
himself to be.1wphi1

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

Conviction must stand on the strength of the Prosecutions evidence, not on


the weakness of the defense the accused put up.50 Evidence proving the guilt
of the accused must always be beyond reasonable doubt. If the evidence of
guilt falls short of this requirement, the Court will not allow the accused to be
deprived of his liberty. His acquittal should come as a matter of course.
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision
promulgated on September 28, 2007 by the Court of Appeals; and ACQUITS
accused ROGELIO S. REYES of the crimes charged in Criminal Case No.
05-234564 and Criminal Case No. 05-234565.

DECISION

This is an appeal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.H.C. No. 02342 dated April 18, 2008, which affirmed the Decision 2 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati finding accused-appellant Catalino
Dulay y Cadiente guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Sections 5
and 15, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Two Informations were filed against accused-appellant, charging him with
violations of Section 5 (Criminal Case No. 03-3799) and Section 15 (Criminal
Case No. 03-4000), respectively, of Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. The
Information charging accused-appellant of violation of Section 5 states:
That on or about the 23rd day of September, 2003, in the City of Makati,
Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, without the necessary license or prescription and
without being authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously sell, deliver and give awayP100.00 worth of Methylamphetamine
Hydrochloride (Shabu) weighing zero point zero two (0.02) gram and zero
point zero two (0.02) gram, a dangerous drug. 3

The Court DIRECTS the Director of the Bureau of Corrections in Muntinlupa


City to release ROGELIO S. REYES from custody unless he is detained
thereat for another lawful cause; and to report on his compliance herewith
within five days from receipt.

On arraignment, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge in


Criminal Case No. 03-3799, but pleaded guilty to the charge of drug use in
Criminal Case No. 03-4000.

No pronouncements on costs of suit.

As stated in the Pre-Trial Order, the parties stipulated:

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 188345

1. That these cases were investigated by PO3 Conrado Mapili;


December 10, 2012

2. That after the investigation by PO3 Conrado Mapili, he prepared


the Final Investigation Report;

3. That the Drug Enforcement Unit [DEU] through SPO4 Arsenio


Mangulabnan made a Request for Laboratory Examination;
4. That the PNP Crime Laboratory through Police Inspector Karen
Palacios conducted an examination on the specimen submitted;
5. That [the] Physical Science Report was issued by the PNP Crime
Laboratory Office detailing the findings of the Forensic Chemist; and

cigarette. PO1 Robles and Barbosa rushed to the place of the transaction.
They introduced themselves as narcotic operatives. They arrested alas "Lino"
(TSN dated 3/3/05, pp. 16-17). It was PO1 Robles who informed the accused
of his constitutional rights. Jose Guadamor, the poseur buyer marked the
sachets of shabu with "CDC" the initials of the accused at the place of
operation (TSN dated 3/3/05, p. 18). After the arrest, the accused was
brought to the DEU where a complaint was filed against him. Thereafter, the
accused was brought to Fort Bonifacio, Taguig for drug test of the accused
and laboratory examination of the subject of sale." 5

6. The qualification of the Forensic Chemist.4


The prosecution presented three witnesses: (1) Police Officer (PO) 1
Dominador Robles, who was the team leader of the buy-bust operation; (2)
PO1 Jose Guadamor of the Makati Anti-Drug Abuse Council (MADAC), who
was the poseur-buyer; and (3) PO1 Francisco Barbosa, also from the
MADAC, who was a back-up. Culled from their testimonies, the trial court
summarized the facts into the following narrative:
A buy-bust operation was conducted against accused Catalino Dulay on
September 23, 2003 at around 5:45 pm due to a report given by an informant
to Bgy. Capt. Del Prado at the office of MADAC Cluster 3. The report was
about the illegal drug-selling activity of the accused Catalino Dulay at Mabini
Street, Barangay Poblacion Makati City. After receiving said report, Brgy.
Capt. Del Prado coordinated with the Makati Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU).
The DEU sent PO1 Dominador Robles to the Barangay Hall of Barangay Sta.
Cruz. PO1 Robles conducted a briefing of the buy-bust team. Jose
Guadamor was designated as the poseur buyer. PO1 Robles as team leader,
provided Guadamor with the two hundred pesos buy bust money. PO1
Robles coordinated the operation with the PDEA. After the briefing the buybust team accompanied by the informant proceeded to the place of operation
after the briefing. The poseur buyer and the informant saw alias "Lino"
standing along Mabini Street, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City. The poseur buyer
and the informant approached the accused. The informant introduced the
poseur buyer to alias "Lino", "Ito si Jojo, nangangailangan ng shabu." (TSN
dated 3/3/05, p. 4). The accused asked the poseur buyer how much is he
going to buy. The poseur buyer replied, "Tapatan mo itong dos ko." (TSN
dated 3/3/05, p. 14). The poseur buyer handed to the accused the two
hundred pesos buy bust money and the accused drew from his right pocket,
two plastic sachets and handed it to the poseur buyer. The poseur buyer took
the two plastic sachets and gave the prearranged signal by lighting a

Physical Science Report No. D-1174-03S,6 prepared and submitted by


P/Insp. Karen Palacios, the Philippine National Police (PNP) forensic analyst
who examined the specimens, showed that the seized specimens tested
positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride.
The defense presented the accused-appellant as its lone witness. The Court
of Appeals condensed his testimony in this wise:
In defense, accused Catalino Dulay denied having sold shabu when he was
arrested. He claimed that on September 23, 2003, at about 4:30 to 5:30
[p.m.], he was sleeping when his wife woke him up because someone was
knocking at the door. He then went to the door and asked those knocking
who they were and what was their purpose. Two of the three men asked the
accused if he was Allan, but receiving a negative answer, the men
immediately held his hands, dragged him out of the house and boarded him
into a Toyota Revo. Accused was brought first to the barangay headquarters
where he was asked from whom he was getting shabu, and then to Drug
Enforcement Unit where he was investigated and shown two (2) plastic
sachets. Accused also claimed that his money amounting to P200.00 in two
one-peso bills was taken from his wallet and these same two-peso bills were
the ones marked as "C-3" at the barangay headquarters. He further claimed
that he was framed-up by MADAC operatives Rogelio Milan and Kuntil
Domingo, an asset of the MADAC, with whom he quarreled three days
before his arrest.7
On June 16, 2006, the Regional Trial Court of Makati City rendered its
Decision on the two charges as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is rendered as follows:

1. In Criminal Case No. 03-3799 the accused CATALINO DULAY y


CADIENTE alias "Lino" is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of violation of Section 5, Art. II, RA 9165 and sentenced to suffer the penalty
of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00. The period during
which the accused was detained shall be considered in his favor pursuant to
existing rules.
2. In Criminal Case No. 03-4000, the accused having pleaded guilty to the
charge of violation of Section 15, Art. II, RA 9165, is sentenced to undergo
rehabilitation for at least six (6) months in a government rehabilitation center
under the auspices of the Bureau of Correction subject to the provisions of
Article VIII of RA 9165.
The Branch Clerk of Court is directed to transmit to the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA) the two pieces of plastic sachets of shabu with
a combined weight of 0.04 gram subject matter of Criminal Case No. 033799 for said agencys appropriate disposition.8
Accused-appellant elevated the case to the Court of Appeals via a Notice of
Appeal.9 On April 18, 2008, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed
Decision affirming the convictions.
Accused-appellant instituted the present recourse through a Notice of
Appeal. 10 Both plaintiff-appellee, through the Office of the Solicitor
General,11 and the accused-appellant12 manifested that they were dispensing
with the filing of a Supplemental Brief, as they had exhaustively argued the
issues in their respective briefs before the Court of Appeals.
In the above-mentioned brief of the accused-appellant, he submitted a lone
assignment of error:
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED
GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED NOTWITHSTANDING THE FAILURE
OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT.13

where the alleged transaction took place. Accused-appellant likewise point


out the failure of the prosecution to present the informant to corroborate the
testimonies of the police officers.
Accused-appellant, however, did not have much to say about the testimony
of the poseur-buyer himself, PO1 Guadamor, who was able to give a
complete account of the transaction, from his introduction as a buyer to the
accused-appellant by the informant, his handing to the accused-appellant of
the payment for the two plastic sachets containing white crystalline
substance, which the latter drew from his pocket and handed to him, and up
to the eventual arrest of the accused-appellant and the marking of the
confiscated items.14
It is significant to reiterate at this point that it is the trial court which is
deemed to be in a better position to decide the question of credibility of PO1
Guadamor, as well as those of the other witnesses, since it had the
opportunity to observe the witnesses manner of testifying, their furtive
glances, calmness, sighs and the scant or full realization of their oath. 15 The
trial court found PO1 Guadamor to be credible, and our examination of his
testimony does not give us any reason to find otherwise. As we have often
repeated, the trial courts evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses is
entitled to the highest respect absent a showing that it overlooked,
misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and
substance that would affect the result of the case. 16
Whatever defect that may have been caused by the failure of PO1 Barbosa
to identify the accused-appellant in court was cured by the testimony of
accused-appellant himself that PO1 Barbosa was part of the arresting team:
ATTY. YU
Did you recognize any of the three arresting officer at that time?
WITNESS
Yes, maam.

Accused-appellant claims that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt on account of the failure of PO1 Barbosa to identify him at
the trial, and the unreliability of the testimonies of PO1 Robles and PO1
Barbosa on account of their distance of ten to fifteen meters from the place

ATTY. YU
Who are they?

WITNESS
One of them is a tricycle driver who is also a MADAC operative.
ATTY. YU
What about the other two?
WITNESS
Francisco Barbosa, Jose Guadamor, and Rogelio Milan.17
The necessity of asking the witness to identify the accused in court is for the
purpose of being able to pinpoint said accused to be the very same person
referred to in the testimony. As regards the testimony of PO1 Barbosa, it has
to be established that accused-appellant was the very same person that was
arrested by the team which includes PO1 Barbosa at around 5:20 p.m. on
September 23, 2003. Having himself affirmed his own arrest at the hands of
the group of PO1 Barbosa on the same date and time, accused-appellant
cannot now assert that he was not the person referred to in PO1 Barbosas
testimony.
Furthermore, accused-appellant was, in fact, positively identified in court by
PO1 Robles and the poseur-buyer himself, PO1 Guadamor. Accusedappellants persistent assertion that PO1 Robles and PO1 Barbosa were too
far at ten to fifteen meters away from the scene of the alleged transaction
does not disprove their ability to positively identify accusedappellant, as they
have testified that they eventually went closer to the scene when PO1
Guadamor gave the signal. Neither was the proximity of PO1 Robles and
PO1 Barbosa relevant to prove the details of the transaction since their
account was merely to corroborate the already convincing testimony of PO1
Guadamor.
Accused-appellant further points out that the prosecution failed to present the
informant in court, alleging that the same was necessary to corroborate the
testimony of PO1 Guadamor, since it was only the informant and PO1
Guadamor who witnessed the actual transaction.

We disagree. It is settled that the identity or testimony of the informant is not


indispensable in drugs cases, since his testimony would only corroborate that
of the poseur-buyer.18 Also, it is undeniably established in jurisprudence that:
We have repeatedly held that it is up to the prosecution to determine who
should be presented as witnesses on the basis of its own assessment of their
necessity. After all, the testimony of a single witness, if trustworthy and
reliable, or if credible and positive, would be sufficient to support a conviction.
Moreover, in determining values and credibility of evidence, witnesses are to
be weighed, not numbered.19 (Citations omitted.)
Furthermore, informants are often not presented in court in order to preserve
their cover and continue to be of service as such. Their lives may also be
placed in danger if they testify in court. Thus, in People v. Ho Chua,20 we
held:
The presentation of an informant is not a requisite in the prosecution of drug
cases. In People v. Nicolas, the Court ruled that "[p]olice authorities rarely, if
ever, remove the cloak of confidentiality with which they surround their
poseur-buyers and informers since their usefulness will be over the moment
they are presented in court. Moreover, drug dealers do not look kindly upon
squealers and informants. It is understandable why, as much as permitted,
their identities are kept secret." In any event, the testimony of the informant
would be merely corroborative. (Citations omitted.)
For the crime of use of dangerous drugs in Criminal Case No. 03- 4000, the
accused-appellant, who pleaded guilty to this offense, was sentenced to
undergo rehabilitation for at least six months in a government rehabilitation
center under the auspices of the Bureau of Correction. This is proper,
pursuant to Section 15, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, which provides:
SEC. 15. Use of Dangerous Drugs. A person apprehended or arrested,
who is found to be positive for use of any dangerous drug, after a
confirmatory test, shall be imposed a penalty of a minimum of six (6) months
rehabilitation in a government center for the first offense, subject to the
provisions of Article VIII of this Act. If apprehended using any dangerous drug
for the second time, he/she shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging
from six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years and a fine ranging
from Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) to Two hundred thousand pesos
(P200,000.00): Provided, That this Section shall not be applicable where the

person tested is also found to have in his/her possession such quantity of


any dangerous drug provided for under Section 11 of this Act, in which case
the provisions stated therein shall apply.1wphi1
In Criminal Case No. 03-3799, for the crime of illegal sale of a dangerous
drug, the trial court imposed the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine
of P500,000.00. Accused-appellant respectfully pleads21 to this Court to
reduce this penalty on account of the very small quantity involved in the
case, which was only 0.04 gram of methylamphetamine hydrochloride. As
much as this Court desires to temper justice with mercy whenever warranted
by the circumstances of the case, we are restrained by the plain and
unambiguous text of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, which
provides:
SEC. 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution
and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and
Essential Chemicals. - The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine
ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million
pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless
authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to
another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug,
including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the quantity
and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.
(Emphasis added.)
We are therefore constrained to affirm the penalty imposed by the trial
court in toto.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C.
No. 02342 dated April 18, 2008, which affirmed the Decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Makati finding accused-appellant Catalino Dulay y Cadiente
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Sections 5 and 15, Article II of
Republic Act No. 9165 is herebyAFFIRMED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 189277

December 05, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
RICARDO REMIGIO y ZAPANTA, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
For review through this appeal 1 is the Decision2 dated 29 May 2009 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03169 which affirmed the
conviction of herein accused-appellant RICARDO REMIGIO y ZAP ANT A for
illegal sale of dangerous drugs in violation of Section 5, Article 113 and illegal
possession of dangerous drugs in violation of Section 11, Article II 4 of
Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of
2002.
The factual rendition of the prosecution as presented by its only witness PO2
Romelito Ramos (PO2 Ramos), a member of the Cainta Police Station,
follows:
PO2 Ramos testified that on 17 April 2003 at about six oclock in the evening,
while giving assistance to the devotees going to Antipolo City in the corner of
General Ricarte Street and Ortigas Avenue, Cainta, Rizal, one of the police
informants named Angel approached and told him that an Alyas Footer was
somewhere in the store near General Ricarte Street. 5 Immediately, PO2
Ramos informed his Deputy Chief of Police, Colonel Bagtas (Col. Bagtas) for
the conduct of a buy-bust operation. At that time, there were about seven to
eight police officers in the area also giving assistance to the devotees. 6 Col.
Bagtas so ordered that such operation be done with PO2 Ramos as the
poseur-buyer.7 PO2 Ramos prepared the One Hundred Peso bill (P100.00)
to be used as marked money in the operation. He put his initials, RDR, on
the face of the bill.8
Having told the informant Angel that they will conduct a buy-bust operation,
the policeman and Angel proceeded to the store in General Ricarte Street
where Alyas Footer was.9 Angel approached Alyas Footer first and PO2
Ramos waited for his signal from a distance of more or less ten arms
length.10 After Angel and Alyas Footer talked for a while, Angel called PO2
Ramos to come forward. Upon approaching, PO2 Ramos immediately told
Alyas Footer,"[p]are paiskor ng piso."11 This meant One Hundred Pesos

worth of illegal drugs.12 Alyas Footer, prompted by the question, took a


sachet of shabu from his pocket and handed it over to PO2 Ramos. PO2
Ramos then handed the marked money to Alyas Footer as payment. 13
After the transaction, PO2 Ramos introduced himself as a policeman and
asked Alyas Footer to take out all the contents of his pocket. Alyas Footer
complied and brought out the One Hundred Peso bill marked money and
another plastic sachet of illegal drug.14 Three more sachets of illegal drugs
were found in the compartment of the motorcycle of the accused. He also
turned over his student drivers license to PO2 Ramos which indicated his
name as Remigio Zapanta.15 The name of the accused would later be
clarified by the prosecution through PO2 Ramos as referring to the same
person as the accused Ricardo Zapanta Remigio (Remigio).
The plastic sachets taken from Remigio were brought by PO2 Ramos to
Camp Crame for laboratory examination. He testified that he personally
transmitted the request for actual testing of the contents of the sachets to the
chemist.16
Towards the end of his direct examination, he identified the marked money
as the one used in the transaction and the picture of the motorcycle marked
as Exhibit "C" as the one possessed by Remigio when the buy-bust
operation was conducted.17
During his cross examination,18 PO2 Ramos admitted that the buybust
operation was recorded only after the arrest.19 He also revealed that he
already knew that there was a standing alias warrant against Remigio and
that they have been conducting surveillance against Remigio for some time
prior to the buy-bust operation.20 He also added that he was then wearing
civilian clothes unlike the other police officers visible in the area. 21
On the other hand, the factual version of the defense as presented by
accused Remigio is as follows:
He testified that at about seven oclock in the evening of 17 April 2003, he
was at Helens Best store in Ortigas Extension, Cainta, Rizal. 22 He said that
he rode his motorcycle going there and parked it in front of the store before
buying food.23 There were about six policemen in the area while he was in
front of the store.24

He thereafter described the conduct of his arrest.


PO2 Ramos, wearing his official uniform, together with an asset he knew by
the name of Angel, approached and told him to take the things out of his
pocket.25 PO2 Ramos then asked for his name in this manner, "ikaw ba si
Futter?"26 He replied that he is not the person. Just the same, he complied
and took out his keys and wallet from his pocket and gave them to PO2
Ramos.27 PO2 Ramos opened his wallet and was thereafter shown one (1)
plastic sachet of illegal drug which was allegedly taken from his wallet. 28 He
told them that the sachet did not belong to him but still was
handcuffed.29 PO2 Ramos then brought him together with Angel to the police
station at Karangalan Village on board a taxi. 30 His motorcycle was left in
front of the store after his arrest.31
Upon reaching the police station, one of the police officers there named
Oscar Soliven told him that forP20,000.00 the police would not file the case
for violation of Section 5 or illegal sale of dangerous drugs under R.A. No.
9165. He did not agree to the proposal and was detained at the station until
his inquest on 21 April 2003.32
Subjected to cross-examination, Remigio was questioned by the prosecution
regarding a previous arrest relative to dangerous drugs. He said that he was
just a suspect in that case and that he had filed a complaint against the
person who arrested him.33
A witness who was presented to corroborate the version of Remigio was
Nelia Diolata, his elementary school classmate. She testified that she went to
Helens Best store in General Ricarte St. and Ortigas Avenue to buy
food.34 There, she saw Remigio already waiting for the food he
bought.35 While leaving the store after she got her food, she heard someone
being asked if his name was Footer.36 She saw a uniformed police officer
asking the question. She was able to identify the policeman as "Ramos"
through his nameplate,37 as she was only two meters away from them.38 She
then heard Remigio answer composedly.39 She saw Remigio pull out his
wallet and a piece of paper which she recognized as registration paper of a
motor vehicle. Two more persons in civilian clothes approached PO2 Ramos
and Remigio. She thereafter turned her back and proceeded home. 40 Two
years after the arrest, she learned from Remigios mother that he was
arrested so she voluntarily offered to testify.41

Eventually, two sets of Information were filed as follows:

of P300,000.00 as provided for under Section 11, Par. (3) [o]f RA 9165. As
amended.46

For Criminal Case No. 03-25497 for illegal sale of dangerous drugs:
That on or about the 17th day of April 2003 in the Municipality of Cainta,
Province of Rizal, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused without being authorized by law, did, then
and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly sell, deliver and give away to
another 0.03 gram of white crystalline substance contained in one (1) heatsealed transparent plastic sachet which was found positive to the test for
Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, commonly known as "Shabu[,]" a
dangerous drug, in violation of the above-cited law.
CONTRARY TO LAW.42
For Criminal Case No. 03-25498 for possession of dangerous drugs:
That on or about the 17th day of April 2003 in the Municipality of Cainta,
Province of Rizal, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, not being lawfully authorized by law, did,
then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession,
direct custody and control 0.03 gram, 0.03 gram, 0.03 gram and 0.03 gram
with a total weight of 0.12 gram of white crystalline substance contained in
four (4) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets which were found positive to
the test for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, also known as "Shabu[,]" a
dangerous drug, in violation of the above-cited law.

Upon appeal, the accused-appellant argued that the trial court erred in
finding that the prosecution was able to prove the requisites of a buy-bust
operation.47 He doubted the entrapment operation as there was already an
existing warrant of arrest against him.48 Further, he emphasized the failure of
the prosecution to establish thecorpus delicti of the case as the five plastic
sachets allegedly containing dangerous drug were not presented in court.
What were presented were only pictures which do not prove that those in the
pictures were the same ones tested at the forensic laboratory.49 Finally, he
questioned the non-adherence to the procedures to establish the chain of
custody of evidence such as the marking of the five sachets of confiscated
drugs at the time and in the place where the accused was arrested. 50
The People, through the Office of the Solicitor General, stressed the legality
of a buy-bust operation.51 It relied on the presumption of regularity of
performance of police officers in fulfilling their duties, 52 and on the
prosecutions proof of all the elements of illegal sale of shabu.53
After review, the CA affirmed the ruling of the trial court with modification on
the penalty imposed. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the decision subject of the present
appeal is hereby AFFIRMED save for a modification in the penalty imposed
by the trial court. Accordingly, the accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer
life imprisonment and a fine of five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00).54

CONTRARY TO LAW.43
Upon arraignment on 29 May 2003, accused Remigio with the assistance of
his counsel, pleaded NOT GUILTY to the offenses charged against him. 44
Trial ensued and on 12 October 2007, the trial court 45 found the accused
guilty of the offenses charged against him. The disposition reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Ricardo Remigio is found
guilty of the offense charged in the Informations and is sentenced to
Reclusion Perpetua in Criminal Case No. 03-25497. In Criminal case No. 0325498, accused Ricardo Remigio is sentenced to suffer an Imprisonment of
Twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine

The appellate court gave great weight on the findings of facts of the trial court
and full credit to the presumption of regularity of performance of the arresting
officer Ramos. It discredited the argument of the defense of frame-up and
upheld the presence of the requisites to prove illegal sale of dangerous
drugs.55 No weight was given by the CA to the argument about noncompliance with the procedures laid down in Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 to
establish the chain of custody of evidence ruling that there was no taint in the
integrity of the evidentiary value of the seized items. 56
This appeal is moored on the contention about the break in the chain of
custody and the absence of identification of illegal drugs. 57 Appellant
capitalizes on the non-marking of the sachets allegedly recovered from his

wallet and compartment of his motorcycle, the non-preparation of an


inventory report, the absence of photographs of the arrest, and nonpresentation of the actual dangerous drugs before the court. The argument is
that without the requisite proof, there is insurmountable doubt whether the
sachets allegedly confiscated from him were the same ones delivered to the
forensic laboratory for examination,58 and then presented during the trial.
We agree fully with the accused-appellant.
In order to successfully prosecute an offense of illegal sale of dangerous
drugs, like shabu, the following elements must first be established: (1) the
identity of the buyer and the seller, the object and consideration of the sale;
and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor.59
On the other hand, a case of illegal possession of dangerous drugs will
prosper if the following elements are present: (1) the accused is in
possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2)
such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and
consciously possessed the drug.60
In both cases of illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs, it is
important for the prosecution to show the chain of custody over the
dangerous drug in order to establish the corpus delicti.61

emphasize the importance of the corpus delicti in drug charges, we have


held that it is essential that the prohibited drug confiscated or recovered from
the suspect is the very same substance offered in court as exhibit; and
that the identity of said drug be established with the same unwavering
exactitude as that requisite to make a finding of guilt.65
Thus, there are two indispensables. The illegal drug must be offered before
the court as exhibit and that which is exhibited must be the very same
substance recovered from the suspect. The needfulness of both was
stressed inPeople v. Lorena,66 where We, after reiterating the elements of the
crime of sale of illegal drug, proceeded to state that all these require
evidence that the sale transaction transpired coupled with the presentation in
court of the corpus delicti, i.e. the body or substance of the crime, which
in People v. Martinez,67 equates as simply inPeople v. Gutierrez,68 was
referred to as "the drug itself."
In this case, there is no corpus delicti.
The prosecution failed to present the drug itself in court; it relied only on the
pictures of the alleged drugs. Nowhere in the records is it shown that the
prosecution made any effort to present the very corpus delicti of the two drug
offenses. This is evident in the pertinent portions of the direct testimony of
PO2 Ramos:

Jurisprudence consistently pronounces that the dangerous drug itself


constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and the fact of its existence
is vital to a judgment of conviction.62 As such, the presentation in court of
thecorpus delicti the body or substance of the crime establishes the fact
that a crime has actually been committed.63

PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: May we request Your Honor that this picture be


marked as Exhibit "C" and another picture showing the whole body of
motorcycle be marked as Exhibit "C-1."

In this case, no illegal drug was presented as evidence before the trial court.
As pointed out by appellant, what were presented were pictures of the
supposedly confiscated items. But, in the current course of drugs case
decisions, a picture is not worth a thousand words.64 The image without the
thing even prevents the telling of a story.1wphi1 It is indispensable for the
prosecution to present the drug itself in court.

PUBLIC PROSECUTOR:

COURT: Mark them.

Q: Where is the coin purse here, Mister witness?


A: Witness pointing to white object.
Q: Where is the plastic sachet?

We have decided that in prosecutions involving narcotics, the narcotic


substance itself constitutes the corpus delicti of the offense and its existence
is vital to sustain a judgment of conviction beyond reasonable doubt. To

A: Witness pointing to other 3 white objects depicting (sic) in the picture.

PUBLIC PROSECUTOR:May we request Your Honor that this picture be


marked as Exhibit "C-2."69
As already above indicated, the vitalness in court of both the recovered
substance and the certainty that what was recovered from the accused is
that which is presented in evidence are underscored by the rule on the chain
of custody of evidence. Compliance with the chain of custody of evidence is
provided for in Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. We quote:
Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or
Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs,
Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia
and/or Laboratory Equipment. The PDEA shall take charge and have
custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled
precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia
and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for
proper disposition in the following manner:
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs
shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and
photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from
whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative
or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice
(DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies
of the inventory and be given a copy thereof;
xxxx
(8) Transitory Provision: a) Within twenty-four (24) hours from the effectivity
of this Act, dangerous drugs defined herein which are presently in
possession of law enforcement agencies shall, with leave of court, be burned
or destroyed, in the presence of representatives of the Court, DOJ,
Department of Health (DOH) and the accused/and or his/her counsel, and, b)
Pending the organization of the PDEA, the custody, disposition, and burning
or destruction of seized/surrendered dangerous drugs provided under this
Section shall be implemented by the DOH.
These requirements are substantially complied with through the proviso in
Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9165:

Sec. 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized and/or Surrendered


Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors
and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory
Equipment. The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous
drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential
chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory so
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for disposition in the following
manner:
(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the
drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory
and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s
from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her
representative or counsel, a representative from media and the Department
of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign
the copies of the inventory and be given copy thereof. Provided, that the
physical inventory and the photograph shall be conducted at the place where
the search warrant is served; or at least the nearest police station or at the
nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in
case of warrantless seizures;Provided, further, that non-compliance with
these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity
and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the
apprehending team/officer, shall not render void and invalid such
seizures of and custody over said items. (Emphasis supplied)
By definition,70 "chain of custody" means the duly recorded authorized
movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant
sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the
time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to
safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of
movements and custody of seized item shall include the identity and
signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the
date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of
safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition.
The case of People v. Kamad71 enumerates the different links that the
prosecution must prove in order to establish the chain of custody in a buybust operation, namely:

First, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug


recovered from the accused by the apprehending officer;

less a series of violations of the procedure in the conduct of buy-bust


operations.

Second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending


officer to the investigating officer;
Third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to
the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and

As testified by PO2 Ramos, he did not transfer the seized items to the
investigating officer. And nothing in the records reveals that there was such a
transfer. From his statements, he kept the alleged shabu from the time of
confiscation until the time he transferred them to the forensic chemist. We
quote:

Fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug


seized by the forensic chemist to the court.72

PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: Now, what happened to the plastic sachets of


alleged shabu which were taken from Alyas Footer?

We could have stopped at the point where the prosecution failed to present
the substance allegedly recovered from the appellant. The failure already
renders fatally flawed the decision of conviction. Indeed, an examination of
the chain of custody of the substance, without the substance itself, is
nonsensical. We, however, see more than an academic need for a
discussion of the concept of chain of custody. We want to depict the
carelessness, if not the brazen unlawfulness, of the law enforcers in the
implementation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. What
happened in this case is a one-man operation, seemingly towards the
objective of the law, but by means of outlawing those specifically outlined in
the statute, in the rules implementing the statute and in our decisions
interpreting law and rule. As testified to by the prosecutions sole witness,
PO2 Ramos, he was the one who conceived the operation; who, although
with his informant as the lone actor, conducted the operation by himself being
the poseur-buyer with a one hundred peso bill he himself pre-marked and
recorded in the police blotter only after the arrest. PO2 Ramos was himself
the apprehending officer who confiscated the sachets of illegal drugs
together with the wallet of the accused.
There was no showing when, where and how the seized plastic sachets were
marked. It was not shown that there was a marking of evidence at the place
of arrest or at the police station. It was unexplained why the five plastic
sachets containing white crystalline substance were already marked as
"RZR-1," "RZR-2," "RZR-3," "RZR-4" and "RZR-5" when transmitted to the
forensic chemist.
Already, the omission of the first link in the chain tainted the identification of
the drugs that was allegedly seized from the accused. What followed was no

A: It was brought to the Camp Crame laboratory for examination, Sir.


Q: If you know, Mister witness, who personally transmitted the request for
chemist and actual testing of said sachet of shabu.
A: Me, Sir.73
PO2 Ramos testified that he personally brought the seized items to the
forensic chemist. In further muddlement of the prosecutions evidence, in the
records of the Request for Laboratory Examination, a different person named
as PO2 Halim was indicated as having delivered the five pieces of heatsealed plastic sachets to the laboratory for examination. 74 No document or
testimony was offered to clarify who PO2 Halim is and what his participation
was in the chain of custody of the alleged illegal drug.
The failure to produce the corpus delicti in court cannot be remedied by the
stipulation regarding the forensic chemist.
Forensic Chemist Annalee Forro failed to testify in court regarding the result
of the qualitative examination of the substance in the sachets. The
prosecution proposed a stipulation about her findings. This was admitted by
the defense but with qualification. We quote the pertinent portions:
PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: I am offering the following for stipulations: that
Annalee Forro is a forensic chemist officer connected with the PNP Crime
Laboratory Service and that on April 18, 2003, she conducted the chemical
examination on the contents of the five plastic sachets with markings RZR-1
to RZR-5 and found the same to be positive for methamphetamine

hydrochloride, a dangerous drug and the name of the suspect as mentioned


in the information is Ricardo Remigio.
DEFENSE COUNSEL: Admitted with qualification that she merely copied the
name of the suspect on the request for laboratory examination delivered by
member of the Cainta Police Station.75
Proceeding from the vacuity of proof of identification of the supposedly
seized item and of the transfer of its custody, from the arresting officer to the
forensic chemist, no value can be given to the document that merely states
that the sachets presented to the forensic chemist contained prohibited
drugs.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The 29 May 2009 Decision of the


Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03169 affirming the judgment of
conviction dated 12 October 2007 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 73 of
Antipolo City in Criminal Case Nos. 03-25497 and 03- 25498 is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Ricardo
Remigio y Zapanta is hereby ACQUITTED and ordered immediately
released from detention unless his continued confinement is warranted for
some other cause or ground.
SO ORDERED.