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NCC Art. 9.

No judge or court shall decline to render judgment by


reason of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the laws. (6)
NCC Art. 10. In case of doubt in the interpretation or application of
laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and
justice to prevail. (n)

RPC Art. 5. Duty of the court in connection with acts which should be
repressed but which are not covered by the law, and in cases of
excessive penalties. Whenever a court has knowledge of any act
which it may deem proper to repress and which is not punishable by
law, it shall render the proper decision, and shall report to the Chief
Executive, through the Department of Justice, the reasons which
induce the court to believe that said act should be made the subject
of legislation.
In the same way, the court shall submit to the Chief Executive,
through the Department of Justice, such statement as may be deemed
proper, without suspending the execution of the sentence, when a
strict enforcement of the provisions of this Code would result in the
imposition of a clearly excessive penalty, taking into consideration
the degree of malice and the injury caused by the offense.

G.R. No. 88582

March 5, 1991

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
HEINRICH S. RITTER, accused-appellant,
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Esteban B. Bautista for accused-appellant.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
The appellant challenges his conviction of the crime involving a young girl
of about 12 years old who had been allegedly raped and who later died
because of a foreign object left inside her vaginal canal.
Heinrich Stefan Ritter was charged with the crime of rape with homicide
under an information which reads:
That on or about the tenth (10th day of October, 1986 in the City of
Olongapo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused with lewd design and with intent to

kill one Rosario Baluyot, a woman under twelve (12) years of age, did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal
knowledge of said Rosario Baluyot and inserted a foreign object into
the vaginal canal of said Rosario Baluyot which caused her death
shortly thereafter, to the damage and prejudice of her relatives. (66)
When arraigned, the accused pleaded "Not Guilty". Thereafter, the case
was set for trial on the merits.
To prove the guilt of the accused, the prosecutor presented the following
witnesses, namely: (1) Jessie Ramirez, (2) Maria Burgos y Turla, (3) P/Cpl.
Mariano Victoria, (4) Policarpio Baluyot, (5) Dr. Reino Rosete, (6)
Sumulong Daniel, (7) Jessica Herrera, (8) Sister Eva Palencia, (9) Conrado
Salonga, (10) Dr. Devonne Loop, (11) Dr. Leo Cruz, (12) Paul Maclor, (13)
Aida Sarmiento, (14) Patricia Prollamanta (15) Mel Santos, (16) Lorna
Limos, (17) Eduard Lee Bungarner, (18) Ronaldo Marquez, (19) Tom
Bonte, (20) 2nd Asst. City Fiscal Nini Alcala, (21) lst Asst. City Fiscal
Dorentino Z. Floresta, (22) Corazon Caber, (23) Rodolfo Mercurio and (24)
Fe Israel.
On the other hand, the defense offered in evidence Exhibits "1" to "24" and
the testimonies of (1) Heinrich S. Ritter, (2) Father Roque Villanueva, (3)
Angelita Amulong (4) Gaspar Alcantara, (5) Dr. Val Barcinal and (6) Dr.
Pedro C. Solis.
The facts of the case upon which the lower court based its finding of guilt
beyond reasonable doubt are summarized in its decision, as follows:
The people's evidence show that on October 10, 1986 about
midnight, accused Heinrich Stefan Ritter brought a boy and girl
namely: Jessie Ramirez and Rosario Baluyot inside his hotel room at
MGM Hotel along Magsaysay Drive, Olongapo City. These two (2)
children were chosen from among a bunch of street children. Once
inside the hotel room accused told them to take a bath. Jessie
Ramirez, alias "Egan", was the first to take a bath and when he came
out Rosario Baluyot went to the bathroom to do the same. While
Rosario Baluyot was inside the bathroom, accused Ritter took out
some pictures depicting dressed up young boys, and put them on top
of the table. Other things which were taken out and placed on top of a
table were three (3) other objects which he described as like that of a
vicks inhaler. One of these objects the accused played with his hands
and placed it on his palms. The color of which is grayish blue which
turned out later to be the foreign object which was inserted inside the
vagina of Rosario Baluyot. The other objects were later established to
be anti-nasal inhalers against pollution purchased by the accused in
Bangkok when he went there as a tourist. While Rosario was in the
bathroom, accused told Ramirez to lay down on bed, and so did the
accused. He then started masturbating the young boy and also
guided the boy's hand for him to be masturbated, so that they

masturbated each other, while they were both naked, and he gave
Jessie Ramirez an erection. When Rosario Baluyot came out of the
bathroom, she was told to remove her clothes by accused and to join
him in bed. The accused then placed himself between the two (2)
children and accused started fingering Rosario.
At this time, Ramirez was already sleepy, but Rosario touched him to
call his attention. He looked, and he saw accused placing his penis
against the vagina of Rosario and that he was trying to penetrate the
vagina but it would not fit. After what he saw, Ramirez did not
anymore bother to look because he was sleepy and fell asleep.
The following morning, the accused, whom the juveniles described as
an "American, paid Ramirez alias"Egan" P200.00 and Rosario
P300.00. He then left them in the hotel. After the American left, they
went downstairs, and Rosario told Egan that the American inserted
something in her vagina. But they could not do anything anymore,
because the American had already left, and neither did they report
the matter to the police. Sometime the following day, Jessie saw
Rosario and he asked her whether the object was already removed
from her body and Rosario said "Yes". However, Jessie Ramirez
claimed that on the evening of that same date, he saw Rosario and
she was complaining of pain in her vagina and when Egan asked her,
she said that the foreign object was not yet removed. Then there was
another occasion wherein Jessie was summoned and when he came
he saw Rosario writhing in pain and when he tried to talk to Rosario
she scolded him with defamatory remarks. Thereafter, he did not see
Rosario anymore because he already went home to his aunt's house
who resided at Barrio Barretto and resumed his studies in the primary
grades.
On May 14, 1987, Gaspar Alcantara, a defense witness, while
garbage scavenging at Lot 21, near the gate of the U.S. Naval Base
saw Rosario at Magsaysay Drive near the Happy Bake Shop near Lot
21, being ogled by people because Rosario's skirt was bloodied and
she was unconscious and foul smelling. Since nobody helped
Rosario, he took pity on her condition and brought her to the
Olongapo City General Hospital in an unconscious condition, via
jeepney. He went to the Information desk and he was the one who
gave the personal circumstances of Rosario as to her name, age, her
residence as Nagbakulaw, Lower Kalaklan, and Gaspar Alcantara
signed as "guardian" of Rosario, while Rosario was already in the
emergency room. Although Gaspar Alcantara denied that he did not
know the name of Rosario Baluyot when he brought her to the
hospital, this is belied by the testimony of the Information clerk Lorna
Limos, who was then on duty. Limos testified that it was Alcantara
who supplied the personal circumstances of Rosario. The Court
gives more credence to the testimony of Miss Limos as against
Gaspar Alcantara who became a defense witness, for the reason that

through his own testimony, Gaspar Alcantara claimed that even prior
to May 14, 1987, he had already known Rosario Baluyot
for more than one (1) year, because he has seen the said girl go to
the house of his twin brother, Melchor Alcantara, who is his
immediate neighbor. Rosario used to visit a girl by the name of "Nora"
who was then in the custody of his brother. His brother Melchor was
also living with their mother, brother and sister-in-law and their two (2)
children in his house. Rosario as per Gaspar's testimony even stays
for one week or a few days at his brother's house when she visits
Nora. So the Court can safely assume that of all the more than one
(1) year that he had regularly seen Rosario at his brother's house, he
must have already did come to know the name of Rosario Baluyot
including her age. In his testimony in Court he stated that he even
asked Rosario for movie and softdrinks money which can safely be
concluded that he knows her very well. It is against normal behavior
especially to a Filipino who have a characteristic of curiosity not to
have found out the real name of the girl he claims to know only as
"Tomboy".
While Rosario Baluyot was confined at the Olongapo City General
Hospital, nobody was attending to her since she is a street child,
having stowed away from the custody of her grandmother. Three (3)
good samaritans who belong to religious and civic organizations, in
the persons of Jessica Herrera, Fe Israel and Sr. Eva Palencia, in
one of their missions in the hospital chanced upon Rosario Baluyot
who was all alone with no relatives attending to her and after finding
out that she was only 12 years old decided to help her. After a short
interview with Rosario, regarding her name and age only because
she clamped up about her residence and her relatives, they decided
to help her by providing her the medicine she needed during her
confinement in readiness for an operation. It was Fe Israel who was
able to get the name and age of Rosario Baluyot from Rosario
Baluyot herself when she saw her for the first time. For Fe Israel, the
age of Rosario Baluyot was an important factor because their
program assisted only indigent patients from infants up to 13 years
old.
Rosario's first ailment at the Olongapo City General Hospital was
loose bowel movement and vomiting, which was first suspected as
gastro-enteritis, but which came out later as symptoms of peritonitis
due to a massive infection in the abdominal cavity. Subsequently, on
May 17, 1987, after she was examined by the physicians at the
hospital, it was found out that there was a foreign object lodged in her
vaginal canal and she had vaginal discharge tinged with blood and
foul smelling odor emanating from her body. One of the doctors who
attended to her was Dr. Barcinal, an OB-GYNE. Dr. Barcinal tried to
extract the foreign object by means of a forceps, but several attempts
proved futile because said object was deeply embedded in the
vaginal canal and was covered by tissues. Her abdomen was

enlarged, tender and distended, symptoms of peritonitis. The patient


was feverish and incoherent when she was scheduled for operation
on May 19, 1987, after the first attempt for an operation on May 17
was aborted allegedly because the consent of Dr. Reino Rosete, the
hospital director was not obtained. The surgeon who operated on her
was Dr. Rosete himself. He testified that Rosario had to be operated
even in that condition in order to save her life. Her condition was
guarded. This was corroborated by Dr. Leo Cruz, the anesthesiologist
during Rosario's operation. It was in the evening of May 19 at about
7:00 p.m. when Dr. Rosete opened her abdomen by making a 5 inch
incision on her stomach. He found out that the fallopian tubes were
congested with pus and so with the peritonieum, and the pelvic cavity,
and patches of pus in the liver, although the gallbladder and kidney
appeared to have septicemia, poisoning of the blood. The peritonitis
and septicemia were traced to have been caused through infection by
the foreign object which has been lodged in the intra-vaginal canal of
Rosario. The foreign object which was already agreed upon by both
parties that it is a portion of a sexual vibrator was extracted from the
vagina of Rosario while under anesthesia. Said object was coated
with tissues, pus and blood. Dr. Rosete gave it to the assisting
surgical nurse for safekeeping and gave instructions to release it to
the authorized person. This object was shown by the nurse to Dr. Leo
Cruz. Dr. Rosete considered the operation successful and the patient
was alive when he left her under Dr. Cruz. Dr. Cruz stayed with said
patient in the ward for about 30 minutes and thereafter he left. The
following day, Rosario got serious and it was Dr. Leo Cruz who
pronounced her death at 2:00 to 2:15 in the afternoon of May 20,
1987.
Thereafter, a death certificate was prepared under the direction of Dr.
Cruz which was indicated therein that the cause of death was cardiorespiratory arrest, secondary to septicemia caused by the foreign
object lodged in the intra uteral vaginal canal of Rosario Baluyot.
The foreign object was washed by nurse Obedina, then placed it in a
transparent small jar and labelled "Rosario Baluyot". Jessica Herrera
asked the nurse for the foreign object, and it was given to her under
proper receipt. Herrera then showed the same to the persons who
helped financially Rosario's case, and afterwards she gave it to Sister
Eva Palencia. Sis. Palencia was in custody of the said object until Mr.
Salonga came and asked her for the object.
After Rosario Baluyot died, Sis. Palencia and a companion went to
Gaspar Alcantara to ask him in locating the relatives of Rosario. They
were able to trace Rosario's grandmother, Mrs. Maria Burgos Turla,
and informed her that her granddaughter was already dead and lying
in state at St. Martin Funeral Parlor. Mrs. Turla went there with her
son, who shouldered all the burial expenses for Rosario.

Subsequently, Sis. Palencia, Fr. Cullens and Mr. Salonga came to her
residence at Sta. Rita and asked her if she was interested in filing a
case against the person who caused the death of her granddaughter.
Of course she agreed. Hence, she was brought to the Fiscal's (City)
Office to file the same.
After the case was filed against the herein accused, Atty. Edmundo
Legaspi with his messenger came to her house and told her that the
accused was willing to settle the case, but that accused Ritter had
only P15,000.00. The old woman did not accept it because she
knows that the accused is liable to pay damages anyway. After that,
she received a letter from Atty. Legaspi telling her to get a lawyer for
her case. By this time, Mrs. Turla, who wanted to have the case
settled once and for all giving the reason that she can no longer bear
the situation, sent her nephew, Conrado Marcelo to Atty. Legaspi. Her
nephew obliged and told her that she will be paid at the office of Atty.
Legaspi. On a date not clear in the records, she went with her
nephew Conrado Marcelo, and Roberto Sundiam, an assistant
barangay tanod of Sta. Rita, and while they were there, she saw
Ritter arrive at the law office. Ritter and Atty. Legaspi talked at the
office near the bathroom, and thereafter Ritter left. After he left, Atty.
Legaspi told Rosario's grandmother that they are willing to settle for
P20,000.00, but that Ritter left only P15,000.00, so she received the
money with the understanding that there was a balance of P5,000.00
yet. She was made to sign a statement, and she was asked to
change the age of her granddaughter Rosario. With the document
prepared, she and the lawyer's messenger went to the Fiscal's office
to have it subscribed, and was subscribed before an assistant city
fiscal. But the balance of P5,000.00 was not paid, because later on
Atty. Legaspi became the OIC of Olongapo City and he could no
longer attend to it. Atty. Legaspi, during one of the hearings before
the Court even apologized to her.
As to the case, P/Cpl. Marino Victoria, as criminal investigator of
Station "A", was directed by Col. Daos, Station Commander of the
Olongapo Police Department to make a follow up of the case of
Rosario Baluyot. On the other hand, since the suspect who inserted
the foreign object inside Rosario's vagina was said to be an
American, the NISRA Subic Naval Base also conducted its
investigation headed by criminal investigator Agent Conrado Salonga.
Coordinating with the local police and with Sister Eva Palencia, since
Rosario was a street child at Magsaysay Drive, they rounded up
about 43 street children and from some of them they learned that
Rosario Baluyot was with Jessie Ramirez with an American at the
MGM Hotel when the foreign object was inserted in her vagina. After
finding Jessie Ramirez, they asked him about Rosario Baluyot. They
found out that indeed he was with Rosario Baluyot sometime before
Christmas of 1986 with an American, who brought them to the said
hotel. Jessie Ramirez was taken inside the U.S. Naval Base,

Olongapo City and took his statement. Then he was brought to Mr.
Edward Lee Bungarner, a cartographer, and out of the description
supplied by Ramirez, a composite drawing was photocopied and
copies thereof were distributed to the local police and to the sentries
at the gate of the U.S. Naval Base. Some American servicemen who
had resemblance to the composite drawing were photographed and
these were shown to Jessie Ramirez, but the result was negative.
Aside from the physical description by Ramirez about the appearance
of the suspect, he also described him as having the mannerisms of a
homo-sexual.
After obtaining information that foreign homo-sexuals frequented
Ermita, Manila, and thinking that the so-called American may be
European or Australian national, the team composed of Agent
Salonga, Mr. Heinsell, P/Cpl. Marino Victoria and P/Cpl. Andres
Montaon, Jessie Ramirez and Michael Johnson, another juvenile,
proceeded to Manila. They first went to the Manila NISRA Office, and
thereafter checked in a hotel. That was on September 23, 1987. On
the first night, they went to Luneta Park where foreign homo-sexuals
were said to be frequenting, but the result was negative. Then on
September 25, at about 11:00 p.m., while they were standing at the
corner of A. Mabini and M.H. del Pilar Street, a male caucasian who
looked like a homo-sexual stopped by admiringly infront of the two (2)
juveniles, Ramirez and Johnson. Jessie Ramirez then reported to Mr.
Salonga that this foreigner had a similarity with the American suspect,
so the two minors were instructed to follow the foreigner and to strike
a conversation. They did, and when they returned, Jessie Ramirez
told them that indeed the said foreigner was the one who brought him
and Rosario Baluyot to the MGM Hotel. Bobby Salonga told Ramirez
that this foreigner had no beard while the one previously described by
Ramirez had a beard. Jessie Ramirez told them that maybe he have
just shaved it off. The said caucasian then entered a bar, and after
several minutes he came out, and Jessie Ramirez upon his signal
with his thumbs up, as a signal to confirm that the said foreigner is
the suspect, arrested Ritter and brought him to the Manila Western
Police District. It could be mentioned at this stage that in this
operation they were accompanied by two (2) policemen from the
Western Police District. The foreigner was hand cuffed and was told
that he was a suspect for Rape with Homicide. After the arrest, they
first went to the pension house of the suspect in Ermita, Manila to get
his shoulder bag which contained his personal belongings, and from
there they brought him to the Western Police Department. At the said
police headquarters, they were allowed a permissive search by the
foreigner of his clutch bag and his small shoulder bag and
confiscated his passport, I.D., 3 inhalers, money in the form of dollars
and travellers checks amounting about $1,500.00 and about P100.00,
all duly receipted for. From the passport they learned that the
suspect's name was Heinrich Stefan Ritter, an Austrian national.
During the questioning of Hitter, Salonga and his team already left the

headquarters and went to their hotel, because at this time Jessie


Ramirez was already shaking with fear after he identified the
accused.
The following day, they brought the accused to Olongapo and was
detained at the Olongapo City Jail. The case for Rape with Homicide
was filed against him at the City Fiscal of Olongapo. At the
preliminary investigation, accused was assisted by his own counsel.
The private complainant was Maria Burgos Turla because it was she
who had custody of Rosario Baluyot after her mother Anita Burgos
died on January 12, 1982, and their father Policarpio Baluyot had left
them under her custody. When this case was filed, the father's
whereabouts was unknown, and he only appeared when the trial of
this case before the Court was already in progress. And upon his
(Policarpio Baluyot) own admission, he only learned about the death
of his daughter Rosario Baluyot from the newspaper, long after
Rosario was already gone.
The defense tried to dislodge the case by claiming that there could be
no crime of Rape with Homicide because the suspect was described
as an American while Ritter is an Austrian. Also advanced by the
defense is that, it is a case of mistaken identity. That Rosario Baluyot
was at the time of the commission of the offense, already more than
13 years old, she having been born on December 26, 1973 as per
baptismal certificate, wherein it appears that Rosario Baluyot was
baptized on December 25, 1974 and was born on December 26,
1973 as testified to by Fr. Roque Villanueva of St. James Parish
Church who issued the Baptismal Certificate, having custody and
possession of the book of baptism for the year 1975, but admitted
that he had no personal knowledge about the matters or entries
entered therein. Likewise, the defense's stand is that the accused
cannot be liable for Homicide because a vibrator is not a weapon of
death but it is a thing for the purpose of giving sexual pleasure, and
that the death of Rosario Baluyot was due to the incompetence of Dr.
Rosete, the surgeon and Director of the Olongapo City General
Hospital, who operated on her. (Rollo, pp. 109-116)
On March 29, 1989, the trial court rendered its decision. The dispositive
portion of the decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court holds,
that the prosecution has established the GUILT of the accused
beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Rape with Homicide as
defined and penalized in Art. 335 No. 3 of the Revised Penal Code,
and hereby sentences HEINRICH STEFAN RITTER to a penalty
of RECLUSION PERPETUA, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased
in the sum of SIXTY THOUSAND PESOS (P60,000.00) Philippine
Currency, and TEN THOUSAND PESOS (Pl0,000.00) by way of

attorney's fees to the private prosecutors and to pay the costs. (Rollo,
p. 126)
The accused now comes to this Court on the following assigned errors
allegedly committed by the court:
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED AND ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION IN FINDING THAT THE ALLEGED OFFENSE WAS
COMMITTED ON OCTOBER 10, 1986 AND THAT IT WAS
ACCUSED-APPELLANT WHO COMMITTED IT.
II
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED AND ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION IN FINDING THAT ROSARIO BALUYOT WAS LESS
THAN TWELVE (12) YEARS OLD WHEN THE ALLEGED OFFENSE
WAS COMMITTED AND IN HOLDING THAT THERE WAS RAPE
WITH HOMICIDE.
III
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED AND ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION IN GIVING CREDENCE TO AND NOT REJECTING
THE PROSECUTION'S EVIDENCE AND IN NOT UPHOLDING THAT
OF THE DEFENSE AND ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED.
Inasmuch as it is the bounden duty of this Court to affirm a judgment of
conviction only if the guilt of the accused has been proved beyond
reasonable doubt, it behooves us to exert the most painstaking effort to
examine the records in the light of the arguments of both parties if only to
satisfy judicial conscience that the appellant indeed committed the criminal
act (See People v. Villapaa, 161 SCRA 73 [1988]).
The appellant was convicted by the trial court of the crime of rape with
homicide of a young girl who died after the rape because of a foreign
object, believed to be a sexual vibrator, left inside her vagina.
As stated by the trial court one crucial issue in this case is the age of the
victimwhether or not Rosario Baluyot was less than twelve (12) years old
at the time the alleged incident happened on October 10, 1986. The age is
important in determining whether or not there was statutory rape, Article
335 of the Revised Penal Code defines the third type of rape as having
carnal knowledge of a woman under 12 years of age, in which case force,
intimidation, deprivation of reason or unconscious state do not have to be
present.

The trial court found that Rosario was below 12 years old when she was
sexually abused by the accused and, therefore, rape was committed inspite
of the absence of force or intimidation.
In resolving the issue, the trial court put great weight on the testimonies of
the victim's grandmother and father who testified that she was born on
December 22, 1975. These oral declarations were admitted pursuant to
then Rule 130, Section 33 of the Rules of Court where, in the absence of a
birth certificate, the act or declaration about pedigree may be received in
evidence on any notable fact in the life of a member of the family. Since
birth is a matter of pedigree within the rule which permits the admission of
hearsay evidence, oral declarations are therefore admissible as proof of
birth (Decision, p. 54).
The grandmother, Maria Burgos Turla, testified that she remembered
Rosario's birth date because her brother died in Pampanga and her
daughter, Anita (Rosario's mother) was the only one who failed to attend
the funeral because the latter has just given birth allegedly to Rosario
(T.S.N. p. 8, Jan. 13, 1988).
The father likewise testified that as far as he could remember, Rosario was
born on December 22, 1975 (T.S.N., p. 4, Jan. 27, 1988) and he was
certain that Rosario was more than one (1) year old when she was
baptized (T.S.N., p. 45, Jan. 27, 1988).
The trial court further added that their testimony is supported by the clinical
record and the death certificate indicating that she was 12 years old when
she was admitted at the Olongapo City General Hospital for treatment. The
age was supplied by Rosario's alleged guardian, Gaspar Alcantara to the
hospital's clinical record clerk, Lorna Limos. Fe Israel, a social worker who
interviewed Rosario Baluyot also testified that she was told by Rosario that
she was 12 years old. The trial court accepted this as adequate evidence of
the truth. Moreover, Jessie Ramirez, the principal witness in this case
declared that he was born on September 5, 1973 and that he was older
than Rosario Baluyot. Therefore, since he was 13 years old in 1986,
Rosario must have been less than 12 yeas old in 1986. (Decision, p. 55)
The trial court concluded that the oral declarations of the grandmother and
father supported by other independent evidence such as the clinical record,
death certificate and the testimonies of Fe Israel and Jessie Ramirez,
rendered the baptismal certificate presented by the defense without any
probative or evidentiary value. (Decision, p. 55)
The findings of the trial court with respect to Rosario Baluyot's age cannot
stand the application of evidentiary rules.
The trial court relied on Section 33, Rule 130 (now Section 40 of Rule 130
of the 1989 Revised Rules of Court).
For oral evidence to be admissible under this Rule, the requisites are:

(1) That the declarant must be dead or outside of the Philippines or


unable to testify;
(2) That pedigree is in issue;
(3) That the person whose pedigree is in question must be related to
the declarant by birth or marriage;
(4) That the declaration must be made before the controversy
occurred or ante litem motam; and
(5) That the relationship between the declarant and the person whose
pedigree is in question must as a general rule be shown by evidence
other than such act or declaration.
These requirements were not satisfied by the evidence for the prosecution
nor do the declarations fall within the purview of the rule.
The victim's grandmother and father whose declarations regarding
Rosario's age were admitted by the trial court are both alive, in the
Philippines and able to testify as they both did testify in court. Their
declarations were made at the trial which is certainly not before the
controversy arose. The other witnesses who testified on Rosario's age are
not members of the victim's family. The testimonies of Rosario's relatives
must be weighed according to their own personal knowledge of what
happened and not as hearsay evidence on matters of family history.
At this point, we find the evidence regarding Rosario's age of doubtful
value.
The trial court justified the admissibility of the grandmother's testimony
pursuant to the ruling laid down in U.S. v. Bergantino, (3 Phil., 118 [1903])
where the Court accepted the testimony of the mother that her daughter
was 14 years old and 4 months old. The mother stated that she knew the
age because the child was born about the time of the cholera epidemic of
1889. This was not hearsay, but came from one who had direct knowledge
of the child's birth.
It is however, equally true that human memory on dates or days is frail and
unless the day is an extraordinary or unusual one for the witness, there is
no reasonable assurance of its correctness. (People v. Dasig 93 Phil. 618,
632 [1953])
With respect to the grandmother's testimony, the date of the brother's death
or funeral was never established, which indicates that the day was rather
insignificant to be remembered. The father's declaration is likewise not
entirely reliable. His testimony in court does not at all show that he had
direct knowledge of his daughter's birth. He was certain though that she
was more than one (1) year old at the time she was baptized.

The other witnesses are not at all competent to testify on the victim's age,
nor was there any basis shown to establish their competence for the
purpose. The clinical records were based on Gaspar Alcantara's
incompetent information given when he brought the victim to the hospital.
Alcantara came to know her only about a year before her death. He had
absolutely no knowledge about the circumstances of Rosario's birth. The
death certificate relied upon by the trial court was merely based on the
clinical records. It is even less reliable as a record of birth.
All the evidence presented by the prosecution showing that Rosario
Baluyot was less than 12 years old at the time of the alleged incident are
not adequate to establish the exact date of birth, much less offset a
documentary record showing a different date.
The defense presented Rosario Baluyot's baptismal certificate which the
trial court rejected as being hearsay and of no value. As against the oral
declarations made by interested witnesses establishing Rosario's age to be
less than 12 years old, the evidence on record is more convincing and
worthy of belief. (See Filinvest Land, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 183 SCRA
664, 673 [1990]).
By virtue of a subpoena duces tecum and ad testificandum, issued by the
lower court to the St. James Parish Church, Subic, Zambales, Fr. Roque
Villanueva a Roman Catholic priest testified and stated that he is the head
of said parish. He brought with him Baptismal Register No. 9 entitled "Liber
Baptisnorum", a latin term for baptismal book or record. On page 151, No.
3 of the said Registry Book, there appears the name of Rosario Baluyot
who was baptized on December 25, 1974, and born on December 26,
1973. Parents are Policarpio Baluyot and Anita Burgos, residents of Subic,
Zambales. Edita R. Milan appears as the only sponsor with Olongapo City
as her address.
In the case of Macadangdang v. Court of appeals (100 SCRA 73 [1980]),
we held that:
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In our jurisprudence, this Court has been more definite in its


pronouncements on the value of baptismal certificates. It thus ruled
that while baptismal and marriage certificates may be considered
public documents, they are evidence only to prove the administration
of the sacraments on the dates therein specifiedbut not the veracity
of the status or declarations made therein with respect to his kinsfolk
and/or citizenship (Paa v. Chan, L-25945, Oct. 31, 1967). Again, in
the case of Fortus v. Novero (L-22378, 23 SCRA 1331 [1968]), this
Court held that a baptismal certificate is conclusive proof only of the
baptism administered, in conformity with the rites of the Catholic
Church by the priest who baptized the child, but it does not prove the
veracity of the declarations and statements contained in the

certificate that concern the relationship of the person baptized. Such


declarations and statements, in order that their truth may be admitted,
must indispensably be shown by proof recognized by law. (At pp. 8485)
In the same light, the entries made in the Registry Book may be considered
as entries made in the course of business under Section 43 of Rule 130,
which is an exception to the hearsay rule. The baptisms administered by
the church are one of its transactions in the exercise of ecclesiastical duties
and recorded in a book of the church during the course of its business.
(U.S. v. de Vera, 28 Phil. 105 [1914] Hence, the certificate (Exhibit "22")
presented by the defense that Rosario Baluyot was baptized on December
25, 1974 may be admitted in evidence as proof of baptism. Policarpio
Baluyot, the victim's father testified that he had in his possession a
baptismal certificate different from the one presented in court. However, no
other baptismal record was ever presented to prove a date different from
that brought by the official custodian. Since the baptismal certificate states
that Rosario was baptized on December 25, 1974, it is therefore highly
improbable that Rosario could have been born on December 22, 1975. She
could not have been baptized before she was born. Exhibit "22" may be
proof only of baptism but it puts a lie to the declaration that Rosario was
born in 1975. With the father's assertion that Rosario was more than one
(1) year old when she was baptized, we are then more inclined to agree
that Rosario was born in 1973 as stated in the Baptismal Registry.
In the case of People v. Rebancos (172 SCRA 425 [1989]), the Court
stated:
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. . . Although no birth certificate was presented because her birth had


allegedly not been registered, her baptismal certificate, coupled by
her mother's testimony, was sufficient to establish that Mary Rose
was below twelve years old when she was violated by Rebancos. (At.
p. 426)
Unfortunately, in the instant case, nobody could corroborate the date on a
more reliable document as to Rosario's birth which could serve as sufficient
proof that she was born on December 26, 1973. Therefore, she was more
than 12 years old at the time of the alleged incident on October 10, 1986.
Moreover, it is not incumbent upon the defense to prove Rosario's age. The
burden of proof lies on the prosecution to prove that Rosario was less than
12 years old at the time of the alleged incident in a charge of statutory rape.
The prosecution failed in this respect.
Since Rosario was not established to have been under 12 years of age at
the time of the alleged sexual violation, it was necessary to prove that the
usual elements of rape were present; i.e. that there was force of

intimidation or that she was deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious in


accordance with Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code.
We agree with the defense that there was no proof of such facts. On the
contrary, the evidence shows that Rosario submitted herself to the sexual
advances of the appellant. In fact, she appears to have consented to the
act as she was paid P300.00 the next morning while her companion, Jessie
Ramirez was paid P200.00 (T.S.N. p. 50, January 6, 1988). The
environmental circumstances coupled with the testimonies and evidence
presented in court clearly give the impression that Rosario Baluyot, a poor
street child, was a prostitute inspite of her tender age. Circumstances in life
may have forced her to submit to sex at such a young age but the
circumstances do not come under the purview of force or intimidation
needed to convict for rape.
In view of these clear facts which the prosecution failed to refute, no rape
was committed. But was Ritter guilty of homicide?
The trial court justified its ruling by saying that the death of the victim was a
consequence of the insertion of the foreign object into the victim's vagina
by the appellant.
We now ask "Was the appellant responsible for the sexual vibrator left
inside Rosario's vagina which led to her death?
The trial court convicted the accused based on circumstantial evidence.
Unfortunately, the circumstances are capable of varying interpretations and
are not enough to justify conviction.
Jessie Ramirez, the principal witness did not actually see the object
inserted in Rosario's vagina. Neither could he identify the object (Exhibit
"C-2") taken from Rosario as the same object which the appellant was
holding at that time of the alleged incident.
In his sworn statement given to the police investigator on September 4,
1987, he answered that:
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T Habang kayo ay nasa loob ng kuwarto ng otel, mayroon ka bang


napansin na inilabas ng kano sa kanyang daladalahan kung mayroon
man?
S Ang Amerikano ay may dala-dalang shoulder bag na kulay itim, at
napansin ko na may inilabas siya sa kanyang bag na parang vicks
inhaler, na kanyang inamoy-amoy habang nasa otel kami at
pagkatapos niya ay inilapag niya sa lamiseta.
T Ilarawan mo nga sa akin ang bagay na nakita mong inilabas ng
Amerikano?

S Ito ay may habang tatlong pulgada at ang takip nito ay may habang
dalawang pulgada. Iyong takip ay bilog na patulis at may tabang mga
kalahating pulgada. Hindi ko napansin ang hugis ng dulo ng bagay na
may takip dahil natatakpan ng kamay at ilong ng Amerikano.
T Ipinakikita ko sa iyo ang isang larawan. Tignan mong mabuti ang
larawang ito at sabihin mo nga sa akin kung makikilala mo ang mga
bagay na nasa larawang ito, na may kinalaman sa nakita mong
kinuha ng Amerikano sa kanyang bag?
S Napansin ko na ang kulay asul na bagay sa larawan ay katulad na
katulad noong takip ng bagay na inilabas ng Amerikano sa kanyang
bag. Kaya lang ay bakit naging kulay asul gayong ng makita ko ito ay
kulay puti? (Exhibit "A", p. 2; Emphasis Supplied)
Presumably, what Jessie Ramirez saw was merely the Vicks inhaler which
the appellant does not deny having possessed at that time. He was certain
that the object was white. (T.S.N. p. 91, January 6, 1988)
Later, Ramirez retracted and corrected himself. He said that it was grayish
in color with color blue (Medyo kulay abo na may kulay na parang blue).
(T.S.N. p. 92, January 6, 1988) The inconsistency of the witness' testimony
casts doubt as to the veracity of the statements made especially when he
answered on additional cross-examination that the reason why he
concluded that Exhibit "C-2" was the same object being held by Ritter was
because it was the only one shown to him by the prosecution (T.S.N. pp.
109-110, January 6, 1988). Jessie Ramirez was not all certain about the
sexual vibrator because he did not actually see it in the possession of the
appellant.
What he merely remembers is the revelation made by Rosario the next
morning that the foreigner inserted something inside her vagina. The trial
court admitted such statement as part of the res gestae. In a strained effort
to accept such statement as part of res gestae, the trial court focused the
test of admissibility on the lapse of time between the event and the
utterance. For the average 13 years old, the insertion of a mechanical
device or anything for that matter into the vagina of a young girl is
undoubtedly startling. For Rosario and Jessie, however, there must be
more evidence to show that the statement, given after a night's sleep had
intervened, was given instinctively because the event was so startling Res
gestae does not apply. (Section 42, Rule 130, Rules of Court)
Even if it were established that the appellant did insert something inside
Rosario's vagina, the evidence is still not adequate to impute the death of
Rosario to the appellant's alleged act.
Jessie Ramirez testified that Rosario was able to remove the object
inserted in her vagina. We quote:

Q Now, you also stated on direct examination that later on Rosario


even categorically admitted to you that she was already able to
remove the object allegedly inserted inside her vagina, is that
correct?
A Yes, sir.
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ATTY. CARAAN:
Q Will you kindly tell to this Honorable Court the exact words used by
Rosario Baluyot later on when you met her when you asked her and
when she told you that she was already able to remove that object
from her vagina?
A "Oy, Jessie, natanggal na, "she told me that. I asked her, "Was it
already removed?" And she answered, "Yes, it was removed." But the
same night, she again complained of pain of her stomach. She sent
one of her friends to call for me. And as a matter of fact, Tomboy was
uttering defamatory words against me as she was groaning in pain.
(TSN, Jan. 6,1988, pp. 72-73)
This encounter happened on the night of the day following the day after
both children were invited by the foreigner to the hotel. (T.S.N. p. 73,
January 6, 1988). Rosario was said to be groaning in pain so we can just
imagine the distress she was undergoing at this point in time. If the device
inserted by the appellant caused the pain, it is highly inconceivable how
she was able to endure the pain and discomfort until May, 1987, seven (7)
months after the alleged incident. Evidence must not only proceed from the
mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible in itself such as the
common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable
under the circumstances. (People vs. Patog, 144 SCRA 429 [1986]).
At this juncture, we find Dr. Pedro Solis' testimony rather significant. Dr.
Pedro Solis, a witness for the defense is considered an expert witness. (A
Doctor of Medicine and a graduate of the State University in 1940, a
degree of Bachelor of Laws and member of the Bar 1949, and a graduate
of the Institute of Criminology University. He was awarded Post Graduate
Diploma in Criminology in 1963, and also a graduate of United Nations Asia
and Far East Asia Institute on the Prevention of Crimes in Tokyo Japan
1965. He was appointed Medico Legal Officer of the National Bureau of
Investigation in 1940 until 1944. He became Chief Medico Legal Officer in
1970 and became the Deputy Director of the NBI up to 1984. He is at
present a Professorial Lecturer on Legal Medicine at the UP, FEU, UE, and
Fatima College of Medicine; a Medico Legal Consultant of the PGH
Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, UERM Medical Center, MCU
Medical Center. He has been with the NBI for 43 years. He has attended no
less than 13 conferences abroad. He is the author of the textbooks entitled
"Legal Medicine" and "Medical Jurisprudence".) With his impressive legal

and medical background, his testimony is too authoritative to ignore. We


quote the pertinent portions of his testimony:
Q Now Dr. Solis, would you kindly go over this object marked as Exh.
"C-2" which object was described as a part of a sexual vibrator
battery operated. Now, given this kind of object, would you kindly tell
us what would be the probable effect upon a 12 years old girl when it
is inserted into her vagina?
A Well, this vibrator must be considered a foreign body placed into a
human being and as such be considered a foreign object. As a
foreign object, the tendency of the body may be: No. 1expel the
foreign bodyNo. 2.The tendency of the body is to react to that
foreign body. One of the reactions that maybe manifested by the
person wherein such foreign body is concerned is to cover the foreign
body with human tissue, in a way to avoid its further injury to the
body.
Now, the second reaction is irritation thereby producing certain
manifest symptoms and changes in the area where the foreign body
is located.
In severe cases, the symptoms manifestation might not only be
localized but may be felt all over the body, we call it systemic
reaction. Now, considering the fact that this foreign body as shown to
me is already not complete, this shows exposure of its different parts
for the body to react. If there is mechanism to cause the foreign body
to vibrate, there must be some sort of power from within and that
power must be a dry cell battery. [The] composition of the battery are,
manganese dioxide ammonium, salts, water and any substance that
will cause current flow. All of these substances are irritants including
areas of the container and as such, the primary reaction of the body
is to cause irritation on the tissues, thereby inflammatory changes
develop and in all likelihood, aside from those inflammatory changes
would be a supervening infection in a way that the whole generative
organ of the woman will suffer from diseased process causing her the
systemic reaction like fever, swelling of the area, and other systemic
symptoms. . . . . (TSN., pp. 13-15, October 19,1988)
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Q Now, given this object, how long would it take, Doctor before any
reaction such as an infection would set in, how many days after the
insertion of this object in the vagina of a 12 year old girl?
A In the example given to me, considering that one of the ends is
exposed, in a way that vaginal secretion has more chance to get in,
well, liberation of this irritant chemicals would be enhanced and
therefore in ashorter period of time, there being this vaginal reaction.

Q How many days or weeks would you say would that follow after the
insertion?
A As I said, with my experience at the NBI, insertion of any foreign
body in the vaginal canal usually developed within, a period of two (2)
weeks . . .
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Q . . . [T]he subject in this case was allegedly raped, and a sexual


vibrator was inserted in her vagina on October 10, 1986 and she was
operated on, on May 19, 1987 the following year, so it took more than
7 months before this was extracted, would you say that it will take
that long before any adverse infection could set in inside the vagina?
A Infection and inflamatory changes will develop in a shorter time.
(TSN., Oct. 19,1988, p. 18)
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Q When you said shorter, how long would that be, Doctor?
A As I said, in my personal experience, hair pins, cottonballs and
even this lipstick of women usually, there are only about two (2)
weeks time that the patient suffer some abnormal symptoms.
Q Now, considering that this is a bigger object to the object that you
mentioned, this object has a shorter time?
A Yes, Sir shorter time. (TSN., Oct. 19. 1988, p. 20)
The trial court, however, ruled that "there is no hard and fast rule as to the
time frame wherein infection sets in upon insertion of a foreign body in the
vagina canal. For Dr. Solis, the time frame is not more than 10 months, and
this case is still within the said time frame."
A more generous time interval may be allowed in non-criminal cases. But
where an accused is facing a penalty ofreclusion perpetua, the evidence
against him cannot be based on probabilities which are less likely than
those probabilities which favor him.
It should be clarified that the time frame depends upon the kind of foreign
body lodged inside the body. An examination of the object gave the
following results:
(1) Color: Blue
Size: (a) Circumference3.031
inches (b) Lengthapproximately
2.179 inches.

Composition: Showed the general


characteristics of a styrene-butadiene plastic.
(2) The specimen can be electrically operated by means of a battery
as per certification dated 01 June 1988, signed by Mr. Rodolfo D.
Mercuric, Shipboard Electrical Systems Mechanics, Foreman II, SRF
Shop 51, Subic (see attached certification).
(3) No comparative examination was made on specimen #1 and
vibrator depicted in the catalog because no actual physical
dimensions and/or mechanical characteristics were shown in the
catalog. (Exhibit "LL")
The vibrator end was further subjected to a macro-photographic
examination on the open end portion which revealed the following:
Result of Examination
Macro-photographic examination on the open end portion of
specimen #1 shows the following inscription:
MABUCHI MOTOR JAPAN RE 14 PAT (Exhibit "MM")
From the above results, the subject object is certainly not considered as
inert and based on Dr. Solis' testimony, it is more likely that infection should
set in much earlier. Considering also that the object was inserted inside the
vagina which is part of the generative organ of a woman, an organ which is
lined with a very thin layer of membrane with plenty of blood supply, this
part of the body is more susceptible to infection. (T.S.N. p. 34, October 19,
1988)
The truth of Dr. Solis' testimony is more probable under the circumstances
of the case. We see no reason why his opinions qualified by training and
experience should not be controlling and binding upon the Court in the
determination of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. (People v. Tolentino, 166
SCRA 469 [1988]).
Dr. Barcinal, another witness for the defense also testified that he
examined Rosario Baluyot on May 17, 1986 as a referral patient from the
Department of Surgery to give an OB-GYN clearance to the patient prior to
operation. (T.S.N. p. 6, September 28, 1988)
Q And how many times did you examine this patient Rosario Baluyot
on that day?
A I examined her twice on that day.
Q The first time that you examined her, what is the result of your
findings, if any?

A My first examination, I examined the patient inside the delivery


room. The patient was brought to the delivery room wheel-chaired
then from the wheel chair, the patient was ambigatory (sic). She was
able to walk from the door to the examining table. On examination,
the patient is conscious, she was fairly nourished, fairly developed,
she had fever, she was uncooperative at that time and examination
deals more on the abdomen which shows slightly distended abdomen
with muscle guarding with tenderness all over, with maximum
tenderness over the hypogastric area. (T.S.N. p. 5, September 28,
1988)
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Q What about your second examination to the patient, what was your
findings, if any?
A In my second examination, I repeated the internal examination
wherein I placed my index finger and middle finger inside the vagina
of the patient and was able to palpate a hard object. After which, I
made a speculum examination wherein I was able to visualize the
inner portion of the vaginal canal, there I saw purulent foul smelling,
blood tints, discharge in the vaginal canal and a foreign body invaded
on the posterior part of the vaginal canal.
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A I referred back to Dr. Fernandez about my findings and he asked


me to try to remove the said foreign object by the use of forceps
which I tried to do so also but I failed to extract the same.
Q All this time that you were examining the patient Rosario Baluyot
both in the first and second instance, Rosario Baluyot was conscious
and were you able to talk to her when you were examining her?
A Yes, sir.
Q And did you ask her why there is a foreign object lodge inside her
vagina?
A Yes, Sir I asked her.
Q And what did she tell you, if any?
A She said in her own words that "GINAMIT AKO NG NEGRO AT
SIYA ANG NAGLAGAY NITO."
Q Did she also tell you when, this Negro who used her and who
inserted and placed the foreign object on her vagina?

A Yes, Sir I asked her and she said he used me three (3) months ago
from the time I examined her.
Q Now, you said that you referred the patient to the ward, what
happened next with your patient?
A To my knowledge, the patient is already scheduled on operation on
that date.
Q Meaning, May 17, 1987?
A Yes, Sir I was presuming that the patient would undergo surgery
after that?
(TSN, Sept. 28,1988, pp. 8-9; Emphasis supplied)
The trial court debunked Dr. Barcinals testimony considering Rosario's
condition at that time. It ruled that it is inconceivable that she would be
striking a normal conversation with the doctors and would be sitting on the
examination table since Gaspar Alcantara stated that when he brought
Rosario Baluyot to the hospital, she was unconscious and writhing in pain.
It was not improbable for Rosario Baluyot to still be conscious and
ambulant at that time because there were several instances testified to by
different witnesses that she was still able to talk prior to her operation:
(1) Fe Israel, a witness for the prosecution and a member of the Olongapo
Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement testified that as a member of this
group she visits indigent children in the hospital every Saturday and after
office hours on working days.
On the Saturday prior to Rosario's death which was May 17, she was still
able to talk to Rosario Baluyot. In fact, one of her groupmates helped
Rosario go to the comfort room to urinate. (T.S.N., pp. 16-19, May 25,
1988)
(2) Angelita Amulong, a witness for the defense is another para social
worker who worked at Pope John 23rd Community Center under Sister Eva
Palencia. In one of her hospital visits, she encountered Rosario Baluyot in
the month of May, 1987. She actually saw a child who happened to be
Rosario Baluyot seated on the cement floor and when she asked why she
was seated there, she was told that it was too hot in the bed. She saw
Rosario Baluyot for about 2 or 3 days successively. (T.S.N. pp. 10-13,
September 7, 1988)
(3) Gaspar Alcantara, the person who brought Rosario to the hospital
actually testified that she was conscious (T.S.N. p. 36, September 14,
1988) but writhing in pain. He took pity on her so he brought her to the
hospital (T.S.N. p. 12, September 14, 1988)

From the above testimonies, it is clear that Rosario was still conscious and
could still answer questions asked of her although she was complaining of
stomach pains. Unfortunately, the medical attention given to her failed to
halt the aggravation of her condition. The operation on May 19 was too
late.
Rosario died because of septicemia, which in layman's language is blood
poisoning, and peritonitis, which is massive infection, in the abdominal
cavity caused by the foreign object or the cut sexual vibrator lodged in the
vagina of the victim. This led to the infection from the uterus to the fallopian
tubes and into the peritoneum and the abdominal cavity.
The trial court convicted the accused citing the rationale of Article 4 of the
RPC
He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil caused.
But before the conviction is affirmed, we must first follow the rule as stated
in the case of Urbano vs. Intermediate Appellate Court (157 SCRA 1
[1988]) to wit:
The rule is that the death of the victim must be the direct,
natural and logical consequence of the wounds inflicted upon him by
the accused. And since we are dealing with a criminal conviction, the
proof that the accused caused the victim's death must convince a
rational mind beyond reasonable doubt. (Emphasis supplied)
In People v. Tempongko, Jr., (144 SCRA 583, 592 [1986]), we explained
that:
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The basic principle in every criminal prosecution is that accusation is


not synonymous with guilt. The accused is presumed innocent until
the contrary is proved by the prosecution. If the prosecution fails, it
fails utterly, even if the defense is weak or, indeed, even if there is no
defense at all. The defendant faces the full panoply of state authority
with all "The People of the Philippines" arrayed against him. In a
manner of speaking, he goes to bat with all the bases loaded. The
odds are heavily against him. It is important, therefore, to equalize the
positions of the prosecution and the defense by presuming the
innocence of the accused until the state is able to refute the
presumption by proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. (At. p. 592)
The evidence for the accused maybe numerically less as against the
number of witnesses and preponderance of evidence presented by the
prosecution but there is no direct and convincing proof that the accused
was responsible for the vibrator left inside the victim's vagina which caused
her death seven (7) months after its insertion. What the prosecution
managed to establish were mere circumstances which were not sufficient

to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence. While


circumstantial evidence may suffice to support a conviction it is imperative,
though, that the following requisites should 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. (Rule 133, Sec. 4 Revised
Rules of Court)
For the well-entrenched rule in evidence is that "before conviction can be
had upon circumstantial evidence, the circumstances proved should
constitute an unbroken chain which leads to one fair and reasonable
conclusion pointing to the defendant, to the exclusion of all others, as the
author of the crime (People v. Subano, 73 Phil. 692 [1942]; Emphasis
supplied). It must fairly exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence
(Dorado v. Court of Appeals, 153 SCRA 420, 433 [1987]). In this case the
circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution does not conclusively
point to the liability of the appellant for the crime charged. (People v.
Tolentino, supra)
We are aware of the wide publicity given to the plight of Rosario Baluyot
and how her death exemplified starkly the daily terrors that most street
children encounter as they sell their bodies in order to survive. At an age
when innocence and youthful joys should preponderate in their lives, they
experience life in its most heartless and inhuman form. Instead of nothing
more than gentle disappointments occupying their young minds, they daily
cope with tragedies that even adults should never be made to carry.
It is with distressing reluctance that we have to seemingly set back the
efforts of Government to dramatize the death of Rosario Baluyot as a
means of galvanizing the nation to care for its street children. It would have
meant a lot to social workers and prosecutors alike if one pedophile-killer
could be brought to justice so that his example would arouse public
concern, sufficient for the formulation and implementation of meaningful
remedies. However, we cannot convict on anything less than proof beyond
reasonable doubt. The protections of the Bill of Rights and our criminal
justice system are as much, if not more so, for the perverts and outcasts of
society as they are for normal, decent, and law-abiding people.
The requirement of proof which produces in an unprejudiced mind moral
certainty or conviction that the accused did commit the offense has not
been satisfied.
By way of emphasis, we reiterate some of the factors arousing reasonable
doubt:

1. The evidence on Rosario Baluyot's baptism creates reasonable


doubt about her being less than 12 years old when the carnal
knowledge took place. If the evidence for the prosecution is to be
believed, she was not yet born on the date she was baptized.
2. Since the proof of Rosario's being under 12 years of age is not
satisfactory, the prosecution has to prove force, intimidation, or
deprivation of reason in order to convict for rape. There is no such
proof. In fact, the evidence shows a willingness to submit to the
sexual act for monetary considerations.
3. The only witness to the fact of Ritter's placing a vibrator inside the
vagina of Rosario was Jessie Ramirez. This witness did not see Ritter
insert the vibrator. The morning after the insertion, he was only told
by Rosario about it. Two days later, he allegedly met Rosario who
informed him that she was able to remove the object. And yet,
Ramirez testified that on the night of that second encounter, he saw
Rosario groaning because of pain in her stomach. She was even
hurling invectives. Ramirez' testimony is not only hearsay, it is also
contradictory.
4. It was improbable, according to expert medical testimony, for a
foreign object with active properties to cause pain, discomfort, and
serious infection only after seven months inside a young girl's vaginal
canal. Infection would have set in much earlier. Jessie Ramirez
recalled that the incident happened in December of 1986. (TSN.,
January 6, 1988, pp. 15-17) The evidence, however shows that the
appellant was not here in the Philippines that December. As per the
Commission on Immigration Arrival and Departure Report, Heinrich
Ritter arrived in the Philippines on October 7, 1986 and left on
October 12, 1986. He never returned until September 23, 1987
(Exhibits "DD" and "EE") The incident could have happened only in
October, but then it would have been highly improbable for the sexual
vibrator to stay inside the vagina for seven (7) months with the kind of
serious complications it creates.
5. The gynecologist who attended to Rosario during her hospital
confinement testified that she told him "Ginamit ako ng Negro at siya
ang naglagay nito." The accused is not a black.
Noteworthy is the fact that nothing was mentioned about Rosario's activities
after the hotel incident. Considering Dr. Barcinal's testimony indicating that
she was "used" by a "Negro" three (3) months prior to admission in the
hospital and Rosario's unfortunate profession, there is always the
possibility that she could have allowed herself to be violated by this
perverse kind of sexual behavior where a vibrator or vibrators were inserted
into her vagina between October, 1986 and May, 1987.

Moreover, the long delay of seven (7) months after the incident in reporting
the alleged crime renders the evidence for the prosecution insufficient to
establish appellant's guilty connection with the requisite moral certainty.
(See People v. Mula Cruz, 129 SCRA 156 [1984]).
The established facts do not entirely rule out the possibility that the
appellant could have inserted a foreign object inside Rosario's vagina. This
object may have caused her death. It is possible that the appellant could be
the guilty person. However, the Court cannot base an affirmance of
conviction upon mere possibilities. Suspicions and possibilities are not
evidence and therefore should not be taken against the accused. (People v.
Tolentino, supra)
Well-established is the rule that every circumstance favorable to the
accused should be duly taken into account. This rule applies even to
hardened criminals or those whose bizarre behaviour violates the mores of
civilized society. The evidence against the accused must survive the test of
reason. The strongest suspicion must not be allowed to sway judgment.
(See Sacay v. Sandiganbayan, 142 SCRA 593 [1986]). As stated in the
case of People v. Ng (142 SCRA 615 [1986]):
. . . [F]rom the earliest years of this Court, it has emphasized the rule
that reasonable doubt in criminal cases must be resolved in favor of
the accused. The requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt calls
for moral certainty of guilt. It has been defined as meaning such proof
"to the satisfaction of the court, keeping in mind the presumption of
innocence, as precludes every reasonable hypothesis except that
which it is given to support. It is not sufficient for the proof to establish
a probability, even though strong, that the fact charged is more likely
to be true than the contrary. It must establish the truth of the fact to a
reasonable and moral certaintya certainty that convinces and
satisfies the reason and the conscience of those who are to act upon
it. (Moreno, Philippine Law Dictionary, 1972 Edition, p.
379, citing U.S. v. Reyes, 3 Phil. 3). . . .
In the instant case, since there are circumstances which prevent our being
morally certain of the guilt of the appellant, he is, therefore, entitled to an
acquittal.
This notwithstanding, the Court can not ignore the acts of the appellant on
the children, Jessie Ramirez and Rosario Baluyot in October, 1986 at the
MGM Hotel. Inspite of his flat denials, we are convinced that he comes to
this country not to look at historical sights, enrich his intellect or indulge in
legitimate pleasures but in order to satisfy the urgings of a sick mind.
With the positive Identification and testimony by Jessie Ramirez that it was
the appellant who picked him and Rosario from among the children and
invited them to the hotel; and that in the hotel he was shown pictures of
young boys like him and the two masturbated each other, such actuations

clearly show that the appellant is a pedophile. When apprehended in


Ermita, he was sizing up young children. Dr. Solis defined pedophilia in his
book entitled Legal Medicine, 1987 edition, as follows:
PedophiliaA form of sexual perversion wherein a person has the
compulsive desire to have sexual intercourse with a child of either
sex. Children of various ages participate in sexual activities, like
fellatio, cunnilingus, fondling with sex organs, or anal sexual
intercourse. Usually committed by a homosexual between a man and
a boy the latter being a passive partner.
Ritter was prosecuted for rape with homicide and not pedophilia, assuming
this is a crime by itself. Pedophilia is clearly a behavior offensive to public
morals and violative of the declared policy of the state to promote and
protect the physical, moral, spiritual and social well-being of our youth.
(Article II, Section 13, 1987 Constitution) (Harvey v. Defensor Santiago,
162 SCRA 840, 848 [1989]). Pedophiles, especially thrill seeking aliens
have no place in our country.
In this case, there is reasonable ground to believe that the appellant
committed acts injurious not only to Rosario Baluyot but also to the public
good and domestic tranquility of the people. The state has expressly
committed itself to defend the right of children to assistance and special
protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other
conditions prejudicial to their development. (Art. XV, Section 3 [2] . . .
(Harvey v. Santiago,supra). The appellant has abused Filipino children,
enticing them with money. The appellant should be expelled from the
country.
Furthermore, it does not necessarily follow that the appellant is also free
from civil liability which is impliedly instituted with the criminal action. (Rule
III, Section 1) The well-settled doctrine is that a person while not criminally
liable, may still be civilly liable. We reiterate what has been stated
in Urbano v. IAC, supra.
. . . While the guilt of the accused in a criminal prosecution must be
established beyond reasonable doubt, only a preponderance of
evidence is required in a civil action for damages. (Article 29, Civil
Code). The judgment of acquittal extinguishes the civil liability of the
accused only when it includes a declaration that the facts from which
the civil liability might arise did not exist. (Padilla v. Court of Appeals,
129 SCRA 559).
The reason for the provisions of Article 29 of the Civil Code, which
provides that the acquittal of the accused on the ground that his guilt
has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt does not necessarily
exempt him from civil liability for the same act or omission, has been
explained by the Code Commission as follows:

The old rule that the acquittal of the accused in a criminal case
also releases him from civil liability is one of the most serious
flaws in the Philippine legal system. It has given rise to
numberless instances of miscarriage of justice, where the
acquittal was due to a reasonable doubt in the mind of the court
as to the guilt of the accused. The reasoning followed is that
inasmuch as the civil responsibility is derived from the criminal
offense, when the latter is not proved, civil liability cannot be
demanded.
This is one of those causes where confused thinking leads to
unfortunate and deplorable consequences. Such reasoning fails
to draw a clear line of demarcation between criminal liability
and civil responsibility, and to determine the logical result of the
distinction. The two liabilities are separate and distinct from
each other. One affects the social order and the other, private
rights. One is for the punishment or correction of the offender
while the other is for the reparation of damages suffered by the
aggrieved party. The two responsibilities are so different from
each other that article 1813 of the present (Spanish) Civil Code
reads thus: "There may be a compromise upon the civil action
arising from a crime; but the public action for the imposition of
the legal penalty shall not thereby be extinguished." It is just
and proper that, for the purposes of the imprisonment of or fine
upon the accused, the offense should be proved beyond
reasonable doubt. But for the purpose of indemnifying the
complaining party, why should the offense also be proved
beyond reasonable doubt? Is not the invasion or violation of
every private right to be proved only by a preponderance of
evidence? Is the right of the aggrieved person any less private
because the wrongful act is also punishable by the criminal
law?
For these reasons, the Commission recommends the adoption
of the reform under discussion. It will correct a serious defect in
our law. It will close up an inexhaustible source of injusticea
cause for disillusionment on the part of the innumerable
persons injured or wronged.
Rosario Baluyot is a street child who ran away from her grandmother's
house.1wphi1 Circumstances forced her to succumb and enter this
unfortunate profession. Nonetheless, she has left behind heirs who have
certainly suffered mental anguish, anxiety and moral shock by her sudden
and incredulous death as reflected in the records of the case. Though we
are acquitting the appellant for the crime of rape with homicide, we
emphasize that we are not ruling that he is innocent or blameless. It is only
the constitutional presumption of innocence and the failure of the
prosecution to build an airtight case for conviction which saved him, not
that the facts of unlawful conduct do not exist. As earlier stated, there is the

likelihood that he did insert the vibrator whose end was left inside Rosario's
vaginal canal and that the vibrator may have caused her death. True, we
cannot convict on probabilities or possibilities but civil liability does not
require proof beyond reasonable doubt. The Court can order the payment
of indemnity on the facts found in the records of this case.
The appellant certainly committed acts contrary to morals, good customs,
public order or public policy (see Article 21 Civil Code). As earlier
mentioned, the appellant has abused Filipino children, enticing them with
money. We can not overstress the responsibility for proper behavior of all
adults in the Philippines, including the appellant towards young children.
The sexual exploitation committed by the appellant should not and can not
be condoned. Thus, considering the circumstances of the case, we are
awarding damages to the heirs of Rosario Baluyot in the amount of
P30,000.00.
And finally, the Court deplores the lack of criminal laws which will
adequately protect street children from exploitation by pedophiles, pimps,
and, perhaps, their own parents or guardians who profit from the sale of
young bodies. The provisions on statutory rape and other related offenses
were never intended for the relatively recent influx of pedophiles taking
advantage of rampant poverty among the forgotten segments of our
society. Newspaper and magazine articles, media exposes, college
dissertations, and other studies deal at length with this serious social
problem but pedophiles like the appellant will continue to enter the
Philippines and foreign publications catering to them will continue to
advertise the availability of Filipino street children unless the Government
acts and acts soon. We have to acquit the appellant because the Bill of
Rights commands us to do so. We, however, express the Court's concern
about the problem of street children and the evils committed against them.
Something must be done about it.
WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Appellant HEINRICH STEFAN RITTER is ACQUITTED on grounds of
reasonable doubt. The appellant is ordered to pay the amount of
P30,000.00 by way of moral and exemplary damages to the heirs of
Rosario Baluyot. The Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation is
hereby directed to institute proper deportation proceedings against the
appellant and to immediately expel him thereafter with prejudice to re-entry
into the country.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Feliciano, Bidin and Davide, Jr., JJ, concur.

G.R. No. 171182

August 23, 2012

UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES, JOSE V. ABUEVA, RAUL P. DE


GUZMAN, RUBEN P. ASPIRAS, EMMANUEL P. BELLO, WILFREDO P.
DAVID, CASIANO S. ABRIGO, and JOSEFINA R.
LICUANAN,Petitioners,
vs.
HON. AGUSTIN S. DIZON, his capacity as Presiding Judge of the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 80, STERN BUILDERS,
INC., and SERVILLANO DELA CRUZ, Respondents.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
Trial judges should not immediately issue writs of execution or garnishment
against the Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies and
instrumentalities to enforce money judgments. 1 They should bear in mind
that the primary jurisdiction to examine, audit and settle all claims of any
sort due from the Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies and
instrumentalities pertains to the Commission on Audit (COA) pursuant to
Presidential Decree No. 1445 (Government Auditing Code of the
Philippines).
The Case
On appeal by the University of the Philippines and its then incumbent
officials (collectively, the UP) is the decision promulgated on September 16,
2005,2 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) upheld the order of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 80, in Quezon City that directed the garnishment
of public funds amounting to P16,370,191.74 belonging to the UP to satisfy
the writ of execution issued to enforce the already final and executory
judgment against the UP.
Antecedents
On August 30, 1990, the UP, through its then President Jose V. Abueva,
entered into a General Construction Agreement with respondent Stern
Builders Corporation (Stern Builders), represented by its President and
General Manager Servillano dela Cruz, for the construction of the extension
building and the renovation of the College of Arts and Sciences Building in
the campus of the University of the Philippines in Los Baos (UPLB). 3
In the course of the implementation of the contract, Stern Builders
submitted three progress billings corresponding to the work accomplished,
but the UP paid only two of the billings. The third billing worth P273,729.47
was not paid due to its disallowance by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Despite the lifting of the disallowance, the UP failed to pay the billing,
prompting Stern Builders and dela Cruz to sue the UP and its corespondent officials to collect the unpaid billing and to recover various

damages. The suit, entitled Stern Builders Corporation and Servillano R.


Dela Cruz v. University of the Philippines Systems, Jose V. Abueva, Raul P.
de Guzman, Ruben P. Aspiras, Emmanuel P. Bello, Wilfredo P. David,
Casiano S. Abrigo, and Josefina R. Licuanan,was docketed as Civil Case
No. Q-93-14971 of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City (RTC). 4
After trial, on November 28, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision in favor of
the plaintiffs,5 viz:
Wherefore, in the light of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in
favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants ordering the latter to pay
plaintiff, jointly and severally, the following, to wit:
1. P 503,462.74 amount of the third billing, additional
accomplished work and retention money
2. P 5,716,729.00 in actual damages
3. P 10,000,000.00 in moral damages
4. P 150,000.00 and P 1,500.00 per appearance as attorneys
fees; and
5. Costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
Following the RTCs denial of its motion for reconsideration on May 7,
2002,6 the UP filed a notice of appeal on June 3, 2002. 7 Stern Builders and
dela Cruz opposed the notice of appeal on the ground of its filing being
belated, and moved for the execution of the decision. The UP countered
that the notice of appeal was filed within the reglementary period because
the UPs Office of Legal Affairs (OLS) in Diliman, Quezon City received the
order of denial only on May 31, 2002. On September 26, 2002, the RTC
denied due course to the notice of appeal for having been filed out of time
and granted the private respondents motion for execution. 8
The RTC issued the writ of execution on October 4, 2002, 9 and the sheriff
of the RTC served the writ of execution and notice of demand upon the UP,
through its counsel, on October 9, 2002.10 The UP filed an urgent motion to
reconsider the order dated September 26, 2002, to quash the writ of
execution dated October 4, 2002, and to restrain the
proceedings.11 However, the RTC denied the urgent motion on April 1,
2003.12
On June 24, 2003, the UP assailed the denial of due course to its appeal
through a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals (CA), docketed as
CA-G.R. No. 77395.13

On February 24, 2004, the CA dismissed the petition for certiorari upon
finding that the UPs notice of appeal had been filed late, 14 stating:
Records clearly show that petitioners received a copy of the Decision dated
November 28, 2001 and January 7, 2002, thus, they had until January 22,
2002 within which to file their appeal. On January 16, 2002 or after the
lapse of nine (9) days, petitioners through their counsel Atty. Nolasco filed a
Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid decision, hence, pursuant to
the rules, petitioners still had six (6) remaining days to file their appeal. As
admitted by the petitioners in their petition (Rollo, p. 25), Atty. Nolasco
received a copy of the Order denying their motion for reconsideration on
May 17, 2002, thus, petitioners still has until May 23, 2002 (the remaining
six (6) days) within which to file their appeal. Obviously, petitioners were
not able to file their Notice of Appeal on May 23, 2002 as it was only filed
on June 3, 2002.
In view of the said circumstances, We are of the belief and so holds that
the Notice of Appeal filed by the petitioners was really filed out of time, the
same having been filed seventeen (17) days late of the reglementary
period. By reason of which, the decision dated November 28, 2001 had
already become final and executory. "Settled is the rule that the perfection
of an appeal in the manner and within the period permitted by law is not
only mandatory but jurisdictional, and failure to perfect that appeal renders
the challenged judgment final and executory. This is not an empty
procedural rule but is grounded on fundamental considerations of public
policy and sound practice." (Rams Studio and Photographic Equipment,
Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 346 SCRA 691, 696). Indeed, Atty. Nolasco
received the order of denial of the Motion for Reconsideration on May 17,
2002 but filed a Notice of Appeal only on June 3, 3003. As such, the
decision of the lower court ipso facto became final when no appeal was
perfected after the lapse of the reglementary period. This procedural caveat
cannot be trifled with, not even by the High Court. 15
The UP sought a reconsideration, but the CA denied the UPs motion for
reconsideration on April 19, 2004.16
On May 11, 2004, the UP appealed to the Court by petition for review
on certiorari (G.R. No. 163501).
On June 23, 2004, the Court denied the petition for review.17 The UP
moved for the reconsideration of the denial of its petition for review on
August 29, 2004,18 but the Court denied the motion on October 6,
2004.19 The denial became final and executory on November 12, 2004. 20
In the meanwhile that the UP was exhausting the available remedies to
overturn the denial of due course to the appeal and the issuance of the writ
of execution, Stern Builders and dela Cruz filed in the RTC their motions for
execution despite their previous motion having already been granted and
despite the writ of execution having already issued. On June 11, 2003, the

RTC granted another motion for execution filed on May 9, 2003 (although
the RTC had already issued the writ of execution on October 4, 2002). 21
On June 23, 2003 and July 25, 2003, respectively, the sheriff served
notices of garnishment on the UPs depository banks, namely: Land Bank
of the Philippines (Buendia Branch) and the Development Bank of the
Philippines (DBP), Commonwealth Branch.22 The UP assailed the
garnishment through an urgent motion to quash the notices of
garnishment;23 and a motion to quash the writ of execution dated May 9,
2003.24
On their part, Stern Builders and dela Cruz filed their ex parte motion for
issuance of a release order.25
On October 14, 2003, the RTC denied the UPs urgent motion to quash,
and granted Stern Builders and dela Cruzs ex parte motion for issuance of
a release order.26
The UP moved for the reconsideration of the order of October 14, 2003, but
the RTC denied the motion on November 7, 2003. 27
On January 12, 2004, Stern Builders and dela Cruz again sought the
release of the garnished funds.28 Despite the UPs opposition,29 the RTC
granted the motion to release the garnished funds on March 16, 2004. 30 On
April 20, 2004, however, the RTC held in abeyance the enforcement of the
writs of execution issued on October 4, 2002 and June 3, 2003 and all the
ensuing notices of garnishment, citing Section 4, Rule 52, Rules of Court,
which provided that the pendency of a timely motion for reconsideration
stayed the execution of the judgment. 31
On December 21, 2004, the RTC, through respondent Judge Agustin S.
Dizon, authorized the release of the garnished funds of the UP,32 to wit:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, there being no more legal
impediment for the release of the garnished amount in satisfaction of the
judgment award in the instant case, let the amount garnished be
immediately released by the Development Bank of the Philippines,
Commonwealth Branch, Quezon City in favor of the plaintiff.
SO ORDERED.
The UP was served on January 3, 2005 with the order of December 21,
2004 directing DBP to release the garnished funds. 33
On January 6, 2005, Stern Builders and dela Cruz moved to cite DBP in
direct contempt of court for its non-compliance with the order of release. 34
Thereupon, on January 10, 2005, the UP brought a petition for certiorari in
the CA to challenge the jurisdiction of the RTC in issuing the order of
December 21, 2004 (CA-G.R. CV No. 88125).35 Aside from raising the

denial of due process, the UP averred that the RTC committed grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ruling that there
was no longer any legal impediment to the release of the garnished funds.
The UP argued that government funds and properties could not be seized
by virtue of writs of execution or garnishment, as held in Department of
Agriculture v. National Labor Relations Commission, 36 and citing Section 84
of Presidential Decree No. 1445 to the effect that "revenue funds shall not
be paid out of any public treasury or depository except in pursuance of an
appropriation law or other specific statutory authority;" and that the order of
garnishment clashed with the ruling in University of the Philippines Board of
Regents v. Ligot-Telan37 to the effect that the funds belonging to the UP
were public funds.
On January 19, 2005, the CA issued a temporary restraining order (TRO)
upon application by the UP.38
On March 22, 2005, Stern Builders and dela Cruz filed in the RTC their
amended motion for sheriffs assistance to implement the release order
dated December 21, 2004, stating that the 60-day period of the TRO of the
CA had already lapsed.39 The UP opposed the amended motion and
countered that the implementation of the release order be suspended. 40
On May 3, 2005, the RTC granted the amended motion for sheriffs
assistance and directed the sheriff to proceed to the DBP to receive the
check in satisfaction of the judgment. 41
The UP sought the reconsideration of the order of May 3, 2005. 42
On May 16, 2005, DBP filed a motion to consign the check representing the
judgment award and to dismiss the motion to cite its officials in contempt of
court.43
On May 23, 2005, the UP presented a motion to withhold the release of the
payment of the judgment award.44
On July 8, 2005, the RTC resolved all the pending matters, 45 noting that the
DBP had already delivered to the sheriff Managers Check No. 811941
for P 16,370,191.74 representing the garnished funds payable to the order
of Stern Builders and dela Cruz as its compliance with the RTCs order
dated December 21, 2004.46 However, the RTC directed in the same order
that Stern Builders and dela Cruz should not encash the check or withdraw
its amount pending the final resolution of the UPs petition for certiorari, to
wit:47
To enable the money represented in the check in question (No.
00008119411) to earn interest during the pendency of the defendant
University of the Philippines application for a writ of injunction with the
Court of Appeals the same may now be deposited by the plaintiff at the
garnishee Bank (Development Bank of the Philippines), the disposition of
the amount represented therein being subject to the final outcome of the

case of the University of the Philippines et al., vs. Hon. Agustin S. Dizon et
al., (CA G.R. 88125) before the Court of Appeals.
Let it be stated herein that the plaintiff is not authorized to encash and
withdraw the amount represented in the check in question and enjoy the
same in the fashion of an owner during the pendency of the case between
the parties before the Court of Appeals which may or may not be resolved
in plaintiffs favor.
With the end in view of seeing to it that the check in question is deposited
by the plaintiff at the Development Bank of the Philippines (garnishee
bank), Branch Sheriff Herlan Velasco is directed to accompany and/or
escort the plaintiff in making the deposit of the check in question.
SO ORDERED.
On September 16, 2005, the CA promulgated its assailed decision
dismissing the UPs petition for certiorari, ruling that the UP had been given
ample opportunity to contest the motion to direct the DBP to deposit the
check in the name of Stern Builders and dela Cruz; and that the garnished
funds could be the proper subject of garnishment because they had been
already earmarked for the project, with the UP holding the funds only in a
fiduciary capacity,48 viz:
Petitioners next argue that the UP funds may not be seized for execution or
garnishment to satisfy the judgment award. Citing Department of
Agriculture vs. NLRC, University of the Philippines Board of Regents vs.
Hon. Ligot-Telan, petitioners contend that UP deposits at Land Bank and
the Development Bank of the Philippines, being government funds, may not
be released absent an appropriations bill from Congress.
The argument is specious. UP entered into a contract with private
respondents for the expansion and renovation of the Arts and Sciences
Building of its campus in Los Baos, Laguna. Decidedly, there was already
an appropriations earmarked for the said project. The said funds are
retained by UP, in a fiduciary capacity, pending completion of the
construction project.
We agree with the trial Court [sic] observation on this score:
"4. Executive Order No. 109 (Directing all National Government
Agencies to Revert Certain Accounts Payable to the Cumulative
Result of Operations of the National Government and for Other
Purposes) Section 9. Reversion of Accounts Payable, provides
that, all 1995 and prior years documented accounts payable
and all undocumented accounts regardless of the year they
were incurred shall be reverted to the Cumulative Result of
Operations of the National Government (CROU). This shall
apply to accounts payable of all funds, except fiduciary funds,
as long as the purpose for which the funds were created have

not been accomplished and accounts payable under foreign


assisted projects for the duration of the said project. In this
regard, the Department of Budget and Management issued
Joint-Circular No. 99-6 4.0 (4.3) Procedural Guidelines which
provides that all accounts payable that reverted to the CROU
may be considered for payment upon determination thru
administrative process, of the existence, validity and legality of
the claim. Thus, the allegation of the defendants that
considering no appropriation for the payment of any amount
awarded to plaintiffs appellee the funds of defendant-appellants
may not be seized pursuant to a writ of execution issued by the
regular court is misplaced. Surely when the defendants and the
plaintiff entered into the General Construction of Agreement
there is an amount already allocated by the latter for the said
project which is no longer subject of future appropriation." 49
After the CA denied their motion for reconsideration on December 23,
2005, the petitioners appealed by petition for review.
Matters Arising During the Pendency of the Petition
On January 30, 2006, Judge Dizon of the RTC (Branch 80) denied Stern
Builders and dela Cruzs motion to withdraw the deposit, in consideration of
the UPs intention to appeal to the CA,50 stating:
Since it appears that the defendants are intending to file a petition for
review of the Court of Appeals resolution in CA-G.R. No. 88125 within the
reglementary period of fifteen (15) days from receipt of resolution, the Court
agrees with the defendants stand that the granting of plaintiffs subject
motion is premature.
Let it be stated that what the Court meant by its Order dated July 8, 2005
which states in part that the "disposition of the amount represented therein
being subject to the final outcome of the case of the University of the
Philippines, et. al., vs. Hon. Agustin S. Dizon et al., (CA G.R. No. 88125
before the Court of Appeals) is that the judgment or resolution of said court
has to be final and executory, for if the same will still be elevated to the
Supreme Court, it will not attain finality yet until the highest court has
rendered its own final judgment or resolution. 51
However, on January 22, 2007, the UP filed an Urgent Application for A
Temporary Restraining Order and/or A Writ of Preliminary
Injunction,52 averring that on January 3, 2007, Judge Maria Theresa dela
Torre-Yadao (who had meanwhile replaced Judge Dizon upon the latters
appointment to the CA) had issued another order allowing Stern Builders
and dela Cruz to withdraw the deposit,53 to wit:
It bears stressing that defendants liability for the payment of the judgment
obligation has become indubitable due to the final and executory nature of
the Decision dated November 28, 2001. Insofar as the payment of the [sic]

judgment obligation is concerned, the Court believes that there is


nothingmore the defendant can do to escape liability. It is observed that
there is nothing more the defendant can do to escape liability. It is observed
that defendant U.P. System had already exhausted all its legal remedies to
overturn, set aside or modify the decision (dated November 28,
2001( rendered against it. The way the Court sees it, defendant U.P.
Systems petition before the Supreme Court concerns only with the manner
by which said judgment award should be satisfied. It has nothing to do with
the legality or propriety thereof, although it prays for the deletion of [sic]
reduction of the award of moral damages.
It must be emphasized that this Courts finding, i.e., that there was sufficient
appropriation earmarked for the project, was upheld by the Court of
Appeals in its decision dated September 16, 2005. Being a finding of fact,
the Supreme Court will, ordinarily, not disturb the same was said Court is
not a trier of fact. Such being the case, defendants arguments that there
was no sufficient appropriation for the payment of the judgment obligation
must fail.
While it is true that the former Presiding Judge of this Court in its Order
dated January 30, 2006 had stated that:
Let it be stated that what the Court meant by its Order dated July 8, 2005
which states in part that the "disposition of the amount represented therein
being subject to the final outcome of the case of the University of the
Philippines, et. al., vs. Hon. Agustin S. Dizon et al., (CA G.R. No. 88125
before the Court of Appeals) is that the judgment or resolution of said court
has to be final and executory, for if the same will still be elevated to the
Supreme Court, it will not attain finality yet until the highest court has
rendered its own final judgment or resolution.
it should be noted that neither the Court of Appeals nor the Supreme Court
issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the release or withdrawal of the
garnished amount. In fact, in its present petition for review before the
Supreme Court, U.P. System has not prayed for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction. Thus, the Court doubts whether such writ is
forthcoming.
The Court honestly believes that if defendants petition assailing the Order
of this Court dated December 31, 2004 granting the motion for the release
of the garnished amount was meritorious, the Court of Appeals would have
issued a writ of injunction enjoining the same. Instead, said appellate court
not only refused to issue a wit of preliminary injunction prayed for by U.P.
System but denied the petition, as well. 54
The UP contended that Judge Yadao thereby effectively reversed the
January 30, 2006 order of Judge Dizon disallowing the withdrawal of the
garnished amount until after the decision in the case would have become
final and executory.

Although the Court issued a TRO on January 24, 2007 to enjoin Judge
Yadao and all persons acting pursuant to her authority from enforcing her
order of January 3, 2007,55 it appears that on January 16, 2007, or prior to
the issuance of the TRO, she had already directed the DBP to forthwith
release the garnished amount to Stern Builders and dela Cruz; 56 and that
DBP had forthwith complied with the order on January 17, 2007 upon the
sheriffs service of the order of Judge Yadao. 57
These intervening developments impelled the UP to file in this Court a
supplemental petition on January 26, 2007, 58 alleging that the RTC (Judge
Yadao) gravely erred in ordering the immediate release of the garnished
amount despite the pendency of the petition for review in this Court.
The UP filed a second supplemental petition59 after the RTC (Judge Yadao)
denied the UPs motion for the redeposit of the withdrawn amount on April
10, 2007,60 to wit:
This resolves defendant U.P. Systems Urgent Motion to Redeposit
Judgment Award praying that plaintiffs be directed to redeposit the
judgment award to DBP pursuant to the Temporary Restraining Order
issued by the Supreme Court. Plaintiffs opposed the motion and countered
that the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court has
become moot and academic considering that the act sought to be
restrained by it has already been performed. They also alleged that the
redeposit of the judgment award was no longer feasible as they have
already spent the same.
It bears stressing, if only to set the record straight, that this Court did not
in its Order dated January 3, 2007 (the implementation of which was
restrained by the Supreme Court in its Resolution dated January 24, 2002)
direct that that garnished amount "be deposited with the garnishee bank
(Development Bank of the Philippines)". In the first place, there was no
need to order DBP to make such deposit, as the garnished amount was
already deposited in the account of plaintiffs with the DBP as early as May
13, 2005. What the Court granted in its Order dated January 3, 2007 was
plaintiffs motion to allow the release of said deposit. It must be recalled
that the Court found plaintiffs motion meritorious and, at that time, there
was no restraining order or preliminary injunction from either the Court of
Appeals or the Supreme Court which could have enjoined the release of
plaintiffs deposit. The Court also took into account the following factors:
a) the Decision in this case had long been final and executory
after it was rendered on November 28, 2001;
b) the propriety of the dismissal of U.P. Systems appeal was
upheld by the Supreme Court;
c) a writ of execution had been issued;

d) defendant U.P. Systems deposit with DBP was garnished


pursuant to a lawful writ of execution issued by the Court; and
e) the garnished amount had already been turned over to the
plaintiffs and deposited in their account with DBP.
The garnished amount, as discussed in the Order dated January 16, 2007,
was already owned by the plaintiffs, having been delivered to them by the
Deputy Sheriff of this Court pursuant to par. (c), Section 9, Rule 39 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Moreover, the judgment obligation has
already been fully satisfied as per Report of the Deputy Sheriff.
Anent the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court, the
same has become functus oficio, having been issued after the garnished
amount had been released to the plaintiffs. The judgment debt was
released to the plaintiffs on January 17, 2007, while the Temporary
Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court was received by this Court
on February 2, 2007. At the time of the issuance of the Restraining Order,
the act sought to be restrained had already been done, thereby rendering
the said Order ineffectual.
After a careful and thorough study of the arguments advanced by the
parties, the Court is of the considered opinion that there is no legal basis to
grant defendant U.P. Systems motion to redeposit the judgment amount.
Granting said motion is not only contrary to law, but it will also render this
Courts final executory judgment nugatory. Litigation must end and
terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective
administration of justice that once a judgment has become final the issue or
cause involved therein should be laid to rest. This doctrine of finality of
judgment is grounded on fundamental considerations of public policy and
sound practice. In fact, nothing is more settled in law than that once a
judgment attains finality it thereby becomes immutable and unalterable. It
may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant
to correct what is perceived to be an erroneous conclusion of fact or law,
and regardless of whether the modification is attempted to be made by the
court rendering it or by the highest court of the land.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, finding defendant U.P. Systems
Urgent Motion to Redeposit Judgment Award devoid of merit, the same is
hereby DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
Issues
The UP now submits that:
I

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN


DISMISSING THE PETITION, ALLOWING IN EFFECT THE
GARNISHMENT OF UP FUNDS, WHEN IT RULED THAT FUNDS HAVE
ALREADY BEEN EARMARKED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT;
AND THUS, THERE IS NO NEED FOR FURTHER APPROPRIATIONS.
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN ALLOWING
GARNISHMENT OF A STATE UNIVERSITYS FUNDS IN VIOLATION OF
ARTICLE XIV, SECTION 5(5) OF THE CONSTITUTION.
III
IN THE ALTERNATIVE, THE UNIVERSITY INVOKES EQUITY AND THE
REVIEW POWERS OF THIS HONORABLE COURT TO MODIFY, IF NOT
TOTALLY DELETE THE AWARD OF P 10 MILLION AS MORAL
DAMAGES TO RESPONDENTS.
IV
THE RTC-BRANCH 80 COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN ORDERING THE
IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF THE JUDGMENT AWARD IN ITS ORDER
DATED 3 JANUARY 2007 ON THE GROUND OF EQUITY AND JUDICIAL
COURTESY.
V
THE RTC-BRANCH 80 COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN ORDERING THE
IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF THE JUDGMENT AWARD IN ITS ORDER
DATED 16 JANUARY 2007 ON THE GROUND THAT PETITIONER
UNIVERSITY STILL HAS A PENDING MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION OF THE ORDER DATED 3 JANUARY 2007.
VI
THE RTC-BRANCH 80 COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN NOT
ORDERING THE REDEPOSIT OF THE GARNISHED AMOUNT TO THE
DBP IN VIOLATION OF THE CLEAR LANGUAGE OF THE SUPREME
COURT RESOLUTION DATED 24 JANUARY 2007.
The UP argues that the amount earmarked for the construction project had
been purposely set aside only for the aborted project and did not include
incidental matters like the awards of actual damages, moral damages and
attorneys fees. In support of its argument, the UP cited Article 12.2 of the
General Construction Agreement, which stipulated that no deductions
would be allowed for the payment of claims, damages, losses and
expenses, including attorneys fees, in case of any litigation arising out of
the performance of the work. The UP insists that the CA decision was
inconsistent with the rulings in Commissioner of Public Highways v. San

Diego61 and Department of Agriculture v. NLRC62 to the effect that


government funds and properties could not be seized under writs of
execution or garnishment to satisfy judgment awards.
Furthermore, the UP contends that the CA contravened Section 5, Article
XIV of the Constitution by allowing the garnishment of UP funds, because
the garnishment resulted in a substantial reduction of the UPs limited
budget allocated for the remuneration, job satisfaction and fulfillment of the
best available teachers; that Judge Yadao should have exhibited judicial
courtesy towards the Court due to the pendency of the UPs petition for
review; and that she should have also desisted from declaring that the TRO
issued by this Court had become functus officio.
Lastly, the UP states that the awards of actual damages of P 5,716,729.00
and moral damages of P 10 million should be reduced, if not entirely
deleted, due to its being unconscionable, inequitable and detrimental to
public service.
In contrast, Stern Builders and dela Cruz aver that the petition for review
was fatally defective for its failure to mention the other cases upon the
same issues pending between the parties (i.e., CA-G.R. No. 77395 and
G.R No. 163501); that the UP was evidently resorting to forum shopping,
and to delaying the satisfaction of the final judgment by the filing of its
petition for review; that the ruling in Commissioner of Public Works v. San
Diego had no application because there was an appropriation for the
project; that the UP retained the funds allotted for the project only in a
fiduciary capacity; that the contract price had been meanwhile adjusted
to P 22,338,553.25, an amount already more than sufficient to cover the
judgment award; that the UPs prayer to reduce or delete the award of
damages had no factual basis, because they had been gravely wronged,
had been deprived of their source of income, and had suffered untold
miseries, discomfort, humiliation and sleepless years; that dela Cruz had
even been constrained to sell his house, his equipment and the implements
of his trade, and together with his family had been forced to live miserably
because of the wrongful actuations of the UP; and that the RTC correctly
declared the Courts TRO to be already functus officio by reason of the
withdrawal of the garnished amount from the DBP.
The decisive issues to be considered and passed upon are, therefore:
(a) whether the funds of the UP were the proper subject of garnishment in
order to satisfy the judgment award; and (b) whether the UPs prayer for
the deletion of the awards of actual damages of P 5,716,729.00, moral
damages of P 10,000,000.00 and attorneys fees of P 150,000.00
plus P 1,500.00 per appearance could be granted despite the finality of the
judgment of the RTC.
Ruling
The petition for review is meritorious.

I.
UPs funds, being government funds,
are not subject to garnishment
The UP was founded on June 18, 1908 through Act 1870 to provide
advanced instruction in literature, philosophy, the sciences, and arts, and to
give professional and technical training to deserving students. 63 Despite its
establishment as a body corporate,64 the UP remains to be a "chartered
institution"65 performing a legitimate government function. It is an institution
of higher learning, not a corporation established for profit and declaring any
dividends.66 In enacting Republic Act No. 9500 (The University of the
Philippines Charter of 2008), Congress has declared the UP as the national
university67 "dedicated to the search for truth and knowledge as well as the
development of future leaders."68
Irrefragably, the UP is a government instrumentality,69 performing the
States constitutional mandate of promoting quality and accessible
education.70 As a government instrumentality, the UP administers special
funds sourced from the fees and income enumerated under Act No. 1870
and Section 1 of Executive Order No. 714,71 and from the yearly
appropriations, to achieve the purposes laid down by Section 2 of Act 1870,
as expanded in Republic Act No. 9500.72 All the funds going into the
possession of the UP, including any interest accruing from the deposit of
such funds in any banking institution, constitute a "special trust fund," the
disbursement of which should always be aligned with the UPs mission and
purpose,73 and should always be subject to auditing by the COA. 74
Presidential Decree No. 1445 defines a "trust fund" as a fund that officially
comes in the possession of an agency of the government or of a public
officer as trustee, agent or administrator, or that is received for the
fulfillment of some obligation.75 A trust fund may be utilized only for the
"specific purpose for which the trust was created or the funds received." 76
The funds of the UP are government funds that are public in character.
They include the income accruing from the use of real property ceded to
the UP that may be spent only for the attainment of its institutional
objectives.77Hence, the funds subject of this action could not be validly
made the subject of the RTCs writ of execution or garnishment. The
adverse judgment rendered against the UP in a suit to which it had
impliedly consented was not immediately enforceable by execution against
the UP,78 because suability of the State did not necessarily mean its
liability.79
A marked distinction exists between suability of the State and its liability. As
the Court succinctly stated in Municipality of San Fernando, La Union v.
Firme:80
A distinction should first be made between suability and liability. "Suability
depends on the consent of the state to be sued, liability on the applicable

law and the established facts. The circumstance that a state is suable does
not necessarily mean that it is liable; on the other hand, it can never be
held liable if it does not first consent to be sued. Liability is not conceded by
the mere fact that the state has allowed itself to be sued. When the state
does waive its sovereign immunity, it is only giving the plaintiff the chance
to prove, if it can, that the defendant is liable.
Also, in Republic v. Villasor,81 where the issuance of an alias writ of
execution directed against the funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
to satisfy a final and executory judgment was nullified, the Court said:
xxx The universal rule that where the State gives its consent to be sued by
private parties either by general or special law, it may limit claimants action
"only up to the completion of proceedings anterior to the stage of
execution" and that the power of the Courts ends when the judgment is
rendered, since government funds and properties may not be seized under
writs of execution or garnishment to satisfy such judgments, is based on
obvious considerations of public policy. Disbursements of public funds must
be covered by the corresponding appropriation as required by law. The
functions and public services rendered by the State cannot be allowed to
be paralyzed or disrupted by the diversion of public funds from their
legitimate and specific objects, as appropriated by law.
The UP correctly submits here that the garnishment of its funds to satisfy
the judgment awards of actual and moral damages (including attorneys
fees) was not validly made if there was no special appropriation by
Congress to cover the liability. It was, therefore, legally unwarranted for the
CA to agree with the RTCs holding in the order issued on April 1, 2003 that
no appropriation by Congress to allocate and set aside the payment of the
judgment awards was necessary because "there (were) already an
appropriations (sic) earmarked for the said project." 82The CA and the RTC
thereby unjustifiably ignored the legal restriction imposed on the trust funds
of the Government and its agencies and instrumentalities to be used
exclusively to fulfill the purposes for which the trusts were created or for
which the funds were received except upon express authorization by
Congress or by the head of a government agency in control of the funds,
and subject to pertinent budgetary laws, rules and regulations. 83
Indeed, an appropriation by Congress was required before the judgment
that rendered the UP liable for moral and actual damages (including
attorneys fees) would be satisfied considering that such monetary liabilities
were not covered by the "appropriations earmarked for the said project."
The Constitution strictly mandated that "(n)o money shall be paid out of the
Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law." 84
II
COA must adjudicate private respondents claim
before execution should proceed

The execution of the monetary judgment against the UP was within the
primary jurisdiction of the COA. This was expressly provided in Section 26
of Presidential Decree No. 1445, to wit:
Section 26. General jurisdiction. - The authority and powers of the
Commission shall extend to and comprehend all matters relating to auditing
procedures, systems and controls, the keeping of the general accounts of
the Government, the preservation of vouchers pertaining thereto for a
period of ten years, the examination and inspection of the books, records,
and papers relating to those accounts; and the audit and settlement of the
accounts of all persons respecting funds or property received or held by
them in an accountable capacity, as well as the examination, audit, and
settlement of all debts and claims of any sort due from or owing to the
Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies and instrumentalities. The
said jurisdiction extends to all government-owned or controlled
corporations, including their subsidiaries, and other self-governing boards,
commissions, or agencies of the Government, and as herein prescribed,
including non governmental entities subsidized by the government, those
funded by donations through the government, those required to pay levies
or government share, and those for which the government has put up a
counterpart fund or those partly funded by the government.
It was of no moment that a final and executory decision already validated
the claim against the UP. The settlement of the monetary claim was still
subject to the primary jurisdiction of the COA despite the final decision of
the RTC having already validated the claim.85 As such, Stern Builders and
dela Cruz as the claimants had no alternative except to first seek the
approval of the COA of their monetary claim.
On its part, the RTC should have exercised utmost caution, prudence and
judiciousness in dealing with the motions for execution against the UP and
the garnishment of the UPs funds. The RTC had no authority to direct the
immediate withdrawal of any portion of the garnished funds from the
depository banks of the UP. By eschewing utmost caution, prudence and
judiciousness in dealing with the execution and garnishment, and by
authorizing the withdrawal of the garnished funds of the UP, the RTC acted
beyond its jurisdiction, and all its orders and issuances thereon were void
and of no legal effect, specifically: (a) the order Judge Yadao issued on
January 3, 2007 allowing Stern Builders and dela Cruz to withdraw the
deposited garnished amount; (b) the order Judge Yadao issued on January
16, 2007 directing DBP to forthwith release the garnish amount to Stern
Builders and dela Cruz; (c) the sheriffs report of January 17, 2007
manifesting the full satisfaction of the writ of execution; and (d) the order of
April 10, 2007 deying the UPs motion for the redeposit of the withdrawn
amount. Hence, such orders and issuances should be struck down without
exception.
Nothing extenuated Judge Yadaos successive violations of Presidential
Decree No. 1445. She was aware of Presidential Decree No. 1445,

considering that the Court circulated to all judges its Administrative Circular
No. 10-2000,86 issued on October 25, 2000, enjoining them "to observe
utmost caution, prudence and judiciousness in the issuance of writs of
execution to satisfy money judgments against government agencies and
local government units" precisely in order to prevent the circumvention of
Presidential Decree No. 1445, as well as of the rules and procedures of the
COA, to wit:
In order to prevent possible circumvention of the rules and
procedures of the Commission on Audit, judges are hereby enjoined
to observe utmost caution, prudence and judiciousness in the
issuance of writs of execution to satisfy money judgments against
government agencies and local government units.
Judges should bear in mind that in Commissioner of Public Highways v.
San Diego (31 SCRA 617, 625 1970), this Court explicitly stated:
"The universal rule that where the State gives its consent to be sued by
private parties either by general or special law, it may limit claimants action
only up to the completion of proceedings anterior to the stage of execution
and that the power of the Court ends when the judgment is rendered, since
government funds and properties may not be seized under writs of
execution or garnishment to satisfy such judgments, is based on obvious
considerations of public policy. Disbursements of public funds must be
covered by the corresponding appropriation as required by law. The
functions and public services rendered by the State cannot be allowed to
be paralyzed or disrupted by the diversion of public funds from their
legitimate and specific objects, as appropriated by law.
Moreover, it is settled jurisprudence that upon determination of State
liability, the prosecution, enforcement or satisfaction thereof must still
be pursued in accordance with the rules and procedures laid down in
P.D. No. 1445, otherwise known as the Government Auditing Code of
the Philippines (Department of Agriculture v. NLRC, 227 SCRA 693,
701-02 1993 citing Republic vs. Villasor, 54 SCRA 84 1973). All money
claims against the Government must first be filed with the
Commission on Audit which must act upon it within sixty days.
Rejection of the claim will authorize the claimant to elevate the matter
to the Supreme Court on certiorari and in effect, sue the State thereby
(P.D. 1445, Sections 49-50).
However, notwithstanding the rule that government properties are not
subject to levy and execution unless otherwise provided for by statute
(Republic v. Palacio, 23 SCRA 899 1968; Commissioner of Public
Highways v. San Diego, supra) or municipal ordinance (Municipality of
Makati v. Court of Appeals, 190 SCRA 206 1990), the Court has, in various
instances, distinguished between government funds and properties for
public use and those not held for public use. Thus, in Viuda de Tan Toco v.
Municipal Council of Iloilo (49 Phil 52 1926, the Court ruled that "where

property of a municipal or other public corporation is sought to be subjected


to execution to satisfy judgments recovered against such corporation, the
question as to whether such property is leviable or not is to be determined
by the usage and purposes for which it is held." The following can be culled
from Viuda de Tan Toco v. Municipal Council of Iloilo:
1. Properties held for public uses and generally everything held for
governmental purposes are not subject to levy and sale under
execution against such corporation. The same rule applies to funds in
the hands of a public officer and taxes due to a municipal corporation.
2. Where a municipal corporation owns in its proprietary capacity, as
distinguished from its public or government capacity, property not used or
used for a public purpose but for quasi-private purposes, it is the general
rule that such property may be seized and sold under execution against the
corporation.
3. Property held for public purposes is not subject to execution merely
because it is temporarily used for private purposes. If the public use is
wholly abandoned, such property becomes subject to execution.
This Administrative Circular shall take effect immediately and the Court
Administrator shall see to it that it is faithfully implemented.
Although Judge Yadao pointed out that neither the CA nor the Court had
issued as of then any writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the release or
withdrawal of the garnished amount, she did not need any writ of injunction
from a superior court to compel her obedience to the law. The Court is
disturbed that an experienced judge like her should look at public laws like
Presidential Decree No. 1445 dismissively instead of loyally following and
unquestioningly implementing them. That she did so turned her court into
an oppressive bastion of mindless tyranny instead of having it as a true
haven for the seekers of justice like the UP.
III
Period of appeal did not start without effective
service of decision upon counsel of record;
Fresh-period rule announced in
Neypes v. Court of Appeals
can be given retroactive application
The UP next pleads that the Court gives due course to its petition for
review in the name of equity in order to reverse or modify the adverse
judgment against it despite its finality. At stake in the UPs plea for equity
was the return of the amount of P 16,370,191.74 illegally garnished from its
trust funds. Obstructing the plea is the finality of the judgment based on the
supposed tardiness of UPs appeal, which the RTC declared on September
26, 2002. The CA upheld the declaration of finality on February 24, 2004,
and the Court itself denied the UPs petition for review on that issue on May

11, 2004 (G.R. No. 163501). The denial became final on November 12,
2004.
It is true that a decision that has attained finality becomes immutable and
unalterable, and cannot be modified in any respect, 87 even if the
modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law, and
whether the modification is made by the court that rendered it or by this
Court as the highest court of the land.88 Public policy dictates that once a
judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable, the prevailing party
should not be deprived of the fruits of victory by some subterfuge devised
by the losing party. Unjustified delay in the enforcement of such judgment
sets at naught the role and purpose of the courts to resolve justiciable
controversies with finality.89 Indeed, all litigations must at some time end,
even at the risk of occasional errors.
But the doctrine of immutability of a final judgment has not been absolute,
and has admitted several exceptions, among them: (a) the correction of
clerical errors; (b) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries that cause no
prejudice to any party; (c) void judgments; and (d) whenever circumstances
transpire after the finality of the decision that render its execution unjust
and inequitable.90 Moreover, in Heirs of Maura So v. Obliosca,91 we stated
that despite the absence of the preceding circumstances, the Court is not
precluded from brushing aside procedural norms if only to serve the higher
interests of justice and equity. Also, in Gumaru v. Quirino State
College,92 the Court nullified the proceedings and the writ of execution
issued by the RTC for the reason that respondent state college had not
been represented in the litigation by the Office of the Solicitor General.
We rule that the UPs plea for equity warrants the Courts exercise of the
exceptional power to disregard the declaration of finality of the judgment of
the RTC for being in clear violation of the UPs right to due process.
Both the CA and the RTC found the filing on June 3, 2002 by the UP of the
notice of appeal to be tardy. They based their finding on the fact that only
six days remained of the UPs reglementary 15-day period within which to
file the notice of appeal because the UP had filed a motion for
reconsideration on January 16, 2002 vis--vis the RTCs decision the UP
received on January 7, 2002; and that because the denial of the motion for
reconsideration had been served upon Atty. Felimon D. Nolasco of the
UPLB Legal Office on May 17, 2002, the UP had only until May 23, 2002
within which to file the notice of appeal.
The UP counters that the service of the denial of the motion for
reconsideration upon Atty. Nolasco was defective considering that its
counsel of record was not Atty. Nolasco of the UPLB Legal Office but the
OLS in Diliman, Quezon City; and that the period of appeal should be
reckoned from May 31, 2002, the date when the OLS received the order.
The UP submits that the filing of the notice of appeal on June 3, 2002 was
well within the reglementary period to appeal.

We agree with the submission of the UP.


Firstly, the service of the denial of the motion for reconsideration upon Atty.
Nolasco of the UPLB Legal Office was invalid and ineffectual because he
was admittedly not the counsel of record of the UP. The rule is that it is on
the counsel and not the client that the service should be made. 93
That counsel was the OLS in Diliman, Quezon City, which was served with
the denial only on May 31, 2002. As such, the running of the remaining
period of six days resumed only on June 1, 2002, 94 rendering the filing of
the UPs notice of appeal on June 3, 2002 timely and well within the
remaining days of the UPs period to appeal.
Verily, the service of the denial of the motion for reconsideration could only
be validly made upon the OLS in Diliman, and no other. The fact that Atty.
Nolasco was in the employ of the UP at the UPLB Legal Office did not
render the service upon him effective. It is settled that where a party has
appeared by counsel, service must be made upon such counsel. 95 Service
on the party or the partys employee is not effective because such notice is
not notice in law.96 This is clear enough from Section 2, second paragraph,
of Rule 13, Rules of Court, which explicitly states that: "If any party has
appeared by counsel, service upon him shall be made upon his counsel or
one of them, unless service upon the party himself is ordered by the court.
Where one counsel appears for several parties, he shall only be entitled to
one copy of any paper served upon him by the opposite side." As such, the
period to appeal resumed only on June 1, 2002, the date following the
service on May 31, 2002 upon the OLS in Diliman of the copy of the
decision of the RTC, not from the date when the UP was notified. 97
Accordingly, the declaration of finality of the judgment of the RTC, being
devoid of factual and legal bases, is set aside.
Secondly, even assuming that the service upon Atty. Nolasco was valid and
effective, such that the remaining period for the UP to take a timely appeal
would end by May 23, 2002, it would still not be correct to find that the
judgment of the RTC became final and immutable thereafter due to the
notice of appeal being filed too late on June 3, 2002.
In so declaring the judgment of the RTC as final against the UP, the CA and
the RTC applied the rule contained in the second paragraph of Section 3,
Rule 41 of the Rules of Court to the effect that the filing of a motion for
reconsideration interrupted the running of the period for filing the appeal;
and that the period resumed upon notice of the denial of the motion for
reconsideration. For that reason, the CA and the RTC might not be taken to
task for strictly adhering to the rule then prevailing.
However, equity calls for the retroactive application in the UPs favor of the
fresh-period rule that the Court first announced in mid-September of 2005
through its ruling in Neypes v. Court of Appeals, 98 viz:

To standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to afford


litigants fair opportunity to appeal their cases, the Court deems it practical
to allow a fresh period of 15 days within which to file the notice of appeal in
the Regional Trial Court, counted from receipt of the order dismissing a
motion for a new trial or motion for reconsideration.
The retroactive application of the fresh-period rule, a procedural law that
aims "to regiment or make the appeal period uniform, to be counted from
receipt of the order denying the motion for new trial, motion for
reconsideration (whether full or partial) or any final order or resolution," 99 is
impervious to any serious challenge. This is because there are no vested
rights in rules of procedure.100 A law or regulation is procedural when it
prescribes rules and forms of procedure in order that courts may be able to
administer justice.101 It does not come within the legal conception of a
retroactive law, or is not subject of the general rule prohibiting the
retroactive operation of statues, but is given retroactive effect in actions
pending and undetermined at the time of its passage without violating any
right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected.
We have further said that a procedural rule that is amended for the benefit
of litigants in furtherance of the administration of justice shall be
retroactively applied to likewise favor actions then pending, as equity
delights in equality.102 We may even relax stringent procedural rules in
order to serve substantial justice and in the exercise of this Courts equity
jurisdiction.103 Equity jurisdiction aims to do complete justice in cases where
a court of law is unable to adapt its judgments to the special circumstances
of a case because of the inflexibility of its statutory or legal jurisdiction. 104
It is cogent to add in this regard that to deny the benefit of the fresh-period
rule to the UP would amount to injustice and absurdity injustice, because
the judgment in question was issued on November 28, 2001 as compared
to the judgment in Neypes that was rendered in 1998; absurdity, because
parties receiving notices of judgment and final orders issued in the year
1998 would enjoy the benefit of the fresh-period rule but the later rulings of
the lower courts like that herein would not. 105
Consequently, even if the reckoning started from May 17, 2002, when Atty.
Nolasco received the denial, the UPs filing on June 3, 2002 of the notice of
appeal was not tardy within the context of the fresh-period rule. For the UP,
the fresh period of 15-days counted from service of the denial of the motion
for reconsideration would end on June 1, 2002, which was a Saturday.
Hence, the UP had until the next working day, or June 3, 2002, a Monday,
within which to appeal, conformably with Section 1 of Rule 22, Rules of
Court, which holds that: "If the last day of the period, as thus computed,
falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday in the place where the
court sits, the time shall not run until the next working day."
IV
Awards of monetary damages,

being devoid of factual and legal bases,


did not attain finality and should be deleted
Section 14 of Article VIII of the Constitution prescribes that express findings
of fact and of law should be made in the decision rendered by any court, to
wit:
Section 14. No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing
therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.
No petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the
court shall be refused due course or denied without stating the legal basis
therefor.
Implementing the constitutional provision in civil actions is Section 1 of Rule
36, Rules of Court, viz:
Section 1. Rendition of judgments and final orders. A judgment or final
order determining the merits of the case shall be in writing personally and
directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and
the law on which it is based, signed by him, and filed with the clerk of the
court. (1a)
The Constitution and the Rules of Court apparently delineate two main
essential parts of a judgment, namely: the body and the decretal portion.
Although the latter is the controlling part, 106 the importance of the former is
not to be lightly regarded because it is there where the court clearly and
distinctly states its findings of fact and of law on which the decision is
based. To state it differently, one without the other is ineffectual and
useless. The omission of either inevitably results in a judgment that violates
the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and the Rules of Court.
The term findings of fact that must be found in the body of the decision
refers to statements of fact, not to conclusions of law.107 Unlike in pleadings
where ultimate facts alone need to be stated, the Constitution and the
Rules of Court require not only that a decision should state the ultimate
facts but also that it should specify the supporting evidentiary facts, for they
are what are called the findings of fact.
The importance of the findings of fact and of law cannot be overstated. The
reason and purpose of the Constitution and the Rules of Court in that
regard are obviously to inform the parties why they win or lose, and what
their rights and obligations are. Only thereby is the demand of due process
met as to the parties. As Justice Isagani A. Cruz explained in Nicos
Industrial Corporation v. Court of Appeals:108
It is a requirement of due process that the parties to a litigation be informed
of how it was decided, with an explanation of the factual and legal reasons
that led to the conclusions of the court. The court cannot simply say that
judgment is rendered in favor of X and against Y and just leave it at that

without any justification whatsoever for its action. The losing party is
entitled to know why he lost, so he may appeal to a higher court, if
permitted, should he believe that the decision should be reversed. A
decision that does not clearly and distinctly state the facts and the law on
which it is based leaves the parties in the dark as to how it was reached
and is especially prejudicial to the losing party, who is unable to pinpoint
the possible errors of the court for review by a higher tribunal.
Here, the decision of the RTC justified the grant of actual and moral
damages, and attorneys fees in the following terse manner, viz:
xxx The Court is not unmindful that due to defendants unjustified refusal to
pay their outstanding obligation to plaintiff, the same suffered losses and
incurred expenses as he was forced to re-mortgage his house and lot
located in Quezon City to Metrobank (Exh. "CC") and BPI Bank just to pay
its monetary obligations in the form of interest and penalties incurred in the
course of the construction of the subject project. 109
The statement that "due to defendants unjustified refusal to pay their
outstanding obligation to plaintiff, the same suffered losses and incurred
expenses as he was forced to re-mortgage his house and lot located in
Quezon City to Metrobank (Exh. "CC") and BPI Bank just to pay its
monetary obligations in the form of interest and penalties incurred in the
course of the construction of the subject project" was only a conclusion of
fact and law that did not comply with the constitutional and statutory
prescription. The statement specified no detailed expenses or losses
constituting the P 5,716,729.00 actual damages sustained by Stern
Builders in relation to the construction project or to other pecuniary
hardships. The omission of such expenses or losses directly indicated that
Stern Builders did not prove them at all, which then contravened Article
2199, Civil Code, the statutory basis for the award of actual damages,
which entitled a person to an adequate compensation only for such
pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly proved. As such, the actual
damages allowed by the RTC, being bereft of factual support, were
speculative and whimsical. Without the clear and distinct findings of fact
and law, the award amounted only to an ipse dixit on the part of the
RTC,110 and did not attain finality.
There was also no clear and distinct statement of the factual and legal
support for the award of moral damages in the substantial amount
of P 10,000,000.00. The award was thus also speculative and whimsical.
Like the actual damages, the moral damages constituted another judicial
ipse dixit, the inevitable consequence of which was to render the award of
moral damages incapable of attaining finality. In addition, the grant of moral
damages in that manner contravened the law that permitted the recovery of
moral damages as the means to assuage "physical suffering, mental
anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings,
moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury." 111 The contravention of
the law was manifest considering that Stern Builders, as an artificial

person, was incapable of experiencing pain and moral


sufferings.112 Assuming that in granting the substantial amount
of P 10,000,000.00 as moral damages, the RTC might have had in mind
that dela Cruz had himself suffered mental anguish and anxiety. If that was
the case, then the RTC obviously disregarded his separate and distinct
personality from that of Stern Builders.113 Moreover, his moral and
emotional sufferings as the President of Stern Builders were not the
sufferings of Stern Builders. Lastly, the RTC violated the basic principle that
moral damages were not intended to enrich the plaintiff at the expense of
the defendant, but to restore the plaintiff to his status quo ante as much as
possible. Taken together, therefore, all these considerations exposed the
substantial amount of P 10,000,000.00 allowed as moral damages not only
to be factually baseless and legally indefensible, but also to be
unconscionable, inequitable and unreasonable.
Like the actual and moral damages, the P 150,000.00, plus P 1,500.00 per
appearance, granted as attorneys fees were factually unwarranted and
devoid of legal basis. The general rule is that a successful litigant cannot
recover attorneys fees as part of the damages to be assessed against the
losing party because of the policy that no premium should be placed on the
right to litigate.114 Prior to the effectivity of the present Civil Code, indeed,
such fees could be recovered only when there was a stipulation to that
effect. It was only under the present Civil Code that the right to collect
attorneys fees in the cases mentioned in Article 2208 115 of the Civil Code
came to be recognized.116 Nonetheless, with attorneys fees being allowed
in the concept of actual damages,117 their amounts must be factually and
legally justified in the body of the decision and not stated for the first time in
the decretal portion.118 Stating the amounts only in the dispositive portion of
the judgment is not enough;119 a rendition of the factual and legal
justifications for them must also be laid out in the body of the decision. 120
That the attorneys fees granted to the private respondents did not satisfy
the foregoing requirement suffices for the Court to undo them. 121 The grant
was ineffectual for being contrary to law and public policy, it being clear that
the express findings of fact and law were intended to bring the case within
the exception and thereby justify the award of the attorneys fees. Devoid of
such express findings, the award was a conclusion without a premise, its
basis being improperly left to speculation and conjecture. 122
Nonetheless, the absence of findings of fact and of any statement of the
law and jurisprudence on which the awards of actual and moral damages,
as well as of attorneys fees, were based was a fatal flaw that invalidated
the decision of the RTC only as to such awards. As the Court declared in
Velarde v. Social Justice Society,123 the failure to comply with the
constitutional requirement for a clear and distinct statement of the
supporting facts and law "is a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction" and that "(d)ecisions or orders issued in careless
disregard of the constitutional mandate are a patent nullity and must be
struck down as void."124 The other item granted by the RTC

(i.e., P 503,462.74) shall stand, subject to the action of the COA as stated
herein.
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for review on
certiorari; REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision of the Court of
Appeals under review; ANNULS the orders for the garnishment of the
funds of the University of the Philippines and for the release of the
garnished amount to Stern Builders Corporation and Servillano dela Cruz;
and DELETES from the decision of the Regional Trial Court dated
November 28, 2001 for being void only the awards of actual damages
of P 5,716,729.00, moral damages of P 10,000,000.00, and attorney's fees
of P150,000.00, plus P 1,500.00 per appearance, in favor of Stern Builders
Corporation and Servillano dela Cruz.
The Court ORDERS Stem Builders Corporation and Servillano dela Cruz to
redeposit the amount of P16,370,191.74 within 10 days from receipt of this
decision.
Costs of suit to be paid by the private respondents.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson, First Division
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice
AT T E S TAT I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Court's Division.
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson, First Division
C E R T I F I C AT I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Acting Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above
Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned
to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Senior Associate Justice
(Per Section 12, R.A. 296,
The Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended)

Footnotes
1

Administrative Circular No. 10-2000 dated October 25, 2000.

Rollo, pp. 39-54; penned by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes (later


Presiding Justice and Member of the Court, but now retired), with
Associate Justice Josefina Guevara-Salonga (retired) and Associate
Justice Fernanda Lampas-Peralta concurring.
3

Id. at 92-105.

Id. at 75-83.

Id. at 133-138.

Id. at 162.

Id. at 163-164.

Id. at 169-171.

Id. at 172-173.

10

Id. at 174.

11

Id. at 174-182.

12

Id. at 185-187.

13

Id. at 188-213.

14

Id. at 217-223; penned by Associate Justice B.A. Adefuin-Dela Cruz


(retired), with Associate Justice Eliezer R. delos Santos (deceased)
and Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza (now a Member of the
Court) concurring.
15

Id. at 221.

16

Id. at 243.

17

Id. at 282.

18

Id. at 283-291.

19

Id. at 293.

20

Id. at 417.

21

Id. at 172-173; and 301.

22

Id. at 312.

23

Id. at 302-309.

24

Id. at 314-319

25

Id. at 321-322.

26

Id. at 323-325.

27

Id. at 326-328.

28

Id. at 332-333.

29

Id. at 334-336.

30

Id. at 339.

31

Id. at 340.

32

Id. at 341.

33

Id. at 341.

34

Id. at 342-344.

35

Id. at 346-360.

36

G.R. No. 104269, November 11, 1993, 227 SCRA 693.

37

G.R. No. 110280, October 21, 1993, 227 SCRA 342.

38

Rollo, pp. 366-367; penned by Associate Justice Reyes, with


Associate Justice Tria Tirona (retired) and Associate Justice Jose C.
Reyes, Jr. concurring.
39

Id. at 452-453.

40

Id. at 455-460.

41

Id. at 472-476.

42

Id. at 477-482.

43

Id. at 484.

44

Id. at 485-489.

45

Id. at 492-494.

46

Id. at 484.

47

Id. at 492-494.

48

Id. at 51.

49

Id. at 51-52.

50

Id. at 569.

51

Id.

52

Id. at 556-561.

53

Id. at 562-565.

54

Id. at 563-564.

55

Id. at 576-581.

56

Id. at 625-628.

57

Id. at 687-688.

58

Id. at 605-615.

59

Id. at 705-714.

60

Id. at 719-721.

61

G.R. No. L-30098, February 18, 1970, 31 SCRA 616, 625.

62

G.R. No. 104269, November 11, 1993, 227 SCRA 693, 701-702.

63

Section 2, Act No. 1870.

64

Section 1, Act No. 1870.

65 Section 2(12) of Executive Order No. 292 reads:


xxx

xxx Chartered institution refers to any agency organized or operating


under a special charter, and vested by law with functions relating to
specific constitutional policies or objectives. This term includes the
state universities and colleges and the monetary authority of the
State.
xxx
66

University of the Philippines and Anonas v. Court of Industrial


Relations, 107 Phil 848, 850 (1960).
67

Section 2, R.A. No. 9500.

68

Section 3, R.A. No. 9500.

69

Section 2(10), of Executive Order No. 292 provides:


xxx

xxx Instrumentality refers to any agency of the National Government,


not integrated within the department framework, vested with special
functions or jurisdiction by law, endowed with some if not all corporate
powers, administering special funds, and enjoying operational
autonomy, usually through a charter. This term includes regulatory
agencies, chartered institutions and government-owned or controlled
corporations.
xxx
70

Section 1, Article XIV, 1987 Constitution.

71

Entitled Fiscal Control and Management of the Funds of the


University of the Philippines, promulgated on August 1, 1981.
72

Section 3, R.A. No. 9500.

73

Section 13(m), R.A. No. 9500.

74

Section 13, Act 1870; Section 6, Executive Order No. 714; Section
26, R.A. No. 9500.
75

Section 3(4), P.D. No. 1445.

76

Section 4(3), P.D. No. 1445.

77

Section 22(a), R.A. No. 9500.

78

Philippine Rock Industries, Inc. v. Board of Liquidators, G.R. No.


84992, December 15, 1989, 180 SCRA 171, 175.

79

Republic v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No.


120385, October 17, 1996, 263 SCRA 290, 300.
80

G.R. No. L-52179, April 8, 1991, 195 SCRA 692, 697.

81

G.R. No. L-30671, November 28, 1973, 54 SCRA 83, 87.

82

Rollo, p. 51.

83

Section 84(2), P.D. No. 1445.

84

Section 29 (1), Article VI, Constitution.

85

National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation v. Abayari, G.R. No.


166508, October 2, 2009, 602 SCRA 242, 256.
86

Entitled EXERCISE OF UTMOST CAUTION, PRUDENCE AND


JUDICIOUSNESS IN THE ISSUANCE OF WRITS OF EXECUTION
TO SATISFY MONEY JUDGMENTS AGAINST GOVERNMENT
AGENCIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS.
87

Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines v. Philippine Airlines,


Inc., G.R. No. 168382, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 545, 557; Florentino
v. Rivera, G.R. No. 167968, January 23, 2006, 479 SCRA 522, 528;
Siy v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 158971,
August 25, 2005, 468 SCRA 154, 161-162.
88

FGU Insurance Corporation v. Regional Trial Court of Makati,


Branch 66, G.R. No. 161282, February 23, 2011, 644 SCRA 50, 56.
89

Edillo v. Dulpina, G.R. No. 188360, January 21, 2010, 610 SCRA
590, 602.
90

Apo Fruits Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 164195,


December 4, 2009, 607 SCRA 200, 214.
91

G.R. No. 147082, January 28, 2008, 542 SCRA 406, 418.

92

G.R. No. 164196, June 22, 2007, 525 SCRA 412, 426.

93

Antonio v. Court of Appeals, No. L-35434, November 9, 1988, 167


SCRA 127, 131-132.
94

Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 22 of the Rules of Court, "the day of


the act or event from which the designated period of time begins to
run is to be excluded and the date of performance included."
95

Anderson v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No.


111212, January 22, 1996, 252 SCRA 116, 124.

96

Prudential Bank v. Business Assistance Group, Inc., G.R. No.


158806, December 16, 2004, 447 SCRA 187, 193; Cabili v. Badelles,
No. L-17786, 116 Phil. 494, 497 (1962); Martinez v. Martinez, No. L4075, 90 Phil. 697, 700 (1952); Vivero v. Santos, No. L-8105, 98 Phil.
500, 504 (1956); Perez v. Araneta, No. L-11788, 103 Phil. 1141
(1958); Visayan Surety and Insurance Corp. v. Central Bank of the
Philippines, No. L-12199, 104 Phil. 562, 569 (1958).
97

Notor v. Daza, No. L-320, 76 Phil. 850 (1946).

98

G.R. No. 141524, September 14, 2005, 469 SCRA 633.

99

Id. at 644.

100

Jamero v. Melicor, G.R. No. 140929, May 26, 2005, 459 SCRA
113, 120.
101

Lopez v. Gloria, No. L-13846, 40 Phil 28 (1919).

102

Go v. Sunbanun, G.R. No. 168240, February 9, 2011, 642 SCRA


367, 370.
103

Buenaflor v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 142021, November 29,


2000, 346 SCRA 563, 567; Soriano v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
100525, May 25, 1993, 222 SCRA 545, 546-547.
104

Reyes v. Lim, G.R. No. 134241, August 11, 2003, 408 SCRA 560,
560-567.
105

De los Santos v. Vda. de Mangubat, G.R. No. 149508, October 10,


2007, 535 SCRA 411, 423.
106

Pelejo v. Court of Appeals, No. L-60800, August 31, 1982, 116


SCRA 406, 410.
107

Braga v. Millora, No. 1395, 3 Phil. 458 (1904).

108

G.R. No. 88709, February 11, 1992, 206 SCRA 127, 132.

109

Rollo, p. 137.

110

Translated, the phrase means: "He himself said it." It refers to an


unsupported statement that rests solely on the authority of the
individual asserting the statement.
111

112

Article 2217, Civil Code.

Crystal v. Bank of the Philippine Islands, G.R. No. 172428,


November 28, 2008, 572 SCRA 697, 705.

113

Section 2, Corporation Code; Martinez v. Court of Appeals, G.R.


No. 131673, September 10, 2004, 438 SCRA 130, 149; Consolidated
Bank and Trust Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 114286,
April 19, 2001, 356 SCRA 671, 682; Booc v. Bantuas, A.M. No. P-011464, March 13, 2001, 354 SCRA 279, 283.
114

Heirs of Justiva v. Gustilo, L-16396, January 31, 1963, 7 SCRA 72,


73; Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. of the Phil. v. Ines Chaves & Co.,
Ltd., No. L-17106, October 19, 1996, 18 SCRA 356, 358.
115

Article 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorney's fees and


expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs, cannot be recovered,
except:
(1) When exemplary damages are awarded;
(2) When the defendant's act or omission has compelled the
plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to
protect his interest;
(3) In criminal cases of malicious prosecution against the
plaintiff;
(4) In case of a clearly unfounded civil action or proceeding
against the plaintiff;
(5) Where the defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in
refusing to satisfy the plaintiff's plainly valid, just and
demandable claim;
(6) In actions for legal support;
(7) In actions for the recovery of wages of household helpers,
laborers and skilled workers;
(8) In actions for indemnity under workmen's compensation and
employer's liability laws;
(9) In a separate civil action to recover civil liability arising from
a crime;
(10) When at least double judicial costs are awarded;
(11) In any other case where the court deems it just and
equitable that attorney's fees and expenses of litigation should
be recovered.
In all cases, the attorney's fees and expenses of litigation must be
reasonable.

116

See Reyes v. Yatco, No. L-11425, 100 Phil. 964 (1957); Tan Ti v.
Alvear, No. 8228, 26 Phil. 566 (1914); Castueras, et al. v. Hon.
Bayona, et al., No. L-13657, 106 Phil. 340 (1959).
117

Fores v. Miranda, No. L-12163, 105 Phil. 266 (1959).

118

Buduhan v. Pakurao, G.R. No. 168237, February 22, 2006, 483


SCRA 116, 127.
119

Gloria v. De Guzman, Jr., G.R. No. 116183, October 6, 1995, 249


SCRA 126, 136.
120

Policarpio v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 94563, March 5, 1991,


194 SCRA 729, 742.
121

Koa v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 84847, March 5, 1993, 219


SCRA 541, 549; Central Azucarera de Bais v. Court of Appeals, G.R.
No. 87597, August 3, 1990, 188 SCRA 328, 340.
122

Ballesteros v. Abion, G.R. No. 143361, February 9, 2006, 482


SCRA 23.
123

G.R. No. 159357, April 28, 2004, 428 SCRA 283.

124

Id. at 309.

G.R. No. 198742

August 10, 2012

TEODORA SOBEJANA-CONDON, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, LUIS M. BAUTISTA, ROBELITO V.
PICAR and WILMA P. PAGADUAN,Respondents.
SERENO,*
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ *
DECISION
REYES, J.:
Failure to renounce foreign citizenship in accordance with the exact tenor
of Section 5(2) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 renders a dual citizen
ineligible to run for and thus hold any elective public office.
The Case
At bar is a special civil action for certiorari1 under Rule 64 of the Rules of
Court seeking to nullify Resolution2dated September 6, 2011 of the

Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc in EAC (AE) No. A-442010. The assailed resolution (a) reversed the Order 3 dated November 30,
2010 of COMELEC Second Division dismissing petitioners appeal; and (b)
affirmed the consolidated Decision4 dated October 22, 2010 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Bauang, La Union, Branch 33, declaring petitioner
Teodora Sobejana-Condon (petitioner) disqualified and ineligible to her
position as Vice-Mayor of Caba, La Union.
The Undisputed Facts
The petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen having been born of Filipino
parents on August 8, 1944. On December 13, 1984, she became a
naturalized Australian citizen owing to her marriage to a certain Kevin
Thomas Condon.
On December 2, 2005, she filed an application to re-acquire Philippine
citizenship before the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia pursuant
to Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225 otherwise known as the "Citizenship
Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003."5 The application was approved
and the petitioner took her oath of allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines on December 5, 2005.
On September 18, 2006, the petitioner filed an unsworn Declaration of
Renunciation of Australian Citizenship before the Department of
Immigration and Indigenous Affairs, Canberra, Australia, which in turn
issued the Order dated September 27, 2006 certifying that she has ceased
to be an Australian citizen.6
The petitioner ran for Mayor in her hometown of Caba, La Union in the
2007 elections. She lost in her bid. She again sought elective office during
the May 10, 2010 elections this time for the position of Vice-Mayor. She
obtained the highest numbers of votes and was proclaimed as the winning
candidate. She took her oath of office on May 13, 2010.
Soon thereafter, private respondents Robelito V. Picar, Wilma P.
Pagaduan7 and Luis M. Bautista,8 (private respondents) all registered
voters of Caba, La Union, filed separate petitions for quo warranto
questioning the petitioners eligibility before the RTC. The petitions similarly
sought the petitioners disqualification from holding her elective post on the
ground that she is a dual citizen and that she failed to execute a "personal
and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public
officer authorized to administer an oath" as imposed by Section 5(2) of R.A.
No. 9225.
The petitioner denied being a dual citizen and averred that since
September 27, 2006, she ceased to be an Australian citizen. She claimed
that the Declaration of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship she executed
in Australia sufficiently complied with Section 5(2), R.A. No. 9225 and that
her act of running for public office is a clear abandonment of her Australian
citizenship.

Ruling of the RTC


In its consolidated Decision dated October 22, 2010, the trial court held that
the petitioners failure to comply with Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225
rendered her ineligible to run and hold public office. As admitted by the
petitioner herself during trial, the personal declaration of renunciation she
filed in Australia was not under oath. The law clearly mandates that the
document containing the renunciation of foreign citizenship must be sworn
before any public officer authorized to administer oath. Consequently, the
RTCs decision disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court renders judgment in
FAVOR of [private respondents] and AGAINST (petitioner):
1) DECLARING [petitioner] TEODORA SOBEJANA-CONDON, disqualified
and ineligible to hold the office of Vice-Mayor of Caba, La Union;
2) NULLIFYING her proclamation as the winning candidate for Vice-Mayor
of said municipality; and
3) DECLARING the position of Vice-Mayor in said municipality vacant.
SO ORDERED.9
Ruling of the COMELEC
The petitioner appealed to the COMELEC but the appeal was dismissed by
the Second Division in its Order10dated November 30, 2010 for failure to
pay the docket fees within the prescribed period. On motion for
reconsideration, the appeal was reinstated by the COMELEC en banc in its
Resolution11 dated September 6, 2011. In the same issuance, the
substantive merits of the appeal were given due course. The COMELEC en
banc concurred with the findings and conclusions of the RTC; it also
granted the Motion for Execution Pending Appeal filed by the private
respondents.
The decretal portion of the resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered the Commission RESOLVED as it
hereby RESOLVES as follows:
1. To DISMISS the instant appeal for lack of merit;
2. To AFFIRM the DECISION dated 22 October 2010 of the court a quo;
and
3. To GRANT the Motion for Execution filed on November 12, 2010.
SO ORDERED.12 (Emphasis supplied)

Hence, the present petition ascribing grave abuse of discretion to the


COMELEC en banc.
The Petitioners Arguments
The petitioner contends that since she ceased to be an Australian citizen
on September 27, 2006, she no longer held dual citizenship and was only a
Filipino citizen when she filed her certificate of candidacy as early as the
2007 elections. Hence, the "personal and sworn renunciation of foreign
citizenship" imposed by Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 to dual citizens
seeking elective office does not apply to her.
She further argues that a sworn renunciation is a mere formal and not a
mandatory requirement. In support thereof, she cites portions of the Journal
of the House of Representatives dated June 2 to 5, 2003 containing the
sponsorship speech for House Bill (H.B.) No. 4720, the precursor of R.A.
No. 9225.
She claims that the private respondents are estopped from questioning her
eligibility since they failed to do so when she filed certificates of candidacy
for the 2007 and 2010 elections.
Lastly, she disputes the power of the COMELEC en banc to: (a) take
cognizance of the substantive merits of her appeal instead of remanding
the same to the COMELEC Second Division for the continuation of the
appeal proceedings; and (b) allow the execution pending appeal of the
RTCs judgment.
The Issues
Posed for resolution are the following issues: I) Whether the COMELEC en
banc may resolve the merits of an appeal after ruling on its reinstatement;
II) Whether the COMELEC en banc may order the execution of a judgment
rendered by a trial court in an election case; III) Whether the private
respondents are barred from questioning the qualifications of the petitioner;
and IV) For purposes of determining the petitioners eligibility to run for
public office, whether the "sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship" in
Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 is a mere pro-forma requirement.
The Courts Ruling
I. An appeal may be simultaneously
reinstated and definitively resolved
by the COMELEC en banc in a
resolution disposing of a motion for
reconsideration.
The power to decide motions for reconsideration in election cases is
arrogated unto the COMELEC en banc by Section 3, Article IX-C of the
Constitution, viz:

Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions,


and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition
of election cases, including pre-proclamation controversies. All such
election cases shall be heard and decided in division, provided that motions
for reconsideration of decisions shall be decided by the Commission en
banc.
A complementary provision is present in Section 5(c), Rule 3 of the
COMELEC Rules of Procedure, to wit:
Any motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division
shall be resolved by the Commission en banc except motions on
interlocutory orders of the division which shall be resolved by the division
which issued the order.
Considering that the above cited provisos do not set any limits to the
COMELEC en bancs prerogative in resolving a motion for reconsideration,
there is nothing to prevent the body from directly adjudicating the
substantive merits of an appeal after ruling for its reinstatement instead of
remanding the same to the division that initially dismissed it.
We thus see no impropriety much more grave abuse of discretion on the
part of the COMELEC en banc when it proceeded to decide the substantive
merits of the petitioners appeal after ruling for its reinstatement.
Further, records show that, in her motion for reconsideration before the
COMELEC en banc, the petitioner not only proffered arguments on the
issue on docket fees but also on the issue of her eligibility. She even filed a
supplemental motion for reconsideration attaching therewith supporting
documents13 to her contention that she is no longer an Australian citizen.
The petitioner, after obtaining an unfavorable decision, cannot be permitted
to disavow the en bancs exercise of discretion on the substantial merits of
her appeal when she herself invoked the same in the first place.
The fact that the COMELEC en banc had remanded similar appeals to the
Division that initially dismissed them cannot serve as a precedent to the
disposition of the petitioners appeal. A decision or resolution of any
adjudicating body can be disposed in several ways. To sustain petitioners
argument would be virtually putting a straightjacket on the COMELEC en
bancs adjudicatory powers.
More significantly, the remand of the appeal to the COMELEC Second
Division would be unnecessarily circuitous and repugnant to the rule on
preferential disposition of quo warranto cases espoused in Rule 36, Section
15 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.14
II. The COMELEC en banc has the
power to order discretionary
execution of judgment.

We cannot subscribe to petitioners submission that the COMELEC en


banc has no power to order the issuance of a writ of execution and that
such function belongs only to the court of origin.
There is no reason to dispute the COMELECs authority to order
discretionary execution of judgment in view of the fact that the suppletory
application of the Rules of Court is expressly sanctioned by Section 1, Rule
41 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.15
Under Section 2, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, execution pending appeal
may be issued by an appellate court after the trial court has lost jurisdiction.
In Batul v. Bayron,16 we stressed the import of the provision vis--vis
election cases when we held that judgments in election cases which may
be executed pending appeal includes those decided by trial courts and
those rendered by the COMELEC whether in the exercise of its original or
appellate jurisdiction.
III. Private respondents are not
estopped from questioning
petitioners eligibility to hold public
office.
The fact that the petitioners qualifications were not questioned when she
filed certificates of candidacy for 2007 and 2010 elections cannot operate
as an estoppel to the petition for quo warranto before the RTC.
Under the Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 (Omnibus Election Code), there are
two instances where a petition questioning the qualifications of a registered
candidate to run for the office for which his certificate of candidacy was filed
can be raised, to wit:
(1) Before election, pursuant to Section 78 thereof which provides that:
Sec. 78. Petition to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy.
A verified petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of
candidacy may be filed by any person exclusively on the ground that any
material representation contained therein as required under Section 74
hereof is false. The petition may be filed at any time not later than twentyfive days from the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy and shall
be decided, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before
the election; and
(2) After election, pursuant to Section 253 thereof, viz:
Sec. 253. Petition for quo warranto. Any voter contesting the election of
any Member of the Batasang Pambansa, regional, provincial, or city officer
on the ground of ineligibility or of disloyalty to the Republic of the
Philippines shall file a sworn petition for quo warranto with the Commission
within ten days after the proclamation of the results of the election.
(Emphasis ours)

Hence, if a person qualified to file a petition to disqualify a certain candidate


fails to file the petition within the twenty-five (25)-day period prescribed by
Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code for whatever reasons, the
elections laws do not leave him completely helpless as he has another
chance to raise the disqualification of the candidate by filing a petition for
quo warranto within ten (10) days from the proclamation of the results of
the election, as provided under Section 253 of the Omnibus Election
Code.17
The above remedies were both available to the private respondents and
their failure to utilize Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code cannot
serve to bar them should they opt to file, as they did so file, a quo warranto
petition under Section 253.
IV. Petitioner is disqualified from
running for elective office for
failure to renounce her Australian
citizenship in accordance with
Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225.
R.A. No. 9225 allows the retention and re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship
for natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship 18 by
taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic, thus:
Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship. Any provision of law to the
contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have
lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens
of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine
citizenship upon taking the following oath of allegiance to the Republic:
"I, _____________________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I
will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the
Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by
the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby
declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of
the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance
thereto; and that I imposed this obligation upon myself
voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion."
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act,
become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship
upon taking the aforesaid oath.
The oath is an abbreviated repatriation process that restores ones Filipino
citizenship and all civil and political rights and obligations concomitant
therewith, subject to certain conditions imposed in Section 5, viz:
Sec. 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. Those who retain or reacquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political

rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under


existing laws of the Philippines and the following conditions:
(1) Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet the
requirements under Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, Republic Act
No. 9189, otherwise known as "The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of
2003" and other existing laws;
(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the
qualification for holding such public office as required by the Constitution
and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy,
make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship
before any public officer authorized to administer an oath;
(3) Those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and swear to an
oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and its duly constituted
authorities prior to their assumption of office: Provided, That they renounce
their oath of allegiance to the country where they took that oath;
(4) Those intending to practice their profession in the Philippines shall
apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such
practice; and
(5) That right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public office in the
Philippines cannot be exercised by, or extended to, those who:
(a) are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the country of
which they are naturalized citizens; and/or
(b) are in active service as commissioned or non-commissioned officers in
the armed forces of the country which they are naturalized citizens.
(Emphasis ours)
Under the provisions of the aforementioned law, the petitioner has validly
re-acquired her Filipino citizenship when she took an Oath of Allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines on December 5, 2005. At that point, she
held dual citizenship, i.e., Australian and Philippine.
On September 18, 2006, or a year before she initially sought elective public
office, she filed a renunciation of Australian citizenship in Canberra,
Australia. Admittedly, however, the same was not under oath contrary to the
exact mandate of Section 5(2) that the renunciation of foreign citizenship
must be sworn before an officer authorized to administer oath.
To obviate the fatal consequence of her inutile renunciation, the petitioner
pleads the Court to interpret the "sworn renunciation of any and all foreign
citizenship" in Section 5(2) to be a mere pro forma requirement in
conformity with the intent of the Legislature. She anchors her submission
on the statement made by Representative Javier during the floor
deliberations on H.B. No. 4720, the precursor of R.A. No. 9225.

At the outset, it bears stressing that the Courts duty to interpret the law
according to its true intent is exercised only when the law is ambiguous or
of doubtful meaning. The first and fundamental duty of the Court is to apply
the law. As such, when the law is clear and free from any doubt, there is no
occasion for construction or interpretation; there is only room for
application.19 Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 is one such instance.
Ambiguity is a condition of admitting two or more meanings, of being
understood in more than one way, or of referring to two or more things at
the same time. For a statute to be considered ambiguous, it must admit of
two or more possible meanings.20
The language of Section 5(2) is free from any ambiguity. In Lopez v.
COMELEC,21 we declared its categorical and single meaning: a Filipino
American or any dual citizen cannot run for any elective public position in
the Philippines unless he or she personally swears to a renunciation of all
foreign citizenship at the time of filing the certificate of candidacy. We also
expounded on the form of the renunciation and held that to be valid, the
renunciation must be contained in an affidavit duly executed before an
officer of the law who is authorized to administer an oath stating in clear
and unequivocal terms that affiant is renouncing all foreign citizenship.
The same meaning was emphasized in Jacot v. Dal, 22 when we held that
Filipinos re-acquiring or retaining their Philippine citizenship under R.A. No.
9225 must explicitly renounce their foreign citizenship if they wish to run for
elective posts in the Philippines, thus:
The law categorically requires persons seeking elective public office, who
either retained their Philippine citizenship or those who reacquired it, to
make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship
before a public officer authorized to administer an oath simultaneous with
or before the filing of the certificate of candidacy.
Hence, Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 compels natural-born
Filipinos, who have been naturalized as citizens of a foreign country, but
who reacquired or retained their Philippine citizenship (1) to take the oath
of allegiance under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225, and (2) for those
seeking elective public offices in the Philippines, to additionally execute a
personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before
an authorized public officer prior or simultaneous to the filing of their
certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine elections.
Clearly Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 (on the making of a personal
and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship) requires of the
Filipinos availing themselves of the benefits under the said Act to
accomplish an undertaking other than that which they have presumably
complied with under Section 3 thereof (oath of allegiance to the Republic of
the Philippines). This is made clear in the discussion of the Bicameral
Conference Committee on Disagreeing Provisions of House Bill No. 4720

and Senate Bill No. 2130 held on 18 August 2003 (precursors of Republic
Act No. 9225), where the Hon. Chairman Franklin Drilon and Hon.
Representative Arthur Defensor explained to Hon. Representative Exequiel
Javier that the oath of allegiance is different from the renunciation of foreign
citizenship;
xxxx
The intent of the legislators was not only for Filipinos reacquiring or
retaining their Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 to take
their oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, but also to
explicitly renounce their foreign citizenship if they wish to run for elective
posts in the Philippines. To qualify as a candidate in Philippine elections,
Filipinos must only have one citizenship, namely, Philippine
citizenship.23 (Citation omitted and italics and underlining ours)
Hence, in De Guzman v. COMELEC,24 we declared petitioner therein to be
disqualified from running for the position of vice-mayor for his failure to
make a personal and sworn renunciation of his American citizenship.
We find no reason to depart from the mandatory nature infused by the
above rulings to the phrase "sworn renunciation". The language of the
provision is plain and unambiguous. It expresses a single, definite, and
sensible meaning and must thus be read literally.25 The foreign citizenship
must be formally rejected through an affidavit duly sworn before an officer
authorized to administer oath.
It is conclusively presumed to be the meaning that the Legislature has
intended to convey.26 Even a resort to the Journal of the House of
Representatives invoked by the petitioner leads to the same inference, viz:
INTERPELLATION OF REP. JAVIER
Rep. Javier initially inquired whether under the Bill, dual citizenship is only
limited to natural-born Filipinos and not to naturalized Filipinos.
Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative.
Rep. Javier subsequently adverted to Section 5 of the Bill which provides
that natural-born Filipinos who have dual citizenship shall continue to enjoy
full civil and political rights. This being the case, he sought clarification as to
whether they can indeed run for public office provided that they renounce
their foreign citizenship.
Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative, citing that these citizens will only
have to make a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship
before any authorized public officer.
Rep. Javier sought further clarification on this matter, citing that while the
Bill provides them with full civil and political rights as Filipino citizens, the

measure also discriminates against them since they are required to make a
sworn renunciation of their other foreign citizenship if and when they run for
public office. He thereafter proposed to delete this particular provision.
In his rejoinder, Rep. Libanan explained that this serves to erase all
doubts regarding any issues that might be raised pertaining to the
citizenship of any candidate. He subsequently cited the case of
Afroyim vs. Rusk, wherein the United States considered a naturalized
American still as an American citizen even when he cast his vote in
Israel during one of its elections.
Rep. Javier however pointed out that the matter of voting is different
because in voting, one is not required to renounce his foreign citizenship.
He pointed out that under the Bill, Filipinos who run for public office must
renounce their foreign citizenship. He pointed out further that this is a
contradiction in the Bill.
Thereafter, Rep. Javier inquired whether Filipino citizens who had acquired
foreign citizenship and are now entitled to reacquire their Filipino
citizenship will be considered as natural-born citizens. As such, he likewise
inquired whether they will also be considered qualified to run for the highest
elective positions in the country.
Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative, citing that the only requirement is
that they make a sworn renunciation of their foreign citizenship and that
they comply with the residency and registration requirements as provided
for in the Constitution.
Whereupon, Rep. Javier noted that under the Constitution, natural-born
citizens are those who are citizens at the time of birth without having to
perform an act to complete or perfect his/her citizenship.
Rep. Libanan agreed therewith, citing that this is the reason why the Bill
seeks the repeal of CA No. 63. The repeal, he said, would help Filipino
citizens who acquired foreign citizenship to retain their citizenship. With
regard then to Section 5 of the Bill, he explained that the Committee had
decided to include this provision because Section 18, Article XI of the
Constitution provides for the accountability of public officers.
In his rejoinder, Rep. Javier maintained that in this case, the sworn
renunciation of a foreign citizenship will only become a pro forma
requirement.
On further queries of Rep. Javier, Rep. Libanan affirmed that natural-born
Filipino citizens who became foreign citizens and who have reacquired their
Filipino citizenship under the Bill will be considered as natural-born citizens,
and therefore qualified to run for the presidency, the vice-presidency or for
a seat in Congress. He also agreed with the observation of Rep. Javier that
a natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of the country at the time of
birth. He also explained that the Bill will, in effect, return to a Filipino citizen

who has acquired foreign citizenship, the status of being a natural-born


citizen effective at the time he lost his Filipino citizenship.
As a rejoinder, Rep. Javier opined that doing so would be discriminating
against naturalized Filipino citizens and Filipino citizens by election who are
all disqualified to run for certain public offices. He then suggested that the
Bill be amended by not considering as natural-born citizens those Filipinos
who had renounced their Filipino citizenship and acquired foreign
citizenship. He said that they should be considered as repatriated citizens.
In reply, Rep. Libanan assured Rep. Javier that the Committee will take
note of the latters comments on the matter. He however stressed that after
a lengthy deliberation on the subject, the Committees on Justice, and
Foreign Affairs had decided to revert back to the status of being naturalborn citizens those natural-born Filipino citizens who had acquired foreign
citizenship but now wished to reacquire their Filipino citizenship.
Rep. Javier then explained that a Filipina who loses her Filipino citizenship
by virtue of her marriage to a foreigner can regain her repatriated Filipino
citizenship, upon the death of her husband, by simply taking her oath
before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Rep. Javier said that he does not oppose the Bill but only wants to be fair to
other Filipino citizens who are not considered natural-born. He reiterated
that natural-born Filipino citizens who had renounced their citizenship by
pledging allegiance to another sovereignty should not be allowed to revert
back to their status of being natural-born citizens once they decide to
regain their Filipino citizenship. He underscored that this will in a way allow
such Filipinos to enjoy dual citizenship.
On whether the Sponsors will agree to an amendment incorporating the
position of Rep. Javier, Rep. Libanan stated that this will defeat the purpose
of the Bill.
Rep. Javier disagreed therewith, adding that natural-born Filipino citizens
who acquired foreign citizenships and later decided to regain their Filipino
citizenship, will be considered as repatriated citizens.
Rep. Libanan cited the case of Bengzon vs. HRET wherein the Supreme
Court had ruled that only naturalized Filipino citizens are not considered as
natural-born citizens.
In reaction, Rep. Javier clarified that only citizens by election or those
whose mothers are Filipino citizens under the 1935 Constitution and who
elected Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of maturity, are not
deemed as natural-born citizens.
In response, Rep. Libanan maintained that in the Bengzon case,
repatriation results in the recovery of ones original nationality and only
naturalized citizens are not considered as natural-born citizens.

On whether the Sponsors would agree to not giving back the status of
being natural-born citizens to natural-born Filipino citizens who acquired
foreign citizenship, Rep. Libanan remarked that the Body in
plenary session will decide on the matter.27
The petitioner obviously espouses an isolated reading of Representative
Javiers statement; she conveniently disregards the preceding and
succeeding discussions in the records.
The above-quoted excerpts of the legislative record show that
Representative Javiers statement ought to be understood within the
context of the issue then being discussed, that is whether former naturalborn citizens who re-acquire their Filipino citizenship under the proposed
law will revert to their original status as natural-born citizens and thus be
qualified to run for government positions reserved only to natural-born
Filipinos, i.e. President, Vice-President and Members of the Congress.
It was Representative Javiers position that they should be considered as
repatriated Filipinos and not as natural-born citizens since they will have to
execute a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship. Naturalborn citizens are those who need not perform an act to perfect their
citizenship. Representative Libanan, however, maintained that they will
revert to their original status as natural-born citizens. To reconcile the
renunciation imposed by Section 5(2) with the principle that natural-born
citizens are those who need not perform any act to perfect their citizenship,
Representative Javier suggested that the sworn renunciation of foreign
citizenship be considered as a mere pro forma requirement.
Petitioners argument, therefore, loses its point. The "sworn renunciation of
foreign citizenship" must be deemed a formal requirement only with respect
to the re-acquisition of ones status as a natural-born Filipino so as to
override the effect of the principle that natural-born citizens need not
perform any act to perfect their citizenship. Never was it mentioned or even
alluded to that, as the petitioner wants this Court to believe, those who reacquire their Filipino citizenship and thereafter run for public office has the
option of executing an unsworn affidavit of renunciation.
It is also palpable in the above records that Section 5 was intended to
complement Section 18, Article XI of the Constitution on public officers
primary accountability of allegiance and loyalty, which provides:
Sec. 18. Public officers and employees owe the State and this
Constitution allegiance at all times and any public officer or employee who
seeks to change his citizenship or acquire the status of an immigrant of
another country during his tenure shall be dealt with by law.
An oath is a solemn declaration, accompanied by a swearing to God or a
revered person or thing, that ones statement is true or that one will be
bound to a promise. The person making the oath implicitly invites
punishment if the statement is untrue or the promise is broken. The legal

effect of an oath is to subject the person to penalties for perjury if the


testimony is false.28
Indeed, the solemn promise, and the risk of punishment attached to an
oath ensures truthfulness to the prospective public officers abandonment
of his adopted state and promise of absolute allegiance and loyalty to the
Republic of the Philippines.
To hold the oath to be a mere pro forma requirement is to say that it is only
for ceremonial purposes; it would also accommodate a mere qualified or
temporary allegiance from government officers when the Constitution and
the legislature clearly demand otherwise.
Petitioner contends that the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948, under which
she is already deemed to have lost her citizenship, is entitled to judicial
notice. We disagree.
Foreign laws are not a matter of judicial notice. Like any other fact, they
must be alleged and proven.29 To prove a foreign law, the party invoking it
must present a copy thereof and comply with Sections 24 and 25 of Rule
132 of the Revised Rules of Court which reads:
Sec. 24. Proof of official record. The record of public documents referred
to in paragraph (a) of Section 19, when admissible for any purpose, may be
evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the
officer having the legal custody of the record, or by his deputy, and
accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines, with a certificate
that such officer has the custody. If the office in which the record is kept is
in a foreign country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of the
embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice- consul, or consular
agent or by any officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in
the foreign country in which the record is kept, and authenticated by the
seal of his office. (Emphasis ours)
Sec. 25. What attestation of copy must state. Whenever a copy of a
document or record is attested for the purpose of the evidence, the
attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the
original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The attestation must
be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or if he be
the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.
The Court has admitted certain exceptions to the above rules and held that
the existence of a foreign law may also be established through: (1) a
testimony under oath of an expert witness such as an attorney-at-law in the
country where the foreign law operates wherein he quotes verbatim a
section of the law and states that the same was in force at the time material
to the facts at hand; and (2) likewise, in several naturalization cases, it was
held by the Court that evidence of the law of a foreign country on
reciprocity regarding the acquisition of citizenship, although not meeting the
prescribed rule of practice, may be allowed and used as basis for favorable

action, if, in the light of all the circumstances, the Court is "satisfied of the
authenticity of the written proof offered." Thus, in a number of decisions,
mere authentication of the Chinese Naturalization Law by the Chinese
Consulate General of Manila was held to be a competent proof of that
law.30
The petitioner failed to prove the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948 through
any of the above methods. As uniformly observed by the RTC and
COMELEC, the petitioner failed to show proof of the existence of the law
during trial. Also, the letter issued by the Australian government showing
that petitioner already renounced her Australian citizenship was
unauthenticated hence, the courts a quo acted judiciously in disregarding
the same.
We are bound to arrive at a similar conclusion even if we were to admit as
competent evidence the said letter in view of the photocopy of a Certificate
of Authentication issued by Consular Section of the Philippine Embassy in
Canberra, Australia attached to the petitioners motion for reconsideration.
We have stressed in Advocates and Adherents of Social Justice for School
Teachers and Allied Workers (AASJS) Member v. Datumanong 31 that the
framers of R.A. No. 9225 did not intend the law to concern itself with the
actual status of the other citizenship.
This Court as the government branch tasked to apply the enactments of the
legislature must do so conformably with the wisdom of the latter sans the
interference of any foreign law. If we were to read the Australian Citizen Act
of 1948 into the application and operation of R.A. No. 9225, we would be
applying not what our legislative department has deemed wise to require.
To do so would be a brazen encroachment upon the sovereign will and
power of the people of this Republic. 32
The petitioners act of running for public office does not suffice to serve as
an effective renunciation of her Australian citizenship. While this Court has
previously declared that the filing by a person with dual citizenship of a
certificate of candidacy is already considered a renunciation of foreign
citizenship,33 such ruling was already adjudged superseded by the
enactment of R.A. No. 9225 on August 29, 2003 which provides for the
additional condition of a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign
citizenship.34
The fact that petitioner won the elections can not cure the defect of her
candidacy. Garnering the most number of votes does not validate the
election of a disqualified candidate because the application of the
constitutional and statutory provisions on disqualification is not a matter of
popularity.35
In fine, R.A. No. 9225 categorically demands natural-born Filipinos who reacquire their citizenship and seek elective office, to execute a personal and
sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenships before an authorized

public officer prior to or simultaneous to the filing of their certificates of


candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine elections. 36 The rule
applies to all those who have re-acquired their Filipino citizenship, like
petitioner, without regard as to whether they are still dual citizens or not. It
is a pre-requisite imposed for the exercise of the right to run for public
office.
Stated differently, it is an additional qualification for elective office specific
only to Filipino citizens who re-acquire their citizenship under Section 3 of
R.A. No. 9225. It is the operative act that restores their right to run for
public office. The petitioner's failure to comply therewith in accordance with
the exact tenor of the law, rendered ineffectual the Declaration of
Renunciation of Australian Citizenship she executed on September 18,
2006. As such, she is yet to regain her political right to seek elective office.
Unless she executes a sworn renunciation of her Australian citizenship, she
is ineligible to run for and hold any elective office in the Philippines.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is
hereby DISMISSED. The Resolution dated September 6, 2011 of the
Commission on Elections en bane in EAC (AE) No. A-44-2010
is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Senior Associate Justice
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO,
JR.
Associate Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE
CASTRO
Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

(On Official Leave)

(On Official Leave)

MARIA LOURDES P.A.


SERENO
Associate Justice

ESTELA M. PERLASBERNABE
Associate Justice

C E R T I F I C AT I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Senior Associate Justice
(Per Section 12, R.A. 296
The Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended)

Footnotes
*

On Official Leave.

Rollo, pp. 3-54.

Id. at 59-72.

Id. at 74-75.

Under the sala of Judge Rose Mary R. Molina-Alim; id. at 76-86.

AN ACT MAKING THE CITIZENSHIP OF PHILIPPINE CITIZENS


WHO ACQUIRE FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP PERMANENT.
AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE COMMONWEALTH ACT NO. 63,
AS AMENDED AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Enacted August 29,
2003.
6

Rollo, p. 79.

Docketed as SPL. CV. ACTION CASE No. 78-BG.

Docketed as SPL. CV. ACTION CASE No. 76-BG.

Rollo, p. 86.

10

Id. at 74-75.

11

Id. at 59-72.

12

Id. at 67-68.

13

(1) Photocopy of a Letter addressed to the COMELEC dated


November 10, 2010 issued by the Department of Immigration and
Citizenship of Australia, containing an advise that as of September
27, 2006, the petitioner is no longer an Australian citizen; and (2)
photocopy of a Certificate of Authentication of the said letter dated
November 23, 2010 issued by Grace Anne G. Bulos of the Consular
Section of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia. (Id. at 62.)
14

Rule 36, Sec. 15. Preferential Disposition of Quo Warranto Cases.


The courts shall give preference to quo warranto over all other
cases, except those of habeas corpus.
15

"In the absence of any applicable provision in [said] Rules, the


pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court in the Philippines shall be
applicable by analogy or in a suppletory character and effect."
16

468 Phil. 130 (2004).

17

Salcedo II v. COMELEC, 371 Phil. 377, 389 (1999).

18

1) natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship by


reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country; and 2)
natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of the
law, become citizens of a foreign country.
19

Abello v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 492 Phil. 303, 309310 (2005).


20

Id. at 310.

21

G.R. No. 182701, July 23, 2008, 559 SCRA 696.

22

G.R. No. 179848, November 29, 2008, 572 SCRA 295.

23

Id. at 306-308.

24

G.R. No. 180048, June 19, 2009, 590 SCRA 149.

25

Lokin, Jr. v. COMELEC, G.R. Nos. 179431-32 and 180443, June


22, 2010, 621 SCRA 385, 406.
26

Id.

27

JOURNAL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, June 2 to 5,


2003; rollo, pp. 94-95.
28

29

Blacks Law Dictionary, Eighth Ed., p. 1101.

Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. v. Guerrero, 445 Phil. 770, 777


(2003).

30

Asiavest Limited v. CA, 357 Phil 536, 551-552 (1998), citing Jovito
Salonga, Private International Law, 101-102, 1995 ed..
31

G.R. No. 160869, May 11, 2007, 523 SCRA 108.

32

See Parado v. Republic of the Philippines, 86 Phil. 340, 344 (1950).

33

Valles v. COMELEC, 392 Phil. 327, 340 (2000); Mercado v.


Manzano, 367 Phil. 132, 152-153
(1999).
34

Jacot v. Dal, supra note 22, at 308.

35

Lopez v. COMELEC, supra note 21, at 701.

36

Jacot v. Dal, supra note 22, at 306.