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Pp v.

calonge
DECISION

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:


For review is the Decision1[1] dated November 29, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01516 which affirmed with modification the
Joint Decision2[2] dated August 10, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Branch 27 in Criminal Case Nos. 4077-4080 finding the above-
named accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of parricide and frustrated parricide.
The facts as culled from the records:
Rosita A. Calonge was appellant’s legitimate wife, with whom he had three (3) children, namely: Melody, Dony Rose and Kimberly whose respective ages at the time of
the incident were nine (9), seven (7) and six (6) years. 3[3] The family lived in a four (4) by five (5) meters house at a farm land near the house of Rosita’s parents at Barangay
Cabuluan, Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya.
On December 1, 2001 at around 6:00 o’clock in the morning, the Villaverde Police Station received a radio call from the barangay captain of Cabuluan that a
massacre took place in their locality. By 7:30 a.m., the responding team led by PO3 Alfelmer Balut arrived at the area. Rosita’s bloodied body was found lying on the
ground about fifteen (15) meters away from their house. Her right hand was loosely clasping a knife. Lying on his back near the stairs was appellant who was also
wounded but still conscious. Beside him were a bolo and a flashlight, both stained with blood. While the windows of the house were locked with a piece of tie wire, the
door was already opened, its metal lock was found three (3) to five (5) meters from the door and seven (7) to ten (10) meters from the body of Rosita. Inside the two (2)
“bedrooms” of the house separated only by a curtain, they found the lifeless bodies of the two (2) young girls, Kimberly and Dony Rose. The other child, Melody, was also
bloodied but alive and conscious. They brought Melody to the Veterans Regional Hospital where she was treated and confined for seventeen (17) days.4[4]
Police investigators found no signs of struggle or forcible entry as the things inside the house were not disarranged. Photographs of the three (3) dead victims
(Rosita, Dony Rose and Kimberly) were also taken at the crime scene. When interviewed by the policemen, Melody’s grandmother, Ana O. Amlag, said that Melody told
her it was their father (appellant) who attacked her, her mother and her sisters. Melody’s grandparents said they knew it was appellant because they had heard Rosita
shouting that appellant will kill them. On the other hand, when appellant was asked what happened and who attacked him, he answered he does not know. Appellant
asked to be treated also and they brought him to the hospital.5[5]
While still in the hospital, Melody, assisted by her first cousin Ana Fe Huang, gave her statement to the police. She identified her father, who had a quarrel with
her mother the previous night, as the one (1) who hacked her and also fatally stabbed her mother and two (2) sisters.6[6]
On January 17, 2002, appellant was charged with parricide and frustrated parricide under the following Informations:

Criminal Case No. 4077

That on December 01, 2001 in the morning, at Barangay Cabuluan, Municipality of Villaverde, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill, evident premeditation, treachery and superior
strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with the use of a bladed/pointed object, stab ROSITA CALONGE y AMLAG, legal
wife of the accused, thus inflicting upon the latter mortal wound which caused her instantaneous death, to the damage and prejudice of her heirs.

CONTRARY TO LAW.7[7]

Criminal Case No. 4078

That on December 01, 2001 in the morning, at Barangay Cabuluan, Municipality of Villaverde, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill, evident premeditation, treachery and superior
strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with the use of a bladed/pointed object, hack KIMBERLY CALONGE y AMLAG,
06 years old, daughter of the accused, thus inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds which caused her instantaneous death, to the damage and
prejudice of her heirs.

CONTRARY TO LAW.8[8]

Criminal Case No. 4079

That on December 01, 2001 in the morning, at Barangay Cabuluan, Municipality of Villaverde, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill, evident premeditation, treachery and superior strength, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with the use of a bladed/pointed object, stab DONY ROSE CALONGE y AMLAG, 07 years old, daughter of the accused,
thus inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds which caused her instantaneous death, to the damage and prejudice of her heirs.

CONTRARY TO LAW.9[9]

Criminal Case No. 4080

That on December 01, 2001 in the morning, at Barangay Cabuluan, Municipality of Villaverde, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill, evident premeditation, treachery and superior
strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with the use of a bladed object, hack Melody Calonge y Amlag, 09 years old,
daughter of the accused, thus inflicting upon the latter fatal wounds and performing all the acts of execution which should have produced the crime of
Parricide as a consequence, but nevertheless did not produce it by reason of causes independent of the will of the accused, that is, the timely medical
attendance given which prevented the victim’s death, but nevertheless resulted to her damage and prejudice.

CONTRARY TO LAW.10[10]

1 [1]
CA rollo, pp. 108-125. Penned by Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro and concurred in by Associate Justices Edgardo P. Cruz
and Fernanda Lampas Peralta.

2 [2]
Records, pp. 252-265. Penned by Judge Jose B. Rosales.

3 [3]
Exhibit “B” and Pre-Trial Order, records, pp. 15 and 93.

4 TSN, July 10, 2002, pp. 3-4, 7-13; TSN, August 6, 2002, pp. 1-2; TSN, September 11, 2002, pp. 4-6; TSN, October 9, 2002, pp. 5-9;
[4]

Exhibits “O” and “Q”, records, pp. 199-200.

5 [5]
Exhibits “P”, “P-2” and “P-1”, records, pp. 16, 41 and 60; TSN, August 6, 2002, pp. 1-4, 6-7, 10, 12.

6 [6]
Exhibit “G”, records, p. 4; TSN, July 10, 2002, p. 13; TSN, August 6, 2002, pp. 7-8, 14-17.

7 [7]
Records, p. 1.

8 [8]
Id., p. 29.

9 [9]
Id., p. 49.

10 [10]
Id., p. 68.
When arraigned, appellant pleaded not guilty. During the trial, the prosecution presented as witnesses PO3 Alfelmer Balut, Dr. Telesforo A. Ragpa (Municipal
Health Officer), Lourdes Amlag, Dr. Lirio Marie Ronduen-Adriatico and Melody A. Calonge.
The sole witness for the defense was appellant who gave a different version of the incident. According to appellant, he came home on the night of November
30, 2001 at around 6:00 o’clock. After taking coffee, he took supper with his family. At about 8:30 p.m., he put Kimberly to sleep while his wife together with Dony Rose
was in the kitchen preparing for their food the following morning because they will go to church. He could not remember what time he fell asleep but when he woke up in
the morning, he was no longer in their house but in a hospital. Only then he realized that he was wounded on the chest and neck. He tried to inquire from people in the
hospital what happened but no voice came out of his mouth. He does not know who caused his injuries as he could not recall anything that transpired from the time he
slept until the morning of December 1, 2001. Appellant denied that he and his wife quarrelled the previous night. What he knows is that his wife had a quarrel with
spouses Manong Sante and Manang Paula, as the latter who is the sister of his wife did not want them to stay in the place. 11[11] On cross-examination, appellant claimed
that the doors of the house were still open at that time because somebody else was still using the kitchen. He denied that he sharpened his bolo that same night, as in fact
all his carpentry tools were placed in their kitchen. As to his flashlight, appellant insisted it was his wife who was using it that night but he admitted that it was already
placed very near the door where he had put Kimberly to sleep. He actually placed his bolo, flashlight and those other items in a shelf just four (4) meters away from where
he slept.12[12]
On August 18, 2005, the trial court promulgated its Joint Decision dated August 10, 2005 convicting appellant of the crimes charged, the fallo of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused Dionisio Calonge y Verana GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of three counts of parricide and one
count of frustrated parricide, he is hereby sentenced as follows: (1) for the killing of Kimberly Calonge and Dony Rose Calonge, the said accused is
hereby sentenced to suffer death penalty by lethal injection for each case; to pay the heirs of the said victims, the sums of P75,000.00 for each case as
civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages; and to pay the heirs actual damages in the sum of P21,255.00 for the death of Kimberly, Dony
Rose and Rosita A. Calonge; (2) for the killing of Rosita Calonge, the said accused is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua;
and to pay the heirs of Rosita the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages; (3) for the crime of frustrated
parricide for wounding Melody Calonge, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor as the minimum term to
20 years of [reclusion temporal13[13]] as the maximum term; to pay the victim moral damages in the sum of P25,000.00; exemplary damages in the
sum of P20,000.00 and P11,015.00 as actual damages.
SO ORDERED.14[14]
On appeal, the CA affirmed the trial court’s judgment but modified the death penalty imposed on appellant in Criminal Case Nos. 4078 and 4079 (parricide
committed against Kimberly and Dony Rose) by reducing it to reclusion perpetua.15[15] Appellant filed a notice of appeal16[16] and accordingly the records of the case were
elevated to this Court.
On August 11, 2008, the Court resolved to require the parties to file their respective supplemental briefs, if they so desired. 17[17] In a Manifestation dated
October 29, 2008, the Public Attorney’s Office, representing the appellant, informed the Court that it would no longer file a supplemental brief; it was adopting its main
brief on record.18[18] The Office of the Solicitor General, representing the People, likewise omitted to submit a supplemental brief.19[19]
Appellant seeks the reversal of his conviction by the RTC and CA on the following grounds:
I.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF PROSECUTION WITNESS
MELODY CALONGE DESPITE ITS EVIDENT CONTRADICTIONS AND APPARENT UNREALITY.
II.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME CHARGED
HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.20[20]
Appellant contends that the trial court overlooked the following inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimony of Melody: (1) the alleged misunderstanding
between her parents prior to December 1, 2001, which she first denied but changed it during a subsequent hearing when she claimed her parents had a quarrel before the
stabbing incident occurred, (2) the time of such quarrel for which she gave three (3) different answers (8:00 to 9:00 p.m. of November 30, 2001; 2:00 early morning of
December 1, 2001; and 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. of November 30, 2001), and (3) whether it was Melody or her mother who was first hacked by her father. These inconsistent
statements of the alleged eyewitness engender doubt as to their reliability and veracity.
Appellant further argues that Melody’s identification of appellant as the perpetrator of the crimes remained uncorroborated. The failure to present such other
alleged witnesses (her grandparents) was not satisfactorily explained by the prosecution. He assails Melody’s testimony as highly incredible. While Melody claimed that
she saw appellant hacked and stabbed her sisters, the fact is that, during that time, according to her, she was sleeping together with her mother in another room inside their
house. Moreover, it was impossible for Melody to have seen that the person who killed her mother and two (2) sisters was appellant when in fact, according to her, there
was no light inside their room when the incident happened. Clearly, the prosecution failed to discharge its burden of proving the identity of the offender.
We disagree.
It is plain that the errors imputed to the trial court are factual and chiefly assail its evaluation of the credibility of witnesses. The doctrinal rule is that findings of
fact made by the trial court, which had the opportunity to directly observe the witnesses and to determine the probative value of the other testimonies are entitled to great
weight and respect because the trial court is in a better position to assess the same, an opportunity not equally open to the appellate court. 21[21] We find no cogent reason to
deviate from the findings and conclusions of the RTC and CA in this case.
It was established from prosecution evidence that the lone survivor Melody saw appellant using his bolo and knife, struck at her mother who was able to evade it
and run outside the house. Appellant then turned to Melody, and hacked her three (3) times before stabbing Dony Rose and Kimberly who were both still sleeping. After
finishing off his family, appellant inflicted his lone superficial wound before lying down on the floor, apparently to avoid suspicion that he was himself the culprit and
create an impression that a trespasser had attacked all of them in the night. Melody vividly recounted to the court what she had witnessed while pretending to be still
asleep even after she was hacked by appellant.
Melody’s account was corroborated by the findings of prosecution witnesses Dr. Ragpa (who conducted the autopsy on the bodies of the three [3] victims) and
Dr. Ronduen-Adriatico (who examined and treated Melody). Dr. Ragpa testified that Rosita sustained only a single stab wound on the chest. He explained that the width
of such wound, 2 ½ inches, was caused by a single upward thrust and pulling out of the bladed instrument. The six (6)-inch deep wound hit the lower tip of the heart and
resected the pulmonary vessels. For Rosita, the cause of death was hypovolemic shock due to resected pulmonary blood vessels. As for Kimberly, she sustained a
hacking wound on the left axilla (armpit), probably inflicted in a lying position, which cut the head of the left humerus and resecting the axillary blood vessels. Kimberly
also died from hypovolemic shock due to injured/resected left axillary blood vessels. Dony Rose had one (1) incised wound and one (1) stab wound on her chest, which
penetrated the left ventricle of the heart. She likewise died of hypovolemic shock due to penetrating stab wound on the chest. 22[22] On the other hand, Dr. Ronduen-

11 [11]
TSN, February 23, 2005, pp. 4-7.

12 [12]
Id., pp. 8-9, 11-12; TSN, February 24, 2005, pp. 2-3.

13 [13]
As amended by Order dated September 5, 2005, records, p. 267.

14 [14]
Id., p. 265.

15 [15]
CA rollo, p. 125.

16 [16]
Id., pp. 128-131.

17 [17]
Rollo, p. 25.

18 [18]
Id., pp. 28-31.

19 [19]
Id., p. 33.

20 [20]
CA rollo, p. 45.

21 People v. Villamor, G.R. Nos. 140407-08 & 141908-09, January 15, 2002, 373 SCRA 254, 265, citing People v. Visaya, G.R. No.
[21]

136967, February 26, 2001, 352 SCRA 713, 725-726.

22 [22]
Exhibits “I”, “J” and “K”, records, pp. 193-195; TSN, March 5, 2003, pp. 2-9.
Adriatico testified that Melody sustained five (5) wounds and had three (3) amputations of the three (3) digits of her right hand. She found the wounds located at the left
side of the head, lower lip, left side of the neck, left shoulder, chest and the third, fourth and fifth fingers. Although the only fatal wound is that at the left side of the neck,
the combination of all wounds would have caused the death of Melody had there been no timely medical assistance rendered on the patient. The neck wound was a fatal
injury (victim could have died in less than six [6] hours) because of its proximity to large blood vessels such as carotid and tubular vessels.23[23]
We hold that the trial court did not err in finding Melody’s testimony clear and unequivocal, despite her answers not being as complete as would be desired,
considering her age and difficulty of translating the questions to her in the Ifugao dialect. Her account of the incident was consistent with the physical evidence,
particularly the findings of Dr. Ragpa and Dr. Ronduen-Adriatico on the injuries sustained and cause of death of the victims as a result of the carnage wrought upon their
family by appellant.
The inconsistencies mentioned by appellant relate only to minor details and not to the fact of the fatal stabbing of his wife and two (2) children in his own hands.
We have consistently ruled that not all inconsistencies in the witnesses’ testimony affect their credibility. Inconsistencies on minor details and collateral matters do not
affect the substance of their declaration, their veracity, or the weight of their testimonies. Thus, although there may be inconsistencies on the testimonies of witnesses on
minor details, they do not impair credibility where there is consistency in relating the principal occurrence and positive identification of the assailants. 24[24] Discrepancies
referring only to minor details and collateral matters – not to the central fact of the crime – do not affect the veracity or detract from the essential credibility of a witness as
long as it is coherent and intrinsically believable on the whole.25[25]
It must be further stressed that during her testimony, Melody had to be assisted by an interpreter as she responded to the questions in the Ifugao dialect.
Besides, ample margin of error and understanding should be accorded to young witnesses who, much more than adults, would be gripped with tension due to the novelty
of the experience of testifying before a court. 26[26] Despite the language barrier, Melody remained categorical and steadfast in declaring that it was her very own father,
appellant, who hacked her, her mother and her younger sisters using his bolo and knife in the early morning of December 1, 2001 at their house. Thus, she testified during
the direct examination:
PROS. TURINGAN:
Q. Do you recall of any incident at that evening that is relevant to this case involving the killing of your sister Dony Rose, Kimberly, your mother
and the fact that you were wounded?
A. Yes, there was sir.
Q. What was that incident that you recall Melody?
A. He hacked us, sir.
Q. Who hacked you?
A. My papa, sir.
COURT:
Q. Do you know the full name of your papa or nickname?
A. Yes, sir I know.
Q. What is the full name of your papa?
A. Dionisio Calonge, sir.
xxxx
PROS. TURINGAN:
Q. What did your father use in hacking you Melody?
A. The knife and the bolo, sir.
xxxx
PROS. TURINGAN:
These bolo and knife, how are they related to the bolo and knife used by your father in hacking you, your sister and your mother?
A. He stabbed and then he hacked, sir.
Q. By the way, these bolo and knife, do you know who own these bolo and knife?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Who own these bolo and knife Melody?
A. My father sir.
Q. How are these knife and bolo related to the bolo and knife used by your father in hacking your sister, yourself and your mother?
A. He used that bolo in hacking and stabbing my mother and my sister, sir.
Q. Who was hacked first by your father Melody?
A. I, sir.
Q. After hacking [you] Melody. . .By the way, what part of your body was hacked by your father?
A. This one, sir. (Witness showing to the Court the three fingers that were cut from the middle finger up to the small finger of the left arm and also
below the shoulder of the left arm).
Q. Where else, Melody?
A. (Witness showing to the Court the scar located at the left side of her lower lip and also at the back of her left ear).
Q. After your father Melody hacked you, what happened next?
A. My mother, sir.
COURT:
Q. What was done to your mother?
A. He stabbed her, sir.
PROS. TURINGAN:
Q. And after he stabbed your mother, what did your father do next Melody?
A. He returned back and used the bolo in hacking me three times, sir.
Q. After that, what happened next Melody?
A. Next, sir my father used the bolo in stabbing my sister’s armpit and used in hacking her abdomen.
Q. Which of these bolo and knife did he use in hacking and stabbing your sister?
ATTY. TABAGO:
Who? Sister?
A. Both, sir.
COURT:
Q. Are you saying that your father was holding two weapons at the same time?
A. Yes, sir.
Alright, go ahead.
PROS. TURINGAN:
Q. After that what did your father do?
A. He pretended to stab his body, his neck and his abdomen, sir.
Q. What did your father use in stabbing and wounding himself?
A. The bolo, sir.
Q. You are referring to this Exh. “G”?
A. Yes, sir.27[27] [Emphasis supplied.]
CONTINUATION OF DIRECT
BY PROS. TURINGAN:

23 [23]
TSN, June 2, 2004, pp. 2-8.

24 People v. Castro, G.R. No. 172370, October 6, 2008, 567 SCRA 586, 595-596, citing People v. Bato, G.R. No. 134939, February 16,
[24]

2000, 325 SCRA 671, 677 and People v. Valla, G.R. No. 111285, January 24, 2000, 323 SCRA 74, 82.

25 [25]
People v. Suarez, G.R. Nos. 153573-76, April 15, 2005, 456 SCRA 333, 345.

26 People v. De la Cruz, G.R. No. 116726, July 28, 1997, 276 SCRA 352, 357, citing People v. Salazar, G.R. No. 84391, April 7, 1993, 221
[26]

SCRA 170, 177.

27 [27]
TSN, March 6, 2003, pp. 18-23.
Q. When was that again when your mother and your sisters were hacked and stabbed by your father?
A. December 1, 2001, sir.
Q. In the early morning of December 1, 2001 were there other persons in your house aside from you, your father, mother and your sisters?
A. None, sir.
Q. The weapons used by your father in hacking and stabbing you, your mother and your sisters, if you can see them could you be able to
identify them?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. There are here a bolo and a knife Melody, can you please examine these bolo and knife and tell the Court if these are the same weapons
used by your father in hacking and stabbing you, your mother and your sisters?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Who owns these bolo and knife Melody?
A. My father, sir.28[28]
As to appellant’s assertion that Melody could not have seen her father stab her two (2) sisters who slept on the other room since it was still dark inside the
house, Melody (during cross-examination29[29]) had described their “rooms” as not actually separated by walls. She could thus see her two (2) sisters and appellant from
where she was sleeping.30[30] The policemen who investigated the crime scene also found that the partition was just a curtain.31[31] Melody slept beside her mother while
her sisters were beside their father on the other “room.” 32[32] And while indeed it was still dark when appellant started hacking his wife and daughters, Melody had
sufficient illumination provided by the flashlight used by appellant. This was mentioned by Melody in the later part of her direct examination:
Q. Please tell the Court how you were able to see your father hacked and stabbed you, your mother and sisters?
A. (No answer yet)
COURT:
Q. x x x Why don’t you start with where was she at the time the hacking and stabbing took place?
PROSECUTOR:
We withdraw that, your Honor. Aside from these bolo and knife Melody, was your father holding any other things?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What was that Melody?
A. Flashlight, sir.
Q. Can you identify that flashlight it (sic) [if] you can see it Melody?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. There is here a flashlight marked as Exhibit “I”. Can you please examine this flashlight and tell the Honorable Court if it is the same flashlight
you mentioned?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Who owns this flashlight Melody?
A. My father, sir.
x x x x33[33]
Q. Could you please tell the Court how this flashlight was being held by your father?
A. He put in his head the flashlight, sir.
Q. Can you demonstrate how he placed in his head Melody?
A. (Witness demonstrating how he placed the flashlight at the left side of her head with the use of a rubber tied on the flashlight). 34[34] [EMPHASIS
SUPPLIED.]
On cross-examination, Melody fixed the time of the incident at 4:00 in the morning when she woke up to prepare food. However, she went back to bed because
she knew that appellant was already awake. Her mother and sisters were still asleep. Appellant then started hacking, first her mother, who evaded the blow and was able
to run outside to seek help from her grandmother and aunt. Returning to Melody, appellant hit her three (3) times before following her mother outside. 35[35] At this point,
Melody also recalled that her parents quarrelled on the night of November 30, 2001. Before they went to sleep, she saw her father sharpening his bolo. When she asked
appellant what he was doing, he replied that he will kill Uncle Santy and his family. Melody said that she pretended to be still asleep when she woke up the next morning
because she had seen appellant placed that bolo under his pillow. As to the exact time the quarrel took place, it can be gleaned from the transcript of stenographic notes
that Melody initially could not estimate with reference to the night before they slept, but she eventually declared that her parents quarrelled from 6:00 o’clock until 7:00
o’clock in the evening of November 30, 2001.36[36]
Parricide is committed when: (1) a person is killed; (2) the deceased is killed by the accused; (3) the deceased is the father, mother, or child, whether legitimate
or illegitimate, or a legitimate other ascendant or other descendant, or the legitimate spouse of accused.37[37] The key element in parricide is the relationship of the offender
with the victim.38[38] All the elements of the crime were clearly and sufficiently proved by the prosecution.
Even granting arguendo that Melody did not see the actual stabbing of her mother and two (2) sisters, the attendant circumstances point to no one else but the
appellant as the perpetrator. Direct evidence of the actual killing is not indispensable for convicting an accused when circumstantial evidence can sufficiently establish his
guilt. The oft-repeated rule has been that circumstantial evidence is adequate for conviction if there is more than one circumstance, the facts from which the inferences are
derived have been proven and the combination of all circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.39[39] While no general rule can be laid
down as to the quantity of circumstantial evidence which will suffice in a given case, all the circumstances proved must be consistent with each other, consistent with the
hypothesis that the accused is guilty, and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that he is innocent, and with every other rational hypothesis except that of guilt.
The circumstances proved should constitute an unbroken chain which leads to only one fair and reasonable conclusion that the accused, to the exclusion of all others, is the
guilty person.40[40]

28 [28]
TSN, July 9, 2003, pp. 2-3.

29 [29]
TSN, September 17, 2003, p. 4.

30 [30]
Id.

31 [31]
TSN, October 9, 2002, p. 8.

32 [32]
TSN, September 17, 2003, p. 3.

33 [33]
TSN, July 9, 2003, pp. 3-4.

34 [34]
TSN, July 16, 2003, pp. 2-3.

35 [35]
TSN, July 17, 2003, pp. 5-6; TSN, September 17, 2003, pp. 6-9.

36 [36]
TSN, September 17, 2003, pp. 11-13; TSN, September 18, 2003, pp. 2-3; TSN, November 12, 2003, pp. 2-7.

37 [37]
LUIS B. REYES, The Revised Penal Code, 2006 Edition, Book II, p. 457.

38 [38]
Id.; People v. Malabago, G.R. No. 115686, December 2, 1996, 265 SCRA 198, 206.

39 People v. Mactal, G.R. No. 141187, April 28, 2003, 401 SCRA 612, 617-618, citing People v. Abella, G.R. No. 127803, August 28,
[39]

2000, 339 SCRA 129; People v. Bago, G.R. No. 122290, April 6, 2000, 330 SCRA 115; People v. Sañez, G.R. No. 132512, December 15,
1999, 320 SCRA 805, 815; People v. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 108180, February 8, 1994, 229 SCRA 754, 764; People v. De Guzman, G.R. No.
92537, April 25, 1994, 231 SCRA 737 and People v. Retuta, G.R. No. 95758, August 2, 1994, 234 SCRA 645.

40 [40]
People v. Castillo, G.R No. 172695, June 29, 2007, 526 SCRA 215, 221-222.
As correctly found by the CA, the following circumstances taken together established without doubt that it was appellant who inflicted fatal wounds on Rosita,
Melody, Dony Rose and Kimberly inside their house early morning of December 1, 2001: (1) after having a quarrel with Rosita the previous night, appellant was seen by
Melody sharpening his bolo which he later hid under his pillow; (2) the bolo, knife and flashlight used in the hacking of the victims belong to appellant, and which were
found in his possession when policemen arrived at the scene; (3) the medical findings showed that the victims’ injuries were caused by sharp and bladed instruments; (4)
there were no sign of forcible entry as the things inside the house were not disarranged; (5) the only persons inside the house were appellant, Rosita and their three children
who slept in adjacent rooms separated only by a curtain; (6) the only house near appellant’s house was that of his parents-in-law; (7) Rosita was heard by her relatives
shouting for help before their bodies were discovered; (8) appellant sustained only superficial wounds and was found conscious by the policemen; (9) appellant could not
explain or say anything about how and when he and the victims were injured; and (10) Melody saw her father initially strike at her mother before the latter ran outside the
house, and then stab her also five (5) times.
Appellant simply raises the defense of denial, which is inherently weak and cannot prevail over the positive identification 41[41] made by Melody that he was the
one (1) who hacked her, her mother and her sisters. Moreover, an affirmative testimony is far stronger than a negative testimony especially when it comes from the
mouth of a credible witness,42[42] as in this case, the child of the assailant who survived his murderous rampage.
Under Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 5 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7659, the penalty for parricide is composed of two (2)
indivisible penalties, reclusion perpetua to death.
In the killing of Dony Rose and Kimberly, the trial court was correct in appreciating the aggravating circumstance of treachery. There is treachery when the
attack is so sudden and unexpected that the victim had no opportunity either to avert the attack or to defend himself.43[43] Indeed, nothing can be more sudden and
unexpected than when a father stabs to death his two (2) young daughters while they were sound asleep and totally defenseless. Thus, for the parricide committed against
both Dony Rose and Kimberly, appellant was properly meted the death penalty in Criminal Case Nos. 4079 and 4078. Since the killings were committed in 2001, the trial
court was correct in imposing upon appellant the supreme penalty of death. In view, however, of the passage and effectivity of R.A. No. 9346 on June 24, 2006,
proscribing the imposition of the capital punishment, the CA correctly modified the imposable penalty on appellant to reclusion perpetua, without eligibility for parole, in
line with Sections 2 and 3 of the said law.44[44]
SEC. 2. In lieu of the death penalty, the following shall be imposed:
(a) the penalty of reclusion perpetua, when the law violated makes use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code; or
(b) the penalty of life imprisonment, when the law violated does not make use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal
Code.
SEC. 3. Persons convicted of offenses punished with reclusion perpetua or whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua, by
reason of this Act, shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.
(Underscoring supplied.)
As to the killing of Rosita, neither treachery nor evident premeditation was present considering that she was able to parry the first thrust of appellant and ran
away outside the house, and there is no evidence proving that appellant determined to commit the crime even as Melody recounted that she saw his father sharpening his
bolo before they slept the previous night. Evident premeditation needs proof of the time when the intent to commit the crime is engendered in the mind of the accused, the
motive which gives rise to it, and the means which are beforehand selected to carry out that intent. All such facts and antecedents which make notorious the pre-existing
design to accomplish the criminal purpose must be proven to the satisfaction of the court.45[45] There is paucity of evidence as to the time, motive and the means chosen by
appellant to carry out the intent to kill his entire family. There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance, the trial court was correct in sentencing appellant to the
lower penalty of reclusion perpetua46[46] in Criminal Case No. 4077.
On the civil indemnity awarded by the trial court in the amount of P75,000.00 each and another P50,000.00 each as moral damages, for the deaths of Dony Rose
and Kimberly, the Court sustains the same. Likewise, the heirs of Rosita are entitled to civil indemnity of P50,000.00 and another P50,000.00 as moral damages.
With regard to the frustrated felony, Article 250 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, provides that –
ART. 250. Penalty for frustrated parricide, murder, or homicide. – The courts, in view of the facts of the case, may impose upon the
person guilty of the frustrated crime of parricide, murder or homicide, defined and penalized in the preceding articles, a penalty lower by one degree
than that which should be imposed under the provisions of Article 50.
The courts, considering the facts of the case, may likewise reduce by one degree the penalty which under Article 51 should be imposed for
an attempt to commit any of such crimes.
We therefore find the penalty imposed by the trial court proper and correct for this offense.
The trial court awarded Melody moral damages in the amount of P25,000.00, and another P20,000.00 as exemplary damages which are justified under Articles
2219 (1) and 2229 of the Civil Code. Further, under Article 2230 of the New Civil Code, exemplary damages are awarded to serve as a deterrent to serious wrongdoings,
as vindication of undue suffering and wanton invasion of the rights of an injured person, and as punishment for those guilty of outrageous conduct.47[47]
Melody is likewise entitled to the sum of P11,025.00 as cost of her treatment and hospitalization. Anent actual or compensatory damages, it bears stressing that
only substantiated and proven expenses or those which appear to have been genuinely incurred in connection with the death, wake or burial of the victim will be
recognized by the courts.48[48] Prosecution witness Lourdes Amlag testified that the family incurred expenses in connection with the funeral, wake and burial, totalling
P21,255.00, as shown in the itemized list submitted to the trial court.49[49]
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated November 29, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01516 is hereby AFFIRMED.
With costs against accused-appellant.
Pp v. Pedro Ortiz
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is an appeal1 from the April 29, 2009 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA),2 in CA-G.R. CR No. 31164, affirming the June 7, 2007 Decision of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 18, Manila (RTC) which found accused Pedro Ortiz, Jr., guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder for the killing of one Loreto Cruz.
Accused Pedro Ortiz, Jr., along with his nephew, Jojo Ortiz, was charged with murder for the killing of Loreto Cruz in two (2) consolidated cases before the Regional Trial
Court, Manila, Branch 18. The accusatory portions of the two (2) Informations read:
Criminal Case No. 03-215663
(People v. Jojo Ortiz y Quitada)
"That on or about June 22, 2003, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating with one another whose true name, identity and present
whereabouts are still unknown and mutually helping each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, qualified by treachery and
evident premeditation, attack, assault and use personal violence upon the person of one LORETO CRUZ Y CRUZ, by then and there suddenly shooting the latter with a .
38 revolver bearing Serial No. 47970 with trademarks Armscor on the right cheek, thereby inflicting upon said LORETO CRUZ Y Cruz mortal gunshot wound which was
the direct and immediate cause of his death thereafter.
Contrary to law."

41 [41]
People v. Dela Torre, G.R. No. 83326, May 27, 1997, 272 SCRA 615, 623.

42 [42]
People v. Tumulak, G.R. No. 177299, November 28, 2007, 539 SCRA 296, 304.

43 People v. Delima, Jr., G.R. No. 169869, July 12, 2007, 527 SCRA 526, 539, citing Andrada v. People, G.R. No. 135222, March 4,
[43]

2005, 452 SCRA 685, 695.

44 [44]
People v. Castro, supra note 24 at 607.

45 People v. Torpio, G.R. No. 138984, June 4, 2004, 431 SCRA 9, 15-16, citing People v. Recepcion, G.R. Nos. 141943-45, November 13,
[45]

2002, 391 SCRA 558, 590.

46 [46]
See People v. Ayuman, G.R. No. 133436, April 14, 2004, 427 SCRA 248, 260.

47 [47]
People v. Castro, supra note 24, at 609, citing People v. Gandia, G.R. No. 175332, February 6, 2008, 544 SCRA 115, People v. Daleba,
Jr., G.R. No. 168100, November 20, 2007, 537 SCRA 708.

48 [48]
People v. Listerio, G.R. No. 122099, July 5, 2000, 335 SCRA 40, 66.

49 [49]
Exhibits “L”, “M” and “N”, records, pp. 196-198; TSN, January 28, 2004, pp. 2-5.
Criminal Case No. 03-219216
(People v. Pedro Ortiz)
"That on or about June 22, 2003, in the City of Manila, Philippines the said accused conspiring and confederating with one JOJO ORTIZ Y GUTABA, who was already
charged with the same offense before the Regional Trial Court of Manila docketed as Criminal Case No. 03-215663, and mutually helping each other, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, qualified by treachery and evident premeditation, attack, assault and use personal violence upon the person of one
LORETO CRUZ Y CRUZ, by then and there suddenly shooting the latter with a .38 caliber revolver bearing Serial No. 47970 with trademarks Armscor on the right
cheek, thereby inflicting upon said LORETO CRUZ Y CRUZ, a mortal gunshot wound which was the direct and immediate cause of his death thereafter.
Contrary to law."3
As culled from the evidentiary records, it appears that on June 22, 2003, between 9:00 and 10:00 o’clock in the evening, Loreto Cruz, an Executive Officer of Barangay
597, Zone 59, Guadalcanal St., Sta. Mesa, Manila, together with Barangay Tanod Angelito de Guzman and Kagawad Gil Bactol, was watching television inside the
barangay hall. Without anyone noticing him, accused Pedro Ortiz, Jr. entered the hall and called out, "Ex-O!" When Loreto Cruz turned, the accused shot him with a .38
caliber revolver. The bullet hit the left side of his face. Upon realizing what happened, Tanod de Guzman tried to wrest the gun from the accused. In their struggle, another
shot was fired hitting a table nearby. Kagawad Villena then grabbed the accused who called out for his nephew, Jojo Ortiz. Responding to his call, Jojo, with a samurai,
uttered, "Bitiwan mo yan, para wala tayong problema." Kagawad Villena let go of the accused. Wasting no time, the accused and his nephew fled from the scene.
Thereafter, Loreto Cruz was rushed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital where he expired. The accused and his nephew, Jojo, were later apprehended and criminally charged
with murder.
Although the accused pleaded not guilty during the arraignment, he admitted killing Loreto Cruz in the course of the trial because he was not satisfied with the way the
victim dealt with his sons’ case. According to the accused, his sons were merely playing "kara y kruz" but were detained for illegal drug use. As the Executive Officer, the
victim promised that his sons would be released from detention after three to four months. Five months passed and his sons remained in jail. On his part, Jojo Ortiz denied
any participation in the commission of the crime and only admitted the fact that he helped his uncle when he saw him being grabbed by the barangay officials.
On June 7, 2007, the RTC found the accused guilty of the crime charged but acquitted co-accused Jojo Ortiz.4 The RTC did not consider evident premeditation but
appreciated treachery as a qualifying circumstance because of the manner by which the killing was executed. It wrote: "the victim was killed frontally and in a sudden and
unexpected manner. Although, accused Pedro Ortiz narrated that he shot the victim after the latter sneered at him, the nature and location of the wound and the manner of
the shooting deprived the victim opportunity to put up a defense."51avvphi1
In acquitting Jojo Ortiz, the RTC ruled that "Pedro Ortiz shot the victim alone. The killing was carried out without the participation of Jojo Ortiz who did not personally hit
or harm the victim. Nothing in the testimonies conveyed a coordinated action, concerted purpose or community of design to commit the criminal act."6 Thus, the decretal
portion of the RTC Decision reads:
"WHEREFORE, the court finds accused Pedro Ortiz guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder. He is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the
heirs of Loreto Cruz the amounts of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages. Accused Jojo Ortiz is acquitted of the crime charged.
SO ORDERED."7
The accused appealed to the Court of Appeals and assigned the following errors:
"I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY
II
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF MURDER."8
The accused argued that the RTC erred in appreciating the element of treachery as an aggravating circumstance. He insisted that the victim knew all along that there was a
threat to his life but chose to ignore it.9 He likewise stressed that the presence of three Barangay tanods outside the barangay hall did not render Loreto Cruz totally
defenseless from any possible attack against his life.10
In its Brief,11 the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) countered that there was treachery because of the suddenness of the attack while the victim was watching
television. It wrote: "Even if Cruz was aware of the accused’s threat against him, the suddenness of the attack deprived him of any real chance to defend himself or to
retaliate. The weapon used and the nature of the injury inflicted, which pertained to the lone gunshot fatally wounding the victim, clearly shows that accused deliberately
and consciously adopted the particular mode of attack to ensure the commission of the offense with impunity."12 The OSG likewise prayed that exemplary and temperate
damages be added to the award of damages.13
On April 29, 2009, the Court of Appeals agreed that there was treachery and affirmed the ruling. It pointed out that the accused, with a firearm in hand, barged into the
Barangay hall, called out "Ex-O," and suddenly shot the victim at close range, evident of his intent to ensure the success of his attack with no risk to himself. The CA also
added that while it is true that the accused called Loreto Cruz "Ex-O" as he shot the latter, "he did so only to make sure that the person he would shoot was his intended
target and not to afford his victim a chance to defend himself."14
Hence, this appeal.
The only issue before this Court is whether or not the accused employed treachery or alevosia so as to qualify the killing of one Loreto Cruz to murder.
The Court rules in the affirmative.
Article 14, paragraph 16 of the Revised Penal Code provides that "there is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means,
methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended
party might make." The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by the aggressors on unsuspecting victims, depriving the latter of any real chance to
defend themselves, thereby ensuring its commission without risk to the aggressors, and without the slightest provocation on the part of the victims.15
In this case, the accused purposely sought the unsuspecting victim with intent to inflict a mortal wound on him. He shouted "Ex-O" just in time for the victim to turn
towards his line of fire. When the victim faced him, the accused instantly pulled the trigger hitting him on the left side of his face. The way it was executed made it
impossible for the victim to respond or defend himself. He just had no opportunity to repel the sudden attack, rendering him completely helpless.
The accused argues that there could not have been any treachery because the victim knew the threat to his life. The Court has consistently held that treachery can still be
appreciated even though the victim was forewarned of the danger16 because what is decisive is that the attack was executed in a manner that the victim was rendered
defenseless and unable to retaliate.17 In this case, although it is true that the victim knew that the accused had a grudge against him, he never had any inkling that he would
actually be attacked that night. In fact, records reveal that the victim was preoccupied with watching television with his back turned against the accused when the latter
suddenly barged into the barangay hall. Accused, moreover, used a firearm to easily neutralize the victim, which was undeniably a swift and effective way to achieve his
purpose. Lastly, but significantly, the accused aimed for the face of the victim ensuring that the bullet would penetrate it and damage his brain.
It is likewise true that the victim was with two other barangay officials at the time of the shooting. It should be emphasized though that these two barangay officials were
also watching television and were also caught by surprise. The accused had already shot the victim before they could even react.
These acts are distinctly indicative of the treacherous means employed by the accused to guarantee the consummation of his criminal plan. Thus, as treachery attended the
killing of Loreto Cruz, such circumstance qualified the killing as murder, punishable under paragraph 1 of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. 18
When death results due to a crime, recovery of these awards are allowed: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3)
moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; (5) attorney's fees and expenses of litigation; and (6) interest, in proper cases.19
The RTC only awarded P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 as moral damages. The Court deems it proper to award exemplary damages in the amount
of P30,000.00 following precedents.20 "Under Article 2230 of the Civil Code, exemplary damages may be awarded in criminal cases when the crime was committed with
one or more aggravating circumstances, in this case, treachery. This is intended to serve as deterrent to serious wrongdoings and as vindication of undue sufferings and
wanton invasion of the rights of an injured, or as a punishment for those guilty of outrageous conduct. The imposition of exemplary damages is also justified under Article
2229 of the Civil Code in order to set an example for the public good."21
The Court likewise grants P25,000.00 as temperate damages in keeping with current jurisprudence allowing it where the funeral and burial expenses spent for the victim
cannot be fully substantiated or there is no proof of actual damages.22
WHEREFORE, the April 29, 2009 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31164 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the accused is
further ordered to pay P30,000.00 as exemplary damages and P25,000.00 as temperate damages.
SO ORDERED.
Pp v. albert sanchez
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
For review is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated February 27, 2009, in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02902, which affirmed with modification, the decision of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Marikina City in Criminal Case Nos. 06-8245-MK, 06-8246-MK, 06-8247-MK and 06-8248-MK, finding appellant Albert Sanchez y
Galera guilty of two (2) counts of murder and two (2) counts of frustrated murder.
The accusatory portions of the criminal informations filed against Sanchez for the crimes aforestated are respectively reproduced below:
Criminal Case No. 06-8245-MK for Murder
That on or about the 27th day of January 2006, in the City of Marikina, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed
with knife, with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab one Jufer James De leon y Cruz, a minor, 11 years of age,
thereby inflicting upon him fatal wounds which caused his death soon after the said killing having attended by the qualifying circumstance of treachery and evident
premeditation, which upgrades the killing to Murder.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Criminal Case No. 06-8246-MK for Murder
That on or about the 27th day of January 2006, in the City of Marikina, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the above-named accused, armed with knife,
with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab one Edgar De Leon, thereby inflicting upon him fatal wounds which
caused his death soon thereafter the said killing having attended by the qualifying circumstance of treachery and evident premeditation, which upgrades the killing to
Murder.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Criminal Case No. 06-8247-MK for Frustrated Murder
That on or about the 27th day of January 2006, in the City of Marikina, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the above-named accused, armed with knife,
with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab one Jeane De Leon y Cruz, thereby inflicting upon [her] stab wounds
which would ordinarily [cause] her death, thus performing all the acts of execution which would have produced the crime of murder as a consequence thereof, but
nevertheless did not produce it by reason of cause/s independent of [his] will that is due to the timely and able medical assistance rendered to said Jeane de Leon y Cruz,
which prevented [her] death.
CONTRARY TO LAW
Criminal Case No. 06-8248-MK for Frustrated Murder
That on or about the 27th day of January 2006, in the City of Marikina, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the above-named accused, armed with knife,
with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab one Jelyn Mae de Leon y Cruz, thereby inflicting upon the latter stab
wounds which would ordinarily [cause] her death, thus, performing all the acts of execution which would have [produced] the crime of murder as a consequence thereof,
but nevertheless did not produce it by reason of cause/s independent of his will, that is due to the timely and able medical assistance rendered to said Jelyn May De Leon y
Cruz, which prevented her death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
When arraigned, Sanchez, duly assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
In the ensuing trial, the prosecution presented in evidence the testimonies of John Ray De Leon, Jelyn Mae De Leon, Jeane De Leon, Dr. Arnel Marquez, the Medico-
Legal Officer of Rizal who performed an autopsy on the cadaver of two of the victims, and the arresting and investigating police officers.2
On the other hand, the defense waived its right to present evidence.
The pertinent facts, as gathered from the records, may be summarized as follows:
On June 26, 2006, siblings John Ray, Jufer James3 (Jufer), Jelyn Mae (Jelyn), Jorvi and Junel, all surnamed De Leon, were at home by themselves, their parents, Edgar and
Jeane,4 having gone out to buy certain items for their catering business. Between 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. of that day, Sanchez entered the De Leon’s house in dela Paz St.,
Marikina City, and there and then told John Ray, then 10 years old, that his father Edgar would give him some money. Sanchez then proceeded to the master’s bedroom at
the second floor of the house.5 John Ray was familiar with Sanchez, the latter having once stayed with the family as a houseboy. When John Ray asked him to leave,
Sanchez proceeded to the comfort room on the ground floor where Jufer was then inside defecating. Sanchez was still inside that room when spouses Jeane and Edgar
arrived.
Later learning where Sanchez was, Edgar asked the former to come out. Sanchez would thereafter request Edgar for money, claiming that his sister is confined in a
hospital in a nearby town.
From her room, Jeane later went downstairs, joined Edgar and Sanchez, and explained to their irritated-looking former houseboy that they could only spare PhP 100 as
they had just purchased several items for their business. In the meantime, Edgar handed Sanchez P100, telling him just to come back the following day. With a hostile
expression, Sanchez accepted the money, then left. Later, Jufer confided to his mother that Sanchez, while in the rest room, had pointed a knife at and threatened to kill
him. Obviously terrified by the threat, Jufer slept in his parents’ room that night.
Very early the following morning, June 27, Jeane prepared breakfast for her school children. Noticing Jufer’s absence at the breakfast table, she asked the 13-year-old
Jelyn to get her kid brother down.6 Jelyn went to Jufer’s bedroom upstairs and there found him lying on his bed face down. Suddenly, somebody grabbed her from behind,
covered her mouth, pointed a knife on her neck and later stabbed her.7 The assailant then pushed her towards the bed, told her to be quiet and pressed her face down near
her brother until she could not breathe. Jelyn recognized the voice to be that of Sanchez. And while Jelyn was calling out to get Jufer’s attention whom she thought was
merely asleep, Sanchez stabbed her on the chest. Jelyn reacted by boxing and kicking Sanchez, shouting for help at the same time. And even as Sanchez gave her a piece
of cloth to wipe the blood in her neck and motioned her to keep quiet, Jelyn managed to plead for her life.8
Meanwhile, Jeane who decided to look for Jufer herself heard a commotion and a thudding sound. When she checked what it was, son Jorvi rushed towards her to inform
her that Sanchez was inside the house. The nervous Jeane then hurried to Jufer’s room upstairs where she saw Sanchez holding a knife against Jelyn’s bloodied neck. Then
Jeane uttered, "Dali, tumawag ka ng 161."9 At that instance, Sanchez shoved Jeane inside Jufer’s room even as she pleaded for their lives. In response, Sanchez placed his
fingers on his lips to signal silence. Thereafter, Jeane turned her son, Jufer, upside down only to discover that he was bathed in blood. Jufer weakly uttered, "Mama, si
Kuya Albert sinaksak ako."10 At this point, Sanchez ran outside the room.
Jeane, cradling her bloodied son, intending to bring him to the hospital, again instructed daughter Jelyn to call 161. While carrying Jufer outside the room, Jeane noticed
Sanchez assaulting Edgar near the stairs. She then brought Jufer to her room so she could help Edgar. In the process, she spotted a knife in the hallway floor, and picked it
up as she approached Edgar who was then sitting on the floor. At that juncture, Sanchez turned his ire towards her and stabbed her on the lower left side of the chest11.
When the injured Edgar stood up in an obvious bid to help his wife, Sanchez again lunged at and stabbed the former. Her own attempt to hit Sanchez with the knife she
picked up earlier, however, proved unsuccessful. In fact, Sanchez continued with his stabbing spree inflicting on her injuries on her lower left eye and stomach. Then he
returned to Edgar, stabbing him on the stomach and side, causing his large intestines to spill out. Only after Edgar again fell did Sanchez run out of the house.
After Sanchez has left, Jeane helped her husband up, gathered all her children in one room, placed her bloodied son beside his equally bloodied father and locked the door.
She then cried out for help. At this time, Jufer was no longer moving, while Edgar was hardly breathing.
At around 6:35 in the morning of January 27, 2006, POl Reynaldo Candelaria, responding to radio call reporting a stabbing incident, proceeded to the De Leons’ place. A
trembling John Ray met and told tell him who stabbed his father. When Candelaria opened the gate of the house, he saw Sanchez running towards the back of the house
holding a knife. And after a chase, Candelaria, with the help of nearby residents, caught up with and arrested Sanchez. At the Amang Rodriquez Hospital where police
operatives brought him and where Jeane and Jelyn were sent for treatment, mother and daughter identified Sanchez as the assailant.
Meanwhile, the bodies of Jufer and Edgar de Leon were brought to the Eastern Police District crime laboratory for autopsy.
The uniform entry, "Stab wounds, trunk", appeared in the separate autopsy reports12 prepared by Medico Legal Officer Jose Arnel M. Marquez13 as the cause of death of
both Jufer and Edgar De Leon.14 On the other hand, the Medico-Legal Certificate15 issued by Dr. Alejandro Geronimo stated that Jeane de Leon was confined at the
hospital from January 27, 2006 to February 4, 2006 for treatment of multiple stab wounds.16 In the case of Jelyn, she was confined and treated also for multiple wounds. 17
Jeanne and Jelyn’s combined hospital bills amounted to PhP 300,000, while the internment and burial expenses for Edgar and Jufer totaled to PhP 150,000.18
When the defense was called for initial presentation of its evidence, the defense counsel, in open court, manifested, with the conformity of the accused, that the defense is
waiving its right to present evidence.19
On July 23, 2007, in consolidated Crim. Case Nos. 06-8245-MK to 068248-MK the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Marikina City, Branch 272, the RTC20 rendered a
decision finding accused Sanchez guilty of two (2) counts of murder and two (2) counts of frustrated murder. The dispositive portion of the decision states:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered, as follows:
1. In Criminal Case No. 06-8245-MK, accused ALBERT SANCHEZ y GALERA is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER as
defined and penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code qualified by treachery and evident premeditation and is hereby sentenced to Reclusion
Perpetua and to pay the heirs of the victim Jufer James de Leon the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity for his death, P42,500.00 as actual damages, and
P100,000.00 as moral damages.
2. In Criminal Case No. 06-8246-MK, accused ALBERT SANCHEZ y GALERA is also found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER as
defined and penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code qualified by treachery and evident premeditation and is hereby sentenced to reclusion
perpetua and to pay the heirs of the victim Edgar De Leon the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity for his death, P42,500.00 as actual damages and P100,000.00
as moral damages;
3. In Criminal Case No. 06-8247-MK, accused ALBERT SANCHEZ y GALERA is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of FRUSTRATED
MURDER under Article 248 in relation to Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code. Applying the indeterminate Sentence Law, and in the absence of modifying
circumstances, he is hereby sentenced to in indeterminate prison term of TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as minimum, to SEVENTEEN
(17) YEARS and FOUR (4) MONTHS of reclusion temporal as maximum, and to pay his victim Jeane de Leon the amount of P40,786.55 as actual expenses
and P 50,000.00 as moral damages; and
4. In Criminal Case No. 06-8248-MK, the accused ALBERT SANCHEZ y GALERA is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
FRUSTRATED MURDER under Article 248 in relation to Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code. Applying the indeterminate Sentence Law, and in the absence
of modifying circumstances, he is hereby sentenced to in indeterminate prison term of TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as minimum, to
SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS and FOUR (4) MONTHS of reclusion temporal as maximum, and to pay his victim Jelyn Mae de Leon the amount of P66,341.85
as actual expenses and P50,000.00 as moral damages.
The period during which the herein accused was in detention during the pendency of these cases shall be credited to him in full provided he agrees to abide by and comply
with the rules and regulations of the City Jail of Marikina.
SO ORDERED.
Therefrom, Sanchez went to the CA on appeal, docketed as CA G.R. HC-No. 02902, on the lone submission that the RTC erred in convicting him of murder and frustrated
murder when the qualifying circumstances of treachery and evident premeditation have not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Eventually, the CA rendered on February 27, 2009 a Decision affirming that of the RTC, with the following modification: the increase in the award of civil indemnity, but
the reduction of the award for moral damages in Criminal Case Nos. 06-8245-MK and 06-8246-MK, respectively. The fallo of the CA’s decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED and the appealed decision dated 23 July 2007 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS in that: (a) the awards of civil indemnity in
Criminal Case Nos. 06-8245-MK and 06-8246-MK are respectively increased to P75, 000.00; while the amounts of moral damages in said cases are reduced to P50,
000.00 respectively.
As did the RTC, the CA found the killing of Edgar and Jufer and the wounding of the Jeane and Jelyn to have been attended by treachery and evident premeditation.
On March 12, 2009, appellant filed a timely Notice of Appeal of the appellate court’s decision.
By Resolution of September 16, 2009, the Court accepted the appeal and required the parties to submit supplemental briefs, if they so desire within 30 days from notice.
Each, however, manifested the willingness to submit the case on the basis of the records and the pleadings already submitted.
The Ruling of the Court
By virtually reiterating his arguments raised before the CA, appellant admits criminal responsibility for the death of Edgar and Jufer and the almost fatal injuries of Jelyn
and Jeane. He now presents the following point as conclusion that the appellate court should have made: that the prosecution failed to prove with moral certainty the
circumstance of treachery and evident premeditation, hence, he should be acquitted of the crimes charged convicting him instead of the lesser crimes of homicide and
frustrated homicide.
The desired downgrading of appellant’s criminal liability, from murder to homicide (two counts) and from frustrated murder to frustrated homicide (two counts) cannot be
granted. The instant appeal is, accordingly, dismissed.
Article 24821 of the Revised Penal Code defines "Murder" as the unlawful killing of a person, which is not parricide or infanticide, provided that treachery or evident
premeditation, among other circumstances, attended the killing. The presence of one of the circumstances enumerated in Art. 248 of the Code would suffice to qualify a
killing as murder.
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, methods or forms which tend directly and specially to ensure its
execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense, which the offended party might make. For treachery to be appreciated, two conditions must concur:
(1) The employment of means, methods or manner of execution that would ensure the offender’s safety from any defense or retaliatory act on the part of the
offended party; and
(2) The offender’s deliberate or conscious choice of means, method or manner of execution.22
In the case at bar, circumstances do obtain to justify the finding of treachery in the killing of Jufer. Consider: Appellant surreptitiously entered the De Leons’ residence at
around 5:00 o’clock in the morning of June 27, 2006 and snuck up inside Jufer’s bedroom, while the other De Leon children were busy preparing for school and their
mother attending to their breakfast. The family was unaware that appellant went to the second floor and stabbed Jufer, at that time merely 11 years old who most likely had
no opportunity, but surely without the needed heft and strength to ward off, much less overpower, the appellant.
The essence of treachery is the sudden attack by an aggressor without the slightest provocation on the part of the victim, depriving the latter of any real chance to defend
himself, thereby ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the aggressor.23 The trial court correctly appreciated the qualifying aggravating circumstance of
treachery in the killing of Jufer.
The Court can grant that no one witnessed the actual killing of Jufer. This fact alone, however, is not an argument against the criminal liability of the appellant for the lad’s
gruesome death. As may be recalled, appellant was in Jufer’s room, holding a bloody knife over the unmoving boy lying face down on bed when Jelyn entered his
brother’s room. More importantly, Jufer, before breathing his last, positively identified appellant him as his assailant.
Jurisprudence teaches that there is treachery when an adult person attacks and causes the death of a child of tender years.24 As the Court elucidated in People vs.
Cabarrubias,25 the killing of a child is characterized by treachery even if the manner of assault is not shown. For, the weakness of the victim due to his tender years results
in the absence of any danger to the accused.
What Jufer uttered just before he expired - "Mama, si Kuya Albert, sinaksak ako"- is admissible in evidence against the appellant pursuant to Section 37, Rule 130 of the
Rules of Court.
Sec. 37. Dying declaration. — The declaration of a dying person, made under the consciousness of an impending death, may be received in any case wherein his death is
the subject of inquiry, as evidence of the cause and surrounding circumstances of such death.
A dying declaration is an evidence of the highest order; 26 it is entitled to the utmost credence on the premise that no one person who knows of his impending death would
make a careless and false accusation. At the brink of death, all thoughts of concocting lies disappear.
Treachery is likewise appreciated in the stabbing of Jelyn. When Jelyn went up to look for Jufer, appellant approached her from behind, covered her mouth and stabbed
her. The relative physical positions of the unsuspecting Jelyn and appellant when the latter commenced the attack and the suddenness thereof caught Jelyn unaware and
unable to defend herself. Jelyn’s testimony on direct examination established the elements of treachery:27
Court: What time was it when you were eating?
Witness: 5:30 0’clock in the morning your Honor.
Court: Of what date?
Witness: January 27, 2006 Your Honor.
xxxx
Atty. Gonzales: You said that after eating you were looking for Jufer, what did you do to find him?
Witness: I went to their room sir.
Atty. Gonzales: When you said to their room, which room are you referring?
Witness: The room of Jufer, sir.
xxxx
Atty. Gonzales: What happened next after that?
Witness: I was looking for him and when I found him, somebody covered my mouth, sir.
xxxx
Court: Where was he [Jufer], inside the room?
Witness: He was on the bed lying face down, Your Honor.
Atty. Gonzales: You said that someone covered your mouth, what did you do when that somebody covered your mouth?
Witness: I kept silent, I felt something x x x a pointed object on my neck, sir.
Atty. Gonzales: After that, what transpired next, if any?
Witness: I was pinned down and I was stabbed, sir.
Court: Did you see this someone who covered your mouth?
Witness: Not yet Your Honor.
xxxx
Atty. Gonzales: Madam witness, you said a person covered your mouth, you did not do anything but despite that he stabbed you?
Witness: Yes, sir.
Atty. Gonzales: You said that you were pinned down by this person, what happened next?
Witness: He pressed my head until I could not breath[e] anymore, sir.
xxxx
Atty. Gonzales: But at the time you were stabbed by that person, were you not able to talk to your brother Jufer?
Witness: No sir. (Underscoring added.)
The notion of Jelyn being helpless when appellant made his brutal moves finds corroboration from her mother’s testimony, as follows:
COURT: What time did you wake up during the day [June 27, 2006] ?
WITNESS: 5:00 o’clock in the morning your Honor.
COURT: What about the children?
WITNESS: Same time your Honor.
xxxx
ATTY. GONZALES: What did he [Jorvi] tell you?
WITNESS: When he approached me, he told me, "Mama, nasa itaas si Kuya Albert"
ATYY. GONZALES: What was your reaction when your son told you that Kuya Albert was upstairs?
WITNESS: I felt nervous because I realized that the commotion I heard was coming from upstairs, sir.
ATTY. GONZALES: What did you do after that?
WITNESS: I immediately went inside the house and went upstairs, sir.
ATTY. GONZALES: When you were upstairs, what happened next?
WITNESS: When I went upstairs I saw my daughter Jelyn Mae bloodied at the right side of her neck, sir.
ATTY. GONZALES: What was your reaction when you saw that your daughter was bloodied at the right side of her neck?
WITNESS: I immediately uttered, "dali tumawag ka ng 161"
ATTY. GONZALES: After that what happened?
WITNESS: I went inside the room of Jufer, sir. And when I entered the room, Albert shoved me, sir.
ATTY. GONZALES: By the way, where was this Albert when you entered the room?
WITNESS: When I saw Jelyn, Albert was on her back holding a knife, sir.
ATTY. GONXALES: What was Jelyn doing at that time?
WITNESS: I saw there was fear on her face, sir.
xxxx
COURT: Was your son still alive at that time?
WITNESS: Yes, Your Honor. He said something to me x x x "Mama, si Kuya Albert, sinaksak ako"
COURT: Where was the accused when your son Jufer told you that?
WITNESS: He suddenly ran outside, Your Honor."
The manner appellant assaulted and eventually killed Edgar also indicated treachery. Like his wife and children, Edgar had at the start no idea of appellant’s armed and
dangerous presence in the house on the fateful morning in question. Jelyn testified28 that, while she and her mother were being held in the room by appellant, Edgar came
up but appellant pushed past Edgar by the stairs, stabbed him, then grabbed another knife from the kitchen before coming back upstairs to finish Edgar off. The attack
against Edgar when he was on his way to the upper floor was so sudden and unexpected, negating any suggestion that he was in a position to defend himself. These
circumstances are manifestly indicative of the presence of conditions under which treachery may be appreciated, i.e., the employment of means of execution that affords
the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself. Even more, the fact that appellant inflicted more stabbing blows on Edgar after he fell on his bottom gravely
wounded and with his large intestines spilling out, clearly exhibits the treacherous nature of the killing.
Joshua Ray De Leon testified being awakened by the noise and seeing his father near the top of the stairs, while appellant, wielding a knife, was at the middle of the stairs
following the former. Because of fear, he hid in the hallway bathroom but witnessed the stabbing through the slightly opened bathroom door.
Treachery is not, however, attendant in the stabbing of Jeane. While at the back of their house, son Jorvi informed her that appellant was upstairs. In fact, she instructed
her daughter Jelyn to call 611 as she asked the appellant to spare their lives. Appellant even warned her to keep quiet.29 After she discovered that Jufer was wounded, she
started to carry him outside their bedroom, only to see her husband wrestling with the appellant. She had the presence of mind to put down her son, pick up a knife she
found on the floor and attempted to stab the accused.
ATTY. GONZALES: Going back to my question, after you saw your husband wrestling with Albert Sanchez, what did you do if any?
WITNESS: I ran towards to help my husband because I saw Albert stabbed him on his side and my husband fell down, sir.
xxxx
ATTY. GONZALES: Now while the accused was stabbing your husband, what did you do next?
WITNESS: I ran and I noticed a knife and I held it, sir.
ATTY. GONZALES: After you were able to hold the knife, what did you do next?
WITNESS: I approached him while Edgar was sitting down. When I approached him, he stabbed me (witness pointed to her lower side of the chest), sir.
xxxx
COURT: According to you, you were able to see a knife?
WITNESS: I noticed the knife on the hallway, Your Honor.
COURT: On your way out of the room?
WITNESS: Yes Your Honor.
COURT: On the floor?
WITNESS: Yes Your Honor.
COURT: After you went out of the room, did you notice if the accused was still holding a knife?
WITNESS: Yes Your Honor. Because he was stabbing Edgar.
COURT: You picked up that knife from the floor?
WITNESS: I just saw another knife, Your Honor.
COURT: The one you noticed?
WITNESS: I picked it up, Your Honor.
COURT: You went to the accused?
WITNESS: Yes Your Honor.
xxx
COURT: When you were stabbed, you were holding a knife?
WITNESS: Yes, Your Honor.
COURT: You did not fight back?
WITNESS: When I saw the intestines of my husband, I trusted the knife on him, I thought I was able to stab him, Your Honor.
In fine, Jeane was sufficiently forewarned of the aggression against her and her family by the appellant. Appellant was on a killing frenzy when Jeane faced him up close
at Jufer’s room. An attack from appellant was then something not unexpected. Hence, treachery cannot be appreciated against appellant, although his sex and weapon gave
him superiority of strength as against Jeane. An attack by a man with a deadly weapon upon an armed and defenseless woman constitutes the circumstance of abuse of that
superiority which his sex and weapon used in the act afforded him, and from which the woman was unable to defend herself.30
The next issue is whether or not the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation attended the assault on the De Leon family. Both the RTC and the CA resolved the
question in the affirmative.
We agree with their parallel determinations.
For evident premeditation to be considered, the following must be established: (1) the time when the accused determined (conceived) to commit the crime; (2) an overt act
manifestly indicating that he clung to his determination to commit the crime (kill his victim); and (3) a sufficient lapse of time between the decision to commit the crime
and the execution thereof to allow the accused to reflect upon the consequences of his act.31 Premeditation presupposes a deliberate planning of the crime before executing
it. The execution of the criminal act, in other words, must be preceded by cool thought and reflection. As here, there must be showing of a plan or preparation to kill, or
proof that the accused meditated and reflected upon his decision to execute the crime.321avvphi1
In the case at bar, the interplay of the following circumstances indicate the presence of evident premeditation. First, the night before the stabbing incidents, appellant went
to the De Leon residence to ask for money. Edgar, with much reluctance, gave appellant only P100. Jeane noted appellant receiving the money with a hostile expression on
his face. Appellant was no longer working for the De Leon, so he was not required to go back to the house. But he did return the following morning, January 27, 2006,
armed, surreptitiously entering the house and proceeding to Jufer’s bedroom while everyone was busy having breakfast and preparing for school.
Second, Jufer told his mother that while relieving himself in the comfort room, appellant pointed a knife at him. John Ray corroborated the pointing-of- knife scenario. On
the witness box, John Ray testified that on the night of June 26, 2006, appellant was toying with a knife while talking to him and Jufer, threatening to kill them both should
they report the matter to their parents.
Last but not least, six different knives, all with blood stains, were found at the crime scene.33 Two pairs of gloves34 were discovered near Jufer’s body. These compelling
pieces of evidence presuppose planning.
There can be no serious argument that appellant was determined to commit a crime as early as on the night of January 26, 2006, when he uttered the threat to kill Jufer at
the bathroom. Jelyn and Joshua Ray testified to seeing appellant holding a knife while talking to Jufer.35 Appellant had the whole night to contemplate his action and
reflect upon its consequences before he entered the household the following morning. Finally, the covert manner appellant gained entry in the house and stabbed the
victims showed a careful deliberation of his criminal intent. As the CA aptly observed, taking into stock the incidents that happened on the night of January 26, 2006, the
fact that he hid in the room of Jufer after sneaking into the De Leon’s household early the next morning and the real evidence found in the house, appellant’s "commission
of the crime was not clearly a product of accident, it was evidently a premeditated one."
Clearly then, the presence of the attending circumstances of treachery and/or evident premeditation qualified the killing of Edgar and Jufer to murder, which, under Art.
248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Article 6336 of the same Code provides that if the penalty prescribed is
composed of two indivisible penalties, as in the instant case, and there is an aggravating circumstance the higher penalty should be imposed. Since, evident premeditation
can be considered as an ordinary aggravating circumstance, treachery, by itself, being sufficient to qualify the killing, the proper imposable penalty – the higher sanction -
is death. However, in view of the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346,37 prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty, the penalty for the killing of each of the victim is
reduced to reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole.38 The penalty of reclusion perpetua thus imposed by the CA on appellant for each count of murder is correct.
So is the award of PhP 75,000 as civil indemnity ex delicto.391avvph!1
The Court, however, modifies the award of moral damages, which is mandatory in homicide and murder without need of allegation and proof other than the death of the
victim.40 To conform with recent jurisprudence on heinous crimes where the proper imposable penalty is death, if not for R.A. 9346, the award of moral damages is
increased to PhP 75,000 for each count of murder.41 The award of exemplary damages in the amount of PhP 30,000 is additionally in order if, as here, the crime was
committed with an aggravating circumstance, be it generic or qualifying.42 The Court thus grants the same to serve as deterrent to serious wrongdoings, as a vindication of
the wanton invasion of the rights of the victims, or punishment for those guilty of outrageous conduct.43
As to the stabbings of Jeane and Jelyn, appellant committed frustrated murder as he inflicted on them mortal wounds which could have had taken their lives had it not been
for the prompt medical intervention, a cause independent of appellant’s will.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 27, 2009 in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02902 finding Albert Sanchez y Galera
guilty of two counts of murder and two counts of frustrated murder and sentencing him to serve prison terms therein defined without parole is hereby AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that appellant is ordered to pay the heirs of Jufer James and Edgar De Leon the increased amount of PhP 75,000 as moral damages and the amount of
PhP 30,000 as exemplary damages, respectively, for each count of murder in Criminal Case Nos. 06-8245-MK and 06-8246-MK.
No pronouncements as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Pp v. saturnino villanueva
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
On appeal is the November 5, 2007 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02210 which affirmed with modification the November 28, 2003
Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tayug, Pangasinan, Branch 51. The CA found appellant Saturnino Villanueva guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three
counts of qualified rape and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay his victim the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as
moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, for each count.
Factual Antecedents:
On November 6, 2002, three Informations were filed against appellant for the crime of rape. The accusatory portions of the Informations read:
Crim. Case No. T-3157:
That on or about the 9th day of June, 2002, at dawn, x x x, province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused who is the father of complainant, armed with a bladed weapon, by means of force, threat and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
have sexual intercourse with one "AAA,"3 a minor 12 years of age, against her will and consent, to the damage and prejudice of said "AAA."
CONTRARY to Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 8353.4
Crim. Case No. T-3158:
That on or about the 27th day of September, 1999, in the evening, at x x x, province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused who is the father of complainant, armed with a bladed weapon, by means of force, threat and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously have sexual intercourse with one "AAA," a minor 9 years of age, against her will and consent, to the damage and prejudicie of said "AAA."
CONTRARY to Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 8353.5
Crim. Case No. T-3159:
That on or about the 28th day of September, 1999, at dawn, at x x x, province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused who is the father of complainant, armed with a bladed weapon, by means of force, threat and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have sexual intercourse with one "AAA," a minor 9 years of age, against her will and consent, to the damage and prejudice of said "AAA."
CONTRARY to Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 8353.6
When arraigned on November 14, 2002, appellant pleaded not guilty to all charges.7
During pre-trial, the parties stipulated that the appellant is the father of "AAA." It was likewise agreed that "AAA" was below 12 years of age when the rape incidents
happened.8 "AAA’s" birth and medical certificates were likewise marked as Exhibits "A" and "C," respectively.9
Thereafter, the cases were tried jointly.10
Version of the Prosecution
The prosecution presented "AAA" as its witness. "AAA" narrated that when she was about 4 years old, her mother left her in the care of her father, herein appellant. Since
then, she had been living with her father.
"AAA" claimed that appellant sexually abused her on September 27 and 28, 1999 and on June 9, 2002. During her testimony, "AAA" narrated that:
PROS. ULANDAY:
Q Will you please state your name, age and other personal circumstances?
WITNESS:
A I am "AAA," 13 years old, out-of-school youth, presently residing at x x x11
xxxx
PROS. ULANDAY:
Q Madam Witness, do you still remember September 27, 1999?
A Yes, sir.
Q Why do you remember that particular date?
A That was the birthday of my father and the date when he touched me, sir.
xxxx
Q Who rape[d] you?
A My papa, sir. Witness pointed to the accused.
xxxx
PROS. ULANDAY:
Q You claimed that your father touched and used you. How did he begin in touching you?
A He tied me, sir.
xxxx
Q What part of your body was x x x tied by your father?
A My mouth, sir.
Q What other parts of your body, if there [are] any?
A My hands and my feet, sir.
PROS. ULANDAY:
My witness is crying, your Honor.12
xxxx
Q Now, after your father tied you on September 27, 1999, what did he do, if there’s any?
A He raped me, sir.
COURT:
Q What do you mean by x x x saying he raped you?
xxxx
A He undressed me, sir.
xxxx
COURT:
And we make of record that [witness is now] in tears.13
xxxx
PROS. ULANDAY:
Q Madam Witness, during the last hearing you uttered the word "incua na." What do you mean by that?
A He inserted his penis into my vagina, sir.
Q How long a time did your father [insert] his penis into your vagina?
A About two minutes, sir.
Q At early dawn of September 28, 1999, what happened if any, between you and your father?
A The same, sir.
Q What do you mean by the same?
A That he inserted his penis into my vagina, sir.
Q Before your father inserted his penis into your vagina, what did he do, if there was any?
A He first undressed me, sir.
Q While he was undressing you what were you doing, if any?
A I failed to do any, sir.
Q Why did you fail to do any?
A Because I was afraid, sir.
Q Why were you afraid at the time?
A Because he threatened me, sir.
Q How did he [threaten] you?
A That if I would report the matter to anyone he would kill the person to whom I will report, sir.
Q Do you remember June 9, 2002 at 3:00 o’clock dawn?
A Yes, sir.
Q Why do you remember that particular date?
A Because he again raped me, sir.
Q Who raped you?
A My father, sir.
Q In what particular place [were] you raped?
A In our house, sir.
xxxx
Q You claimed that you were raped by your father, how did he rape you?
A He undressed me, sir.
Q What else did he do aside from undressing you?
A He poked a knife at me, sir.
Q And after poking a knife at you, what happened next, if any?
A Then he touched (kinuti) me, sir.
Q What part of your body was touched by your father?
A My vagina, sir.
Q How did he touch your vagina?
A He inserted his penis into my vagina, sir.
Q What happened when he inserted his penis into your vagina?
A I cried, sir.14
After the presentation of "AAA’s" testimony, the prosecution rested its case.
Version of the Defense
The defense presented appellant as its first witness. In his testimony, appellant admitted that "AAA" is his daughter.15 He also admitted that on September 27 and 28, 1999
and June 9, 2002, he was living in the same house as "AAA."16 However, when asked regarding the rape charges filed against him by his daughter, appellant denied the
same. Thus:
Q And this daughter of your[s] now charge you [with] rape in Crim. Case Nos. T-3157/3158/3159 for allegedly having sexual intercourse with her against her
will and consent. What can you say against these charges by your daughter?
A [Those are] not true, sir.17
The defense next presented Marcelino Villanueva (Marcelino) who testified that he is the father of the appellant.18 He claimed that "AAA" filed the rape cases against
appellant because the latter forbade her to entertain suitors.19 Marcelino also alleged that after appellant was incarcerated, "AAA" eloped with her 20-year old boyfriend
and that "AAA" only separated from her boyfriend when she was brought under the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.20 When asked how old
"AAA" was when she allegedly eloped with her boyfriend, Marcelino answered that "AAA" was only 13 years old.21
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
The trial court lent credence to the testimony of "AAA." However, it noted that although it was agreed upon during the pre-trial that "AAA" was a minor below 12 years of
age, the fact remains that "AAA" was 12 years, six months and 19 days when she was ravished by the appellant on June 9, 2002.22 The court below also observed that
"AAA has always been a pathetic child of oppression, abuse and neglect" and that "[h]er innocence, tender age, dependence [on appellant] for survival, and her virtual
orphanhood sufficed to qualify every sexual molestation perpetrated by her father as rape x x x."23
The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused SATURNINO VILLANUEVA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three counts of rape, defined and penalized by Article 266-A of the
Revised Penal Code, perpetrated against [his] daughter on September 27, 1999, September 28, 1999 and June 9, 2002, x x x and as mandated by Article 266-B, same
Code, the Court hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of DEATH for each offense, to indemnify the complainant "AAA" for damages in the amount of P50,000.00
per [count], and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.24
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In his brief filed before the appellate court, appellant claimed that the prosecution failed to present evidence that would overcome the presumption of his innocence.
Appellant also alleged that the trial court erred in lending credence to the unrealistic and unnatural testimony of "AAA."25 He claimed that it was unusual for "AAA" not to
offer any resistance to the advances allegedly made by him considering that he was unarmed. According to the appellant, "AAA" should have struggled or at least offered
some resistance because she was not completely helpless.26 Appellant also suggested that "AAA" must have been coached because initially, she did not know the acts
which constitute rape. However, during the succeeding hearings, "AAA" allegedly testified in detail the bestial acts committed against her.27
Moreover, appellant argued that the prosecution failed to formally offer in evidence the medical certificate and to present the doctor who conducted the medical
examination to testify on his findings.28 Likewise, "AAA’s" birth certificate was not formally offered. Neither did the Municipal Civil Registrar who allegedly prepared the
same take the witness stand. Thus appellant claimed that assuming he was indeed guilty of the crimes charged, he should only be held liable for simple rape and not
qualified rape because the minority of the victim was not duly established.29 Further, with the passage of Republic Act No. 9346, appellant should not be sentenced to
death.30
On the other hand, appellee maintained that "AAA’s" credibility was beyond doubt31 and that it was unnecessary to offer proof of resistance where the assailant exercised
moral ascendancy against his victim, as in this case.32 Appellee insisted that the crimes committed were three counts of qualified, and not simple, rape considering that
"AAA" was a minor and the offender was her father,33 and that the parties had already stipulated during pre-trial as regards the age of the victim.34
On November 5, 2007, the appellate court rendered its Decision disposing thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 28 November 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Tayug, Pangasinan, Branch 51 in Crim. Case Nos. T-3157, T-
3158 and T-3159 finding accused-appellant Saturnino Villanueva guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three (3) counts of qualified rape under Articles 266-A and 266-B is
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346, the penalty of death imposed on appellant is reduced to reclusion perpetua for each count
of qualified rape, without eligibility for parole under Act No. 4103, as amended. Further, accused-appellant is ordered to pay the private complainant/victim ["AAA"], for
each count of qualified rape, the amounts of Php 75,000.00 as civil indemnity, Php 75,000.00 as moral damages and Php 25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
SO ORDERED.35
The appellate court found no reason to reverse the findings of the trial court on the credibility of "AAA."36 Although there were occasions when "AAA" would not
immediately answer the questions propounded to her, the CA opined that it was because she was either distressed in recounting her horrible experiences or in tears.37 The
appellate court likewise considered the fact that "AAA" was only 13 years old when she testified on her harrowing experiences.38
The appellate court likewise brushed aside appellant’s contention that "AAA" did not offer any resistance. According to the CA, appellant’s moral ascendancy over
"AAA" substitutes for violence or intimidation.39
The CA also concluded that even without the medical certificate, appellant could still be held liable for three counts of rape. His conviction could rest exclusively on the
credible testimony of "AAA" and the medical certificate would only be corroborative evidence.40 Anent the birth certificate, the CA recalled that during pre-trial, the
minority of the victim and her relationship with the appellant had already been stipulated upon. Hence, the said elements have been sufficiently alleged in the Informations
and proven during trial.41
Finally, the CA held that appellant’s denial is intrinsically weak and self-serving especially considering "AAA’s" credible and straightforward testimony.42
Our Ruling
Both the appellant and the appellee opted not to file their supplemental briefs.43
The appeal is partly meritorious.
At the outset, we must state that we entertain no doubt that appellant thrice raped his daughter, "AAA." We examined the records and we find "AAA’s" testimony
convincing and straightforward. We therefore have no reason to reverse or modify the findings of the trial court on the credibility of the victim’s testimony, more so in this
case where the said findings were affirmed by the CA.
We also agree with the ruling of the appellate court that appellant could be convicted of rape even without the medical certificate. "In rape cases, the accused may be
convicted solely on the testimony of the victim, provided the testimony is credible, natural, convincing, and consistent with human nature and the normal course of
things."44 As stated above, "AAA’s" testimony was credible and convincing. As such, appellant’s conviction could rest solely on it. The medical certificate would only
serve as corroborative evidence.
We, however, agree with the appellant that both the medical certificate and "AAA’s" birth certificate, although marked as exhibits during the pre-trial, should not have
been considered by the trial court and the CA because they were not formally offered in evidence. Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides: "The
court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified."
In this case, we note that after the marking of the exhibits during pre-trial, the prosecution did not formally offer the said medical certificate or birth certificate in evidence.
In fact, the prosecution rested its case after presenting the testimony of "AAA" without formally offering any documentary exhibit at all.
Our ruling in Heirs of Pedro Pasag v. Parocha45 is instructive, thus:
The rule on formal offer of evidence is not a trivial matter. Failure to make a formal offer within a considerable period of time shall be deemed a waiver to submit it.
Consequently, as in this case, any evidence that has not been offered shall be excluded and rejected.
xxxx
The Rules of Court [provide] that ‘the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered.’ A formal offer is necessary because judges are mandated to
rest their findings of facts and their judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties at the trial. Its function is to enable the trial judge to know the
purpose or purposes for which the proponent is presenting the evidence. On the other hand, this allows opposing parties to examine the evidence and object to its
admissibility. Moreover, it facilitates review as the appellate court will not be required to review documents not previously scrutinized by the trial court.
xxxx
Thus, the trial court is bound to consider only the testimonial evidence presented and exclude the documents not offered. Documents which may have been identified and
marked as exhibits during pre-trial or trial but which were not formally offered in evidence cannot in any manner be treated as evidence. Neither can such unrecognized
proof be assigned any evidentiary weight and value. It must be stressed that there is a significant distinction between identification of documentary evidence and its formal
offer. The former is done in the course of the pre-trial, and trial is accompanied by the marking of the evidence as an exhibit; while the latter is done only when the party
rests its case. The mere fact that a particular document is identified and marked as an exhibit does not mean that it has already been offered as part of the evidence. It must
be emphasized that any evidence which a party desires to submit for the consideration of the court must formally be offered by the party; otherwise, it is excluded and
rejected.46ten.lihpwal
We reiterated the above ruling in Dizon v. Court of Tax Appeals47 where one of the issues presented was whether the Court of Tax Appeals and the CA gravely abused
their discretion "in allowing the admission of the pieces of evidence which were not formally offered" by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.48 In finding the case impressed
with merit, the Court held that:
Under Section 8 of RA 1125, the CTA is categorically described as a court of record. As cases filed before it are litigated de novo, party-litigants shall prove every minute
aspect of their cases. Indubitably, no evidentiary value can be given the pieces of evidence submitted by the BIR, as the rules on documentary evidence require that these
documents must be formally offered before the CTA. x x x
xxxx
x x x [T]he presentation of the BIR’s evidence is not a mere procedural technicality which may be disregarded considering that it is the only means by which the CTA may
ascertain and verify the truth of BIR’s claims against the Estate. The BIR’s failure to formally offer these pieces of evidence, despite CTA’s directives, is fatal to its cause.
Such failure is aggravated by the fact that not even a single reason was advanced by the BIR to justify such fatal omission. This, we take against the BIR.49
We are not unaware that there is an exception to the above-stated rule. In People v. Mate,50 Silvestre Mate (Mate) was charged with the crime of "Kidnapping for Ransom
with Murder and Frustrated Murder."51 During arraignment, he entered a plea of "guilty." The court then propounded clarificatory questions to determine whether the
accused understood the consequences of his plea. Immediately thereafter, the trial court promulgated its decision finding the accused guilty as charged and sentenced him
to death.52 It was only after the rendition of the judgment that the trial court conducted hearings for the reception of the prosecution’s evidence.53
From the prosecution’s evidence, it would appear that during the investigation, Mate voluntarily made extra-judicial statements as contained in Exhibits "A," "B," and "J."
Also, after his conviction, he appeared as witness for the prosecution against his co-accused where he affirmed his extra-judicial statements in Exhibits "A," "B," and "J."
However, the state prosecutor failed to formally offer said exhibits.
In debunking the defense’s contentions that the trial court erred in rendering a judgment of conviction on Mate even before the prosecution could present its evidence, and
in considering the exhibits which were not formally offered, the Court held thus:
The defense contends that the trial court committed a serious error in rendering judgment of conviction immediately after Mate had pleaded guilty to the crime charged on
the basis of his plea of guilty and before receiving any evidence. While the trial court committed an error in rendering judgment immediately after the accused had pleaded
guilty, and, thereafter, conducted hearings for the reception of the evidence for the prosecution, such an irregularity, is insufficient to justify the setting aside of the
judgment of conviction, considering that it is supported by the judicial and extra-judicial confessions of the accused and by other evidence. x x x
xxxx
The defense questions also the failure of the state prosecutor Cornelio Melendres to make a formal offer of his exhibits, although they have been marked and identified.
Such an oversight appears trivial because the entire evidence for the prosecution is recorded. Even without the exhibits which have been incorporated into the records of
the case, the prosecution can still establish the case because the witnesses properly identified those exhibits and their testimonies are recorded.
Exhibits "A", "B", and "J" are all admissible against Mate because it appears with clarity that he voluntarily and spontaneously gave those narrations without compulsion
from anybody. In fact, . . . when he testified against Ben Bohol he affirmed those narrations again.54
In Mato v. Court of Appeals,55 we concretized the above ruling by holding that evidence, although not formally offered in evidence, may be "admitted and considered by
the trial court provided the following requirements are present, viz: first, the same must have been duly identified by testimony duly recorded and, second, the same must
have been incorporated in the records of the case."56 In Ramos v. Dizon,57 we deemed the exhibits to have been incorporated into the records because they had been
"presented and marked during the pre-trial of the case."58 Likewise, the first requisite was deemed satisfied because one of the parties therein explained the contents of the
exhibits when interrogated by the respondents’ counsel.59
In the instant case, we find the rulings espoused in People v. Mate,60 Mato v. Court of Appeals,61 and Ramos v. Dizon62 not applicable. Thus, we find that both the trial
court and the CA erred in allowing the admission of "AAA’s" medical certificate and birth certificate. The records would show that the lone witness for the prosecution
did not identify the said exhibits or explain their contents. When "AAA" was placed on the witness stand, she merely stated that she was 13 years old. No reference was
ever made to her birth certificate. The same is true with the medical certificate. After the marking during the pre-trial, the prosecution did not refer to it in any stage of the
proceedings. Neither did it present the doctor who prepared the same.
Moreover, appellant’s admission during the pre-trial that "AAA" was a minor below 12 years of age63 would not help the prosecution’s case. First, the trial court found this
admission inaccurate as in fact, "AAA" was already above 12 years of age when the rape incident transpired on June 9, 2002. Second and more important, appellant’s
admission during pre-trial is not admissible as it violates Section 2, Rule 118 of the Rules of Court which explicitly provides that: "All agreements or admissions made or
entered during the pre-trial conference shall be reduced in writing and signed by the accused and his counsel, otherwise they cannot be used against the accused. x x x." In
People v. Chua Uy,64 we held that:
Even granting for the sake of argument that RAMON admitted during the pre-trial that Exhibits "D" to "D-4", inclusive, and Exhibit "E" contained methamphetamine
hydrochloride, the admission cannot be used in evidence against him because the Joint Order was not signed by RAMON and his counsel. Section 4 of Rule 118 of the
Rules of Court expressly provides:
SEC. 4. Pre-trial agreements must be signed. No agreement or admission made or entered during the pre-trial conference shall be used in evidence against the accused
unless reduced to writing and signed by his counsel.
Put in another way, to bind the accused the pre-trial order must be signed not only by him but his counsel as well. The purpose of this requirement is to further safeguard
the rights of the accused against improvident or unauthorized agreements or admissions which his counsel may have entered into without his knowledge, as he may have
waived his presence at the pre-trial conference; eliminate any doubt on the conformity of the accused of the facts agreed upon.
In this case, records would show that the Pre-trial Order was not signed by both appellant and his counsel.
In view of the foregoing, we find that the prosecution did not present any satisfactory evidence to prove "AAA’s" minority. "In the prosecution of criminal cases, x x x,
nothing but proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which an accused is charged must be established. Qualifying circumstances
or special qualifying circumstances must be proved with equal certainty and clearness as the crime itself; otherwise, there can be no conviction of the crime in its qualified
form. As a qualifying circumstance of the crime of rape, the concurrence of the victim’s minority and her relationship to the accused-appellant must be both alleged and
proven beyond reasonable doubt."65
In view of the foregoing, we find appellant guilty only of three counts of simple rape66 the penalty for which is reclusion perpetua for each count. Accordingly, the awards
of civil indemnity must be reduced to P50,000.00 and moral damages to P50,000.00. Finally, the award of exemplary damages is proper. "Exemplary damages may be
awarded in criminal cases as part of civil liability if the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Relationship as an alternative circumstance
under Article 15 of the Revised Penal Code is considered aggravating in the crime of rape."67 In this case, the aggravating circumstance of relationship was duly
established. Appellant himself admitted when he testified in open court that he is "AAA’s" father. However, the award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages must be
increased to P30,000.00 in line with prevailing jurisprudence.68
WHEREFORE, we find appellant Saturnino Villanueva GUILTY of three counts of simple rape and accordingly sentence him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua
and to indemnify his victim "AAA" the amounts of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages, for each count.
SO ORDERED.

Ruiz v. beldia
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
In an Affidavit-Complaint1 filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), complainant Shirley C. Ruiz charged respondent Judge Rolindo D. Beldia, Jr. of
Branch 57, Regional Trial Court, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, with gross ignorance of the law and grave abuse of authority in connection with the grant of bail and
issuance of a release order in favor of one Lourdes Estrella Santos.
Ruiz is the private complainant in I.S. No. 2000-1031 for violation of the Anti-Fencing Law2 pending before the Department of Justice (DOJ). Santos, who was arrested
during entrapment operations relative to the carnapping of Ruiz’s vehicle, was one of the respondents therein.
After her arrest on May 24, 2000, Santos was detained in Camp Crame, Quezon City, pending the filing of formal charges in court. Upon inquest, she executed a waiver of
the provisions of Article 1253 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Rule 112, Section 74 of the then applicable 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Inquest
Prosecutor thus set the hearing of the preliminary investigation on May 31, 2000 at 2:00 PM.5
However, on May 30, 2000, Santos obtained an Order of Release6 signed by respondent Judge Beldia who was then detailed as assisting judge of Branch 272, Regional
Trial Court of Marikina City (RTC-Marikina City).l^vvphi1.net Respondent Judge Beldia apparently granted bail to Santos and approved the corresponding bail bond
without serving notice to the prosecutor.
Consequently, Ruiz filed the instant administrative complaint contending that respondent Judge Beldia had no authority to grant bail to Santos since the Investigating
Prosecutor has yet to conclude the preliminary investigation. She claimed that for as long as the information has not yet been filed in court, a court has no power to grant
bail to a detained person since it has not yet acquired jurisdiction over the person of the accused.
In his Comment7 dated August 14, 2000, respondent Judge Beldia maintained that Section 1 (c), Rule 114 of the Rules of Court allows any person in custody, even if not
formally charged in court, to apply for bail.1awphi1.nét
Meanwhile, the OCA directed the Clerk of Court, Branch 272, RTC-Marikina City, Atty. Elvira Badillo-Adarlo, to confirm whether a formal petition for admission to bail
was filed by Santos or her counsel and, whether Executive Judge Reuben P. de la Cruz and Presiding Judge Olga P. Enriquez were absent or unavailable on May 30, 2000
when the release order was issued.8
On June 18, 2002, Atty. Badillo-Adarlo informed the OCA that the records of release orders and bailbonds in her custody did not include the subject release order issued
by respondent Judge Beldia. As such, she could not tell whether a formal petition for admission to bail was filed by Santos. She likewise confirmed that Executive Judge
De la Cruz and Presiding Judge Enriquez were present and available on the day that Judge Beldia issued the release order.9
On November 20, 2002, the complaint was re-docketed as a regular administrative matter. At the same time, the parties were required to manifest whether they are willing
to submit the case for resolution based on the pleadings filed.10 The parties failed to file their manifestations, hence the filing thereof was deemed waived.
In its report11 dated July 31, 2002, the OCA recommended that respondent Judge Beldia be held liable for gross ignorance of the law and fined in the amount of P5,000.00.
It opined that although a person in custody and who is not formally charged in court could apply for bail pursuant to Section 17 (c), Rule 114, the grant thereof by Judge
Beldia was nonetheless irregular. It noted that no formal petition or application for bail was filed by Santos, and even if one was filed, the Marikina courts could not have
properly taken cognizance of the same since Santos was detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City. There was also no showing that the regular judge of Branch 272, RTC-
Marikina City, was unavailable to act on the application for bail.
We agree with the recommendation of the OCA.
Record shows that Executive Judge De la Cruz and Presiding Judge Enriquez were present on May 30, 2000 to act on the bail application of Santos. When respondent
Judge Beldia acted on the bail application of Santos on May 30, 2000, his designation was merely an "assisting judge" in the RTC-Marikina City, his permanent station
being in Branch 57, RTC-San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. As such, his authority in the Marikina court is limited and he could only act on an application for bail filed
therewith in the absence or unavailability of the regular judge.
Concededly, a person lawfully arrested and detained but who has not yet been formally charged in court, can seek his provisional release through the filing of an
application for bail. He need not wait for a formal complaint or information to be filed since bail is available to "all persons" where the offense is bailable.12 Section 7,
Rule 112 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a judge could grant bail to a person lawfully arrested but without a warrant, upon waiver of his right under
Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as Santos had done upon her inquest.
Undeniably too, Santos was entitled to bail as a matter of right since the offense with which she was charged does not carry the penalty of life imprisonment, reclusion
perpetua or death.13 Notwithstanding, it was incumbent upon respondent Judge Beldia to grant bail to Santos in accordance with established rules and procedure.
Respondent Judge Beldia failed in this respect and must thus be held administratively liable.
Section 17, par. (c) of Rule 114 distinctly states:
SEC. 17. Bail, where filed. – …
(c) Any person in custody who is not yet charged in court may apply for bail with any court in the province, city, or municipality where he is held. (Emphasis supplied)
The Certificate of Detention14 issued by the PNP-TMG-SOD shows that Santos was detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City. Thus, as correctly pointed out by the OCA,
the application for bail should have been filed before the proper Quezon City court and not in Marikina City.1awphi1.nét
In addition, it appears that no formal application or petition for the grant of bail was filed before the RTC-Marikina City. There were no records of the application or the
release order issued by respondent Judge Beldia. Neither was there a hearing conducted thereon nor the prosecutor notified of the bail application.
Under the present rules, a hearing on an application for bail is mandatory.15 In Cortes v. Judge Catral,16 we ruled that in all cases, whether bail is a matter of right or of
discretion, reasonable notice of hearing must be given to the prosecutor, or at least his recommendation on the matter must be sought. The rationale for this was explained
in this wise:
Bail should be fixed according to the circumstances of each case. The amount fixed should be sufficient to ensure the presence of the accused at the trial yet reasonable
enough to comply with the constitutional provision that bail should not be excessive. Therefore, whether bail is a matter of right or of discretion, reasonable notice of
hearing is required to be given to the prosecutor or fiscal or at least he must be asked for his recommendation because in fixing the amount of bail, the judge is required to
take into account a number of factors such as the applicant’s character and reputation, forfeiture of other bonds or whether he is a fugitive from justice.17
Judge Beldia disregarded basic procedural rules when he granted bail to Santos sans hearing and notice and without the latter having filed a formal petition for bail.
Accordingly, the prosecution was deprived of procedural due process for which respondent Judge Beldia must be held accountable.18
There is no dearth of jurisprudence on the rules to be applied in the grant of bail.19 These same rules have been incorporated in the Rules of Court, of which a judge must
have more than just a superficial understanding, if he were to discharge his functions properly and competently. Indeed, everyone, especially a judge, is presumed to know
the law. When, as in this case, the law is so elementary, not to be aware of it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.20
The Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory
acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules; it is imperative that he be conversant with basic legal principles and be aware of well-settled authoritative doctrines. He
should strive for excellence exceeded only by his passion for truth, to the end that he be the personification of justice and the rule of law.21
Under Section 8 of A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC amending Rule 140 of the Rules of Court on the Discipline of Justices and Judges, which took effect on October 1, 2001, gross
ignorance of the law is classified as a serious charge punishable by either dismissal from service, suspension or a fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding
P40,000.00. In this case, considering that the incident took place on May 30, 2000 which is before the effectivity of A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, and malice or bad faith on the
part of respondent Judge Beldia not having been established, and further, this being his first administrative offense, we deem it just and reasonable to impose upon him a
fine of P5,000.00.22
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Judge Rolindo D. Beldia, Jr. of Branch 57, Regional Trial Court, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental is found
GUILTY of gross ignorance of the law, and is FINED in the amount of P5,000.00. He is further WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with
more severely.
SO ORDERED.
Rodel crisostomo v. pp
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
For review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the Decision1 dated September 22, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01192, affirming with
modification the Decision2 rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 12, in Criminal Case No. 1632-M-2001, finding petitioner Rodel Crisostomo
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of Robbery with Homicide.
Factual Antecedents
The Information filed against petitioner and his two companions designated only as John Doe and Peter Doe contained the following accusatory allegations:
That on or about the 12th day of February, 2001, in the municipality of San Miguel, province of Bulacan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, conspiring and helping one another, armed with a gun, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent [to] gain and by
means of force, violence and intimidation upon person, enter the gasoline station owned by Jose Buencamino and once inside, take, rob and carry away with them
P40,000.00, belonging to the said Jose Buencamino, to the damage and prejudice of the latter in the amount of P40,000.00, and on the occasion of the commission of the
said robbery or by reason thereof, the herein accused, in furtherance of their conspiracy, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, attack, assault and shoot
Janet Ramos, cashier of said gasoline station, thereby inflicting on her serious physical injuries which directly caused her death.
Contrary to law.3
During his arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty.4 Thereafter, trial ensued.
Version of the Prosecution
On February 12, 2001, at around 12:20 in the afternoon, Rodelio Pangilinan (Rodelio) was working at a gasoline station owned by Jose Buencamino (Jose) at Buliran, San
Miguel, Bulacan. He was by the gasoline tank which was two or three arms length from the cashier’s office when three armed men on board a motorcycle arrived. Two of
the men immediately went to the cashier while the driver stayed on the motorcycle. Inside the office, one of the men pulled out a fan knife while the other, armed with a
gun, fired a shot at Janet Ramos (Janet), the cashier. They forcibly took the money in the cash register and the man with the gun fired a second shot that fatally hit Janet in
the right side of her head. The two armed men returned to their companion waiting by the motorcycle and together sped away from the scene of the crime.
Rodelio gave a description of the driver of the motorcycle but not of the two armed men who entered the cashier’s office since they had their backs turned to him. The
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) prepared a cartographic sketch based on the information provided by Rodelio. Jose, the owner of the gas station, stated that the
stolen money was worth P40,000.00. Receipts in the amount of P14,500.00 were presented as funeral expenses.
On February 23, 2001, the petitioner was detained after being implicated in a robbery that occurred in San Miguel, Bulacan. During his detention, Rodelio and another
gasoline boy arrived and identified him in a police lineup as one of the three robbers who killed Janet.
Version of the Defense
Petitioner denied committing the crime for which he was charged. He maintained that the face of the man depicted in the cartographic sketch by the NBI was completely
different from his appearance in the police lineup in which Rodelio pointed at him as one of the perpetrators. He argued that the only reason why Rodelio pointed to him in
the police lineup was because he was the only one in handcuffs.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
The trial court rendered its Decision convicting petitioner of robbery with homicide. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, finding herein accused RODEL CRISOSTOMO y DE LEON guilty as principal beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of robbery with homicide as
charged, there being no circumstances, aggravating or mitigating, found attendant in the commission thereof, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, to indemnify the heirs of victim Janet Ramos in the amount of P75,000.00, the owner or operator, Jose Buencamino, Jr., of the gasoline station that was robbed,
in the amount of P40,000.00 plus P14,500.00 as funeral expenses (Exh. "H") defrayed by said owner for its cashier Janet Ramos, as actual damages, and to pay the costs of
the proceedings.
In the service of his sentence said accused, a detention prisoner, shall be credited with the full time during which he had undergone preventive imprisonment, pursuant to
Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code.
SO ORDERED.5
Not satisfied, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration and Inhibition,6 which was denied by the trial court in an Order7 dated January 13, 2003.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Upon review of the case pursuant to this Court’s ruling in People v. Mateo,8 the CA affirmed with modification the conviction of petitioner. The dispositive portion of the
CA’s Decision reads:
In VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED, with a modification that the awarded civil indemnity is reduced from P75,000.00 to
P50,000,00. Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.9
Issue
Before us, the petitioner assails the Decision of the CA and raises the following issue:
WHETHER X X X THE X X X COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED ERROR IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE TRIAL COURT GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN THE
APRPECIATION OF FACTS AND APPLYING THE LAW IN CONVICTING ACCUSED OF ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE.10
Our Ruling
The petition is unmeritorious.
The trial court properly denied the motion for inhibition.
Petitioner claims that his motion for inhibition should have been granted since his counsel filed a case against the wife of the trial judge involving a land dispute. Petitioner
alleges that the case rendered the trial judge partial, biased and, thus, incapable of rendering a just and wise decision.
We are not convinced. It must be stressed that as a rule, "a motion to inhibit must be denied if filed after x x x the Court had already given its opinion on the merits of the
case, the rationale being that ‘a litigant cannot be permitted to speculate upon the action of the court x x x (only to) raise an objection of this sort after a decision had been
rendered’."11 Here, petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration and Inhibition was filed on November 29, 200212 after the trial court rendered its Decision on November 14,
2002.13 Accordingly, the trial judge did not commit any impropriety in denying the motion to inhibit as it came after the case had been decided on the merits.
Further, in a motion for inhibition, "[t]he movant must x x x prove the ground of bias and prejudice by clear and convincing evidence to disqualify a judge from
participating in a particular trial."14 "Bare allegations of partiality x x x [is not sufficient] in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption that
the judge will undertake his noble role to dispense justice according to law and evidence and without fear or favor."15 Petitioner’s bare allegations in his motion to inhibit
are not adequate grounds for the disqualification or inhibition of the trial judge. Thus, credence should not be given to the issue of alleged prejudice and partiality of the
trial judge.
Petitioner is guilty of the complex crime of robbery with homicide.
Robbery with homicide exists "when a homicide is committed either by reason, or on occasion, of the robbery. To sustain a conviction for robbery with homicide, the
prosecution must prove the following elements: (1) the taking of personal property belonging to another; (2) with intent to gain; (3) with the use of violence or intimidation
against a person; and[,] (4) on the occasion or by reason of the robbery, the crime of homicide, as used in its generic sense, was committed. A conviction requires certitude
that the robbery is the main purpose and objective of the malefactor and the killing is merely incidental to the robbery. The intent to rob must precede the taking of human
life but the killing may occur before, during or after the robbery."16
In this case, the prosecution successfully adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt that the genuine intention of the petitioner and his companions was to rob the gasoline
station. Rodelio testified that at around 12:20 in the afternoon of February 12, 2001, the petitioner and his companions arrived on board a motorcycle at the gas station
located at Buliran, San Miguel, Bulacan. While the petitioner stayed on the motorcycle, his companions entered the cashier’s office. One of them pulled out a fan knife
while the other fired his gun at Janet. After divesting the amount of P40,000.00, the man with the gun fired a fatal shot to the head of Janet. The petitioner’s companions
returned to and boarded their motorcycle, and sped away together.17
From the foregoing, it is clear that the overriding intention of the petitioner and his cohorts was to rob the gasoline station. The killing was merely incidental, resulting by
reason or on occasion of the robbery.
The petitioner attempts to discredit Rodelio, the eyewitness presented by the prosecution, by asserting that his testimony is in conflict with the statements in his affidavit.
In his testimony, Rodelio said that it was one of the men who entered the cashier’s office who was holding a gun while in his sworn statement, he alleged that petitioner
had a .45 caliber pistol which was poked at him.
Such an argument fails to impress as discrepancies between sworn statements and testimonies made at the witness stand do not necessarily discredit the witness. "Sworn
statements/affidavits are generally subordinated in importance to open court declarations because the former are often executed when the affiant’s mental faculties are not
in such a state as to afford him a fair opportunity of narrating in full the incident which transpired. Testimonies given during trials are much more exact and elaborate.
Thus, testimonial evidence carries more weight than sworn statements/affidavits."18
"Further, to the extent that inconsistencies were in fact shown, they appear to [this] Court to relate to details of peripheral significance which do not negate or dissolve the
positive identification [by the eyewitness of the petitioner and his co-accused] as the perpetrators of the crime."19
That Rodelio had to be subpoenaed five times and be arrested in order to testify for the prosecution do not weaken the case against the petitioner and his cohorts. During
cross-examination, Rodelio explained that his failure to respond immediately to the subpoena was because he does not know how to go to court. Thus:
Q: Why did you fail to appear before this Honorable Court when you were first summoned to appear before this court?
A: Because my employer was sick, sir.
COURT:
Q: Who was that employer?
A: Ping Buencamino, your Honor.
ATTY. KLIATCHKO:
Q: Assuming that he is sick why did you not go to this Honorable Court?
A: I have no companion. I have no idea.
Q: You have no idea about what?
A: I do not know how to come to this court, sir.20
Even assuming that Rodelio was initially reluctant to testify and get involved in the ensuing criminal prosecution against the petitioner and his co-accused, this "is but
normal and does not by itself affect [his] credibility."21
The petitioner also avers that he was not the person depicted in the cartographic sketch. However, "a cartographic sketch, unlike a photograph, is only intended to give the
law enforcers a general idea of the likeness of a suspect and is never expected to exactly resemble his actual facial appearance. Even the description of the suspect given in
the cartographic sketch may not be unerringly exact."22 What is important is the fact that the petitioner was positively identified by Rodelio as the perpetrator of the crime
even without a moustache and curly hair.
We are not likewise impressed with petitioner’s assertion that the case against him was weakened with the failure to present Reinerio, the other eyewitness to the
commission of the crime and one of the prosecution’s proposed witnesses. As a rule, "the prosecution has the exclusive prerogative to determine whom to present as
witnesses. [It] need not present each and every witness but only such as may be needed to meet the quantum of proof necessary to establish the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt."23 Here, the testimony of Reinerio would merely corroborate the statements of Rodelio on the witness stand, which when considered together with the
other evidence presented by the prosecution, established beyond reasonable doubt the culpability of the petitioner and his cohorts. Further, there is nothing on record
which would show that Rodelio was actuated by ill motive or hate in imputing a serious offense of robbery with homicide against the petitioner.
We are also not impressed with the petitioner’s insistence that his identification in the police lineup was highly irregular. There is simply no factual basis to prove that he
was the only suspect in the lineup with handcuffs that prompted Rodelio to point to him as the suspect. It is worth stressing that the police investigators are presumed to
have performed their duties regularly and in good faith.24 In the absence of sufficient proof to overturn this presumption, petitioner’s positive identification by Rodelio
remains free from any stain of wrongdoing.1avvphi1
Besides, not only did Rodelio identify the petitioner in the police lineup, he also positively identified petitioner when he testified in court.
The petitioner’s contention that he did not conspire with the other accused in the commission of the crime cannot be given credence. There is no doubt that the petitioner
participated actively in the commission of the crime. He was positively identified as the driver of the motorcycle with his two male companions on board. They arrived
together at the gasoline station. His cohorts then went inside the office to conduct the robbery while he remained on the motorcycle and waited for his cohorts. After his
two companions stole the money and killed the cashier, they sped away from the scene of the crime in each other’s company using the same motorcycle.
Against the testimony of the prosecution’s eyewitness, the petitioner could only rely on the defense of denial. This defense, however, deserves scant consideration since
"denial cannot prevail over the positive testimony of a witness. A mere denial, just like alibi, is a self-serving negative evidence which cannot be accorded greater
evidentiary weight than the declaration of credible witnesses who [testified] on affirmative matters."25
"The concerted manner [in which the petitioner and his] companions perpetrated the crime showed beyond reasonable doubt the presence of conspiracy. Where conspiracy
is established, it matters not who among the accused actually shot and killed the victim. The consistent doctrinal rule is that when a homicide takes place by reason or on
the occasion of the robbery, all those who took part shall be guilty of the special complex crime of robbery with homicide whether or not they actually participated in the
killing, unless there is proof that they had endeavored to prevent the killing."26 There was no evidence adduced in this case that petitioner attempted to prevent his
companions from shooting the victim. "Thus, regardless of the acts individually performed by [the petitioner] and his co-accused, and applying the basic principle in
conspiracy that the ‘act of one is the act of all,’ [the petitioner] is guilty as a co-conspirator. Being co-conspirators, the criminal liabilities of the [petitioner and his co-
accused] are one and the same."27
The Proper Penalty
The crime of robbery with homicide is punishable under Article 294 (as amended by Republic Act No. 7659) of the Revised Penal Code by reclusion perpetua to death.
Article 6328 of the Revised Penal Code states that when the law prescribes a penalty consisting of two indivisible penalties, and the crime is neither attended by mitigating
nor aggravating circumstances, the lesser penalty shall be imposed. Considering that no modifying circumstance was proven to have attended the commission of the crime,
the trial court correctly sentenced the petitioner to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.29
The Civil Liabilities
In robbery with homicide, civil indemnity and moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 each is granted automatically in the absence of any qualifying aggravating
circumstances.30 These awards are mandatory without need of allegation and evidence other than the death of the victim owing to the fact of the commission of the crime.
In this case, the CA properly awarded the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. In addition, we also award the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages.31
To be entitled to compensatory damages, it is necessary to prove the actual amount of loss with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised upon competent proof and the
best evidence obtainable to the injured party. "[R]eceipts should support claims of actual damages."32 Thus, as correctly held by the trial court and affirmed by the CA, the
amount of P14,500.00 incurred as funeral expenses can be sustained since these are expenditures supported by receipts. Also, the courts below correctly held petitioner
liable to return the amount of P40,000.00 which was stolen from the gas station before the victim was shot and killed.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01192 that affirmed with modification the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 12, in Criminal Case No. 1632-M-2001 is AFFIRMED with further MODIFICATION that petitioner is hereby ordered to pay the heirs of the
victim moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00.
SO ORDERED.