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PEOPLE V DE CHAVEZ (CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY)

The Case

This is an appeal[1] by accused-appellants Juanito Mion y Rodriguez


and Asuncion Mercado y Marciano seeking their acquittal by a reversal of the
November 27, 2008 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-
H.C. No. 002212 which affirmed with modification their earlier conviction
by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 34 in Calamba, Laguna, of the
crime of Kidnapping as defined and penalized under Art. 267 of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended, in Criminal Case No. 6073-98-C.

The Facts

Criminal Case No. 6073-98-C of the court of origin traces its formal
beginning in an Information[3] charging accused-appellants Juanito Mion y
Rodriguez (Juanito) and Asuncion Mercado y Marciano (Asuncion) together
with Monico De Chavez y Perlas (Monico) and Joselito Lanip y Genebraldo
(Joselito) with the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom as defined and
penalized under Art. 267 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended,
which reads as follows:

That on or about August 14, 1998 at the Christian School


International at U.P. Los Banos, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named Accused, conspiring,
confederating and mutually helping one another and grouping
themselves together, did then and there, by force and
intimidation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, carry
away and deprive PAOLO EARVIN ALONZO y CLAUD of his
liberty against his will for the purpose of extorting ransom and in
fact a demand for ransom was made as a condition for his release
in the amount of FOUR MILLION PESOS [P4,000,000] to the
damage and prejudice of PAOLO EARVIN ALONZO y CLAUD in
such amount and such other amounts as may be awarded to him
under the provisions of the New Civil Code.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
Upon arraignment on October 5, 1998, Juanito, Asuncion, Monico and
Joselito, assisted by their respective counsels, uniformly entered a plea of
Not Guilty. After the termination of the pre-trial conference on October 19,
1998, trial ensued.

Version of the Prosecution

To bolster its case against the four accused, the prosecution presented
the testimonies of: (1) Paolo Earvin C. Alonzo (Paolo), the victim of the
kidnapping; (2) Corazon Marquez Alonzo (Corazon), the grandmother of
Paolo; (3) Dominador Alonzo (Dominador), the grandfather of Paolo; (4)
Chief Inspector Asprinio Cabula (Chf. Insp. Cabula) of the Presidential Anti-
Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF); and (4) Daisy
Janope, an employee of Smart Telephone Co.

Paolo testified that on August 14, 1998 at around 3 p.m., he was at his
school (Christian School International) in Los Baos when he was called to the
door of his classroom where Asuncion, claiming to be someone from
Zamboanga, told him that his grandfather had met an accident and wanted
to talk to him. Paolo voluntarily went with the woman who brought him to a
Ford Fiera where he saw three men, two of whom were Monico and
Juanito. From Los Baos, they proceeded to the Jamboree site towards
Calamba, then passed through the South Expressway and took the Calamba
exit. Afterwards they stopped at a vacant lot where Monico bound him hand
and foot and threatened him not to move; he was likewise blindfolded. He
was placed at the front between the driver and another man. After several
hours of travel, he was brought inside a house. He was able to talk to his
grandmother, Corazon, three times telling her what his captors told him to
say. He was held captive for 11 days until he was rescued at dawn on August
25, 1998.

Corazon testified that one of Paolos captors called her in the evening
of August 14, 1998 informing her that they have Paolo in custody. The next
day, the man demanded a ransom of PhP 4M for Paolo. From August 15,
1998 until Paolos rescue, the man called her house about a dozen times. At
around 4 a.m. on August 25, 1998, they were informed by one Col. Gamban
that Paolo has been rescued and that they should proceed
to Camp Crame. At Camp Crame at around 6:30 a.m., in the office of then
PAOCTF Chief Gen. Lacson, they saw Paolo and the kidnappers. She
recognized Monico, who is the husband of her niece, Julie Marquez de
Chavez. She talked to Monico who answered that they [Alonzos] are the only
ones who could help him as he was heavily indebted in the amount of PhP
800,000.

Dominador corroborated the testimony of Corazon, adding that Paolo


was rescued in Nasugbu, Batangas; that previously, when asked by the police,
he denied knowing a person named Myrna Mendoza of the Laguna Lake
Development Authority (LLDA) since the cellphone used in calling their
house was in her name. But when asked if he knows Monico, he told the
police that Monico is the husband of his wifes niece who used to work for
LLDA. He was also shown a cartographic sketch of a person he failed to
identify. Finally, on November 11, 1998, while he was in his office at the
Forest Products Research and Development Institute, Rex de Chavez, the
eldest son of Monico, and Julie Marquez de Chavez came to see him and
handed him a letter, and Rex asked for forgiveness on behalf of his father.

Chf. Insp. Cabula testified as to what happened from August 14, 1998
onwards on how the PAOCTF coordinated with the Los Baos police; meeting
the grandparents of Paolo and how the team conducted surveillance
activities; on how they tailed Joselito to a small house at 114 Brias St., Brgy.
2, Nasugbu, Batangas where they rescued Paolo at dawn on August 25, 1998;
and the arrest of Monico and Joselito.

Upon cross-examination, however, Chf. Insp. Cabula was caught with


glaring inconsistencies in his testimony and was shown not have been in the
places where he claimed to be during the alleged surveillance of Joselito and
Monico and the eventual rescue of Paolo.

Finally, Daisy Janope, employee of Smart Telephone Co., testified that


cellphone No. 0918-863-4179 is registered in the name of Myrna T. Mendoza
and that in the billing statement for the period covering August 4
to September 3, 1998, it was used several times in calling telephone No.
(049)-536-3351 with the calls originating from Batangas. The telephone No.
(049)-536-3351 is that of the house of Dominador and Corazon Alonzo,
grandparents of Paolo.

Version of the Defense


For its part, the defense presented the testimonies of 13
individuals, i.e., the four accused and that of Priscilla B. Cuevas, Danilo de
Mesa Valencia, Sonny Atole, Marcelo Villegas, Gloria Penales, Benedicto
Alborida, Apolinario Mamiit, Elmer Villanueva and Atty. Conrado Manicad,
the counsel of Monico and Joselito.

Both Asuncion and Juanito, corroborating each other, attested that


they have been misled and intimidated into committing the crime by Monico,
who they similarly pointed to as the mastermind of the kidnapping; and that
they were merely prevailed upon and compelled to follow Monico under pain
of death.

To rebut and discredit the alleged surveillance conducted by the


PAOCTF operatives on August 22, 1998, when Monico and Joselito allegedly
went to the house at 114 Brias St., Brgy. 2, Nasugbu, Batangas from Brgy.
Putho, Tuntungin, Los Baos, Laguna, the defense presented the testimonies
of Priscilla B. Cuevas, Danilo de Mesa Valencia, Sonny Atole and Gloria
Penales.

Priscilla B. Cuevas, Records Officer of the Land Transportation and


Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) testified on the certification that, as
per their records, there are no franchises granted on the route Calamba-
Nasugbu as of March 7, 2000.

Danilo de Mesa Valencia attested that he was together with Joselito


and Monico in the afternoon of August 22, 1998 when they attended a
meeting of the Samahang Pantubig in Purok 3 of Brgy. Putho, Tuntungin,
Los Baos, Laguna. Sonny Atole testified playing cards with Monico at the
store of Gloria Penales the whole day of August 22, 1998 except the period
when Monico went with Joselito and Danilo de Mesa for the meeting. Gloria
Penales, storekeeper, corroborated Sonny Atole, that Monico was playing
with Sonny Atole in her store practically the whole day of August 22, 1998.

The defense also presented Marcelo Villegas, the Barangay Chairman


of Barangay III, Nasugbu, Batangas, who testified being awakened at
around 2 a.m. on August 25, 1998 by operatives of the PAOCTF to witness
the rescue operation. The officers who talked to him were one Capt. Dandan
and one Col. Aquino. He attested that Chf. Insp. Cabula was not one of the
officers who conducted the rescue operation and that during the ocular
inspection conducted by the trial court on May 17, 1999, he was about two
meters from Chf. Insp. Cabula but the latter could not identify him as the
barangay chairman.

Joselito testified on how he was arrested at around 9 p.m. of August


24, 1998. Benedicto Alborida averred that in the evening of August 24, 1998,
he was with Joselito in a birthday celebration. Apolinario Mamiit
corroborated Joselito and Benedicto Alborida as it was his childs birthday
celebration in the evening of August 24, 1998 that the latter attended.

Monico for his part merely testified that after his arrest, he met Paolo
about eight times.

Defense counsel Atty. Conrado Manicad testified that it was impossible


for Chf. Insp. Cabula to tail Joselito from the latters residence to the
residence of Monico using 16 men, eight cars and four motorcycles for the
width of the alley they have to traverse can only accommodate one person at
a time. This was corroborated by Elmer Villanueva, a pre-school teacher of
Brgy. Tuntungin, Los Baos, Laguna.

The RTC Conviction

On May 7, 2001, RTC rendered a Decision[5] convicting


Monico, Asuncion and Juanito while acquitting Joselito, the fallo reads:

ACCORDINGLY, this Court finds accused MONICO


DECHAVEZ y PERLAS, JUANITO MION y RODRIGUEZ and
ASUNCION MERCADO y MARCIANO GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Kidnapping as defined and
penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended, and hereby sentences each one of them to suffer the
penalty of DEATH.

For failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the


accused JOSELITO LANIP y GENEBRALDO beyond reasonable
doubt, said accused is hereby ordered ACQUITTED.
The Provincial Jail Warden of the Province of Laguna is
hereby directed to release from detention accused Joselito Lanip
y Genebraldo unless detained for some other valid cause.

With costs against the convicted accused.

SO ORDERED.[6]

The RTC noted that Monico merely used alibi for August 22, 1998 but
could not and did not account for his whereabouts on August 14, 1998 when
the kidnapping was committed. Besides, he did not explain his virtual
confession, in the morning of August 25, 1998, to his auntie-in-law, Corazon.

On the theory of exempting or justifying circumstance raised by


Juanito and Asuncion, i.e., they acted under the impulse of an uncontrollable
fear of an equal or greater injury or they caused damage to another in order
to avoid an evil or injury, the RTC viewed it with incredulity considering the
many inconsistencies in their respective testimonies. However, the fiasco of
the testimony of Chf. Insp. Cabula, destroyed the case against Joselito, which
the RTC acquitted.

Pursuant to the above RTC decision of conviction,


Monico, Asuncion and Juanito, who were in custody in Laguna, were
committed for confinement to the New Bilibid Prison
in Muntinlupa City and to the Correctional Institute for Women in
Mandaluyong.[7]

The case was elevated to this court for automatic review, docketed
as G.R. No. 150387. The three accused filed their respective
briefs.[8] However, in conformity with People v. Mateo,[9] we transferred this
case to the CA on March 7, 2006,[10] for appropriate action and disposition.

Affirmance of Conviction by the CA

As stated at the threshold hereof, the CA, in the herein


assailed September 15, 2005 Decision,[11] affirmed the judgment of
conviction of the trial court but lowered the penalty to reclusion
perpetua pursuant to RA 9346, thus:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the
instant appeal is hereby DENIED and, consequently,
DISMISSED. The assailed decision dated May 7, 2001, is hereby
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Monico De Chavez y Perlas,
Juanito Mion y Rodriguez and Asuncion Mercado y Marciano
shall suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua, taking into
consideration the enactment of Republic Act 9346, instead of
death.

SO ORDERED.[12]

The CA found that all the elements of kidnapping under Art. 267 of
RPC were duly proven beyond reasonable doubt. The categorical testimony
of Paolo was the lynchpin in the prosecutions case, and his positive
identification of Monico, Asuncion and Juanito damning to the
defense. Likewise, it ruled that the demand for ransom was duly
proven. Besides, as to Asuncion and Juanito, it ratiocinated that aside from
their bare testimonies no other evidence was presented to prove or
corroborate them, more so when their bare assertions ran counter to the
categorical and credible testimony of Paolo.

Aggrieved, Juanito and Asuncion filed their respective Notices of


Appeal[13] while Monico filed a Motion for Extension of Time[14] of 30 days to
file a motion for reconsideration. The CA, per a February 6,
2009 Resolution[15] gave due course to the appeals filed by Juanito
and Asuncion while it denied Monicos motion.

The Issues

Aggrieved, Juanito and Asuncion are now with this Court via the
present appeal, substantially raising the same assignment of errors raised
in G.R. No. 150387, which were duly considered and passed upon by the
appellate court.

In his appellants brief,[16] filed in G.R. No. 150387, Juanito raises the
following assignment of errors:
1) The trial court erred in finding insofar as accused-
appellant Juanito Mion that the alleged Kidnapping was
made for the purpose of extorting ransom

2) The trial court erred in finding that accused-


appellant Juanito Mion conspired with accused Monico de
Chavez in kidnapping Paolo Earvin Alonzo

3) The trial court erred in not finding that accused-


appellant Juanito Mion is entitled to the exempting
circumstances of compulsion of an uncontrollable fear of
an equal or greater injury (Article 12, paragraph 6 of the
Revised Penal Code)

4) The trial court erred in not finding that accused-


appellant Juanito Mion was entitled to the justifying
circumstance of state of necessity (Article 11, paragraph 4,
Revised Penal Code).

While in her appellants brief,[17] likewise filed in G.R. No.


150387, Asuncion raises the following assignment of errors:

1) The Court a quo erred when it did not consider that


appellant Mercado did not conspire with the other
appellants in this case.

2) The Court a quo erred when it did not consider that


accused Mercado could not escape from the other
appellants during the incident in question because she
would be definitely killed if she did so until she was
arrested by the military officers concerned while she was
with appellant Mion and the victim on August 25, 1998
and, therefore, her acts thereon were justified.

3) The Court a quo erred when it did not acquit


appellant Asuncion Mercado in this case.
In Juanito and Asuncions supplemental brief,[18] they raise the
additional assignment of error that: the CA gravely erred in finding that
accused-appellants Mion and Mercado conspired with de Chavez in the
commission of the crime charged.[19]

The undisputed facts show that Paolo was indeed kidnapped and held
for ransom. The trial court and the appellate court a quo unanimously found
beyond reasonable doubt that Monico, Asuncion and Juanito committed the
crime of kidnapping for ransom. In fact, in the instant appeal, Asuncion and
Juanito do not dispute the commission of the crime. What they are however
raising is the application of an exempting or justifying circumstance in their
favor.

Thus, the assignment of errors raised by appellants Juanito


and Asuncion can be summarized into two issues: first, whether they
conspired with Monico in the perpetration of the crime; and, second,
whether an exempting or justifying circumstance is present and applicable
in their favor.
The People of the Philippines represented by the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) chose not to file any supplemental brief confining its position
and arguments in the earlier filed Brief for the Appellee.[20]

The Courts Ruling

The appeal is unmeritorious.

A close scrutiny of the records of the case and the clear and unanimous
findings of the courts a quo compel this Court to affirm accused-appellants
conviction.

First Core Issue: Conspiracy Proven

Accused-appellants strongly argue that they never conspired with


Monico in the kidnapping of Paolo. They maintain that even if present during
the kidnapping incident, they were simply compelled by Monico, under
threat of physical harm to follow the latters orders. They argue that fact that
their testimonies were uncorroborated should not be taken against them for
the case of the prosecution must stand on the weight of its own evidence and
not in the weakness of their defense. Besides, they contend that the
testimony of Paolo does not run counter to the exempting or justifying
circumstance in their favor as Paolos testimony merely affirmed their
presence in the commission of the crime.

We are not persuaded.

Prefatorily, we reiterate the rule that the findings of the trial court on
the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect, because trial courts
have the advantage of observing the demeanor of the witnesses as they
testify. This is more true if such findings were affirmed by the appellate
court. When the trial courts findings
have been affirmed by the appellate court, said findings are generally
binding upon this Court.[21] Both the trial court and the appellate court found
the testimonies of the victim, Paolo, his grandparents, Dominador and
Corazon, to be categorical and credible. The defense did not sufficiently rebut
their testimonies.

There is conspiracy when two or more persons come to an agreement


concerning the commission of a crime and decide to commit
it.[22] Conspiracy requires the same degree of proof required to establish the
crimeproof beyond reasonable doubt;[23] as mere presence at the scene of the
crime at the time of its commission without proof of cooperation or
agreement to cooperate is not enough to constitute one a party to a
conspiracy.[24]
In the case at bar, the ascertained facts of the kidnapping and the
proven demand for ransom of PhP 4M established beyond reasonable doubt
the commission of the crime of kidnapping for ransom. Monicos guilt has
been proven beyond reasonable doubt. As co-accused and co-conspirators of
Monico, Asuncion and Juanito are equally guilty, for in a conspiracy, every
act of one of the conspirators in furtherance of a common design or purpose
of such a conspiracy is the act of all.[25]

In the instant appeal, Juanito and Asuncion do not question the fact of
the commission of the crime of kidnapping for ransom as they merely raise
the issue of lack of conspiracy and an exempting or justifying circumstance
in their favor to exonerate them from criminal liability.

It must be recalled that Paolo testified on the circumstances of his


kidnapping. He was lured into going with Asuncion by the ruse that his
grandfather, Dominador, met an accident and wanted to talk to him. In fact,
Paolos science teacher, Ms. Tess Izon, allowed him to talk to Asuncion. When
he boarded the waiting vehicle, he saw three other men, two of whom he
identified as Monico and Juanito.[26]

Thus, it is established that upon his kidnapping, Monico, Juanito


and Asuncion were there. When Paolos hands and feet were tied by Monico,
Juanito was the one who blindfolded him.[27]

Evidently, Juanito and Asuncion acted in concert with Monico on a


common plan to kidnap Paolo and hold him for ransom. Asuncion lured
Paolo to accompany her. Juanito blindfolded Paolo when they were
transporting him to Nasugbu, Batangas. Moreover, for 11 days, Juanito
and Asuncion guarded Paolo inside the small house at 114 Brias St., Brgy. 2,
Nasugbu, Batangas. Foregoing facts taken together, without a doubt, shows
conspiracy between Monico, Juanito and Asuncion in committing
kidnapping for ransom.

Proof of the agreement need not rest on direct evidence, as the same
may be inferred from the conduct of the parties indicating a common
understanding among them with respect to the commission of the
offense.[28] Where the 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 liable as principals.[29]

Second Core Issue: Neither an Exempting or


Justifying Circumstance Proven

Granting for the sake of argument that there was no conspiracy, still
appellants are guilty of the crime charged. For the presence of an exempting
or justifying circumstance applicable in their favor was not adequately
proven. When they actively participated in the kidnapping and in holding
Paolo inside the house in Nasugbu, Batangas for 11 days, Juanito
and Asuncion are liable as principals for the crime of kidnapping for ransom.

In full agreement with the courts a quo, we likewise fail to appreciate


any exempting or justifying circumstance in appellants favor anchored as it
were on their mere testimonies. This Court will not disturb the judgment of
the trial court in assessing the credibility of witnesses, unless there appears
in the records some facts or circumstances of weight and influence which
have been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted
by the trial court.[30] In the instant case, we find nothing which have been
overlooked by the courts a quo which, if considered, would alter the outcome
in so far as appellants are concerned.

Their testimonies and protestations, without more, that they were only
compelled by threat of bodily harm by Monico is not proof of an exempting
or justifying circumstance. Firstly, no other corroborative evidence was
shown to prove the existence of either circumstance. While it is true that the
prosecution evidence must stand on its weight and not in the weakness of
appellants defense, yet, as discussed above, the prosecution has proven
beyond reasonable doubt on the active participation of Asuncion and Juanito
in the kidnapping of Paolo. The testimony of Paolo indubitably points to the
fact that Asuncion and Juanito, aside from actively participating in his
kidnapping, willfully and voluntarily guarded him for 11 straight days. They
may not have been the ones who threatened Paolo or dictated to him what to
say to his grandparents. Yet they were the ones who were keeping him in
custody.

Secondly, appellants have not shown that the house where they kept
Paolo was well guarded or that an armed person was posted therein aside
from their mere testimony that the people outside the house with
Monico. This belies their theory of compulsion by an exempting
circumstance either of irresistible force or uncontrollable fear under Art. 12,
par. 5 and 6 of the RPC sufficient to exculpate them. If they indeed labored
under such compulsion, there was nothing keeping them from running to the
authorities or escaping with Paolo; but they did not. A review of the records
would indicate that neither Monico nor Joselito was constantly guarding the
house. As attested to by defense witnesses, Monico and Joselito were in Brgy.
Tuntungin, Los Baos, Laguna on August 22, 1998 during the period of Paolos
custody. In fact, when arrested separately, Monico and Joselito were in Los
Baos, Laguna and not in the house in Nasugbu, Batangas. Moreover, during
the PAOCTF rescue operation at dawn of August 25, 1998, only Juanito
and Asuncion were guarding Paolo in the house in Nasugbu, Batangas. The
lack of the alleged compulsion is thus clear, and that Asuncion and Juanito
indeed actively participated in the commission of the crime charged.

PEOPLE V ARANETA (CDDA)


This is an appeal from the August 29, 2008 Decision[1] of the Court of
Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02308, which affirmed the March 12,
2004 Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 151, Pasig
City (RTC), finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violating
Section 5 and Section 11 of Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise
known as the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002.

Criminal informations were filed in the RTC against Rolando Araneta


y Abella a.k.a. Botong for Violation of Section 8 and Section 16 of R.A. No.
6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972), as amended, in addition to the
Information filed against him and co-accused Marilou Santos y Tantay
a.k.a. Malou for Violation of Section 15, Article III in relation to Section 21,
Article IV of R.A. 6425, as amended. In view of the enactment of R.A. No.
9165 (Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002), the original informations were
amended accordingly. The said Informations read:

Criminal Case No. 11491-D


People vs. Araneta & Santos
(For Violation of Sec. 5 in relation to Sec. 26, Art. II, R.A. 9165)

On or about July 5, 2002 in Pasig City, and within the


jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above accused,
conspiring and confederating together and both of them
mutually helping and aiding one another, not being lawfully
authorized to sell, dispense, transport or distribute any
dangerous drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously sell, deliver and give away to PO2 Danilo S.
Damasco, a police poseur buyer, one (1) heat-sealed
transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline
substance weighing of (sic) eight (8) centigrams (0.08 gram),
which was found positive to the test for metamphetamine
hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, in violation of said law.

Contrary to Law.

Criminal Case No. 11492-D


People vs. Araneta
(For Violation of Sec. 11, Art. II, R.A. 9165)
On or about July 5, 2002, in Pasig City, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, not being
lawfully authorized to use or possess any dangerous drug, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his
possession and under his custody and control one (1) heat-
sealed transparent plastic sachet containing 1.22 grams of
dried marijuana fruiting tops, which was found positive to the
test for marijuana, a dangerous drug, and eight (8) heat-sealed
transparent plastic sachets containing white crystalline
substance with the following recorded net weight, to wit:

1) Exh. B1 RAA/070502 0.07 gram;


2) Exh. B2 RAA/070502 0.10 gram;
3) Exh. B3 RAA/070502 0.08 gram;
4) Exh. B4 RAA/070502 0.07 gram;
5) Exh. B5 RAA/070502 0.08 gram;
6) Exh. B6 RAA/070502 0.04 gram;
7) Exh. B7 RAA/070502 0.06 gram;
8) Exh. B8 RAA/070502 0.09 gram

or having a total weight of 0.59 gram, which were found


positive to the test for methamphetamine hydrochloride, a
dangerous drug, in violation of the said law.

Contrary to Law.

The prosecutions evidence was summarized in the CA decision as


follows:

On July 5, 2002, between 3:00 and 3:30 oclock in the


morning, a confidential informant arrived at the Station Drug
Enforcement Unit (SDEU) of the Pasig City Police Station to
report to Officer-In-Charge SP04 Numeriano de Lara the
alleged peddling of illegal drugs of live-in couple Botong and
Malou, later identified as appellants Rolando Araneta y Abella
and Marilou Santos y Tantay, at Barangay Putol, Rosario, Pasig
City. SPO4 de Lara immediately formed a team composed of
SPO2 Dante Zigapan who acted as the team leader, PO2 Danilo
Damasco, PO1 Orig, and PO1 Bede Montefalcon, to confirm the
veracity of the informants report and conduct a buy-bust
operation. Before dispatching the team, SPO4 de Lara briefed
them as to the alleged illegal activities of the couple and gave
their description.

SPO2 Zigapan designated PO2 Damasco as the poseur-


buyer giving him a marked P100 bill to be used in the
entrapment. The team proceeded to the target area on board
two vehicles. SPO2 Zigapan, Montefalcon and the informant
were in one vehicle while PO2 Damasco and PO1 Orig were
together in the other vehicle.

The team arrived at the target place around 4:10 in the


morning. They positioned themselves some 20-30 meters
from the alley where appellants were allegedly staying. SPO2
Zigapan gave instructions to the informant to locate the
appellants. After several minutes, the informant came back
and confirmed the presence of appellants at ROTC Street,
Putol, Bgy. Rosario, Pasig City. Thereafter, the team
proceeded to the said location.

PO2 Damasco and the informant went near the


appellants who were standing just outside their house. The
informant and appellants exchanged greetings. After a short
conversation, Botong went inside their house. The informant
introduced PO2 Damasco to Malou by saying, I-score itong
kaibigan ko. Baka meron ka dyan. Malou then asked PO2
Damasco, I-score ka na ba. After Malou asked PO2
Damasco, Magkano, the latter immediately gave her the
marked P100 bill.

Malou called Botong and when the latter came out,


Malou handed to him the marked money. Botong then gave
Malou a plastic sachet which she handed to PO2 Damasco.

After examining the plastic sachet, PO2 Damasco


immediately gave the pre-arranged signal to the other
members of the team who thereafter rushed to the scene. PO2
Damasco arrested Malou while SPO2 Zigapan arrested Botong.
SPO2 Zigapan recovered from Botong the marked P100
bill and after frisking him, the police officer found in Botongs
pocket one plastic sachet of what looked like marijuana and
eight plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance.
PO2 Damasco immediately placed RAA and the date July 5,
2002 on the plastic sachet he brought from Malou and the
plastic sachets confiscated by SPO2 Zigapan from Botong.

At the police station, PO2 Damasco prepared the written


request for a laboratory examination of the confiscated plastic
sachets. Together with the request, the plastic sachets were
brought by PO1 Orig to the crime laboratory. The laboratory
tests gave a positive result of the presence of
methampethamine hydrochloride or what is locally known as
shabu on the contents of nine (9) sachets and marijuana on one
(1) sachet.

The evidence for the accused was summarized by the CA as follows:

Between 3:30 to 4:30 oclock in the morning of July 5,


2006, accused Rolando Araneta together with his live-in
partner and co-accused Marilou Santos were sleeping on the
ground floor of their rented apartment, when they were
suddenly awakened by a loud noise coming from the upstairs.
Rolando immediately stood up and tried to go up the stairs.
That was when he met a man who introduced himself as a
policeman. The man likewise pointed a gun to him and told
him not to move. He was then instructed to sit down, to which
he acceded. Thereafter, the man went near the door of his
house and opened the same. Suddenly, four (4) other
policemen went inside. One of the policemen went inside the
comfort room and looked for somebody. Later, he heard the
said policeman utter, Nobody is here. One of the policemen
then approached Rolando and asked him the whereabouts of a
certain Teng. Rolando answered that he did not know Teng
and that there was no other person inside the house except for
him and his wife Marilou.
The police operatives searched his house. They however
found nothing illegal inside his house. After the search, the
police operatives invited Rolando and Marilou to come with
them to the precinct to answer some questions. Thereat, the
police operatives informed them that they are being charged
for their involvement in illegal drug activities, which they
vehemently denied. PO2 Damasco, however, told them that if
they wanted to be released, Rolando and Marilou must pay
P20,000.00 each. When Rolando declined to give said
amount, the police operatives filed the instant cases against
them. (TSN, June 23, 2003, pp. 2-8)

In the early morning of July 5, 2003, accused-appellant


Marilou Santos and her live-in partner Rolando were sleeping
when they were awakened by a noise coming from the second
floor of their house. Rolando tried to go upstairs to find out
what happened, but he met a man who instantly poked a gun
at him. Marilou tried to stand up but the policeman told her,
Stay there, dont move. Thereafter the police shoved them near
the chair. He also asked Rolando the whereabouts of Teng but
the former answered that nobody by the name of Teng lived
there. While still poking the gun on them, the policeman
opened the door of their house. Five (5) policemen then
entered and conducted a search.

After the search, the policemen brought them to the


police station. Thereat, PO2 Damasco asked them several
questions. Moments later, the policeman got something from
the drawer and told them that those articles belong to them.
Marilou denied that the said articles belong to them since the
policemen did not recover anything from them during the
search. Despite her denial, they were still charged with
Violations of Sections 15, 16 and 8 of Republic Act 9165. After
a while, PO2 Damasco demanded P20,000.00 from them in
exchange for their release. As they were innocent, Marilou
refused to give said amount, prompting the police operatives
to formally charge them. (TSN, July 23, 2003, p. 3)

In the early morning of July 5, 2002, Marian Rodriguez


was outside the alley in ROTC, Rosario, Pasig City when she
saw both accused going out of the alley accompanied by five (5)
men. The accused and the five (5) men passed in front of
Marian. She hesitated to follow the group. Since then Marian
never saw the accused again. (TSN, September 10, 2003, pp. 3-
4).

In its March 12, 2004 Decision, the RTC found the accused guilty
beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced them accordingly, as follows:

WHEREFORE, the Court renders judgment, as follows:

1) In Criminal Case No. 11491-D, the Court finds accused


Rolando Araneta y Abella @ Botong and accused Marilou
Santos y Tantay A Malou GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
violation of Sec. 5 in relation to Sec. 26, Art. II of R.A. 9165,
otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act
of 2002, and imposes upon them the penalty of LIFE
IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine P500, 000.00 each; and

2) In Criminal Case No. 11492-D (which absorbed


Criminal Case No. 11490-D), the Court finds accused Rolando
Araneta y Abella @Botong GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
violation of Sec. 11, Art. II of R.A. 9165, otherwise known as the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and imposes
upon him the penalty of imprisonment of from Twelve (12)
years and One (1) day to Twenty (20) years and to pay a fine of
P300, 000.00. Considering that the accused is a detention
prisoner, he shall be credited with the period of his detention
during his preventive imprisonment.

Xxx xxx xxx

SO ORDERED.

The RTC ruled that all the elements for the prosecution of the illegal sale
of dangerous drugs were present during the buy-bust operation
conducted by the police officers. These were: 1) the identity of the buyer
and the seller; 2) the object of the sale and the consideration; and 3) the
delivery of the thing sold and payment therefor.
Furthermore, the RTC held that the defense of denial, frame-up, forcible
entry, and extortion could not prevail over the positive identification by
the prosecution witnesses. It noted that accused Rolando Araneta was not
candid enough to inform the court that no less than eight (8) criminal
cases were previously filed against him in different courts for violation of
the Dangerous Drugs Law. Nevertheless, out of eight (8) criminal cases
filed against him, he admitted that one resulted in a conviction and two
other cases were dismissed. The other cases were then still pending trial.

Aggrieved, the accused appealed to the CA arguing that: 1) the RTC erred
in not finding that they were illegally arrested and, as such, the sachets
of shabu allegedly recovered from them were inadmissible in evidence;
and 2) the RTC erred in finding them guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime charged because the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
were replete with inconsistencies and contradictions.

On August 29, 2008, the CA rendered the subject decision affirming


the decision of the RTC.

In arriving at said determination, the CA applied the objective test in


buy-bust operations laid down in the case of People v. Doria, 301 SCRA 668,
698-699.[3] The CA ruled that the prosecution evidence met the standard for
the objective test through the testimony of its witness, PO2 Danilo Damasco,
who acted as poseur-buyer and who related how the informant introduced
him to the accused; how the transaction was consummated through the
exchange of marked money and the sachet of shabu; and how the accused
was arrested by the entrapment team.

The CA noted that the accused were arrested in flagrante delicto and
that other contraband materials were recovered from them during the
ensuing search. It concluded that the corpus delicti was duly established.

Finally, the CA stated that the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the


police officers were minor or inconsequential. The accused failed to adduce
evidence to overthrow the presumption of regularity in the performance of
duty in favor of the police officers. The accused likewise failed to show proof
that the police officers did not properly perform their jobs or had ill motives
against them. Moreover, their defense of denial and frame-up for extortion
purposes was self-serving, negative evidence that was not entitled to be given
greater weight than the declaration of credible witnesses who testified on
affirmative matters.

In due time, the accused filed a motion for reconsideration stressing


the inadmissibility of evidence due to their illegal arrest, and the
inconsistency in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses. They also pointed
out that the apprehending officers failed to establish that the corpus
delicti (sachets of shabu or marijuana) were the very same ones sold by and
seized from them. Additionally, they claimed that the apprehending team,
who had initial custody over the confiscated drug items, failed to make an
inventory and to photograph the same in their presence.

On August 24, 2009, the CA issued a resolution[4] denying their motion


for reconsideration. The CA ruled, among others, that the issues on
the corpus delicti and the alleged failure of the apprehending team to make
an inventory and to photograph the shabu and marijuana in the presence of
the accused were new issues not raised in their appeal brief.

In their recourse to this Court, the accused presented only one

ISSUE

WHETHER OR NOT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS ARE


GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT FOR
VIOLATING SECTIONS 5 AND 11 OF ARTICLE II OF
R.A. No. 9165, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE
COMPREHENSIVE DRUGS ACT OF 2002.

The accused argue that the evidence adduced by the prosecution was
not able to establish without a doubt, that the dangerous drugs presented in
court were the very same ones allegedly sold by them. They insist that the
police officers failed to strictly abide by the requirements of the law as
regards the proper custody of dangerous drugs seized in the course of the
alleged buy-bust operation.
The prosecution stands firm by its position that the arrest of the
accused and seizure of the shabu and marijuana were lawful and that the
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were truthful. In the absence of any
credible evidence to the contrary, the police officers are presumed to have
regularly performed their official duty. More importantly, all the elements
necessary for the prosecution of the illegal sale of drugs are present, to wit:
1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object and consideration; and
2) the delivery of the thing sold and payment therefor.

The prosecution asserts that the accused cannot raise for the first time
on appeal the issue on the alleged failure of the law enforcers to comply
strictly with Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165. At any rate, the prosecution
believes that it has shown that the chain of custody of the seized items was
not broken.
THE COURTS RULING:

After due consideration, the Court finds the evidence on record


sufficient enough to sustain the verdict of conviction. It is morally convinced
that the accused are guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged
against them. The rule is that factual findings of the trial court, its
calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses and its assessment of their
probative weight are given high respect if not conclusive effect, unless the
trial court ignored, misconstrued, misunderstood or misinterpreted cogent
facts and circumstances of substance, which, if considered, will alter the
outcome of the case.[5] In this case, the CA found no such inculpatory facts
and circumstances and this Court has not stumbled upon any either.
Doubtless, the prosecution was able to establish all the necessary
elements required in the prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs,
namely: 1) the identity of the buyer and seller; 2) the identity of the object of
the sale and the consideration; and 3) the delivery of the thing sold upon
payment.
PO2 Danilo Damasco, (PO2 Damasco) the poseur-buyer, clearly and
convincingly narrated in detail the entrapment operation they had
conducted that led to the arrest of the accused and the seizure of the
dangerous drugs. He related on the witness stand that upon receiving
information from a confidential informant about the illegal sale of dangerous
drugs by the accused, they immediately formed an entrapment team to
conduct a buy-bust operation. Upon reaching the area in the early morning
of July 5, 2002, he and the confidential informant approached the accused.
After a brief introduction and short conversation, accused Botong went
inside their house while accused Malou received the marked money from
the poseur-buyer. Malou then called Botong who thereafter came out of the
house. Malou gave the marked money to Botong who, in turn, gave Malou a
plastic sachet containing a white crystalline substance. The plastic sachet was
then handed over to PO2 Damasco who examined it and immediately gave
the pre-arranged signal to arrest the accused. During the arrest, the marked
money was recovered from Rolando and so were several other plastic sachets
containing white crystalline substances together with a plastic sachet
containing marijuana. Subsequently, the accused were brought to the police
station and the seized items were later brought to the Police Crime
Laboratory Office for examination.
The testimony of PO2 Damasco was corroborated by SPO2 Zipagan,
the entrapment team leader, and SPO4 Numeriano De Lara, the entrapment
team organizer.
Contrary to the posture of the accused, the testimony of PO2 Damasco
was clear, consistent and convincing. As correctly assessed by the CA, his
testimony passed the objective test in buy-bust operations.
We therefore stress that the objective test in buy-bust
operations demands that the details of the purported
transaction must be clearly and adequately shown. This
must start from the initial contact between the poseur-buyer and
the pusher, the offer to purchase, the promise or payment of the
consideration until the consummation of the sale by the delivery
of the illegal drug subject of the sale. The manner by which the
initial contact was made, whether or not through an informant,
the offer to purchase the drug, the payment of the buy-bust
money, and the delivery of the illegal drug, whether to the
informant alone or the police officer, must be the subject of strict
scrutiny by courts to insure that law-abiding citizens are not
unlawfully induced to commit an offense. Criminals must be
caught but not at all cost. At the same time, however, examining
the conduct of the police should not disable courts into ignoring
the accuseds predisposition to commit the crime. If there is
overwhelming evidence of habitual delinquency, recidivism or
plain criminal proclivity, then this must also be
considered. Courts should look at all factors to determine the
predisposition of an accused to commit an offense in so far as
they are relevant to determine the validity of the defense of
inducement.[6] [Emphasis supplied]

The Court looked into the accuseds defense of denial and accusations
of frame-up, planting of evidence, forcible entry and extortion by the police
officers but found them inherently weak. Aside from their bare allegations,
the accused had nothing more to show that the apprehending police officers
did not properly perform their duties or that they had ill motives against
them. They failed to substantiate their argument that they were framed-up
for extortion purposes.

Absent any convincing countervailing evidence, the presumption is


that the members of the buy-bust team performed their duties in a regular
manner. It was certainly a job well done. Hence, the Court gives full faith and
credit to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.

The Court also holds that the seized items were admissible. A search
warrant or warrant of arrest was not needed because it was a buy-bust
operation and the accused were caught in flagrante delicto in possession of,
and selling, dangerous drugs to the poseur-buyer. It was definitely legal for
the buy-bust team to arrest, and search, them on the spot because a buy-bust
operation is a justifiable mode of apprehending drug pushers. A buy-bust
operation is a form of entrapment whereby ways and means are resorted to
for the purpose of trapping and capturing the lawbreakers in the execution
of their criminal plan. In this jurisdiction, the operation is legal and has been
proven to be an effective method of apprehending drug peddlers, provided
due regard to constitutional and legal safeguards is undertaken.[7]
In People v. Villamin, involving an accused arrested after
he sold drugs during a buy-bust operation, the Court ruled that
it was a circumstance where a warrantless arrest is justified
under Rule 113, Sec. 5(a) of the Rules of Court. The same ruling
applies to the instant case. When carried out with due regard for
constitutional and legal safeguards, it is a judicially sanctioned
method of apprehending those involved in illegal drug activities.
It is a valid form of entrapment, as the idea to commit a crime
comes not from the police officers but from the accused
himself. The accused is caught in the act and must be
apprehended on the spot. From the very nature of a buy-bust
operation, the absence of a warrant does not make the arrest
illegal.
The illegal drugs seized were not the fruit of the poisonous
tree as the defense would like this Court to believe. The seizure
made by the buy-bust team falls under a search incidental to a
lawful arrest under Rule 126, Sec. 13 of the Rules of Court, which
pertinently provides:
A person lawfully arrested may be searched for
dangerous weapons or anything which may have
been used or constitute proof in the commission of
an offense without a search warrant.

Since the buy-bust operation was established as legitimate,


it follows that the search was also valid, and a warrant was
likewise not needed to conduct it.[8]

It should also be noted that after the RTC rendered a guilty verdict, the
accused filed a motion for reconsideration based on two (2) grounds, to wit:
1) inadmissibility of the seized items; and 2) credibility of the prosecution
witnesses. In the CA, they reiterated said grounds. After an unfavorable
decision and ruling, the accused added two (2) new arguments in their
motion for reconsideration, to wit: 1) the apprehending officers failed to
establish that the corpus delicti (sachets of shabu or marijuana) were the
very same ones sold by and seized from them; and 2) the apprehending team
who had initial custody over the confiscated drug items failed to make an
inventory and to photograph the same in their presence.
The Court totally agrees with the ruling of the CA that the issues on
the corpus delicti and the compliance with Section 21 of RA No. 9165 were
issues that were not raised by the accused in their appellants brief, and were
only presented in their motion for reconsideration from the decision of the
CA.
Hence, the Court cannot act, much less, rule on said new points. To do
so would violate basic rules on fair play and due process. Thus:
We point out the defenses failure to contest the
admissibility of the seized items as evidence during trial as this
was the initial point in objecting to illegally seized evidence. At
the trial, the seized shabu was duly marked, made the subject of
examination and cross-examination, and eventually offered as
evidence, yet at no instance did the appellant manifest or even
hint that there were lapses in the safekeeping of seized items that
affected their admissibility, integrity and evidentiary
value. In People v. Hernandez, we held that objection to the
admissibility of evidence cannot be raised for the first time on
appeal; when a party desires the court to reject the evidence
offered, he must so state in the form of objection. Without such
objection, he cannot raise the question for the first time on
appeal.[9]
WHEREFORE, the August 29, 2008 Decision of the Court of
Appeals, in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02308, is AFFIRMED.

TIBONG V PEOPLE (ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS)


Jaren Tibong y Culla-ag (petitioner) was indicted for attempted rape
allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about the 14th [sic][1] day of April 2006, at Betag,


Municipality of La Trinidad, Province of Benguet, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, with lewd designs, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously try and attempt to rape [AAA[2]]
while the latter was sleeping and therefore
unconscious, by removing the latters pajama and panty, and the
reafter holding her vagina and fondling herbreasts, and endeavo
r to have sexual intercourse with her against her will and
consent, thereby commencing in the execution of the crime of
rape but did not perform all the acts of execution which should
have produced the felony as a consequence by reason that the
offended party was awakened, defended herself and escaped
from him, which cause is not his spontaneous desistance, to the
damage and prejudice of the said [AAA].

That the accused and [AAA] are relatives within the 3rd civil
degree.[3] (Underscoring supplied)

On April 17, 2006, then 18-year-old AAA, a college student at the


Benguet State University, was at the house owned by petitioners parents at
Betag, La Trinidad, Benguet where she was boarding. She occupied a room
at the 3-bedroom basement.[4] One of the rooms was occupied by petitioner
and his wife. The third room was unoccupied.

From the account of AAA, the following transpired:

Days before the incident, petitioners wife left the house after a
misunderstanding with him. Before midnight of April 17,[5] 2006, petitioner
arrived and repaired to the sofa at the basements living room. AAA thereafter
fell asleep but was awakened at about midnight as she felt someone was
undressing [her].[6] She saw petitioner, her first cousin (her father and his
mother being siblings), wearing only briefs and crouching over [her], on top
of [her] bed, and pulling down her pajamas and panties.[7] She asked
appellant why he was doing that, to which he replied that [they] will have
sexual intercourse and keep it a secret. She retorted if he was not sickened
about it, to which he replied that she need not be bothered about their being
cousins.[8]

Continuing, AAA narrated:

She resisted and pulled up her pajamas and panties, but appellant
pulled them down to her knees and mashed her breasts. He soon told her
that they would watch a bold movie and apply what they watched. [9]She
struggled to free herself, but he forced her to lie down. She tried to shout for
help, but he covered her mouth.

AAA further recounted:

Petitioner thereafter went towards the compact disc (CD) player which
was in front of the door of [her] room to insert/play a CD. Finding the
opportunity to escape, she grabbed her cell phone and bag which were placed
on top of a table at her bedside, ran out of the house after appellant failed to
restrain her, headed towards the highway, took a taxicab and proceeded to
the house of her elder brother BBB[10] in Bahong, La Trinidad where she
sought refuge.

The following morning (April 18), AAA, accompanied by BBB and an


uncle, reported the incident to the La Trinidad Police Station where P03
Chona P. Bugnay took down her sworn complaint.[11]

The presentation of prosecution witnesses BBB and P03 Chona Bugnay


was dispensed with, the defense having admitted the corroborative nature of
their respective testimonies.

Upon the other hand, petitioner whose wife, as earlier reflected, left the
house days before the incident after a quarrel with him, denied the
accusation. He claimed that in the afternoon of April 17, 2006 until past 1:00
A.M. of the following day (April 18), he was drinking liquor with his friend
Benny Malao (Malao) in three places first at his (petitioners) fathers house,
then at Maryland, and finally at Malaos boarding house, all located at La
Trinidad; and on returning home drunk early morning of April 18, he
immediately went to sleep at the living room adjacent to AAAs room.[12]

Branch 62 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet


found petitioner guilty of attempted rape, as charged, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, the accused must be, as he is hereby found


guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of attempted rape.

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, there being no


modifying circumstance established, he is hereby imposed a
penalty of imprisonment ranging from three (3) years and four
(4) months of prision correccional medium, as minimum, to
eight (8) years and six (6) months of prision mayor medium, as
maximum.

The accused is hereby ordered to pay the private


complainant moral damages in the amount of Twenty Five
Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.[13]

The Court of Appeals affirmed petitioners conviction, hence, the


present petition for review on certiorari, contending that the prosecution
failed to prove petitioners guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Petitioner cites Perez v. Court of Appeals[14] which held:

Petitioners acts of lying on top of the complainant, embracing


and kissing her, mashing her breasts, inserting his hand inside
her panty and touching her sexual organ, while admittedly
obscene and detestable acts, do not constitute attempted
rape absent any showing that
petitioner actually commenced to force his penis into t
he complainants sexual organ. Rather, these acts constitute
acts of lasciviousness. x x x.[15] (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)
Insisting that there was no attempted rape, petitioner argues that AAA
merely testified that he told her that they would have sexual intercourse; and
that this is not equivalent to carnal knowledge, or even an attempt to have
carnal knowledge, since there is no showing that he had commenced or
attempted to insert his penis into her sexual organ before she fled.[16]

Under Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code, there is an attempt to


commit a felony when the offender commences its commission directly by
overt acts but does not perform all the acts of execution which should
produce the felony by reason of some cause or accident other than his own
spontaneous desistance.

Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

Any person who shall commit any act of lasciviousness


upon the other person of either sex, under any of the
circumstances mentioned in the preceding article [referring to
Article 335 on rape], shall be punished by prision correccional.

While rape and acts of lasciviousness have the same nature, they are
fundamentally
different. For in rape, there is the intent to lie with a woman, whereas in
acts of lasciviousness, this element is absent. [17]

Ironically, during the defenses cross examination of AAA, the existence


of petitioners overt acts showing his intent to lie with her was put to
light. Consider the following testimony of AAA on cross examination:

Atty. Santos [defense counsel, to witness AAA]:

xxxx

Q He did not try to insert his penis into your vagina,


Madam Witness?
A He was trying to force it on me but I covered my vagi
na.
Q Is it not a fact that when he put down your pajama and
underwear down to your knee, he was still wearing his
brief?
A Sir, his brief was already lowered down to the middle
of his upper leg (witness was illustrating by touching the
middle of her upper legs).

Q When he tried to lie on top of you, you wrestled and


you tried to run out from your room. Is that
correct?
A Yes, sir.

xxxx

Q And that was the time that when he opened the CD player, you
took your cell phone and ran out from your room?
A Yes, sir.

Q So in other words, Mr. Jaren Tibong had no chance of


inserting his penis in your vagina because you ran
out of your room already. Correct?
A Yes, sir.[18] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioners acts, as narrated by AAA, far from being mere obscene or


lewd, indisputably show that he intended to have, and was bent on
consummating, carnal knowledge of AAA.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Court of Appeals


Decision[19] of October 12, 2009 in CA-G.R. CR No. 31644
is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

CABILDO VS PEOPLE (ATTEMPTED HOMICIDE)


This Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the January 15, 2009
Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 30871, finding
petitioner Freddie Cabildo (Cabildo) and his co-accused Jesus Palao, Jr.
(Palao) and Rodrigo Abian (Abian) guilty of attempted homicide. Likewise
assailed is the CAs October 7, 2009 Resolution[2] denying the motion for
reconsideration.
The CA Decision affirmed with modification the February 5,
2007 decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Palawan
and Puerto Princesa City, Branch 47, finding Cabildo and his co-accused
guilty of frustrated homicide.

The RTC and the CA similarly arrived at the following factual findings:

On March 19, 1999, at 11:00 p.m., a certain Joy Herrera was driving a tricycle
bound for Barangay Rizal, Magsaysay, Palawan. On board were students
of St. Joseph Academy who just came from their schools Seniors Night.
Upon reaching Poblacion, Cuyo in Barangay Tenga-Tenga, petitioner
Cabildo, his co-accused Palao and Abian, and another companion, Rene
Tamba, blocked their path. After confirming Herreras identity, petitioner
and his group forcibly pulled Herrera from the tricycle and mauled him.[4]

Meanwhile, Rocky Daquer passed by the same road on board his own tricycle
with passengers John Ryan Macula, Cris Magdayao, and Dary Puno. Daquer
noticed the commotion, so he alighted from his tricycle and approached the
group to pacify them. Instead, Palao turned his ire to Daquer and
threatened: before drawing a fan knife from his waist. This prompted
Herrera and Daquer to run away in separate directions.[5]

The group pursued Daquer and after covering about 10 meters, petitioner
was able to grab Daquers jacket, causing the latter to fall down on one knee.
While petitioner held on to Daquer by his jacket, Palao thrust his knife at the
latter but missed. Palao stabbed again and hit Daquer at the lower left side
of his back causing him to fall face down on the ground. Petitioner and his
group then proceeded to maul Daquer until the police arrived.[6]

The responding police officers brought petitioner and his group to the police
station. The knife recovered at the crime scene was turned over to the Office
of the Prosecutor. On the other hand, the wounded Daquer was brought to
the Cuyo District Hospital where he was treated by Dr. Joselito
Vicente.[7] Medical findings showed that Daquer sustained an abrasion on his
left knee and a stab wound at his left lumbar area which, barring unforeseen
complications, would both heal in 15 days.[8]

On June 1, 1999, Cabildo, Palao, and Abian were charged with frustrated
homicide. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:
That on or about the 19th day of March, 1999, more or less 11:00
o clock in the evening, at Barangay Tenga-Tenga, Municipality of
Cuyo, Province of Palawan, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused,
conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping each
other, while armed with a bladed weapon and with intent to kill,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack,
assault, box and stab with a knife, one ROCKY DAQUER, hitting
him in the vital parts of his body and inflicting upon him injuries
which would ordinarily cause his death thus performing all the
acts of execution which would have produced the crime of
Homicide, as a consequence, but nevertheless did not produce it
by reason of causes independent of the will of the accused, that
is, by the timely and able medical assistance rendered to said
Rocky Daquer, which prevented his death.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[9]
When arraigned, petitioner Cabildo and Palao both pleaded not guilty. Their
co-accused Abian remained at large.[10] Cabildo and Palao denied any
complicity in the stabbing of Daquer, and submitted different versions of the
story.

Petitioner Cabildo claimed that, on his way home from watching the Seniors
Night show, he saw Tamba, Palao and Abian blocking the tricycle of Herrera.
He saw Tamba box Herrera, after which Abian boxed Daquer and the latter
ran away. After seeing this, he left the scene and went home.[11]

According to Palao, he and Abian watched the Seniors Night together on


March 19, 1999. On their way home, they saw their friend Tamba engaged in
a fistfight with Herrera. Palao admitted seeing Daquer that night while the
latter was being chased by Abian. He further testified that Abian caught up
with Daquer and the latter fell down. Thereafter, the two engaged in a
fistfight until the police arrived. When the police brought Abian to the police
station, Palao allegedly went with him because he wanted to look after his
friend.[12]

The RTC accorded more weight to the positive testimony of the prosecution
witnesses over the denial and inconsistent declarations of the accused. The
trial court declared them to have conspired and connived with one another
in committing frustrated homicide. The accused were sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of two (2) years, four (4) months and
one (1) day, which is the medium of prision correccional, as the minimum,
to eight (8) years, which is the medium of prision mayor, as maximum. They
were likewise ordered to jointly and severally pay Daquer P3,190.00 for his
medical expenses and P6,000.00 for loss of earnings.[13]
On appeal, the CA sustained the trial courts finding of conspiracy but
modified the conviction of the accused to attempted homicide, noting that
the wounds inflicted on Daquer were not fatal.[14]
Consequently, the accused were meted the new sentence of imprisonment of
four (4) months of arresto mayor medium, as minimum, to four (4) years
and two (2) months of prision correccional medium, as maximum. The rest
of the trial courts disposition was affirmed.[15]

Accused-appellants Cabildo and Palao moved for the reconsideration[16] of


the foregoing decision but the same was denied.[17] Hence, the present
petition interposed solely by petitioner Cabildo.

We deny the petition.

Petitioner insists on an acquittal by impugning the credibility of prosecution


witnesses Macula and Magdayao, who were not consistent in declaring
whether Herrera was a passenger or a driver of the tricycle blocked by
petitioner and his cohorts. Petitioner also questions the
competency of prosecution witness Herrera who admittedly did not witness
the stabbing of Daquer, and who proffered contradicting declarations as to
the length of the knife he saw on Palao. Petitioner further posits that his guilt
was not established by the requisite quantum of evidence.

We do not agree.

First, we emphasize that the findings of fact of the trial court, its
assessment of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies, and the
probative weight thereof, as well as its conclusions based on the said
findings, will not be disturbed on appeal unless it appears that the trial court
overlooked or misconstrued cogent facts and circumstances which, if
considered, would alter the outcome of the case.[18]

In the present case, the inconsistencies pointed out by petitioner are


too trivial and immaterial as to considerably affect the trial courts
conclusions. Whether Herrera was a driver or a passenger of the blocked
tricycle does not relate to the essential elements of the crime committed
against Daquer. Meanwhile, the competency of Herrera as a witness to the
stabbing incident should have been raised at the most opportune time, that
is, during trial and not on appeal.

At any rate, Herreras testimony was merely intended to establish the


fact that a commotion preceded the attack on Daquer and not the stabbing
incident itself. Also, Herreras contradicting estimates of the length of the
knife brandished by Palao do not detract from the undisputed fact that a stab
wound was inflicted on Daquer.

More importantly, the RTCs conclusions, as affirmed by the CA, were


based mainly on the testimony of the victim himself, who clearly and
positively identified his assailants and the manner by which they committed
the crime. We quote the pertinent testimony of Daquer as summarized by the
RTC:

Daquer saw accused Abian, Palao and Cabildo flag down the
tricycle of Herrera. Since Daquer could not drive on, he alighted
from his tricycle and approached the group of Palao and he saw
that the accused were mauling Herrera.Daquer tried to stop
Palao and his group from hurting Herrera, but instead of
stopping, the accused turned to Daquer and Palao threatened to
stab Daquer. Daquer stepped back when accused Palao and
Abian faced him. Then Daquer ran away but Palao and Abian
chased him. After running a distance of about ten (10) meters
accused Cabildo held on to his jacket so he fell down on one knee.
While Cabildo was holding Daquer, he (Daquer) looked back and
saw Palao thrust a twenty-two (22) inch fan knife at him but
missed. Then Palao stabbed him again and this time Daquer was
hit on the lower left side of his back and he fell face down on the
sand. While on the ground all the accused still boxed Daquer
until the police arrived.[19]

It is settled that the testimony of a single yet credible and trustworthy


witness suffices to support a conviction.[20] This principle finds more
compelling application when the lone witness is the victim himself whose
direct and positive identification of his assailants is almost always regarded
with indubitable credibility, owing to the natural tendency of victims to seek
justice, and thus strive to remember the faces of their malefactors and the
manner in which they committed the crime. [21]

Petitioner tenaciously argues that conspiracy was not established


sufficiently, as the CA merely inferred the same from the hollow threat made
by Palao to Daquer. Petitioner further claims that the attack on Daquer was
a spontaneous outburst of violence when the latter unexpectedly intervened
in the skirmish between petitioner, his cohorts and their original target,
Herrera. As such, there was no opportunity for the assailants to conspire and
hatch a deliberate plan to attack or even attempt to kill Daquer.

We disagree.

First, the threat uttered by Palao to Daquer was not at all empty or, as
petitioner puts it, a mere angry remark. Records show that after throwing
invectives at and threatening to kill Daquer, Palao almost simultaneously
pulled out the fan knife tucked in the waistband of his pants. Palao clearly
intended to make good his threat; and if he merely wanted to warn Daquer
not to meddle in the commotion, he would not have chased the latter, who
ran away upon seeing the knife. Cabildo and Abian agreed with Palao when
they assisted him in carrying out his illicit purpose Abian in chasing Daquer,
and herein petitioner Cabildo in holding Daquer by his jacket, thus depriving
him the chance to parry the knife and emboldening Palao to execute his
devious plan with ease.

True, if taken alone, the words Putang-ina mo Rocky, papatayin kita! would
hardly lend support to a finding of criminal intent or common criminal
design among the accused. But the acts they performed simultaneous with
and subsequent to such utterance spell the difference between a harmless
outburst of anger and an injurious retaliation.

Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement


concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it.[22] The
agreement need not be proven by direct evidence;[23] it may be inferred from
the conduct of the parties before, during, and after the commission of the
offense,[24] pointing to a joint purpose and design, concerted action, and
community of interest.[25] Complicity of the accused in the criminal design
may be determined by their concerted action at the moment of
consummating the crime and the form and manner in which assistance is
rendered to the person inflicting the wound.[26]
Here, the CA correctly affirmed the RTCs finding that conspiracy can be
deduced from the concerted acts of petitioner Cabildo, Palao, and Abian
towards the realization of their common unlawful goal of stabbing
Daquer, viz.:
Palao unequivocally announced his intention to kill Daquer and
immediately drew his batangas knife and ran after the latter,
while Cabildo and Abian readily agreed with this desire by
pursuing Daquer and actually catching up with him. Cabidlos act
of grabbing Daquers jacket and pulling him to the ground
provided the opportunity for Palao to stab him twice. After
getting hit on the second try Cabildo and Abian readily proceeded
to maul him together with Palao.[27]

We likewise agree with the CA that the crime committed was attempted
homicide and not frustrated homicide. The stab wound sustained by Daquer
was considerably superficial, hence, not life-threatening. This is clear from
the medical certificate issued by Dr. Vicente stating that the stab wound was
only 2 centimeters long and 5 centimeters deep. The doctor also testified that
no vital organ of Daquer was hit.

The CA imposed the correct penalty. The imposable penalty


for attempted homicide is prision correccional, which is two degrees lower
than reclusion temporal, the penalty for homicide. The maximum of the
indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the imposable penalty of prision
correccional, taking into account the modifying circumstances, if any. There
being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty
should be imposed in its medium period (Art. 64, Revised Penal Code). To
determine the minimum of the indeterminate penalty, the penalty of prision
correccional has to be reduced by one degree, which is arresto mayor. The
minimum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the full range
of arresto mayor in any of its periods. Hence, petitioner was correctly
sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty from four (4) months of arresto
mayor, as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
correccional, as maximum.
WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the Petition is DENIED. The
January 15, 2009 Decision and the October 7, 2009 Resolution of the Court
of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED in toto.

PEOPLE V ROXAS (CARNAPPING)


On appeal by way of automatic review is the Decision[1] dated January
13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00666, affirming
the Judgment[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) convicting appellant
Venancio Roxas y Arguelles (appellant) for the crimes of Kidnapping and
Serious Illegal Detention with Frustrated Murder, Violation of Republic Act
(R.A.) 6539, or the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972, and Theft. The
Informations alleged

In Criminal Case No. Q-94-54285 for Kidnapping and


Serious Illegal Detention with Frustrated Murder
That on or about January 12, 1994 in Quezon City, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, conspiring together, confederating and mutually
helping one another, did then and there by means of force,
violence against and intimidation of person and at gunpoint,
willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously kidnap, carry away and
detain AGNES GUIRINDOLA, a female, thereby depriving her of
her liberty, and thereafter bring her to an uninhabited place in
Barangay Bagong Pook, San Jose, Batangas and then and there,
with intent to kill and with treachery, evident premeditation, and
abuse of superior strength, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
shoot her in the face with a hand gun, thus performing all the acts
of execution which would produce the crime of MURDER as
consequence, but which, nevertheless, do not produce it by
reason of causes independent of the will of the accused, that is,
the able and timely medical assistance given to said Agnes
Guirindola which prevented her death, resulting to her utmost
grief, sorrow, sufferings and sleepless night, compensable in
actual, moral and exemplary damages in such amounts as may
be awarded to them under the provisions of the Civil Code of the
Philippines.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]
In Criminal Case No. Q-94-54286 for Carnapping
That on or about January 12, 1994, in Quezon City, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, conspiring together, confederating and mutually
helping one another, with intent to gain and by means of force,
violence against and intimidation of person and at gunpoint, did
then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, take and
carry away one Nissan Sentra Model 1993 with Plate No. TKR-
837, then driven by Agnes Guirindola but owned by her mother
Elvira G. Guirindola, to the damage and prejudice of said Agnes
Guirindola and Elvira G. Guirindola in such amount as may be
awarded to them under the Civil Code of the Philippines.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
and -

In Criminal Case No. 94-54287 (amended) for Robbery


That on or about January 12, 1994 in Quezon City, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, conspiring together, confederating and mutually
helping one another, with intent to gain and by means of force,
violence against and intimidation of person and at gunpoint, did
then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, while on
board the motor vehicle of AGNES GUIRINDOLA, a 1993 Nissan
Sentra with Plate No. TKR-837, and in the course of its trip,
divested and robbed said Agnes Guirindola of the following cash,
check and personal belongings, to wit:
Cash P1,000.00
Check 3,000.00
Pieces of jewelry valued at 34,000.00

and in the course of execution thereof, shoot and fatally wounded


Agnes Guirindola with a handgun, which is clearly unnecessary
in the commission of the crime, to the damage and prejudice of
said Agnes Guirindola, in such amount as may be awarded to her
under the provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[5]
The antecedent facts as culled from the records are as follows:

On January 12, 1994, around 3:00 p.m., Agnes Guirindola (Agnes),


while cruising along Panay Avenue, Quezon City, on board a red 1993 model
Nissan Sentra sedan with plate number TKR-837, was suddenly flagged
down by a man wearing a PNP reflectorized vest. The man signaled her to
make a U-turn. Agnes complied and made the U-turn. The man walked in
front of her car and proceeded to the right side of the car. [6] Agnes, later on,
identified the man in open court as appellant, Venancio Roxas (Roxas).

Agnes opened the right front window of the car and asked Roxas, who
had positioned himself at the front passenger side, Ano ang problema?
Roxas replied, Miss, one way street po ito. Agnes explained to the man that
she usually passed by the same street and it was only that day that she had
been caught. Roxas told her that the street had been made a one-way street
because a girl figured in an accident in the same street two days ago.[7]

Roxas then asked for Agnes' drivers license. After taking the drivers
license, Roxas handed her a piece of paper which she was asked to sign.
Agnes noticed that it was not the usual traffic citation ticket but,
nevertheless, she pretended to sign the same by making a check thereon.[8]

When Agnes handed back the paper to Roxas, the latter asked her to
open the door of the car so that he could show her the one-way sign and the
other traffic aide at the corner of the street. Agnes let Roxas enter the car.
Roxas then instructed Agnes to drive to the corner of the street, and upon
reaching the corner, Roxas pointed to her the one-way sign and looked for
the traffic aide he had told Agnes about. The traffic aide was not there. Agnes
asked Roxas where she could drop him. Roxas told Agnes to make a left turn
from the corner of the street and that he will alight somewhere in Mother
Ignacia. Agnes obliged and made a left turn and stopped the car. Thinking
that Roxas was waiting for a bribe, Agnes took out her wallet, pulled a P50.00
bill and gave it to Roxas. After receiving the money, Roxas returned to Agnes
her drivers license.[9]
Upon returning the drivers license to Agnes, Roxas immediately
switched off the engine of the car and poked a gun at her saying Miss,
kailangan ko ang kotse mo. Agnes, terrified and shocked by Roxas actions,
cried and pleaded with him to let her go and just take the car. Roxas
continued to poke a gun at her, unmindful of what Agnes was telling him.[10]
After a while, Agnes heard a knock from outside the car. Roxas opened
the rear door and then someone boarded the car, occupying the back seat.
The second passenger immediately reclined the drivers seat and pulled
Agnes towards the back seat. Agnes identified this man as Roberto Gungon
(Gungon). Subsequently, Roxas took the drivers seat and drove the car while
Gungon held Agnes on the shoulder with one hand, and her leg with the
other.[11]

Agnes then heard Gungon say: Boss, dalhin natin sya sa Philcoa. After
crossing Mother Ignacia Street, Gungon got his beeper and told Roxas: Boss,
dalhin na natin siya sa dati, doon na natin siya i-s. Agnes became more
frightened as she understood s to mean salvage, a lingo for summary
execution.[12]
Along the way, Roxas stopped the car and went to a sari-sari store.
Gungon was left behind, holding Agnes, and would tighten his grip every
time she made a slight move and sometimes would poke a gun at her. Upon
returning to the car, Roxas offered Agnes a bottle of soft drink and Skyflakes
biscuit. Agnes refused so Roxas handed the softdrink to Gungon and told
him: Mamaya painom mo sa kanya at pakainin mo siya. Gungon took the
bottle of softdrink and tried to force Agnes to drink the contents thereof.
Agnes refused because she saw tablets floating inside the bottle. Roxas
resumed driving, while Gungon held Agnes.[13]

Agnes testified that she planned to escape, but could not make a single
move because every time she made a slight move, Gungon would poke the
gun at her. The windows of the car were tinted and remained closed.[14]

Around 5:00 p.m., Agnes noticed that they were already at the South
Superhighway. [15]

Along the superhighway, Roxas stopped the car in order to urinate.


Gungon guarded Agnes by holding her. When Roxas returned, Gungon
alighted to relieve himself too. While Gungon was out of the car, Roxas sat at
the drivers seat facing Agnes and poked his gun at her. Shortly thereafter,
Gungon came back to the car and Roxas resumed driving. When Agnes took
the prayer leaflet from her wallet, Gungon looked at her wallet and saw the
picture of her sister. When asked if she was the one in the picture, Agnes told
Gungon that it was her sister. Out of the blue, Gungon also took his wallet
and showed Agnes three (3) pictures which, according to him, were the
pictures of his niece, her girlfriend and that of Roxas and a lady with a little
child. After showing the same to Agnes, Gungon returned the said pictures
to his wallet.[16] Agnes planned to escape at that time but the car was running
at a speed of 80 to 100 kilometers per hour. Agnes just continued to pray.[17]

At this point, Gungon again offered the softdrink to Agnes. When she
refused, Gungon became mad and tightened his hold on Agnes, forcing her
to drink it. Sensing that Gungon was already furious, Agnes took the
softdrink. After Agnes drank it, Roxas told Gungon, Ipainom mo pa itong
dalawang tablets dahil malaki sya, mahina iyong dalawa para sa kanya.
Gungon took the tablets from Roxas and forced Agnes to swallow the same.
Out of fear, Agnes took the tablets, but did not swallow them. She placed the
tablets under her tongue. When Roxas and Gungon were not looking, she
took her handkerchief and spat out the tablets into the handkerchief.[18]

Afterwards, Agnes told Roxas and Gungon that she was hungry and
wanted to eat a McDonalds sandwich. Gungon replied that they were in the
province and that there was no McDonalds there. Roxas told Agnes that they
will just drop by a restaurant to buy something to eat. Roxas then stopped by
a bakery and alighted from the car, while Gungon held Agnes. It was at this
point that Agnes noticed the signboard of the bakery which read something
like Sto. Tomas or San Jose, Batangas. After a while, Roxas came back with
a taisan cake and offered it to Agnes which she refused. At that instance,
Agnes felt dizzy and fell asleep.[19]

When Agnes woke up, she found herself lying at the back seat with her
legs on the lap of Gungon. The car was at a standstill. She noticed from the
cars clock on the dashboard that it was about 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. She also
found out that her jewelries consisting of bracelets, pair of earrings, necklace
and a watch worth around P30,000.00 to P40,000.00, as well as her pair of
shoes, were already gone. When she asked Gungon about them, the latter
told her that they were just keeping the same for her. Agnes also lost her
wallet containing a check in the amount of P3,000.00 and cash in the
amount of P1,000.00.[20]
Agnes also noticed that there was already a third man sitting in front
of the car beside Roxas who was still driving. She then asked them if she
could relieve herself. Gungon asked Roxas if Agnes would be allowed to
relieve herself to which Roxas answered in the affirmative. Agnes fixed her
hair and then asked Gungon for her shoes. Gungon put the shoes on her feet.
Roxas alighted from the car and opened the rear door. Gungon alighted first
from the car followed by Agnes. Gungon then led Agnes to a nearby grassy
area and told her, O, dyan ka na lang umihi. After Agnes relieved herself,
and as she was about to get up and return to the car, she saw white sparks at
her right side and then she fell down. When she opened her eyes, she saw
Roxas walking back towards the car with a gun in his hand. She did not see
Gungon at that particular time. Then she lost consciousness.[21]

When Agnes regained consciousness, she was all alone. Roxas, Gungon
and the third man, as well as the car, were no longer there. It was very dark.
She followed a sparkling light that led her to a small house. Upon reaching
the house, she opened the door and saw two (2) children and a teenager
singing. She asked for their help but upon seeing her, they ran away. She then
saw a lady standing at the stairs of the house carrying a baby. Agnes asked
for her help but the lady went upstairs and locked herself inside the room.
Agnes followed her and knocked at the door of the room asking for help, but
still the lady did not come out of the room. She then went downstairs and
lied down on the sofa. Only then did she notice that blood was profusely
oozing from her face and there were holes in the left side of her neck and her
right cheek.[22]

After a while, Agnes heard a vehicle arrive and also heard voices
saying: May taong duguan sa loob ng bahay, tulungan natin siya! Agnes
was then carried to a Fiera motor vehicle and brought to the Batangas
Regional Hospital, where she was treated for her wounds and given first
aid.[23] Agnes sustained the following injuries:

Gunshot wound, POE, Zygomatic area (R), POX


Sudmandibular area (L); Fx, zygomatic arch & condylar area, (R)
Sec to GSW; Submandibular Gland involvement with sinus tract.
(Exhibit A, Medical Certificate dated February 1, 1994 signed by
attending physician Dr. Lauro R. San Jose, Captain MC,
Neurosurgery 4-A, p. 177, Volume III, Record)

The following day, about 3:00 a.m. of January 13, 1994, the parents of
Agnes and the rest of the family arrived at the hospital. Her parents
immediately arranged for her transfer to the V. Luna General Hospital (now
AFP Medical Center) in Quezon City, where she was treated further, operated
on and confined for forty-three (43) days.[24] Agnes incurred actual damages
amounting to P36,161.83 for her hospitalization, surgical operation and
medical treatment, and suffered moral damages the amount of which she
cannot readily quantify, as a result of the ordeal she underwent on that
fateful day of January 12, 1994.[25]

Upon transfer of Agnes to the V. Luna General Hospital, her parents


immediately reported the incident to the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI) in Manila, which promptly conducted an investigation. On January 17,
1994, some NBI agents visited her for the taking of the cartographic sketches
of Roxas and Gungon. On January 19, 1994, another group of NBI agents
went to the hospital and showed her 3 to 4 pictures of Gungon who was
subsequently arrested in Davao City. On February 1, 1994, Agnes positively
identified Gungon at the NBI in a police lineup consisting of 5 to 6 men.
Likewise, Agnes was able to identify certain personal effects recovered from
Gungon such as her rosary beads,[26] jewelry purse,[27] key chain with a key to
the lock of her Nissan Sentra car,[28] and the check taken from her, which
were all presented in evidence in the trial of Gungon as well as in the trial of
the instant case against Roxas.[29]
In the meantime, the NBI conducted a manhunt for Roxas. On
September 11, 1995, Roxas was arrested by elements of the NBI inside the
municipal hall of Taysan, Batangas, where he was working under the Office
of the Mayor using the aliases Joe Villamor and Marianito Villamor.

Agnes further testified that the name of appellant Venancio Roxas was
supplied by the NBI, but she was very sure that he was the person who fatally
shot her. She positively identified Roxas on January 12, 1994 during a police
line-up at the NBI as the perpetrator other than Gungon, of the crimes
charged. She told the NBI agents that the person in the picture was the one
who had flagged her down and shot her on January 12, 1994.

For the defense, appellant denied committing the crimes charged


against him. He claimed that it was impossible for him to be at the place of
incident on January 12, 1994. He narrated that on that same day, at around
6:00 to 7:00 p.m., he and a certain Tranquilino Mangiliman and two others
were installing an antenna on the roof of his house. He added that he never
left his house that evening. Both Mangiliman and his wife, Hermogena
Roxas, testified that on January 12, 1004, Roxas was in his house at Feria
Compound, Commonwealth Town Homes, Quezon City.
Subsequently, in a Decision[30] dated September 5, 2002, the court a quo,
found Roxas guilty of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention with
frustrated murder, carnapping and theft, the dispositive portion of which
reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in these cases


finding accused Venancio Roxas y Arguelles guilty beyond
reasonable doubt:
In Criminal Case No. Q-94-54285 for Kidnapping and
serious illegal detention with frustrated murder, and sentences
him to suffer the maximum penalty of DEATH.

In Criminal Case No. Q-94-54286, for Carnapping, and


sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of
imprisonment from 18 years, as minimum, to 25 years, as
maximum;

In Criminal Case No. Q-94-54287, for the crime of Theft,


and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of
imprisonment from 2 years, 4 months and 1 day of prision
correccional, as minimum, to 8 years, 8 months and 1 day
of prision mayor, as maximum, plus 1 year for the
additional P10,000.00 in excess of P20,000.00 value of the
property taken or a total of 9 years, 8 months and 1 day, as
maximum.

The accused shall be credited in full of his preventive


imprisonment.

Accused Roxas is also liable to pay the offended party


Agnes Guirindola, moral and exemplary damages in the amount
of P1,000,000.00 and P500,000.00, respectively, actual
damages in the amount of P36,161.83, representing her
hospitalization and related expenses, and P38,000.00
representing the value of the articles taken from her. Accused
Roxas is likewise ordered to pay Mrs. Elvira Guirindola the
amount of P250,257.90.00, representing the cost of repair of the
subject vehicle.

SO ORDERED.

August 29, 2002, Quezon City.[31]

Roxas moved for a reconsideration of the September 5, 2002 decision


of the court a quo. Likewise, noting the well-attended promulgation of the
court a quos decision, Roxas also moved for the inhibition of the Honorable
Judge Demetrio Macapagal, Sr. He argued that the presence of then Justice
Secretary Hernando Perez showed the court's predisposition to convict him
of the offenses charged. Roxas contended that he was robbed of his right to
due process because the Judge Demetrio Macapagal, Sr. had lost the cold
neutrality of an impartial judge required of him in trying and resolving cases.

In an Order[32] dated October 8, 2002, the RTC denied appellants motions


for inhibition and reconsideration.

Meanwhile, appellant's co-accused Roberto Gungon y Santiago was found


guilty of the same charges in a Decision[33] dated March 19, 1998. Roxas was
at-large during the trial and was arrested only after the RTC rendered the
judgment of conviction against Gungon. Thus, the cases, as far as they
concerned Roxas, was archived until he was eventually arrested on
September 11, 1995.

The records of this case were originally elevated to this Court for automatic
review. Conformably with our ruling in People v. Mateo,[34] however, the case
was referred to the Court of Appeals for intermediate review.
In its Decision[35] dated January 13, 2006, the appellate court affirmed in
toto the decision of the court a quo.

Thus, this appeal, raising the following arguments:

I
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN
RENDERING IN THE ABOVE-TITLED CASE DESPITE THE
FACT THAT THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE COURT A
QUO HAS LOST THE COLD NEUTRALITY OF AN IMPARTIAL
JUDGE, THEREBY VIOLATING THE RIGHT OF THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO DUE PROCESS.
II
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN
FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF THE
OFFENSES OF (1) KIDNAPPING AND SERIOUS ILLEGAL
DETENTION WITH FRUSTRATED MURDER, (2)
CARNAPPING, AND (3) THEFT.

Roxas challenged the RTC judges neutrality as he invoked that he was


deprived of his right to due process because of the unexplained presence of
the former Secretary of the Department of Justice, Hernando Perez, in
court. He contended that the RTC was already predisposed to convict him
even before trial.

We are unconvinced.

The Court finds no basis for appellant's allegation that he was deprived of
due process of law and that the trial conducted was far from impartial and
fair. The imputation of bias and partiality is not supported by the record. The
fact that the trial judge opted to believe the prosecution's evidence rather
than that of the defense is not a sign of bias.[36]
Even if the RTC had allowed the presence of then Secretary Hernando Perez
and the media, there is no sufficient basis to show that their presence or
pervasive publicity unduly influenced the court's judgment. Before we could
conclude that appellant was prejudiced by the presence of the media and
Secretary Perez, he must first show substantial proof, not merely cast
suspicions. There must be a showing that adverse publicity indeed
influenced the court's decision.[37] We found none, in this case.

Appellant further argued that the RTC erred in finding him guilty of the
crimes charged against him.

Time and again, we have ruled that the findings of the trial court on the
credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are entitled to the highest
respect and will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear
showing that the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some
facts or circumstances of weight and substance which would have affected
the result of the case. The trial court is in a better position to decide the
question of credibility, having seen and heard the witnesses themselves and
observed their behavior and manner of testifying.[38]
We have painstakingly examined the records of the case, particularly the
testimonies for the prosecution and the defense. However, after much
examination, we find no persuasive much less compelling reason to depart
from the findings of the trial court.

Agnes not only positively identified her abductors, she also graphically
narrated what happened on January 12, 1994. Actual restraint of the victim's
liberty was evident in the instant case from the moment Agnes was taken
from Panay Avenue to a remote place in Batangas. Agnes testified, thus:

Q - After Roberto Gungon pulled you towards the back seat,


what happened?
A - Venancio Roxas took the driver seat and started the car,
sir. I mean, he took the driver seat and started the car.

Q What was Roberto Gungon doing after Venancio Roxas


started the car?
A He was holding me sir.

Q How was he holding you?


A One hand on my shoulder and the other one is (sic) on
my leg, sir.

xxxx

Q What did Gungon do with the bottle?


A He still forced me but when I refused he just placed it
down in the car, sir.

Q After that what happened?


A Roxas still drove and Gungon was still holding me, then
after that we went to this gasoline station to gas up, sir.

xxxx
Q Why were you not able to escape while you were seated
and crying?
A Because Gungon was holding me and everytime I just
made a slight move, he poked the gun at me, sir.[39]

xxxx

Q While you were praying, do you know what Gungon and


Roxas were doing at that time?

xxxx

A Yes, Roxas was driving and Gungon was still holding me


and he asked Roxas if he could relieve himself, sir.
xxxx

Q After your car stopped, what happened?


A He told Gungon that he'll take a leak (sic) first before
Gungon so Roxas alighted from the car and took a leak (sic), sir.

Q How about Gungon, where was he?


A - He was seated beside me, he was still holding me, sir.

Q - After Roxas finished leaking (sic), do you know what


did he do (sic), if any?
A- Yes, he went back to the car, he sat at the driver's seat,
he faced in front of me (sic), took the gun and poked it at me and
then Gungon alighted from the car and he was the next one who
took a leak (sic), sir.

xxxx

Q - After Roxas alighted from the car, where were you at


that time?
A - I was still sitting at the car, with Gungon, sir.

Q- What was Gungon doing at that time?


A- Yes, we were waiting for Roxas and he was holding my
leg, sir.[40]

xxxx

Q Previously, you testified that Gungon was holding you


and everytime you made a slight movement he would grips (sic)
you firmly and poke a gun at you. My question is for how long
had Gungon been doing this?
A - Ever since he pulled me from the driver seat to the back
seat up to the time when we were cruising along South
Superhighway, sir.

Q - Up to that while you were driving?


A Yes, sir.

Q When you reached Batangas, in the bakery, what was


Gungon's (sic) doing to you, if any?
A- He kept on holding me although from time to time and
only when I made a slight move, sir.[41]

Thus, based on the foregoing testimony of Agnes, the trial court did not err
in convicting appellant of the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal
detention. Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code defines the crime, thus:

Art. 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Any


private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any
other manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua to death;

1. If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more


than three days.

2. If it shall have been committed simulating


public authority;

3. If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted


upon the person kidnapped or detained, or if threats to kill him
shall have been made;
4. If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor,
except when the accused is any of the parents, female or a public
officer.

The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or


detention was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom
from the victim or any other person, even if none of the
circumstances above-mentioned were present in the commission
of the offense.

When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the


detention or is raped, or is subjected to torture or dehumanizing
acts, the maximum penalty shall be imposed. (As amended by
Sec. 8, Republic Act No. 7659).[42]

The evidence likewise reveal, undoubtedly, the commission of frustrated


murder as qualified by the circumstances of treachery and evident
premeditation. The medical findings show that had it not been due to the
timely and proper medical attention given to the victim, the gunshot wound
sustained by the victim would have been fatal.

Treachery exists when an offender commits any of the crimes against


persons, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which
tend directly and specially to ensure its execution, without risk to himself,
arising from the defense which the offended party might make. As narrated
by Agnes, she could not have been aware that she would be attacked by
appellant. In the darkness of the night while she just finished relieving
herself and still trying to get up, she was shot by appellant in the head with a
gun. There was no opportunity for her to defend herself, since appellant,
suddenly and without provocation, shot her as she was about to get up. The
essence of treachery is the unexpected and sudden attack on the victim which
renders the latter unable and unprepared to defend himself by reason of the
suddenness and severity of the attack. This criterion applies whether the
attack is frontal or from behind.[43]

Moreover, the requisites of evident premeditation was likewise duly


established in this case, to wit: (a) the time when the accused determined to
commit the crime; (b) an act manifestly indicating that the accused has clung
to his determination; and (c) a sufficient lapse of time between such
determination and execution to allow him to reflect upon the consequences
of his act.[44]

The prosecution's evidence particularly the testimony of Agnes


demonstrated that Gungon and Roxas had indeed planned to kill her from
the time they took the car. As testified to by Agnes:

Q- You said that Roxas returned with a biscuit and a bottle of


softdrink, what was done with the biscuit and bottle of softdrink,
if you know?
A I refused to accept it, he insisted but still I refused so he just
handed it to Gungon. He just told Gungon mamaya painom mo
sa kanya at pakainin mo siya, sir.
Q Why did you refuse the softdrink?
A- Simply because when he handed it to me I saw tablets floating
inside the bottle, sir.[45]
xxxx

Q At about 5:00 and 6:00 in the evening of January 12, 1994


where were you at that time?

xxxx

A- Actually we were not really there, its (sic) we were headed


towards South Superhighway. I mean I dont know the exact place
but I am familiar that we were heading towards South super
highway, sir.
xxxx
Q When you reached the South Superhighway at that time
what happened?
A While we were in the car Gungon got his beeper and then he
told Roxas Boss, negative Philcoa, sir.
xxxx
Q While you were driving along South super highway at
that time, do you know what happened inside the car between
the three of you?
A Yes, sir. That time Gungon was still holding me and then he
told Roxas boss, dalhin na natin siya sa dati, doon na natin siya
i-s.
Q After you heard that remark of Gungon, what did you do?
A Well, of course I was shocked and I asked them if they were
going to rape me or kill me or just leave me somewhere, I do not
know, sir.
Q After you uttered those words, do you know if Gungon
answered?
A Yes, sir, he told me that dont give us ideas (sic).[46]
xxxx
Q What did you do when the bottle of softdrink was being
offered to you?
A - I refused to get it, sir.
Q When you refused to drink it, do you know what did
Gungon do?
A Yes, he got mad and furious, he held me so tight and forced me
to drink it, sir.
Q - Now, because he was furious and he was angry at you,
what did you do?
A - I took the softdrink, sir.
Q- After you drank that softdrink, what happened?
xxxx
A Yes, sir, after drinking it Roxas offered two (2) more
tablets to Gungon, he told to Gungon ipainom mo pa sa kanya
itong dalawang tabletas dahil malaki siya, mahina iyong dalawa
para sa kanya.[47]
xxxx
Q Do you know what time was it when you woke up?
A - I guess it was about 9:30 or 10:00 in the evening, sir.

Q How were you able to place the time?


A - There is a watch on the dashboard of the car, sir.[48]

Thus, from the foregoing, it is evident that the commission of the


killing, albeit frustrated, was formed from the moment the accused took the
victim in Quezon City until she was ultimately executed in Batangas.The
lapse of more than eight hours, that is, approximately from 1:00 p.m. to
10:00 p.m., satisfies the last requisite for the appreciation of evident
premeditation as there was sufficient time for meditation and reflection
before the commission of the crime yet appellant proceeded with the same.
Likewise, we agree that Roxas is also guilty of violation of the Anti-
Carnapping Law. R.A. 6539, otherwise known as An Act Preventing and
Penalizing Carnapping, defines carnapping as the taking, with intent to
gain, of a motor vehicle belonging to another without the latters consent, or
by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force
upon things." More specifically, the elements of the crime are as follows:

1. That there is an actual taking of the vehicle;


2. That the offender intends to gain from the taking of the
vehicle;
3. That the vehicle belongs to a person other than the
offender himself;
4. That the taking is without the consent of the owner
thereof; or that the taking was committed by means of violence
against or intimidation of persons, or by using force upon things.

A careful examination of the evidence presented would show that all the
elements of carnapping were proven in this case. It cannot be denied that the
1993 Nissan Sentra with plate number TKR-837 was unlawfully taken from
Agnes without her consent and by means of force or intimidation,
considering that he and his co-accused alternately poked a gun at Agnes.
After shooting her, appellant also flee with the subject vehicle which
shows his intent to gain. Agnes also positively identified appellant and
Gungon as the ones who took the subject vehicle from her.

Finally, we likewise agree that Roxas is only guilty of theft and not robbery as
initially charged.

From the records, it appears that the jewelries and cash were taken from
Agnes without the attendance of violence or intimidation upon her
person. Agnes herself testified that when she regained consciousness, she
already found her necklace, pair of earrings, watch and cash, to be
missing.[49] While it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that appellant took
Agnes' personal things, there was no evidence, however, that the taking was
employed with the use of force, violation and intimidation.

PENALTIES

As to the imposable penalty, we sustain the findings of the RTC, as affirmed


by the appellate court, with modification as to the penalty for the crime of
kidnapping and serious illegal detention with frustrated murder and the
awarding of damages.
The crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention has been correctly
complexed by the RTC with frustrated murder. A complex crime is
committed when a single act constitutes two or more, grave or less grave,
felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other.
In a complex crime, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum
period. Since the kidnapping and serious illegal detention is the more serious crime, the proper penalty under Article
267[50] of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 7659, should be applied in its maximum period; thus, the
penalty should be death. However, in light of R.A. 9346, or the Anti-Death Penalty Law, which prohibits the imposition
of the death penalty, the imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua instead of death is, thus, proper and ineligible
for parole.

Likewise, in accordance with current jurisprudence, we modify the award of damages, and apply People of the
Philippines v. Richard O. Sarcia[51] where we said:

The principal consideration for the award of damages,


under the ruling in People v. Salome and People v. Quiachon is
the penalty provided by law or imposable for the offense
because of its heineousness, not the public
penalty actually imposed on the offender.

xxxx

It should be noted that while the new law prohibits


the imposition of the death penalty, the penalty provided for
by law for a heinous offense is still death and the offense
is still heinous. Consequently, the civil indemnity for the
victim is still Php75,000.00.

People v. Quiachon also rationcinates as follows:


With respect to the award of damages, the appellate court,
following prevailing jurisprudence, correctly awarded the
following amounts: P75,000.00 as civil indemnity which is
awarded if the crime is qualified by circumstances
warranting the imposition of the death
penalty; P75,000.00 as moral damages because the victim is
assumed to have suffered moral injuries, hence, entitling her to
an award of moral damages even without proof thereof, x x x.
Even if the penalty of death is not to be imposed on the
appellant because of the prohibition in R.A. No. 9346, the civil
indemnity of P75,000.00 is still proper because, following
the rationcination in People v. Victor, the said award is not
dependent on the actual imposition of the death penalty
but on the fact that qualifying circumstances
warranting the imposition of the death penalty
attended the commission of the offense. The Court
declared that the award of P75,000.00 shows not only a
reaction to the apathetic societal perception of the
penal law and the financial fluctuations over time but
also the expression of the displeasure of the court of the
incidence of heinous crimes against chastity.

The litmus test therefore, in the determination of the civil


indemnity is the heinous character of the crime committed,
which would have warranted the imposition of the death penalty,
regardless of whether the penalty actually imposed is reduced
to reclusion perpetua.[52]

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED. The Decision of the Court


of Appeals, dated January 13, 2006, in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00666,
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION, insofar as to sentence appellant
Venancio Roxas y Arguelles to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for
the crime of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention with Frustrated
Murder, and to declare him ineligible for parole. Appellant is, likewise,
ordered to pay Agnes Guirindola P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00
as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages. Costs against the
appellant.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE V ALBERTO (CDDA)

This is an appeal from the July 7, 2009 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02929 that affirmed in toto the May 30, 2007
Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Rosales, Pangasinan, Branch
53, in Criminal Case No. 4938-R, finding appellant Reynaldo Baturi
(appellant) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 5, Article II
of Republic Act (RA) No. 91653 and imposing upon him the penalty of life
imprisonment and a fine of 500,000.

Factual Antecedents

The Information4 contained the following accusatory allegations against


appellant:

That on or about the 7th day of August, 2005, in the morning, in Brgy.
Carmen East, Municipality of Rosales, Province of Pangasinan, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with
intent to gain and without being authorized by law to possess and [sell], did
then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously[sell] ten (10) sachet[s]
of heat[-]sealed transparent plastic bags containing white crystalline
substance known as "shabu" with a total weight of 49.1 grams, a dangerous
drug.

Contrary to Article II, Section 5, Republic Act 9165.5

During arraignment, appellant entered a plea of "not guilty." After the


pretrial conference, trial ensued.

Version of the Prosecution

From the testimonies6 of PO3 Marlo Velasquez (PO3 Velasquez) and


Forensic Chemist P/Insp. Emelda Besarra-Roderos (P/Insp. Roderos), the
following facts emerged:

On August 6, 2005, a confidential informant reported to the Philippine Drug


Enforcement Agency (PDEA) office in Dagupan City the illegal drug activities
of appellant, a.k.a. Naldong, in Brgy.Carmen East, Rosales, Pangasinan. PO3
Velasquez received and relayed the information to SP02 Pedro Rabago
(SPO2 Rabago), the Special Enforcement Team Leader of the PDEA, who, in
turn, ordered the former to conduct a surveillance to verify the information.

Together with SPO1 Flash Ferrer (SPO1 Ferrer) and the confidential
informant, PO3 Velasquez proceeded to Brgy. Carmen East to conduct the
surveillance. Upon reaching the area, the confidential informant introduced
PO3 Velasquez to appellant as a buyer of shabu. The two closed a deal
regarding the sale of 10 "bultos" of shabufor the discounted price of
90,000.00 that would transpire the next day in appellants house.

SPO2 Rabago thus immediately formeda team to conduct an entrapment


operation where PO3 Velasquez was to act as poseur-buyer and SPO1 Ferrer
as back-up. The buy-bust teamthen placed on top ofa bundle of boodle
money a 500-peso bill marked with the initials of PO3 Velasquez and SPO1
Ferrer which were MMV and FF, respectively. It was further agreed that
SPO1 Ferrer would give PO3 Velasquez a call in his cellularphone as a pre-
arranged signal that the sale of shabuis already consummated.

The next day, August 7, 2005, the buy-bust team coordinated with the police
authorities stationed in the Municipality of Rosales and held a final briefing
before proceeding to appellants abode. Upon arrival thereat, PO3 Velasquez
and the confidential informant approached appellant who was sitting in front
of his house while SPO1 Ferrer positioned himself about15 meters away from
them. When PO3 Velasquez informed appellantthat he already had the
payment, appellant took out a carton, opened it and showed the
contentsthereof to PO3 Velasquez, who, in turn, gave the boodle money.

PO3 Velasquez examined the contents of the carton and upon seeing that it
contained plastic sachets with white crystalline granules, he made the pre-
arranged signal. SPO1 Ferrer immediately showed up and recovered the buy-
bust money from appellant, while PO3 Velasquez seizedthe carton
containing the sachets of white crystalline granules. After informing
appellant of his rights, the police officers arrested and took him to the PDEA
office for further investigation.

A Certificate of Inventory was thenprepared by the police authorities which


was signed by two barangayofficials and a media representative. Appellant
was requested to sign the certificate of inventory which he refused. This
whole process was photographed. Thereafter, on the basis of a formal
request,7 the seized shabuwas referred and delivered to the Philippine
National Police (PNP) Provincial Crime Laboratory on August 8, 2005.
P/Insp. Roderos issued Chemistry Report No. D-121-2005-U8 stating that
the white crystalline substance was positive for shabu. Version of the Defense
Appellant denied selling shabuand claimed that he was a victim of frameup
by the PDEA. He recalledthat on August 7, 2005, he was standing at the
street corner near his house waiting for the funeral processionof his deceased
nephew, Ricky Baturi, to pass. Police operatives arrived shortly and asked if
he is Naldong. After he answered in the affirmative, he was asked as to the
whereabouts of a former co-worker, Kamlon Montilla (Montilla). Appellant
replied that he had no knowledge of the present location of Montilla.
Dissatisfied with his answer, the police apprehended and took him inside
their van. This was witnessed by his children. He was brought to Villasis
where he was repeatedlyasked at gunpoint about the whereabouts of
Montilla to which he consistently replied that he did not know. He was
thereafter detained. Appellant claimed that it was only during his
arraignment that he discovered that hewas being charged with illegal sale of
shabu.9

Appellants daughters Maribel Baturi and Rizalyn Raquedan corroborated


his testimony.10

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

Giving credence to PO3 Velasquez testimony, the RTC convicted appellant


of the crime charged and disposed of the case in its May 30, 2007
Decision11 as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding


the accused REYNALDO BATURIGUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Illegal Sale of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride or "shabu" in
violation of Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165.

Considering that the penalty of death was abolished, this Court hereby
sentence[s] the accused to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine
of 500,000.00.

The sachets of shabu are hereby confiscated in favor of the government. Let
the same be turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for
destruction in accordance with law.

SO ORDERED.12

Appellant filed a notice of appeal,13 which was approved by the RTC. Hence,
the entire records of the case were forwarded to the CA.14

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In his Brief,15 appellant pointed out that the buy-bust team failed to comply
with the procedure governing the handling,custody and disposition of the
illegal drugs. Because of this, there was failure on the part of the prosecution
to establish the corpus delicti. Hence, the RTC erred in finding him guilty of
the crime charged.

Negating appellants claims, appellee, through the Office of the Solicitor


General (OSG), averred that the confiscated drug was properly inventoried
and this was even witnessed by two barangay kagawads, a representative of
the media and appellant himself. A Certificate of Inventory was then
prepared which was signed by the said two barangay kagawadsand the media
representative. Then, a request letter for laboratory examination was signed
by SPO4 Rabago. Contained in the said letter was the fact that PO3 Velasquez
delivered the seized drug to the Crime Laboratory and that P/Insp. Roderos
received the same. To the OSG, these circumstances clearly showedthat the
prosecution was able to prove the unbroken chain of custody of the
confiscated drug. Moreover, there was no reason for the police to falsely
testify against appellant. In view of these, the presumption that the police
authorities regularly performed their duties must be upheld.16

Finding that the seizure, handling, custody and examination of the seized
drug were properly documented and undertaken in an uninterrupted
manner, and the consummation of illegal sale of shabuduly established by
the prosecution, the CA, in its July 7, 2009 Decision,17 ruled as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DENIED, and


accordingly, the herein assailed May 30, 2007 Decision of the trial court is
hereby AFFIRMED IN TOTO.

SO ORDERED.18

Hence, this appeal.

Assignment of Error

Appellant imputes error upon the RTC19 and the CA20 in finding him guilty
of the crime charged despite the prosecutions failureto prove his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt.

Our Ruling

The appeal is unmeritorious.


Elements for the Prosecution of Illegal Sale of Shabu

In a successful prosecution for illegal sale of shabu, the following elements


must concur: "(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. x x x What is material in a prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous
drugs is the proof that the transaction or saleactually took place, coupledwith
the presentation in court of the corpus delicti"21 or the illicit drug in evidence.

In this case, the prosecution successfully established all the essential


elements of the illegal sale of shabu. PO3 Velasquez, who acted as poseur-
buyer, positively identified appellant as the seller of the shabuand
categorically testified that the shabuwas received by him, and the payment
therefor by appellant, in a legitimate buy-bust operation. He narrated, viz:

Clearly, the prosecution,through the testimoniesof PO3 Velasquez and


P/Insp. Roderos, was able tosuccessfully establish the elements of illegal sale
of shabu.

The Court acknowledges that "[p]rosecutions for illegal drugs depend largely
on the credibility of the police officers who conducted the buy-bust
operation."26 In this case, the credibility of the prosecution witnesses cannot
be doubted. Aside from the fact that both lower courts are one in finding that
the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were direct and definite, the
said testimonies are also consistent with each other and with the physical
evidence. Besides, "the trial courts determination on the issue of credibility
of witnesses and its consequent findings of facts must be given great weight
and respect on appeal x x x. This is so because of the judicial experience that
trial courts are in a better position to decide the question of credibility,
having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and
manner of testifying during trial."27

The Defenses of Denial and Frame-Up are Unavailing.

In view of the positive declarations of the prosecution witnesses, appellants


defense of denialbecomes unavailing. "It has been consistently held that
mere denial cannot prevail over the positive testimony of a prosecution
witness. A defense of denial which is unsupported and unsubstantiated by
clear and convincing evidence becomes negative and self-serving, deserving
no weight in law, and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over
convincing, straightforward and probable testimony on affirmative
matters."28

Appellants defense of frame-up likewisefails. "[F]rame-up is viewed with


disfavor since, like alibi, it can easily beconcocted and is a common ploy in
most prosecutions for violations of the Dangerous Drugs Law."29 Appellants
claim that he was framed by the police officers for refusing toreveal the
whereabouts of a drug pusher by the name of Montilla is not worthy of belief.
For the police officers to frame him, they must haveknown appellant prior to
the incident.30 Here, the police officers do not personally know appellant
prior to the incident. In fact, appellant himself testified that whenthe police
operatives approached him, they still asked him if he is Naldong. Neither did
the appellant claim that he knows the police officers who apprehended him.
Also, if appellant was indeed a victim of frame-up by police officers, he
should have filed the proper charges against them. "The fact that no
administrative or criminal charges were filed lends cogency to the conclusion
that the alleged frame-up was merely concocted as a defense scheme. This
inaction clearly betrays appellants claim of frame-up."31

Moreover, there is no allegation or evidence whatsoever that the members of


the entrapment team were actuated by improper motive or were not
performing their duty in accordance with law. They are therefore entitled to
the legal presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions
and their testimonies are accorded full faith and credence.32

Failure to strictly comply with the Chain of Custody Rule is not Fatal.

The Court is not persuaded by appellants averment that the prosecution


failed to establish that the shabuallegedly seized from him was the same
shabu submitted for laboratory examination. The following negates
appellants claim: (1) the police officers inventoried the confiscated
shabuimmediately after its seizure from appellant. The process was
witnessed by barangayofficials and a media representative who affixed their
signatures in the Certificate of Inventory;33 (2) the inventory-taking was
photographed and the photographs show that the actual conduct of
inventory was witnessed by appellant himself;34 (3) it is undisputed that
appellant was asked to affix his signature in the Certificate ofInventory but
he refused;35 (4) it was shown that a PDEA personnel thereafter prepared a
formal request and the white crystalline granules contained in the plastic
sachets seized from appellant were indorsed and delivered promptly by PO3
Velasquez to P/Insp. Roderos to the crime laboratory.36
It is true that the prosecution did not formally offer in evidence the
Certificate of Inventory and the formal request for examination of the
confiscated substance. Be that asit may, the Court has previouslyheld that
even if an exhibit is not formally offered, the same "may still be admitted
against the adverse party if, first, it has been duly identified by testimony
duly recorded and, second, it has itself been incorporated in the records of
the case."37 PO3 Velasquez categorically testified that an inventory of the
seized drugs was performed, a corresponding certificate was prepared, and a
formal request for examination was made. He further narrated that together
with the formal request, he submitted and delivered the confiscated drugs to
the crime laboratory. On the basis of the said formal request, P/Insp.
Roderos examined the specimen and she likewise testified on this.
Appellants counsel even asked the saidprosecution witnesses regarding
these documents.38 Considering the said testimoniesand the fact that the
documents were incorporated in the records of the case, they are therefore
admissible against appellant.

Besides, the failure of the police officersto comply strictly with the chain of
custody rule is not fatal. Itwill not render the arrestof appellant illegal or the
items seized or confiscated from him inadmissible.39 "What is of utmost
importance 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."40

In this case, the Court finds no hiatusor confusion in the confiscation,


handling, custody and examination of the shabu.1wphi1 The illegal drug
that was inventoried at the PDEA office, subjected to qualitative examination
at the crime aboratory, and finally introduced in evidence against appellant
was the same illegal drug that was confiscated from him when he was caught
injlagrante delicto selling the same. No apparent irregularity is sufficiently
shown to have attended the chain of custody of the shabu. Its identity,
integrity and probative value were preserved and kept intact by the police
officers.

Penalty

All told, there is no reason to disturb the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by
the CA, that appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal sale of
shabu, as defined and penalized under Section 5, Article II of RA 9165. Under
this law, the penalty for the unauthorized sale of shabu, regardless of its
quantity and purity, is life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from
500,000.00 to 10 million. However, with the enactment of RA
9346,41 only life imprisonment and fine shall be imposed42 upon appellant,
without eligibility for parole pursuant to Section 2 of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law.

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated July 7, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in


CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 02929 which affirmed the Decision dated May 30, 2007
of the Regional Trial Court of Rosales, Pangasinan, Branch 53, in Criminal
Case No. 4938-R, convicting appellant Reynaldo Baturi for violation of
Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, as amended by Republic Act
No. 9346, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and
a fine of 500,000.00, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that he shall
not be eligible for parole.

SO ORDERED.

DELGADO V PEOPLE (ESTAFA)

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari contesting the


September 30, 2003 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR
No. 23701, which affirmed the July 15, 1999 Decision of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 54 in Manila, in Crim. Case No. 95-142409, entitled
People of the Philippines v. Adela Delgado. The RTC convicted petitioner
Adela Delgado of estafa.

The Facts

Proceeding from a complaint filed by private respondent Emmanuel Ang


Jaranilla, petitioner was charged with estafa in an information that reads:

That on or about July 9, 1993, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said
accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud
EMMANUEL ANG JARANILLA, in the following manner, to wit: the said
accused by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representations
which she made to the said EMMANUEL ANG JARANILLA to the effect that
she is in possession of $74,000.00 that she needs Philippine peso and asked
him to change her dollars and by means of other similar deceits, induced and
succeeded in inducing the said EMMANUEL ANG JARANILLA to give and
deliver as in fact he gave and delivered to said accused the amount of P
2,029,820.00 on the strength of said manifestations and representations
said accused knowing fully well that same were false and fraudulent and were
made solely to obtain, as in fact he did obtain the said amount
P2,029,820.00 which amount once in her possession with intent to defraud
absconded herself with the same and misappropriated, misapplied and
converted the said amount of P2,029,820.00 to her own personal use and
benefit, to the damage and prejudice of said EMMANUEL ANG JARANILLA
in the aforesaid amount of P2,029,820.00 Philippine currency.

Contrary to law.2

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

Private respondent Jaranilla was engaged in the money changing business,


and had previous transactions with petitioner Delgado.

On July 9, 1993, Delgado proposed exchanging USD 74,000 with Jaranilla


for Philippine pesos at the rate of PhP 27.43 to the dollar. After consulting
with his father, Manuel Ang, Jaranilla agreed to the proposal. Manuel drew
Metrobank Check No. 061224813 in the amount of PhP 2,029,820, payable
to cash.

Jaranilla entrusted the check to his secretary, Fely Aquino (also known as
Lily Ang). Aquino then met with Delgado on July 9, 1993, at the Binondo
Metrobank branch to encash the check. They both endorsed and affixed their
signatures on the check, Aquino using the name Lily Ang, the name by which
Metrobank knew her. Delgado then received the amount of PhP 2,029,820
from the bank teller. She then claimed not to have the dollars with her, and
had Aquino wait while she got the money from her car. Delgado left and did
not return.

Jaranilla contacted Delgado, but she failed to deliver the USD 74,000,
despite repeated demands for it, prompting him to file a criminal complaint
against her.

In her defense, Delgado claimed to have met Aquino only on that afternoon
of July 9, 1993, and that another person, Carina Alabado, who was presented
as a witness, delivered the subject dollars to Aquino. This was denied by
Aquino.1avvphi1

The trial court found the witnesses for the prosecution more credible, and
rendered its decision convicting Delgado, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
JUDGMENT is hereby rendered adjudging the accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa punishable under Art. 315 involving
the amount of P2,029,820, considering the provisions of Art. 315, the
accused is therefore sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment of twenty (20)
years of reclusion temporal and to pay as indemnity the amount of
P2,029,820 to the aggrieved party Manuel Ang Jaranilla, with interest
thereon at a legal rate, compounded annually, until the entire amount is paid.

SO ORDERED.3

Both Jaranilla and Delgado raised the matter to the CA on appeal. Jaranilla
prayed for interest on the amount of PhP 2,029,820.00 from the date of
extra-judicial demand; moral and exemplary damages; and attorneys fees
and litigation expenses. The essence of Delgados appeal was that the trial
court erred in finding the prosecution witnesses more credible and
convicting her.

The Ruling of the CA

The CA affirmed the conviction of Delgado, but found application for the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, and that Delgado may be sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty ranging from 4 years and 2 months of prision
correccional as minimum to 20 years of reclusion temporal.

The CA also set the reckoning period from when to compute the interest that
would accrue on the amount of PhP 2,029,820 from July 9, 1993, the date
when Delgado absconded with the money. The CA also awarded Jaranilla
with PhP 250,000 as moral damages, PhP 250,000 as exemplary damages,
and PhP 100,000 as attorneys fees, plus costs of litigation.

The dispositive portion of the CA decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the appelaed decision is AFFIRMED with the modifications


to the effect that accused appellant is hereby ordered to pay the complainant
the following:

1. P2,029,820.00 with legal interest compounded annually from July


9, 1993;

2. P250,000.00 in concept of moral damages;


3. P250,000.00 as exemplary damages;

4. P100,000 for attorneys fees plus cost of the litigation.

The penalty against the accused-appellant should be modified in accord with


the penultimate paragraph of this decision.

SO ORDERED.4

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Delgado now brings the matter before this Court.

Assignment of Errors

In support of her petition, Delgado alleges that the RTC and the CA erred in
failing to find: that the injured party and, thus, the proper private
complainant was Manuel Ang, father of Jaranilla; that she was in the
business of money changing and had the capacity to possess the USD 74,000
subject of the transaction; and that Alabados testimony was more credible
than that of Aquino.

Our Ruling

The petition is without merit.

As to the allegation that the injured party was Manuel Ang, and not private
respondent Jaranilla, to show that there was no damage to private
respondent, this is a novel argument, but one that has already been disposed
of. Delgado claims that the source of the funds was Manuel Ang, that the
check was issued by Manuel Ang, so if there were any damage, it would have
been to Manuel Ang, not Jaranilla.

The argument is merely an attempt by Delgado to distract the court from the
proven facts. Manuel Ang was not the one with whom Delgado transacted,
but his son, private respondent Jaranilla. This is not contested by Delgado,
nor does she dispute having received PhP 2,029,820 as a result of said
transaction with Jaranilla. The source of the funds is of no moment for
determining Delgados criminal liability.

Ownership is not a necessary element of the crime of estafa.5 In a string of


cases, it has been held that the person prejudiced or the immediate victim of
the fraud need not be the owner of the goods.6 Thus, the allegation of
Delgado that the injured party was Manuel Ang has no bearing in the
resolution of this case. It was proved that in the transaction between
Jaranilla and Delgado, Delgado would deliver USD 74,000 in exchange for
PhP 2,029,820, and though Jaranilla lived up to his end of the bargain,
Delgado failed to live up to hers. The allegation of Delgado that the PhP
2,029,820 did not belong to Jaranilla, had it been proved, would not matter.

Next, the argument of Delgado that she was engaged in the business of
money-changing and, thus, had the capacity to possess the USD 74,000
subject of the transaction is of no moment. As found by the trial court, she
failed to deliver the dollars in exchange for the PhP 2,029,820 to Jaranillas
secretary at the Binondo branch of Metrobank, and she failed to deliver it
despite repeated demands from private respondent. This belatedly alleged
capacity of hers to possess the USD 74,000 cannot in any way excuse her
failure. The most eloquent refutation to this argument is the plain fact that
she has not delivered what was promised till this day, without explanation or
restitution. Delgado cannot rely on past transactions to argue that there was
no deceit involved when she cannot give a reason for her failure to deliver the
promised dollars at the time agreed upon. The only conclusion that can be
reached, barring any explanation from Delgado, is that she did not possess
the said dollars when the transaction was made; thus, deceit attended the
deal.

Lastly, Delgado argues that her witness, Alabado, who testified giving the
dollars to Aquino, should be accorded more credibility than Aquino.

This last-ditch effort at convincing the Court must fail.

Delgado presents no reason for us to take the word of Alabado over that of
Aquino. When it comes to weighing the credibility of the witnesses, this
Court must bow to the trial court. In this regard, we reiterate the rule that
appellate courts will generally not disturb factual findings of the trial court
since the latter has the unique opportunity to weigh conflicting testimonies,
having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and
manner of testifying.7 The well-entrenched rule is that findings of fact of the
trial court in the ascertainment of the credibility of witnesses and the
probative weight of the evidence on record affirmed, on appeal, by the CA are
accorded high respect, if not conclusive effect, by the Court and in absence
of any justifiable reason to deviate from the said findings.8 Petitioner has
failed to present justification for this Court to disregard the factual findings
of the trial court.
The elements of the crime of estafa, under Article 315(2) of the Revised Penal
Code are: (1) the accused made false pretenses or fraudulent representations
as to his or her power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency,
business, or imaginary transactions; (2) such false pretenses or fraudulent
representations were made prior to or simultaneous with the commission of
the fraud; (3) such false pretenses or fraudulent representations constitute
the very cause which induced the offended party to part with his or her
money or property; and (4) as a result of those acts, the offended party
suffered damage.9 As all the elements have been duly proved, as found by the
RTC and affirmed by the CA, the conviction of petitioner must be upheld.

WHEREFORE, the September 30, 2003 Decision of the CA in CA-G.R. CR


No. 23701 is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

ANSALDO V PEOPLE FALSIFICATION OF DOCUMENT

For a complex crime of estafa through falsification of a public document to


prosper, all the elements of both the crimes of estafa and falsification of a
public document must exist. In this case, not all the elements of the crime of
falsification of a public document are present. Consequently, petitioner can
only be found guilty of estafa.

This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision[1] of the Court of
Appeals (CA) dated March 20, 2003 in CA-G.R. CR. No. 25122 which
affirmed with modification the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 21 in Criminal Case No. 97-156477, finding
petitioner Danilo D. Ansaldo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex
crime of estafa through falsification of public/official document. Likewise
assailed is the Resolution dated July 24, 2003 which denied the Motion for
Reconsideration.

Factual Antecedents

The Information against the petitioner and his wife, Rosalinda Ansaldo,
contained the following accusatory allegations:

That [on] or about February 15, 1995 or sometime prior and


subsequent thereto, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the
said accused, conspiring and confederating together, and
mutually helping each other, being private individuals, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
commit estafa thru falsification of public/official document,
in the following manner, to wit: the said accused, with intent
to defraud and cause damage, forged and falsified a Deed of
Real Estate Mortgage which was subsequently notarized by
Notary Public Juan N. Domingo and entered in
his Notarial Register as Doc. No. 47; Page No. 59; Book No.
VI; Series of 1995 and therefore a public and/or official
document, by then and there misrepresenting that they are
the real spouses Nina Z. Ramirez and Mariano Ramirez, the
registered and absolute owners of a piece of land described
as TCT No. 188686 situated in Barrio Bagbagan,
Municipality of Muntinlupa, Province of Rizal valued
at P500,000.00 by signing, feigning or simulating or causing
to be signed, feigned and simulated the signatures of spouses
Nia Z. Ramirez and Mariano Z. Ramirez, thereby making it
appear as it did appear that spouses Nia Z. Ramirez &
Mariano Ramirez participated and intervened in the
preparation and execution of the aforesaid Deed of Real
Estate Mortgage, said accused well knowing that such was
not the case, in that said spouses did not participate and
execute the same, much less signed the said document, nor
did they authorized [sic] herein accused or anybody else for
that matter to sign and affix their signatures in said
document, which is an outright forgery and falsification; that
after the said Deed of Real Estate Mortgage was forged and
falsified in the manner above set-forth, accused presented
the same to one Nora L. Herrera, who, believing in the
authenticity and genuineness of the same as represented to
her by the said accused, gave and delivered the mortgage
consideration in the amount of P300,000.00 to the said
accused, who, once in their possession thereof, with abuse of
trust and confidence and with intent to defraud, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and
converted the same to their own personal use and benefit, to
the damage and prejudice of Nia Z. Ramirez in the amount
of P500,000.00, the value of the property in question.[3]
On arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. However, his wife
and co-accused, remains at large. Thereafter, trial ensued.

The Version of the Prosecution

Nia Z. Ramirez (Ramirez) wanted to subdivide her lot in Muntinlupa City. In


1993, her niece, Edna Tadeo introduced the petitioner and his wife while
they were inside her store in 509 Plaza Sta. Cruz, Manila, as the people who
could help with her problem. Petitioner and his wife represented themselves
as having direct connections with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and
assured Ramirez that they could have her property subdivided. Ramirez thus
entrusted to them her owners duplicate copy of Transfer Certificate of Title
(TCT) No. 188686, which covered the said lot, on condition that it would be
returned after a month. This prerequisite is evidenced by an
Acknowledgment Receipt dated January 5, 1995.[4]

The one-month period agreed upon elapsed with the petitioner and his wife
failing to inform Ramirez of the status of the anticipated
subdivision. Ramirez repeatedly demanded them to return her owners
duplicate title of the land to no avail. Ramirez was later surprised to find out
that the land covered by her TCT was the subject of a document in which it
appeared that she mortgaged the same to a certain Nora Herrera. The deed
was even annotated at the back of the TCT. However, Ramirez claimed that
her signature in the document was a forgery. At the time of the mortgage,
there were no other persons other than the petitioner and his wife to whom
she entrusted her TCT.

The Version of the Petitioner

Petitioner denied that he was introduced to Ramirez in 1993. He claimed that


in the early morning of January 5, 1995, he was in his house when he saw
Ramirez talking to his wife. He had no knowledge of the topic of their
conversation. He later signed a piece of paper without reading the contents
thereof since Ramirez assured him that it was merely for formality. The
paper turned out to be the Acknowledgment Receipt.

Petitioner denied participation in the preparation, execution and


registration of the deed of real estate mortgage. He also denied residing at
the address where Ramirez sent a demand letter for the return of her
TCT. However, he admitted that his wife was engaged in the registration and
follow-up of documents covering real property.

According to the petitioner, he went to Japan with his wife on June


7, 1998. He came home but his wife stayed behind. Upon his arrival, he was
apprehended.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On December 6, 2000, the trial court rendered a Decision convicting the


petitioner of falsification. The dispositive portion reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the above observations and


findings, accused Danilo Ansaldo is hereby convicted of the
crime charged in the information, defined and punished
under Article 172 paragraph 1 without any mitigating nor
aggravating circumstances attendant in its commission,
granting the accused the benefit of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, he is hereby sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate prision term from six (6) months
of arresto mayor maximum as minimum to four (4) years,
two (2) months of prision correccional medium as maximum
and to pay a fine of P5,000.00 and to indemnify the
complainant the sum of P300,000.00 representing the
amount received by the Ansaldos in mortgaging the
property.

Accused Danilo Ansaldo shall be credited with the full extent


of his preventive imprisonment under Article 29 of the
Revised Penal Code. The bond posted for his provisional
liberty is hereby cancelled.

Danilo Ansaldos body is hereby committed to the custody of


the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, National
Penitentiary, Muntinlupa City through the City Jail Warden
of Manila.

The charge against Rosalinda Ansaldo is hereby archived to


be brought back to the active calendar of the court upon her
apprehension. Let warrant of arrest be issued for that
purpose.
The complainant is hereby ordered to pay the docket fee
corresponding to the civil damages awarded.

SO ORDERED.[5]

In finding petitioner guilty of falsification, the trial court noted that no other
person was in possession of the TCT prior to the falsification other than
petitioner and his wife. Based thereon, the court a quo concluded that
petitioner and his wife were the ones who mortgaged the property by
pretending to be the spouses Ramirez.

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

Petitioner appealed his conviction to the CA which affirmed with


modification the Decision of the RTC. The appellate court found petitioner
guilty of the complex crime of estafa thru falsification of a public
document. The dispositive portion reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the court a quo finding


accused-appellant guilty of the crime of Estafa through
Falsification of a Public Document and ordering him to pay
the fine in the amount of P5,000.00 are hereby AFFIRMED
with MODIFICATION as to the penalty imposed upon
him. Accordingly, there being no mitigating or aggravating
circumstance to consider, accused-appellant is hereby
sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four (4)
years, two (2) months and one (1) day
of PrisionCorreccional maximum as Minimum, to ten (10)
years of Prision Mayor medium as Maximum. He is further
ordered to cause the release/discharge of the mortgage
constituted on the property in the amount
of P300,000.00 and return to private complainant Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 188686 free from liens and
encumbrances. No costs.

SO ORDERED.[6]

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but it was denied by the CA in


its Resolution[7] dated July 24, 2003.

Issues

Hence, this petition for review raising the following issues:

1.) Whether x x x the trial courts ruling, as affirmed


by [the] court a quo erroneously applied the legal
presumption that the possessor or user of a forged
document is the author of the forgery in arriving at its
findings that the petitioner (and his wife) committed the
complex crime of Estafa by the act of falsifying the
subject Deed of Real Estate Mortgage.

2.) Whether x x x the court a quo, seriously erred in


affirming [the] trial courts ruling which accorded probative
value to a mere certified true copy of a document
entitled Deed of Real Estate Mortgage in support of the
latters factual conclusion that the signatures respectively
written above the printed names of Nia Z. Ramirez and that
of her husband (which appear therein as the parties-
mortgagors) were forged.

3.) Whether x x x the court a quo committed serious


error in its assailed Decision in affirming the factual findings
and rulings of the trial court, and in further modifying the
latters decision by increasing the original sentence from an
imprisonment of six (6) months of arresto mayor maximum
as minimum to four (4) years two (2) months
of prision correctional medium as maximum to a longer
prison term of [four] (4) years, two (2) months and one (1)
day of Prision Correctional maximum as Minimum, to ten
(10) years of Prision Mayor medium as Maximum (and also
in further ordering the petitioner to cause the
release/discharge of the mortgage constituted on the
property in the amount of P300,000.00 and to return to
private complainant Transfer Certificate of Title No. 188686
free from liens and encumbrances) declaring the conviction
of the petitioner for complex crime of Estafa through
Falsification of a Public Document despite the fact that the
appealed decision of the trial court clearly shows that the
petitioner was found guilty of committing only the simple
crime of Falsification of a Public Document penalized under
paragraph 1 of Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code.

4.) Whether x x x the court a quo has departed from


the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, or so
far sanctioned such departure by the trial court, as to call for
an exercise of the power of supervision, when it -- failed to
carefully evaluate and weigh the evidence presented by
prosecution which clearly does not support the judgment of
conviction against the petitioner; -- overlooked certain facts
of substance and value that, if properly considered, would
certainly affect the outcome of the case; -- based its findings
on misapprehension of facts, from erroneous inferences, and
surmises or conjectures; and -- rendered its rulings contrary
to law, the rules on evidence, and existing jurisprudence in
violation of the petitioners constitutional rights to due
process and to be presumed innocent.

5.) Whether x x x the court a quo has also departed


from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings
when it failed to squarely resolve or pass upon each and
every assignment of error and properly consider supporting
arguments set forth by the petitioner herein in his Appellants
Brief, as well as the specific grounds and corresponding
arguments set forth in his Motion for Reconsideration.[8]

Our Ruling

The petition is partly granted.

For petitioner to be convicted of the complex crime of estafa through


falsification of public document committed in the manner described in the
Information, all the elements of the two crimes of estafa and falsification of
public document must exist.[9]

To secure a conviction for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the
Revised Penal Code (RPC), the following requisites must concur:

(1) The accused made false pretenses or fraudulent


representations as to his power, influence, qualifications,
property, credit, agency, business or imaginary
transactions;

(2) The false pretenses or fraudulent representations


were made prior to or simultaneous with the commission
of the fraud;

(3) The false pretenses or fraudulent representations


constitute the very cause which induced the offended
party to part with his money or property;

(4) That as a result thereof, the offended party suffered


damage.[10]

It is undisputed that petitioner committed estafa. He and his wife falsely


represented to Ramirez that they had the influence and capability to cause
the subdivision of the lot. In view of said false representation, Ramirez was
induced to part with the owners copy of her TCT on the condition that the
same would be returned after a month as evidenced by the Acknowledgment
Receipt.

However, petitioner and his wife never complied with their obligations. It is
also on record that Ramirez made a formal demand for the return of the TCT
but petitioner and his wife failed to comply. Their failure to return the said
title despite demand is evidence of deceit that resulted in damages to
Ramirez. It was also established that the property covered by TCT No.
188686 was eventually mortgaged for P300,000.00 to a third person
without the knowledge and consent of Ramirez.

The following testimony of Ramirez clearly established that petitioner falsely


represented that he has the capacity to cause the subdivision of the property;
that false pretenses induced her (Ramirez) to entrust her TCT to petitioner;
and that as a result thereof, Ramirez suffered damage to the extent
of P300,000.00, thus:

Petitioner did not deny his signature on the Acknowledgement


Receipt.[12] On the contrary he claimed that he merely affixed his signature
without reading the contents thereof[13] and that he did not bother to inquire
from his wife the contents of the Acknowledgement Receipt,[14] which we find
not worthy of credence. However, he admitted that his wife was engaged in
facilitating the registration of documents involving real property.[15]

On the other hand, we find that we cannot convict petitioner of the crime of
falsification of a public document penalized under Article 172 of the
RPC. The following requisites must concur, to wit:

(1) That the offender is a private individual or a public


officer or employee who took advantage of his official
position;

(2) That he committed any of the acts of falsification


enumerated in article 171 of the Revised Penal Code
(which in this case involves forging a signature);

(3) That the falsification was committed in a public or


official or commercial document.[16]

There is no doubt that petitioner is a private individual,[17] being a


businessman. It is likewise not disputed that the Deed of Mortgage is a public
document, having been notarized by a notary public with the solemnities
required by law. However, we find no evidence on record showing that the
petitioner and his wife falsified the subject Deed of Mortgage. There is simply
no evidence showing that petitioner had any participation in the execution
of the mortgage document. There is no proof at all that he was the one who
signed the Deed of Mortgage. The testimony of Ramirez consisted only of the
following:

Based on the foregoing, we cannot conclude beyond reasonable doubt that it


was petitioner and his wife who committed the forgery. In the first
place, Lina Santos (Santos) was not presented to corroborate the testimony
of Ramirez that she was the one who informed the latter regarding the
mortgage or she could shed light on the circumstances leading to her alleged
discovery that the subject property had been mortgaged. Moreover, as
narrated by Ramirez, Santos did not categorically point to herein petitioner
as the author of the forgery. If at all, Santos only claimed that the property of
Ramirez had been mortgaged but did not mention the personalities involved
therein. Likewise, the failure to present the so-called mortgagee, Nora
Herrera, casts doubt as to the participation of the petitioner in the execution
of the mortgage instrument. Undoubtedly, Nora Herrera could have testified
on the persons she dealt with relative to the mortgage.

The denial of Ramirez that she affixed her signature on the Deed of mortgage
does not prove that it was petitioner and his wife who signed in her
behalf. Neither could it be considered as proof that petitioner, together with
his wife, falsely represented themselves as the spouses Ramirez.

For committing the offense of estafa against Ramirez, the petitioner must be
penalized in the manner provided by law. In this regard, Article 315 of the
RPC states that the penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period
to prision mayor in its minimum period shall be imposed if the amount of
the fraud is over P12,000.00 but does not exceed P22,000.00. Should the
amount exceed the latter sum, the penalty provided shall be imposed in its
maximum period, adding one year for each
additional P10,000.00. However, the total penalty that may be imposed
should not exceed 20 years. In such cases, the penalty shall be referred to
as prision mayor or reclusion temporal.

Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law (ISL), whenever an offense is


punished by the RPC or its amendments, the accused shall be sentenced by
the court to an indeterminate penalty, the maximum term of which, in view
of the attending circumstances, can properly be imposed under the RPC,
while the minimum term of which shall be within the range of the penalty
next lower to that prescribed for the offense.

The amount defrauded in this case is P300,000.00 which is the mortgage


amount. Thus, the maximum imposable penalty shall be 20 years
of reclusion temporal. Applying the ISL, the minimum penalty
is prisioncorreccional in its minimum and medium periods with a range of
six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months.

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision of the


Court of Appeals is MODIFIED. Petitioner Danilo D. Ansaldo is hereby
found guilty of the crime of estafa and is sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months
of prision correccional as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion
temporal as maximum.

SO ORDERED.

SEGURITAN V PEOPLE HOMICIDE


Laws Applicable:

FACTS:
November 25,1995: Roo Seguritan y Jara alias Ranio was having a
drinking session with his uncles Lucrecio Seguritan (51 year old
farmer), Melchor Panis and Baltazar Panis, in the house of Manuel
dela Cruz. Ranio was seated beside Lucrecio as he claimed that
Lucrecios carabao entered his farm and destroyed his crops which
bun the heated argument. As Lucrecio was about to stand up, he
punched him twice hitting him in the right and left temple causing him
to fall face-up to the ground and hit a hollow block which was being
used as an improvised stove causing him to fall face-up to the ground
and hit a hollow block which was being used as an improvised
stove. Lucrecio rode a tricycle home. His wife noticed blood on his
forehead so he explained that he was stoned.
November 25,1995 9pm: Lucrecios wife and daughter noticed that
his complexion has darkened and foamy substance was coming out
of his mouth as he slept. They tried to revive Lucrecio but failed.
December 4, 1995: Lucrecios wife learned of the incident and
requested the assistance of the NBI. NBI Medico-Legal Officer Dr.
Vertido concluded that Lucrecios cause of death was traumatic head
injury
October 1, 1996: He was charged with Homicide
Ranio presented Joel Cabebe, the Assistant Registration Officer of
Gonzaga, Cagayan, and Dr. Corazon Flor, the Municipal Health
Officer of Sta. Teresita, Cagayan, to prove that Lucrecio died of a
heart attack
RTC: homicide
CA: Affirmed
Ranio argued that he should be liable only for reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide due to the absence of intent to kill Lucrecio
ISSUE: W/N Ranio is guilty of homicide even if there is no intent

HELD: YES. petition is DENIED. AFFIRMED penalty of six years and one
day of prision mayor as minimum, to 12 years and one day of reclusion
temporal as maximum with MODIFICATION that petitioner is further
ordered to pay P25,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of actual
damages, and P50,000.00 as civil indemnity
When death resulted, even if there was no intent to kill, the crime is
homicide, not just physical injuries, since with respect to crimes of
personal violence, the penal law looks particularly to the material
results following the unlawful act and holds the aggressor responsible
for all the consequences thereof.
Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code provides
1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful
act done be different from that which he intended.
Unlawful act - punching Lucrecio
He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil caused

PEOPLE VS JADAP ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS

For automatic review is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals, Mindanao


Station in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00244 Min which affirmed with modification,
an earlier Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Misamis Oriental,
Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 18 in Criminal Case No. 2001-649, finding
accused-appellant Dante Jadap guilty of murder under Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code in relation to Republic Act No. 7659.

On July 3, 2001, an Information3 was filed against Jadap charging him with
the crime of murder as follows:

That on or about February 20, 2001 at 9:30 oclock in the evening more or
less at Raagas Beach, Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
with intent to kill, armed with .38 caliber revolver which he was then
conveniently provided, with evident premeditation and treachery, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shot one
Robert Alisbo y Roxas, represented by his father Rodrigo Alisbo y Topic,
hitting the right side of his body, thereby inflicting fatal or mortal wounds of
the latter which is the direct and immediate cause of his death.
Contrary to and in Violation of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code in
relation to R.A. 7659.

When arraigned on April 1, 2002, Jadap pleaded not guilty.4 At the pre-trial
conference, the parties admitted the following facts:

1. That Robert Alisbo y Roxas died of gunshot wound on the spinal


column on May 25, 2001 as shown in the death certificate marked as
Exhibit "A";

2. That there was no quarrel between the victim and accused Dante
Jadap immediately before and during the incident of February 20,
2001 at 9:30 oclock in the evening at Raagas Beach, Bonbon,
Cagayan de Oro City.

x x x. Exhibit "D" certification from the firearms/explosives security


agencies and guards section to prove that the accused is not a licensed
firearm holder of any caliber of firearm x x x.5

At the trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: (a) Rollie
Arciso (Arciso), the victims friend; (b) Police Superintendent Gregorio R.
Bautista of the Firearms and Explosives/Security Agencies and Gurads
Section, Philippine National Police, Regional Office 10, Cagayan de Oro
City; (c) Dr. Ryan R. Mortiz, the victims attending physician; (d) Diosdado
Aton, Jr. (Aton), an eyewitness to the shooting incident; and (e) Rodrigo
Alisbo, the victims father.

For the defense, Jadap himself and his friend, Marito Ramayan, took the
witness stand.

On January 21, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision finding Jadap
guilty of murder qualified by treachery with the aggravating circumstance of
the use of unlicensed firearm. The dispositive portion of its decision reads:

WHEREFORE, after taking into account of all the foregoing, the Court finds
accused DANTE JADAP GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt [of] the crime
of murder, punishable under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code in
relation to R.A. 7659. After taking into account the aggravating
circumstance of the use of unlicensed firearm without any mitigating
circumstance, the said accused is hereby sentenced and SO ORDERED to
suffer the supreme penalty of DEATH by lethal injection, including its
accessory penalties. He is further directed and SO ORDERED to pay the
parents of the victim the sum of Seventy-Five Thousand (75,000.00)
Pesos, as indemnity for the death of the victim; Fifty Thousand
(50,000.00) Pesos, as moral damages; One Hundred One Thousand
Eight Hundred (101,800.00) Pesos, as refund for the medical and burial
expenses; and the sum of 720,000.00, as loss of earning.

Pursuant to Section 22 of R.A. 7659 and Section 10 of Rule 122 of the


Rules of Court, let the entire record of this case be forwarded to the
Supreme Court for automatic review.6

The record of this case was forwarded to this Court for automatic review in
view of the penalty imposed.

In our Resolution7 dated January 13, 2004, we accepted the appeal and
directed the Chief of the Judicial Records Office to send notices to the
parties to file their respective briefs. The Court also required the Director,
Bureau of Corrections, to confirm the detention of Jadap at the National
Penitentiary.

Jadap filed his Appellants Brief8 on June 11, 2004, while the People,
through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed its Appellee's Brief9 on
October 8, 2004.

Pursuant to our pronouncement in People v. Mateo,10 which modified the


provisions of the Rules of Court insofar as they provide for direct appeals
from the RTC to this Court in cases where the penalty imposed by the trial
court is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, this case was
referred for appropriate action and disposition to the Court of Appeals
where it was docketed as CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00244 Min.

The evidence for the prosecution is summarized by the Office of the


Solicitor General, as follows:

At 8:00 oclock in the evening of February 20, 2001 Robert Alisbo, the
victim, with his friends Rollie Arciso, Jeffrey Arciso, Gomer Tormes, Junifel
Pilaro, Diosdado Aton, Jr., Ferlin Alberca, and Lenderico Sabanal went
swimming at Raagas Beach Resort, Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City. Around
9:00 oclock in the evening, they were in an open cottage in the beach
resort drinking a gallon of tuba with Robert Alisbo and Rollie Arciso sitting
near each other on a bench. They could well see one another because the
place was lighted by a fluorescent light which was approximately 2.5
meters away from them. Around 9:30 p.m., [accused-appellant] Dante
Jadap suddenly appeared from nowhere behind Robert Alisbo and Rollie
Arciso. Without provocation from the latters group, [accused-appellant]
took out a .38 caliber revolver and shot Roberto Alisbo, hitting him on the
right side of his body (TSN, June 3, 2002, pp. 6-9, 13).

Then, [accused-appellant] pointed the gun at the friends of Robert Alisbo


and fired it twice, causing them to immediately scamper away. However,
Rollie Arciso, Lenderico Sabanal, and Ferlin Alberca stayed, taking cover
under the cottages table. [Accused-appellant] hit Ferlin Alberca and
Lenderico Sabanal who was injured on his left leg. Thereafter, accused-
appellant casually walked away towards Bayabas, a nearby barangay
(ibid., p. 10).

Seeing Robert Alisbo prostrate on the ground, Rollie Arciso immediately


went to the house nearby of Barangay Kagawad Raagas to seek
assistance. Accordingly, Raagas called the police and using the police car
brought Robert Alisbo and Lenderico Sabanal to the hospital (ibid., p. 11).

Four days later, on February 24, 2001, Dr. Ryan R. Mortiz operated on the
victim but to no avail. Although Roberto Alisbo was discharged from the
hospital on March 10, 2001, the lower portion of his body remained
incapacitated. He died thereafter. According to Dr. Mortiz, the bullet
entered the victims chest area through the right side of the body, about 6"
below the nipple. There was no exit wound, and the slug was found on the
spinal cord, damaging the right lung, chest cavity and spinal cord which
caused the victims death (TSN, June 13, 2002, pp. 6-8).

Meanwhile, on the fatal night of February 20, 2001, the police investigated
the crime scene and interrogated Rollie Arciso about the incident. The
police was able to recover from the crime scene two slugs of a .38 caliber
pistol. Thereafter, the police, accompanied by Rollie Arciso, went to
Mahayahay and Bayabas, the adjoining barangays of Bonbon to look for
[accused-appellant] but they did not find him. The following morning, Rollie
Arciso had the incident entered in the police blotter of Carmen Police
Station.

Sometime in December 2001, [accused-appellant] was finally found and


arrested by the police (TSN, December 10, 2002, p. 30).
Police Supt. Gregorio R. Bautista of the Firearm and Explosive Division of
the Philippine National Police, Region X, Cagayan de Oro City, affirmed
that [accused-appellant] was not a licensed firearm holder (TSN, June 5,
2002, p. 45).

The father of the deceased, Rodrigo Alisbo, incurred hospital, medical, and
burial expenses for the victim in the total amount of 101,800.00 (Exhibit
"C" and "C-1"). At the time of his death, Robert Alisbo was only 20 years
old and was working as a mason with a monthly income of 3,000.00
(TSN, June 24, 2002, pp. 2-8).11

On the other hand, Jadaps Brief presents a different story:

MARITO RAMAYAN averred that he lives within a hundred meters from the
site of the shooting although he was asleep on the night that the incident
happened. In the morning of the next day, when he learned of the alleged
shooting incident, he went to check out the site and saw that
several tuba gallons strewn all over the place. He had not seen the
[accused-appellant] at that place for a long time prior to the incident.
(October 22, 2002, pp. 26-33; December 10, 2002, pp. 22-25).

Accused DANTE JADAP was a former police officer who was discharged
from the service due to absence without leave. After his resignation, he
stayed at Bayabas, Cagayan de Oro which is about a kilometer away from
Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro, with his children as he was separated de facto
from his wife. But when he returned to Cagayan de Oro from Manila, where
he was following up his reinstatement, he left his two (2) children under the
care of his wife. He only goes to the area of Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro
whenever his wife calls him to fetch their children. His wife was studying.
On the night of February 20, 2001, he was at home attending to his two
children. He never knew that he was charged of murder until the time his
wife turned him over to the police due to a misunderstanding. (TSN,
December 10, 2002, pp. 26-40).12

On August 17, 2006, the Court of Appeals promulgated the herein


challenged decision affirming for the most part the decision of the trial court
with modification only as to the penalty imposed. The penalty was lowered
from death to reclusion perpetua and the award of civil indemnity in the
amount of 75,000.00 was reduced to 50,000.00. Also, additional awards
of 50,000.00 each as exemplary damages and temperate damages were
imposed. However, the Court of Appeals deleted the award of 101,800.00
as a refund of the medical and burial expenses for lack of evidence. The
amount of 50,000.00 for moral damages and 720,000.00 for loss of
earning capacity were affirmed. Pertinently, the Court of Appeals decision
reads in part:

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is affirmed but the penalty is


reduced to reclusion perpetua. Further, the amount of damages are
modified in that appellant is ordered to pay the parents of Robert Alisbo (a)
Php50,000.00 as civil indemnity ex delicto; (b) Php720,000.00 for loss of
earning capacity; (c) Php50,000.00 for temperate damages; (d)
Php50,000.00 for moral damages; and (e) Php50,000.00 as exemplary
damages.13

Thereafter, the Court of Appeals elevated the instant case to this Court in
view of the penalty imposed. In our Resolution14 dated August 1, 2007, we
required the parties to simultaneously submit their respective supplemental
briefs. On October 5, 2007, the People filed a Manifestation15 stating that it
is no longer filing a supplemental brief since the arguments raised by Jadap
have already been discussed in its brief dated October 8, 2004. Jadap
likewise filed his Manifestation16 on October 17, 2007 adopting his
Appellants Brief and Reply as Supplemental Brief.

Jadap raised this lone assignment of error:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-


APPELLANT OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF
THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT.

The present appeal has no merit.

The pivotal issue being factual and evidentiary, the credibility of the
witnesses assumes immense importance. Well-settled is the rule that the
trial court's evaluation of the credibility of witnesses is entitled to the
highest respect and will not be disturbed on appeal considering that the trial
court was in a better position to decide thereon, having personally heard
the witnesses and observed their deportment and manner of testifying
during the trial. Its findings on the credibility of witnesses and the facts must
be given great weight on appeal, unless certain facts of substance and
value were overlooked which, if considered, might affect the result of the
case.17

We find no reason to deviate from the trial courts assessment, as affirmed


by the Court of Appeals, of the witnesses testimonies, to wit:

In the case at bar, although the crime occurred at past 9:30 in the evening,
there was fluorescent light coming from the electric posts. No less than
defense witness in the person of Marito Ramayan declared that the place
of the incident was well-lighted because he used to pass by in evening
when he goes fishing and peddling.

Moreover, prosecutions eyewitnesses namely: Rollie Arciso and Diosdado


Aton, also declared that there was fluorescent light. It would be against
human nature if they would concoct heinous charges against accused,
otherwise, their intention of seeking justice would serve no purpose. Much
more, their candidness, poises, bearings, manners and demeanors
impressed the Court.

The accused also anchored his defense of denial and alibi. He claimed that
at the time of the incident he was at his house attending to his two minor
children. Again, the denial and alibi cannot stand taller than the positive
identification of the two eyewitnesses.18

After a thorough review and examination of the record, we find that the
evidence in this case sufficiently established the guilt of Jadap beyond
reasonable doubt. Eyewitnesses Arciso and Aton positively identified Jadap
as the assailant. Their testimonies were straightforward, clear and
consistent and they could not be mistaken in pinpointing Jadap as the
person who gunned down Robert Alisbo, because the place where the
incident happened was illuminated by a fluorescent light. It is equally worth
noting that Jadap did not rebut the testimonies of both Arciso and Aton that
they knew him.

On direct examination by Prosecutor Manuel Nolasco, Arciso testified:

The truthfulness of the above testimonies was also bolstered by the


physical evidence consisting of the injuries found in the body of the victim
from which a .38 caliber bullet was retrieved, and the two .38 caliber slugs
recovered by the police at the crime site. That the physical evidence
corroborated the prosecution witnesses testimonies can be gleaned from
the trial courts ruling that:

No dispute that the victim died of a gunshot wound on May 25, 2001, as
admitted in the pre-trial (p. 79, Record), after he was shot on February 20,
2001 and was operated by Dr. Ryan R. Mortiz on February 24, 2001. To his
opinion it was considered a fatal wound (TSN, June 13, 2002, pp. 6-8)
because the bullet entered the chest area through [the] right side of the
body, about 6" below the nipple with no exit wound, the slug was found on
and damaged the spi[n]al cord, including the right lung and chest
cavity.22 (Emphases ours.)

As for Jadaps defense of denial and alibi, we cannot sustain the same in
light of the eyewitnesses positive identification of Jadap and their clear and
convincing testimonies regarding Jadaps shooting of the victim. For the
defense of alibi to prosper, it must be established by positive, clear and
satisfactory proof that it was physically impossible for the accused to have
been at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission, and not
merely that the accused was somewhere else. Physical impossibility refers
to the distance between the place where the accused was when the crime
happened and the place where it was committed, as well as the facility of
the access between the two places.23 In the case at bar, Jadap failed to
prove the element of physical impossibility for him to be at the scene of the
crime at the time it took place. He himself admitted that it would only take
him about ten minutes to walk from his house in Bayabas to his wifes
house at Raagas Beach, Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City, where the crime
was committed.

Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No.
7659, provides:

ART. 248. Murder. Any person who, not falling within the provisions of
Article 246, shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be
punished by reclusion perpetua, to death if committed with any of the
following attendant circumstances:

1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of


armed men, or employing means to weaken the defense or of means or
persons to insure or afford impunity. (Emphasis supplied.)
We agree with both the trial court and the Court of Appeals that treachery,
which was alleged in the Information, qualified the killing of Robert Alisbo.

Treachery exists when an offender commits any of the crimes against


persons, employing means, methods or forms which tend directly or
especially to ensure its execution, without risk to the offender, arising from
the defense that the offended party might make. This definition sets out
what must be shown by evidence to conclude that treachery existed,
namely: (1) the employment of such means of execution as would give the
person attacked no opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; and (2) the
deliberate and conscious adoption of the means of execution. To reiterate,
the essence of qualifying circumstance is the suddenness, surprise and the
lack of expectation that the attack will take place, thus, depriving the victim
of any real opportunity for self-defense while ensuring the commission of
the crime without risk to the aggressor.24

The evidence in this case shows that the attack was unexpected and swift.
The victim and his friends were drinking on the beach when Jadap
suddenly appeared from behind, walked towards their right side, and
without any warning pulled out a gun and fired at the victim. This shot was
followed by more shots directed at the victims friends, Ferlyn Alberca who
was hit on both thighs and Lenderico Sabanal on his leg. The victim had no
opportunity to defend himself and Jadap was not exposed to any danger in
view of the unexpected attack. Also, Jadap deliberately and consciously
adopted his mode of attack by using a .38 caliber revolver and made sure
that the victim, who was unarmed, would have no chance to defend
himself.

We proceed to a review of the penalties imposed on Jadap.

Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act
No. 7659, murder is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. In view of
the attendant circumstance of treachery, the crime committed by Jadap is
murder. Records also show that Jadap was not a licensed firearm
holder.25 Pursuant to Section 1 of Republic Act No. 8294, when an
unlicensed firearm is used in the commission of the crime, it should be
considered as an aggravating circumstance. Hence, the penalty imposed
should be the maximum penalty, which is death.
However, in view of the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9346, entitled "An
Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines," on June
24, 2006, the penalty imposed must be reduced from death to reclusion
perpetua without eligibility for parole.

As to damages, when death occurs due to a crime, the following may be


awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual
or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages;
and (5) temperate damages.26

Civil indemnity is mandatory and granted to the heirs of the victim without
need of proof other than the commission of the crime. In cases of murder
and homicide, moral damages may be awarded without need of allegation
and proof of the emotional suffering of the heirs, other than the death of the
victim, since the emotional wounds from the vicious killing of the victim
cannot be denied.27 To conform with recent jurisprudence, Jadap is ordered
to pay 75,000.00 as civil indemnity and another amount of 75,000.00 as
moral damages.28

Article 2230 of the Civil Code states that exemplary damages may be
imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating
circumstances, as in this case. Thus, the heirs of the victim are entitled to
exemplary damages in the amount of 30,000.00 pursuant to the latest
jurisprudence on this matter.291avvphi1

As to actual damages, the rule is that "only receipted expenses can be the
basis of actual damages arising from [medical] funeral expenditures."30 All
the prosecution presented was a receipt from the funeral parlor amounting
to 2,500.00.31 Since the receipted expenses of the victims family was less
than 25,000.00, temperate damages in the said amount can be awarded
in lieu of actual damages.32 Accordingly, the heirs of the victim are not
entitled to actual damages but to temperate damages in the amount of
25,000.00.

Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals awarded the heirs of Robert
Alisbo the amount of 720,000.00 by reason of the victims loss of earning
capacity. As a rule, documentary evidence should be presented to
substantiate the claim for damages for loss of earning capacity. By way of
exception, damages for loss of earning capacity may be awarded despite
the absence of documentary evidence when (1) the deceased is self-
employed and earning less than the minimum wage under current labor
laws, in which case judicial notice may be taken of the fact that in the
deceased's line of work no documentary evidence is available; or (2) the
deceased is employed as a daily wage worker earning less than the
minimum wage under current labor laws.33 In this case, no documentary
evidence was presented to prove the claim of the victims heirs for
damages by reason of loss of earning capacity. However, the victims
father testified that at the time of his sons death, he was only 20 years old
and was working as a mason with a monthly income of 3,000.00. We find
the fathers testimony sufficient to justify the award of damages for loss of
earning capacity.

The computation arrived at by the trial court, as affirmed by the Court of


Appeals, was in accordance with the formula for computing the award for
loss of earning capacity.34 Thus:

Award for lost = 2/3 [80-age at time of death] x [gross annual


earnings income - 50% (GAI)]
= 2/3 [80-20] x 36,000.00 - 18,000.00
= (40) x (P18,000.00)
= 720,000.00

In addition to the damages awarded, we also impose on all the amounts of


damages an interest at the legal rate of 6% from this date until fully paid.35

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR- HC


No. 00244 MIN promulgated on August 17, 2006, affirming with
modification the Decision dated January 21, 2003 of the Regional Trial
Court of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 18 in Criminal Case No. 2001-649
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accused-appellant Dante Jadap is
found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of MURDER as defined in Article
248 of the Revised Penal Code, qualified by treachery and with the
attendant aggravating circumstance of the use of unlicensed firearm, with
no mitigating circumstance. Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346, banning
the imposition of the death penalty, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty
of Reclusion Perpetua without possibility of parole. Jadap is
further ORDERED to pay the heirs of Robert Alisbo the amounts of
75,000.00 as civil indemnity, 75,000.00 as moral damages, 30,000.00
as exemplary damages, 25,000.00 as temperate damages, 720,000.00
as loss of earning capacity and an interest on all the damages awarded at
the legal rate of 6% from this date until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.