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33 – Sison v People (1995)

GR NO. 108280-23 / 114931-33


IV. Real and Demonstrative Evidence

FACTS
- Several informations were filed in court against eleven persons identified as Marcos
loyalists, charging them with the murder of Stephen Salcedo.
- The prosecution established that on July 27, 1986, a rally was scheduled to be held at
Luneta by Marcos loyalists. Despite the denial of their permit to rally, 3000 of them
gathered at the Rizal Monument. Led by Lozano and Nuega, both lawyers, the loyalists
started singing contests, recited prayers and delivered speeches.
- The police asked the rallyists to disperse as they did not have a permit. Atty. Lozano
then instructed the Marcos loyalists by saying “Gulpihin ninyo ang lahat ng mga Cory
infiltrators!”. The police then pushed the crowd and used tear gas to disperse them.
Eventually, the crowd fled to Maria Orosa Street.
- Then, a small group of loyalists saw Annie Ferrer, a famous movie starlet and Marcos
supporter. Upon informing her of their dispersal, she angrily ordered “Gulpihin lahat ng
Cory hecklers!”. She continued jogging while chanting “Marcos pa rin! Bugbugin ang
mga nakadilaw!”. She was then arrested. This aggrieved the loyalists and started
attacking persons in yellow. They then saw a man wearing a yellow shirt, which the
loyalists chased. This man was Salcedo. When they caught up with Salcedo, they
boxed, kicked and mauled him. Banculo, a cigarette vendor, saw the loyalists attacking
Salcedo.
- Ranulfo Sumilang rushed to Salcedo’s aid, and showed a “Marcos loyalist” tag to the
loyalists and they backed off for a while. Although Sumilang was able to tow Salcedo
away from the group, they still boxed Salcedo in different parts of his head, while some
shouted “Iyan, Cory iyan. Patayin!”
- Salcedo managed to get away and then tried to flee towards the Rizal Monument but
some of the loyalists still pursued Salcedo, and mauled him in the process. Salcedo
pleaded for his life, but was ignored as the mauling continued until Salcedo collapsed
and lost consciousness. Sumilang brough Salcedo to PGH but Salcedo was dead upon
arrival.
- Such incident caught national and international attention, and Pres. Aquino put up a
reward to apprehend the people responsible, which were subsequently found to be the
petitioners in this case.
- Prosecution presented Banculo and Sumilang as their eyewitnesses, as well as
police officers who were in Luneta. Prosecution also presented documentary
evidence consisting of newspaper accounts and photographs
- Petitioners offered their respective alibis:
o Tamayo  in his house in QC and was not photographed
o Neri  in Luneta Theater, was not photographed
o Sison  in his office in Luneta, waiting for his professional photos to develop; he
also claimed he had hernia that prevented him from running
o De los Santos, Pacadar and Tan  they were at Luneta, but denied hitting
Salcedo

RTC Ruling: petitioners are guilty as principals in the crime of murder qualified by treachery,
while the other 5 accused was acquitted for failure to prove guilt.

CA Ruling: increased the penalty of all the accused to reclusion perpetua, except Tamayo.
Hence, this automatic review to the Supreme Court. Petitioners also filed a Rule 45 pet. for
review inasmuch as Tamayo was not sentenced to reclusion perpetua too.

- Petitioners argue that the testimonies of Banculo and Sumlang was suspect as
they only surfaced after a reward was announced. Also, Banculo mistakenly
identified a detention prisoner in another case to be one of the accused in this
case. Meanwhile, Sumilang was evasive and unresponsive, prompting the trial
court to reprimand him.
- Petitioners also argue that CA erronously gave weight to the Joint Affidavit of the
police intelligence-operative who witnessed the rally. Also, the photographs of the
victim Salcedo, and the local newspapers and magazines should not have been
admitted for lack of proper identification by the person or persons who took the
same.

ISSUE WON the RTC erred in sustaining the testimonies of the eyewitnesses, and giving weight
to the joint affidavit of the police and the photographs

HELD: NO!
- First, there is no proof that Banculo or Sumilang testified because of the reward. On the
contrary, Sumilang reported the incident and submitted his sworn statement immediately
2 hours after the incident. He already expressed his willingness to cooperate with the
police. Although Sumilang was admonished by the court for being argumentative
and evasive, this is not enough reason to reject his testimony for he did not
exhibit this conduct all throughout his testimony. There were only instances of
evasiveness, but his testimony was correctly given credence. Also, the trial court’s
calibration of the credibility of witnesses should not be disturbed as they can best
appreciate the demeanor, as well as the verbal and non-verbal dimensions of the
witnesses’ testimony.
- Also, Banculo’s mistake in identifying another person as accused does not make him
entirely untrustworthy. An honest mistake is not inconsistent with a truthful
testimony. Perfect testimonies cannot be expected from persons with imperfect
senses.
- Witnesses’ testimonies all corroborate each other on all important and relevant details of
the incident. Their positive identification of the petitioners jive with each other and their
narration of the events are supported by medical and documentary evidence on record.
- Second, the joint affidavit was correctly given weight, as its contents were also
corroborated. Besides, such affidavit merely reiterates what the other witneesses
testified to. If petitioners wanted to impeach this affidavit, they should have placed the
police officers on the witness stand.

- Third, it is a rule that photographs, when presented in evidence, must be identified


by the photographer as to tis production and testified as to the circumstances
under which they were produced. The value of this kind of evidence lies in its being a
correct representation or reproduction of the original, and its admissibility is determined
by its accuracy in portraying the scene at the time of the crime.
- It is worthy to note that although the counsel for some of the petitioners objected to
the photograph’s admissibility, these photographs were adopted by the counsel
of Tamayo and Neri as part of their defense exhibits. Prosecution also used such
photographs to cross-examine all the accused and their counsel did not object.
- Such use of the photographs by some of the accused to show their alleged non-
participation in the crime is an admission of the exactness and accuracy thereof.
Also, de los Santos, Pacadar and Tan identified themselves in the photographs and
gave reasons for their presence in the rally. By doing such, the accused affirms that the
photographs are faithful representation of the incident.
- The photographer, however, is not the only witness who can identify the pictures he has
taken. The correctness of the photograph as a faithful representation of the object
portrayed can be proved prima facie, either by the testimony of the person who made it or
by other competent witnesses, after which the court can admit it subject to impeachment
as to its accuracy. Photographs, therefore, can be identified by the photographer or by
any other competent witness who can testify to its exactness and accuracy.
- According to the photographs, only de los Santos, Pacadar and Tan were photographed
in various belligerent poses. Sison appears only once, and is shown merely running after
Salcedo despite his hernia. Tamayo and Neri was not in any of the pictures. However,
such absence will not exculpate them as the photographs did not capture the entire
sequence of the killing. While the pictures did not record Sison and Tamayo hitting
Salcedo, they were unequivocally identified by Banculo and Sumilang. Petitioner’s
denials and alibis cannot overcome their eyeball identification.

Other Ruling by the SC:


- No treachery in this case as there is no proof that the attach was deliberately and
consciousy chosen to ensure the assailants’ safety from any defense by the victim.
- No evident premefiation as the attach against Salcedo was sudden and spontaneous.
- However, there is conspiracy as the loyalists impliedly showed a unity of purpose among
them to bring death to Salcedo.

CA affirmed. Sison, Pacadar, Tan and De los Santos are punished with reclusion perpetua.
Tamayo is sentenced prision mayot ro reclusion temporal. Damages must also be paid to the
heirs of Stephen Salcedo.