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RULE 128

ONG CHIA, petitioner,


APPEALS, respondents.

vs.

REPUBLIC

OF

THE

PHILIPPINES

and

THE

COURT

OF

Ponente: MENDOZA
FACTS:
The trial court granted the petition and admitted petitioner to Philippine citizenship. The State, however,
through the Office of the Solicitor General, among others for having failed to state all his former placer of
residence in violation of C.A. No. 473, 7 and to support his petition with the appropriate documentary
evidence. Petitioner admits that he failed to mention said address in his petition, but argues that since the
Immigrant Certificate of Residence containing it had been fully published, with the petition and the other
annexes, such publication constitutes substantial compliance with 7.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the documents annexed by the State to its appelants brief without having been presented
and formally offered as evidence under Rule 132, Section 34 of the Revised Rules on Evidence justified
the reversal of of the Trial Courts decision.
HELD:
YES. Decision of the Court of Appeals was affirmed. Petition was denied.
RATIO:
It is settled that naturalization laws should be rigidly enforced and strictly construed in favor of the
government and against the applicant. [T]he rule of strict application of the law in naturalization cases
defeat petitioners argument of substantial compliance with the requirement under the Revised
Naturalization Law.
[T]he reason for the rule prohibiting the admission of evidence which has not been formally offered is to
afford the opposite party the chance to object to their admissibility. Petitioner cannot claim that he was
deprived of the right to object to the authenticity of the documents submitted to the appellate court by the
State.

Zulueta vs. Court of Appeals


253 SCRA 699, G.R. No. 107383,
February 20, 1996
FACTS:
Petitioner, Cecilia Zulueta went to the clinic of her husband, private
respondent Dr. Alfredo Martin. In the presence of her mother, a driver and
Martins secretary, she forcibly opened the drawers and cabinet in the clinic
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and took 157 documents consisting of private correspondence between


Martin and his alleged paramours. The documents were seized for use as
evidence in a case for legal separation and for disqualification from the
practice of medicine which Zulueta had filed against her Martin. Martin filed
an action for recovery of the documents and for damages against Zulueta.
The RTC, decided in favor of Martin, declaring him the capital/exclusive
owner of properties described and ordering Zulueta to return the properties
to Martin and pay him nominal and moral damages and attorneys fees, and
cost of the suit. Furthermore, Zulueta and her attorneys were enjoined from
using or submitting/admitting as evidence the documents and papers in
question. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the
Regional Trial Court. Hence, this petition.
ISSUE:
Whether the documents and papers in question are admissible in evidence.
HELD:
NO. The Supreme Court held that the documents and papers in question are
inadmissible in evidence. The constitutional injunction declaring the privacy
of communication and correspondence [to be] inviolable (Sec.3, Par.1, Art.III,
1987 Constitution) is no less applicable simply because it is the wife who is
the party against whom the constitutional provision is to be enforced. The
only exception to the provision in the constitution is if there is a lawful order
from a court or when public safety or order requires otherwise as provide by
law. (Sec.3, Par.1, Art. III, 1987 Constitution) Any violation of this provision
renders the evidence obtained inadmissible for any purpose in any
proceeding. (Sec.3, Par.2, Art. III,1987 Constitution)
The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify any one of them in
breaking the drawers and cabinets of the other and in ransacking them for
any telltale evidence of marital infidelity. A person, by contracting marriage
does not shed his/her integrity or his right to privacy as an individual and the
constitutional protection is ever available to him or to her.
The law ensures absolute freedom of communication between the spouses
by making it privileged. Neither husband nor wife may testify for or against
the other without consent of the affected spouse while the marriage subsists.
(Sec.22, Rule130, Rules of Court). Neither maybe examined without the
consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one
from the other during the marriage, save for specified exceptions. (Sec.24,
Rule 130, Rules of Court) PETITION DENIED. (Zulueta vs Court of Appeals,
253 SCRA 699, GR No. 107383, February 20, 1996)

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G.R. No. 150224

May 19, 2004

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,


vs.
JOEL YATAR alias "KAWIT", appellant.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
On automatic review is a Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Bulanao, Tabuk, Kalinga, Branch 25,
sentencing appellant Joel Yatar alias "Kawit" to Death for the special complex crime of Rape with
Homicide, and ordering him to pay the heirs of the victim, Kathylyn D. Uba, civil indemnity in the
amount of P75,000.00, moral damages in the amount of P200,000.00, exemplary damages in the
amount of P50,000.00, actual damages in the amount of P186,410.00, or total damages amounting
to P511,410.00, and costs of litigation.1
Appellant was charged with Rape with Homicide under the following Information:
That on or about the afternoon of June 30, 1998 at Liwan West, Rizal, Kalinga, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, in order to have carnal knowledge of a
certain KATHYLYN D. UBA, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously, and with
use of a bladed weapon stab the latter inflicting upon her fatal injuries resulting in the death
of the victim, and on the occasion or by reason thereof, accused, wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, and by means of force and violence had carnal knowledge of said Kathlyn D.
Uba against her will.
CONTRARY TO LAW.2
The facts are:
On June 30, 1998, at 8:30 a.m., Judilyn Pas-a and her first cousin, seventeen year old
Kathylyn Uba, were on the ground floor of the house of their grandmother, Isabel Dawang, in
Liwan West, Rizal, Kalinga. They were talking about the letter sent by their aunt, Luz Yatar,
to her husband, appellant Joel Yatar, through Kathylyns friend, Cecil Casingan. Kathylyn
handed the letter to appellant earlier that morning.3
At 9:00 a.m. of the same day, Judilyn and her husband, together with Isabel Dawang, left for their
farm in Nagbitayan some two kilometers away. Before Judilyn and her husband departed, Kathylyn
told Judilyn that she intended to go to Tuguegarao, but in the event she would not be able to leave,
she would just stay home and wash her clothes or go to the house of their aunt, Anita Wania.
Kathylyn was left alone in the house.4
Later, at 10:00 a.m., Anita Wania and fifteen year old Beverly Deneng stopped by the house of
Isabel. They saw appellant at the back of the house. They went inside the house through the back

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door of the kitchen to have a drink of water. Anita asked appellant what he was doing there, and he
replied that he was getting lumber to bring to the house of his mother.5
At 12:30 p.m., while Judilyn was on her way home from Nagbitayan, she saw appellant descend the
ladder from the second floor of the house of Isabel Dawang and run towards the back of the
house.6 She later noticed appellant, who was wearing a white shirt with collar and black pants,
pacing back and forth at the back of the house. She did not find this unusual as appellant and his
wife used to live in the house of Isabel Dawang. 7
At 1:30 p.m., Judilyn again saw appellant when he called her near her house. This time, he was
wearing a black shirt without collar and blue pants. Appellant told her that he would not be getting
the lumber he had stacked, and that Isabel could use it. She noticed that appellants eyes were
"reddish and sharp." Appellant asked her where her husband was as he had something important to
tell him. Judilyns husband then arrived and appellant immediately left and went towards the back of
the house of Isabel.8
In the evening of the same day, Isabel Dawang arrived home and found that the lights in her house
were off. She called out for her granddaughter, Kathylyn Uba. The door to the ground floor was
open. She noticed that the water container she asked Kathylyn to fill up earlier that day was still
empty. She went up the ladder to the second floor of the house to see if Kathylyn was upstairs. She
found that the door was tied with a rope, so she went down to get a knife. While she groped in the
dark, she felt a lifeless body that was cold and rigid. 9
Isabel moved her hand throughout the entire body. She found out that it was the naked body of her
granddaughter, Kathylyn. She called for help. Judilyn and her husband arrived. Isabel was given a
flashlight by Judilyn. She focused the beam and saw Kathylyn sprawled on the floor naked, with her
intestines protruding out of her stomach. Meanwhile, neighbors had arrived to offer assistance. A
daughter of Isabel, Cion, called the police.10
At 9:00 that evening, SP04 Melchor Faniswa received a report that a dead woman was found in
Isabel Dawangs house. Together with fellow police officers, Faniswa went to the house and found
the naked body of Kathylyn Uba with multiple stab wounds.
The people in the vicinity informed the police officers that appellant was seen going down the ladder
of the house of Isabel Dawang at approximately 12:30 p.m.
The police discovered the victims panties, brassiere, denim pants, bag and sandals beside her
naked cadaver at the scene of the crime, and they found a dirty white shirt splattered with blood
within 50 meters from the house of Isabel.
When questioned by the police authorities, appellant denied any knowledge of Kathylynss
death,11 however, he was placed under police custody.
On July 3, 1998, appellant asked the police officers if he could relieve himself. Police Officer Cesar
Abagan accompanied him to the toilet around seven to ten meters away from the police station.
They suddenly heard someone shout in the Ilocano dialect, "Nagtaray!" (Hes running away!). Police

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Officer Orlando Manuel exited through the gate of the Police Station and saw appellant running
away. Appellant was approximately 70 meters away from the station when Police Officer Abagan
recaptured him.12 He was charged with Rape with Homicide. When he was arraigned on July 21,
1998, appellant pleaded "not guilty."
After trial, appellant was convicted of the crime of Rape with Homicide, defined and penalized under
Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 8353, otherwise known as the AntiRape Law of 1997, and was accordingly, sentenced to Death.
Hence, this automatic review pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. In his
Brief, appellant assigns the following errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING MUCH WEIGHT TO THE EVIDENCE
PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR DOUBTFULNESS.
II
THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT OF THE SERIOUS CRIME CHARGED DUE TO REASONABLE DOUBT.
Appellants contentions are unmeritorious.
The issue regarding the credibility of the prosecution witnesses should be resolved against
appellant. This Court will not interfere with the judgment of the trial court in determining the credibility
of witnesses unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight and influence
which has been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted. 13 Well-entrenched
is the rule that the findings of the trial court on credibility of witnesses are entitled to great weight on
appeal unless cogent reasons are presented necessitating a reexamination if not the disturbance of
the same; the reason being that the former is in a better and unique position of hearing first hand the
witnesses and observing their deportment, conduct and attitude. 14 Absent any showing that the trial
judge overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight which would
affect the result of the case, the trial judges assessment of credibility deserves the appellate courts
highest respect.15 Where there is nothing to show that the witnesses for the prosecution were
actuated by improper motive, their testimonies are entitled to full faith and credit. 16
The weight of the prosecutions evidence must be appreciated in light of the well-settled rule which
provides that an accused can be convicted even if no eyewitness is available, as long as sufficient
circumstantial evidence is presented by the prosecution to prove beyond doubt that the accused
committed the crime.17
Reference to the records will show that a total of eleven (11) wounds, six (6) stab and five (5)
incised, were found on the victims abdomen and back, causing a portion of her small intestines to
spill out of her body.18 Rigor mortisof the vicitms body was complete when Dr. Bartolo examined the
victim at 9:00 a.m. on July 1, 1998. According to him, the time of death may be approximated from

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between nine (9) to twelve (12) hours prior to the completion ofrigor mortis.19 In other words, the
estimated time of death was sometime between 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on June 30, 1998. This was
within the timeframe within which the lone presence of appellant lurking in the house of Isabel
Dawang was testified to by witnesses.
It should also be noted that, although the Postmortem Report by the attending physician, Dr. Pej
Evan C. Bartolo, indicates that no hymenal lacerations, contusions or hematoma were noted on the
victim,20 Dr. Bartolo discovered the presence of semen in the vaginal canal of the victim. During his
testimony, Dr. Bartolo stated that the introduction of semen into the vaginal canal could only be done
through sexual intercourse with the victim.21In addition, it is apparent from the pictures submitted by
the prosecution that the sexual violation of the victim was manifested by a bruise and some swelling
in her right forearm indicating resistance to the appellants assault on her virtue. 22
Significantly, subsequent testing showed that the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of the sperm
specimen from the vagina of the victim was identical the semen to be that of appellants gene type.
DNA is a molecule that encodes the genetic information in all living organisms. 23 A persons DNA is
the same in each cell and it does not change throughout a persons lifetime; the DNA in a persons
blood is the same as the DNA found in his saliva, sweat, bone, the root and shaft of hair, earwax,
mucus, urine, skin tissue, and vaginal and rectal cells.24 Most importantly, because of polymorphisms
in human genetic structure, no two individuals have the same DNA, with the notable exception of
identical twins.25
DNA print or identification technology has been advanced as a uniquely effective means to link a
suspect to a crime, or to exonerate a wrongly accused suspect, where biological evidence has been
left. For purposes of criminal investigation, DNA identification is a fertile source of both inculpatory
and exculpatory evidence. It can assist immensely in effecting a more accurate account of the crime
committed, efficiently facilitating the conviction of the guilty, securing the acquittal of the innocent,
and ensuring the proper administration of justice in every case.
DNA evidence collected from a crime scene can link a suspect to a crime or eliminate one from
suspicion in the same principle as fingerprints are used. 26 Incidents involving sexual assault would
leave biological evidence such as hair, skin tissue, semen, blood, or saliva which can be left on the
victims body or at the crime scene. Hair and fiber from clothing, carpets, bedding, or furniture could
also be transferred to the victims body during the assault. 27 Forensic DNA evidence is helpful in
proving that there was physical contact between an assailant and a victim. If properly collected from
the victim, crime scene or assailant, DNA can be compared with known samples to place the
suspect at the scene of the crime.28
The U.P. National Science Research Institute (NSRI), which conducted the DNA tests in this case,
used the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification method by Short Tandem Repeat (STR)
analysis. With PCR testing, tiny amounts of a specific DNA sequence can be copied exponentially
within hours. Thus, getting sufficient DNA for analysis has become much easier since it became
possible to reliably amplify small samples using the PCR method.

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In assessing the probative value of DNA evidence, courts should consider, inter alia, the following
factors: how the samples were collected, how they were handled, the possibility of contamination of
the samples, the procedure followed in analyzing the samples, whether the proper standards and
procedures were followed in conducting the tests, and the qualification of the analyst who conducted
the tests.29
In the case at bar, Dr. Maria Corazon Abogado de Ungria was duly qualified by the prosecution as an
expert witness on DNA print or identification techniques.30 Based on Dr. de Ungrias testimony, it was
determined that the gene type and DNA profile of appellant are identical to that of the extracts
subject of examination.31 The blood sample taken from the appellant showed that he was of the
following gene types: vWA 15/19, TH01 7/8, DHFRP2 9/10 and CSF1PO 10/11, which are identical
with semen taken from the victims vaginal canal.32 Verily, a DNA match exists between the semen
found in the victim and the blood sample given by the appellant in open court during the course of
the trial.
Admittedly, we are just beginning to integrate these advances in science and technology in the
Philippine criminal justice system, so we must be cautious as we traverse these relatively uncharted
waters. Fortunately, we can benefit from the wealth of persuasive jurisprudence that has developed
in other jurisdictions. Specifically, the prevailing doctrine in the U.S. has proven instructive.
In Daubert v. Merrell Dow,33 it was ruled that pertinent evidence based on scientifically valid
principles could be used as long as it was relevant and reliable. Judges, under Daubert, were
allowed greater discretion over which testimony they would allow at trial, including the introduction of
new kinds of scientific techniques. DNA typing is one such novel procedure.
Under Philippine law, evidence is relevant when it relates directly to a fact in issue as to induce belief
in its existence or non-existence.34 Applying the Daubert test to the case at bar, the DNA evidence
obtained through PCR testing and utilizing STR analysis, and which was appreciated by the court a
quo is relevant and reliable since it is reasonably based on scientifically valid principles of human
genetics and molecular biology.
Independently of the physical evidence of appellants semen found in the victims vaginal canal, the
trial court appreciated the following circumstantial evidence as being sufficient to sustain a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt: (1) Appellant and his wife were living in the house of Isabel Dawang
together with the victim, Kathylyn Uba; (2) In June 1998, appellants wife left the house because of
their frequent quarrels; (3) Appellant received from the victim, Kathylyn Uba, a letter from his
estranged wife in the early morning on June 30, 1998; (4) Appellant was seen by Apolonia Wania
and Beverly Denneng at 1:00 p.m. of June 30, 1998 near the kitchen of the house of Isabel Dawang,
acting strangely and wearing a dirty white shirt with collar; (5) Judilyn Pas-a saw appellant going
down the ladder of the house of Isabel at 12:30 p.m., wearing a dirty white shirt, and again at 1:30
p.m., this time wearing a black shirt; (6) Appellant hurriedly left when the husband of Judilyn Pas-a
was approaching; (7) Salmalina Tandagan saw appellant in a dirty white shirt coming down the
ladder of the house of Isabel on the day Kathylyn Uba was found dead; (8) The door leading to the
second floor of the house of Isabel Dawang was tied by a rope; (9) The victim, Kathylyn Uba, lay
naked in a pool of blood with her intestines protruding from her body on the second floor of the
house of Isabel Dawang, with her stained pants, bra, underwear and shoes scattered along the

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periphery; (10) Laboratory examination revealed sperm in the victims vagina (Exhibit "H" and "J");
(11) The stained or dirty white shirt found in the crime scene was found to be positive with blood;
(12) DNA of slide, Exhibit "J" and "H", compared with the DNA profile of the appellant are identical;
and (13) Appellant escaped two days after he was detained but was subsequently apprehended,
such flight being indicative of guilt.35
Circumstantial evidence, to be sufficient to warrant a conviction, must form an unbroken chain which
leads to a fair and reasonable conclusion that the accused, to the exclusion of others, is the
perpetrator of the crime. To determine whether there is sufficient circumstantial evidence, three
requisites must concur: (1) there is more than one circumstance; (2) facts on which the inferences
are derived are proven; and (3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a
conviction beyond reasonable doubt.36
In an attempt to exclude the DNA evidence, the appellant contends that the blood sample taken from
him as well as the DNA tests were conducted in violation of his right to remain silent as well as his
right against self-incrimination under Secs. 12 and 17 of Art. III of the Constitution.
This contention is untenable. The kernel of the right is not against all compulsion, but against
testimonial compulsion.37 The right against self- incrimination is simply against the legal process of
extracting from the lips of the accused an admission of guilt. It does not apply where the evidence
sought to be excluded is not an incrimination but as part of object evidence.
We ruled in People v. Rondero38 that although accused-appellant insisted that hair samples were
forcibly taken from him and submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation for forensic
examination, the hair samples may be admitted in evidence against him, for what is proscribed is the
use of testimonial compulsion or any evidence communicative in nature acquired from the accused
under duress.
Hence, a person may be compelled to submit to fingerprinting, photographing, paraffin, blood and
DNA, as there is no testimonial compulsion involved. Under People v. Gallarde,39 where immediately
after the incident, the police authorities took pictures of the accused without the presence of counsel,
we ruled that there was no violation of the right against self-incrimination. The accused may be
compelled to submit to a physical examination to determine his involvement in an offense of which
he is accused.
It must also be noted that appellant in this case submitted himself for blood sampling which was
conducted in open court on March 30, 2000, in the presence of counsel.
Appellant further argues that the DNA tests conducted by the prosecution against him are
unconstitutional on the ground that resort thereto is tantamount to the application of an ex-post
facto law.
This argument is specious. No ex-post facto law is involved in the case at bar. The science of DNA
typing involves the admissibility, relevance and reliability of the evidence obtained under the Rules of
Court. Whereas an ex-post facto law refers primarily to a question of law, DNA profiling requires a
factual determination of the probative weight of the evidence presented.

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Appellants twin defense of denial and alibi cannot be sustained. The forensic DNA evidence and
bloodied shirt, notwithstanding the eyewitness accounts of his presence at Isabel Dawangs house
during the time when the crime was committed, undeniably link him to the June 30, 1998 incident.
Appellant did not demonstrate with clear and convincing evidence an impossibility to be in two
places at the same time, especially in this case where the two places are located in the same
barangay.40 He lives within a one hundred (100) meter radius from the scene of the crime, and
requires a mere five minute walk to reach one house from the other. This fact severely weakens
his alibi.
As to the second assignment of error, appellant asserts that the court a quo committed reversible
error in convicting him of the crime charged. He alleges that he should be acquitted on reasonable
doubt.
Appellants assertion cannot be sustained.
Generally, courts should only consider and rely upon duly established evidence and never on mere
conjectures or suppositions. The legal relevancy of evidence denotes "something more than a
minimum of probative value," suggesting that such evidentiary relevance must contain a "plus
value."41 This may be necessary to preclude the trial court from being satisfied by matters of slight
value, capable of being exaggerated by prejudice and hasty conclusions. Evidence without "plus
value" may be logically relevant but not legally sufficient to convict. It is incumbent upon the trial
court to balance the probative value of such evidence against the likely harm that would result from
its admission.
The judgment in a criminal case can be upheld only when there is relevant evidence from which the
court can properly find or infer that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Proof beyond
reasonable doubt requires moral certainty of guilt in order to sustain a conviction. Moral certainty is
that degree of certainty that convinces and directs the understanding and satisfies the reason and
judgment of those who are bound to act conscientiously upon it. It is certainty beyond reasonable
doubt.42 This requires that the circumstances, taken together, should be of a conclusive nature and
tendency; leading, on the whole, to a satisfactory conclusion that the accused, and no one else,
committed the offense charged.43 In view of the totality of evidence appreciated thus far, we rule that
the present case passes the test of moral certainty.
However, as a matter of procedure, and for the purpose of meeting the requirement of proof beyond
reasonable doubt, motive is essential for conviction when there is doubt as to the identity of the
culprit.44
Pertinently, it must be noted that Judilyn Pas-a, first cousin of the victim, testified that she last saw
the victim alive in the morning of June 30, 1998 at the house of Isabel Dawang. 45 She witnessed the
appellant running down the stairs of Isabels house and proceeding to the back of the same
house.46 She also testified that a few days before the victim was raped and killed, the latter revealed
to her that "Joel Yatar attempted to rape her after she came from the school." 47 The victim told
Judilyn about the incident or attempt of the appellant to rape her five days before her naked and
violated body was found dead in her grandmothers house on June 25, 1998. 48 In addition, Judilyn
also testified that when her auntie Luz Dawang Yatar, wife of appellant, separated from her husband,

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"this Joel Yatar threatened to kill our family."49 According to Judilyn, who was personally present
during an argument between her aunt and the appellant, the exact words uttered by appellant to his
wife in the Ilocano dialect was, "If you leave me, I will kill all your family and your relatives x x
x."50 These statements were not contradicted by appellant.
Thus, appellants motive to sexually assault and kill the victim was evident in the instant case. It is a
rule in criminal law that motive, being a state of mind, is established by the testimony of witnesses
on the acts or statements of the accused before or immediately after the commission of the offense,
deeds or words that may express it or from which his motive or reason for committing it may be
inferred.51
Accordingly, we are convinced that the appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the special
complex crime of rape with homicide. Appellant sexually assaulted Kathylyn Uba, and by reason or
on the occasion thereof, in order to conceal his lustful deed, permanently sealed the victims lips by
stabbing her repeatedly, thereby causing her untimely demise.
The following are the elements constitutive of rape with homicide: (1) the appellant had carnal
knowledge of a woman; (2) carnal knowledge of a woman was achieved by means of force, threat or
intimidation; and (3) by reason or on the occasion of such carnal knowledge by means of force,
threat or intimidation, appellant killed the woman.52 However, in rape committed by close kin, such as
the victims father, step-father, uncle, or the common-law spouse of her mother, it is not necessary
that actual force or intimidation be employed.53 Moral influence or ascendancy takes the place of
violence and intimidation.54 The fact that the victims hymen is intact does not negate a finding that
rape was committed as mere entry by the penis into the lips of the female genital organ, even
without rupture or laceration of the hymen, suffices for conviction of rape. 55 The strength and
dilatability of the hymen are invariable; it may be so elastic as to stretch without laceration during
intercourse. Absence of hymenal lacerations does not disprove sexual abuse especially when the
victim is of tender age.56
In the case at bar, appellant is the husband of the victims aunt. He is seven years older than the
victim Kathylyn Uba. Before he and his wife separated, appellant lived in the house of his mother-inlaw, together with the victim and his wife. After the separation, appellant moved to the house of his
parents, approximately one hundred (100) meters from his mother-in-laws house. Being a relative
by affinity within the third civil degree, he is deemed in legal contemplation to have moral
ascendancy over the victim.
Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty of death is imposed when by reason or
on the occasion of the rape, homicide is committed. Although three (3) Justices of this Court
maintain their position that R.A. 7659 is unconstitutional insofar as it prescribes the death penalty,
they nevertheless submit to the ruling of the majority that the law is not unconstitutional, and that the
death penalty can be lawfully imposed in the case at bar.
As to damages, civil indemnity ex delicto of P100,000.00, 57 actual damages incurred by the family of
the victim that have been proved at the trial amounting to P93,190.00, 58 and moral damages of
P75,000.0059 should be awarded in the light of prevailing law and jurisprudence. Exemplary

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damages cannot be awarded as part of the civil liability since the crime was not committed with one
or more aggravating circumstances.60
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the RTC of Bulanao, Tabuk, Kalinga, Branch
25 in Criminal Case No. 35-98, sentencing appellant Joel Yatar alias "Kawit" to Death for the special
complex crime of Rape with Homicide is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that he
be ORDERED to pay the family of the victim Kathylyn Uba civil indemnity ex delicto in the amount of
P100,000.00, P93,190.00 in actual damages and P75,000.00 in moral damages. The award of
exemplary damages is DELETED.
Upon the finality of this Decision and in accordance with Art. 83 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended by Sec. 25 of Rep. Act No. 7659, let the records of this case be forthwith forwarded to the
President of the Philippines for the possible exercise of the pardoning power.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.

NENA LAZALITA TATING, G.R. No. 155208


Petitioner,
Present:
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR.,
CHICO-NAZARIO, and
NACHURA, JJ.
FELICIDAD TATING MARCELLA,
represented by SALVADOR MARCELLA,
CARLOS TATING, and the COURT OF
APPEALS, Promulgated:
Respondents. March 27, 2007
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

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Assailed in the Special Civil Action for Certiorari before the Court are the
Decision[1] dated February 22, 2002 and the Resolution dated August 22, 2002 of
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 64122, which affirmed the
Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cadiz City, Negros
Occidental, Branch 60.
The present case arose from a controversy involving a parcel of land denominated
as Lot 56 of Subdivision plan Psd-31182, located at Abelarde St., Cadiz City,
Negros Occidental. The subject lot, containing an area of 200 square meters, was
owned by Daniela Solano Vda. de Tating (Daniela) as evidenced by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-4393 issued by the Registry of Deeds of the City
of Cadiz.[3]
On October 14, 1969, Daniela sold the subject property to her granddaughter,
herein petitioner Nena Lazalita Tating (Nena). The contract of sale was embodied
in a duly notarized Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Daniela in favor of Nena.
[4]
Subsequently, title over the subject property was transferred in the name of
Nena.[5] She declared the property in her name for tax purposes and paid the real
estate taxes due thereon for the years 1972, 1973, 1975 to 1986 and 1988.
[6]
However, the land remained in possession of Daniela.
On December 28, 1977, Daniela executed a sworn statement claiming that she had
actually no intention of selling the property; the true agreement between her and
Nena was simply to transfer title over the subject property in favor of the latter to
enable her to obtain a loan by mortgaging the subject property for the purpose of
helping her defray her business expenses; she later discovered that Nena did not
secure any loan nor mortgage the property; she wants the title in the name of Nena
cancelled and the subject property reconveyed to her.[7]
Daniela died on July 29, 1988[8] leaving her children as her heirs, namely:
Ricardo, Felicidad, Julio, Carlos and Cirilo who predeceased Daniela and was
represented by herein petitioner.
In a letter dated March 1, 1989, Carlos informed Nena that when Daniela died they
discovered the sworn statement she executed onDecember 28, 1977 and, as a
consequence, they are demanding from Nena the return of their rightful shares over
Page 12 of 142

the subject property as heirs of Daniela. [9] Nena did not reply. Efforts to settle the
case amicably proved futile.
Hence, on September 6, 1989, Carlos and Felicidad, represented by her son
Salvador, filed a complaint with the RTC of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental against
Nena praying for the nullification of the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by
Daniela in her favor, cancellation of the TCT issued in the name of Nena, and
issuance of a new title and tax declaration in favor of the heirs of Daniela. [10] The
complaint also prayed for the award of moral and exemplary damages as well as
attorneys fees and litigation expenses. OnMarch 19, 1993, the plaintiffs filed an
amended complaint with leave of court for the purpose of excluding Ricardo as a
party plaintiff, he having died intestate and without issue in March 1991. [11] He left
Carlos, Felicidad, Julio, and Nena as his sole heirs.
In her Answer, Nena denied that any fraud or misrepresentation attended the
execution of the subject Deed of Absolute Sale. She also denied having received
the letter of her uncle, Carlos. She prayed for the dismissal of the complaint, and in
her counterclaim, she asked the trial court for the award of actual, exemplary and
moral damages as well as attorneys fees and litigation expenses.[12]
Trial ensued. On November 4, 1998, the RTC rendered judgment with the
following dispositive portion:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby
rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendant, and hereby
declaring the document of sale dated October 14, 1969 (Exh. Q)
executed between Daniela Solano Vda. de Tating and Nena Lazalita
Tating as NULL and VOID and further ordering:
1. The Register of Deeds of Cadiz City to cancel TCT No. 5975
and in lieu thereof to issue a new title in the names of Carlos
Tating, Pro-indiviso owner of one-fourth () portion of the
property; Felicidad Tating Marcella, Pro-indiviso owner of
one-fourth () portion; Julio Tating, Pro-indiviso owner of onefourth () portion and Nena Lazalita Tating, Pro-indiviso owner
of one-fourth () portion, all of lot 56 after payment of the
prescribed fees;

Page 13 of 142

2. The City Assessor of the City of Cadiz to cancel Tax


Declaration No. 143-00672 and in lieu thereof issue a new Tax
Declaration in the names of Carlos Tating, Pro-indiviso
portion; Felicidad Tating Marcella, Pro-indiviso portion; Julio
Tating, Pro-indiviso portion; and Nena Lazalita Tating, Proindiviso portion, all of lot 56 as well as the house standing
thereon be likewise declared in the names of the persons
mentioned in the same proportions as above-stated after
payment of the prescribed fees;
3. The defendant is furthermore ordered to pay plaintiffs the sum
of P20,000.00 by way of moral damages, P10,000.00 by way
of exemplary damages, P5,000.00 by way of attorneys fees
and P3,000.00 by way of litigation expenses; and to
4. Pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.[13]

Nena filed an appeal with the CA. On February 22, 2002, the CA rendered
its Decision affirming the judgment of the RTC.[14]
Nenas Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the CA in its Resolution
dated August 22, 2002.[15]
Hence, herein petition for certiorari anchored on the ground that the CA has
decided the instant case without due regard to and in violation of the applicable
laws and Decisions of this Honorable Court and also because the Decision of the
Regional Trial Court, which it has affirmed, is not supported by and is even against
the evidence on record.[16]
At the outset, it must be stated that the filing of the instant petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is inappropriate. Considering
that the assailed Decision and Resolution of the CA finally disposed of the case,
the proper remedy is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The Court notes that while the instant petition is denominated as a Petition
for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, there is no allegation that the
Page 14 of 142

CA committed grave abuse of discretion. On the other hand, the petition actually
avers errors of judgment, rather than of jurisdiction, which are the proper subjects
of a petition for review on certiorari. Hence, in accordance with the liberal spirit
pervading the Rules of Court and in the interest of justice, the Court decided to
treat the present petition forcertiorari as having been filed under Rule 45,
especially considering that it was filed within the reglementary period for filing the
same.[17]
As to the merits of the case, petitioner contends that the case for the private
respondents rests on the proposition that the Deed of Absolute Sale dated October
14, 1969 is simulated because Danielas actual intention was not to dispose of her
property but simply to help petitioner by providing her with a collateral. Petitioner
asserts that the sole evidence which persuaded both the RTC and the CA in holding
that the subject deed was simulated was the Sworn Statement of Daniela
dated December 28, 1977. However, petitioner argues that said Sworn Statement
should have been rejected outright by the lower courts considering that Daniela has
long been dead when the document was offered in evidence, thereby denying
petitioner the right to cross-examine her.
Petitioner also contends that while the subject deed was executed on October 14,
1969, the Sworn Statement was purportedly executed only on December 28,
1977 and was discovered only after the death of Daniela in 1994. [18] Petitioner
argues that if the deed of sale is indeed simulated, Daniela would have taken action
against the petitioner during her lifetime. However, the fact remains that up to the
time of her death or almost 20 years after the Deed of Absolute Sale was executed,
she never uttered a word of complaint against petitioner.
Petitioner further asserts that the RTC and the CA erred in departing from the
doctrine held time and again by the Supreme Court that clear, strong and
convincing evidence beyond mere preponderance is required to show the falsity or
nullity of a notarial document. Petitioner also argues that the RTC and the CA erred
in its pronouncement that the transaction between Daniela and petitioner created a
trust relationship between them because of the settled rule that where the terms of a
contract are clear, it should be given full effect.

Page 15 of 142

In their Comment and Memorandum, private respondents contend that petitioner


failed to show that the CA or the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in
arriving at their assailed judgments; that Danielas Sworn Statement is sufficient
evidence to prove that the contract of sale by and between her and petitioner was
merely simulated; and that, in effect, the agreement between petitioner and Daniela
created a trust relationship between them.

The Court finds for the petitioner.


The CA and the trial court ruled that the contract of sale between petitioner
and Daniela is simulated. A contract is simulated if the parties do not intend to be
bound at all (absolutely simulated) or if the parties conceal their true agreement
(relatively simulated).[19] The primary consideration in determining the true nature
of a contract is the intention of the parties. [20] Such intention is determined from the
express terms of their agreement as well as from their contemporaneous and
subsequent acts.[21]
In the present case, the main evidence presented by private respondents in
proving their allegation that the subject deed of sale did not reflect the true
intention of the parties thereto is the sworn statement of Daniela dated December
28, 1977. The trial court admitted the said sworn statement as part of private
respondents evidence and gave credence to it. The CA also accorded great
probative weight to this document.
There is no issue in the admissibility of the subject sworn statement.
However, the admissibility of evidence should not be equated with weight of
evidence.[22] The admissibility of evidence depends on its relevance and
competence while the weight of evidence pertains to evidence already admitted
and its tendency to convince and persuade.[23] Thus, a particular item of evidence
may be admissible, but its evidentiary weight depends on judicial evaluation within
the guidelines provided by the rules of evidence. [24] It is settled that affidavits are
classified as hearsay evidence since they are not generally prepared by the affiant
but by another who uses his own language in writing the affiants statements, which
may thus be either omitted or misunderstood by the one writing them. [25] Moreover,
the adverse party is deprived of the opportunity to cross-examine the affiant. [26] For
Page 16 of 142

this reason, affidavits are generally rejected for being hearsay, unless the affiants
themselves are placed on the witness stand to testify thereon. [27] The Court finds
that both the trial court and the CA committed error in giving the sworn statement
probative weight. Since Daniela is no longer available to take the witness stand as
she is already dead, the RTC and the CA should not have given probative value on
Danielas sworn statement for purposes of proving that the contract of sale between
her and petitioner was simulated and that, as a consequence, a trust relationship
was created between them.
Private respondents should have presented other evidence to sufficiently
prove their allegation that Daniela, in fact, had no intention of disposing of her
property when she executed the subject deed of sale in favor of petitioner. As in all
civil cases, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove the material allegations of his
complaint and he must rely on the strength of his evidence and not on the weakness
of the evidence of the defendant.[28] Aside from Danielas sworn statement, private
respondents failed to present any other documentary evidence to prove their claim.
Even the testimonies of their witnesses failed to establish that Daniela had a
different intention when she entered into a contract of sale with petitioner.
In Suntay v. Court of Appeals,[29] the Court ruled that the most protuberant
index of simulation is the complete absence, on the part of the vendee, of any
attempt in any manner to assert his rights of ownership over the disputed property.
[30]
In the present case, however, the evidence clearly shows that petitioner declared
the property for taxation and paid realty taxes on it in her name. Petitioner has
shown that from 1972 to 1988 she religiously paid the real estate taxes due on the
said lot and that it was only in 1974 and 1987 that she failed to pay the taxes
thereon. While tax receipts and declarations and receipts and declarations of
ownership for taxation purposes are not, in themselves, incontrovertible evidence
of ownership, they constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title over
the property.[31] The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for taxation
purposes manifests not only ones sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the
property and announces his adverse claim against the State and all other interested
parties, but also the intention to contribute needed revenues to the Government.
[32]
Such an act strengthens ones bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. [33] On
the other hand, private respondents failed to present even a single tax receipt or
declaration showing that Daniela paid taxes due on the disputed lot as proof that
Page 17 of 142

she claims ownership thereof. The only Tax Declaration in the name of Daniela,
which private respondents presented in evidence, refers only to the house standing
on the lot in controversy.[34]Even the said Tax Declaration contains a notation that
herein petitioner owns the lot (Lot 56) upon which said house was built.
Moreover, the Court agrees with petitioner that if the subject Deed of
Absolute Sale did not really reflect the real intention of Daniela, why is it that she
remained silent until her death; she never told any of her relatives regarding her
actual purpose in executing the subject deed; she simply chose to make known her
true intentions through the sworn statement she executed on December 28, 1977,
the existence of which she kept secret from her relatives; and despite her
declaration therein that she is appealing for help in order to get back the subject lot,
she never took any concrete step to recover the subject property from petitioner
until her death more than ten years later.
It is true that Daniela retained physical possession of the property even after
she executed the subject Absolute Deed of Sale and even after title to the property
was transferred in petitioners favor. In fact, Daniela continued to occupy the
property in dispute until her death in 1988 while, in the meantime, petitioner
continued to reside in Manila. However, it is well-established that ownership and
possession are two entirely different legal concepts. [35] Just as possession is not a
definite proof of ownership, neither is non-possession inconsistent with ownership.
The first paragraph of Article 1498 of the Civil Code states that when the sale is
made through a public instrument, the execution thereof shall be equivalent to the
delivery of the thing which is the object of the contract, if from the deed the
contrary does not appear or cannot clearly be inferred. Possession, along with
ownership, is transferred to the vendee by virtue of the notarized deed of
conveyance.[36] Thus, in light of the circumstances of the present case, it is of no
legal consequence that petitioner did not take actual possession or occupation of
the disputed property after the execution of the deed of sale in her favor because
she was already able to perfect and complete her ownership of and title over the
subject property.
As to Danielas affidavit dated June 9, 1983, submitted by petitioner, which
confirmed the validity of the sale of the disputed lot in her favor, the same has no
probative value, as the sworn statement earlier adverted to, for being hearsay.
Page 18 of 142

Naturally, private respondents were not able to cross-examine the deceased-affiant


on her declarations contained in the said affidavit.
However, even if Danielas affidavit of June 9, 1983 is disregarded, the fact
remains that private respondents failed to prove by clear, strong and convincing
evidence beyond mere preponderance of evidence[37] that the contract of sale
between Daniela and petitioner was simulated. The legal presumption is in favor of
the validity of contracts and the party who impugns its regularity has the burden of
proving its simulation.[38] Since private respondents failed to discharge the burden
of proving their allegation that the contract of sale between petitioner and Daniela
was simulated, the presumption of regularity and validity of the October 14,
1969Deed of Absolute Sale stands.
Considering that the Court finds the subject contract of sale between
petitioner and Daniela to be valid and not fictitious or simulated, there is no more
necessity to discuss the issue as to whether or not a trust relationship was created
between them.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 64122, affirming the
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Branch 60,
in Civil Case No. 278-C, areREVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The complaint of
the private respondents is DISMISSED.
PEOPLE OF THEPHILIPPINES vs.RODRIGO SALAFRANCA
G.R. No. 173476
February 22, 2012
FACTS
Johnny Bolanon (Bolanon) was stabbed by Rodrigo Salafranca (Salafranca) on the
night of July 31, 1993, after the said incident, the assailant ran away. Bolanon still
being able to walk, went to his uncle, Rodolfo B. Estao to seek help. After having
known of the incident, Estao then brought Bolanon to PGH. On their way to the
hospital on board a taxi, Bolanon confided to Estao about the incident and told him
that it was Salafranca who stabbed him and a certain Augusto Mendoza witnessed
the said incident. At around 2:30am, despite receiving medical attention, Bolanon
succumbed to death.
Page 19 of 142

ISSUE
Whether the utterance of Bolanonis qualified as a dying declaration or part of
the res gestae?
RULING
Such circumstances are qualified as both a dying declaration and a part
of res gestae, the Court has recognized that the statement of the victim an hour
before his death and right after the incident bore all the earmarks either of a dying
declaration or part of the res gestae.
Generally, dying declaration is inadmissible as evidence being hearsay,
however, it may be admitted when the following requisites concur:
(a)

that

the

declaration

must

concern

the

cause

and

surrounding

circumstances of the declarants death;


(b) that at the time the declaration is made, the declarant is under a
consciousness of an impending death;
(c) that the declarant is competent as a witness; and
(d) that the declaration is offered in a criminal case for homicide, murder, or
parricide, in which the declarant is a victim.
All the requisites were met. Bolanon communicated his statements,
identifying Salafranca as the person who had stabbed him; that at the time of his
declaration, he was conscious of his impending death. Bolanon died in the
emergency room a few minutes after admission, which occurred under three hours
after the incident.
Furthermore, a

declaration

is

deemed

part

of

the res

gestae and

is

admissible in evidence when the following requisites concur:


(a) the principal act, the res gestae, is a startling occurrence;
(b) the statements are made before the declarant had time to contrive or
devise; and
(c) the statements must concern the occurrence in question and its
immediately attending circumstances.
The requisites for admissibility as part of the res gestae concur herein. That
when he gave the identity of the assailant, Bolanon was referring to a startling
occurrence, and had no time to contrive his identification. His utterance was
Page 20 of 142

made in spontaneity and only in reaction to such startling occurrence. The


statement was relevant because it identified Salafranca as the perpetrator.
Hence, such circumstances are qualified as both a dying declaration and a
part of res gestae for having borne the requisites of the both principles.

G.R. No. 128538


February 28, 2001
SCC CHEMICALS CORPORATION vs. CA
FACTS:
SCC Chemicals Corporation through its chairman, private respondent
DaniloArrieta and vice president, Pablo (Pablito) Bermundo, obtained a loan from State
Investment House Inc (hereinafter SIHI) in the amount of P129,824.48. The loan carried
an annual interest rate of 30% plus penalty charges of 2% per month on the remaining
balance of the principal upon non-payment on the due date-January 12, 1984. To
secure the payment of the loan, DaniloArrieta and private respondent LeopoldoHalili
executed a Comprehensive Surety Agreement binding themselves jointly and severally
to pay the obligation on the maturity date.
SCC failed to pay the loan when it matured. SIHI then sent demand letters to
SCC, Arrieta and Halili, but notwithstanding receipt thereof, no payment was made.
SIHI filed Civil Case for a sum of money with a prayer for preliminary attachment
against SCC, Arrieta, and Halili with the Regional Trial Court of Manila.
In its answer, SCC asserted SIHI's lack of cause of action. Petitioner contended
that the promissory note upon which SIHI anchored its cause of action was null, void,
and of no binding effect for lack or failure of consideration.
The case was then set for pre-trial. The parties were allowed to meet out-ofcourt in an effort to settle the dispute amicably. No settlement was reached, but the
following stipulation of facts was agreed upon:
1. Parties agree that this Court has jurisdiction over the plaintiff and
the defendant and that it has jurisdiction to try and decide this case on its merits
and that plaintiff and the defendant have each the capacity to sue and to be sued
in this present action;
2. Parties agree that plaintiff sent a demand letter to the defendant
SCC Chemical Corporation dated April 4, 1984 together with a statement of account
of even date which were both received by the herein defendant; and
3. Parties finally agree that the plaintiff and the defendant SCC
Chemical
Corporation the latter acting through defendants Danilo E. Arrieta and
Pablito
Bermundo executed a promissory note last December 13, 1983 for the
amount of
P129,824.48 with maturity date on January 12, 1984.
The case then proceeded to trial on the sole issue of whether or not the
defendants were liable to the plaintiff and to what extent was the liability.
SIHI presented one witness to prove its claim. The cross-examination of said
witness was postponed several times due to one reason or another at the instance of
either party. The case was calendared several times for hearing but each time, SCC or
its counsel failed to appear despite notice. SCC was finally declared by the trial court to
Page 21 of 142

have waived its right to cross-examine the witness of SIHI and the case was deemed
submitted for decision.
On March 22, 1993, the lower court promulgated its decision in favor of SIHI.
ISSUES:
1. Whether the testimony of private respondents witness is hearsay.
2. Whether the promissory note was genuine and genuinely executed as
required
by law.
3. Whether the best evidence rule should be applied.
RULING:
1. The Court of Appeals correctly found that the witness of SIHI was a
competent witness as he testified to facts, which he knew of his personal knowledge.
Thus, the requirements of Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court as to the
admissibility of his testimony were satisfied.
Rule 130, Section 36 reads:
SEC. 36. Testimony generally confined to personal knowledge;
hearsay excluded. A witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of
his personal knowledge; that is, which are derived from his own perception, except as
otherwise provided in these rules.
Petitioner's reliance on Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court is misplaced.
As a rule, hearsay evidence is excluded and carries no probative value. However, the
rule does admit of an exception. Where a party failed to object to hearsay evidence,
then the same is admissible.The rationale for this exception is to be found in the right of
a litigant to cross-examine. It is settled that it is the opportunity to cross-examine which
negates the claim that the matters testified to by a witness are hearsay.However, the
right to cross-examine may be waived. The repeated failure of a party to cross-examine
the witness is an implied waiver of such right. Petitioner was afforded several
opportunities by the trial court to cross-examine the other party's witness. Petitioner
repeatedly failed to take advantage of these opportunities. No error was thus committed
by the respondent court when it sustained the trial court's finding that petitioner had
waived its right to cross-examine the opposing party's witness. It is now too late for
petitioner to be raising this matter of hearsay evidence.
2. Petitioner's admission as to the execution of the promissory note by it through
private respondent Arrieta and Bermundo at pre-trial sufficed to settle the question of
the genuineness of signatures. The admission having been made in a stipulation of
facts at pre-trial by the parties, it must be treated as a judicial admission. Under Section,
4 Rule 129 of the Rules of Court, a judicial admission requires no proof.
3. Respondent SIHI had no need to present the original of the documents as
there was already a judicial admission by petitioner at pre-trial of the execution of the
promissory note and receipt of the demand letter. It is now too late for petitioner to be
questioning their authenticity. Its admission of the existence of these documents was
sufficient to establish its obligation. Petitioner failed to submit any evidence to the
contrary or proof of payment or other forms of extinguishment of said obligation. No
Page 22 of 142

reversible error was thus committed by the appellate court when it held petitioner liable
on its obligation
___________________________________

RULE 129
[G.R. No. 143276. July 20, 2004]
LANDBANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
SPOUSES VICENTE BANAL and LEONIDAS ARENAS-BANAL, respondents.
FACTS: Spouses Vicente and Leonidas Banal, respondents, are the registered owners of
agricultural land situated in San Felipe, Basud, Camarines Norte. A portion of the land was
compulsorily acquired by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.)
No. 6657,[1] as amended, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.
Respondents rejected the valuation of petitioner hence a summary administrative proceeding was
conducted before the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) to determine the valuation of
the land. Eventually, the PARAD rendered its Decision affirming the Landbanks valuation.
Dissatisfied with the Decision of the PARAD, respondents filed with the RTC a petition for
determination of just compensation.
In determining the valuation of the land, the trial court based the same on the facts established in
another case pending before it.
ISSUE: W/N the trial court erred in taking judicial notice of the average production figures in another
case pending before it and applying the same to the present case without conducting a hearing and
without the knowledge or consent of the parties
HELD: Well-settled is the rule that courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of the contents of
the records of other cases even when said cases have been tried or are pending in the same court
or before the same judge.They may only do so in the absence of objection and with the
knowledge of the opposing party, which are not obtaining here.

Page 23 of 142

Furthermore, as earlier stated, the Rules of Court shall apply to all proceedings before the Special
Agrarian Courts. In this regard, Section 3, Rule 129 of the Revised Rules on Evidence is explicit on
the necessity of a hearing before a court takes judicial notice of a certain matter, thus:
SEC. 3. Judicial notice, when hearing necessary. During the trial, the court, on its own initiative,
or on request of a party, may announce its intention to take judicial notice of any matter and
allow the parties to be heard thereon.
After the trial, and before judgment or on appeal, the proper court, on its own initiative or on request
of a party, may take judicial notice of any matter and allow the parties to be heard thereon if such
matter is decisive of a material issue in the case. (emphasis added)
The RTC failed to observe the above provisions.

In sum, we find that the Court of Appeals and the RTC erred in
determining the valuation of the subject land. Thus, we deem it proper to
remand this case to the RTC for trial on the merits wherein the parties may
present their respective evidence. In determining the valuation of the subject
property, the trial court shall consider the factors provided under Section 17 of
R.A. 6657, as amended, mentioned earlier. The formula prescribed by the
DAR in Administrative Order No. 6, Series of 1992, as amended by DAR
Administrative Order No. 11, Series of 1994, shall be used in the valuation of
the land. Furthermore, upon its own initiative, or at the instance of any of the
parties, the trial court may appoint one or more commissioners to examine,
investigate and ascertain facts relevant to the dispute.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the
Court of Appeals dated March 20, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 52163 is
REVERSED. Civil Case No. 6806 is REMANDED to the RTC, Branch 40,
Daet, Camarines Norte, for trial on the merits with dispatch. The trial judge is
directed to observe strictly the procedures specified above in determining the
proper valuation of the subject property.

[G.R. Nos. 100901-08. July 16, 1998]


Page 24 of 142

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JAILON


KULAIS, CARLOS FALCASANTOS @ Commander Falcasantos,
AWALON KAMLON HASSAN @ Commander Kamlon, MAJID
SAMSON @ Commander Bungi, JUMATIYA AMLANI DE
FALCASANTOS, NORMA SAHIDDAN DE KULAIS, SALVADOR
MAMARIL y MENDOZA, HADJIRUL PLASIN y ALIH, JAINUDDIN
HASSAN y AHMAD, IMAM TARUK ALAH y SALIH, JALINA
HASSAN DE KAMMING, FREDDIE MANUEL @ Ajid and several
JOHN and JANE DOES, accused, JAILON KULAIS, appellant.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

The trial courts erroneous taking of judicial notice of a witness testimony in another
case, also pending before it, does not affect the conviction of the appellant, whose guilt
is proven beyond reasonable doubt by other clear, convincing and overwhelming
evidence, both testimonial and documentary. The Court takes this occasion also to
remind the bench and the bar thatreclusion perpetua is not synonymous with life
imprisonment.
The Case
On August 22, 1990, five Informations for kidnapping for ransom (Crim. Case
Nos. 10060, 10061, 10062, 10063 and 10064) and three Informations for kidnapping
(Crim Case Nos. 10065, 10066 and 10067), all dated August 14, 1990, were
filed before the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City against Carlos Falcasantos,
Jailon Kulais, Jumatiya Amlani, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais, Jalina Hassan de Kamming,
Salvador Mamaril, Hadjirul Plasin, Jaimuddin Hassan, Imam Taruk Alah, Freddie
Manuel alias Ajid, and several John and Jane Does. The Informations for kidnapping for
ransom, which set forth identical allegations save for the names of the victims, read as
follows:
[1]

[2]

[3]

That on or about the 12th day of December, 1988, in the City of Zamboanga,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, being all private individuals, conspiring and confederating
together, mutually aiding and assisting one another, with threats to kill the
person of FELIX ROSARIO [in Criminal Case No. 10060] and for the purpose
of extorting ransom from the said Felix Rosario or his families or employer, did
then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, KIDNAP the person of said
Felix Rosario, a male public officer of the City Government of Zamboanga,
who was then aboard a Cimarron vehicle with plate No. SBZ-976 which was
[4]

[5]

Page 25 of 142

being ambushed by the herein accused at the highway of Sitio Tigbao Lisomo,
Zamboanga City, and brought said Felix Rosario to different mountainous
places of Zamboanga City and Zamboanga del Sur, where he was detained,
held hostage and deprived of his liberty until February 2, 1989, the day when
he was released only after payment of the ransom was made to herein
accused, to the damage and prejudice of said victim; there being present an
aggravating circumstance in that the aforecited offense was committed with
the aid of armed men or persons who insure or afford impunity.
[6]

The three Informations for kidnapping, also under Article 267 of the Revised Penal
Code, likewise alleged identical facts and circumstances, except the names of the
victims:
That on or about the 12th day of December, 1988, in the City of Zamboanga and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being all private
individuals, conspiring and confederating together, mutually aiding and assisting one
another, by means of threats and intimidation of person, did then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously KIDNAP, take and drag away and detain the person of
MONICO SAAVEDRA Y LIMEN [Criminal Case No. 10065] a male public officer of the
City Government of Zamboanga, against his will, there being present an aggravating
circumstance in that the aforecited offense was committed with the aid of armed men or
persons who insure or afford impunity.
[7]

Of the twelve accused, only nine were apprehended, namely, Jailon Julais,
Jumatiya Amlani, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais, Salvador Mamaril, Hadjirul Plasin,
Jainuddin Hassan, Imam Taruk Alah, Jalina Hassan and Freddie Manuel.
[8]

On their arraignment on September 13, 1990, all the accused pleaded not
guilty. Joint trial on the merits ensued. On April 8, 1991, Judge Pelagio S. Mandi
rendered the assailed 36-page Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, above premises and discussion taken into consideration, this


Court renders its judgment, ordering and finding:
1. FREDDIE MANUEL, alias AJID and IMAM TARUK ALAH y SALIH [n]ot
[g]uilty of the eight charges of [k]idnapping for [r]ansom and for [k]idnapping,
their guilt not having been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Their immediate release from the City Jail, Zamboanga City is ordered, unless
detained for some other offense besides these 8 cases (Crim. Cases Nos.
10060-10067).
2. JAINUDDIN HASSAN y AHMAD, JAILON KULAIS, SALVADOR MAMARIL
y MENDOZA and HADJIRUL PLASIN y ALIH [g]uilty as principals by
Page 26 of 142

conspiracy in all these 8 cases for [k]idnapping for [r]ansom and for
[k]idnapping (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-10067).
Their guilt is aggravated in that they committed the 8 offenses with the aid of
armed men who insured impunity. Therefore, the penalties imposed on them
shall be at their maximum period.
WHEREFORE, for the five charges of [k]idnapping for [r]ansom, and pursuant
to Art. 267 of the Revised Penal Code, five life imprisonments are imposed on
Jainuddin Hassan y Ahmad, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril y Mendoza and
Kadjirul Plasin y Alih (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-10064).
For kidnapping Mrs. Virginia San Agustin-Gara, a female and public officer
and pursuant to Art. 267, Revised Penal Code (par. 4.), another life
imprisonment is imposed on Jainuddin Hassan y Ahmad, Jailon Kulais,
Salvador Mamaril y Mendoza and Hadjirul Plasin y Alih (Crim. Case No.
10066)
For kidnapping Monico Saavedra y Limen, and Calixto Francisco y Gaspar,
and their kidnapping not having lasted more than five days, pursuant to Art.
268, Revised Penal Code, and the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the same
four accused - Jainuddin Hassan y Ahmad, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril y
Mendoza and Hadjirul Plasin y Alih - are sentenced to serve two (2) jail terms
ranging from ten (10) years of prision mayor as minimum, to eighteen (18)
years of reclusion temporal as maximum (Crim. Cases Nos. 10065 and
10067).
3. JAMATIYA AMLANI DE FALCASANTOS [n]ot [g]uilty in the three charges of
[k]idnapping and she is acquitted of these charges. (Crim. Cases Nos. 10065,
10066 and 10067).
But Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos is [g]uilty as accomplice in the five
charges of [k]idnapping for [r]ansom.
WHEREFORE, Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos is sentenced to serve five (5)
imprisonments, ranging from TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor as minimum
to EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS ofreclusion temporal as maximum (Crim. Cases
Nos. 10060-10064).
4. NORMA SAHIDDAN DE KULAIS, 18 years old, and JALIHA HUSSIN
(charged as Jalina Hassan de Kamming), 15 years old, [n]ot [g]uilty in the
Page 27 of 142

three charges for [k]idnapping and are, therefore, ACQUITTED of these three
charges. (Crim. Cases Nos. 10065, 10066 & 10067).
But Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jalina Hussin are found [g]uilty as
accomplices in the five charges for [k]idnapping for [r]ansom. Being minors,
they are entitled to the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority which
lowers the penalty imposable on them by one degree.
WHEREFORE, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jalina Hussin are sentenced
to serve five imprisonments ranging from SIX (6) YEARS of prision
correccional as minimum to TEN YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY OF prision
mayor as maximum (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-10064).
Due to the removal of the suspension of sentences of youthful offenders
convicted of an offense punishable by death or life by Presidential Decree No.
1179 and Presidential Decree No. 1210 (of which [k]idnapping for [r]ansom is
such an offense) the sentences on Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jaliha
Hussin de Kamming are NOT suspended but must be served by them.
Januddin Hassan, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril and Hadjirul Plasin are
sentenced further to return the following personal effects taken on December
12, 1988, the day of the kidnapping, or their value in money, their liability
being solidary.
To Jessica Calunod:

One (1) Seiko wrist watch P 250.00


One Bracelet P 2,400.00
One Shoulder Bag P 200.00
Cash P 200.00
To Armado C. Bacarro:

One (1) wrist watch P 800.00


One Necklace P 300.00
One Calculator P 295.00
Eyeglasses P 500.00
Page 28 of 142

One Steel Tape P 250.00


To Edilberto S. Perez

One (1) Rayban P 1,000.00


One Wrist Watch P 1,800.00
Cash P 300.00
To Virginia San Agustin-Gara

One (1) Wrist Watch P 850.00


The benefit of Art. 29, Revised Penal Code, on preventive suspension, shall
be extended to those sentenced.
The cases against Majid Samson, alias Commander Bungi Awalon Kamlon
a.k.a. Commander Kamlon Carlos Falcasantos and several John Does and
Jane Does are ARCHIVED until their arrest.
Costs against the accused convicted.
SO ORDERED.

[9]

On May 7, 1991, Jailon Kulais, Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos, Norma Sahiddan


de Kulais and Jaliha Hussin filed their joint Notice of Appeal. In a letter dated February
6, 1997, the same appellants, except Jailon Kulais, withdrew their appeal because of
their application for amnesty. In our March 19, 1997 Resolution, we granted their
motion. Hence, only the appeal of Kulais remains for the consideration of this Court.
[10]

[11]

The Facts
The Version of the Prosecution
The solicitor general summarized, in this wise, the facts as viewed by the People:

On December 12, 1988, a group of public officials from various government


agencies, organized themselves as a monitoring team to inspect government
projects in Zamboanga City. The group was composed of Virginia Gara, as the
head of the team; Armando Bacarro, representing the Commission on Audit;
Felix del Rosario, representing the non-government; Edilberto Perez,
representing the City Assessors Office; Jessica Calunod and Allan Basa of the
Page 29 of 142

City Budget Office and Monico Saavedra, the driver from the City Engineers
Office. (p. 3, TSN, October 22, 1990.)
On that particular day, the group headed to the Lincomo Elementary School to
check on two of its classrooms. After inspecting the same, they proceeded to
the Talaga Footbridge. The group was not able to reach the place because on
their way, they were stopped by nine (9) armed men who pointed their guns at
them (p. 4, TSN, ibid.).
The group alighted from their Cimarron jeep where they were divested of their
personal belongings. They were then ordered to walk to the mountain by the
leader of the armed men who introduced himself as Commander Falcasantos
(p. 5, TSN, ibid.)
While the group was walking in the mountain, they encountered government
troops which caused their group to be divided. Finally, they were able to
regroup themselves. Commander Kamlon with his men joined the others. (pp.
7-8, TSN, ibid.).
The kidnappers held their captives for fifty-four (54) days in the forest. During
their captivity, the victims were able to recognize their captors who were at all
times armed with guns. The wives of the kidnappers performed the basic
chores like cooking. (pp.9-10. TSN, ibid.)
Commander Falcasantos also ordered their victims to sign the ransom notes
which demanded a ransom of P100.000.00 and P14,000.00 in exchange for
twenty (20) sets of uniform. (p.15, TSN, ibid.)
On February 3, 1989, at around 12:00 oclock noontime, the victims were
informed that they would be released. They started walking until around 7:00
o clock in the evening of that day. At around 12:00 o clock midnight, the
victims were released after Commander Falcasantos and Kamlon received
the ransom money. (p. 19, TSN, ibid.) The total amount paid wasP122,000.00.
The same was reached after several negotiations between Mayor Vitaliano
Agan of Zamboanga City and the representatives of the kidnappers. (pp. 2, 6,
TSN, Nov. 11, 1990)
x x x.

[12]

The prosecution presented fifteen witnesses, including some of the kidnap victims
themselves: Jessica Calunod, Armando Bacarro, Edilberto Perez, Virginia San AgustinGara, Calixto Francisco, and Monico Saavedra.
Page 30 of 142

The Version of the Defense


The facts of the case, according to the defense, are as follows:

[13]

On May 28, 1990, at about 10:00 o clock in the morning, while weeding their
farm in Sinaburan, Zamboanga del Sur, accused-appellant Jumatiya Amlani
was picked up by soldiers and brought to a place where one army battalion
was stationed. Thereat, her five (5) co-accused, namely Salvador Mamaril,
Hadjirul Plasin, Jainuddin Hassin, Imam Taruk Alah and Freddie Manuel were
already detained. In the afternoon of the same day, appellants spouses Jailon
Kulais and Norma Sahiddan were brought to the battalion station and likewise
detained thereat. On May 30, 1990, the eight (8) accused were transported to
Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City. Here on the same date, they were joined by
accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin.
At the time Amlani was picked up by the military, she had just escaped from
the captivity of Carlos Falcasantos and company who in 1988 kidnapped and
brought her to the mountains. Against their will, she stayed with Falcasantos
and his two wives for two months, during which she slept with Falcasantos as
aide of the wives and was made to cook food, wash clothes, fetch water and
run other errands for everybody. An armed guard was assigned to watch her,
so that, for sometime, she had to bear the ill-treatment of Falcasantos other
wives one of whom was armed. After about two months, while she was
cooking and Falcasantos and his two wives were bathing in the river, and
while her guard was not looking, she took her chance and made a successful
dash for freedom. (TSN, January 29, 1992, pp. 2-15)
Likewise a kidnap victim herself is accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin, who was
thirteen years old at the time (she was fifteen years old when the trial of the
instant cases commenced). She was kidnapped by Daing Kamming and
brought to the mountains where he slept with her. She stayed with him for less
than a month sleeping on forest ground and otherwise performing
housekeeping errands for Kamming and his men. She made good her escape
during an encounter between the group of Kamming and military troops. She
hid in the bushes and came out at Ligui-an where she took a bachelor bus in
going back to her mothers house at Pudos, Guiligan, Tungawan, Zamboanga
del Sur. One day, at around 2:00 o clock in the afternoon, while she was
harvesting palay at the neighboring village of Tigbalangao, military men picked
her up to Ticbanuang where there was an army battalion detachment. From
Ticbawuang, she was brought to Vitali, then to Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City,

Page 31 of 142

where on her arrival, she met all the other accused for the first time except
Freddie Manuel. (Ibid., pp. 16-21)
Another female accused is appellant Norma Sahiddan, a native of Sinaburan,
Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur. At about 3:00 oclock in the afternoon of a day
in May, while she and her husband were in their farm, soldiers arrested them.
The soldiers did not tell them why they were being arrested, neither were they
shown any papers. The two of them were just made to board a six by six
truck. There were no other civilians in the truck. The truck brought the
spouses to the army battalion and placed them inside the building where there
were civilians and soldiers. Among the civilians present were her six coaccused Hadjirul Plasin, Salvador Mamaril, Jaimuddin Hassan, Ima[m] Taruk
Alah, Freddie Manuel and Jumatiya Amlani. That night, the eight of them were
brought to Tictapul, Zamboanga City; then to Vitali; and, finally, to the
Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City where they stayed for six days and six nights.
On the seventh day, the accused were brought to the City Jail, Zamboanga
City. (TSN, January 30, 1991, pp. 6-11)
The husband of Norma Sahiddan is Jailon Kulais who, as heretofore narrated,
was arrested with his wife the day the soldiers came to their farm on May 28,
1990. He has shared with his wife the ordeals that followed in the wake of
their arrest and in the duration of their confinement up to the present. (TSN,
January 22, 1991 pp. 2-4).
The Trial Courts Ruling
The trial court found Appellant Kulais guilty of five counts of kidnapping for ransom
and one count of kidnapping a woman and public officer, for which offenses it imposed
upon him six terms of life imprisonment. It also found him guilty of two counts of slight
illegal detention for the kidnapping of Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco. The trial
court ratiocinated as follows:

Principally, the issue here is one of credibility - both of the witnesses and their
version of what had happened on December 12, 1988, to February 3, 1989.
On this pivotal issue, the Court gives credence to [p]rosecution witnesses and
their testimonies. Prosecution evidence is positive, clear and convincing. No
taint of evil or dishonest motive was imputed or imputable to [p]rosecution
witnesses. To this Court, who saw all the witnesses testify, [p]rosecution
witnesses testified only because they were impelled by [a] sense of justice, of
duty and of truth.
Page 32 of 142

Contrarily, [d]efense evidence is weak, uncorroborated and consisted only of


alibis. The individual testimonies of the nine accused dwel[t] principally on
what happened to each of them on May 27, 28 and 29, 1990. None of the
accused explained where he or she was on and from December 12, 1988, to
February 3, 1989, when [p]rosecution evidence show[ed] positively seven of
the nine accused were keeping the five or six hostages named by
[p]rosecution evidence.
The seven accused positively identified to have been present during the
course of the captivity of the five kidnap-victims-complainants are: (1)
Jumatiya Amlani; (2) Jaliha Hussin; (3) Norma Sahiddan; (4) Jailon Kulais; (5)
Hadjirul Plasin; (6) Salvador Mamaril and (7) Jainuddin Hassan.
The two accused not positively identified are: Freddie Manuel alias Ajid, and
Imam Taruk Alah. These two must, therefore, be declared acquitted based on
reasonable doubt.
The next important issue to be examined is: Are these seven accused guilty
as conspirators as charged in the eight Informations; or only as accomplices?
Prosecution evidence shows that the kidnapping group to which the seven
accused belonged had formed themselves into an armed band for the
purpose of kidnapping for ransom. This armed band had cut themselves off
from established communities, lived in the mountains and forests, moved from
place to place in order to hide their hostages. The wives of these armed band
moved along with their husbands, attending to their needs, giving them
material and moral support. These wives also attended to the needs of the
kidnap victims, sleeping with them or comforting them.
xxxxxxxxx
II) The guilt of Jainuddin Hassan, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril and Hadjirul
Plasin. The Court holds these four men guilty as conspirators in the 8 cases of
kidnapping. Unlike the three women-accused, these male accused were
armed. They actively participated in keeping their hostages by fighting off the
military and CAFGUS, in transferring their hostages from place to place, and
in guarding the kidnap hostages. Salvador Mamaril and Jailon Kulais were
positively identified as among the nine armed men who had kidnapped the
eight kidnap victims on December 12, 1988.
The higher degree of participation found by the Court of the four accused is
supported by the rulings of our Supreme Court quoted below.
Page 33 of 142

(1) The time-honored jurisprudence is that direct proof is not essential to prove
conspiracy. It may be shown by a number of infinite acts, conditions and
circumstances which may vary according to the purposes to be accomplished
and from which may logically be inferred that there was a common design,
understanding or agreement among the conspirators to commit the offense
charged. (People vs. Cabrera, 43 Phil 64; People vs. Carbonel, 48 Phil. 868.)
(2) The crime must, therefore, in view of the solidarity of the act and intent
which existed between the sixteen accused, be regarded as the act of the
band or party created by them, and they are all equally responsible for the
murder in question. (U.S. vs. Bundal, et. al. 3 Phil 89, 98.)
(3) When two or more persons unite to accomplish a criminal object, whether through
the physical volition of one, or all, proceeding severally or collectively, each individual
whose evil will actively contribute to the wrongdoing is in law responsible for the whole,
the same as though performed by himself alone. (People vs. Peralta, et. al. 25 SCRA
759, 772 (1968).)
[14]

The Assigned Errors


The trial court is faulted with the following errors, viz:
I

The trial court erred in taking judicial notice of a material testimony given
in another case by Lt. Melquiades Feliciano, who allegedly was the team
leader of the government troops which allegedly captured the accusedappellants in an encounter; thereby, depriving the accused-appellants their
right to cross-examine him.
II

On the assumption that Lt. Felicianos testimony could be validly taken


judicial notice of, the trial court, nevertheless, erred in not disregarding the
same for being highly improbable and contradictory.
III

The trial court erred in finding that accused-appellants Jumatiya Amlani,


Jaliha Hussin and Norma Sahiddan provided Carlos Falcasantos, et. al.,
with material and moral comfort, hence, are guilty as accomplices in all the
kidnapping for ransom cases.
Page 34 of 142

IV

The trial court erred in denying to accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin and Norma
Sahiddan the benefits of suspension of sentence given to youth offenders
considering that they were minors at the time of the commission of the offense.

[15]

As earlier noted, Jumatiya Amlani, Jaliha Hussin and Norma Sahiddan had
withdrawn their appeal, and as such, the third and fourth assigned errors, which pertain
to them only, will no longer be dealt with. Only the following issues pertaining to
Appellant Jailon Kulais will be discussed: (1) judicial notice of other pending cases, (2)
sufficiency of the prosecution evidence, and (3) denial as a defense. In addition, the
Court will pass upon the propriety of the penalty imposed by the trial court.
The Courts Ruling
The appeal is bereft of merit.
First Issue:
Judicial Notice and Denial of Due Process
Appellant Kulais argues that he was denied due process when the trial court took
judicial notice of the testimony given in another case by one Lt. Melquiades Feliciano,
who was the team leader of the government troops that captured him and his purported
cohorts. Because he was allegedly deprived of his right to cross-examine a material
witness in the person of Lieutenant Feliciano, he contends that the latters testimony
should not be used against him.
[16]

[17]

True, as a general rule, courts should not take judicial notice of the evidence
presented in other proceedings, even if these have been tried or are pending in the
same court, or have been heard and are actually pending before the same judge. This
is especially true in criminal cases, where the accused has the constitutional right to
confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him.
[18]

Having said that, we note, however, that even if the court a quo did take judicial
notice of the testimony of Lieutenant Feliciano, it did not use such testimony in deciding
the cases against the appellant. Hence, Appellant Kulais was not denied due process.
His conviction was based mainly on the positive identification made by some of the
kidnap victims, namely, Jessica Calunod, Armando Bacarro and Edilberto Perez. These
witnesses were subjected to meticulous cross-examinations conducted by appellants
counsel. At best, then, the trial courts mention of Lieutenant Felicianos testimony is a
decisional surplusage which neither affected the outcome of the case nor substantially
prejudiced Appellant Kulais.

Page 35 of 142

Second Issue:
Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence
Appellant was positively identified by Calunod, as shown by the latters testimony:
CP CAJAYON D MS:
Q And how long were you in the custody of these persons?
A We stayed with them for fifty-four days.
Q And during those days did you come to know any of the persons who were with the group?
A We came to know almost all of them considering we stayed there for fifty-four days.
Q And can you please name to us some of them or how you know them?
A For example, aside from Commander Falcasantos and Commander Kamlon we came to
know first our foster parents, those who were assigned to give us some food.
Q You mean to say that the captors assigned you some men who will take care of you?
A Yes.
Q And to whom were you assigned?
A To lla Abdurasa.
Q And other than your foster [parents] or the parents whom you are assigned to, who else
did you come to know?
A Pagal and his wife; Tangkong and his wife Nana; the two (2) wives of Commander
Falcasantos - Mating and Janira - another brother in-law of Commander Kamlon,
Usman, the wife of Kamlon, Tira.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Now, you said that you were with these men for fifty-four days and you really came to
know them. Will you still be able to recognize these persons if you will see the[m] again?
A Yes, maam.
Q Now will you look around this Honorable Court and see if any of those you mentioned are
here?
A Yes, they are here.
Q Some of them are here?
A Some of them are here.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Where is Tangkong? What is he wearing?
A White t-shirt with orange collar. (witness pointing.) He was one of those nine armed men
who took us from the highway.
RTC INTERPRETER:

Page 36 of 142

Witness pointed to a man sitting in court and when asked of his name, he gave his name
as JAILON KULAIS.
CP CAJAYON D MS:
Q Aside from being with the armed men who stopped the vehicle and made you alight, what
else was he doing while you were in their captivity?
A He was the foster parent of Armando Bacarro and the husband of Nana.
COURT:
Q Who?
A Tangkong.

xxxxxxxxx

[19]

Likewise clear and straightforward was Bacarros testimony pointing to appellant as


one of the culprits:
FISCAL CAJAYON:
xxxxxxxxx
Q And what happened then?
A Some of the armed men assigned who will be the host or who will be the one [to] g[i]ve
food to us.
Q [To] whom were you assigned?
A I was assigned to a certain Tangkong and [his] wife Nana.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Now, you said you were assigned to Tangkong and his wife. [D]o you remember how he
looks like?
A Yes.
Q Now, will you please look around this Court and tell us if that said Tangkong and his wife
are here?
A Yes, maam.
Q Could you please point this Tangkong to us?
A Witness pointed to a person in Court. [W]hen asked his name he identified [himself] as
Jailon Kulais.
Q Why did you say his name is Tangkong? Where did you get that name?
A Well, that is the name [by which he is] usually called in the camp.
xxxxxxxxx
ATTY. FABIAN (counsel for accused Kulais)
Q When did you first meet Tangkong?
A That was on December 11, because I remember he was the one who took us.
Page 37 of 142

Q When you were questioned by the fiscal a while ago, you stated that Mr. Mamaril was one
of those who stopped the bus and took you to the hill and you did not mention
Tangkong?
A I did not mention but I can remember his face.
xxxxxxxxx
Q And because Tangkong was always with you as your host even if he did not tell you that he
[was] one of those who stopped you, you would not recognize him?
A No, I can recognize him because he was the one who took my shoes.
COURT:
Q Who?
A Tangkong, your Honor.

xxxxxxxxx

[20]

Also straightforward was Ernesto Perez candid narration:


FISCAL CAJAYON:
xxxxxxxxx
Q Who else?
A The last man.
Q Did you come to know his name?
A Only his nickname, Tangkong. (Witness pointed to a man in Court who identified himself
as Jailon Kulais.)
Q And what was Tangkong doing in the mountain?
A The same, guarding us.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ATTY. SAHAK
Q Engr. Perez, you stated that you were ambushed by nine armed men on your way from
[the] Licomo to [the] Talaga Foot Bridge. [W]hat do you mean by ambushed?
A I mean that they blocked our way and stopped.
Q They did not fire any shots?
A But they were pointing their guns at us.
Q And among the 9 armed men who held you on your way to [the] Talaga Footbridge, you
stated [that] one of them [was] Commander Falcasantos?
A Yes.
Q Could you also recognize anyone of the accused in that group?
A Yes.
Q Will you please identify?

Page 38 of 142

A That one, Tangkong. (The witness pointed to a man sitting in court who identified himself
as Jailon Kulais.)
xxxxxxxxx
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ATTY. FABIAN
Q You said Jailon Kulais was among those who guarded the camp?
FISCAL CAJAYON:
Your Honor, please, he does not know the name of Julais, he used the word Tangkong.
ATTY. FABIAN
Q You said Tangkong guarded you[. W]hat do you mean?
A He guarded us like prisoners[. A]fter guarding us they have their time two hours another
will be on duty guarding us.
Q Where did you meet Tangkong?
A He was one of the armed men who kidnapped us.

xxxxxxxxx

[21]

It is evident from the foregoing testimonies of Calunod, Bacarro and Perez that
kidnapping or detention did take place: the five victims were held, against their will, for
fifty-three days from December 12, 1988 to February 2, 1989. It is also evident that
Appellant Kulais was a member of the group of armed men who staged the kidnapping,
and that he was one of those who guarded the victims during the entire period of their
captivity. His participation gives credence to the conclusion of the trial court that he was
a conspirator.
Kidnapping
for Ransom
That the kidnapping of the five was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom is
also apparent from the testimony of Calunod, who was quite emphatic in identifying the
accused and narrating the circumstances surrounding the writing of the ransom letters.
CP CAJAYON D MS:
Q Now, you were in their captivity for 54 days and you said there were these meetings for
possible negotiation with the City Government. What do you mean by this? What were
you supposed to negotiate?

A Because they told us that they will be releasing us only after the terms.

[22]

Q And what were the terms? Did you come to know the terms?
A I came to know the terms because I was the one ordered by Commander Falcasantos to
write the letter, the ransom letter.

Page 39 of 142

Q At this point of time, you remember how many letters were you asked to write for your
ransom?
A I could not remember as to how many, but I can identify them.
Q Why will you able to identify the same?
A Because I was the one who wrote it.
Q And you are familiar, of course, with your penmanship?
A Yes.
Q Now we have here some letters which were turned over to us by the Honorable City Mayor
Vitaliano Agan. 1,2,3,4,5 - there are five letters all handwritten.
COURT:
Original?
CP CAJAYON D MS:
Original, your Honor.
Q And we would like you to go over these and say, tell us if any of these were the ones you
were asked to write.
A (Witness going over [letters])
This one - 2 pages. This one - 2 pages. No more.
Q Aside from the fact that you identified your penmanship in these letters, what else will
make you remember that these are really the ones you wrote while there?
A The signature is there.
Q There is a printed name here[,] Jessica Calunod.
A And over it is a signature.
Q That is your signature?
A Yes, maam.
Q How about in the other letter, did you sign it also?
A Yes, there is the other signature.
Q There are names - other names here - Eddie Perez, Allan Basa, Armando Bacarro, Felix
Rosario, Jojie Ortuoste and there are signatures above the same. Did you come up to
know who signed this one?
A Those whose signatures there were signed by the persons. [sic]
Q And we have here at the bottom, Commander Kamlon Hassan, and there is the signature
above the same. Did you come to know who signed it?
A [It was] Commander Kamlon Hassan who signed that.
xxxxxxxxx

Page 40 of 142

Q Jessica, I am going over this letter ... Could you please read to us the portion here which
says the terms? ...
A (Witness reading) Mao ilang gusto nga andamun na ninyo and kantidad nga P100,000
ug P14,000 baylo sa 20 sets nga uniforms sa Biyernes (Pebrero 3, 1989).[23]
xxxxxxxxx
INTERPRETER (Translation):
This is what they like you to prepare[:] the amount of P100,000.00 and P14,000.00 in
exchange [for] 20 sets of uniform on Friday, February 3, 1989.
xxxxxxxxx

Q Now you also earlier identified this other letter and this is dated January 21, 1988.
Now, could you please explain to us why it is dated January 21 1988 and the
other one Enero 31, 1989 or January 31, 1989?
[24]

A I did not realize that I placed 1989, 1988, but it was 1989.
Q January 21, 1989?
A Yes
xxxxxxxxx
Q Now, in this letter, were the terms also mentioned? Please go over this.
A (Going over the letter)
Yes, maam.
Q Could you please read it aloud to us?
A (Witness reading)
Gusto nila and P100,000.00 ng kapinan nu ug 20 sets nga completong uniformer (7
colors marine type wala nay labot ang sapatos), tunga medium ug tunga large size.[25]
xxxxxxxxx
INTERPRETER:
They like the P100,000.00 and an addition of 20 sets of complete uniform (7 colors,
marine-type not including the shoes), one half medium, one half large.
xxxxxxxxx
Q After having written these letters, did you come to know after [they were] signed by your
companions and all of you, do you know if these letters were sent? If you know only.
A I would like to make it clear. The first letter was ordered to me by Falcasantos to inform the
City Mayor that initial as P500,000.00, and when we were already - I was asked again to
write, we were ordered to affix our signature to serve as proof that all of us are alive.
[26]
[sic]

Calunods testimony was substantially corroborated by both Armando Bacarro and


Edilberto Perez. The receipt of the ransom letters, the efforts made to raise and deliver
[27]

[28]

Page 41 of 142

the ransom, and the release of the hostages upon payment of the money were testified
to by Zamboanga City Mayor Vitaliano Agan and Teddy Mejia.
[29]

[30]

The elements of kidnapping for ransom, as embodied in Article 267 of the Revised
Penal Code, having been sufficiently proven, and the appellant, a private individual,
having been clearly identified by the kidnap victims, this Court thus affirms the trial
courts finding of appellants guilt on five counts of kidnapping for ransom.
[31]

Kidnapping of
Public Officers
Victims Virginia San Agustin-Gara, Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco were
members of the government monitoring team abducted by appellants group. The three
testified to the fact of kidnapping; however, they were not able to identify the
appellant. Even so, appellants identity as one of the kidnappers was sufficiently
established by Calunod, Bacarro and Perez, who were with Gara, Saavedra and
Francisco when the abduction occurred.
That Gara, Saavedra and Francisco were detained for only three hours does not
matter. In People vs. Domasian, the victim was similarly held for three hours, and was
released even before his parents received the ransom note. The accused therein
argued that they could not be held guilty of kidnapping as no enclosure was involved,
and that only grave coercion was committed, if at all. Convicting appellants of
kidnapping or serious illegal detention under Art. 267 (4) of the Revised Penal Code, the
Court found that the victim, an eight-year-old boy, was deprived of his liberty when he
was restrained from going home. The Court justified the conviction by holding that the
offense consisted not only in placing a person in an enclosure, but also in detaining or
depriving him, in any manner, of his liberty. Likewise, in People vs. Santos, the Court
held that since the appellant was charged and convicted under Article 267, paragraph 4,
it was not the duration of the deprivation of liberty which was important, but the fact that
the victim, a minor, was locked up.
[32]

[33]

[34]

[35]

[36]

Thus, in the present case, the detention of Gara, Saavedra and Francisco for only a
few hours is immaterial. The clear fact is that the victims were public officers -- Gara
was a fiscal analyst for the City of Zamboanga, Saavedra worked at the City Engineers
Office, and Francisco was a barangay councilman at the time the kidnapping
occurred. Appellant Kulais should be punished, therefore, under Article 267, paragraph
4 of the Revised Penal Code, and not Art. 268, as the trial court held.
[37]

The present case is different from People vs. Astorga, which held that the crime
committed was not kidnapping under Article 267, paragraph 4, but only grave
coercion. The appellant in that case had tricked his seven-year-old victim into going with
him to a place he alone knew. His plans, however, were foiled, when a group of people
became suspicious and rescued the girl from him. The Court noted that the victims
testimony and the other pieces of evidence did not indicate that the appellant wanted to
detain her, or that he actually detained her.
[38]

Page 42 of 142

In the present case, the evidence presented by the prosecution indubitably


established that the victims were detained, albeit for a few hours. There is proof beyond
reasonable doubt that kidnapping took place, and that appellant was a member of the
armed group which abducted the victims.
Third Issue:
Denial and Alibi
The appellants bare denial is a weak defense that becomes even weaker in the face
of the prosecution witnesses positive identification of him. Jurisprudence gives greater
weight to the positive narration of prosecution witnesses than to the negative
testimonies of the defense. Between positive and categorical testimony which has a
ring of truth to it on the one hand, and a bare denial on the other, the former generally
prevails. Jessica Calunod, Armando Bacarro and Edilberto Perez testified in a clear,
straightforward and frank manner; and their testimonies were compatible on material
points. Moreover, no ill motive was attributed to the kidnap victims and none was found
by this Court.
[39]

[40]

We agree with the trial courts observation that the appellant did not meet the
charges against him head on. His testimony dwelt on what happened to him on the day
he was arrested and on subsequent days thereafter. Appellant did not explain where he
was during the questioned dates (December 12, 1988 to February 3, 1989); neither did
he rebut Calunod, Bacarro and Perez, when they identified him as one of their
kidnappers.
Reclusion Perpetua, Not Life Imprisonment
The trial court erred when it sentenced the appellant to six terms of life
imprisonment. The penalty for kidnapping with ransom, under the Revised Penal Code,
is reclusion perpetua to death. Since the crimes happened in 1988, when the capital
penalty was proscribed by the Constitution, the maximum penalty that could have been
imposed was reclusion perpetua. Life imprisonment is not synonymous with reclusion
perpetua. Unlike life imprisonment, reclusion perpetua carries with it accessory
penalties provided in the Revised Penal Code and has a definite extent or duration. Life
imprisonment is invariably imposed for serious offenses penalized by special laws,
while reclusion perpetua is prescribed in accordance with the Revised Penal Code.
[41]

WHEREFORE, the conviction of Appellant Jailon Kulais as principal in five counts of


kidnapping for ransom and in three counts of kidnapping is AFFIRMED, but the penalty
imposed is hereby MODIFIED as follows: Appellant is sentenced to five terms
of reclusion perpetua, one for each of his five convictions for kidnapping for ransom;
and to three terms of reclusion perpetua, one each for the kidnapping of Public Officers
Virginia Gara, Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco. Like the other accused who
withdrew their appeals, he is REQUIRED to return the personal effects, or their
Page 43 of 142

monetary value, taken from the kidnap victims. Additionally, he is ORDERED to pay the
amount of P122,000 representing the ransom money paid to the kidnappers. Costs
against appellant.

Menandro Laureano vs Court of Appeals


324 SCRA 414 Conflict of Laws Private International Law Proof of
Foreign Law Applicability of Foreign Laws
In 1978, Menandro Laureano was hired as a pilot by the Singapore
Airlines Limited (SAL). In 1982 however, SAL was hit by recession and so it
had to lay off some employees. Laureano was one of them. Laureano asked
for reconsideration but it was not granted. Aggrieved, Laureano filed a labor
case for illegal dismissal against SAL. But in 1987, he withdrew the labor case
and instead filed a civil case for damages due to illegal termination of contract
against SAL. Laureano filed the case here in the Philippines. SAL moved for
the dismissal of the case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. The motion was
denied. On trial, SAL alleged that the termination of Laureano is valid pursuant
to Singaporean law.
The trial court ruled in favor of Laureano. SAL appealed the case raising
the issue of lack of jurisdiction, non applicability of Philippine laws, and
estoppel, among others. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court.

ISSUE: Whether or not Singaporean Law is applicable to this case.


HELD: No. The specific Singaporean Law which holds valid the dismissal
of Laureano is not proved in court. As such, the trial court cannot make a
determination if the termination is indeed valid under Singaporean Law.
Philippine courts do not take judicial notice of the laws of Singapore. SAL has
the burden of proof. SAL failed to prove such law hence Philippine law shall
apply. However, the case must be dismissed on the ground of estoppel.
Under our laws, all money claims arising from employer-employee
relationships must be filed within three years from the time the cause of action
accrued. Laureanos cause of action accrued in 1982 when he was terminated

Page 44 of 142

but he only filed the money claim in 1987 or more than three years from 1982.
Hence he is already barred by prescription.
G.R. No. 195649

July 2, 2013

CASAN MACODE MACQUILING, PETITIONER,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ROMMEL ARNADO Y CAGOCO, AND LINOG G.
BALUA. RESPONDENTS.
RESOLUTION
SERENO, J.:
This Resolution resolves the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent on May 10, 2013 and
the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration filed on May 20, 2013.
We are not unaware that the term of office of the local officials elected in the May 2010 elections has
already ended on June 30, 2010. Arnado, therefore, has successfully finished his term of office.
While the relief sought can no longer be granted, ruling on the motion for reconsideration is
important as it will either affirm the validity of Arnados election or affirm that Arnado never qualified
to run for public office.
Respondent failed to advance any argument to support his plea for the reversal of this Courts
Decision dated April 16, 2013. Instead, he presented his accomplishments as the Mayor of
Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and reiterated that he has taken the Oath of Allegiance not only twice
but six times. It must be stressed, however, that the relevant question is the efficacy of his
renunciation of his foreign citizenship and not the taking of the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of
the Philippines. Neither do his accomplishments as mayor affect the question before this Court.
Respondent cites Section 349 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of the United States as
having the effect of expatriation when he executed his Affidavit of Renunciation of American
Citizenship on April 3, 2009 and thus claims that he was divested of his American citizenship. If
indeed, respondent was divested of all the rights of an American citizen, the fact that he was still
able to use his US passport after executing his Affidavit of Renunciation repudiates this claim.
The Court cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws, 1 which must be presented as public
documents2 of a foreign country and must be "evidenced by an official publication thereof." 3 Mere
reference to a foreign law in a pleading does not suffice for it to be considered in deciding a case.
Respondent likewise contends that this Court failed to cite any law of the United States "providing
that a person who is divested of American citizenship thru an Affidavit of Renunciation will re-acquire
such American citizenship by using a US Passport issued prior to expatriation." 4
American law does not govern in this jurisdiction. Instead, Section 40(d) of the Local Government
Code calls for application in the case before us, given the fact that at the time Arnado filed his

Page 45 of 142

certificate of candidacy, he was not only a Filipino citizen but, by his own declaration, also an
American citizen. It is the application of this law and not of any foreign law that serves as the basis
for Arnados disqualification to run for any local elective position.
With all due respect to the dissent, the declared policy of Republic Act No. (RA) 9225 is that "all
Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their
Philippine citizenship under the conditions of this Act."5 This policy pertains to the reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship. Section 5(2)6 requires those who have re-acquired Philippine citizenship and
who seek elective public office, to renounce any and all foreign citizenship.
This requirement of renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship, when read together with Section
40(d) of the Local Government Code7 which disqualifies those with dual citizenship from running for
any elective local position, indicates a policy that anyone who seeks to run for public office must be
solely and exclusively a Filipino citizen. To allow a former Filipino who reacquires Philippine
citizenship to continue using a foreign passport which indicates the recognition of a foreign state of
the individual as its national even after the Filipino has renounced his foreign citizenship, is to
allow a complete disregard of this policy.
Further, we respectfully disagree that the majority decision rules on a situation of doubt.
Indeed, there is no doubt that Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code disqualifies those with
dual citizenship from running for local elective positions.
There is likewise no doubt that the use of a passport is a positive declaration that one is a citizen of
the country which issued the passport, or that a passport proves that the country which issued it
recognizes the person named therein as its national.
It is unquestioned that Arnado is a natural born Filipino citizen, or that he acquired American
citizenship by naturalization. There is no doubt that he reacquired his Filipino citizenship by taking
his Oath of Allegiance to the Philippines and that he renounced his American citizenship. It is also
indubitable that after renouncing his American citizenship, Arnado used his U.S. passport at least six
times.
If there is any remaining doubt, it is regarding the efficacy of Arnados renunciation of his American
citizenship when he subsequently used his U.S. passport. The renunciation of foreign citizenship
must be complete and unequivocal. The requirement that the renunciation must be made through an
oath emphasizes the solemn duty of the one making the oath of renunciation to remain true to what
he has sworn to. Allowing the subsequent use of a foreign passport because it is convenient for the
person to do so is rendering the oath a hollow act. It devalues the act of taking of an oath, reducing it
to a mere ceremonial formality.
The dissent states that the Court has effectively left Arnado "a man without a country". On the
contrary, this Court has, in fact, found Arnado to have more than one. Nowhere in the decision does
it say that Arnado is not a Filipino citizen. What the decision merely points out is that he also
possessed another citizenship at the time he filed his certificate of candidacy.
1wphi1

Page 46 of 142

Well-settled is the rule that findings of fact of administrative bodies will not be interfered with by the
courts in the absence of grave abuse of discretion on the part of said agencies, or unless the
aforementioned findings are not supported by substantial evidence.8 They are accorded not only
great respect but even finality, and are binding upon this Court, unless it is shown that the
administrative body had arbitrarily disregarded or misapprehended evidence before it to such an
extent as to compel a contrary conclusion had such evidence been properly appreciated. 9
Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that COMELEC First Division found that Arnado used his U.S.
Passport at least six times after he renounced his American citizenship. This was debunked by the
COMELEC En Banc, which found that Arnado only used his U.S. passport four times, and which
agreed with Arnados claim that he only used his U.S. passport on those occasions because his
Philippine passport was not yet issued. The COMELEC En Banc argued that Arnado was able to
prove that he used his Philippine passport for his travels on the following dates: 12 January 2010, 31
January 2010, 31 March 2010, 16 April 2010, 20 May 2010, and 4 June 2010.
None of these dates coincide with the two other dates indicated in the certification issued by the
Bureau of Immigration showing that on 21 January 2010 and on 23 March 2010, Arnado arrived in
the Philippines using his U.S. Passport No. 057782700 which also indicated therein that his
nationality is USA-American. Adding these two travel dates to the travel record provided by the
Bureau of Immigration showing that Arnado also presented his U.S. passport four times (upon
departure on 14 April 2009, upon arrival on 25 June 2009, upon departure on 29 July 2009 and upon
arrival on 24 November 2009), these incidents sum up to six.
The COMELEC En Banc concluded that "the use of the US passport was because to his knowledge,
his Philippine passport was not yet issued to him for his use." 10 This conclusion, however, is not
supported by the facts. Arnado claims that his Philippine passport was issued on 18 June 2009. The
records show that he continued to use his U.S. passport even after he already received his
Philippine passport. Arnados travel records show that he presented his U.S. passport on 24
November 2009, on 21 January 2010, and on 23 March 2010. These facts were never refuted by
Arnado.
Thus, the ruling of the COMELEC En Banc is based on a misapprehension of the facts that the use
of the U.S. passport was discontinued when Arnado obtained his Philippine passport. Arnados
continued use of his U.S. passport cannot be considered as isolated acts contrary to what the
dissent wants us to believe.
It must be stressed that what is at stake here is the principle that only those who are exclusively
Filipinos are qualified to run for public office. If we allow dual citizens who wish to run for public office
to renounce their foreign citizenship and afterwards continue using their foreign passports, we are
creating a special privilege for these dual citizens, thereby effectively junking the prohibition in
Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code.
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration and the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration
are hereby DENIED with finality.

Page 47 of 142

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Plaintiff-Appellee,

G.R. No. 188314

- versus
KHADDAFY
JANJALANI,
GAMAL B. BAHARAN a.k.a.
Tapay, ANGELO TRINIDAD
a.k.a. Abu Khalil, GAPPAL
BANNAH ASALI a.k.a. Maidan or
Negro, JAINAL SALI a.k.a. Abu
Solaiman,
ROHMAT
ABDURROHIM a.k.a. Jackie or
Zaky, and other JOHN and JANE
DOES,
Accused,
GAMAL B. BAHARAN a.k.a.
Tapay, ANGELO TRINIDAD
a.k.a. Abu Khalil, and ROHMAT
ABDURROHIM a.k.a. Abu Jackie
or Zaky,
Accused-Appellants.

Present:
CARPIO MORALES, J.,
Chairperson,
BRION,
BERSAMIN,
VILLARAMA, JR., and
SERENO, JJ.

Promulgated:
January 10, 2011

x--------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
SERENO, J.:
Before the Court is an appeal from the Decision of the Court of Appeals
(CA) dated 30 June 2008, which affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court
of Makati City in Criminal Case Nos. 05-476 and 05-4777 dated 18 October 2005.
The latter Decision convicted the three accused-appellants namely, Gamal B.
Baharan a.k.a. Tapay, Angelo Trinidad a.k.a. Abu Khalil, and Rohmat Abdurrohim
a.k.a. Abu Jackie or Zaky of the complex crime of multiple murder and multiple
frustrated murder, and sentenced them to suffer the penalty of death by lethal
injection. The CA modified the sentence to reclusion perpetua as required by
Republic Act No. 9346 (Act Abolishing the Imposition of Death Penalty).
Statement of Facts
Page 48 of 142

The pertinent facts, as determined by the trial court, are as follows:


On 14 February 2005, an RRCG bus was plying its usual southbound route,
from its Navotas bus terminal towards its Alabang bus terminal via Epifanio de los
Santos Avenue (EDSA). Around 6:30 to 7:30 in the evening, while they were about
to move out of the Guadalupe-EDSA southbound bus stop, the bus conductor
noticed two men running after the bus. The two insisted on getting on the bus, so
the conductor obliged and let them in.
According to Elmer Andales, the bus conductor, he immediately became
wary of the two men, because, even if they got on the bus together, the two sat
away from each other one sat two seats behind the driver, while the other sat at the
back of the bus. At the time, there were only 15 passengers inside the bus. He also
noticed that the eyes of one of the men were reddish. When he approached the
person near the driver and asked him whether he was paying for two passengers,
the latter looked dumb struck by the question. He then stuttered and said he was
paying for two and gave PhP20. Andales grew more concerned when the other man
seated at the back also paid for both passengers. At this point, Andales said he
became more certain that the two were up to no good, and that there might be a
holdup.
Afterwards, Andales said he became more suspicious because both men kept
on asking him if the bus was going to stop at Ayala Avenue. The witness also
noticed that the man at the back appeared to be slouching, with his legs stretched
out in front of him and his arms hanging out and hidden from view as if he was
tinkering with something. When Andales would get near the man, the latter would
glare at him. Andales admitted, however, that he did not report the suspicious
characters to the police.
As soon as the bus reached the stoplight at the corner of Ayala Avenue and
EDSA, the two men insisted on getting off the bus. According to Andales, the bus
driver initially did not want to let them off the bus, because a Makati ordinance
prohibited unloading anywhere except at designated bus stops. Eventually, the bus
driver gave in and allowed the two passengers to alight. The two immediately got
off the bus and ran towards Ayala Avenue. Moments after, Andales felt an
explosion. He then saw fire quickly engulfing the bus. He ran out of the bus
towards a nearby mall. After a while, he went back to where the bus was. He saw
their bus passengers either lying on the ground or looking traumatized. A few hours
Page 49 of 142

after, he made a statement before the Makati Police Station narrating the whole
incident.
The prosecution presented documents furnished by the Department of
Justice, confirming that shortly before the explosion, the spokesperson of the Abu
Sayyaf Group Abu Solaiman announced over radio station DZBB that the group
had a Valentines Day gift for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. After the
bombing, he again went on radio and warned of more bomb attacks.
As stipulated during pretrial, accused Trinidad gave ABS-CBN News
Network an exclusive interview some time after the incident, confessing his
participation in the Valentines Day bombing incident. In another exclusive
interview on the network, accused Baharan likewise admitted his role in the
bombing incident. Finally, accused Asali gave a television interview, confessing
that he had supplied the explosive devices for the 14 February 2005 bombing. The
bus conductor identified the accused Baharan and Trinidad, and confirmed that
they were the two men who had entered the RRCG bus on the evening of 14
February.
Members of the Abu Sayyaf Group namely Khaddafy Janjalani, Gamal B.
Baharan, Angelo Trinidad, Gappal Bannah Asali, Jainal Asali, Rohmat Abdurrohim
a.k.a. Abu Jackie or Zaky, and other John and Jane Does were then charged with
multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder. Only Baharan, Trinidad, Asali, and
Rohmat were arrested, while the other accused remain at-large.
On their arraignment for the multiple murder charge (Crim. Case No. 05476), Baharan, Trinidad, and Asali all entered a plea of guilty. On the other hand,
upon arraignment for the multiple frustrated murder charge (Crim. Case No. 05477), accused Asali pled guilty. Accused Trinidad and Baharan pled not guilty.
Rohmat pled not guilty to both charges. During the pretrial hearing, the parties
stipulated the following:
1.)

The jurisdiction of this court over the offenses charged.

2.)

That all three accused namely alias Baharan, Trinidad, and Asali admitted
knowing one another before February 14, 2005.

3.)

All the same three accused likewise admitted that a bomb exploded in the
RRCG bus while the bus was plying the EDSA route fronting the MRT
terminal which is in front of the Makati Commercial Center.

Page 50 of 142

4.)

Accused Asali admitted knowing the other accused alias Rohmat whom
he claims taught him how to make explosive devices.

5.)

The accused Trinidad also admitted knowing Rohmat before the February
14 bombing incident.

6.)

The accused Baharan, Trinidad, and Asali all admitted to causing the
bomb explosion inside the RRCG bus which left four people dead and
more or less forty persons injured.

7.)

Both Baharan and Trinidad agreed to stipulate that within the period
March 20-24 each gave separate interviews to the ABS-CBN news
network admitting their participation in the commission of the said crimes,
subject of these cases.

8.)

Accused Trinidad and Baharan also admitted to pleading guilty to these


crimes, because they were guilt-stricken after seeing a man carrying a
child in the first bus that they had entered.
Accused Asali likewise admitted that in the middle of March 2005 he
gave a television news interview in which he admitted that he supplied the
explosive devices which resulted in this explosion inside the RRCG bus
and which resulted in the filing of these charges.

9.)

10.)

Finally, accused Baharan, Trinidad, and Asali admitted that they are
members of the Abu Sayyaf.[1]

In the light of the pretrial stipulations, the trial court asked whether accused
Baharan and Trinidad were amenable to changing their not guilty pleas to the
charge ofmultiple frustrated murder, considering that they pled guilty to the
heavier charge of multiple murder, creating an apparent inconsistency in their
pleas. Defense counsel conferred with accused Baharan and Trinidad and explained
to them the consequences of the pleas. The two accused acknowledged the
inconsistencies and manifested their readiness for re-arraignment. After the
Information was read to them, Baharan and Trinidad pled guilty to the charge
of multiple frustrated murder.[2]
After being discharged as state witness, accused Asali testified that while
under training with the Abu Sayyaf in 2004, Rohmat, a.k.a Abu Jackie or Zaky, and
two other persons taught him how to make bombs and explosives. The trainees
were told that they were to wage battles against the government in the city, and that
their first mission was to plant bombs in malls, the Light Railway Transit (LRT),
and other parts of Metro Manila.

Page 51 of 142

As found by the trial court, Asali, after his training, was required by the Abu
Sayyaf leadership, specifically Abu Solaiman and Rohmat, to secure eight kilos of
TNT, a soldering gun, aluminum powder, a tester, and Christmas lights, all of
which he knew would be used to make a bomb. He then recalled that sometime in
November to December 2004, Trinidad asked him for a total of 4 kilos of TNT that
is, 2 kilos on two separate occasions. Rohmat allegedly called Asali to confirm that
Trinidad would get TNT from Asali and use it for their first mission. The TNT was
allegedly placed in two buses sometime in December 2004, but neither one of them
exploded.
Asali then testified that the night before the Valentines Day bombing,
Trinidad and Baharan got another two kilos of TNT from him. Late in the evening
of 14 February, he received a call from Abu Solaiman. The latter told Asali not to
leave home or go to crowded areas, since the TNT taken by Baharan and Trinidad
had already been exploded in Makati. Thirty minutes later, Trinidad called Asali,
repeating the warning of Abu Solaiman. The next day, Asali allegedly received a
call from accused Rohmat, congratulating the former on the success of the mission.
[3]
According to Asali, Abu Zaky specifically said, Sa wakas nag success din yung
tinuro ko sayo.
Assignment of Errors
Accused-appellants raise the following assignment of errors:
I.

The trial court gravely erred in accepting accused-appellants


plea of guilt despite insufficiency of searching inquiry into the
voluntariness and full comprehension of the consequences of
the said plea.

II.

The trial court gravely erred in finding that the guilt of


accused-appellants for the crimes charged had been proven
beyond reasonable doubt.[4]

First Assignment of Error


Accused-appellants Baharan and Trinidad argue that the trial court did not conduct
a searching inquiry after they had changed their plea from not guilty to guilty. The
transcript of stenographic notes during the 18 April 2005 re-arraignment before the
Makati Regional Trial Court is reproduced below:
Page 52 of 142

COURT : Anyway, I think what we should have to do, considering the


stipulations that were agreed upon during the last hearing, is to
address this matter of pleas of not guilty entered for the
frustrated murder charges by the two accused, Mr. Trinidad and
Mr. Baharan, because if you will recall they entered pleas of
guilty to the multiple murder charges, but then earlier pleas of
not guilty for the frustrated multiple murder charges remain
[I]s that not inconsistent considering the stipulations that were
entered into during the initial pretrial of this case? [If] you will
recall, they admitted to have caused the bomb explosion that
led to the death of at least four people and injury of about forty
other persons and so under the circumstances, Atty Pea, have
you discussed this matter with your clients?
ATTY. PEA : Then we should be given enough time to talk with them. I havent
conferred with them about this with regard to the multiple
murder case.
COURT : Okay. So let us proceed now. Atty. Pea, can you assist the two accused
because if they are interested in withdrawing their [pleas], I
want to hear it from your lips.
ATTY. PEA : Yes, your Honor.
(At this juncture, Atty. Pea confers with the two accused, namely Trinidad and
Baharan)
I have talked to them, your Honor, and I have explained to them the consequence
of their pleas, your Honor, and that the plea of guilt to
the murder case and plea of not guilty to the frustrated multiple
murder actually are inconsistent with their pleas.
COURT : With matters that they stipulated upon?
ATTY. PEA : Yes, your Honor. So, they are now, since they already plead guilt to
the murder case, then they are now changing their pleas, your
Honor, from not guilty to the one of guilt. They are now ready,
your Honor, for re-arraignment.
INTERPRETER: (Read again that portion [of the information] and translated it in
Filipino in a clearer way and asked both accused what their
pleas are).
Your Honor, both accused are entering separate pleas of guilt to the crime
charged.

Page 53 of 142

COURT : All right. So after the information was re-read to the accused, they have
withdrawn their pleas of not guilty and changed it to the pleas
of guilty to the charge of frustrated murder. Thank you. Are
there any matters you need to address at pretrial now? If there
are none, then I will terminate pretrial and accommodate[5]

As early as in People v. Apduhan, the Supreme Court has ruled that all trial
judges must refrain from accepting with alacrity an accused's plea of guilty, for
while justice demands a speedy administration, judges are duty bound to be extra
solicitous in seeing to it that when an accused pleads guilty, he understands fully
the meaning of his plea and the import of an inevitable conviction. [6] Thus, trial
court judges are required to observe the following procedure under Section 3, Rule
116 of the Rules of Court:
SEC. 3. Plea of guilty to capital offense; reception of evidence. When the accused
pleads guilty to a capital offense, the court shall conduct a searching
inquiry into the voluntariness and full comprehension of the consequences of
his plea and shall require the prosecution to prove his guilt and the precise degree
of culpability. The accused may also present evidence in his behalf. (Emphasis
supplied)

The requirement to conduct a searching inquiry applies more so in cases of rearraignment. In People v. Galvez, the Court noted that since accused-appellant's
original plea was not guilty, the trial court should have exerted careful effort in
inquiring into why he changed his plea to guilty.[7] According to the Court:
The stringent procedure governing the reception of a plea of guilt, especially in a
case involving the death penalty, is imposed upon the trial judge in order to leave
no room for doubt on the possibility that the accused might have misunderstood
the nature of the charge and the consequences of the plea.[8]

Likewise, the requirement to conduct a searching inquiry should not be deemed


satisfied in cases in which it was the defense counsel who explained the
consequences of a guilty plea to the accused, as it appears in this case. In People v.
Alborida, this Court found that there was still an improvident plea of guilty, even if
the accused had already signified in open court that his counsel had explained the
consequences of the guilty plea; that he understood the explanation of his counsel;
that the accused understood that the penalty of death would still be meted out to
him; and that he had not been intimidated, bribed, or threatened.[9]
We have reiterated in a long line of cases that the conduct of a searching
inquiry remains the duty of judges, as they are mandated by the rules to satisfy
Page 54 of 142

themselves that the accused had not been under coercion or duress; mistaken
impressions; or a misunderstanding of the significance, effects, and consequences
of their guilty plea.[10] This requirement is stringent and mandatory.[11]
Nevertheless, we are not unmindful of the context under which the rearraignment was conducted or of the factual milieu surrounding the finding of guilt
against the accused. The Court observes that accused Baharan and Trinidad
previously pled guilty to another charge multiple murder based on the same act
relied upon in the multiple frustrated murder charge. The Court further notes that
prior to the change of plea to one of guilt, accused Baharan and Trinidad made two
other confessions of guilt one through an extrajudicial confession (exclusive
television interviews, as stipulated by both accused during pretrial), and the other
via judicial admission (pretrial stipulation). Considering the foregoing
circumstances, we deem it unnecessary to rule on the sufficiency of the searching
inquiry in this instance. Remanding the case for re-arraignment is not warranted, as
the accuseds plea of guilt was not the sole basis of the condemnatory judgment
under consideration.[12]
Second Assignment of Error
In People v. Oden, the Court declared that even if the requirement of
conducting a searching inquiry was not complied with, [t]he manner by which the
plea of guilt is madeloses much of great significance where the conviction can be
based on independent evidence proving the commission by the person accused of
the offense charged.[13] Thus, inPeople v. Nadera, the Court stated:
Convictions based on an improvident plea of guilt are set aside only if such
plea is the sole basis of the judgment. If the trial court relied on sufficient and
credible evidence to convict the accused, the conviction must be sustained,
because then it is predicated not merely on the guilty plea of the accused but on
evidence proving his commission of the offense charged.[14](Emphasis supplied.)

In their second assignment of error, accused-appellants assert that guilt was not
proven beyond reasonable doubt. They pointed out that the testimony of the
conductor was merely circumstantial, while that of Asali as to the conspiracy was
insufficient.
Insofar as accused-appellants Baharan and Trinidad are concerned, the
evidence for the prosecution, in addition to that which can be drawn from the
stipulation of facts, primarily consisted of the testimonies of the bus conductor,
Elmer Andales, and of the accused-turned-state-witness, Asali. Andales positively
identified accused Baharan and Trinidad as the two men who had acted
Page 55 of 142

suspiciously while inside the bus; who had insisted on getting off the bus in
violation of a Makati ordinance; and who had scampered away from the bus
moments before the bomb exploded. On the other hand, Asali testified that he had
given accused Baharan and Trinidad the TNT used in the bombing incident in
Makati City. The guilt of the accused Baharan and Trinidad was sufficiently
established by these corroborating testimonies, coupled with their respective
judicial admissions (pretrial stipulations) and extrajudicial confessions (exclusive
television interviews, as they both stipulated during pretrial) that they were indeed
the perpetrators of the Valentines Day bombing. [15] Accordingly, the Court upholds
the findings of guilt made by the trial court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
Anent accused Rohmat, the evidence for the prosecution consisted of the
testimony of accused-turned-state-witness Asali. Below is a reproduction of the
transcript of stenographic notes on the state prosecutors direct examination of
state-witness Asali during the 26 May 2005 trial:
Q : You stated that Zaky trained you and Trinidad. Under what circumstances did
he train you, Mr. Witness, to assemble those explosives, you
and Trinidad?
A : Abu Zaky, Abu Solaiman, Khadaffy Janjalani, the three of them, that Angelo
Trinidad and myself be the one to be trained to make an
explosive, sir.
Q : Mr. witness, how long that training, or how long did it take that training?
A : If I am not mistaken, we were thought to make bomb about one month and
two weeks.
Q : Now, speaking of that mission, Mr. witness, while you were still in training at
Mr. Cararao, is there any mission that you undertook, if any,
with respect to that mission?
A : Our first mission was to plant a bomb in the malls, LRT, and other parts of
Metro Manila, sir.[16]

The witness then testified that he kept eight kilos of TNT for accused
Baharan and Trinidad.

Page 56 of 142

Q : Now, going back to the bomb. Mr. witness, did you know what happened to
the 2 kilos of bomb that Trinidad and Tapay took from you
sometime in November 2004?
A : That was the explosive that he planted in the G-liner, which did not explode.
Q : How did you know, Mr. witness?
A : He was the one who told me, Mr. Angelo Trinidad, sir.
Q : What happened next, Mr. witness, when the bomb did not explode, as told to
you by Trinidad?
A : On December 29, Angelo Trinidad got 2 more kilos of TNT bombs.
Q : Did Trinidad tell you why he needed another amount of explosive on that date,
December 29, 2004? Will you kindly tell us the reason why?
A : He told me that Abu Solaiman instructed me to get the TNT so that he could
detonate a bomb
Q : Were there any other person, besides Abu Solaiman, who called you up, with
respect to the taking of the explosives from you?
A : There is, sir Abu Zaky, sir, called up also.
Q : What did Abu Zaky tell you when he called you up?
A : He told me that this is your first mission.
Q : Please enlighten the Honorable Court. What is that mission you are referring
to?
A : That is the first mission where we can show our anger towards the Christians.
Q : The second time that he got a bomb from you, Mr. witness, do you know if the
bomb explode?
A : I did not know what happened to the next 2 kilos taken by Angelo Trinidad
from me until after I was caught, because I was told by the

Page 57 of 142

policeman that interviewed me after I was arrested that the 2


kilos were planted in a bus, which also did not explode.

Q : So besides these two incidents, were there any other incidents that Angelo
Trinidad and Tapay get an explosive for you, Mr. witness?
A : If I am not mistaken, sir, on February 13, 2005 at 6:30 p.m.
Q : Who got from you the explosive Mr. witness?
A : Its Angelo Trinidad and Tapay, sir.
Q : How many explosives did they get from you, Mr. witness, at that time?
A : They got 2 kilos TNT bomb, sir.
Q : Did they tell you, Mr. witness, where are they going to use that explosive?
A : No, sir.
Q : Do you know, Mr. witness, what happened to the third batch of explosives,
which were taken from you by Trinidad and Tapay?
A : That is the bomb that exploded in Makati, sir.
Q : Why did you know, Mr. witness?
A : Because I was called in the evening of February 14 by Abu Solaiman. He told
me not to leave the house because the explosive that were
taken by Tapay and Angelo Trinidad exploded.
Q : Was there any other call during that time, Mr. Witness?
A : I was told by Angelo Trinidad not to leave the house because the explosive
that he took exploded already, sir.
Q : How sure were you, Mr. witness, at that time, that indeed, the bomb exploded
at Makati, beside the call of Abu Solaiman and Trinidad?

Page 58 of 142

A : It was told by Abu Solaiman that the bombing in Makati should coincide with
the bombing in General Santos.
A : He told it to me, sir I cannot remember the date anymore, but I know it was
sometime in February 2005.
Q : Any other call, Mr. witness, from Abu Solaiman and Trinidad after the
bombing exploded in Makati, any other call?
A : There is, sir The call came from Abu Zaky.
Q : What did Abu Zaky tell you, Mr. witness?
A : He just greeted us congratulations, because we have a successful mission.
A : He told me that sa wakas, nag success din yung tinuro ko sayo.
Q : By the way, Mr. witness, I would just like to clarify this. You stated that Abu
Zaky called you up the following day, that was February 15,
and congratulating you for the success of the mission. My
question to you, Mr. witness, if you know what is the relation
of that mission, wherein you were congratulated by Abu Zaky,
to the mission, which have been indoctrinated to you, while
you were in Mt. Cararao, Mr. witness?
A : They are connected, sir.
Q : Connected in what sense, Mr. witness?
A : Because when we were undergoing training, we were told that the Abu Sayyaf
should not wage war to the forest, but also wage our battles in
the city.
Q : Wage the battle against who, Mr. witness?
A : The government, sir.[17]

What can be culled from the testimony of Asali is that the Abu Sayyaf Group
was determined to sow terror in Metro Manila, so that they could show their anger
towards the Christians.[18] It can also be seen that Rohmat, together with Janjalani
and Abu Solaiman, had carefully planned the Valentines Day bombing incident,
Page 59 of 142

months before it happened. Rohmat had trained Asali and Trinidad to make bombs
and explosives. While in training, Asali and others were told that their mission was
to plant bombs in malls, the LRT, and other parts of Metro Manila. According to
Asali, Rohmat called him on 29 December 2004 to confirm that Trinidad would get
two kilos of TNT from Asali, as they were about to commence their first mission.
[19]
They made two separate attempts to bomb a bus in Metro Manila, but to no
avail. The day before the Valentines Day bombing, Trinidad got another two kilos
of TNT from Asali. On Valentines Day, the Abu Sayyaf Group announced that they
had a gift for the former President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. On their third try,
their plan finally succeeded. Right after the bomb exploded, the Abu Sayyaf Group
declared that there would be more bombings in the future. Asali then received a
call from Rohmat, praising the former: Sa wakas nag success din yung tinuro ko
sayo.[20]
In the light of the foregoing evidence, the Court upholds the finding of guilt
against Rohmat. Article 17 of the Revised Penal Code reads:
Art. 17. Principals. The following are considered principals:
1. Those who take a direct part in the execution of the act
2. Those who directly force or induce others to commit it
3. Those who cooperate in the commission of the offense by another act without which
it would not have been accomplished

Accused Rohmat is criminally responsible under the second paragraph, or


the provision on principal by inducement. The instructions and training he had
given Asali on how to make bombs coupled with their careful planning and
persistent attempts to bomb different areas in Metro Manila and Rohmats
confirmation that Trinidad would be getting TNT from Asali as part of their
mission prove the finding that Rohmats co-inducement was the determining cause
of the commission of the crime.[21] Such command or advice [was] of such nature
that, without it, the crime would not have materialized.[22]
Further, the inducement was so influential in producing the criminal act that
without it, the act would not have been performed.[23] In People v. Sanchez, et al.,
the Court ruled that, notwithstanding the fact that Mayor Sanchez was not at the
crime scene, evidence proved that he was the mastermind of the criminal act or the
principal by inducement. Thus, because Mayor Sanchez was a co-principal and coconspirator, and because the act of one conspirator is the act of all, the mayor was
rendered liable for all the resulting crimes. [24] The same finding must be applied to
the case at bar.
Page 60 of 142

The Court also affirms the finding of the existence of conspiracy involving
accused Baharan, Trinidad, and Rohmat. Conspiracy was clearly established from
the collective acts of the accused-appellants before, during and after the
commission of the crime. As correctly declared by the trial court in its Omnibus
Decision:
Asalis clear and categorical testimony, which remains unrebutted on its
major points, coupled with the judicial admissions freely and voluntarily given by
the two other accused, are sufficient to prove the existence of a conspiracy
hatched between and among the four accused, all members of the terrorist group
Abu Sayyaf, to wreak chaos and mayhem in the metropolis by indiscriminately
killing and injuring civilian victims by utilizing bombs and other similar
destructive explosive devices.
While said conspiracy involving the four malefactors has not been
expressly admitted by accused Baharan, Angelo Trinidad, and Rohmat, more
specifically with respect to the latters participation in the commission of the
crimes, nonetheless it has been established by virtue of the aforementioned
evidence, which established the existence of the conspiracy itself and the
indispensable participation of accused Rohmat in seeing to it that the conspirators
criminal design would be realized.
It is well-established that conspiracy may be inferred from the acts of the
accused, which clearly manifests a concurrence of wills, a common intent or
design to commit a crime (People v. Lenantud, 352 SCRA 544). Hence, where
acts of the accused collectively and individually demonstrate the existence of a
common design towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful purpose,
conspiracy is evident and all the perpetrators will be held liable as principals
(People v. Ellado, 353 SCRA 643).[25]

In People v. Geronimo, the Court pronounced that it would be justified in


concluding that the defendants therein were engaged in a conspiracy when the
defendants by their acts aimed at the same object, one performing one part and the
other performing another part so as to complete it, with a view to the attainment of
the same object; and their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact
concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal association, concerted
action and concurrence of sentiments.[26]
Accused contend that the testimony of Asali is inadmissible pursuant to Sec.
30, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. It is true that under the rule, statements made
by a conspirator against a co-conspirator are admissible only when made during
the existence of the conspiracy. However, as the Court ruled in People v. Buntag, if
Page 61 of 142

the declarant repeats the statement in court, his extrajudicial confession becomes a
judicial admission, making the testimony admissible as to both conspirators.
[27]
Thus, in People v. Palijon, the Court held the following:
[W]e must make a distinction between extrajudicial and judicial confessions. An
extrajudicial confession may be given in evidence against the confessant but not
against his co-accused as they are deprived of the opportunity to cross-examine
him. A judicial confession is admissible against the declarants co-accused since
the latter are afforded opportunity to cross-examine the former.Section 30, Rule
130 of the Rules of Court applies only to extrajudicial acts or admissions and
not to testimony at trial where the party adversely affected has the
opportunity to cross-examine the declarant. Mercenes admission implicating
his co-accused was given on the witness stand. It is admissible in evidence against
appellant Palijon. Moreover, where several accused are tried together for the same
offense, the testimony of a co-accused implicating his co-accused is competent
evidence against the latter.[28]

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Regional Trial


Court of Makati, as affirmed with modification by the Court of Appeals, is
hereby AFFIRMED.

G.R. NO. 152375, DECEMBER 13, 2011.


REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER,
VS
SANDIGANBAYAN
(FOURTH
DIVISION),
JOSE
L.
AFRICA
(SUBSTITUTED BY HIS HEIRS), MANUEL H. NIETO, JR., FERDINAND E.
MARCOS (SUBSTITUTED BY HIS HEIRS), IMELDA R. MARCOS,
FERDINAND R. MARCOS, JR., JUAN PONCE ENRILE, AND POTENCIANO
ILUSORIO (SUBSTITUTED BY HIS HEIRS), RESPONDENTS.

BRION.

Page 62 of 142

FACTS:
A case was filed against the respondents for before the Sandiganbayan
(SB) for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution, and damages in
relation to the allegation that respondents illegally manipulated the purchase
of the major shareholdings of Cable and Wireless Limited in Eastern
Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (ETPI). This case docketed as Civil
Case No. 0009 spawned numerous incidental cases, among them, Civil Case
No. 0130, a petition instituted by Victor Africa (Son of the late Jose Africa)
which sought to nullify the orders of the PCGG directing him to account for the
alleged sequestered shares in ETPI and to cease and desist from exercising
voting rights. The present respondents were not made parties either in Civil
Case No. 0130. In the former case, Victor Africa (Africa) was not impleaded in
and so is plainly not a party thereto.

In the proceedings for Civil Case No. 0130, testimony of Mr. Maurice V.
Bane (former director and treasurer-in-trust of ETPI) was taken by way of
deposition upon oral examination (Bane deposition) before Consul General
Ernesto Castro of the Philippine Embassy in London, England. The purpose
was for Bane to identify and testify on the facts set forth in his affidavit so as to
prove the ownership issue in favor of the petitioner and/or establish the prima
facie factual foundation for sequestration of ETPIs Class A stock.

As to Civil Case No. 009, the petitioner filed a motion (1st Motion) to adopt
the testimonies of the witnesses in Civil Case No. 0130, including the
deposition of Mr. Maurice Bane which was denied by SB in its April 1998
Resolution because he was not available for cross-examination. The
petitioners did not in any way question the 1998 resolution, and instead made
its Formal Offer of Evidence on December 14, 1999. Significantly, the Bane
deposition was not included as part of its offered exhibits. In rectifying this,
they filed a second motion with prayer for re-opening of the case for the
purpose of introducing additional evidence and requested the court to take
judicial notice of the facts established by the Bane deposition. This was
however denied by the SB in its November 6, 2000 resolution (2000
resolution). A third motion was filed by the petitioners on November 16, 2001
Page 63 of 142

seeking once more to admit the Bane deposition which the SB denied for the
reason that the 1998 resolution has become final in view of the petitioners
failure to file a motion for reconsideration or appeal within the 15-day
reglementary period.

ISSUE/S:
1. Whether the SB committed grave abuse of discretion in holding that the
1998 resolution has already attained finality and in refusing to re-open the
case.
2. Whether the Bane deposition is admissible under the rules of court
and under the principle of judicial notice.

RULING:
1. The court ruled that the SBs ruling on the finality of its 1998 resolution
was legally erroneous but did not constitute grave abuse of discretion due to
the absence of a clear showing that its action was a capricious and whimsical
exercise of judgment affecting its exercise of jurisdiction. The SBs ruling,
although an erroneous legal conclusion was only an error of judgment, or, at
best, an abuse of discretion but not a grave one.

The 1998 resolution is an interlocutory decision, thus petition for certiorari


is still premature since the rules of court provides that certiorari should be
availed in a situation where neither an appeal nor any plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law is available to the aggrieved
party except if such remedy is inadequate or insufficient in relieving the
aggrieved party of the injurious effects of the order complained of. At the time
of the 1st motion, the presentation of evidence has not yet concluded. The
remedy after the denial of the 1st motion should have been for the petitioner
to move for a reconsideration to assert and even clarify its position on the
admission of the Bane deposition. But upon denial of the 2nd motion,
petitioners should have already questioned it by way of certiorari since it
effectively foreclosed all avenues available to it for the consideration of the
Page 64 of 142

Bane deposition. Instead of doing so, however, the petitioner allowed the 60day reglementary period, under Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, to
lapse, and proceeded to file its 3rd motion.

However, the court ruled that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its
discretion in ultimately refusing to reopen the case for the purpose of
introducing and admitting in evidence the Bane deposition. The Rules of Court
does not prohibit a party from requesting the court to allow it to present
additional evidence even after it has rested its case provided that the
evidence is rebuttal in character, whose necessity, for instance, arose from the
shifting of the burden of evidence from one party to the other; or where the
evidence sought to be presented is in the nature of newly discovered
evidence. At the time the petitioner moved to re-open its case, the
respondents had not yet even presented their evidence in chief. The
respondents, therefore, would not have been prejudiced by allowing the
petitioners introduction of the Bane deposition, which was concededly omitted
through oversight.

2. Despite the cases being closely related, admissibility of the Bane


deposition still needs to comply with the rules of court on the admissibility of
testimonies or deposition taken in a different proceeding. Depositions are not
meant as substitute for the actual testimony in open court of a party or
witness. Generally, the deponent must be presented for oral examination in
open court at the trial or hearing otherwise, the adverse party may oppose it
as mere hearsay. Cross-examination will test the truthfulness of the
statements of the witness; it is an essential safeguard of the accuracy and
completeness of a testimony. Depositions from the former trial may be
introduced as evidence provided that the parties to the first proceeding must
be the same as the parties to the later proceeding. In the present case, the
petitioner failed to establish the identity of interest or privity between the
opponents of the two cases. While Victor Africa is the son of the late
respondent Jose Africa, the deposition is admissible only against him as an
ETPI stockholder who filed Civil Case No. 0130.

Page 65 of 142

Further, the rule of judicial notice is not applicable in this case as it would
create confusion between the two cases. It is the duty of the petitioner, as a
party-litigant, to properly lay before the court the evidence it relies upon in
support of the relief it seeks, instead of imposing that same duty on the court.

The petition was DISMISSED for lack of merit.

-------------------------------------------RULE 130

UNIE MALLILLIN Y. LOPEZ, G.R. No. 172953


Petitioner,
Present:
QUISUMBING, J.,
- versus - Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, BRION, JJ.
Respondent.
Promulgated:
April 30, 2008
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
TINGA, J.:

Page 66 of 142

The presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions cannot by its


lonesome overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence. Evidence of guilt
beyond reasonable doubt and nothing else can eclipse the hypothesis of
guiltlessness.And this burden is met not by bestowing distrust on the innocence of
the accused but by obliterating all doubts as to his culpability.

In this Petition for Review [1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of


Court, Junie Malillin y Lopez (petitioner) assails the Decision[2]of the Court of
Appeals dated 27 January 2006 as well as its Resolution[3] dated 30 May 2006
denying his motion for reconsideration. The challenged decision has affirmed the
Decision[4] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sorsogon City, Branch 52[5] which
found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of
methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, a prohibited drug.
The antecedent facts follow.
On the strength of a warrant[6] of search and seizure issued by the RTC
of Sorsogon City, Branch 52, a team of five police officers raided the residence of
petitioner in Barangay Tugos, Sorsogon City on 4 February 2003. The team was
headed by P/Insp. CatalinoBolanos (Bolanos), with PO3 Roberto Esternon
(Esternon),
SPO1
Pedro Docot,
SPO1 Danilo Lasala and
SPO2
Romeo Gallinera(Gallinera) as members. The searchconducted in the presence
of barangay kagawad

Delfin Licup as well as petitioner himself, his wife Sheila and his mother,
Normaallegedly yielded two (2) plastic sachets of shabuand five (5) empty plastic
sachets containing residual morsels of the said substance.

Page 67 of 142

Accordingly, petitioner was charged with violation of Section 11, [7] Article II
of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as The Comprehensive Dangerous
Drugs Act of 2002, in a criminal information whose inculpatory portion reads:
That on or about the 4th day of February 2003, at about 8:45 in
the morning in Barangay Tugos, Sorsogon City, Philippines, the said
accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have
in his possession, custody and control two (2) plastic sachets of
methamphetamine hydrochloride [or] shabu with an aggregate
weight
of
0.0743
gram,
and
four
empty
sachets
containing shaburesidue, without having been previously authorized
by law to possess the same.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[8]

Petitioner entered a negative plea.[9] At the ensuing trial, the prosecution


presented Bolanos, Arroyo and Esternon as witnesses.
Taking the witness stand, Bolanos, the leader of the raiding team, testified on
the circumstances surrounding the search as follows: that he and his men were
allowed entry into the house by petitioner after the latter was shown the search
warrant; that upon entering the premises, he ordered Esternon
and barangay kagawad Licup, whose assistance had previously been requested in
executing the warrant, to conduct the search; that the rest of the police team
positioned themselves outside the house to make sure that nobody flees; that he
was observing the conduct of the search from about a meter away; that the search
conducted inside the bedroom of petitioner yielded five empty plastic sachets with
suspected shabu residue contained in a denim bag and kept in one of the cabinets,
and two plastic sachets containing shabu which fell off from one of the pillows
searched by Esternona discovery that was made in the presence of petitioner.[10] On
cross examination, Bolanos admitted that during the search, he was explaining its
progress to petitioners mother, Norma, but that at the same time his eyes were
fixed on the search being conducted by Esternon.[11]
Esternon testified that the denim bag containing the empty plastic sachets
was found behind the door of the bedroom and not inside the cabinet; that he then
found the two filled sachets under a pillow on the bed and forthwith called
Page 68 of 142

on Gallinera to have the items recorded and marked. [12] On cross, he admitted that
it was he alone who conducted the search because Bolanos was standing behind
him in the living room portion of the house and that petitioner handed to him the
things to be searched, which included the pillow in which the two sachets
of shabu were kept;[13] that he brought the seized items to the Balogo Police Station
for a true inventory, then to the trial court[14] and thereafter to the laboratory.[15]

Supt. Lorlie Arroyo (Arroyo), the forensic chemist who administered the
examination on the seized items, was presented as an expert witness to identify the
items submitted to the laboratory. She revealed that the two filled sachets were
positive of shabu and that of the five empty sachets, four were positive of
containing residue of the same substance.[16] She further admitted that all seven
sachets were delivered to the laboratory by Esternon in the afternoon of the same
day that the warrant was executed except that it was not she but rather a certain
Mrs. Ofelia Garcia who received the items from Esternon at the laboratory.[17]
The evidence for the defense focused on the irregularity of the search and
seizure conducted by the police operatives. Petitioner testified that Esternon began
the search of the bedroom with Licup and petitioner himself inside. However, it
was momentarily interrupted when one of the police officers declared
to Bolanos that petitioners wife, Sheila, was tucking something inside her
underwear. Forthwith, a lady officer arrived to conduct the search of Sheilas body
inside the same bedroom. At that point, everyone except Esternon was asked to
step out of the room. So, it was in his presence that Sheila was searched by
the lady officer.Petitioner was then asked by a police officer to buy

cigarettes at a nearby store and when he returned from the errand, he was told that
nothing was found on Sheilas body.[18] Sheila was ordered to transfer to the other
bedroom together with her children.[19]
Petitioner asserted that on his return from the errand, he was summoned by
Esternon to the bedroom and once inside, the officer closed the door and asked him
to lift the mattress on the bed. And as he was doing as told, Esternon stopped him
Page 69 of 142

and ordered him to lift the portion of the headboard. In that instant, Esternon
showed him sachet of shabu which according to him came from a pillow on the
bed.[20] Petitioners account in its entirety was corroborated in its material respects
by Norma, barangay kagawadLicup and Sheila in their testimonies. Norma and
Sheila positively declared that petitioner was not in the house for the entire
duration of the search because at one point he was sent by Esternon to the store to
buy cigarettes while Sheila was being searched by the lady officer.[21] Licup for his
part testified on the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the plastic
sachets. He recounted that after the five empty sachets were found, he went out of
the bedroom and into the living room and after about three minutes, Esternon, who
was left inside the bedroom, exclaimed that he had just found two filled sachets.[22]

On 20 June 2004 the trial court rendered its Decision declaring petitioner
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged. Petitioner was condemned
to prison for twelve years (12) and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and to pay a
fine ofP300,000.00.[23] The trial court reasoned that the fact that shabu was found
in
the
house
of
petitioner
was prima
facie evidence
of
petitioners animus possidendi sufficient to convict him of the charge inasmuch as
things which a person possesses or over which he exercises acts of ownership are
presumptively owned by him. It also noted petitioners failure to ascribe ill motives
to the police officers to fabricate charges against him.[24]
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal.[25] In his Appeal Brief[26] filed
with the Court of Appeals, petitioner called the attention of the court to certain
irregularities in the manner by which the search of his house was conducted. For its
part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) advanced that on the contrary, the
prosecution evidence sufficed for petitioners conviction and that the defense never
advanced any proof to show that the members of the raiding team was improperly
motivated to hurl false charges against him and hence the presumption that they
had regularly performed their duties should prevail.[27]
On 27 January 2006, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed decision
affirming the judgment of the trial court but modifying the prison sentence to an
indeterminate term of twelve (12) years as minimum to seventeen (17) years as
maximum.[28]Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the same was denied by the
Page 70 of 142

appellate court.[29] Hence, the instant petition which raises substantially the same
issues.
In its Comment,[30] the OSG bids to establish that the raiding team had
regularly performed its duties in the conduct of the search. [31] It points to petitioners
incredulous claim that he was framed up by Esternon on the ground that the
discovery of the two filled sachets was made in his and Licups presence. It
likewise notes that petitioners bare denial cannot defeat the positive assertions of
the prosecution and that the same does not suffice to overcome the prima
facie existence of animus possidendi.
This argument, however, hardly holds up to what is revealed by the records.
Prefatorily, although the trial courts findings of fact are entitled to great
weight and will not be disturbed on appeal, this rule does not apply where facts of
weight and substance have been overlooked, misapprehended or misapplied in a
case under appeal.[32]In the case at bar, several circumstances obtain which, if
properly appreciated, would warrant a conclusion different from that arrived at by
the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
Prosecutions for illegal possession of prohibited drugs necessitates that the
elemental act of possession of a prohibited substance be established with moral
certainty, together with the fact that the same is not authorized by law. The
dangerous drug itself constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and the fact
of its existence is vital to a judgment of conviction. [33] Essential therefore in these
cases is that the identity of the prohibited drug be established beyond doubt.[34] Be
that as it may, the mere fact of unauthorized possession will not suffice to create in
a reasonable mind the moral certainty required to sustain a finding of guilt. More
than just the fact of possession, the fact that the substance illegally possessed in the
first place is the same substance offered in court as exhibit must also be
established with the same unwavering exactitude as that requisite to make a finding
of guilt. The chain of custody requirement performs this function in that it ensures
that unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed.[35]
As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires
that the admission of an exhibit be preceded by evidence sufficient to support a
Page 71 of 142

finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to be. [36] It would
include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was
picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a way that every person
who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom it was received,
where it was and what happened to it while in the witness possession, the condition
in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next
link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to
ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the item and no
opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the same.[37]
While testimony about a perfect chain is not always the standard because it
is almost always impossible to obtain, an unbroken chain of custody becomes
indispensable and essential when the item of real evidence is not distinctive and is
not readily identifiable, or when its condition at the time of testing or trial is
critical, or when a witness has failed to observe its uniqueness. [38] The same
standard likewise obtains in case the evidence is susceptible to alteration,
tampering, contamination[39] and even substitution and exchange.[40] In other
words, the exhibits level of susceptibility to fungibility, alteration or
tamperingwithout regard to whether the same is advertent or otherwise notdictates
the level of strictness in the application of the chain of custody rule.
Indeed, the likelihood of tampering, loss or mistake with respect to an
exhibit is greatest when the exhibit is small and is one that has physical
characteristics fungible in nature and similar in form to substances familiar to
people in their daily lives.[41]Graham vs. State[42] positively acknowledged this
danger. In that case where a substance later analyzed as heroinwas handled by two
police officers prior to examination who however did not testify in court on the
condition and whereabouts of the exhibit at the time it was in their possessionwas
excluded from the prosecution evidence, the court pointing out that the white
powder seized could have been indeed heroin or it could have been sugar or baking
powder. It ruled that unless the state can show by records or testimony, the
continuous whereabouts of the exhibit at least between the time it came into the
possession of police officers until it was tested in the laboratory to determine its
composition, testimony of the state as to the laboratorys findings is inadmissible.[43]

Page 72 of 142

A unique characteristic of narcotic substances is that they are not readily


identifiable as in fact they are subject to scientific analysis to determine their
composition and nature. The Court cannot reluctantly close its eyes to the
likelihood, or at least the possibility, that at any of the links in the chain of custody
over the same there could have been tampering, alteration or substitution of
substances from other casesby accident or otherwisein which similar evidence was
seized or in which similar evidence was submitted for laboratory testing. Hence, in
authenticating the same, a standard more stringent than that applied to cases
involving objects which are readily identifiable must be applied, a more exacting
standard that entails a chain of custody of the item with sufficient completeness if
only to render it improbable that the original item has either been exchanged with
another or been contaminated or tampered with.
A mere fleeting glance at the records readily raises significant doubts as to
the identity of the sachets of shabu allegedly seized from petitioner. Of the people
who came into direct contact with the seized objects, only Esternon and Arroyo
testified for the specific purpose of establishing the identity of the
evidence. Gallinera, to whom Esternon supposedly handed over the confiscated
sachets for recording and marking, as well as Garcia, the person to whom Esternon
directly handed over the seized items for chemical analysis at the crime laboratory,
were not presented in court to establish the circumstances under which they
handled the subject items. Any reasonable mind might then ask the question: Are
the sachets of shabu allegedly seized from petitioner the very same objects
laboratory tested and offered in court as evidence?
The prosecutions evidence is incomplete to provide an affirmative answer.
Considering that it was Gallinera who recorded and marked the seized items, his
testimony in court is crucial to affirm whether the exhibits were the same items
handed over to him by Esternon at the place of seizure and acknowledge the
initials marked thereon as his own. The same is true of Garcia who could have, but
nevertheless failed, to testify on the circumstances under which she received the
items from Esternon, what she did with them during the time they were in her
possession until before she delivered the same to Arroyo for analysis.
The prosecution was thus unsuccessful in discharging its burden of
establishing the identity of the seized items because it failed to offer not only the
Page 73 of 142

testimony of Gallinera and Garcia but also any sufficient explanation for such
failure. In effect, there is no reasonable guaranty as to the integrity of the exhibits
inasmuch as it failed to rule out the possibility of substitution of the exhibits, which
cannot but inure to its own detriment. This holds true not only with respect to the
two filled sachets but also to the five sachets allegedly containing morsels
of shabu.
Also, contrary to what has been consistently claimed by the prosecution that
the search and seizure was conducted in a regular manner and must be presumed to
be so, the records disclose a series of irregularities committed by the police officers
from thecommencement of the search of petitioners house until the submission of
the seized items to the laboratory for analysis. The Court takes note of
the unrebutted testimony of petitioner, corroborated by that of his wife, that prior
to the discovery of the two filled sachets petitioner was sent out of his house to buy
cigarettes at a nearby store. Equally telling is the testimony of Bolanos that he
posted some of the members of the raiding team at the door of petitioners house in
order to forestall the likelihood of petitioner fleeing the scene. By no stretch of
logic can it be conclusively explained why petitioner was sent out of his house on
an errand when in the first place the police officers were in fact apprehensive that
he would flee to evade arrest. This fact assumes prime importance because the two
filled sachets were allegedly discovered by Esternon immediately after petitioner
returned to his house from the errand, such that he was not able to witness the
conduct of the search during the brief but crucial interlude that he was away.
It is also strange that, as claimed by Esternon, it was petitioner himself who
handed to him the items to be searched including the pillow from which the two
filled sachets allegedly fell. Indeed, it is contrary to ordinary human behavior that
petitioner would hand over the said pillow to Esternon knowing fully well that
illegal drugs are concealed therein. In the same breath, the manner by which the
search of Sheilas body was brought up by a member of the raiding team also raises
serious doubts as to the necessity thereof. The declaration of one of the police
officers that he saw Sheila tuck something in her underwear certainly diverted the
attention of the members of petitioners household away from the search being
conducted by Esternon prior to the discovery of the two filled sachets. Lest it be
omitted, the Court likewise takes note of Esternons suspicious presence in the
bedroom while Sheila was being searched by a lady officer. The confluence of
Page 74 of 142

these circumstances by any objective standard of behavior contradicts the


prosecutions claim of regularity in the exercise of duty.
Moreover, Section 21[44] of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A.
No. 9165 clearly outlines the post-seizure procedure in taking custody of seized
drugs. In a language too plain to require a different construction, it mandates that
the officer acquiring initial custody of drugs under a search warrant must conduct
the photographing and the physical inventory of the item at the place where the
warrant has been served. Esternon deviated from this procedure. It was elicited
from him that at the close of the search of petitioners house, he brought the seized
items immediately to the police station for the alleged purpose of making a true
inventory thereof, but there appears to be no reason why a true inventory could not
be made in petitioners house when in fact the apprehending team was able to
record and mark the seized items and there and then prepare a seizure
receipt therefor. Lest it be forgotten, the raiding team has had enough opportunity
to cause the issuance of the warrant which means that it has had as much time to
prepare for its implementation. While the final proviso in Section 21 of the rules
would appear to excuse non-compliance therewith, the same cannot benefit the
prosecution as it failed to offer any acceptable justification for Esternons course of
action.
Likewise, Esternons failure to deliver the seized items to the court
demonstrates a departure from the directive in the search warrant that the items
seized be immediately delivered to the trial court with a true and verified inventory
of the same,[45] as required by Rule 126, Section 12[46] of the Rules of Court. People
v. Go[47] characterized this requirement as mandatory in order to preclude the
substitution of or tampering with said items by interested parties. [48] Thus, as a
reasonable safeguard, People vs. Del Castillo[49] declared that the approval by the
court which issued the search warrant is necessary before police officers can retain
the property seized and without it, they would have no authority to retain
possession thereof and more so to deliver the same to another agency.[50] Mere
tolerance by the trial court of a contrary practice does not make the practice right
because it is violative of the mandatory requirements of the law and it thereby
defeats the very purpose for the enactment.[51]

Page 75 of 142

Given the foregoing deviations of police officer Esternon from the standard
and normal procedure in the implementation of the warrant and in taking postseizure custody of the evidence, the blind reliance by the trial court and the Court
of Appeals on the presumption of regularity in the conduct of police duty is
manifestly misplaced. The presumption of regularity is merely just thata mere
presumption disputable by contrary proof and which when challenged by the
evidence cannot be regarded as binding truth.[52]Suffice it to say that this
presumption cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence that prevails
if not overthrown by proof beyond reasonable doubt.[53] In the present case the lack
of conclusive identification of the illegal drugs allegedly seized from petitioner,
coupled with the irregularity in the manner by which the same were placed under
police custody before offered in court, strongly militates a finding of guilt.
In our constitutional system, basic and elementary is the presupposition that
the burden of proving the guilt of an accused lies on the prosecution which must
rely on the strength of its own evidence and not on the weakness of the defense.
The rule is invariable whatever may

be the reputation of the accused, for the law presumes his innocence unless and
until the contrary is shown.[54] In dubio pro reo.When moral certainty as to
culpability hangs in the balance, acquittal on reasonable doubt inevitably becomes
a matter of right.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 27
January 2006 affirming with modification the judgment of conviction of the
Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon City, Branch 52, and its Resolution dated 30 May
2006
denying
reconsideration
thereof,
are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Petitioner Junie Malillin y Lopez is ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt
and is accordingly ordered immediately released from custody unless he is being
lawfully held for another offense.
The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to implement this
Decision and to report to this Court the action taken hereon within five (5) days
from receipt.
Page 76 of 142

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Appellee,
-

versus -

FELIMON
PAGADUAN yTAMAYO,
Appellant.

G.R. No. 179029


Present:
CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,
BRION,
BERSAMIN,

ABAD, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:

August 12, 2010


x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
BRION, J.:
We review the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 01597 which affirmed in toto the decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 27, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, in Criminal Case No. 4600, finding
appellant Felimon Pagaduan y Tamayo (appellant) guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of illegal sale of shabu, under Section 5, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165
or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

BACKGROUND FACTS
The prosecution charged the appellant before the RTC with violation of Section 5,
Article II of R.A. No. 9165 under an Information that states:
That on or about December 27, 2003 at about 4:30 oclock (sic) in
the afternoon, in the Municipality of Solano, Province of Nueva Vizcaya,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously sell, trade, dispense, deliver and give away 0.01 gram, more
or less, of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), a dangerous drug,
Page 77 of 142

as contained in a heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet to PO3 Peter C.


Almarez, a member of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
(PDEA) who posed as a buyer of shabu in the amount of P200.00, to the
damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]

The appellant pleaded not guilty on arraignment. Trial on the merits, thereafter,
followed.
The evidence for the prosecution reveals the following facts.
After having received information that the appellant was selling illegal drugs
in Nueva Vizcaya, Captain Jaime de Vera called, on his cellular phone, PO3 Peter
Almarez and SPO1 Domingo Balido who were both in Santiago City and informed
them of a planned buy-bust operation. They agreed to meet at the SSS Building
near LMN Hotel in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.[4] On their arrival there, Captain
de Vera conducted a briefing and designated PO3 Almarez as the poseur buyer.
Thereafter, Captain de Vera introduced PO3 Almarez to the police informant
(tipster),[5] and gave him (PO3 Almarez) two P100 bills (Exhibits D and E) which
the latter marked with his initials.[6]
After this briefing, the buy-bust team went to Bintawan Road, Solano,
Nueva Vizcaya to conduct the entrapment operation. [7]PO3 Almarez and the
informant rode a tricycle, while Captain de Vera and SPO1 Balido followed on
board a tinted van.[8] The buy-bust team arrived at the target area at around 4:30
p.m., and saw the appellant already waiting for the informant. The informant
approached the appellant and introduced PO3 Almarez to him as a buyer. PO3
Almarez told the appellant that he needed shabu worthP200, and inquired from
him (appellant) if he had a stock. The appellant replied in the affirmative, and then
handed one heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline
substance to PO3 Almarez. PO3 Almarez, in turn, gave the two pre-markedP100
bills to the appellant.[9] Immediately after, PO3 Almarez made the pre-arranged
signal to his companions, who then approached the appellant. Captain de Vera took
the marked money from the appellants right pocket, and then arrested him. [10] PO3

Page 78 of 142

Almarez, for his part, marked the sachet with his initials. [11] Thereafter, the buybust team brought the appellant to the Diadi Police Station for investigation.[12]
At the police station, Captain de Vera prepared a request for laboratory
examination (Exh. C).[13] The appellant was transferred to the Diadi Municipal Jail
where he was detained.[14] Two days later, or on December 29, 2003, PO3 Almarez
transmitted the letter-request, for laboratory examination, and the seized plastic
sachet to the PNP Crime Laboratory, where they were received by PO2 Fernando
Dulnuan.[15] Police Senior Inspector (PSI) Alfredo Quintero, the Forensic Chemist
of the PNP Crime Laboratory, conducted an examination on the specimen
submitted, and found it to be positive for the presence of shabu (Exh. B).[16]
On the hearing of August 13, 2004, the prosecution offered the following as
exhibits:
Exhibit A the shabu confiscated from the appellant
Exhibit B the report by the PNP Crime Laboratory
Exhibit C the request for laboratory examination
Exhibits D and E the buy-bust money
Exhibit F - the request for laboratory examination received by
Forensic Chemist Quintero

The defense presented a different version of the events, summarized as


follows:
At around 4:30 p.m. of December 27, 2003, Jojo Jose came to the appellants
house and informed him that Captain de Vera was inviting him to be an asset. The
appellant and Jojo boarded a tricycle and proceeded to the SSS Building where
Captain de Vera was waiting for them. [17] As the tricycle approached the Methodist
Church along Bintawan Road, Jojo dropped his slippers and ordered the driver to
stop. Immediately after, a van stopped in front of the tricycle; Captain de Vera
alighted from the van and handcuffed the appellant. Captain de Vera brought the
appellant inside the van, frisked him, and took P200 from his pocket.
Page 79 of 142

[18]

Afterwards, Captain de Vera took the appellant to the SSS Building, where he
(Captain de Vera) and the building manager drank coffee. Captain de Vera then
brought the appellant to the Diadi Municipal Jail where he was detained for almost
two days.[19]
On the morning of December 29, 2003, the appellant was transferred to the
Provincial Jail. He signed a document without the assistance of a lawyer after
being told that it would result in his immediate release.[20]
The RTC, in its decision[21] of August 16, 2005, convicted the appellant of
the crime charged, and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment.
The RTC likewise ordered the appellant to pay a P500,000.00 fine.
The appellant appealed to the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01597. The
CA, in its decision[22] dated May 22, 2007, affirmed the RTC decision.
The CA found unmeritorious the appellants defense of instigation, and held
that the appellant was apprehended as a result of a legitimate entrapment operation.
It explained that in inducement or instigation, an innocent person is lured by a
public officer or private detective to commit a crime. In the case at bar, the buybust operation was planned only after the police had received information that the
appellant was selling shabu.
The CA also held that the failure of the police to conduct a prior surveillance on
the appellant was not fatal to the prosecutions case. It reasoned out that the police
are given wide discretion to select effective means to apprehend drug dealers. A
prior surveillance is, therefore, not necessary, especially when the police are
already accompanied by their informant.
The CA further ruled that the prosecution was able to sufficiently prove an
unbroken chain of custody of the shabu. It explained that PO3 Almarez sealed the
plastic sachet seized from the appellant, marked it with his initials, and transmitted
it to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination. PSI Quintero conducted a
qualitative examination and found the specimen positive for the presence
ofshabu. According to the CA, the prosecution was able to prove that the substance
seized was the same specimen submitted to the laboratory and presented in court,
notwithstanding that this specimen was turned over to the crime laboratory only
after two days.
Page 80 of 142

In his brief,[23] the appellant claims that the lower courts erred in convicting him of
the crime charged despite the prosecutions failure to prove his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. He harps on the fact that the police did not conduct a prior
surveillance on him before conducting the buy-bust operation.
The appellant further contends that the prosecution failed to show an
unbroken chain of custody in the handling of the seized drug. He claims that there
was no evidence to show when the markings were done. Moreover, a period of two
days had elapsed from the time the shabu was confiscated to the time it was
forwarded to the crime laboratory for examination.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters with the argument that
the chain of custody of the shabu was sufficiently established. It explained that
the shabu was turned over by the police officers to the PNP Crime Laboratory,
where it was found by the forensic chemist to be positive for the presence
of shabu. The OSG likewise claimed that the appellant failed to rebut the
presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties by the police. The
OSG further added that a prior surveillance is not indispensable to a prosecution
for illegal sale of drugs.[24]
THE COURTS RULING
After due consideration, we resolve to acquit the appellant for the prosecutions
failure to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.Specifically, the prosecution
failed to show that the police complied with paragraph 1, Section 21, Article II of
R.A. No. 9165, and with the chain of custody requirement of this Act.
The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
Act: A Brief Background
R.A. No. 9165 was enacted in 2002 to pursue the States policy to safeguard
the integrity of its territory and the well-being of its citizenry particularly the
youth, from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs on their physical and mental
well-being, and to defend the same against acts or omissions detrimental to their
development and preservation.
Page 81 of 142

R.A. No. 9165 repealed and superseded R.A. No. 6425, known as the Dangerous
Drugs Act of 1972. Realizing that dangerous drugs are one of the most serious
social ills of the society at present, Congress saw the need to further enhance the
efficacy of the law against dangerous drugs. The new law thus mandates the
government to pursue an intensive and unrelenting campaign against the trafficking
and use of dangerous drugs and other similar substances through an integrated
system of planning, implementation and enforcement of anti-drug abuse policies,
programs and projects.[25]
Illegal Sale of Drugs under Section 5
vis--vis the Inventory and Photograph
Requirement under Section 21
In a prosecution for illegal sale of a prohibited drug under Section 5 of R.A.
No. 9165, the prosecution must prove the following elements: (1) the identity of
the buyer and the seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of
the thing sold and the payment therefor. All these require evidence that the sale
transaction transpired, coupled with the presentation in court of thecorpus delicti,
i.e., the body or substance of the crime that establishes that a crime has actually
been committed, as shown by presenting the object of the illegal transaction. [26] To
remove any doubt or uncertainty on the identity and integrity of the seized drug,
evidence must definitely show that the illegal drug presented in court is
the same illegal drug actually recovered from the appellant; otherwise, the
prosecution for possession or for drug pushing under R.A. No. 9165 fails.[27]
The required procedure on the seizure and custody of drugs is embodied in
Section 21, paragraph 1, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, which states:
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the
drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically
inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or
the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or
his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall
be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy
thereof[.]

Page 82 of 142

This is implemented by Section 21(a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and


Regulations of R.A. No. 9165, which reads:
(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of
the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation,physically
inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or
the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or
his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall
be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy
thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be
conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the
nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending
officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures;
Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements
under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary
value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending
officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and
custody over said items[.]

Strict compliance with the prescribed procedure is required because of the


illegal drug's unique characteristic rendering it indistinct, not readily identifiable,
and easily open to tampering, alteration or substitution either by accident or
otherwise.[28] The records of the present case are bereft of evidence showing that
the buy-bust team followed the outlined procedure despite its mandatory terms.
The deficiency is patent from the following exchanges at the trial:
PROSECUTOR [EMERSON TURINGAN]:
Q: After you handed this buy-bust money to the accused, what
happened next?
[PO3 ALMAREZ:]
A: When the shabu was already with me and I gave him the
money[,] I signaled the two, Captain Jaime de Vera and
SPO1 Balido, sir.
xxxx
Page 83 of 142

Q: After you gave that signal, what happened?


A: Then they approached us and helped me in arresting Felimon
Pagaduan, sir.
Q: After Pagaduan was arrested, what happened next?
A: After arresting Pagaduan[,] we brought him directly in Diadi
Police Station, sir.
Q: What happened when you brought the accused to the Police
Station in Diadi?
A: When we were already in Diadi Police Station, we first put him
in jail in the Municipal Jail of Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya, sir.
Q: What did you do with the shabu?
A: The request for laboratory examination was prepared and
was brought to the Crime Lab. of Solano, Nueva
Vizcaya, sir.
xxxx
Q: After making the request, what did you do next[,] if any[,]
Mr. Witness?
A: After submission of the request to the Crime Lab.[,] we
prepared our joint affidavit for submission of the case
to the Court, sir.[29]

From the foregoing exchanges during trial, it is evident that the apprehending
team, upon confiscation of the drug, immediately brought the appellant and the
seized items to the police station, and, once there, made the request for laboratory
examination. No physical inventory and photograph of the seized items were taken
in the presence of the accused or his counsel, a representative from the media and
the Department of Justice, and an elective official. PO3 Almarez, on crossexamination, was unsure and could not give a categorical answer when asked
whether he issued a receipt for the shabu confiscated from the appellant.[30] At any
rate, no such receipt or certificate of inventory appears in the records.
Page 84 of 142

In several cases, we have emphasized the importance of compliance with the


prescribed procedure in the custody and disposition of the seized drugs. We have
repeatedly declared that the deviation from the standard procedure dismally
compromises the integrity of the evidence. In People v. Morales,[31] we acquitted
the accused for failure of the buy-bust team to photograph and inventory the seized
items, without giving any justifiable ground for the non-observance of the required
procedures. People v. Garcia[32] likewise resulted in an acquittal because
no physical inventory was ever made, and no photograph of the seized items was
taken under the circumstances required by R.A. No. 9165 and its implementing
rules. In Bondad, Jr. v. People,[33] we also acquitted the accused for the failure of
the police to conduct an inventory and to photograph the seized items, without
justifiable grounds.
We had the same rulings in People v. Gutierrez,[34] People v. Denoman,
[35]
People v. Partoza,[36] People v. Robles,[37] andPeople v. dela Cruz,[38] where we
emphasized the importance of complying with the required mandatory procedures
under Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165.
We recognize that the strict compliance with the requirements of Section 21 of
R.A. No. 9165 may not always be possible under field conditions; the police
operates under varied conditions, and cannot at all times attend to all the niceties of
the procedures in the handling of confiscated evidence. For this reason, the last
sentence of the implementing rules provides that non-compliance with these
requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary
value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team,
shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said
items[.] Thus,noncompliance with the strict directive of Section 21 of R.A. No.
9165 is not necessarily fatal to the prosecutions case; police procedures in the
handling of confiscated evidence may still have some lapses, as in the present
case. These lapses, however, must be recognized and explained in terms of
their justifiable grounds, and the integrity and evidentiary value of the
evidence seized must be shown to have been preserved.[39]
In the present case, the prosecution did not bother to offer any explanation to
justify the failure of the police to conduct the required physical inventory and
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photograph of the seized drugs. The apprehending team failed to show why an
inventory and photograph of the seized evidence had not been made either in the
place of seizure and arrest or at the nearest police station (as required by the
Implementing Rules in case of warrantless arrests). We emphasize that for the
saving clause to apply, it is important that the prosecution explain the reasons
behind the procedural lapses, and that the integrity and value of the seized
evidence had been preserved.[40] In other words, the justifiable ground for
noncompliance must be proven as a fact. The court cannot presume what
these grounds are or that they even exist.[41]
The Chain of Custody Requirement
Proof beyond reasonable doubt demands that unwavering exactitude be
observed in establishing the corpus delicti - the body of the crime whose core is the
confiscated illicit drug. Thus, every fact necessary to constitute the crime must be
established. The chain of custody requirement performs this function in buy-bust
operations as it ensures that doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are
removed.[42]
Blacks Law Dictionary explains chain of custody in this wise:
In evidence, the one who offers real evidence, such as the
narcotics in a trial of drug case, must account for the custody of the
evidence from the moment in which it reaches his custody until the
moment in which it is offered in evidence, and such evidence goes to
weight not to admissibility of evidence. Com. V. White, 353 Mass. 409,
232 N.E.2d 335.

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


2002 which implements R.A. No. 9165 defines chain of custody as follows:
Chain of Custody means the duly recorded authorized movements and
custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of
dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of
seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping
to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and
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custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the
person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time
when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping
and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition[.]

In Malillin v. People,[43] the Court explained that the chain of custody rule
requires that there be testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the
object seized was picked up to the time it is offered in evidence, in such a way that
every person who touched it would describe how and from whom it was received,
where it was and what happened to it while in the witness possession, the condition
in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next link
in the chain.
In the present case, the prosecutions evidence failed to establish the chain
that would have shown that the shabu presented in court was the very same
specimen seized from the appellant.
The first link in the chain of custody starts with the seizure of the heat-sealed
plastic sachet from the appellant. PO3 Almarez mentioned on cross-examination
that he placed his initials on the confiscated sachet after apprehending the
appellant. Notably, this testimony constituted the totality of the prosecutions
evidence on the marking of the seized evidence. PO3 Almarezs testimony, however,
lacked specifics on how he marked the sachet and who witnessed the marking.
In People v. Sanchez, we ruled that the marking of the seized items
to truly ensure that they are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually
the ones offered in evidence should be done (1) in the presence of the
apprehended violator (2) immediately upon confiscation. In the present case,
nothing in the records gives us an insight on the manner and circumstances that
attended the marking of the confiscated sachet. Whether the marking had been done
in the presence of the appellant is not at all clear from the evidence that merely
mentioned that the evidence had been marked after the appellants apprehension.
The second link in the chain of custody is its turnover from the apprehending
team to the police station. PO3 Almarez testified that the appellant was brought to
the Diadi Police Station after his arrest. However, he failed to identify the person
who had control and possession of the seized drug at the time of its transportation
to the police station. In the absence of clear evidence, we cannot presume that PO3
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Almarez, as the poseur buyer, handled the seized sachet to the exclusion of others during its transfer from the place of arrest and confiscation to the police
station. The prosecution likewise failed to present evidence pertaining to the
identity of the duty desk officer who received the plastic sachet
containing shabu from the buy-bust team. This is particularly significant since the
seized specimen was turned over to the PNP Crime Laboratory only after two
days. It was not, therefore, clear who had temporary custody of the seized
items during this significant intervening period of time. Although the records show
that the request for laboratory examination of the seized plastic sachet was prepared
by Captain de Vera, the evidence does not show that he was the official who
received the marked plastic sachet from the buy-bust team.
As for the subsequent links in the chain of custody, the records show that the
seized specimen was forwarded by PO3 Almarez to the PNP Crime Laboratory on
December 29, 2003, where it was received by PO2 Dulnuan, and later examined by
PSI Quintero. However, the person from whom PO3 Almarez received the seized
illegal drug for transfer to the crime laboratory was not identified. As earlier
discussed, the identity of the duty desk officer who received the shabu, as well as
the person who had temporary custody of the seized items for two days, had not
been established.
The procedural lapses mentioned above show the glaring gaps in the chain of
custody, creating a reasonable doubt whether the drugs confiscated from the
appellant were the same drugs that were brought to the crime laboratory for
chemical analysis, and eventually offered in court as evidence. In the absence of
concrete evidence on the illegal drugs bought and sold, the body of the crime
the corpus delicti has not been adequately proven.[44] In effect, the prosecution
failed to fully prove the elements of the crime charged, creating reasonable doubt
on the appellants criminal liability.
Presumption of Regularity in the Performance of Official Duties
In sustaining the appellants conviction, the CA relied on the evidentiary
presumption that official duties have been regularly performed. This presumption,
it must be emphasized, is not conclusive.[45] It cannot, by itself, overcome the
constitutional presumption of innocence. Any taint of irregularity affects the whole
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performance and should make the presumption unavailable. In the present case, the
failure of the apprehending team to comply with paragraph 1, Section 21, Article II
of R.A. No. 9165, and with the chain of custody requirement of this Act effectively
negates this presumption. As we explained in Malillin v. People:[46]
The presumption of regularity is merely just that - a mere presumption
disputable by contrary proof and which when challenged by the evidence
cannot be regarded as binding truth. Suffice it to say that this
presumption cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence that
prevails if not overthrown by proof beyond reasonable doubt. In the
present case the lack of conclusive identification of the illegal drugs
allegedly seized from petitioner, coupled with the irregularity in the
manner by which the same were placed under police custody before
offered in court, strongly militates a finding of guilt.

We are not unmindful of the pernicious effects of drugs in our society; they
are lingering maladies that destroy families and relationships, and engender
crimes. The Court is one with all the agencies concerned in pursuing an intensive
and unrelenting campaign against this social dilemma. Regardless of how much we
want to curb this menace, we cannot disregard the protection provided by the
Constitution, most particularly the presumption of innocence bestowed on the
appellant. Proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to
produce moral certainty that would convince and satisfy the conscience of those
who act in judgment, is indispensable to overcome this constitutional presumption.
If the prosecution has not proved, in the first place, all the elements of the crime
charged, which in this case is the corpus delicti, then the appellant deserves no less
than an acquittal.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby REVERSE and SET
ASIDE the May 22, 2007 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 01597. Appellant Felimon Pagaduan y Tamayo is hereby ACQUITTED for
failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He is ordered
immediately RELEASED from detention unless he is confined for another lawful
cause.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Director, Bureau of
Corrections, Muntinlupa City for immediate implementation. The Director of the
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Bureau of Corrections is directed to report the action he has taken to this Court
within five days from receipt of this Decision.

G.R. No. 180284, September 11, 2013


NARCISO SALAS, Petitioners, v.ANNABELLE MATUSALEM, Respondent.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari which seeks to reverse and set aside the
Decision1 dated July 18, 2006 and Resolution2 dated October 19, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. CV No. 64379.
The factual antecedents:
On May 26, 1995, Annabelle Matusalem (respondent) filed a complaint for Support/Damages against Narciso
Salas (petitioner) in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) ofCabanatuan City (Civil Case No. 2124-AF).
Respondent claimed that petitioner is. the father of her son Christian Paulo Salas who was born on
December 28, 1994. Petitioner, already 56 years old at the time, enticed her as she was then only 24 years
old, making her believe that he is a widower. Petitioner rented an apartment where respondent stayed and
shouldered all expenses in the delivery of their child, including the cost of caesarian operation and hospital
confinement. However, when respondent refused the offer of petitioners family to take the child from her,
petitioner abandoned respondent and her child and left them to the mercy of relatives and friends.
Respondent further alleged that she attempted suicide due to depression but still petitioner refused to
support her and their child.
Respondent thus prayed for support pendente lite and monthly support in the amount of P20,000.00, as well
as actual, moral and exemplary damages, and attorneys fees.
Petitioner filed his answer4 with special and affirmative defenses and counterclaims. He described
respondent as a woman of loose morals, having borne her first child also out of wedlock when she went to
work in Italy. Jobless upon her return to the country, respondent spent time riding on petitioners jeepney
which was then being utilized by a female real estate agent named Felicisima de Guzman. Respondent had
seduced a senior police officer in San Isidro and her charge of sexual abuse against said police officer was
later withdrawn in exchange for the quashing of drug charges against respondents brother-in-law who was
then detained at the municipal jail. It was at that time respondent introduced herself to petitioner whom she
pleaded for charity as she was pregnant with another child. Petitioner denied paternity of the child Christian
Paulo; he was motivated by no other reason except genuine altruism when he agreed to shoulder the
expenses for the delivery of said child, unaware of respondents chicanery and deceit designed to
scandalize him in exchange for financial favor.
At the trial, respondent and her witness Grace Murillo testified. Petitioner was declared to have waived his
right to present evidence and the case was considered submitted for decision based on respondents
evidence.
Respondent testified that she first met petitioner at the house of his kumadre Felicisima de Guzman at
Bgy. Malapit, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. During their subsequent meeting, petitioner told her he is already a
widower and he has no more companion in life because his children are all grown-up. She also learned that
petitioner owns a rice mill, a construction business and a housing subdivision (petitioner offered her a job at
their family-owned Ma. Cristina Village). Petitioner at the time already knows that she is a single mother as

Page 90 of 142

she had a child by her former boyfriend in Italy. He then brought her to a motel, promising that he will take
care of her and marry her. She believed him and yielded to his advances, with the thought that she and her
child will have a better life. Thereafter, they saw each other weekly and petitioner gave her money for her
child. When she became pregnant with petitioners child, it was only then she learned that he is in fact not a
widower. She wanted to abort the baby but petitioner opposed it because he wanted to have another child. 5
On the fourth month of her pregnancy, petitioner rented an apartment where she stayed with a housemaid;
he also provided for all their expenses. She gave birth to their child on December 28, 1994 at the Good
Samaritan Hospital in Cabanatuan City. Before delivery, petitioner even walked her at the hospital room and
massaged her stomach, saying he had not done this to his wife. She filled out the form for the childs birth
certificate and wrote all the information supplied by petitioner himself. It was also petitioner who paid the
hospital bills and drove her baby home. He was excited and happy to have a son at his advanced age who is
his look-alike, and this was witnessed by other boarders, visitors and Grace Murillo, the owner of the
apartment unit petitioner rented. However, on the 18th day after the babys birth, petitioner went to Baguio
City for a medical check-up. He confessed to her daughter and eventually his wife was also informed about
his having sired an illegitimate child. His family then decided to adopt the baby and just give respondent
money so she can go abroad. When she refused this offer, petitioner stopped seeing her and sending money
to her. She and her baby survived through the help of relatives and friends. Depressed, she tried to commit
suicide by drug overdose and was brought to the hospital by Murillo who paid the bill. Murillo sought the
help of the Cabanatuan City Police Station which set their meeting with petitioner. However, it was only
petitioners wife who showed up and she was very mad, uttering unsavory words against respondent. 6
Murillo corroborated respondents testimony as to the payment by petitioner of apartment rental, his weekly
visits to respondent and financial support to her, his presence during and after delivery of respondents baby,
respondents attempted suicide through sleeping pills overdose and hospitalization for which she paid the
bill, her complaint before the police authorities and meeting with petitioners wife at the headquarters. 7
On April 5, 1999, the trial court rendered its decision 8 in favor of respondent, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
defendant as follows:
1.

Ordering the defendant to give as monthly support of TWO THOUSAND (P2,000.00) PESOS for the
child Christian Paulo through the mother;

2.

Directing the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P20,000.00 by way of litigation expenses;
and

3.

To pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.9
Petitioner appealed to the CA arguing that: (1) the trial court decided the case without affording him the
right to introduce evidence on his defense; and (2) the trial court erred in finding that petitioner is the
putative father of Christian Paulo and ordering him to give monthly support.
By Decision dated July 18, 2006, the CA dismissed petitioners appeal. The appellate court found no reason
to disturb the trial courts exercise of discretion in denying petitioners motion for postponement on April 17,
1998, the scheduled hearing for the initial presentation of defendants evidence, and the motion for
reconsideration of the said order denying the motion for postponement and submitting the case for decision.
On the paternity issue, the CA affirmed the trial courts ruling that respondent satisfactorily established the
illegitimate filiation of her son Christian Paulo, and consequently no error was committed by the trial court in
granting respondents prayer for support. The appellate court thus held:
chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

Christian Paulo, in instant case, does not enjoy the benefit of a record of birth in the civil registry which
bears acknowledgment signed by Narciso Salas. He cannot claim open and continuous possession of the
status of an illegitimate child.

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It had been established by plaintiffs evidence, however, that during her pregnancy, Annabelle was provided
by Narciso Salas with an apartment at a rental of P1,500.00 which he paid for (TSN, October 6, 1995, p.
18). Narciso provided her with a household help with a salary of P1,500.00 a month (TSN, October 6, 1995,
ibid). He also provided her a monthly food allowance of P1,500.00 (Ibid, p. 18). Narciso was with Annabelle
at the hospital while the latter was in labor, walking her around and massaging her belly (Ibid, p. 11).
Narciso brought home Christian Paulo to the rented apartment after Annabelles discharge from the hospital.
People living in the same apartment units were witnesses to Narcisos delight to father a son at his age
which was his look alike. It was only after the 18th day when Annabelle refused to give him Christian Paulo
that Narciso withdrew his support to him and his mother.
Said testimony of Annabelle aside from having been corroborated by Grace Murillo, the owner of the
apartment which Narciso rented, was never rebutted on record. Narciso did not present any evidence, verbal
or documentary, to repudiate plaintiffs evidence.
In the cases of Lim vs. CA (270 SCRA 1) and Rodriguez vs. CA (245 SCRA 150), the Supreme Court made it
clear that Article 172 of the Family Code is an adaptation of Article 283 of the Civil Code. Said legal provision
provides that the father is obliged to recognize the child as his natural child x x 3) when the child has in his
favor any evidence or proof that the defendant is his father.
In fact, in Ilano vs. CA (230 SCRA 242, 258-259), it was held that
The last paragraph of Article 283 contains a blanket provision that practically covers all the other cases in
the preceding paragraphs. Any other evidence or proof that the defendant is the father is broad enough to
render unnecessary the other paragraphs of this article. When the evidence submitted in the action for
compulsory recognition is not sufficient to meet [the] requirements of the first three paragraphs, it may still
be enough under the last paragraph. This paragraph permits hearsay and reputation evidence, as provided
in the Rules of Court, with respect to illegitimate filiation.
As a necessary consequence of the finding that Christian Paulo is the son of defendant Narciso Salas, he is
entitled to support from the latter (Ilano vs. CA, supra).
It shall be demandable from the time the person who has the right to recover the same needs it for
maintenance x x. (Art. 203, Family Code of the Philippines).10
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the CA.
Hence, this petition submitting the following arguments:

chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary

1. THE VENUE OF THE CASE WAS IMPROPERLY LAID BEFORE THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CABANATUAN
CITY CONSIDERING THAT BOTH PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT ARE ACTUAL RESIDENTS OF BRGY.
MALAPIT, SAN ISIDRO, NUEVA ECIJA.
2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN PRONOUNCING THAT PETITIONER WAS AFFORDED THE
FULL MEASURE OF HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND IN UPHOLDING THAT THE TRIAL COURT DID
NOT GRAVELY ABUSE ITS DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT
DECIDED THE INSTANT CASE WITHOUT AFFORDING PETITIONER THE RIGHT TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE IN
HIS DEFENSE.
3. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE FILIATION OF CHRISTIAN PAULO
WAS DULY ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 175 IN RELATION TO ARTICLE 172 OF THE FAMILY CODE
AND EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE AND THEREFORE ENTITLED TO SUPPORT FROM THE PETITIONER. 11
We grant the petition.
It is a legal truism that the rules on the venue of personal actions are fixed for the convenience of the
plaintiffs and their witnesses. Equally settled, however, is the principle that choosing the venue of an action
is not left to a plaintiffs caprice; the matter is regulated by the Rules of Court. 12
In personal actions such as the instant case, the Rules give the plaintiff the option of choosing where to file
his complaint. He can file it in the place (1) where he himself or any of them resides, or (2) where the
defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found. 13 The plaintiff or the defendant must be
residents of the place where the action has been instituted at the time the action is commenced. 14
However, petitioner raised the issue of improper venue for the first time in the Answer itself and no prior

Page 92 of 142

motion to dismiss based on such ground was filed. Under the Rules of Court before the 1997 amendments,
an objection to an improper venue must be made before a responsive pleading is filed. Otherwise, it will be
deemed waived.15 Not having been timely raised, petitioners objection on venue is therefore deemed
waived.
As to the denial of the motion for postponement filed by his counsel for the resetting of the initial
presentation of defense evidence on April 17, 1998, we find that it was not the first time petitioners motion
for postponement was denied by the trial court.
Records disclosed that after the termination of the testimony of respondents last witness on November 29,
1996, the trial court as prayed for by the parties, set the continuation of hearing for the reception of
evidence for the defendant (petitioner) on January 27, February 3, and February 10, 1997. In the Order
dated December 17, 1996, petitioner was advised to be ready with his evidence at those hearing dates
earlier scheduled. At the hearing on January 27, 1997, petitioners former counsel, Atty. Rolando S. Bala,
requested for the cancellation of the February 3 and 10, 1997 hearings in order to give him time to prepare
for his defense, which request was granted by the trial court which thus reset the hearing dates to March 3,
14 and 17, 1997. On March 3, 1997, upon oral manifestation by Atty. Bala and without objection from
respondents counsel, Atty. Feliciano Wycoco, the trial court again reset the hearing to March 14 and 17,
1997. With the non-appearance of both petitioner and Atty. Bala on March 14, 1997, the trial court upon oral
manifestation by Atty. Wycoco declared their absence as a waiver of their right to present evidence and
accordingly deemed the case submitted for decision.16
On July 4, 1997, Atty. Bala withdrew as counsel for petitioner and Atty. Rafael E. Villarosa filed his
appearance as his new counsel on July 21, 1997. On the same date he filed entry of appearance, Atty.
Villarosa filed a motion for reconsideration of the March 14, 1997 Order pleading for liberality and
magnanimity of the trial court, without offering any explanation for Atty. Balas failure to appear for the
initial presentation of their evidence. The trial court thereupon reconsidered its March 14, 1997 Order,
finding it better to give petitioner a chance to present his evidence. On August 26, 1997, Atty. Villarosa
received a notice of hearing for the presentation of their evidence scheduled on September 22, 1997. On
August 29, 1997, the trial court received his motion requesting that the said hearing be re-set to October
10, 1997 for the reason that he had requested the postponement of a hearing in another case which was
incidentally scheduled on September 22, 23 and 24, 1997. As prayed for, the trial court reset the hearing to
October 10, 1997. On said date, however, the hearing was again moved to December 15, 1997. On February
16, 1998, the trial court itself reset the hearing to April 17, 1998 since it was unclear whether Atty. Wycoco
received a copy of the motion.17
On April 17, 1998, petitioner and his counsel failed to appear but the trial court received on April 16, 1998
an urgent motion to cancel hearing filed by Atty. Villarosa. The reason given by the latter was the scheduled
hearing on the issuance of writ of preliminary injunction in another case under the April 8, 1998 Order
issued by the RTC of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, Branch 36 in Civil Case No. 1946. But as clearly stated in the said
order, it was the plaintiffs therein who requested the postponement of the hearing and it behoved Atty.
Villarosa to inform the RTC of Gapan that he had a previous commitment considering that the April 17, 1998
hearing was scheduled as early as February 16, 1998. Acting on the motion for postponement, the trial court
denied for the second time petitioners motion for postponement. Even at the hearing of their motion for
reconsideration of the April 17, 1998 Order on September 21, 1998, Atty. Villarosa failed to appear and
instead filed another motion for postponement. The trial court thus ordered that the case be submitted for
decision stressing that the case had long been pending and that petitioner and his counsel have been given
opportunities to present their evidence. It likewise denied a second motion for reconsideration filed by Atty.
Villarosa, who arrived late during the hearing thereof on December 4, 1998. 18
A motion for continuance or postponement is not a matter of right, but a request addressed to the sound
discretion of the court. Parties asking for postponement have absolutely no right to assume that their
motions would be granted. Thus, they must be prepared on the day of the hearing. 19Indeed, an order
declaring a party to have waived the right to present evidence for performing dilatory actions upholds the
trial courts duty to ensure that trial proceeds despite the deliberate delay and refusal to proceed on the part
of one party.20
Atty. Villarosas plea for liberality was correctly rejected by the trial court in view of his own negligence in
failing to ensure there will be no conflict in his trial schedules. As we held in Tiomico v. Court of
Appeals21:
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Motions for postponement are generally frowned upon by Courts if there is evidence of bad faith, malice or
inexcusable negligence on the part of the movant. The inadvertence of the defense counsel in failing to take
note of the trial dates and in belatedly informing the trial court of any conflict in his schedules of trial or
court appearances, constitutes inexcusable negligence. It should be borne in mind that a client is bound by
his counsels conduct, negligence and mistakes in handling the case. 22
With our finding that there was no abuse of discretion in the trial courts denial of the motion for
postponement filed by petitioners counsel, petitioners contention that he was deprived of his day in court
must likewise fail. The essence of due process is that a party is given a reasonable opportunity to be heard
and submit any evidence one may have in support of ones defense. Where a party was afforded an
opportunity to participate in the proceedings but failed to do so, he cannot complain of deprivation of due
process. If the opportunity is not availed of, it is deemed waived or forfeited without violating the
constitutional guarantee.23
We now proceed to the main issue of whether the trial and appellate courts erred in ruling that respondents
evidence sufficiently proved that her son Christian Paulo is the illegitimate child of petitioner.
Under Article 175 of the Family Code of the Philippines, illegitimate filiation may be established in the same
way and on the same evidence as legitimate children.
Article 172 of the Family Code of the Philippines states:

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The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following:


(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed
by the parent concerned.
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by:
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. (Underscoring supplied.)
Respondent presented the Certificate of Live Birth 24 (Exhibit A-1) of Christian Paulo Salas in which the
name of petitioner appears as his father but which is not signed by him. Admittedly, it was only respondent
who filled up the entries and signed the said document though she claims it was petitioner who supplied the
information she wrote therein.
We have held that a certificate of live birth purportedly identifying the putative father is not competent
evidence of paternity when there is no showing that the putative father had a hand in the preparation of the
certificate.25 Thus, if the father did not sign in the birth certificate, the placing of his name by the mother,
doctor, registrar, or other person is incompetent evidence of paternity.26Neither can such birth certificate be
taken as a recognition in a public instrument27 and it has no probative value to establish filiation to the
alleged father.28
As to the Baptismal Certificate29 (Exhibit B) of Christian Paulo Salas also indicating petitioner as the father,
we have ruled that while baptismal certificates may be considered public documents, they can only serve as
evidence of the administration of the sacraments on the dates so specified. They are not necessarily
competent evidence of the veracity of entries therein with respect to the childs paternity.30
The rest of respondents documentary evidence consists of handwritten notes and letters, hospital bill and
photographs taken of petitioner and respondent inside their rented apartment unit.
Pictures taken of the mother and her child together with the alleged father are inconclusive evidence to
prove paternity.31 Exhibits E and F32 showing petitioner and respondent inside the rented apartment unit
thus have scant evidentiary value. The Statement of Account 33 (Exhibit C) from the Good Samaritan
General Hospital where respondent herself was indicated as the payee is likewise incompetent to prove that
petitioner is the father of her child notwithstanding petitioners admission in his answer that he shouldered
the expenses in the delivery of respondents child as an act of charity.

Page 94 of 142

As to the handwritten notes34 (Exhibits D to D-13) of petitioner and respondent showing their exchange
of affectionate words and romantic trysts, these, too, are not sufficient to establish Christian Paulos filiation
to petitioner as they were not signed by petitioner and contained no statement of admission by petitioner
that he is the father of said child. Thus, even if these notes were authentic, they do not qualify under Article
172 (2) vis-- vis Article 175 of the Family Code which admits as competent evidence of illegitimate filiation
an admission of filiation in a private handwritten instrument signed by the parent concerned. 35
Petitioners reliance on our ruling in Lim v. Court of Appeals36 is misplaced. In the said case, the handwritten
letters of petitioner contained a clear admission that he is the father of private respondents daughter and
were signed by him. The Court therein considered the totality of evidence which established beyond
reasonable doubt that petitioner was indeed the father of private respondents daughter. On the other hand,
in Ilano v. Court of Appeals,37 the Court sustained the appellate courts finding that private respondents
evidence to establish her filiation with and paternity of petitioner was overwhelming, particularly the latters
public acknowledgment of his amorous relationship with private respondents mother, and private
respondent as his own child through acts and words, her testimonial evidence to that effect was fully
supported by documentary evidence. The Court thus ruled that respondent had adduced sufficient proof of
continuous possession of status of a spurious child.
Here, while the CA held that Christian Paulo Salas could not claim open and continuous possession of status
of an illegitimate child, it nevertheless considered the testimonial evidence sufficient proof to establish his
filiation to petitioner.
An illegitimate child is now also allowed to establish his claimed filiation by any other means allowed by the
Rules of Court and special laws, like his baptismal certificate, a judicial admission, a family Bible in which
his name has been entered, common reputation respecting his pedigree, admission by silence, the
testimonies of witnesses, and other kinds of proof admissible under Rule 130 of the Rules of
Court.38 Reviewing the records, we find the totality of respondents evidence insufficient to establish that
petitioner is the father of Christian Paulo.
The testimonies of respondent and Murillo as to the circumstances of the birth of Christian Paulo, petitioners
financial support while respondent lived in Murillos apartment and his regular visits to her at the said
apartment, though replete with details, do not approximate the overwhelming evidence, documentary and
testimonial presented in Ilano. In that case, we sustained the appellate courts ruling anchored on the
following factual findings by the appellate court which was quoted at length in the ponencia:
chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

It was Artemio who made arrangement for the delivery of Merceditas (sic) at the Manila Sanitarium and
Hospital. Prior to the delivery, Leoncia underwent prenatal examination accompanied by Artemio (TSN, p.
33, 5/17/74). After delivery, they went home to their residence at EDSA in a car owned and driven by
Artemio himself (id. p. 36).
Merceditas (sic) bore the surname of Ilano since birth without any objection on the part of Artemio, the
fact that since Merceditas (sic) had her discernment she had always known and called Artemio as her
Daddy (TSN, pp. 28-29, 10/18/74); the fact that each time Artemio was at home, he would play with
Merceditas (sic), take her for a ride or restaurants to eat, and sometimes sleeping with Merceditas (sic) (id.
p. 34) and does all what a father should do for his child bringing home goodies, candies, toys and
whatever he can bring her which a child enjoys which Artemio gives to Merceditas (sic) (TSN, pp. 38-39,
5/17/74) are positive evidence that Merceditas (sic) is the child of Artemio and recognized by Artemio as
such. Special attention is called to Exh. E-7 where Artemio was telling Leoncia the need for a frog test to
know the status of Leoncia.
Plaintiff pointed out that the support by Artemio for Leoncia and Merceditas (sic) was sometimes in the form
of cash personally delivered to her by Artemio, thru Melencio, thru Elynia (Exhs. E-2 and E-3, and D-6),
or thru Merceditas (sic) herself (TSN, p. 40, 5/17/74) and sometimes in the form of a check as the Manila
Banking Corporation Check No. 81532 (Exh. G) and the signature appearing therein which was identified
by Leoncia as that of Artemio because Artemio often gives her checks and Artemio would write the check at
home and saw Artemio sign the check (TSN, p. 49, 7/18/73). Both Artemio and Nilda admitted that the
check and signature were those of Artemio (TSN, p. 53, 10/17/77; TSN, p. 19, 10/9/78).
During the time that Artemio and Leoncia were living as husband and wife, Artemio has shown concern as
the father of Merceditas (sic). When Merceditas (sic) was in Grade 1 at the St. Joseph Parochial School,
Artemio signed the Report Card of Merceditas (sic) (Exh. H) for the fourth and fifth grading period(s) (Exh.
H-1 and H-2) as the parent of Merceditas (sic). Those signatures of Artemio [were] both identified by

Page 95 of 142

Leoncia and Merceditas (sic) because Artemio signed Exh. H-1 and H-2 at their residence in the presence
of Leoncia, Merceditas (sic) and of Elynia (TSN, p. 57, 7/18/73; TSN, p. 28, 10/1/73). x x x.
xxx

xxx

xxx

When Artemio run as a candidate in the Provincial Board of Cavite[,] Artemio gave Leoncia his picture with
the following dedication: To Nene, with best regards, Temiong. (Exh. I). (pp. 19-20, Appellants Brief)
The mere denial by defendant of his signature is not sufficient to offset the totality of the evidence
indubitably showing that the signature thereon belongs to him. The entry in the Certificate of Live Birth that
Leoncia and Artemio was falsely stated therein as married does not mean that Leoncia is not appellees
daughter. This particular entry was caused to be made by Artemio himself in order to avoid
embarrassment.39
In sum, we hold that the testimonies of respondent and Murillo, by themselves are not competent proof of
paternity and the totality of respondents evidence failed to establish Christian Paulos filiation to petitioner.
Time and again, this Court has ruled that a high standard of proof is required to establish paternity and
filiation. An order for recognition and support may create an unwholesome situation or may be an irritant to
the family or the lives of the parties so that it must be issued only if paternity or filiation is established by
clear and convincing evidence.40
Finally, we note the Manifestation and Motion41 filed by petitioners counsel informing this Court that
petitioner had died on May 6, 2010.
The action for support having been filed in the trial court when petitioner was still alive, it is not barred
under Article 175 (2)42 of the Family Code. We have also held that the death of the putative father is not a
bar to the action commenced during his lifetime by one claiming to be his illegitimate child. 43 The rule on
substitution of parties provided in Section 16, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, thus applies.
SEC. 16. Death of party; duty of counsel. Whenever a party to a pending action dies, and the claim is not
thereby extinguished, it shall be the duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) days after such
death of the fact thereof, and to give the name and address of his legal representative or representatives.
Failure of counsel to comply with his duty shall be a ground for disciplinary action.
The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article 173, except when the action is based
on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the action may be brought during the lifetime of the
alleged parent.
The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased, without requiring the
appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor
heirs.
The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or representatives to appear and be substituted
within a period of thirty (30) days from notice.
If no legal representative is named by the counsel for the deceased party, or if the one so named shall fail to
appear within the specified period, the court may order the opposing party, within a specified time to
procure the appointment of an executor or administrator for the estate of the deceased and the latter shall
immediately appear for and on behalf of the deceased. The court charges in procuring such appointment, if
defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as costs.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The Decision dated July 18, 2006 and
Resolution dated October 19, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR. CV No. 64379 are
herebyREVERSED and SET ASIDE. Civil Case No. 2124-AF of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City,
Branch 26 is DISMISSED.

G.R. No. 196973

July 31, 2013

Page 96 of 142

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
RUPER POSING y ALAYON, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
For review through this appeal1 is the Decision2 dated 30 November 2010 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 03858 which affirmed the conviction of herein accused-appellant
RUPER POSING y ALAYON of illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs in violation of
Sections 53 and 114 respectively, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The factual antecedents of the case are as follows:
The prosecution presented SPO1 Purisimo Angeles (SPO1 Angeles), who testified that while on duty
on 13 August 2003, at the Station Anti Illegal Drugs (SAID), an asset based at Makabayan St., Brgy.
Obrero informed the duty officer about the illegal activities of certain Ruper Posing (Posing), a known
drug pusher in their barangay. As a result, Chief P/Inspector Arturo Caballes (Chief Caballes) formed
a team to conduct a buy bust operation.5 A one hundred peso bill (P100.00) was given by Chief
Caballes with his initials, to serve as the marked money.6
SPO1 Angeles together with PO1 Jesus Cortez (PO1 Cortez), PO1Ralph Nicart (PO1 Nicart) and
the informant were dispatched to Makabayan St., Brgy. Obrero, Kamuning, Quezon City, and upon
arrival, the informant and SPO1 Angeles proceeded to the squatters area. On the other hand, his
companions positioned themselves within viewing distance. 7
SPO1 Angeles met Posing beside the basketball court, where he was introduced by the informant as
a buyer of shabu. The former asked if he could buy one hundred peso (P100.00) worth of shabu for
personal use. Posing then pulled out one (1) transparent plastic sachet from his pocket and gave it
to SPO1 Angeles in exchange for the buy-bust money. Afterwards, SPO1 Angeles took out his cap to
alert his companions that the deal was already concluded. PO1 Cortez and PO1 Nicart rushed to the
scene and introduced themselves as police officers. Posing was frisked, and the buy-bust money
and another transparent plastic sachet were recovered from him.
Afterwards, the suspect and the evidence were taken to the station.8
Prior to the turnover of the evidence to the desk officer, SPO1 Angeles placed his marking on the two
(2) small heat sealed transparent plastic sachets.9 The same were then turned over to PO2 John
Sales (PO2 Sales), who prepared a request for laboratory examination. 10
On the same day, the specimens were delivered by PO1 Nicart to the Philippine National Police
(PNP) Crime Laboratory for quantitative and qualitative examination, wherein each sachet was found
to contain 0.03 gram and tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a
dangerous drug.11
Both parties agreed to dispense with the testimonies of the following witnesses, and entered into
stipulations, to wit:
As regards Engr. Leonard Jabonillo (Engr. Jabonillo):

Page 97 of 142

1) That he is a Forensic Chemist of the [PNP];


2) That his office received a request for laboratory examination marked as Exhibit "A;"
3) That together with said request, was a brown envelope marked as Exhibit "B" which
contained two (2) plastic sachets marked as Exhibits "B-1" and "B-2;"
4) That he thereafter conducted the requested laboratory examination and, in connection
therewith, he submitted Chemistry Report marked as Exhibit "C;"
5) That the findings thereon showing the specimen positive for methylamphetamine
hydrochloride was marked as Exhibit "C-1;"
6) That he likewise issued a Certification marked as Exhibit "D" and thereafter turned over
the specimen to the Evidence Custodian and retrieved the same for the trial scheduled
today; and
7) That he has no personal knowledge about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the
accused as well as the source of the substance subject of his examination. 12
As regards PO2 Sales:
1) That he was the investigator assigned to investigate this case;
2) That in connection with the investigation he conducted and took the Affidavit of Arrest of
PO1 Nicart, PO1 Cortez and SPO1 Angeles (Exhibit "E");
3) That the two (2) plastic sachets marked as Exhibits "B-1" and "B-2" were turned over to
him by the arresting officers;
4) That he prepared a request for laboratory examination marked as Exhibit "A" and in
connection therewith he received a copy of the Chemistry Report, the original of which was
marked as Exhibit "C;"
5) That the buy bust money consisting of one (1) P100.00 bill marked as Exhibit "F" was
likewise turned over to him with the updated "Watchlist of Illegal Drug Personalities" of Bgy.
Obrero, Quezon City (Exhibit "G");
6) That he thereafter prepared the letter referral to the Office of the City Prosecutor, Quezon
City marked as Exhibit "H;" and
7) That he has no personal knowledge about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the
accused as well as the source of the substance subject of his investigation. 13
On the contrary, Posing testified that on 13 August 2004, between 4:00 to 5:00 oclock in the
afternoon, he was walking along a basketball court at Makabayan St., Kamuning, Quezon City, when
he was arrested by PO1 Cortez and PO1 Nicart, who he came to know based on their name
plates.14 When he asked the officers what his violation was, they replied: "Nag-mamaang-maangan
ka pa."15 He was then led to their vehicle and was brought to Station 10 wherein he was asked to
point to a certain "Nene" whom he did not know. He refused, which was why he was detained and
charged with violation of R.A. No. 9165.16

Page 98 of 142

Based on the above, the following were filed against the accused:
For Criminal Case No. Q-03-120266 for violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165:
That on or about the 13th day of August, 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, not
being authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport, distribute any dangerous drug, did then
and there, willfully and unlawfully sell, dispense, deliver, transport, distribute or act as broker in the
said transaction, 0.03 (zero point zero three) gram of white crystalline substance containing
Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.17
For Criminal Case No. Q-03-120267 for violation of Section 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165:
That on or about the 13th day of August, 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, not
being authorized by law to possess or use any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly have in his/her possession and control 0.03 (zero point zero three) gram of
white crystalline substance containing Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug. 18
Upon arraignment on 2 December 2003, Posing entered a plea of "not guilty" on both charges. 19
On 2 December 2008, the trial court found Posing GUILTY of violation of both Sections 5 and 11,
Article II, of R.A. 9165 in Criminal Case No. Q-03-120266 and Criminal Case No. Q-03-120267,
respectively. The disposition reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgement is hereby rendered as follows:
(a) Re: Criminal Case No. Q-03-120266 The Court finds accused RUPER POSING y
ALAYON guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of Section 5, Article II of R. A. 9165.
Accordingly, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to
pay a fine in the amount of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) PESOS.
(b) Re: Criminal Case No. Q-03-120267 The Court finds accused RUPER POSING y
ALAYON guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of Section 11, Article II of R. A. 9165.
Accordingly, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of
TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY as MINIMUM to FOURTEEN (14) YEARS as
MAXIMUM and to pay a fine in the amount of THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND
(P300,000.00) PESOS.
The Branch Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to turn over the possession of custody of the
dangerous drugs subject hereof to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposition
and final disposal.20
On appeal, the accused-appellant, contended that the trial court gravely erred when it failed to
consider the police officers failure to comply with the proper procedure in the handling and custody
of the seized drugs, as provided under Section 21 of R. A. No. 9165, which ultimately affected the
chain of custody of the confiscated drugs.21Further, it was posited that there was no prior surveillance
conducted to verify the informants tip and that there was no coordination made with the Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).22 Furthermore, the accused-appellant invoked his right to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.23
The People, through the Office of the Solicitor General, countered that although the requirements
under Section 21 of R. A. No. 9165 has been held to be mandatory, non-compliance with the same,

Page 99 of 142

does not necessarily warrant an acquittal.24 In addition, it was averred that the police officers are
entitled to the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties. Finally, the accusedappellant did not interpose any evidence in support of his defense aside from his bare denial. 25
The CA affirmed the ruling of the trial court. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 82, dated 2
December 2008, in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-03-120266 and Q-03-120267, is AFFIRMED. 26
The appellate court ruled that the requisites laid down under Section 21 of R. A. No. 9165 were
complied with, more particularly, through the testimonies of the police officers which sufficiently
established that the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items were preserved. 27 As to
the alleged non-coordination with the PDEA, it was held that although the PDEA is the lead agency,
it is not to be considered as the exclusive agency, in enforcing drug-related matters. Lastly, the
evidence presented by the prosecution clearly showed that the elements of illegal sale and
possession of dangerous drugs were proven by competent evidence, as compared to the bare
denial interposed by the accused-appellant.28
In the instant appeal, accused-appellant, merely reiterated his previous arguments before the
appellate court that the prosecution failed to establish the complete and unbroken chain of custody
of the plastic sachets of shabu allegedly sold and possessed by accused-appellant. 29
Posed for resolution is whether or not the accused-appellant is guilty of illegal sale and possession
of dangerous drugs, and in the course of the investigation and trial, whether the integrity of the
evidence was preserved.
We uphold the ruling of both the trial and the appellate court.
Both agreed that the illegal sale of shabu was proven beyond reasonable doubt. For the successful
prosecution of offenses involving the illegal sale of drugs under Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165,
the following elements must be proven: (1) the identity of the buyer and seller, object and
consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. What is material to the
prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took
place, coupled with the presentation in court of evidence of corpus delicti. 30
SPO1 Angeles testified thus:
Q: Now Mr. Witness did you report for duty on August 13, 2003?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What happened while you were...What time did you report for duty?
A: I reported at around 10:00 in the morning.
Q: What happened while you were on duty on that date and time?
A: At around 5:30 in the afternoon, one of our asset which is based at Makabayan St., Brgy. Obrero,
came to our office and informed our duty officer about a certain Ruper Posing who was known as
drug pusher at their Barangay.

Page 100 of 142

Q: What happened after this report was given to the desk officer?
A: Since the suspect is also included in our drug watch list, our Chief SAID immediately formed a
team to conduct buy-bust operation against the suspect.31
xxxx
Q: What else transpired Mr. Witness?
A: After forming the said team, our Chief SAID P/Insp. Arturo Caballes gave me one (1) piece Php
100.
Q: What did he do?
A: He gave me one (1) piece Php100 which will be used as the buy bust money.32
xxxx
Q: What happened next Mr. Witness after placing your initial on that Php 100?
A: After that we were immediately dispatched to the location at Makabayan St., Brgy. Obrero.
xxxx
Q: Where in Quezon City?
A: Kamuning, Your Honor.
Q: District of Kamuning?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: What time was that when you were dispatched?
A: We were dispatched at about 5:40 and we arrived at the location at around 5:45. It was just a 5minute drive from our station.
Q: And who were with you at that time, Mr. Witness?
A: PO1 Cortez and PO1 Nicart.
Q: Who else?
A: PO1 Cortez.
Q: Who else?
A: And the informant, Your Honor.

Page 101 of 142

Q: So how many were you all in all?


A: Four (4), sir.
Q: What happened when you arrived there?
A: Upon arrival thereat, I, together with the informant went to the squatters area of Makabayan St.,
and my companions positioned themselves in the viewing distance so that they will be able to
monitor the transaction. We were able to meet the suspect beside the basketball court of Makabayan
Street.
Q: And what happened when you met the suspect?
A: I was introduced by the informant as the buyer of shabu and I asked the suspect if I can purchase
worth Php100 just for my personal use?
Q: You asked him?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What was his reply?
A: Immediately, he pulled out one (1) transparent plastic sachet.
Q: Where did he get that plastic sachet?
A: Inside his pocket, sir.
Q: And what happened next Mr. Witness?
A: After the exchange, I immediately took out my cap signifying completion of the drug deal.
Q: After making the pre-arranged signal, what happened next? What is your pre-arranged signal?
A: Removing my cap, Your Honor. After that, my two (2) companions PO1 Nicart and PO1 Cortez
immediately rushed to the scene, took hold of the suspect and introduced themselves as police
officers.
Q: How about you, what did you do?
A: Im just beside the suspect.
Q: And what happened when your companion arrested the suspect?
A: Then I conducted body frisk on the suspect and I was able to recover the buy bust money and
another transparent plastic sachet inside his left palm.
Q: Which buy-bust money are you referring to?
A: Which I gave to the suspect.

Page 102 of 142

Q: If that buy-bust money is shown to you will you be able to identify the same?
A: Yes, sir. I have already identified it.
xxxx
Q: Im showing you Mr. Witness two (2) transparent plastic sachets marked as Exhibits "B-1" and "B2," kindly examine these two (2) plastic sachets and tell this Honorable Court the relation of these
sachets to the one you said you bought and recovered from the accused?
A: This one with marking RT1 is the one I bought from the suspect and the other heat sealed
transparent plastic sachet which is marked as RT2 which I recovered from his left palm. 33
In cases involving violations of Dangerous Drugs Act, credence should be given to the narration of
the incident by the prosecution witnesses especially when they are police officers who are presumed
to have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there is evidence to the contrary. In this
regard, the defense failed to show any ill motive or odious intent on the part of the police operatives
to impute such a serious crime that would put in jeopardy the life and liberty of an innocent person,
such as in the case of appellant. Incidentally, if these were simply trumped-up charges against him, it
remains a question why no administrative charges were brought against the police operatives.
Moreover, in weighing the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses vis--vis those of the defense, it
is a well-settled rule that in the absence of palpable error or grave abuse of discretion on the part of
the trial judge, the trial courts evaluation of the credibility of witnesses will not be disturbed on
appeal.34
With the illegal sale of dangerous drugs established beyond reasonable doubt, the handling of the
evidence, or the observance of the proper chain of custody, which is also an indispensable factor in
prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, is the next matter to be resolved.
The accused-appellant, argued that the following instances would constitute a break in the chain of
custody of the seized plastic sachets of shabu: (1) SPO1 Angeles failed to identify the duty officer to
whom he turned over the alleged confiscated shabu; (2) SPO1 Angeles was not able to recall who
brought the drug specimens to the crime laboratory; (3) SPO1 Angeles failed to mark the confiscated
sachets at the crime scene immediately after the accused-appellant was arrested; and (4) the police
officers failed to prepare an inventory report of the confiscated drugs, no photographs of the same
were taken in the presence of the accused-appellant and that of a representative from the media or
the Department of Justice or any elected public official. 35
Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002 which implements R.A.
No. 9165 defines "Chain of Custody" as follows:
"Chain of Custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or
controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage,
from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to
presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized item shall
include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the
date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in
court as evidence, and the final disposition.
In Malillin v. People,36 we laid down the chain of custody requirements that must be met in proving
that the seized drugs are the same ones presented in court: (1) testimony about every link in the

Page 103 of 142

chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence; and (2)
witnesses should describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the
condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the item.
In this case, the prosecution was able to prove, through the testimonies of its witnesses that the
integrity of the seized item was preserved every step of the process. After the sale of shabu and
another sachet was discovered in the person of accused-appellant, SPO1 Angeles, who was the
poseur-buyer in the buy-bust operation, marked the drug specimens, and then turned over the same
to the desk officer, who in turn handed it to PO1 Sales. The latter then prepared a Request for
Laboratory Examination, and on the same day, the specimens were delivered by PO1 Nicart to the
PNP Crime Laboratory for quantitative and qualitative examination, conducted by Engr. Jabonillo. 37
The same was corroborated by PO1 Sales and Engr. Jabonillo, whose testimonies were dispensed
with, and formed part of the stipulations of facts agreed upon by both the prosecution and defense. 38
The defense kept on harping on alleged lapses in the procedure observed by the apprehending
officers, like SPO1 Angeles failure to recall the duty officer to whom he turned over the specimens,
and the officer who brought the specimens to the crime laboratory. Also, they questioned the
absence of an inventory report of the confiscated drugs and that there were no photographs taken in
the presence of the accused-appellant and that of a representative from the media or the
Department of Justice or any elected public officer.
Section 21, paragraph 1, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 provides:
Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs,
Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals,
Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. The PDEA shall take charge and have
custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and
essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after
seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the
accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her
representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ),
and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given
a copy thereof; x x x
But time and again, jurisprudence is consistent in stating that less than strict compliance with the
procedural aspect of the chain of custody rule does not necessarily render the seized drug items
inadmissible.39
As held in People v. Llanita40 as cited in People v. Ara:41
RA 9165 and its subsequent Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) do not require strict
compliance as to the chain of custody rule. x x x We have emphasized that what is essential is "the
preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be
utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused." Briefly stated, non-compliance
with the procedural requirements under RA 9165 and its IRR relative to the custody, photographing,
and drugtesting of the apprehended persons, is not a serious flaw that can render void the seizures
and custody of drugs in a buy-bust operation.

Page 104 of 142

As to the charge of illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the prosecution must establish the
following elements: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object, which is identified to be a
prohibited or regulated drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused
freely and consciously possessed the drug.42 In the case at hand, the prosecution was able to prove
that the accused-appellant was in possession of one (1) plastic sachet of shabu, when he was
frisked on the occasion of his arrest. There was also no showing that he had the authority to possess
the drugs that was in his person. This Court held in a catena of cases that mere possession of a
regulated drug per se constitutes prima facie evidence of knowledge or animus possidendi sufficient
to convict an accused absent a satisfactory explanation of such possession - the onus probandi is
shifted to the accused, to explain the absenceofknowledge or animus possidendi. 43
In fine, considering the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution, the denial of the accusedappellant fails. Courts generally view the defense of denial with disfavor due to the facility with
which an accused can concoct it to suit his or her defense. As evidence that is both negative and
self-serving, this defense cannot attain more credibility than the testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses who testify clearly, providing thereby positive evidence on the various aspects of the crime
committed.44
1wphi1

Also, it is a well-entrenched principle that findings of fact of the trial court as to the credibility of
witnesses are accorded great weight and respect when no glaring errors, gross misapprehension of
facts, and speculative, arbitrary and unsupported conclusions can be gathered from such findings.
The rationale behind this rule is that the trial court is in a better position to decide the credibility of
witnesses, having heard their testimonies and observed their deportment and manner of testifying
during trial. This rule finds an even more stringent application where said findings are sustained by
the Court of Appeals.45 This Court does not find any convincing reason to depart from the ruling of
the trial court, which was affirmed by the appellate court.
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED. Accordingly, the Decision of the Court of Appeals
dated 30 November 2010 in CA-G. R. CRHC No. 03858 is hereby AFFIRMED.

G.R. No. 198318

November 27, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ASIR GANI y ALIH and NORMINA GANI y GALOS, Accused-Appellants.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
On appeal is the Decision dated April 1, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No.
02625, which affirmed in toto the Decision dated October 16 2006 of the Regional Trial Court R TC),
Branch 70, City of Pasig, in Criminal Case No. 13491-D, finding accused-appellants Asir A. Gani and
Normina G. Gani guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal sale of dangerous drugs defined and
penalized under Article II, Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165 otherwise known as the Dangerous
Drugs Act of 2002, in relation to Paragraph 2, Article 62 of the Revised Penal Code.
1

Accused-appellants were charged m conspiracy with one another under the following criminal
information:

Page 105 of 142

The undersigned Assistant Provincial Prosecutor accuses P02 ASIR GANI y Alih and NORMINA
GANI y Galos @ ROHAIMA of the crime of Violation of Section 5, Art. II, R.A. 9165 in relation to Art.
62, Par. 2, of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:
That on or about the 6th day of May 2004 in the Municipality of Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, in conspiracy with one
another, acting as an organized/syndicated crime group, without being authorized by law, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly sell, deliver and give away to a poseur buyer, SI Saul,
98.7249 grams of white crystalline substance contained in two (2) heat sealed transparent plastic
bags, which substance was found positive to the test for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride also
known as "shabu," which is a dangerous drug, in consideration of the agreed amount of
Php150,000.00 in violation of the above cited law.
3

When arraigned on July 28, 2004, accused-appellants pleaded not guilty. At the pre-trial conference
held on September 15, 2004, the parties arrived at the following stipulation of facts:
4

STIPULATION OF FACTS
xxxx
1) The qualification as an expert Forensic Chemist, P/Insp. Rommel Patingo of the NBI
Forensic Chemistry Division;
2) The due execution and genuineness of the Request for Laboratory Examination dated
May 7, 2004, which was marked in evidence as Exhibit "A." In addition, the entries therein
under paragraph SPECIMENS SUBMITTED was marked as Exhibit "A-1" and the rubber
stamp showing receipt thereof by the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division was marked as
Exhibit "A-2;"
3) That the said Request for Laboratory Examination together with the specimen mentioned
therein were delivered to, and received by, the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division, Taft Avenue,
Manila, for chemical examination/analysis of the specimen;
4) The due execution and genuineness, as well as the truth of the contents, of Dangerous
Drugs Report No. DE-04 dated May 7, 2004 issued by Forensic Chemist P/Insp. Rommel
Patingo of the NBI Chemistry Division, Taft Avenue, Manila, who conducted the examination,
which was marked as Exhibit "B." In addition, the FINDINGS as appearing on the report was
marked as Exhibit "B-1" and the signature of the forensic chemist over her typewritten name
likewise as appearing on the report was marked as Exhibit "B-2;"
5) The existence of the four (4) plastic sachets, but not their source or origin, the contents of
which were the subject of the Request for Laboratory Examination, which were marked in
evidence as follows: as Exhibit "C" (the brown envelope), as Exhibits "C-1" (the plastic
sachet containing white crystals with markings ("ES-1"); as Exhibit "C-2" (the plastic sachet
containing white crystals with markings "ES-2"); and as Exhibit "C-3" (the plastic sachet
containing lesser crystals with markings "ES-1").
5

Thereafter, trial ensued.


The prosecution presented the testimonies of Special Investigator (SI) Elson Saul (Saul), SI Joel
Otic (Otic), SI Salvador Arteche, Jr. (Arteche), SI Melvin Escurel (Escurel), and Atty. Ross Jonathan
6

Page 106 of 142

Galicia (Galicia), all of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) assigned to the Special
Enforcement Services of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). The prosecution
dispensed with the presentation of the testimony of NBI Forensic Chemist II Rommel G. Patingo,
who conducted the chemical analysis of the specimens submitted for his examination, since the
subject matter of his testimony had already been stipulated during the pre-trial conference.
10

The documentary evidence for the prosecution consisted of the NBI-PDEA Pre-Operation
Report dated May 6, 2004; Coordination Letter dated May 6, 2004 of NBI-PDEA to the Chief of
Police of Taguig, City; Joint Affidavit of Arrest dated May 7, 2004 signed by several members of the
buy-bust team, namely, SI Saul, SI Otic, SI Arteche, Atty. Galicia, SI Antonio Erum, SI Garry I.
Meez, SI Bertrand Gamaliel A. Mendoza, and SI Junnel Malaluan; Booking Sheet and Arrest
Report of each accused-appellant; Inventory of Seized Properties signed by SI Saul and two
witnesses; buy-bust money consisting of two P1,000.00 bills and several pieces of P20.00
bills; request dated May 7, 2004 for the laboratory examination of "two (2) transparent heat-sealed
plastic sachets containing undetermined amount of white crystalline substance" recovered from
accused-appellants and marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04"; Dangerous Drugs Report
No. DD-04-161 dated May 13, 2004 prepared by NBI Forensic Chemist II Patingo and Forensic
Chemist III Aida R. Viloria-Magsipoc (Viloria-Magsipoc); a brown envelope and four plastic sachets
of shabu, including the two sachets marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04"; and the
Toxicology Report Nos. TDD-04-1788 and TDD-04-1789 prepared by NBI Forensic Chemist II
Patingo and Forensic Chemist III Viloria-Magsipoc.
11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

Based on the totality of the evidence submitted, the prosecution presented the following version of
the events which led to accused-appellants arrest:
On May 5, 2004, SI Saul received information from a confidential informant that accused-appellant
Normina Gani (Normina), alias Rohaima, was looking for a buyer of shabu. SI Saul agreed to meet
the informant and accused-appellant Normina for negotiation at the Pearl Hotel in Manila, just in
front of the NBI Headquarters. They eventually met at Jollibee restaurant beside the Pearl Hotel. SI
Saul was introduced by the informant to accused-appellant Normina as an interested buyer of
shabu. Accused-appellant Normina initially offered to sell 500 grams of shabu to SI Saul, but the two
later on agreed on the sale of 100 grams of shabu for One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos
(P150,000.00) to be consummated in the afternoon of the following day, May 6, 2004, at FTI
Complex corner Vishay Street, Taguig City.
After the meeting, SI Saul reported back to the NBI Headquarters to tell his superior, Atty. Ruel
Lasala (Lasala), about the transaction. Atty. Lasala instructed SI Saul to coordinate with the PDEA
and formed a buy- bust team composed of, among other people, SI Saul, SI Otic, SI Arteche, SI
Escurel, and Atty. Galicia. SI Saul was designated as the poseur-buyer and was given the marked
money constituting of two P1,000.00 bills, with severalP20.00 bills in between, to make it appear that
the money was worth One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00), the purchase price agreed
upon by SI Saul and accused-appellant Normina for the shabu.
At around 1:00 in the afternoon on May 6, 2004, the buy-bust team was dispatched to the vicinity of
FTI Complex in Taguig City. Upon their arrival, the members of the buy-bust team strategically
positioned themselves around the arranged meeting place. SI Saul arrived at around 2:00 in the
afternoon; while accused-appellant got there at around 4:30 in the afternoon, riding in tandem on a
motorcycle with a man, later on identified as accused-appellant Asir Gani (Asir). When SI Saul
approached accused-appellants, the latter asked the former about the money. SI Saul then showed
them the marked money wrapped in transparent plastic inside a clutch bag. SI Saul, in turn, asked
accused-appellants about the shabu. Accused-appellants showed SI Saul the plastic packs of shabu
inside a blue bag. SI Saul handed over the marked money to accused-appellant Gani. Accused-

Page 107 of 142

appellant Gani passed on the marked money to accused-appellant Normina and turned over the
possession of the shabu to SI Saul.
After the exchange of money and shabu , SI Saul lighted a cigarette, which was the pre-arranged
signal to the rest of the buy-bust team that the transaction had been consummated. When SI Saul
already saw the buy-bust team members approaching, he grabbed accused-appellant Asirs hands
and introduced himself as an NBI agent. Accused-appellants were arrested and duly advised of their
constitutional rights. During the search incidental to accused-appellants arrest, the buy-bust team
seized from accused-appellants possession two other sachets of shabu, the marked money,
accused-appellant Asirs .45 caliber pistol, and the motorcycle. The buy- bust team and accusedappellants then proceeded to the FTI Barangay Hall.
At the FTI Barangay Hall, SI Saul conducted an inventory of the items recovered from accusedappellants, including the two plastic sachets of shabu subject of the sale, which SI Saul marked "ES1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04," representing SI Sauls initials and the date of the buy-bust. All
these were done in the presence of accused-appellants and two barangay officials. SI Sauls
inventory report, however, did not include the two other sachets of shabu seized from accusedappellants possession. Thereafter, the buy-bust team brought accused-appellants to the NBI
Headquarters in Manila.
At the NBI Headquarters, accused-appellants were booked and further investigated. The following
day, May 7, 2004, several members of the buy- bust team executed the Joint Affidavit of Arrest of
accused-appellants. SI Saul also executed an incident report, requested for laboratory examination
of the contents of the plastic sachets marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04," and submitted
the said specimens to the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division where they were received by NBI
Forensic Chemist II Patingo.
The two plastic sachets submitted for laboratory examination had a combined weight of 98.7249
grams. Based on the forensic analysis by NBI Forensic Chemist II Patingo and Forensic Chemist III
Viloria-Magsipoc, the contents of said sachets tested positive for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride.
The evidence for the defense consisted of accused-appellants testimonies. Both denied the crime
charged against them and claimed that they were the victims of extortion. They were charged only
because they failed to produce the money demanded from them.
21

The sequence of events according to the combined testimonies of accused-appellants is as follows:


On May 6, 2004, accused-appellants were at their house located at Sitio Imelda, Upper Bicutan,
Taguig City. At around 11:30 in the morning, Accused-appellant Normina informed her husband,
accused-appellant Asir, that she will accompany accused-appellant Asirs cousin, a certain Rohaima
Sulayman (Rohaima), who will meet someone at the Sunshine Mall in Taguig City. At about 12:00
noon, accused-appellant Normina and Rohaima arrived at Sunshine Mall. Rohaima borrowed
accused-appellant Norminas cellphone several times to call up the person she was supposed to
meet. At around 3:30 in the afternoon, the person who Rohaima was waiting for arrived. Rohaima
then instructed accused-appellant Normina to go to Signal Village to accept a package from another
person and, thereafter, to deliver it to Rohaima at the Pepsi compound nearby. As instructed by
Rohaima, accused-appellant Normina went to Signal Village and waited. A man, wearing a white
shirt and jeans, later arrived and asked if she was Rohaimas sister-in-law. When accused-appellant
Normina answered in the affirmative, the man handed her a bag and directed her to give the same to
Rohaima.

Page 108 of 142

Meanwhile, at around 2:30 in the afternoon of the same day, accused-appellant Asir decided to
follow accused-appellant Normina to Sunshine Mall. When accused-appellant Asir did not find
accused-appellant Normina at the mall, he decided to go back home. However, on his way home,
accused-appellant Asir chanced upon accused-appellant Normina near the market. Accusedappellant Normina asked accused-appellant Asir to accompany her to the Pepsi compound where
she would meet Rohaima to deliver the bag.
Upon reaching the parking lot of the Pepsi compound at around 4:30 in the afternoon, accusedappellant Normina alighted from the motorcycle with the bag in hand. As accused-appellant Normina
was walking, a van suddenly arrived from which five police officers in civilian clothes alighted. The
police officers poked their guns at accused-appellant Asir and restrained accused-appellant
Normina, taking the bag away from her. The police officers then hit accused-appellant Asir on
different parts of his body and slapped accused-appellant Normina. Accused-appellant Asir
repudiated the police officers accusation that he was selling drugs, and accused-appellant Normina
denied the police officers charge that she was Rohaima and that she had knowledge of the contents
of the bag she was about to deliver. Thereafter, the police officers boarded accused-appellants on
separate vehicles and brought them to the NBI Headquarters where accused-appellant Asir was
further interrogated and mauled. After accused-appellants had spent several days in detention, a
"piyansadora" from NBI approached accused-appellant Normina, who offered the dropping of the
charges against accused-appellants in exchange for Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00).
Accused-appellant Normina declined because she did not have the money.
After trial, the RTC rendered its Decision on October 16, 2006. Weighed against the prosecutions
testimonial and documentary evidence, including the corpus delicti of the crime, the RTC found
accused-appellants defenses of denial and alibi implausible and devoid of credence. In the end, the
RTC found accused-appellants guilty of the crime charged and sentenced them, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused PO2 ASIR GANI
and NORMINA GANI GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of violation of Section 5,
Article II, of Republic Act 9165 (Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs), and are both hereby sentenced to
LIFE IMPRISONMENT and each to pay a FINE of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
(P500,000.00).
Considering the penalty imposed by the Court on herein accused PO2 Asir Gani and Normina Gani,
their immediate commitment to the New Bilibid Prisons, National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa City and
the Correctional Institute for Women, Mandaluyong City, respectively, is hereby ordered. Pursuant to
Section 21 of Republic Act 9165, representatives from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
(PDEA) are hereby ordered to take charge and have custody of the sachets of shabu, subject matter
of this case, for proper disposition.
Costs against the accused.

22

Accused-appellants appealed the foregoing RTC judgment to the Court of Appeals, based on a lone
assignment of error:
23

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS WHOSE


GUILT HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
24

On April 1, 2011, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming accused-appellants
conviction. The appellate court accorded weight to the assessment by the RTC of the veracity of the
witnesses testimonies. The prosecution witnesses gave a clear and candid narration of the buy-bust
operation against accused-appellants; while accused-appellants denial and alibi fail in the absence
1wphi1

Page 109 of 142

of clear and convincing evidence of ill motive or bad faith on the part of the buy-bust team. The
appellate court also declared that there was substantial compliance with the rule on the chain of
custody of the seized drugs, thus, preserving the integrity and evidentiary value of the same. Hence,
the Court of Appeals decreed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The 16 October 2006
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 70 is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
25

Hence, the instant appeal.


Since the parties manifested that they would no longer submit any supplemental brief, the Court
considers the same arguments raised by the parties before the Court of Appeals.
26

In their Brief, accused-appellants assert that the prosecution failed to comply with the rules on the
custody of seized drugs provided under Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165. According to accusedappellants, there is no showing that the inventory and picture-taking of the shabu were conducted in
their presence, as well as in the presence of a representative from the media, the Department of
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official, immediately after accused-appellants arrest and
seizure of the shabu purportedly sold by them. When accused-appellants were brought by the buybust team to the barangay hall following their arrest, there was already a typewritten inventory report
for signature by the barangay officials, which, accused-appellants surmise, was already prepared at
the NBI Office. It is likewise not clearly established where and when the markings on the plastic
sachets of shabu were made. Accused-appellants reason that the suspicions regarding the actual
conduct of an inventory of the shabu allegedly sold by them could have been avoided had the
prosecution presented the testimonies of the barangay officials who signed the inventory report.
Accused-appellants further point out that the prosecutions evidence conflicted as to the number of
sachets of shabu seized from them. It was stipulated during the pre-trial that there were four plastic
sachets of shabu but prosecution witness SI Saul testified that as poseur-buyer, he bought and
received only two sachets of shabu from accused-appellants. No details were provided about the
seizure of the other two sachets of shabu.
Plaintiff-appellee, in its Brief, maintains that the rule on the chain of custody of the seized shabu had
been substantially complied with and the issues raised by accused-appellants are trivial and
unfounded.
The Court finds the appeal bereft of merit.
The combined testimonial, documentary, and object evidence of the prosecution produced a detailed
account of the buy-bust operation against accused-appellants and proved all the essential elements
of the crime charged against them.
In the prosecution for the crime of illegal sale of prohibited drugs, the following elements must
concur: (1) the identities of the buyer and seller, object, and consideration; and (2) the delivery of the
thing sold and the payment thereof. What is material to the prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous
drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually occurred, coupled with the presentation in
court of the substance seized as evidence.
27

It has been clearly established herein that a buy-bust operation took place on May 6, 2004
conducted by a team of NBI agents. SI Saul, as the poseur-buyer, and accused-appellants, as the
sellers, agreed on the price of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00) for One Hundred

Page 110 of 142

(100) grams of shabu. After SI Saul handed over the buy-bust money to accused-appellants, the
latter gave him, in exchange, two plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance. Thereafter,
accused-appellants were immediately arrested by the buy-bust team. During the search incidental to
accused-appellants arrest, a .45 caliber handgun, the buy-bust money, and two more sachets of
suspected shabu were recovered from their possession. Chemical examination confirmed that the
contents of the two plastic sachets sold to SI Saul were indeed shabu. These two sachets of shabu,
marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04" and with a total weight of 98.7249 grams, together
with two other sachets, were duly presented as evidence by the prosecution before the RTC.
Contrary to accused-appellants averment, prosecution witness, SI Saul, was able to explain why
there were a total of four sachets of shabu presented during trial, when SI Saul only bought two
sachets during the buy- bust operation. SI Saul testified that in addition to the two plastic sachets of
shabu sold to him by accused-appellants, there were two more sachets of shabu recovered from
accused-appellants possession by the buy-bust team during the body search conducted incidental
to accused-appellants lawful arrest.
28

The Court further finds that the arresting officers had substantially complied with the rule on the
chain of custody of the dangerous drugs as provided under Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165.
Jurisprudence has decreed that, in dangerous drugs cases, the failure of the police officers to make
a physical inventory and to photograph the sachets of shabu, as well as to mark the sachets at the
place of arrest, do not render the seized drugs inadmissible in evidence or automatically impair the
integrity of the chain of custody of the said drugs. What is of utmost importance is the preservation
of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as these would be utilized in the
determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused.
29

30

In this case, testimonial and documentary evidence for the prosecution proved that immediately after
accused-appellants arrest, they were brought to the FTI Barangay Hall. It was there, in the presence
of two barangay officials, that SI Saul conducted an inventory of the two plastic sachets of shabu
subject of the buy-bust operation, plus the other items seized from accused-appellants possession
during the search conducted incidental to accused-appellants arrest. It was also at the barangay hall
where SI Saul marked the two plastic sachets of shabu sold to him by accused-appellants as "ES-1
05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04," representing SI Sauls initials and the date of the buy-bust
operation. Thereafter, the buy-bust team, with accused-appellants, proceeded to the NBI
Headquarters. At the NBI Headquarters, SI Saul made a request for examination of the two plastic
sachets of shabu, marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04," and personally handed the same to
NBI Forensic Chemist II Patingo. NBI Forensic Chemist II Patingo, together with NBI Forensic
Chemist III Viloria-Magsipoc, conducted the laboratory examination of the contents of the two
sachets marked "ES-1 05-06-04" and "ES-2 05-06-04" and kept said sachets in his custody until the
same were submitted to the RTC as evidence during trial.
Thus, the Court of Appeals was correct in its observation that the failure of the buy-bust team to take
pictures of the seized drugs immediately upon seizure and at the site of accused-appellants
apprehension, and to mark and make an inventory of the same in the presence of all the persons
named in Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165, are not fatal and did not render the seized drugs
inadmissible in evidence given that the prosecution was able to trace and establish each and every
link in the chain of custody of the seized drugs and, hence, the identity and integrity of the said drugs
had been duly preserved. For the same reasons, it was not imperative for the prosecution to present
as witnesses before the RTC the two barangay officials who witnessed the conduct of the inventory.
At best, the testimonies of these two barangay officials will only be corroborative, and would have no
significant impact on the identity and integrity of the seized drugs.

Page 111 of 142

Moreover, accused-appellants uncorroborated defenses of denial and frame-up cannot prevail over
the prosecution witnesses positive testimonies, coupled with the presentation in court by the
prosecution of the corpus delicti. Prosecutions involving illegal drugs depend largely on the credibility
of the police officers who conducted the buy-bust operation. Oft-repeated is the rule that in cases
involving violations of Republic Act No. 9165, credence is given to prosecution witnesses who are
police officers (or in this case, NBI agents) for they are presumed to have performed their duties in a
regular manner, unless there is evidence to the contrary. Absent any indication that the NBI agents
herein were ill motivated in testifying against accused-appellants, their testimonies deserve full
credence. In contrast, the defenses of denial and frame-up have been invariably viewed by this
Court with disfavor for it can easily be concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in
prosecutions for violation of Republic Act No. 9165. In order to prosper, the defenses of denial and
frame-up must be proved with strong and convincing evidence. Accused-appellants presented no
such evidence in this case.
31

32

The penalty for illegal sale of shabu, regardless of the quantity and purity involved, under Article II,
Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, shall be life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten Million Pesos (P10,000,000.00). Hence, the
imposition of the penalty of life imprisonment upon accused-appellants and an order for each of
them to pay a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos PS00,000.00) are correct.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated April 1, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02625, which affirmed in toto the Decision dated October 16, 2006 of the
RTC, Branch 70, of the City of Pasig, in Criminal Case No. 13491-D, is hereby AFFIRMED. SO
ORDERED.

---------------------------

BEST EVIDENCE RULE

[G.R. No. 150905. September 23, 2003]

CITIBANK,
N.A.
MASTERCARD, petitioner,
TEODORO, respondent.

vs. EFREN

S.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

Before secondary evidence may be admitted to prove the contents of


original documents, the offeror must prove the due execution and the
subsequent loss or unavailability of the original.

Page 112 of 142

The Case
The Petition for Review before us assails the July 31, 2001 Decision and
the November 22, 2001 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR
SP No. 62891. The dispositive portion of the challenged Decision reads as
follows:
[1]

[2]

[3]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is GRANTED; and


the Decisions of the trial courts are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. No costs.

[4]

The assailed Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.


The Facts
Petitioner operates a credit card system through which it extends credit
accommodations to its cardholders for the purchase of goods and services
from its member establishments. The purchases are later on paid for by
cardholders upon receipt of the billings or statements of account from the
company. Respondent Efren S. Teodoro was one such cardholder. On
December 14, 1990, he applied for membership with petitioner. After his
application was approved, he was issued Citibank, N.A. Mastercard No. 54233920-4457-7009.
Under the terms and conditions governing the use of the Citibank credit
card, the cardholder undertakes to pay all the purchases made using the card
within the period indicated on the statement of account or within thirty (30)
days from the date or dates of its use. Charges that remain unpaid within the
period fixed in the monthly statement of account shall earn interest at the rate
of 3.5 percent per month plus a penalty fee equivalent to 5 percent of the
amount due for every month or even a fraction of a months delay.
Respondent made various purchases through his credit card. Accordingly,
he was billed by petitioner for those purchases, for which he tendered various
payments.
Petitioner claims that as of January 20, 1995, the obligations of
respondent stood at P191,693.25, inclusive of interest and service
charges. Several times it demanded payment from him, but he refused to pay,
claiming that the amount demanded did not correspond to his actual
obligations. His refusal prompted petitioner to file a Complaint for collection on

Page 113 of 142

January 25, 1996 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City. The
case was docketed as Civil Case No. 96-092 and raffled to Branch 133.
The RTC, in an Order dated April 23, 1996, dismissed the Complaint for
lack of jurisdiction over the amount involved. The case was then transferred to
the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Makati City, where it was docketed as
Civil Case No. 51586 and raffled to Branch 66.
During the trial, petitioner presented several sales invoices or charge slips,
which added up to only P24,388.36. Although mere photocopies of the
originals, the invoices were marked in evidence as Exhibits F to F-4. Because
all these copies appeared to bear the signatures of respondent, the trial court
deemed them sufficient proof of his purchases with the use of the credit
card. Accordingly, the MTC in its July 25, 2000 Decision ordered him to pay
petitioner the amount of P24,388.36 plus interest and penalty fee. The
material portion of the Decision reads:
[5]

[Petitioner] is claiming that [respondent] made use of its credit card. And as of
January 20, 1995, [respondents] obligation to [petitioner] ballooned to the sum of
P191,693.25.
This is clear according to [petitioner] as shown by the Statement of Accounts.
To the mind of this Court, the Statement of Account alone will not prove that
[respondent] has an outstanding obligation to [petitioner] in the amount of
P191,693.95. This must be substantiated by the Sales Invoices which unearthed the
purchases made by [respondent] when he availed himself of the credit card of
[petitioner].
While it is true that [petitioner] has offered the Sales Invoices (Exhibits F, F-1, F-4) to
show the purchases made by [respondent], it is equally true also that adding all the
amount in said invoices, the sum of P191,693.95 which according to [petitioner] is the
outstanding obligation of [respondent], is hardly met. [Petitioner] even admitted that it
could not produce all the invoices. Without the other Sales Invoices, there is a cloud
of doubt hovering over the claim of [petitioner] to [respondent].
In fact, summing up all the amount[s] indicated in the aforesaid Sales Invoices the fact
that the [respondent] has incurred to [petitioner] an obligation in the amount of
P24,388.36 as a result of the formers availment of the credit card of the latter.
It is elementary procedure that [petitioner] must prove [its] case with preponderance
of evidence. Without all the other Sales Invoices to uncover the purchases made by
[respondent] when he used the credit card of [petitioner], it is undeniable x x x that
Page 114 of 142

[petitioner] is caught in the web of doubt with respect to the accuracy of its claim to
the [respondent].
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby renders judgment as follows:
1. Ordering [respondent] to pay [petitioner] P24,388.36 with an interest of 3.5% and a
penalty fee equivalent to another 5% of the amount due for every month due or a
fraction of a months delay starting February 21, 1995 until the entire obligation is
fully paid;
2. Ordering [respondent] to pay [petitioner] 25% of any and all amounts due and
payable as agreed attorneys fees plus cost of suit.
[6]

Thereafter, respondent appealed the MTC judgment to the RTC of Makati


City, where the appeal was docketed as Civil Case No. 00-1051 and raffled to
Branch 146. In its October 30, 2000 Decision, the RTC affirmed the MTC
Decision in toto.
[7]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


The focal issue of the case according to the CA was whether the
photocopies of the sales invoices or charge slips, marked as Exhibits F to F-4,
were competent proofs of the obligations of respondent. These were the only
evidence presented by petitioner that could prove the actual amount of
obligation he had incurred in favor of the former. In reversing the trial courts,
the CA ruled that this evidence was insufficient to prove any liability on
respondents part.
According to Sections 3 and 5 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, whenever
the subject of inquiry is the content of a document, its original must be
produced, as it is the best evidence to prove such content. Secondary
evidence, like the subject photocopies, is inadmissible. It will be admissible
only if the offeror proves (a) any of the exceptions enumerated in Section 3
and (b) the conditions for its admissibility set forth in Section 5 of Rule
130. For secondary evidence to be admissible, there must be satisfactory
proof of (1) the due execution of the original; (2) the originals loss, destruction
or unavailability that is not due to the offerors bad faith; and (3) reasonable
diligence and good faith in the search for or attempt to produce the original.

Page 115 of 142

Although petitioner was able to prove the existence of the original sales
invoices, it failed to prove their due execution or to account for their loss or
unavailability.
Hence, this Petition.

[8]

Issues
Petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration:
I. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in reversing and setting aside the decision
of the trial courts for insufficiency of evidence to support its findings.
II. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in holding that petitioner failed to prove
the due execution and the cause of the unavailability and non-production of the
charge slips marked in evidence as Exhibits F to F-4.[9]

In brief, the main issue boils down to whether the photocopies of the sales
invoices or charge slips marked during trial as Exhibits F to F-4 are admissible
in evidence.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition has no merit.
Main Issue:
Admissibility of Photocopies
Petitioner contends that the testimony of its principal witness - Mark
Hernando, assistant manager of Citibank, N.A. Mastercard -- proves the
following:
[10]

a) the existence or due execution of the original sales invoices which sufficiently proved
respondents liability of P24,388.36;
b) the loss or unavailability of the original sales invoices; and
c) petitioners reasonable diligence and good faith in the search for or attempt to
produce the originals.

It further argues that Hernando competently identified the signatures of


respondent on the sales invoices, having recognized them as identical to the
signature on the latters credit card application form.
Page 116 of 142

On the other hand, respondent maintains that petitioner failed to prove the
due execution of the sales invoices. According to him, Hernando was not privy
to such execution and could not have properly or competently declared that
the signatures on the invoices and on the application form belonged to the
former. The latter was not the person before whom the application form was
signed, executed or acknowledged; he was not even present then. As to the
sales invoices and respondents alleged signatures thereon, he saw them only
after the Complaint had been filed in court or long after those invoices had
been executed. He was therefore not competent to identify the signatures.
Because Hernandez had not actually witnessed the execution of the sales
invoices and the application form, respondent concludes that petitioner failed
to observe Section 5 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which provides that
the contents of the original may be proven by the testimony of witnesses.
Finally, respondent contends that the alleged loss or unavailability of the
original sales invoices was not sufficiently established. Allegedly, Hernandez
had requested the originals from Equitable Credit Card Network, Inc., but
failed to show in court that he had followed up his request as advised by
another witness, Zen Hipolito. Therefore, the requirement of reasonable
diligence and good faith in the search for or attempt to produce the originals
was not satisfied, because he had shown no proof of having followed up the
request.
The burden of proof rests upon petitioner, as plaintiff, to establish its case
based on a preponderance of evidence. It is well-settled that in civil cases, the
party that alleges a fact has the burden of proving it. Petitioner failed to prove
that respondent had an obligation in the principal amount of P24,388.36,
because the photocopies of the original sales invoices it had presented in
court were inadmissible in evidence. Moreover, had they been admissible,
they would still have had little probative value.
[11]

[12]

The original copies of the sales invoices are the best evidence to prove
the alleged obligation. Photocopies thereof are mere secondary evidence. As
such, they are inadmissible because petitioner, as the offeror, failed to prove
any of the exceptions provided under Section 3 of Rule 130 of the Rules of
Court, as well s the conditions of their admissibility. Because of the
inadmissibility of the photocopies in the absence of the originals, respondents
obligation was not established.
[13]

Section 5 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court states:


SEC. 5. When original document is unavailable. When the original document has
been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its
Page 117 of 142

execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part,
may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic
document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated.
Applying the above Rule to the present case, before a party is allowed to
adduce secondary evidence to prove the contents of the original sales
invoices, the offeror must prove the following: (1) the existence or due
execution of the original; (2) the loss and destruction of the original or the
reason for its nonproduction in court; and (3) on the part of the offeror, the
absence of bad faith to which the unavailability of the original can be
attributed. The correct order of proof is as follows: existence, execution, loss,
and contents. At the sound discretion of the court, this order may be changed
if necessary.
[14]

[15]

In the present case, the existence of the original sales invoices was
established by the photocopies and the testimony of Hernandez. Petitioner,
however, failed to prove that the originals had been lost or could not be
produced in court after reasonable diligence and good faith in searching for
them.
Indeed, the loss of the originals and reasonable diligence in the search for
them were conditions that were not met, because the sales invoices might
have been found by Equitable.Hernandez, testifying that he had requested the
originals from Equitable, failed to show that he had subsequently followed up
the request.
[16]

Finally, when more than one original copy exists, it must appear that all of
them have been lost, destroyed, or cannot be produced in court before
secondary evidence can be given of any one. A photocopy may not be used
without accounting for the other originals.
[17]

In Santos v. Santos the Court upheld the pronouncement of the CA that


before the appellees therein could be allowed to adduce secondary evidence
to prove the contents of the original, they had to prove -- with the requisite
quantum of evidence -- the loss, the destruction or the unavailability
of all original copies of the document.
[18]

In the present case, triplicates were produced, although the cardholder


signed the sales invoice only once. During the trial, Hernandez explained
that an original copy had gone to respondent, another to the merchant, and
still another to petitioner.
[19]

[20]

Each of these three copies is regarded as an original in accordance with


Section 4 (b) of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. Petitioner failed to show that
[21]

Page 118 of 142

all three original copies were unavailable, and that due diligence had been
exercised in the search for them.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.

WILGEN LOON vs. POWER MASTER INC.


Facts:
1. Respondents Power Master Inc. and Tri-C General Services employed and
assigned the petitioners as janitors and leadsmen in various Philippine Long
Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) offices in Metro Manila area.
2. Subsequently, the petitioners filed a complaint for money claims against Power
Master Inc., Tri-C General Services and their officers, the spouses Homer and Carina
Alumisin (collectively, the respondents).
3. The petitioners alleged in their complaint that they were not paid minimum
wages, overtime, holiday, premium, service incentive leave, and thirteenth
monthpays.
4. They further averred that the respondents made them sign blank payroll sheets.
5. The petitioners amended their complaint and included illegal dismissal as their
cause of action.
6. They claimed that the respondents relieved them from service in retaliation for
the filing of their original complaint.
7. Notably, the respondents did not participate in the proceedings before the Labor
Arbiter except on April 19, 2001 and May 21, 2001 when Mr. Romulo Pacia, Jr.
appeared on the respondents behalf. The respondents counsel also appeared ina
preliminary mandatory conference on July 5, 2001.
8. LAs Ruling: The LA awarded the petitioners salary differential, service incentive
leaves and 13th month pays. In awarding these claims the LA stated that the
burden in proving the payment of these money claims rests with the employer.
However, they were not awarded backwages, overtime, holiday and premium pays
for failure to show that they rendered overtime work and worked on holidays.
Moreover, it was not decided that they were illegally dismissed for failure to show
notice of termination of employment.

Page 119 of 142

9. NLRC: Both parties appealed to the ruling of the LA. NLRC affirmed LAs ruling
with regard the payment of holiday pay and attorneys fees but vacated the awards
of salary differential, 13th month pays and service incentive leaves. Moreover, NLRC
allowed the respondents to present pieces of evidence for the first time on appeal
on the ground that they have been deprived of due process. It also ruled that
petitioners were legally dismissed due to gross misconduct.
10. CA: Ruling of the NLRC was affirmed.
Issue: Whether the respondents perfected their appeal before the NLRC
Held:
1. YES.
2. Pursuant to Article 223 of the Labor Code, an appeal by the employer may be
perfected, only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable
bonding company, duly accredited by the Commission, in the amount equivalent to
the monetary award in the judgment appealed from.
3. In the present case, the respondents filed a surety bond issued by Security Pacific
Assurance Corporation (Security Pacific) on June 28, 2002.
4. At that time, Security Pacific was still an accredited bonding company.
5. However, the NLRC revoked its accreditation on February 16, 2003.
6. Nonetheless, this subsequent revocation should not prejudice the respondents
who relied on its then subsisting accreditation in good faith.
7. In Del Rosario v. Philippine Journalists, Inc., we ruled that a bonding companys
revocation of authority is prospective in application.
8. However, the respondents should post a new bond issued by an accredited
bonding company in compliance with paragraph 4, Section 6, Rule 6 of the
NLRCRules of Procedure. This provision states that [a] cash or surety bond shall be
valid and effective from the date of deposit or posting, until the case is finally
decided, resolved or terminated or the award satisfied.
9. Contrary to the respondents claim, the issue of the appeal bonds validity may
be raised for the first time on appeal since its proper filing is a jurisdictional
requirement.
10. The requirement that the appeal bond should be issued by an accredited
bondingcompany is mandatory and jurisdictional. The rationale of requiring an
appeal bond, is to discourage the employers from using an appeal to delay or evade
the employees just and lawful claims. It is intended to assure the workers that they
will receive the money judgment in their favor if the employers appeal is dismissed.
Page 120 of 142

A party may only adduce evidence for the first time on appeal if he adequately
explains his delay in the submission of evidence and he sufficiently proves the
allegations soughtto be proven.
1. In labor cases, strict adherence to the technical rules of procedure is not required.
2. However, this liberal policy should still be subject to rules of reason and fair play.
3. The liberality of procedural rules is qualified by two requirements:
(1) a party should adequately explain any delay in the submission of evidence; and
(2) a party should sufficiently prove the allegations sought to be proven

4. The reason for these requirements is that, the liberal application of the rules
before quasi-judicial agencies cannot be used to perpetuate injustice and hamper
the just resolution of the case.
5. Neither is the rule on liberal construction a license to disregard the rules of
procedure.

THERESITA, JUAN, ASUNCION, PATROCINIA, RICARDO, and GLORIA, all


surnamed DIMAGUILA vs. JOSE and SONIA A. MONTEIRO
G.R. No. 201011January 27, 2014
Facts:On July 5, 1993, respondent spouses, Jose and Sonia Monteiro, along with Jose,
Gerasmo, Elisa and Clarita Nobleza filed a Complaint forPartition and Damages
before the RTC against the Dimaguilas, together with the Borlazas, alleging that the
parties were co-owners and prayed forthe partition of a residential house and lot in
Laguna covered by Tax Declaration No. 1453. The Monteiros anchored their claim on
a Deed of Saleexecuted in their favor by the heirs of Pedro Dimaguila.
The Dimaguilas argued that there was no co-ownership at all since the property had
long been partitioned to Perfecto and VitalianoDimaguila, with Perfecto becoming
owner of the southern half and Vitaliano owning the northern half. The defendants
claim that they are Vitalianosheirs and further averred that the Monteiros claim to
the property is null for they were not heirs of either Perfecto or Vitaliano.
Petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari before the CA assailing the RTCs orders
which denied several of their motions and theproceedings were suspended while
such petition was pending. The CA upheld the RTCs orders and, upon resumption of
the proceedings, thespouses Monteiro filed their Motion for Leave to Amend and/or
Admit Amended Complaint which was granted by the RTC.
Page 121 of 142

The Monteiros admitted in the amended complaint the defendants allegation of a


partition and aver that a third of Perfectos share wassold to them through a
Bilihan; and that, upon their attempt to take possession of that portion, they
found that the Dimaguilas were occupying it.
The Dimaguilas, in their answer to the amended complaint now contravened their
original answer that the subject property was actuallydivided into northern and
southern halves, replacing it with a division into two and share and share alike.
This resulted to an admission of a co-ownership, contrary to their original position.
According to the Dimaguilas, the Bilihan also violated Article 1485 of the Civil
Code for notspecifying the metes and bounds of the property sold and that, even if
it was specified, the sale was still void since a co-owner can only sell hisundivided
share in the property.
The RTC ruled in favor of Spouses Monteiro after perusing evidence aliunde of a
cadastral map of Liliw, Laguna and a corresponding listof claimant as to show that
the property had indeed been partitioned into southern and northern portions. The
RTC concluded that the Dimaguilaswere stopped from denying this partition and the
Bilihan document was regular and authentic absent any evidence to the contrary.
The Dimaguilas appealed their case to the CA which affirmed the trial courts
decision. A motion for reconsideration was subsequentlyfiled by the petitioners but
it was denied, hence, this appeal under Rule 45.
Issues:
1) Whether there was a partition of the subject property; and
2) Whether the 1/3 portion of the southern half of the subject property was sold to
the respondent spouses.
Ruling:
The petition is DENIED. Both aforementioned issues are answered in the affirmative.
The Supreme Court points out that to determine whether there was a partition and a
sale of the 1/3 portion of the property requires anevaluation of the evidence. This
entails a question of fact which is beyond the ambit of Rule 45 upon which this
petition is based. On this groundalone, the petition could be denied. However, the
Supreme Court delved into the concepts of evidence to put the case to rest.
Preponderance of evidence; definition
Spouses Monteiro, as plaintiffs in the original case, had the burden of proof to
establish their case by a preponderance of evidence, which isthe weight, credit, and
value of the aggregate evidence on either side, synonymous with the term greater
weight of the evidence. Preponderance ofevidence is evidence which is more
Page 122 of 142

convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition
thereto.
Admissions; contradiction
Section 4 of Rule 129 of the Rules of Court provides that an admission made by a
party in the course of the proceedings in the same casedoes not require proof, and
may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake.
The petitioners argue that suchadmission was the palpable mistake of their former
counsel in his rush to file the answer, a copy of which was not provided to them.
This contentionis unacceptable. It is a purely self-serving claim unsupported by any
iota of evidence. Bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are notequivalent
to proof.
Admissions; rendered conclusive through estoppels
Article 1431 of the Civil Code provides that through estoppel, an admission is
rendered conclusive upon the person making it, and cannotbe denied or disproved
as against the person relying thereon. The respondent spouses had clearly relied on
the petitioners admission and so amendedtheir original complaint for partition to
one for recovery of possession of a portion of the subject property. Thus, the
petitioners are now estoppedfrom denying or attempting to prove that there was no
partition of the property. Considering that an admission does not require proof, the
admissionof the petitioners would actually be sufficient to prove the partition even
without the documents presented by the respondent spouses. If anything,
theadditional evidence they presented only served to corroborate the petitioners
admission.
Best Evidence Rule
Section 3(d) of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court provides that when the subject of
inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall beadmissible other than
the original document itself, except when the original is a public record in the
custody of a public officer or is recorded in apublic office. Section 7 of the same Rule
provides that when the original of a document is in the custody of a public officer or
is recorded in a publicoffice, its contents may be proved by a certified copy issued
by the public officer in custody thereof. Section 24 of Rule 132 provides that the
recordof public documents may be evidenced by a copy attested by the officer
having the legal custody or the record.
Hearsay Rule
Section 44 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court similarly provides that entries in official
records are an exception to the rule. The ruleprovides that entries in official records
made in the performance of the duty of a public officer of the Philippines, or by a
person in the performanceof a duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie
Page 123 of 142

evidence of the facts therein stated. The necessity of this rule consists in the
inconvenience anddifficulty of requiring the officials attendance as a witness to
testify to the innumerable transactions in the course of his duty. The
documentstrustworthiness consists in the presumption of regularity of the
performance of official duty. Cadastral maps are the output of cadastral surveys.
TheDENR is the department tasked to execute, supervise and manage the conduct
of cadastral surveys. It is, therefore, clear that the cadastral map andthe
corresponding list of claimants qualify as entries in official records as they were
prepared by the DENR, as mandated by law. As such, they areexceptions to the
hearsay rule and are prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein.
-----------------Parole Evidence

[G.R. No. 107372. January 23, 1997]

RAFAEL S. ORTAEZ, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS,


OSCAR
INOCENTES,
AND
ASUNCION
LLANES
INOCENTES, respondents.
RESOLUTION
FRANCISCO, J.:

On September 30, 1982, private respondents sold to petitioner two (2)


parcels of registered land in Quezon City for a consideration of P35,000.00
and P20,000.00, respectively. The first deed of absolute sale covering
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 258628 provides in part:
"That for and in consideration of the sum of THIRTY FIVE THOUSAND
(P35,000.00) PESOS, receipt of which in full is hereby acknowledged, we have sold,
transferred and conveyed, as we hereby sell, transfer and convey, that subdivided
portion of the property covered by TCT No. 258628 known as Lot No. 684-G-1-B-2
in favor of RAFAEL S. ORTANEZ, of legal age, Filipino. whose marriage is under a
regime of complete separation of property, and a resident of 942 Aurora Blvd.,
Quezon City, his heirs or assigns."
[1]

while the second deed of absolute sale covering TCT No. 243273 provides:

Page 124 of 142

"That for and in consideration of the sum of TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00)


PESOS receipt of which in full is hereby acknowledged, we have sold, transferred
and conveyed, as we hereby sell, transfer and convey, that consolidated-subdivided
portion of the property covered by TCT No. 243273 known as Lot No. 5 in favor of
RAFAEL S. ORTANEZ, of legal age, Filipino, whose marriage is under a regime of
complete separation of property, and a resident of 942 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon
City his heirs or assigns.
[2]

Private respondents received the payments for the above-mentioned lots,


but failed to deliver the titles to petitioner. On April 9, 1990 the latter
demanded from the former the delivery of said titles. Private respondents,
however, refused on the ground that the title of the first lot is in the possession
of another person, and petitioner's acquisition of the title of the other lot is
subject to certain conditions.
[3]

[4]

Offshoot, petitioner sued private respondents for specific performance


before the RTC. In their answer with counterclaim private respondents merely
alleged the existence of the following oral conditions which were never
reflected in the deeds of sale:
[5]

[6]

"3.3.2 Title to the other property (TCT No. 243273) remains with the defendants
(private respondents) until plaintiff (petitioner) shows proof that all the following
requirements have been met:
(i) Plaintiff will cause the segregation of his right of way amounting to 398 sq. m.;
(ii) Plaintiff will submit to the defendants the approved plan for the segregation;
(iii) Plaintiff will put up a strong wall between his property and that of defendants' lot
to segregate his right of way;
(iv) Plaintiff will pay the capital gains tax and all other expenses that may be incurred
by reason of sale. x x x."
During trial, private respondent Oscar Inocentes, a former judge, orally
testified that the sale was subject to the above conditions, although such
conditions were not incorporated in the deeds of sale. Despite petitioner's
timely objections on the ground that the introduction of said oral conditions
was barred by the parol evidence rule, the lower court nonetheless, admitted
them and eventually dismissed the complaint as well as the counterclaim. On
appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the court a quo. Hence, this
petition.
[7]

Page 125 of 142

We are tasked to resolve the issue on the admissibility of parol evidence to


establish the alleged oral conditions-precedent to a contract of sale, when the
deeds of sale are silent on such conditions.
The parol evidence herein introduced is inadmissible. First, private
respondents' oral testimony on the alleged conditions, coming from a party
who has an interest in the outcome of the case, depending exclusively on
human memory, is not as reliable as written or documentary evidence.
Spoken words could be notoriously unreliable unlike a written contract which
speaks of a uniform language. Thus, under the general rule in Section 9 of
Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, when the terms of an agreement were
reduced to writing, as in this case, it is deemed to contain all the terms agreed
upon and no evidence of such terms can be admitted other than the contents
thereof. Considering that the written deeds of sale were the only repository of
the truth, whatever is not found in said instruments must have been waived
and abandoned by the parties. Examining the deeds of sale, we cannot even
make an inference that the sale was subject to any condition. As a contract, it
is the law between the parties.
[8]

[9]

[10]

[11]

[12]

[13]

Secondly, to buttress their argument, private respondents rely on the case


of Land Settlement Development, Co. vs. Garcia Plantation where the Court
ruled that a condition precedent to a contract may be established by parol
evidence. However, the material facts of that case are different from this
case. In the former, the contract sought to be enforced expressly stated that it
is subject to an agreement containing the conditions-precedent which were
proven through parol evidence. Whereas, the deeds of sale in this case, made
no reference to any pre- conditions or other agreement. In fact, the sale is
denominated as absolute in its own terms.
[14]

[15]

Third, the parol evidence herein sought to be introduced would vary,


contradict or defeat the operation of a valid instrument, hence, contrary to
the rule that:
[16]

The parol evidence rule forbids any addition to x x x the terms of a written instrument
by testimony purporting to show that, at or before the signing of the document, other
or different terms were orally agreed upon by the parties.
[17]

Although parol evidence is admissible to explain the meaning of a contract, "it


cannot serve the purpose of incorporating into the contract additional
contemporaneous conditions which are not mentioned at all in the writing
unless there has been fraud or mistake." No such fraud or mistake exists in
this case.
[18]

Page 126 of 142

Fourth, we disagree with private respondents' argument that their parol


evidence is admissible under the exceptions provided by the Rules,
specifically, the alleged failure of the agreement to express the true intent of
the parties. Such exception obtains only in the following instance:
"[W]here the written contract is so ambiguous or obscure in terms that the contractual
intention of the parties cannot be understood from a mere reading of the instrument. In
such a case, extrinsic evidence of the subject matter of the contract, of the relations of
the parties to each other, and of the facts and circumstances surrounding them when
they entered into the contract may be received to enable the court to make a proper
interpretation of the instrument."
[19]

In this case, the deeds of sale are clear, without any ambiguity, mistake or
imperfection, much less obscurity or doubt in the terms thereof.
Fifth, we are not persuaded by private respondents contention that they
"put in issue by the pleadings" the failure of the written agreement to express
the true intent of the parties. Record shows that private respondents did
not expressly plead that the deeds of sale were incomplete or that it did not
reflect the intention of the buyer (petitioner) and the seller (private
respondents). Such issue must be "squarely presented." Private respondents
merely alleged that the sale was subject to four (4) conditions which they tried
to prove during trial by parol evidence. Obviously, this cannot be done,
because they did not plead any of the exceptions mentioned in the parol
evidence rule. Their case is covered by the general rule that the contents of
the writing are the only repository of the terms of the agreement. Considering
that private respondent Oscar Inocentes is a lawyer (and former judge) he
was "supposed to be steeped in legal knowledge and practices" and was
"expected to know the consequences" of his signing a deed of absolute sale.
Had he given an iota's attention to scrutinize the deeds, he would have
incorporated important stipulations that the transfer of title to said lots were
conditional.
[20]

[21]

[22]

[23]

[24]

[25]

[26]

One last thing, assuming arguendo that the parol evidence is admissible, it
should nonetheless be disbelieved as no other evidence appears from the
record to sustain the existence of the alleged conditions. Not even the other
seller, Asuncion Inocentes, was presented to testify on such conditions.
ACCORDINGLY, the appealed decision is REVERSED and the records of
this case REMANDED to the trial court for proper disposition in accordance
with this ruling.

Page 127 of 142

Lapu-Lapu Foundation vs. Court of Appeals


[GR 126006, 29 January 2004]
Facts: Sometime in 1977, Elias Q. Tan, then President of Lapulapu Foundation, Inc., obtained four
loans from Allied Banking Corporation covered by four promissory notes in the amounts of P100,000
each. As of 23 January 1979, the entire obligation amounted to P493,566.61 and despite demands
made on them by the Bank, Tan and the foundation failed to pay the same. The Bank was
constrained to file with the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 15, a complaint seeking
payment by Tan and the foundation, jointly and solidarily, of the sum of P493,566.61 representing
their loan obligation, exclusive of interests, penalty charges, attorneys fees and costs. In its answer
to the complaint, the Foundation denied incurring indebtedness from the Bank alleging that the loans
were obtained by Tan in his personal capacity, for his own use and benefit and on the strength of the
personal information he furnished the Bank. The Foundation maintained that it never authorized Tan
to co-sign in his capacity as its President any promissory note and that the Bank fully knew that the
loans contracted were made in Tans personal capacity and for his own use and that the Foundation
never benefited, directly or indirectly, therefrom.
The Foundation then interposed a cross-claim against Tan alleging that he, having exceeded his
authority, should be solely liable for said loans, and a counterclaim against the Bank for damages
and attorneys fees. For his part, Tan admitted that he contracted the loans from the Bank in his
personal capacity. The parties, however, agreed that the loans were to be paid from the proceeds of
Tans shares of common stocks in the Lapulapu Industries Corporation, a real estate firm. The loans
were covered by promissory notes which were automatically renewable (rolled-over) every year at
an amount including unpaid interests, until such time as Tan was able to pay the same from the
proceeds of his aforesaid shares. According to Tan, the Banks employee required him to affix two
signatures on every promissory note, assuring him that the loan documents would be filled out in
accordance with their agreement. However, after he signed and delivered the loan documents to the
Bank, these were filled out in a manner not in accord with their agreement, such that the Foundation
was included as party thereto. Further, prior to its filing of the complaint, the Bank made no demand
on him.
After due trial, the court rendered judgment (1) requiring Tan and the Foundation to pay jointly and
solidarily to the Bank the amount of P493,566.61 as principal obligation for the four promissory
notes, including all other charges included in the same, with interest at 14% per annum, computed
from 24 January 1979, until the same are fully paid, plus 2% service charges and 1% monthly
penalty charges; (2) requiring Tan and the Foundation to pay jointly and solidarily, attorneys fees in
the equivalent amount of 25% of the total amount due from them on the promissory notes, including
all charges; and (3) requiring Tan and the Foundation to pay jointly and solidarily litigation expenses
of P1,000.00 plus costs of the suit. On appeal, the CA affirmed with modification the judgment of the
court a quo by deleting the award of attorneys fees in favor of the Bank for being without basis. Tan
and the foundation filed the petition for review on certiorari.
Issue:
1.
Whether Tan and the foundation should be held jointly and solidarily liable.
2.
Whether the foundation gave Tan an apparent authority to deal with the Bank.
Held:
1. The appellate court did not err in holding Tan and the foundation jointly and solidarily liable as it
applied the doctrine of piercing the veil of corporate entity. Tan and the foundation cannot hide
behind the corporate veil under the following circumstances: "The evidence shows that Tan has been
representing himself as the President of Lapulapu Foundation, Inc. He opened a savings account
and a current account in the names of the corporation, and signed the application form as well as the
necessary specimen signature cards twice, for himself and for the foundation. He submitted a

Page 128 of 142

notarized Secretarys Certificate from the corporation, attesting that he has been authorized, inter
alia, to sign for and in behalf of the Lapulapu Foundation any and all checks, drafts or other orders
with respect to the bank; to transact business with the Bank, negotiate loans, agreements,
obligations, promissory notes and other commercial documents; and to initially obtain a loan for
P100,000.00 from any bank. Under these circumstances, the foundation is liable for the transactions
entered into by Tan on its behalf.
2. Per its Secretarys Certificate, the Foundation had given its President, Tan, ostensible and
apparent authority to inter alia deal with the Bank. Accordingly, the Foundation is estopped from
questioning Tans authority to obtain the subject loans from the respondent Bank. It is a familiar
doctrine that if a corporation knowingly permits one of its officers, or any other agent, to act within
the scope of an apparent authority, it holds him out to the public as possessing the power to do
those acts; and thus, the corporation will, as against anyone who has in good faith dealt with it
through such agent, be estopped from denying the agents authority.

MODESTO LEOVERAS,
Petitioner,

- versus -

G.R. No. 169985


Present:
CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,
BRION,
BERSAMIN,
VILLARAMA, JR., and
SERENO, JJ.
Promulgated:
June 15, 2011

CASIMERO VALDEZ,
Respondent.
x-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
DECISION
BRION, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari[1] assailing the March
31, 2005 decision[2] and the October 6, 2005resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 68549. The CA decision reversed the June 23,
2000 decision[4] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 46, Urdaneta City,
Pangasinan, dismissing respondent Casimero Valdezs complaint for annulment of
title, reconveyance and damages against petitioner Modesto Leoveras.

Page 129 of 142

FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS
Maria Sta. Maria and Dominga Manangan were the registered owners three-fourths () and one-fourth () pro-indiviso, respectively - of a parcel of land
located in Poblacion, Manaoag, Pangasinan, covered by Original Certificate of
Title (OCT) No. 24695, with an area of 28,171 square meters.[5]
In September 1932, Sta. Maria sold her three-fourths () share to Benigna
Llamas.[6] The sale was duly annotated at the back of OCT No. 24695. When
Benigna died in 1944,[7] she willed her three-fourths () share equally to her sisters
Alejandra Llamas and Josefa Llamas.[8] Thus, Alejandra and Josefa each owned
one-half () of Benignas three-fourths () share.
On June 14, 1969, Alejandras heirs sold their predecessors one-half () share
(roughly equivalent to 10,564 square meters) to the respondent, as evidenced by a
Deed of Absolute Sale.[9]
Also on June 14, 1969, Josefa sold her own one-half () share (subject
property) to the respondent and the petitioner, as evidenced by another Deed of
Absolute Sale.[10] On even date, the respondent and the petitioner executed
an Agreement,[11]allotting their portions of the subject property.
WITNESSETH
That we [petitioner and respondent] are the absolute owners of [the subject
property] which is particularly described as follows:
xxx
That our ownership over the said portion mentioned above is evidenced by
a Deed of Absolute Sale xxx
That in said deed of sale mentioned in the immediate preceding paragraph,
our respective share consist of 5, 282.13 [one-half of 10,564 square meters]
square meter each.
Page 130 of 142

That we hereby agreed and covenanted that our respective share shall be
as follows:
Modesto Leoveras 3,020 square meters residential portion on the northern
part near the Municipal road of Poblacion Pugaro,
Manaoag, Pangasinan;
Casimero Valdez 7,544.27[12] square meters of the parcel of land described
above.[13]

On June 8, 1977, the petitioner and the respondent executed an Affidavit of


Adverse Claim over the subject property.[14] The parties took possession of their
respective portions of the subject property and declared it in their name for taxation
purposes.[15]
In 1996, the respondent asked the Register of Deeds of Lingayen,
Pangasinan on the requirements for the transfer of title over the portion allotted to
him on the subject property. To his surprise, the respondent learned that the
petitioner had already obtained in his name two transfer certificates of title
(TCTs): one, TCT No. 195812 - covering an area of 3,020 square meters; and two,
TCT No. 195813 - covering an area of 1,004 square meters (or a total of 4,024
square meters).
The Register of Deeds informed the respondent that they could not find the
record of OCT No. 24695; instead, the Register of Deeds furnished the respondent
with the following[16] (collectively, petitioners documents):
1. Two (2) deeds of absolute sale dated June 14, 1969, both executed
by Sta. Maria, purportedly conveying an unspecified portion of
OCT No. 24695 as follows:
a. 11, 568 square meters to the respondent and petitioner[17]
b. 8, 689 square meters to one Virgilia Li Meneses[18]

2. Deed of Absolute Sale (Benigna Deed) also dated June 14,


1969 executed by Benigna[19] which reads:
Page 131 of 142

I, Benigna Llamas, Fernandez xxx do sell xxx by way of


ABSOLUTE SALE unto the said Casimero Valdez, Modesto
Leoveras and Virgilia Meneses their heirs and assigns, 7,544 sq.m.; 4,024
sq. m. and 8,689 sq. m. more or less respectively of a parcel of land which
is particularly described as follows:
A parcel of land xxx covered by [OCT No.] 24695. (Emphases
added)

3. Subdivision Plan of PSU 21864 of OCT No. 24695[20]


4. Affidavit of Confirmation
1994 (Affidavit), which reads:

of

Subdivision[21] dated May

3,

That we, Virgilia Li Meneses, xxx Dominga Manangan; Modesto


Leoveras; and Casimero Valdez xxx
xxx are co-owners of a certain parcel of land with an area of 28, 171
sq. m. more or less in subdivision plan Psu 21864 xxx covered by [OCT No.]
24695 situated at Poblacion (now Pugaro), Manaoag, Pangasinan;
xxx we agree xxx to subdivide and hereby confirmed the subdivision
in the following manner xxx:
Lot 2 with an area of 3, 020 sq. m. xxx to Modesto Leoveras xxx;
Lot 3 with an area of 1,004 sq. m. xxx to Modesto Leoveras xxx;
Lot 4 with an area of 7,544 sq. m. xxx to Casimero Valdez xxx;
Lot 5 with an area of 8, 689 sq. m. xxx to Virgilia Meneses;
Lot 6 with an area of
Manangan (Emphasis supplied.)

7,043

sq.

m.

xxx

to

Dominga

On June 21, 1996, the respondent filed a complaint for Annulment of Title,
Reconveyance and Damages against the petitioner, seeking the reconveyance of the
1,004-square meter portion (disputed property) covered by TCT No. 195813, on
the ground that the petitioner is entitled only to the 3,020 square meters identified
in the parties Agreement.
Page 132 of 142

The respondent sought the nullification of the petitioners titles by contesting


the authenticity of the petitioners documents. Particularly, the respondent assailed
the Benigna Deed by presenting Benignas death certificate. The respondent argued
that Benigna could not have executed a deed, which purports to convey 4,024
square meters to the petitioner, in 1969 because Benigna already died in 1944. The
respondent added that neither could Sta. Maria have sold to the parties her threefourths () share in 1969 because she had already sold her share to Benigna in 1932.
[22]
The respondent denied his purported signature appearing in the Affidavit, [23]and
prayed for:
a) xxx the cancellation of the [petitioners documents];
b) the cancellation of TCT No. 195813 in the name of Modesto Leoveras and
that it be reconveyed to the [respondent];
c) the cancellation and nullification of [TCT No. 195812] covering an area of
3,020 square meters xxx;
d) [the issuance of] title xxx in the name of [respondent] over an area of 17, 104
square meters of OCT 24695; [24] (Underscoring supplied)

In his defense, the petitioner claimed that the parties already had (i)
delineated their respective portions of the subject property even before they
acquired it in 1969 and (ii) agreed that upon acquisition, each would own the
portion as delineated; that the area he actually possessed and subsequently acquired
has a total area of 4,024 square meters, which he subdivided into two portions and
caused to be covered by the two TCTs in question. The petitioner claimed that in
signing the Agreement, he was led to believe, based on the parties rough
estimation, that the area he actually possessed is only 3,020 square meters contrary
to the parties real intention -i.e., the extent of their ownership would be based on
their actual possession.[25]

Page 133 of 142

The petitioner further claimed that the respondent voluntarily participated in


executing the Affidavit, which corrected the mistake in the previously executed
Agreement[26] and confirmed the petitioners ownership over the disputed property.
The petitioner asked for the dismissal of the complaint and for a declaration that he
is the lawful owner of the parcels of land covered by his titles.
RTC RULING

The RTC dismissed the complaint. The court ruled that the respondent failed
to preponderantly prove that the Benigna Deed and the Affidavit are fabricated
and, consequently, no ground exists to nullify the petitioners titles. The court
observed that the respondent did not even compare his genuine signature with the
signatures appearing in these documents.

CA RULING
On appeal, the CA reversed the RTC by ruling against the authenticity of the
Benigna Deed and the Affidavit. The CA gave weight to Benignas death certificate
which shows the impossibility of Benignas execution of the deed in 1969. The CA
also noted the discrepancy between the respondents signatures as appearing in the
Affidavit, on one hand, and the documents on record, on the other.[27] The CA
added that the respondents failure to compare his genuine signature from his
purported signatures appearing in the petitioners documents is not fatal, since
Section 22, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court allows the court to make its own
comparison. In light of its observations, the CA ruled:
As the totality of the evidence presented sufficiently sustains [the respondents]
claim that the titles issued to [the petitioner] were based on forged and spurious
documents, it behooves this Court to annul these certificates of title.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated June 23, 2000 is SET ASIDE.
Declaring TCT No. 195812 and TCT No. 195813 as NULL and
Page 134 of 142

VOID, [the petitioner] is hereby directed to reconvey the subject parcels of


land to [the respondent].[28] (Emphasis added.)

Unwilling to accept the CAs reversal of the RTC ruling, the petitioner filed
the present appeal by certiorari, claiming that the CA committed gross
misappreciation of the facts[29] by going beyond what the respondent sought in his
complaint.

THE PETITION
The petitioner claims that the CA should not have ordered the reconveyance
of both parcels of land covered by the TCTs in question since the respondent only
seeks the reconveyance of the disputed property i.e., the parcel of land covered by
TCT No. 195813.
The petitioner asserts that after the subject sale, the parties physically
partitioned the subject property and possessed their respective portions, thereby
setting the limits of their ownership.
The petitioner admits that the Benigna Deed is fabricated but hastens to add
that it was only designed (i) to affirm the true intent and agreement of the parties
on the extent of their ownership, as shown by their actual physical possession, and
(ii) as a convenient tool to facilitate the transfer of title to his name.
THE RESPONDENTS COMMENT
The respondent claims that since the petitioner himself admitted using a
spurious document in obtaining his titles (as alleged in the complaint and as found
by the CA), then the CA correctly cancelled the latters titles.[30]

Page 135 of 142

The petitioner forged the respondents signature in the Affidavit to make it


appear that he agreed to the division indicated in the document. The respondent
defended the CAs reconveyance of both parcels of land, covered by the petitioners
titles, to the respondent by arguing that if the distribution in the Affidavit is
followed, the original intendment of the parties on their shares of the subject
property would be grievously impaired[31]
THE ISSUES
The two basic issues[32] for our resolution are:
1. Whether the CA erred in nullifying the petitioners titles.
2. Whether the CA erred in ordering the reconveyance of the parcel of land
covered by the petitioners titles.
THE RULING
We partially grant the petition.

An action for reconveyance is a legal and equitable remedy granted to the


rightful landowner, whose land was wrongfully or erroneously registered in the
name of another, to compel the registered owner to transfer or reconvey the land to
him.[33] The plaintiff in this action must allege and prove his ownership of the land
in dispute and the defendants erroneous, fraudulent or wrongful registration of the
property.
We rule that the respondent adequately proved his ownership of the disputed
property by virtue of the (i) Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Josefa in favor of

Page 136 of 142

the parties; (ii) the parties Affidavit of Adverse Claim; and (iii) the parties
Agreement, which cover the subject property.
The petitioner does not dispute the due execution and the authenticity
of these documents,[34] particularly the Agreement. However, he claims that since
the Agreement does not reflect the true intention of the parties, the Affidavit was
subsequently executed in order to reflect the parties true intention.
The petitioners argument calls to fore the application of the parol evidence
rule,[35] i.e., when the terms of an agreement are reduced to writing, the written
agreement is deemed to contain all the terms agreed upon and no evidence of these
terms can be admitted other than what is contained in the written agreement.
[36]
Whatever is not found in the writing is understood to have been waived and
abandoned.[37]
To avoid the operation of the parol evidence rule, the Rules of Court allows
a party to present evidence modifying, explaining or adding to the terms of the
written agreement if he puts in issue in his pleading, as in this case, the failure of
the written agreement to express the true intent and agreement of the parties. The
failure of the written agreement to express the true intention of the parties is either
by reason of mistake, fraud, inequitable conduct or accident, which nevertheless
did not prevent a meeting of the minds of the parties.[38]
At the trial, the petitioner attempted to prove, by parol evidence, the alleged
true intention of the parties by presenting the Affidavit, which allegedly corrected
the mistake in the previously executed Agreement and confirmed his ownership of
the parcels of land covered by his titles. It was the petitioners staunch assertion that
the respondent co-executed this Affidavit supposedly to reflect the parties true
intention.
In the present petition, however, the petitioner made a damaging admission
that the Benigna Deed is fabricated, thereby completely bolstering the respondents
Page 137 of 142

cause of action for reconveyance of the disputed property on the ground of


fraudulent registration of title. Since the Affidavit merely reflects what is embodied
in the Benigna Deed, the petitioners admission, coupled with the respondents
denial of his purported signature in the Affidavit, placed in serious doubt the
reliability of this document, supposedly the bedrock of the petitioners defense.
Curiously, if the parties truly intended to include in the petitioners share the
disputed property, the petitioner obviously need not go at length of fabricating a
deed of sale to support his application for the transfer of title of his rightful portion
of the subject property. Notably, there is nothing in the Affidavit (that supposedly
corrected the mistake in the earlier Agreement) that supports the petitioners claim
that the partition of the subject property is based on the parties actual possession.
Note that the RTC dismissed the complaint based on the respondents alleged
failure to prove the spuriousness of the documents submitted by the petitioner to
the Register of Deeds. However, by admitting the presentation of a false deed in
securing his title, the petitioner rendered moot the issue of authenticity of the
Benigna Deed and relieved the respondent of the burden of proving its falsity as a
ground to nullify the petitioners titles.
By fraudulently causing the transfer of the registration of title over the
disputed property in his name, the petitioner holds the title to this disputed property
in trust for the benefit of the respondent as the true owner;[39] registration does not
vest title but merely confirms or records title already existing and vested.
The Torrens system of registration cannot be used to protect a usurper from the true
owner, nor can it be used as a shield for the commission of fraud, or to permit one
to enrich oneself at the expense of others. [40]Hence, the CA correctly ordered the
reconveyance of the disputed property, covered by TCT No. 195813, to the
respondent.
The parties Agreement effectively partitioned the
subject property
Page 138 of 142

The petitioner also relies on his alleged actual possession of the disputed
property to support his claim of ownership. Notably, both parties make conflicting
assertions of possession of the disputed property.[41] The petitioner testified on his
possession as follows:
Q: How many square meters did you get from the land and how many square
meters was the share of [respondent]?
A: 4[0]20 square meters and my brother-in-law 6,000 plus square meters.
xxx
Q: Was there a boundary between the 4,020 square meters and the rest of the
property which (sic) designated by your brother-in-law?
A: There is sir, and the boundary is the fence.
Q: When did you put up that fence which is the boundary?
A: After the deed of sale was made.
Q: And that boundary fence which you put according to you since the execution
of the Deed of Absolute Sale in 1969 up to the present does it still exist?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Since the time you purchased the property according to you you already
divided the property, is that correct?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And that as of today who is in possession of that 4,020 square meters?
A: I, sir.[42]

The petitioner and the respondent were originally co-owners of the subject
property when they jointly bought it from the same vendor in 1969. However, the
parties immediately terminated this state of indivision by executing an Agreement,
which is in the nature of a partition agreement.
Page 139 of 142

The Civil Code of the Philippines defines partition as the separation,


division and assignment of a thing held in common among those to whom it may
belong.[43] Partition is the division between two or more persons of real or personal
property, owned in common, by setting apart their respective interests so that they
may
enjoy
and
possess
these
in
severalty,[44] resulting
in
the partial or total extinguishment of co-ownership.[45]
In the present case, the parties agreed to divide the subject property by
giving the petitioner the 3,020 square meters residential portion on the northern
part near the Municipal road.[46] There is no dispute that this 3,020- square meter
portion is the same parcel of land identified as Lot No. 2 (which is not the subject
of the respondents action for reconveyance) in the Affidavit and the Subdivision
Plan presented by the petitioner before the Register of Deeds. The fact that the
Agreement lacks technical description of the parties respective portions or that the
subject property was then still embraced by a single certificate of title could not
legally prevent a partition, where the different portions allotted to each were
determined and became separately identifiable, as in this case.[47]
What is strikingly significant is that even the petitioners own testimony
merely attempted to confirm his actual possession of the disputed property,
without, however, supporting his claim contrary to the written Agreement that the
parties ownership of the subject property would be co-extensive with their
possession. This is the core of the petitioners defense. At any rate, just as nonpossession does not negate ownership, neither does possession automatically prove
ownership,[48] especially in the face of an unambiguous document executed by the
parties themselves.
Contrary to the petitioners claim that his actual possession determines the
extent of his ownership, it is the parties Agreementthat defines the extent of their
ownership in the subject property. One of the legal effects of partition, whether by
agreement among the co-owners or by judicial proceeding, is to terminate the coPage 140 of 142

ownership and, consequently, to make the previous co-owners the absolute and
exclusive owner of the share allotted to him.[49]
Parenthetically, the respondent declared for taxation purposes the portion he
claims in December 1987.[50] The total area (7,544 square meters) of the properties
declared is equivalent to the area allotted to the respondent under the Agreement.
On the other hand, the petitioner declared the 1,004-square meter portion only in
September 1994, under Tax Declaration No. 9393,[51] despite his claim of exclusive
and adverse possession since 1969.
Nullification of the petitioners title over the 3,020
square meter portion

While the petitioner admitted using a spurious document in securing his


titles, nonetheless, he questions the CAs nullification of TCT No. 195812 on the
ground that, per the respondents own admission and the parties Agreement, he is
the rightful owner of the land covered by this title.
We disagree.
The petitioners argument confuses registration of title with ownership.
While the petitioners ownership over the land covered by TCT No. 195812 is
undisputed, his ownership only gave him the right to apply for the proper transfer
of title to the property in his name. Obviously, the petitioner, even as a rightful
owner, must comply with the statutory provisions on the transfer of registered title
to lands.[53] Section 53 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 provides that the
subsequent registration of title procured by the presentation of a forged deed or
other instrument is null and void. Thus, the subsequent issuance of TCT No.
195812 gave the petitioner no better right than the tainted registration which was
the basis for the issuance of the same title. The Court simply cannot allow the
petitioners attempt to get around the proper procedure for registering the transfer of
title in his name by using spurious documents.
[52]

Reconveyance is the remedy of the rightful


owner only
Page 141 of 142

While the CA correctly nullified the petitioners certificates of title, the CA


erred in ordering the reconveyance of the entiresubject property in the respondents
favor. The respondent himself admitted that the 3,020- square meter portion
covered by TCT No. 195812 is the petitioners just share in the subject property.
[54]
Thus, although the petitioner obtained TCT No. 195812 using the same spurious
documents, the land covered by this title should not be reconveyed in favor of the
respondent since he is not the rightful owner of the property covered by this title.
[55]

WHEREFORE, the petition is partially GRANTED. The assailed decision


and resolution of the Court of Appeals areMODIFIED. Accordingly, the petitioner
is directed to RECONVEY to the respondent the parcel of land covered by TCT
No. 195813. Costs against petitioner.

Page 142 of 142