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CASES FOR EVIDENCE

A. Equipoise Rule

a. Tim vs People GR 126480 August 10,2001


b. People vs Benjie Ramila GR 101435 November 8, 1993
c. People vs dela Iglesia GR 110991-92 February 24, 1995

B. Documentary Evidence

a. Heirs of Teodoro vs CA GR 117384 October 21, 1998


b. PNB vs CA GR 108630 April 2, 1996
c. Manghas vs CA GR 173375 September 25, 2008
d. Atienza vs Board of Medicine GR 177407 February 9, 2011

C. Negative Averment

a. People vs Anghelita Manalo GR 107623 February 23, 1994


b. People vs Opiniano Pajenado GR L-27680-81 February 27, 1970

D.

a. Catuira vs CA GR 105813 September 12, 1994

E. Weight of Evidence

a. People vs Galvez GR 157221 March 30, 2007


b. Makayang vs People GR 175842 March 18, 2015

F.

a. People vs Hernandez GR 108028 July 30, 1996

[G.R. No. 126480. August 10, 2001]

MARIA TIN @ MARIA TY @ MARIA DY, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
This petition assails the decision of the Court of Appeals dated July 24, 1996, affirming the decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 40, dated May 5, 1993, finding the accused (now petitioner) Maria Tin @ Maria Ty @ Maria
Dy guilty of estafa and sentencing her to suffer imprisonment of six years and one day of prision mayor as minimum to 20
years of reclusion temporal as maximum and to pay the private complainant, Dr. Francisca M. Santiago, the amount
of P280,000.00 plus 12 percent interest per annum from the filing of the information and P40,000.00 as attorneys fees.
Petitioner was charged in an Information which reads:

That, on or about February 8, 1980, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously defraud one FRANCISCA M. SANTIAGO in the following manner, to wit: the accused received
in trust from said Francisca M. Santiago several pieces of jewelry with an estimated value of more than P220,000.00 as
collateral to the loan in the amount of P220,000.00 which the latter obtained from the accused, under the express
obligation of returning the said pieces of jewelry to said Francisca M. Santiago immediately upon demand for redemption,
but the said accused once in possession of the said pieces of jewelry far from complying with her aforesaid obligation,
failed and refused, and still fails and refuses to do so despite repeated demands made upon her to that effect and with
intent to defraud the said accused denied having received the said pieces of jewelry to the damage and prejudice of the
said Francisca M. Santiago.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[1]

On arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty.


At the trial, private complainant Dr. Francisca Santiago testified that on February 8, 1980, she and Aurora Jose went
to Madys Pawnshop owned by petitioner to pawn some pieces of jewelry. She initially asked for P250,000.00 but
petitioner offered only P220,000.00, P200,000.00 first and then the P20,000.00 a week later. A list of the jewelries was
typewritten by a helper of the petitioner. This list was signed by petitioner as evidence of her receipt of the said jewelries.
[2]
Dr. Santiago also averred that from 1980 to 1982, she made 19 payments of various amounts totaling P95,600.00.
[3]
She said that the loan was under a white-paper system where there is no maturity/expiration date and where the jewelry
can be redeemed anytime provided the interests were paid. [4]
On February 1, 1984, Dr. Santiago said, she went to the pawnshop with a certain Mrs. Dava and a Mrs. Zuiga to
redeem her jewelry. She brought with her the amount of P450,000.00 to settle her loan. However, petitioner told her that
the jewelries were already sold. [5] This prompted Dr. Santiago to consult Atty. German Abaya Sipin, who wrote to Maria
Tin[6] asking her to allow Dr. Santiago to redeem the pieces of jewelry. On March 2, 1984, petitioner replied through her
counsel, Atty. Marcelo T. Dy, confirming that Dr. Santiago has an unsettled obligation of P220,000.00 and demanding
payment. The letter also stated that no jewelries were received as collateral for the loan. [7] In a handwritten letter dated
March 7, 1984, Dr. Santiago pleaded for the redemption of her jewelries. [8] Maria Tin, also in a handwritten letter dated
March 16, 1984, replied that she merely acted as guarantor of the loan and since she was made to pay the loan she now
was demanding payment therefor. [9] In said letter, Tin narrated the circumstances behind the loan, and alleged that it was
another person who gave the loan and received the jewelry as collateral.
Petitioner testified that the real parties to the loan were Dr. Santiago and her daughter-in-law, Mia Chan. She merely
introduced them to one another and it was Mia Chan who signed the acknowledgment receipt and who actually received
the pieces of jewelry.[10]
Mia Chan, for her part, corroborated the testimony of petitioner, her mother-in-law. She stated that she was the one
who extended the loan to Dr. Santiago and that she merely asked petitioner to appraise the pieces of jewelry for her. She
also requested petitioner to collect payments from Dr. Santiago. According to Mia Chan, the loan was for a three-month
term with 14 percent interest per annum. She stated she signed the receipt upon request of Dr. Santiago. [11]
On May 5, 1993, the trial court rendered a decision finding petitioner guilty. The dispositive portion of the said
decision reads:

From the foregoing, the court finds MARIA TIN, alias MARIA TY or MARIA DY, the accused, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of ESTAFA. Accused is hereby sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day of
prision mayor as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as maximum.

Accused is hereby ordered to pay Dr. Francisca M. Santiago the amount of P280,000.00 plus 12% interest per annum
from the filing of the Information and P40,000.00 as Attorneys Fees.

Dr. Francisca M. Santiago is required to pay the docket fees of the civil aspect of this case.

SO ORDERED.[12]

Petitioner appealed with the Court of Appeals which affirmed the trial courts decision. Her Motion for Reconsideration
was denied.
Hence, this petition. Petitioner avers that the appellate court erred in:

I. NOT FINDING THAT THE PROSECUTIONS EVIDENCE IS FULL OF LOOPHOLES AND SELF-
CONTRADICTIONS, APART FROM BEING INHERENTLY INCREDIBLE, AND HENCE GROSSLY INSUFFICIENT
FOR CONVICTION.

II. RELYING ON WHAT IT PERCEIVED TO BE WEAKNESSES OF THE DEFENSE RATHER ON THE STRENGTH
OF THE PROSECUTIONS CASE.
III. NOT UPHOLDING ACCUSED-APPELLANTS CONTENTION (A) THAT SANTIAGO LIED WHEN SHE SAID
THAT IT WAS ONLY WHEN SHE ARRIVED AT MADYS PAWNSHOP THAT SHE CAME TO KNOW FROM WHOM
SHE WAS GOING TO OBTAIN A LOAN AND THAT IT WAS SANTIAGO WHO TYPED AND PREPARED EXH. A
AND (B) THAT DRA. SANTIAGO HERSELF PREPARED EXH. A AND WROTE THE NAME MARIA TIN AS THE
LENDER.

Essentially, in our view, petitioner raises issues of fact by assailing the credibility of witnesses.As a general rule, this
Court in a petition under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court will review only errors of law. It is not the function of this Court to
weigh the evidence on factual issues all over again. [13] However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, one of which is
when the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts. [14] In this case, the decisions of both the trial court and the Court
of Appeals are allegedly based on misapprehensions of vital facts, making their review necessary.
A conviction in this case for estafa depends on three facts: (1) that accused was the one who extended the loan; (2)
that accused was the one who received the pieces of jewelry as collateral for the loan she extended; and (3) that the loan
was for an indefinite term. These factual circumstances must relate directly to the elements of the crime of estafa with
abuse of confidence under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code. [15]
Both trial and appellate courts held that it was petitioner who extended the loan and who actually received the
jewelries from Dr. Santiago. Their conclusion stemmed from the following circumstances:
(1) In a letter she wrote to Fiscal Jumino, one Aurora Jose who had allegedly introduced Dr. Santiago to Maria
Tin and who was present when the transaction took place, corroborated Dr. Santiagos testimony;
(2) The signature of appellant [petitioner] appears on the document [16] acknowledging receipt of the pieces of
jewelry;
(3) Receipts evidencing payments made by Dr. Santiago and which appeared to be signed by the petitioner
were not denied by the latter;
(4) Petitioner did not deny that she sent a note (Exh. M-2) to Dr. Santiago reminding her to update her
payments, or else she would auction the pieces of jewelry.
A careful review of the records, however, reveals that, first, it was erroneous for the Court of Appeals to consider in
evidence the letter which a certain Aurora Jose sent to Fiscal Jumino. [17]Aurora Jose was never presented to testify on the
veracity of said letter, much less its contents. A private certification is hearsay where the person who issued the same was
never presented as a witness. [18] The same is true of letters. They are hearsay evidence. Here, Aurora Joses alleged letter
is obviously hearsay. While hearsay evidence may be admitted because of lack of objection by the adverse partys
counsel, it is nonetheless without probative value.[19]
Second, the signature appearing in the receipt, Exhibit A, apparently differs from the specimen signatures provided
by petitioner Maria Tin in open court.[20] But it has striking and obvious similarities to Mia Chans specimen signatures.
[21]
The differences and similarities are so obvious to the eye. They could not be casually disregarded. Expert handwriting
analysis is probably useful here, but it is not indispensable. [22] As said in People vs. Pagpaguitan, 315 SCRA 226:

When a writing in issue is claimed on the one hand and denied upon the other to be the writing of a particular person, any
other writing of that person may be admitted in evidence for the purpose of comparison with the writing in dispute. It is
also recognized that a comparison of writing is a rational method of investigation; similarities and dissimilarities thus
disclosed have probative value in the search for truth. Thus, it has been held that, where a comparison is permissible, it
may be made by the court, with or without the aid of expert witnesses. The court may, in the exercise of its sound
discretion, order a party to write or sign his signature as a basis for comparison. For, the handwriting of a person is
characteristic of the person himself. Once admitted, the genuineness of other offered writings alleged to be the work of the
same writer becomes a question for the trier of fact who may, but need not, be assisted in this task by experts. [23]

In the present case, the prosecution bears the burden of proving that the signature in Exhibit A was the petitioners,
not Mia Chans. This the prosecution did not do.
Third, petitioner did not deny that she received payments and made demands for payment from private
complainant. They do not show, however, that she was the one who extended the loan and accepted the jewelries. Note
that even Mia Chan received certain payments from Dr. Santiago, as shown by Exhibits 8, 8-A, 10 and 10-A. A certain
Viring also received payment from Dr. Santiago. [24] These instances only prove that a person who received payments from
another is not necessarily the person who extended the loan.
Fourth, Exhibit M-2[25] which the Court of Appeals considered proof that petitioner was in possession of the jewelry,
deserves serious scrutiny. Said exhibit was not properly identified or introduced as evidence at the trial. It was marked as
an exhibit upon mere manifestation of counsel. [26] It was not touched upon during the testimony of the private complainant
nor listed in the list of exhibits for the prosecution, [27] hence deemed inadmissible in evidence.[28]
Fifth, Mia Chans admission, that she was the one who extended the loan and received the jewelries, deserves
weighty consideration and could not be ignored. That admission is one against self-interest, amounting to an incriminatory
statement, which the witness could not have volunteered if not the truth.
Petitioner claims that the loan was for a three-month period only. But private complainant averred that it was
extended under a so-called white-paper system, or a loan with an indefinite term. Petitioner presented her daughter-in-
law, Mia Chan, to establish that the loan was only for a three-month period. Private complainant did not present evidence
to substantiate her claim, other than her self-serving testimony. Private complainant relied on the acknowledgment receipt
allegedly signed by petitioner in the presence of two witnesses. However, the prosecution did not present Aurora Jose,
who allegedly witnessed the transaction. Nor did it present Mrs. Dava and Mrs. Zuiga who allegedly accompanied Dr.
Santiago when the latter tried to redeem her jewelries. While non-presentation of certain witnesses is not a valid defense
nor does it work against the prosecutions cause, [29] this holds true only if the evidence of the prosecution is sufficiently
strong to overcome the presumption of innocence of the accused. If the prosecution evidence is not strong, then it
becomes mandatory for the prosecution to present evidence which can help further its case, or explain why such evidence
is not presented. When the sole testimony of the complainant is met by an equally credible evidence of the defense, then
the prosecution must present credible corroborative witnesses to buttress its case. Its failure to present corroborative
witnesses, without any explanation why they were not produced, weakens the testimony of the witness who named those
corroborating witnesses in her testimony.[30] In this case, the prosecutions failure to present the corroborative witnesses,
without any explanation for their non-appearance, makes private complainants testimony weak.
Further, since it was private complainant who asserted that the loan was for an indefinite term under the so-called
white-paper system of the pawnshop, she had the burden of proving that fact as true. In this she failed, and her failure
undermines the case for the prosecution.
Faced with two conflicting versions, we are guided by the equipoise rule. Under this rule, where the evidence on an
issue of fact is in equipoise or there is doubt on which side the evidence preponderates, the party having the burden of
proof loses.[31] The equipoise rule finds application if the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more
explanations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, for then
the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty, and does not suffice to produce a conviction. [32] Briefly stated, the
needed quantum of proof to convict the accused of the crime charged is found lacking. And in this case, the petitioner
must be declared innocent and set free.
WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 14818, affirming that of the Regional
Trial Court in Crim. Case No. 88-64598, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Maria Tin is ACQUITTED of
the charge against her under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code, for lack of evidence sufficient to sustain a
finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 101435 November 8, 1993

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
BENJIE RAMILLA y AUSENTE alias "CHEM-CHEM," accused-appellant.

The scene is familiar. A group of persons on a drinking spree. An unwary passerby. A drunken approach. A rumble. A
stabbing. And one more human life is wasted on the street.

That is what the prosecution claimed to have happened on September 1, 1988, at about 9 o' clock in the evening, at
Quirino street in Tondo.

As related by Edgar (Egay) Santos at the trial,1 he and his friend William Santos were on their way home when they
passed by a store where the herein appellant, Benjie Ramilla, and some companions were drinking. Upon seeing them,
the group whispered among themselves and Ramilla then approached William. Ramilla grabbed William's hair and
dragged him about five meters away. Demetrio Cabretino handed a knife to Roberto Castillo, who then started stabbing
William as two others in the group held the helpless victim's arms. Ramilla kicked William several times before the stricken
man fell to the ground.

Egay ran and reported the incident to William's father. They rushed him to the hospital and learned that William was
already dead. Cause of death per the subsequent autopsy report was massive hemorrhage due to the stab wound on his
chest.2

From the hospital, Egay accompanied two policemen to Ramilla's house, where they were told by his mother that he was
not in. They nevertheless entered and found Ramilla in the kitchen hiding behind a table and gathering his
belongings.3 He was invited to police headquarters for questioning.

Ramilla alone was charged with the murder of William Santos because his companions had all disappeared. He testified
on his own behalf and presented several witnesses for corroboration.

His defense was denial. He swore that on the night in question, he was asleep in his house, being under orders from his
parents not to go out late at night and thus avoid trouble. He swore that he was not hiding when the policemen came to
arrest him. He also said that Egay used to be his friend but they were no longer on speaking terms. 4
Adelaida Ramilla corroborated her son's alibi. She also said her son and Ramilla had a falling-out a week before and that
she herself had sent Egay out of her house because he had eaten her food. There was an exchange on invectives
between them then and Egay had left with the threat "Tatandaan mo." She suggested that the incident explained the
motive for his testifying falsely against her son.5

An alleged eyewitness, Arturo Esplago, testified that it was a stranger who stabbed William to death. The killer came from
an alley and immediately attacked William, who ran, shouting "Away! Away!" The wounded man was surrounded by
people as a woman shouted "Tama na, tama na, tigilan mo na!" William then staggered toward the alley and fell before he
reached the corner.

Demetrio Mata swore he saw the same incident and also insisted that the killer was a stranger who came from the alley
and then fled after stabbing William. There was a mob that surrounded William before he ran toward the alley and fell
when he reached the corner as he clutched his stomach. 7

In his decision dated April 8, 1991, Judge Procoro J. Donato of the Regional Trial Court of Manila found Benjie Ramilla
guilty of the murder of William Santos and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, to pay the victim's
heirs P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P10,000.00 as moral damages. 8

The decision is now faulted by the defense for not applying the equipoise rule and for giving credence to the testimony of
the lone eyewitness for the prosecution as against the alibi of Ramilla and the testimonies of his own witnesses.

The equipoise rule is applicable only where the evidence of the prosecution and the defense are so evenly balanced as to
call for the tilting of the scales in favor of the accused who is presumed innocent under the Bill of Rights. The rule is not
applicable here because there is no equipoise. The evidence of the prosecution is heavier than that of the defense and
has overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of the appellant.

The trial court found that the testimony of Egay Santos was more convincing than the testimonies of the defense
witnesses. We agree that the motive ascribed to him for testifying against Ramilla is far too insubstantial to deserve belief.
More importantly, we find from the swift flow of events that night it was not possible for Egay to concoct a malicious and
false story for the purpose only of implicating the appellant.

The stabbing took place suddenly at about nine o'clock that evening. Egay immediately reported the attack to William's
father and together they rushed to the hospital where they found William already dead. Egay was interviewed there by the
investigating policemen, to whom he reported William's involvement in the killing, and then went with them to his house
where he was picked up at about one o'clock the following morning. The group then proceeded to police headquarters,
and there Egay submitted to investigation and made his sworn statement at about four o'clock the same morning. There
was no time for fabrication. Egay merely narrated what he had actually seen. Notably, his sworn statement 9 conformed
completely with his subsequent testimony of the trial, where he again recounted the killing of William Santos in the
evening of September 1, 1989.

By contrast, the evidence for the defense suffers from many major flaws that dissuaded the trial court from accepting it.
The alibi was far from convincing because Ramilla's house, where he claimed to have been sleeping at the time of the
stabbing, was only a few minutes walk from the scene of the crime. Its inherent weakness is further debilitated by its
corroboration from Ramilla's own mother, which must also be taken with a grain of salt because of its suspect bias and
truthfullness. No other witness supported the alibi.

The testimonies of the alleged eyewitnesses, who claimed that the killer was a mysterious stranger, are not reliable either.
The Court notes inter alia that whereas Esplago maintained that William fell in front of Mata's house, about three houses
away from the corner of the alley, 10 Mata himself was sure that William fell at the corner. 11 Esplago said that when William
was stabbed, he started running and shouted "Away! Away!" as people milled around him. We find this reaction rather
strange as a person in his condition would have said something more relevant like "Tulungan ninyo ako! Sinaksak ako!" or
some such exclamation expressing his desperation. Instead, he acted like a town-crier announcing an objective news item
affecting some distant and unknown person. We also wonder why, as narrated by Mata, William was clutching his
stomach as he ran when, according to the autopsy report, he had been fatally stabbed in the chest.

These may be minor contradictions understandable in the narration by several witnesses of the same violent occurrence,
but they are nevertheless useful and revealing in the comparison of such narrations with the the testimonies of other
witnesses for the other side. The trial judge obviously made such a comparison and this comparison, added to his
observation of their demeanor on the stand, persuaded him to believe Egay rather than Ramilla and his corroborating
witnesses. We have said often enough that the assessment of the witnesses by the trial judge is received with
considerable respect on appeal, if not indeed deemed conclusive on the reviewing court. The exception is where such
assessment is tainted with arbitrariness, but we do not find that flaw here.

The evidence shows that there was, indeed, conspiracy, as the trial court held. Thus, as William and Egay approached,
Ramilla and his companions whispered to each other, then Ramilla dragged William by the hair, and as two of the group
restrained his arms, William was stabbed by one man with a knife handed to him by another and was kicked several times
by Ramilla as their victim fell. There was communiy of purpose among the group. There was concert of action in the killing
of William. Ramilla was clearly part of the conspiracy and so must be held equally quilty with the rest of his companions
even if it was not he who actually wielded the knife that killed William.

We agree that treachery attended the crime and qualified it to murder because the victim was completely taken by
surprise when the group attacked him and he was rendred unable to defend himself when they held his arms and stabbed
and kicked him. Abuse of superior strength was correctly not appreciated as a separate aggravating circumstance
because it is deemed absorbed in treachery. 12

But the prosecution failed to prove evident premeditation by Ramilla and his companions. Its essential elements are: (1)
the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (2) an act manifestly indicating that the culprit had clung to his
determination; (3) a sufficient interval of time between the determination and execution of the crime to allow him to reflect
upon the consequences of his act and to allow his conscience to overcome the resolution of his will. 13 These elements
have not been established by the People. It has not been shown that Ramilla's group was lying in wait for William and
Egay that night to carry out a plan to kill him as earlier agreed upon by them. The plan seems to have been made on the
spur of the moment, clearly without premeditation as above defined.

For this reason, we must correct the statement in the decision that "there is no need to discuss whether this qualifying
circumstance is present because conspiracy has already been shown and conspiracy denotes premeditation." This
generalization is not applicable to the case at bar because, as Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino explained in his book: 14

Under normal conditions, where conspiracy is directly established, with proof of the attendant deliberation and
selection of the method, time and means of executing the crime, the existence of evident premeditation can be taken
for granted. But in the case of implied conspiracy, evident premeditation may not be appreciated, in the absence of
proof as to how and when the plan to kill the victim was hatched or what time elapsed before it was carried out, so
that it cannot be determined if the accused had "sufficient time between its inception and its fulfillment dispassionately
to consider and accept the consequences." There should be a showing that the accused had the opportunity for
reflection and persisted in effectuating his criminal design.

The invocation of voluntary surrender is a mitigating circumstance is not acceptable. Ramilla did not surrender. The police
went to his house, where he was found crouching behind a table in the kitchen and was invited to the police station. The
fact that he did not resist but peacefully went with the policemen does not mean that he voluntarily surrendered. He did
not present himself voluntarily to the police 15 and neither did he ask them to fetch him at his house so he could
surrender. 16 He was found skulking in the kitchen, after his mother had denied his presence in the house, and was
apparently gathering his belongings at that time, possibly for flight.

William Santos was only 21 years old when he was killed. Benjie Ramilla is now 24 years old. Two young men have been
doomed by this mindless murder, which has sent one to an untimely death and the other to a life behind bars.

And so another murder had been added to the long list of crimes committed in Tondo, hotbed of hoodlums and arena of
thuggery. Lost in its notoriety are the quiet good works of the great majority of its inhabitants, who pursue the even tenor
of their lives with goodwill toward each other and respect for the law, unflappable resilience in the face of misfortune, and
an abiding faith in the providence of the Almighty.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED and the challenged decision is AFFIRMED, with costs against the appellant.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. Nos. 110991-92 February 24, 1995

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MELCHOR DELA IGLESIA, accused-appellant.

This is an appeal from the judgment * of the Regional Trial Court of Tuao, Cagayan, Branch XI, which found accused-
appellant Melchor dela Iglesia guilty of the crime of murder on two (2) counts for the alleged brutal killing of Manuel P.
Baquiran and his son Johnson Baquiran.

The two (2) informations docketed as Crim. Case No. 330-T and Crim. Case No. 331-T, respectively, read as follows:

Crim. Case No. 330-T —

That on or about November 2, 1990, in the municipality of Sto. Nino, province of Cagayan, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the said accused, Melchor dela Iglesia together with three (3) John Does who were not
identified, armed with guns, conspiring together and helping one another, with intent to kill, with evident premeditation
and with treachery, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot one, Manuel P.
Baquiran, inflicting upon him gunshot wounds on the different parts of his body which caused his death.

Contrary to law.

Crim Case No. 331-T —


That on or about November 2, 1990, in the municipality of Sto. Nino, province of Cagayan and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the said accused Melchor dela Iglesia, together with three (3) John Does who were not
identified, armed with guns, conspiring together and helping one another, with intent to kill, with evident premeditation
and with treachery, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot one, Johnson
Baquiran, inflicting upon him gunshot wounds on the different parts of his body which caused his death.

Contrary to law.1

Upon arraignment, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty in both cases. He waived pre-trial and the trial court heard both
cases jointly inasmuch as they arose from the same incident and involved the same witnesses.

The prosecution's case revolved mainly on the testimonies of alleged eyewitness, Bartolome Baquiran and his mother
Rosalinda Baquiran, together with the stipulated evidence with respect to the cause of death of the victims Manuel
Baquiran and Johnson Baquiran. The prosecution's version may be synthesized as follows:

On 2 November 1990, at around nine o'clock in the evening, Manuel Baquiran and his two (2) children, namely, Johnson
Baquiran and Bartolome Baquiran, together with a relative named Nelson Panaga were at Barangay Cabayu, Sto. Nino,
Cagayan. They were then staying in the farm owned by Manuel to guard their harvested palay stored inside a small nipa
hut in the farm.

At that time, the Baquirans and Panaga were already inside the hut when armed men appeared from nowhere and
surrounded the hut. One of the armed men shouted, "Umulug cayo" and thereupon, Manuel Baquiran came out of the hut
followed by Johnson and Bartolome Baquiran as well as by Nelson Panaga.

According to Bartolome, his father (Manuel) noticed the presence of the accused-appellant outside the hut which
prompted Manuel to come out of the hut and face the unexpected visitors.

Once outside the hut, Bartolome claimed that he saw accused-appellant carrying a rifle over his left shoulder. He did not
recognize the other armed men dressed in military uniforms who by then surrounded the place.

Bartolome averred that accused-appellant did not say anything to his father nor did his father ask what brought accused-
appellant to their place. Rather, Bartolome observed that accused-appellant and the armed men called his uncle, Nelso
Panaga, and brought the latter beyond hearing distance and he (Nelson) and the armed men started conversing among
themselves for about thirty (30) minutes.

Nelson Panaga was eventually escorted back inside the hut after which, accused-appellant allegedly ordered his
(Bartolome's) father and elder brother (Johnson) to come and follow him (accused-appellant). Bartolome further related
that he did not observe any adverse reaction from his father nor brother as they were taken along by accused-appellant
and his companions. He (Bartolome) and Nelson Panaga were left behind in the hut. 2

Manuel and Johnson Baquiran (father and son) did not return to their hut on the same night nor did they return to their
house in Cabayu, Sto. Nino, Cagayan. Three days later, their decomposing bodies were found floating on a distant river.
Their bodies were later examined at the Piat District Hospital by Dr. Silverio Salvanera. The autopsy revealed that Manuel
and Johnson sustained multiple gunshot wounds as they were both shot at the abdomen. 3

Rosalinda Baquiran, widow of the deceased Manuel Baquiran, testified that her son Bartolome went home to tell her that
his father and brother were taken away by armed men from their hut in Cabayu, and they had not returned ever since.
Bartolome also told here that accused-appellant was among the armed men who took away his father and brother and
that it was the accused-appellant who killed the two (2) Baquirans.

Rosalinda further asserted that only the accused-appellant had the strong motive to kill her husband. This was allegedly
brought about by accused-appellant's claim of ownership over a parcel of land in Cabayu, Sto. Nino, Cagayan — the
same land where her husband and son were abducted on 2 November 1990. This land dispute resulted in bad blood
between the parties even as her husband sought legal means to have the dispute adjudicated before the barangay hall
until it finally reached the PAO office in Tuao, Cagayan. 4

The prosecution also presented Recto Baquiran, another son of the deceased Manuel, to corroborate Rosalinda's claim of
accused-appellant's strong motive for killing his father. He testified that sometime in May 1990, while he and his father
were busy preparing their ricefield in Cabayu for the planting season, he saw accused-appellant together with five (5)
other men arrive and confront his father on whether they could plow in the said field. While he was not able to overhear
the exact exchange of words between his father and accused-appellant, he noticed that his father became very angry with
accused-appellant because of the latter's claim of ownership over the said land.

The last time Recto saw accused-appellant was on 28 October 1990, when they were in the PAO office discuss the land
dispute. Accused-appellant allegedly wanted an amicable settlement but his father did not agree, so nothing was settled.
Five (5) days later, or on 2 November 1990, his father and brother Johnson were killed. 5

On the other hand, the defense anchored its case on denial and alibi.

Nelson Panaga, who was with Manuel, Johnson and Bartolome Baquiran on the night of the alleged abduction, testified
that he was already asleep when Johnson Baquiran woke him up because of the orders for them to go down, and
thereafter Manuel and Johnson were investigated by a part of the group outside the hut. While this was going on, some
armed men also approached him and allegedly asked for the direction in going to Minanga, Cagayan, to which he replied
that he did not know. He also testified that there were additional armed men in the vicinity but that only five (5) armed men
approached them. He alleged that he did not recognize any of the five (5) armed men who approached them.

Subsequently, Manuel and Johnson Baquiran were taken by the armed group who allegedly told Nelson not to worry for
they (Manuel and Johnson) would come back after a while. They however, never did.

Nelson Panaga alleged that he executed an affidavit on 4 November 1990 before a certain SPO3 Domingo Ruiz, wherein
he stated that he did not recognize any of the armed men. However, said document was not subscribed nor sworn to
before any officer authorized by law to administer oaths. He was never subpoenaed during the preliminary investigation of
the case. He admitted though that it was accused-appellant who requested him to testify in his favor. 6

The next defense witness, Mateo Relos, testified that on 2 November 1990, he and accused-appellant were at the Iglesia
ni Kristo chapel in Tabang, Sto. Nino, Cagayan where both rendered guard duty. He averred that he never left the chapel
while on duty. He averred further that he never left the chapel the whole night of 2 November 1990, until the following
morning when he and the accused-appellant went home at about 5:00 a.m. When questioned by the court, he stated that
there was no logbook to record those who rendered guard duty at the chapel. 7

Vioquelin Villena, deacon (pangulong diakono) of the Iglesia ni Kristo at Sto. Nino, Cagayan, testified that a logbook was
kept inside the said INK chapel to record the attendance of members rendering guard duty. He maintained that on 2
November 1990, he personally went to the INK chapel at around 6:00 p.m. and noted the presence of the accused-
appellant and Mateo Relos. He left before 7:00 p.m. and came back at 5:00 a.m. the following day to check on the two (2)
guards whom he found to be on their assigned posts.8

Accused-appellant reiterated the deacon's story when he testified in his own behalf. He stated that 2 November 1990, was
his assigned "guard day and prayer day", so that he rendered guard duty from 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. of the next day (3
November 1990) together with his companion, Mateo Relos. Thereafter, they turned over the premises to KA Vioquelin
(Villena).

Accused-appellant admitted that there was an existing land dispute between him and Manuel involving the land on which
Baquiran was then farming. Hence, he engaged the services of a lawyer who advised him that he had a meritorious claim.
Thereafter, he brought the matter to Manuel Baquiran's attention who however refused to amicably settle with him despite
the intercession of their relatives. Eventually, he brought the problem before the PAO office, where he and Manuel
Baquiran both appeared, but to no avail.

Accused-appellant denied that he attempted to plow in the disputed land in May 1990 although this happened way back in
May 1987. He was also seriously considering filing a formal complaint against Manuel Baquiran to recover part of the land
when he learned that Manuel and his son Johnson were abducted and murdered on 2 November 1990.

Accused-appellant categorically professed his innocence in regard to the charges against him and claimed that he was
being implicated in the crime solely because of the aforestated land dispute. Beyond that, no other motive could be
ascribed to him. Besides, accused-appellant contended, how could he be at the crime scene when he stayed and guarded
the INK chapel the whole night of 2 November 1990? 9

On 13 April 1993, the court a quo rendered its judgment, the dispositive part of which states:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused Melchor dela Iglesia guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Murder (2
counts), in Criminal Case No. 330-T for the death of Manuel Baquiran and in Criminal Case No. 331-T for the death of
Johnson (Jenison) Baquiran, he is hereby sentenced to suffer two (2) life imprisonments.

He is further sentenced to indemnify the heirs of Manuel Baquiran in the amount of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00)
Pesos and the heirs of Johnson (Jenison) Baquiran in the amount of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos, and to pay
the costs.

SO ORDERED. 10

Before this Court, the accused-appellant assigns the following errors allegedly committed by the lower court:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING THE TESTIMONY OF NELSON PANAGA.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT NELSON PANAGA IS A BROTHER-IN-LAW OF THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANT WHEN NOTHING APPEARS TO BE SO IN THE RECORDS OF THE CASE.

III
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME CHARGED BASED IN
EFFECT IN (SIC) CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE. 11

The trial court's ratio decidendi focused on the well-entrenched principle that the defense of alibi is a weak defense that
can easily be fabricated and cannot prevail over the positive identification of the accused. It found no unworthy motive on
the part of prosecution witness Bartolome Baquiran to falsely testify against the accused, rationalizing that a thirteen (13)
year old boy would not deliberately concoct a tale and falsely charge an innocent person with so heinous a crime as
double murder. Bartolome Baquiran's consistency, according to the trial court, in pointing to his uncle (accused-appellant)
as being with the armed group that took away his father and brother on the night of 2 November 1990, both in the
preliminary investigation and more so during the trial of the case, led it (the trial court) to conclude that accused-appellant
"presumably killed his father and brother" and that he knew hs uncle (accused-appellant) very well as not to have
mistaken him for another person.

On the other hand, the trial court evaluated the evidence for the defense in this wise:

One factor which militates against the alibi of the accused is the fact that, admittedly, Tabang, Sto. Nino where the
accused claims to have been present the whole night of November 2, 1990 is, by his own admission, only three
kilometers away from Cabayu, Sto. Nino. It is not enough to prove that the accused was not at the scene where
the crime was committed, he must also prove that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the
crime at such time (People vs. Martinez, 127 SCRA page 260; People v. Beneraba, 129 SCRA 266.)

xxx xxx xxx

The testimony of the defense witness Nelson Panaga does not persuade the Court as to its reliability and truth for
the reason that the said witness is the brother-in-law of the accused, his wife being the sister of the accused.
While the relationship is not necessarily a ground to disregard the testimony of the witness, in this case, the Court
finds the testimony of Nelson Panaga to be unreliable. If indeed he denied before the police investigator that the
accused was one of armed men who took away the victims from Cabayu, Sto. Nino, Cagayan, why is it that he did
not immediately do so why did he not see to it that the same be subscribed and sworn to before a duly authorized
officer? As to the testimony of Mateo Relos, the Court is not likewise convinced that it is sufficient to establish the
alibi of the accused for the reason that when subjected to clarificatory questions by the Court, he gave conflicting
answers. Neither could he categorically state that he was awake the whole night of November 2, 1990. He never
stated that Melchor dela Iglesia did not leave the vicinity of the INC Chapel the whole night. In fact the said
witness admits that he and Melchor dela Iglesia does (sic) not always sleep whenever they both performed guard
duty in the chapel. Nor can the Court accept the testimony of witness Vioquelin Villena. He only identified the
alleged logbook (Exhibit "2"). The Court however observes that the entries for the month of November are
topsyturvy and some portions thereof, particularly those referring to November 11 up to November 30 are inserted
after the entries for the month of August and before the entries for the month of September while those pertaining
to November 1 to November 10 are found after October, 1990 and January, 1991. The said log book is not a very
reliable document. Another reason why the Court has decided to disregard the said log book (Exhibit 2-a) is the
fact that the said document contains spaces where the absent guard did not sign. The accused could very well
have signed the empty spaces after his name long after November 2, 1990. At any rate, witness Mateo Relos
himself testified that there was no such log
book. 12

Notably absent from the above-quoted discussion of the court a quo is a categorical pronouncement that on the strength
of the evidence presented by the prosecution, it was rendering a judgment of conviction based purely on circumstantial
evidence.

One thing is certain in this case. No one among the prosecution witnesses had actually witnessed the killing of the two (2)
victims. While Bartolome Baquiran maintained that he identified the accused-appellant as one of the armed men who
"ordered" his father and older brother to follow them, Nelso Panaga, the other eyewitness, declared that he did not
recognize any of the five (5) armed men who came to the nipa hut.

The trial court gave no weight or credence to the testimony of Nelson Panaga based on the following reasons: (1) that
Nelson Panaga is the brother-in-law of the accused; and (2) that Nelson's statement before the police investigator wherein
he denied that the accused was one of the armed men was not subscribed and sworn to before an officer duly authorized
to administer oaths.

In his brief, accused-appellant maintains that "there is nothing in the records which showed that Nelson Panaga is the
brother-in-law of the accused-appellant."13 While ordinarily, this Court defers to the findings of fact of the trial court, a
careful examination of the transcripts of stenographic notes reveals that indeed, Nelson's relationship with accused-
appellant has not been duly established during the trial. Instead, we find that such alleged "relationship" was averred by
witness Rosalinda Baquiran during the preliminary investigation of the case. 14

Corollarily, we find no order of the court a quo, whether on its own motion, or by positive move on the part of the
prosecution, to introduce such testimony of Rosalinda during the preliminary investigation as evidence, in order that such
"fact" may form part of the record of the case. 15

But, even assuming that Nelson Panaga is indeed related to accused-appellant, the records also indicate that he is a
relative of the victims. In fact, in his testimony, witness Bartolome referred to him (Nelson) as his "uncle." 16
Be that as it may, the office of the Solicitor General argues that Nelson Panaga's testimony does not contradict that of
Bartolome Baquiran's positive identification of accused-appellant since the former "simply declared that he did not
recognize the armed men, but he did not categorically state that appellant was not one of them." 17

On this matter, we quote Nelson Panaga's testimony:

Q How about those armed men do (sic) you recognize these people ?
Fiscal Objection, leading your honor.
Court Witness may answer.
A NO.
Q All of them?
A Yes. 18 (Emphasis supplied)

Nelson Panaga's negative answer may have been equivocal if one assumes that what the question wanted to elicit was
whether or not accused-appellant was one of the armed men. But that would be bordering on conjecture. After all, it would
be equally logical to argue that his negative answer meant that he did not know the identities of the armed men, and that
accused-appellant was not there, consistent with the purpose for which his testimony was being offered.

As to the reason why Panaga's alleged affidavit was not subscribed before an officer duly authorized to administer oaths,
the Court finds no immediate relevance of such circumstance considering that Nelson Panaga was presented as an
eyewitness by the defense and was available for cross examination by the prosecution. The relevant inquiry should have
been as to the credibility of his allegation vis-a-vis that of prosecution eyewitness Bartolome Baquiran. It is also a curious
circumstance why, as the other key eyewitness, he (Nelson) was never subpoenaed by the investigating judge during the
preliminary investigation. 19

With respect to the trial court's appreciation of accused-appellant's alibi, the Court agrees with the trial court's observation
that it was not physically impossible for accused-appellant to be at the crime scene when the crime was committed,
considering that by his own admission, the said place is only about three (3) kilometers away from the Iglesia ni Kristo
chapel where supposedly accused-appellant stayed as guard from 6:00 p.m. of 2 November 1990 up to 5:00 a.m. of 3
November 1990.

Similarly, the testimonies of Mateo Relos and Vioquelin Villena may have been equivocal to the point that accused-
appellant could have left the chapel for some time on the night of 2 November 1990 and come back the following morning
when Villanuena noted his presence. The alleged logbook (Exhibit 2-A; defense) offers no clue whether or not such is the
case, save for the fact that it corroborates to a limited extent the fact of accused-appellant's presence at the chapel at 6:00
p.m. of 2 November 1990.

According to the trial court, since Mateo Relos could not categorically state that he was awake the whole night of 2
November 1990 and that he was not really sure whether accused-appellant never left the premises of the chapel,
therefore, accused-appellant could have really left the chapel to perpetrate the heinous crimes some time during the
evening of 2 November 1990.

Accused-appellant may not have presented an air-tight alibi. Nevertheless, the more important consideration in the case
at bench is whether accused-appellant could have left the chapel in Tabang, Sto. Nino not the whole night of 2 November
1990 but sometime between 6:00-9:00 p.m. of that day in order that he could physically be at Cabayu at about 9:00 p.m.
on 2 November 1990, as alleged.

The testimony of Vioquelin Villena established that he left the chapel after noting the presence of accused-appellant and
Mateo Relos sometime at 7:00 p.m. of 2 November 1990. Hence, the relevant inquiry which the trial court failed to
appreciate was whether there was proof that accused-appellant left the chapel at such time, leaving Mateo Relos alone,
then proceeded to Cabayu with armed companions to abduct Manuel and Johnson Baquiran, in plain sight of eyewitness
Bartolome and Nelson Panaga, kill Manuel and Johnson, dump their bodies in a distant river, then return to the chapel
where he was again seen by Vioquelin Villena at 5:00 a.m. of 3 November 1990. It appears that there is no such proof.

In the case at bench, the only other circumstance that could link accused-appellant as the perpetrator of the crimes is the
alleged existing land dispute between him and Manuel Baquiran. This land dispute, as admitted and established by both
parties, had even reached the mediation stage wherein no amicable settlement was reached. To the mind of the
prosecution, this circumstance furnishes enough strong motive for accused-appellant to kill. This Court notes however,
that prior to the killing, there is no evidence on record that accused-appellant had made threats on the life of Manuel or his
family or similar manifestations to the effect that he was so desperate to recover an alleged successional right to the land,
so as to eventually hatch a murder plot against his relative. 20

All that was established is a bare allegation that Manuel Baquiran had no "known enemy except (that of) accused-
appellant."21 Hence, not only is there a marked absence of an unbroken chain of circumstances, but that in essence, there
is only one circumstance to speak of — and that is, accused-appellant's alleged positive identification by witness
Bartolome Baquiran, which is in turn negated by the testimony of Nelso Panaga. The Court is not unmindful of the rule
that the issue of assigning values and weight to the testimonies of witnesses is at best the province of the trial court.
However, the exception should be applied to this case where certain facts of substance have been overlooked and
misappreciated and which have given rise to a hypothesis inconsistent with the guilt of the accused. Moreover, when the
alleged eyewitnesses contradict themselves, then the element of reasonable doubt is injected and cannot be lightly
disregarded. 22
The inference made by the trial court that Mateo Relos could have slept on the night in question or that the accused could
have left the Iglesia ni Kristo chapel the whole night, has lost sight of the fact that the crimes happened at 9:00 p.m. of 2
November 1990. Therefore, the inference should be obviously limited to between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. where the
testimonies of Vioquelin Villena and Mateo Relos have established that accused-appellant was in the Iglesia ni Kristo
chapel. To hold otherwise would logically infer either of two (2) things, that Mateo Relos slept even before 7:00 p.m. (the
approximate time Villena left the premises), or that he lost visual contact with accused-appellant as early as that time — a
fact that has not been duly proved by the prosecution.

It is axiomatic in criminal law that the quantum of evidence required for conviction of an accused is that which produces
moral certainly in an unprejudiced mind that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the evidence is susceptible
of two (2) interpretations, one inconsistent with the innocence of the accused and the other inconsistent with his guilt, the
accused must be acquitted. 23

Accordingly, circumstantial evidence would only be sufficient if there is a concurrence of the following elements: (a) there
is more than one circumstance, (b) the facts from which the inference was derived are proven and (c) the combination of
all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The circumstances must be "an
unbroken chain which leads to one fair and reasonable conclusion, which points to the defendant, to the exclusion of all
others, as the guilty person."24 The Constitution demands no less than "proof beyond reasonable doubt", consistent with
the demands of justice and due process.

In sum, we rule that while accused-appellant's alibi may have been weak, the evidence presented by the prosecution was
much weaker. A broken chain of circumstances cannot overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of
the accused which entitles him to an ACQUITTAL.

WHEREFORE, WE REVERSE the judgment of conviction rendered by the trial court against accused-appellant. He is
ACQUITTED of the crimes charged, based on reasonable doubt and the Court orders his RELEASE from detention
unless he is held for some other legal cause or ground. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 117384. October 21, 1998]

HEIRS OF TEODORO DELA CRUZ represented by EDRONEL DELA CRUZ, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS,
PACIFICO MARQUEZ,FILOMENO and GREGORIO, both surnamed MADRID, respondents.

Petitioners seek the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals, [1] in CA G.R. No. 25339 dated September 27,
1994 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Isabela in Civil Case No. 19-219 dated October 9, 1989 which
adjudicated lot Nos. 7036-A-10-A, 7036-A-10-B and 7036-A-10-C to herein private respondents. [2]
The following facts, concisely related in the petition [3] are not in dispute.
On November 20, 1986, petitioners filed an action for reconveyance with damages [4] against private respondents
involving a parcel of land situated in Poblacion, San Mateo, Isabela with a total area of 3,277 square meters. In their
complaint, petitioners assert that the subject land was bought by their predecessor-in-interest from the private
respondents, Madrid brothers, for P4,000.00 in a deed of sale executed on May 18, 1959, and since then they have been
in actual, physical, continuous and open possession of the property. However, sometime in October 1986, much to their
dismay and surprise, private respondents managed to obtain a Torrens Title over the said land.
On the other hand, the Madrids denied having executed the said deed of sale and assuming that said document
exists, the same is fictitious and falsified. Moreover, while they admit petitioners possession of the land, they assert that
this possession is in defiance of their repeated demands that the former relinquish the same. Meanwhile, Pacifico
Marquez contends that he is an innocent purchaser for value of the property having bought the same from the Madrid
brothers in 1976.[5]
During the trial, petitioners were unable to present the original deed of sale since it was lost.Consequently, they were
constrained to offer, as Exhibit A, a photo copy of the purported original carbon copy of the deed of sale in an effort to
prove the transaction.
However, in disposing of the case, the trial court ruled that Exhibit A was inadmissible in evidence, thus:

Since at the time of the execution of Teodoro dela Cruz affidavit or on June 14, 1966, a duplicate original carbon copy of
the alleged sale was still in his possession, the plaintiffs must have to account for it. No proof was adduced that this
remaining copy was lost or destroyed. Furthermore, no attempt was done to produce the copies retained by the notary
public although there is a possibility that the same still exist (sic). Neither was there any proof that the copy sent to the
court as required by the notarial law is unavailable. Under these (sic) state of facts, the Court believes that the xerox copy
of a certified true copy of the original issued by the notary public cannot be admitted in evidence to prove the conveyance
of the land in question.
Accordingly, the trial court dismissed petitioners complaint, the dispositive portion of the decision of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Dismissing the complaint;

2. Declaring the defendants the lawful owners of the land in question insofar as the portion thereof falling or found in their
respective titles are concerned; and

3. Ordering the plaintiffs, their agents, representatives or any person or persons deriving their title, ownership or
possession from the plaintiffs, to vacate the portions of Lots 7036-A-10-A, 70360A-10-B and 7036-A-10-C, occupied by
them and to deliver the possession thereof to the defendants;

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Evidently aggrieved by the decision, petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals contending that the trial court erred
in holding that: (1) Exhibit A was inadmissible in evidence to prove the transaction; (2) there was no valid sale of the land
in question; (3) that they (petitioners) are not entitled to the improvements they had introduced in the land.
On September 27, 1994, the Court of Appeals rendered its judgment which ruled that Exhibit A was admissible in
evidence for failure of the private respondents to object when it was offered during the trial, thus:

It is therefore evident that defendants-appellees never put in issue the inadmissible nature of Exh. A as a mere secondary
evidence and that the trial judge did not exclude the same when it was formally offered, only to ultimately exclude it in its
decision. It is true that the originals of Exh. A were never produced or accounted for by plaintiffs. Yet, notwithstanding this
omission, the defense did not object to its not being the best evidence when it was formally offered. Had the defendants
interposed an objection to Exh. A on the ground of its incompetency for not complying with the best evidence rule, it would
have been properly excluded by the trial court. Defendants omission to object on the proper ground operated as a waiver,
as this was a matter resting on their discretion.

Unfortunately, petitioners victory was shortlived. For the Court of Appeals, while ruling that Exhibit A was admissible,
concluded that the same had no probative value to support the allegation of the petitioners that the disputed land was sold
to them in 1959, viz.:

The lone fact that Atty. Tabangay asserted that he recognized his signature on the copy shown by Teodoro when the loss
of the originals was just made known to him, does not render Exh. A trustworthy as to the actual execution of the alleged
deed of sale. Exh. A does not even contain a reproduction of the alleged signatures of the Madrid brothers for comparison
purposes. The surviving witness to the alleged execution, Constantino Balmoja was not presented to corroborate Atty.
Tabangays testimony, hinged as the latter was on secondary evidence.

Hence, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the trial court dated October 9, 1989 is
hereby AFFIRMED with the modification that the case be remanded to the court a quo to conduct the proper proceedings
to determine the value of the useful improvements introduced by appellants for reimbursement by appellees.

SO ORDERED.

Failing in their bid to reconsider the decision, the petitioners have filed the present petition.
Petitioners maintain that even if Exhibit A were a mere photo copy of the original carbon copy, they had presented
other substantial evidence during the trial to prove the existence of the sale. [6] First, the testimony of the notary public, Atty.
Tabangay, who acknowledged the due execution of the deed of sale. Second, their long possession of the land in
question, bolstered by the construction of various improvements gives rise to the disputable presumption of ownership.
While we concur with the Court of Appeals finding that Exhibit A does not prove that the sale of the land indeed
occurred, still we are constrained to reverse its decision in view of the circumstances present in this case.
To begin with, Atty. Sevillano Tabangay, the notary public who notarized the deed of sale, testified that the document
has about five (5) copies.[7] Hence, it is imperative that all the originals must be accounted for before secondary evidence
can be presented.[8] These petitioners failed to do. Moreover, records show that none of these five copies was even
presented during the trial.Petitioners explanation that these copies were lost or could not be found in the National Archives
was not even supported by any certification from the said office.
It is a well-settled principle that before secondary evidence can be presented, all duplicates and/or counterparts must
be accounted for, and no excuse for the non-production of the original document itself can be regarded as established
until all its parts are unavailable.[9]
Notwithstanding this procedural lapse, when Exhibit A was presented private respondents failed, not only to object,
but even to cross-examine the notary public, Atty. Tabangay, regarding its execution. [10] Forthwith, upon private
respondents failure to object to Exhibit A when it was presented, the same becomes primary evidence. [11] To be sure, even
if Exhibit A is admitted in evidence, we agree with the Court of Appeals that its probative value must still meet the various
tests by which its reliability is to be determined. Its tendency to convince and persuade must be considered for
admissibility of evidence should not be confused with its probative value. [12]
As earlier stated, Exhibit A was merely a photocopy lifted from the carbon copy of the alleged deed of sale. [13] A
cursory glance will immediately reveal that it was unsigned by any of the parties and undated as to when it was
executed. Worse, when Atty. Tabangay typed Exhibit A, the contents were based on an alleged carbon original which
petitioners predecessor-in-interest presented to him, without bothering to check his own files to verify the correctness of
the contents of the document he was copying. In other words, Atty. Tabangays failure to determine the accuracy of the
carbon copy requested by the petitioners predecessor-in-interest renders Exhibit A unreliable.
However, despite our prescinding discussion, all is not lost for the petitioner.
The records show that the disputed property has been in the possession of the petitioners since 1959. They have
since been introducing several improvements on the land which certainly could not have escaped the attention of the
Madrids. Furthermore, during all this time, the land was enclosed, thus signifying petitioners exclusive claim of
ownership. The construction of various infrastructure on the land - rice mill, storage house, garage, pavements and other
buildings - was undoubtedly a clear exercise of ownership which the Madrids could not ignore. Oddly, not one of them
protested.
We cannot accept the Madrids explanation that they did not demand the petitioners to vacate the land due to the
unexplained killings within the area. [14] Not a single shred of evidence was presented to show that these killings were
perpetrated by the petitioners. All told, their remonstration and fears are nothing but pure speculation. To make matters
worse, the record is bereft of any documentary evidence that the Madrids sent a written demand to the petitioners
ordering them to vacate the land. Their failure to raise a restraining arm or a shout of dissent to the petitioners possession
of the subject land in a span of almost thirty (30) years is simply contrary to their claim of ownership.
Next, the Madrids argue that neither prescription nor laches can operate against them because their title to the
property is registered under the Torrens system and therefore imprescriptable. [15]The principles raised, while admittedly
correct, are not without exception. The fact that the Madrids were able to secure TCT No. 167250, and Marquez, TCT
Nos. 167220 and 167256, did not operate to vest upon them ownership of the property. The Torrens system does not
create or vest title. It has never been recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership, [16] especially considering the fact that
both the Madrids and Marquezes obtained their respective TCTs only in October 1986, twenty-seven long (27) years after
petitioners first took possession of the land. If the Madrids and Marquezes wished to assert their ownership, they should
have filed a judicial action for recovery of possession and not merely to have the land registered under their respective
names.For as earlier mentioned, Certificates of Title do not establish ownership. [17]
Even if we were to rule that the Certificates of Title to the private respondents would ripen into ownership of the land,
and therefore, the defense of prescription would be unavailing, still, the petitioners would have acquired title to it by virtue
of the equitable principle of laches. The Madrids long inaction or passivity in asserting their rights over disputed property
will preclude them from recovering the same.[18]
The above ruling was stressed in the following cases:

Miguel v. Catalino[19] declared:

Notwithstanding the errors aforementioned in the appealed decision, we are of the opinion that the judgment in favor of
defendant-appellee Florencio Catalino must be sustained. For despite the invalidity of his sale to Catalino Agyapao, father
of defendant-appellee, the vendor Bacaquio suffered the latter to enter, possess and enjoy the land in question without
protest, from 1928 to 1943, when the seller died; and the appellants, in turn, while succeeding the deceased, also
remained inactive, without taking any step to reinvindicate the lot from 1944 to 1962, when the present suit was
commenced in court. Even granting appellants proposition that no prescription lies against their fathers recorded title, their
passivity and inaction for more than 34 years (1928-1962) justifies the defendant-appellee in setting up the equitable
defense of laches in his own behalf. As a result, the action of plaintiffs-appellants must be considered barred and the
Court below correctly so held. Courts can not look with favor at parties who, by their silence, delay and inaction, knowingly
induce another to spend time, effort and expense in cultivating the land, paying taxes and making improvements thereon
for 30 long years, only to spring from ambush and claim title when the possessors efforts and the rise of land values offer
an opportunity to make easy profit at his expense. x x x.

Pabalete v. Echarri[20] stated:

Upon a careful consideration of the facts and circumstances, we are constrained to find, however, that while no legal
defense to the action lies, an equitable one lies in favor of the defendant and that is, the equitable defense of laches. We
hold that the defense of prescription or adverse possession in derogation of the title of the registered owner Domingo
Mejia does not lie, but that of the equitable defense of laches. Otherwise stated, we hold that while defendant may not be
considered as having acquired title by virtue of his and his predecessors long continued possession for 37 years, the
original owners right to recover back the possession of the property and the title thereto from the defendant has, by the
long period of 37 years and by patentees inaction and neglect been converted into a stale demand. (Quoting Mejia de
Lucas v. Gamponia, 100 Phil. 277).

xxxxxxxxx

This defense is an equitable one and does not concern itself with the character of the defendants title, but only with
whether or not by reason of the plaintiffs long inaction or inexcusable neglect he should be barred from asserting this
claim at all, because to allow him to do so would be inequitable and unjust to the defendant. x x x.
Lastly, Marquez claim that he is a purchaser in good faith and for value does not inspire any merit. In his testimony,
he admitted that he knew the land in question. [21] Curiously, in his Answer[22] to the complaint filed by the petitioners, he
stated that he has been aware that the former were in possession of the land since 1959. Where a purchaser was fully
aware of another persons possession of the lot he purchased, he cannot successfully pretend later to be an innocent
purchaser for value.[23] Moreover, one who buys without checking the vendors title takes all the risks and losses
consequent to such failure.[24]
In fact, it would have been expected that in the normal course of daily life, both the Madrids and Marquezes talked
about the status of the property. This being so, it would be difficult to imagine that the latter were not made aware of the
petitioners possession of the land. Armed with such information, they should have acted with the diligence of a prudent
man in determining the circumstances surrounding the property. Otherwise, the law does not give him the benefit afforded
to an innocent purchaser for value.[25]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 24, 1994 in CA - G.R.
No. 25339 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Instead, petitioners are hereby declared as the legal owners of the
subject land. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 108630. April 2, 1996]

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and LORETO TAN,respondents.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; OBLIGATIONS AND CONTRACTS; A DEBT IS PAID BY COMPLETE DELIVERY OF THE THING OR
RENDITION OF SERVICE. - There is no question that no payment had ever been made to private respondent as the
check was never delivered to him. When the court ordered petitioner to pay private respondent the amount of
P32,480.00, it had the obligation to deliver the same to him. Under Art. 1233 of the Civil Code, a debt shall not be
understood to have been paid unless the thing or service in which the obligation consists has been completely
delivered or rendered, as the case may be.
2. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; BURDEN OF PROOF OF PAYMENT OF OBLIGATION LIES WITH THE DEBTOR;
PAYMENT NOT PROVED IN CASE AT BAR. - The burden of proof of such payment lies with the debtor. In the
instant case, neither the SPA nor the check issued by petitioner was ever presented in court. The testimonies of
petitioners own witnesses regarding the check were conflicting. Tagamolila testified that the check was issued to the
order of Sonia Gonzaga as attorney-in-fact of Loreto Tan, while Elvira Tibon, assistant cashier of PNB (Bacolod
Branch), stated that the check was issued to the order of Loreto Tan. Furthermore, contrary to petitioners contention
that all that is needed to be proved is the existence of the SPA, it is also necessary for evidence to be presented
regarding the nature and extent of the alleged powers and authority granted to Sonia Gonzaga; more specifically, to
determine whether the document indeed authorized her to receive payment intended for private respondent.
However, no such evidence was ever presented.
3. ID.; ID.; BEST EVIDENCE RULE; WHEN SECONDARY EVIDENCE IS ALLOWED. - Section 4, Rule 130 of the Rules
of Court allows the presentation of secondary evidence when the original is lost or destroyed.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; PAYMENT OF OBLIGATION NEGATED BY FAILURE TO PRESENT SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
IN CASE AT BAR. - Considering that the contents of the SPA are also in issue here, the best evidence rule applies.
Hence, only the original document (which has not been presented at all) is the best evidence of the fact as to
whether or not private respondent indeed authorized Sonia Gonzaga to receive the check from petitioner. In the
absence of such document, petitioners arguments regarding due payment must fail.
5. CIVIL LAW; DAMAGES; ATTORNEYS FEES; AVAILABLE TO PARTY WHO WAS COMPELLED TO LITIGATE.
- Regarding the award of attorneys fees, we hold that private respondent Tan is entitled to the same. Art. 2208 of the
Civil Code allows attorneys fees to be awarded if the claimant is compelled to litigate with third persons or to incur
expenses to protect his interest by reason of an unjustified act or omission of the party from whom it is sought.
6. ID.; ID.; EXEMPLARY DAMAGES; WHEN RECOVERABLE. - Under Art. 2232 of the Civil Code, exemplary damages
may be awarded if a party acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner. However, they
cannot be recovered as a matter of right; the court has yet to decide whether or not they should be adjudicated.
7. ID.; ID.; ID.; REQUIREMENTS FOR GRANT. - Jurisprudence has set down the requirements for exemplary damages
to be awarded: 1. they may be imposed by way of example in addition to compensatory damages, and only after the
claimants right to them has been established; 2. they cannot be recovered as a matter of right, their determination
depending upon the amount of compensatory damages that may be awarded to the claimant; 3. the act must be
accompanied by bad faith or done in a wanton, fraudulent, oppressive or malevolent manner.
8. ID.; ID.; ID.; CANNOT BE RECOVERED WHERE THERE IS NO CLEAR BREACH OF OBLIGATION TO PAY OR
THAT A PARTY ACTED IN FRAUDULENT, WANTON, RECKLESS OR OPPRESSIVE MANNER. - As for the award
of exemplary damages, we agree with the appellate court that the same should be deleted. In the case at bench,
while there is a clear breach of petitioners obligation to pay private respondents, there is no evidence that it acted in
a fraudulent, wanton, reckless or oppressive manner. Furthermore, there is no award of compensatory damages
which is a prerequisite before exemplary damages may be awarded. Therefore, the award by the trial court of
P5,000.00 as exemplary damages is baseless.
APPEARANCES OF COUNSEL
Santiago, Jr., Vidad, Corpus & Associates for petitioner.
Jose G. Jover, Jr. for private respondent.

DECISION
ROMERO, J.:

Petitioner Philippine National Bank (PNB) questions the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals partially affirming the
judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 44, Bacolod City. The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby renders judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against the
defendants as follows:

1) Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of P32,480.00, with legal rate of interest to be
computed from May 2, 1979, date of filing of this complaint until fully paid;

2) Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of P5,000.00 as exemplary damages;

3) Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff jointly and severally the sum of P5,000.00 as attorneys fees;

4) To pay the costs of this suit.

SO ORDERED.2

The facts are the following:


Private respondent Loreto Tan (Tan) is the owner of a parcel of land abutting the national highway in Mandalagan,
Bacolod City. Expropriation proceedings were instituted by the government against private respondent Tan and other
property owners before the then Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, Branch IV, docketed as Civil Case No.
12924.
Tan filed a motion dated May 10, 1978 requesting issuance of an order for the release to him of the expropriation
price of P3 2,480.00.
On May 22, 1978, petitioner PNB (Bacolod Branch) was required by the trial court to release to Tan the amount of
P32,480.00 deposited with it by the government.
On May 24, 1978, petitioner, through its Assistant Branch Manager Juan Tagamolila, issued a managers check for P3
2,480.00 and delivered the same to one Sonia Gonzaga without Tans knowledge, consent or authority. Sonia Gonzaga
deposited it in her account with Far East Bank and Trust Co. (FEBTC) and later on withdrew the said amount.
Private respondent Tan subsequently demanded payment in the amount of P32,480.00 from petitioner, but the same
was refused on the ground that petitioner had already paid and delivered the amount to Sonia Gonzaga on the strength of
a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) allegedly executed in her favor by Tan.
On June 8, 1978, Tan executed an affidavit before petitioners lawyer, Alejandro S. Somo, stating that:

1) he had never executed any Special Power of Attorney in favor of Sonia S. Gonzaga;

2) he had never authorized Sonia Gonzaga to receive the sum of P32,480.00 from petitioner;

3) he signed a motion for the court to issue an Order to release the said sum of money to him and gave the same to Mr.
Nilo Gonzaga (husband of Sonia) to be filed in court. However, after the Order was subsequently issued by the court, a
certain Engineer Decena of the Highway Engineers Office issued the authority to release the funds not to him but to Mr.
Gonzaga.

When he failed to recover the amount from PNB, private respondent filed a motion with the court to require PNB to
pay the same to him.
Petitioner filed an opposition contending that Sonia Gonzaga presented to it a copy of the May 22, 1978 order and a
special power of attorney by virtue of which petitioner delivered the check to her.
The matter was set for hearing on July 21, 1978 and petitioner was directed by the court to produce the said special
power of attorney thereat. However, petitioner failed to do so.
The court decided that there was need for the matter to be ventilated in a separate civil action and thus private
respondent
filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City (Branch 44) against petitioner and Juan Tagamolila,
PNBs Assistant Branch Manager, to recover the said amount.
In its defense, petitioner contended that private respondent had duly authorized Sonia Gonzaga to act as his agent.
On September 28, 1979, petitioner filed a third-party complaint against the spouses Nilo and Sonia Gonzaga praying
that they be ordered to pay private respondent the amount of P32,480.00. However, for failure of petitioner to have the
summons served on the Gonzagas despite opportunities given to it, the third-party complaint was dismissed.
Tagamolila, in his answer, stated that Sonia Gonzaga presented a Special Power of Attorney to him but borrowed it
later with the promise to return it, claiming that she needed it to encash the check.
On June 7, 1989, the trial court rendered judgment ordering petitioner and Tagamolila to pay private respondent
jointly and severally the amount of P32,480.00 with legal interest, damages and attorneys fees.
Both petitioner and Tagamolila appealed the case to the Court of Appeals.
In a resolution dated April 8, 1991, the appellate court dismissed Tagamolilas appeal for failure to pay the docket fee
within the reglementary period.
On August 31, 1992, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court against petitioner, with the
modification that the award of P5,000.00 for exemplary damages and P5,000.00 for attorneys fees by the trial court was
deleted.
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner PNB states that the issue in this case is whether or not the SPA ever existed. It argues that the existence of
the SPA need not be proved by it under the best evidence rule because it already proved the existence of the SPA from
the testimonies of its witnesses and by the certification issued by the Far East Bank and Trust Company that it allowed
Sonia Gonzaga to encash Tans check on the basis of the SPA.
We find the petition unmeritorious.
There is no question that no payment had ever been made to private respondent as the check was never delivered to
him. When the court ordered petitioner to pay private respondent the amount of P3 2,480.00, it had the obligation to
deliver the same to him. Under Art. 1233 of the Civil Code, a debt shall not be understood to have been paid unless the
thing or service in which the obligation consists has been completely delivered or rendered, as the case may be.
The burden of proof of such payment lies with the debtor. 3 In the instant case, neither the SPA nor the check issued
by petitioner was ever presented in court.
The testimonies of petitioners own witnesses regarding the check were conflicting. Tagamolila testified that the check
was issued to the order of Sonia Gonzaga as attorney-in-fact of Loreto Tan, 4 while Elvira Tibon, assistant cashier of PNB
(Bacolod Branch), stated that the check was issued to the order of Loreto Tan. 5
Furthermore, contrary to petitioners contention that all that is needed to be proved is the existence of the SPA, it is
also necessary for evidence to be presented regarding the nature and extent of the alleged powers and authority granted
to Sonia Gonzaga; more specifically, to determine whether the document indeed authorized her to receive payment
intended for private respondent. However, no such evidence was ever presented.
Section 2, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court states that:

SEC. 2. Original writing must be produced; exceptions.

- There can be no evidence of a writing the contents of which is the subject of inquiry, other than the original writing itself,
except in the following cases:

(a) When the original has been lost, destroyed, or cannot be produced in court;

(b) When the original is in the possession of the party against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to produce
it after reasonable notice;

(c) When the original is a record or other document in the custody of a public officer;

(d) When the original has been recorded in an existing record a certified copy of which is made evidence by law;

(e) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot be examined in court without great
loss of time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the general result of the whole.

Section 4, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court allows the presentation of secondary evidence when the original is lost or
destroyed, thus:

SEC. 4. Secondary evidence when original is lost or destroyed. - When the original writing has been lost or destroyed, or
cannot be produced in court, upon proof of its execution and loss or destruction, or unavailability, its contents may be
proved by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the recollection of witnesses.

Considering that the contents of the SPA are also in issue here, the best evidence rule applies. Hence, only the
original document (which has not been presented at all) is the best evidence of the fact as to whether or not private
respondent indeed authorized Sonia Gonzaga to receive the check from petitioner. In the absence of such document,
petitioners arguments regarding due payment must fail.
Regarding the award of attorneys fees, we hold that private respondent Tan is entitled to the same. Art. 2208 of the
Civil Code allows attorneys fees to be awarded if the claimant is compelled to litigate with third persons or to incur
expenses to protect his interest by reason of an unjustified act or omission of the party from whom it is sought. 6
In Rasonable v. NLRC, et al.,7 we held that when a party is forced to litigate to protect his rights, he is entitled to an
award of attorneys fees.
As for the award of exemplary damages, we agree with the appellate court that the same should be deleted.
Under Art. 2232 of the Civil Code, exemplary damages may be awarded if a party acted in a wanton, fraudulent,
reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner. However, they cannot be recovered as a matter of right; the court has yet to
decide whether or not they should be adjudicated.8
Jurisprudence has set down the requirements for exemplary damages to be awarded:

1. they may be imposed by way of example in addition to compensatory damages, and only after the claimants right to
them has been established;

2. they cannot be recovered as a matter of right, their determination depending upon the amount of compensatory
damages that may be awarded to the claimant;

3. the act must be accompanied by bad faith or done in a wanton, fraudulent, oppressive or malevolent manner. 9

In the case at bench, while there is a clear breach of petitioners obligation to pay private respondents, there is no
evidence that it acted in a fraudulent, wanton, reckless or oppressive manner. Furthermore, there is no award to
compensatory damages which is a prerequisite before exemplary damages may be awarded. Therefore, the award by the
trial court of P5,000.00 as exemplary damages is baseless.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the modification that the award by the
Regional Trial Court of P5,000.00 as attorneys fees is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.

LEONCIO D. MANGAHAS, ZALDY G. G. R. No. 173375


MATIAS, ORLANDOO. OANES, DANTE Y.
ARCILLA AND JOCELYN R. DELA CRUZ,
Petitioners, Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
REYES,
THE COURT OF APPEALS, THE DE CASTRO, JJ.*
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF GAPAN
CITY, BRANCH 35, THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES AND DR. CELIA MORALES,
Respondents.
Promulgated:

September 25, 2008


x--------------------------------------------------x

Assailed in the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court is (1)
the Resolution[2] dated 23 February 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 93272, entitled Leoncio D.
Mangahas, Zaldy G. Matias, Orlando O. Oanes, Dante Y. Arcilla and Jocelyn R. de la Cruz v.
The Regional Trial Court of Gapan City (Nueva Ecija), Branch 35, the People of the Philippines and Dr. Celia
Morales; and (2) the Resolution[3] dated 13 June 2006 of the same court denying petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration of its earlier resolution. In both assailed resolutions, the Court of Appeals dismissed the
Petition for Certiorari, with prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order and injunction, filed by
petitioners, for having been filed beyond the reglementary period within which to file said recourse.

The antecedent facts of the present petition are:

On 20 April 2001, private respondent Dr. Celia P. Morales (Morales) filed an Affidavit-Complaint [4] against
petitioners Leoncio D. Mangahas, Zaldy G. Matias, Orlando O. Oanes, Dante Y. Arcilla and Jocelyn R. de la
Cruz (Mangahas, et al.) for violation of Sec. 3 (f) of Republic Act No. 3019 before the Office of the
Ombudsman. The complaint was docketed as OMB-1-01-0382-D.
In her complaint, private respondent Morales basically alleged that:

1. On June 27, 1998, the Sangguniang Bayan (SB for brevity) of the Municipality of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, thru
the initiative of Councilor Zaldy G. Matias (nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Edgardo Manalastas), seconded by
Councilor Carlos R. Malaca, persuaded to pass and enact Kapasyahan Blg. 39, taon 1998, granting the
request of Mr. and Mrs. Edgardo Manalastas for the conversion of their agricultural land covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. NT-125720 into a memorial garden despite insufficiency of the requirements thereof as
provided by law x x x;

xxxx

3. x x x after receiving a copy of the said Kapasyahan, it appeared that the conversion of the agricultural land
of Mr. and Mrs. Edgardo Manalastas (Manalastas for brevity) into a memorial garden was hurriedly done and
apparently not in accord with the necessary legal requirements based on their failure to: (a) notify the adjacent
residential lot owners of the said plan and/or development; (b) secure proper recommendation(s) and permit
from different government departments, bureaus and agencies concerned; and (c) follow and comply with the
proper procedures as prescribed by law;

4. In questioning the same, my son sent a letter dated 13 April 1999 addressed to the SB and prayed, among
others the immediate REVOCATION and CANCELLATION of the said Kapasyahan x x x;

5. x x x Secretary of the Sanggunian, x x x admitted therein that Kapasyahan Blg. 39, taon 1998 was only a
DRAFT RESOLUTION x x x;

6. On 20 April 1999, another Kapasyahan Blg. 34, taon 1999 was issued by the SB refraining or stopping the
Manalastas to further develop their project without first securing the proper permits and certification from the
different government departments and bureaus concerned, unfortunately, however, the same was never
implemented x x x;

7. On 14 May 1999, my son decided to send another letter addressed to the SB and prayed x x x the issuance
of a permanent revocation of Kapasyahan Blg. 39, taon 1998 in lieu of a temporary revocation previously
issued x x x;

8. x x x my daughter, Felicitas Morales sent another letter dated 28 September 2000 addressed to the SB,
informing them of the presence of persons who had continued and still continue to develop the project of
Manalastas despite the prohibition previously issued to that effect. However, to our prejudice, no action
whatsoever was taken by the said public officials concerned, thereby extending undue favor to the Manalastas;

9. x x x the undersigned was forced to send another letter dated 24 January 2001 addressed to the SB x x x;
10. On 12 March 2001, another letter was sent by the undersigned addressed to the SB, requesting that I be
given a chance to be heard in a form of public hearing in order to air my grievances against the illegal
conversion of the land x x x and for the unfair, unjust and oppressive treatment which we suffered and continue
to suffer up to the present x x x;

11. Four (4) days prior to the scheduled public hearing on 6 April 2001, the Office of the Sanggunian headed by
Hon. Vice-Mayor Marcelino D.I. Alvarez sent a notice to all the members of the SB, namely, Leoncio D.
Mangahas, Zaldy G. Matias, Danilo A. de Guzman, Carlos R. Malaca, Orlando Q. Oanes, Dante Y. Arcilla,
Jocelyn dela Cruz, Crisanto V. Velayo II, Alfredo M. Alejandria, Jr. and Alejandro C. Velayo, for purpose(s) of
informing them of the said public hearing;

12. When the notice was served to the following councilors, namely: Leoncio D. Mangahas, Zaldy G. Matias,
Carlos R. Malaca, Orlando Q. Oanes, Dante Y. Arcilla and Jocelyn R. dela Cruz, I was informed by the Hon.
Vice-Mayor Marcelino D.L. Alvarez and the Secretary of the Sanggunian, Mr. Eduardo H. Almera, that the said
councilors have maliciously refused to sign the said notice, thereby giving undue advantage in favor of the
Manalastas who up to this present time has been continuously developing their project despite the prohibition
thereof x x x;

13. However, despite the fact that they were properly notified, the above-named councilors in the preceding
paragraph have deliberately and maliciously neglected and/or refused to attend the scheduled public hearing
last 6 April 2001, thereby unjustly and oppressively discriminating the undersigned without sufficient
justification whatsoever;

14. Due to the unlawful acts committed by the six (6) councilors, the undersigned most respectfully submits
that they be prosecuted for violation of Sec. 3(f) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice Act (R.A. 3019 as
amended by R.A. 3047, P.D. 77 and B.P. 195) which provides that:

Xxx Neglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a
reasonable time on matter pending before him for purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, from any person
interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his
own interest or giving undue advantage in favor of or discriminating against any other interested party. xxx

15. As of this date, no public hearing yet has ever been conducted, hence, to the prejudice of the undersigned;

16. With full sincerity and honesty, I believe that there will be no more public hearing that will be conducted due
(to) the admission made by Hon. Vice-Mayor Marcelino D.L. Alvarez and Mr. Eduardo H. Almera as contained
in their Joint Affidavit.

In their joint counter-affidavits, petitioners denied the accusations of private respondent Morales. They argued
that the assailed Kapasyahan Blg. 39, taon 1998, was unanimously approved by the Municipal Councilors and
was thereafter approved by the Provincial Councilors of Nueva Ecija.

In a Resolution[5] dated 27 June 2001, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon resolved to dismiss the
complaint for lack of probable cause.

Upon motion of private respondent Morales, however, said Office, in another Resolution,[6] reconsidered its
earlier finding of lack of probable cause. It held that there was further need for preliminary investigation to
determine the criminal liabilities of petitioners in deliberately absenting themselves from the public hearing of
the Sangguniang Bayan held on 6 April 2001.

On 8 November 2001, an Order[7] was issued by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon re-opening
the case for further preliminary investigation.

In a Resolution[8] dated 5 June 2002, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon recommended that (1)
petitioners be charged with and prosecuted for violation of Sec. 3 (f) of Republic Act No. 3019; and (2) the
corresponding Information be filed in court.

On 18 July 2002, an Information[9] dated 5 June 2002, was filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
34, Gapan, Nueva Ecija, charging petitionerswith the violation of Sec. 3(f) of Republic Act No. 3019. The
accusatory portion thereof states:

That on or about 11 April 2001 or sometime prior or subsequent thereto in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, all public officers, being then the
incumbent Councilors of the Municipality of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, committing the crime herein charged in
relation to and in the performance of their official function, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally
neglect and refuse after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time
on a matter pending before them by absenting themselves in the public hearing of Kapasyahan Blg. 39,
knowing fully well that their presence are indispensable, necessary to justify the development of the proposed
memorial garden thereat, for the development of (sic) discriminating against one Celia Morales, the other
interested party.

The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 10926.

On 28 October 2002, petitioners filed with the RTC a Motion for Reinvestigation with Prayer to Suspend
Proceedings[10] since the Information had already been filed with the said trial court.

In an Order[11] dated 26 March 2003, the RTC denied petitioners motion for lack of merit.

Warrants[12] for the arrest of petitioners were subsequently issued by the RTC, but the former, without more
ado, posted personal cash bail bonds to secure their provisional liberty.[13]

In a last ditch effort to defer the proceedings before the RTC, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of
the Order dated March 26, 2003 with Prayer for Inhibition.[14]

On 1 July 2003, Hon. Rodolfo Beltran, Presiding Judge of RTC- Branch 34, recused himself from the case
without resolving the latest motion filed by petitioners.[15]

In an Order[16] dated 5 August 2003, Hon. Victoriano B. Cabanos, Presiding Judge of RTC-Branch 87, resolved
the above motion by denying the same.

In the interim, before petitioners could be arraigned, the prosecution filed with the RTC a Motion to Suspend
Accused from Public Office;[17] which petitioners countered by filing with the same court a Motion to Quash with
Urgent Prayer to Defer Arraignment and Issuance of Order of Suspension.[18]

In an Order[19] dated 16 June 2005, the RTC granted the prosecutions prayer to suspend petitioners from public
office for sixty (60) days in view of Sec. 63 (b) of the Local Government Code[20]; thus, effectively denying
petitioners Motion to Quash with Urgent Prayer to Defer Arraignment and Issuance of Order of
Suspension. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of suspension but it was also denied by
the RTC in another Order[21] dated 25 November 2005, but this time issued by RTC Branch 35,[22] Gapan,
Nueva Ecija.

Imputing grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the RTC in (1)
suspending them for sixty (60) days from public office; and (2) denying the motion to quash, as well as their
prayer to defer their arraignment, petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of
Court before the Court of Appeals.

On 23 February 2006, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution dismissing the Petition. It ruled that:

The petition alleges that petitioners received on December 9, 2005 a copy of the Order dated November 25,
2005, which denied their motion for reconsideration of the Order dated June 16, 2005. Consequently, the sixty
(60) day period within which to file a petition for certiorari expired on February 7, 2006. However, the instant
petition was filed only on February 8, 2006, as shown by the post office stamp on the envelope, and was,
therefore, late by one (1) day. The assailed Orders had thus (sic) already attained finality.[23]

Petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the appellate courts dismissal of their petition. They claimed that,
in actuality, their petition was mailed on 7 February 2006 and not on 8 February 2006. Attached to petitioners
motion for reconsideration was a certification by one Marita Pangandian, Assistant Postmaster of Cabanatuan
City Post Office, Nueva Ecija, as well as a simple photocopy of the page of the registry receipt book of said
post office showing that that subject mail matters addressed to the Court of Appeals were received for mailing
on 7 February 2006.

The Court of Appeals, however, in a Resolution dated 13 June 2006 found no cogent reason to disturb its
original conclusion that the petition was filed beyond the reglementary period within which to avail of the
extraordinary writ of certiorari. The appellate court held that:

Settled is the rule that a xerox copy of any document is without evidentiary weight or value (citation omitted).
Moreover, the clerk of the post office who allegedly failed to stamp the date February 7, 2006 and, instead,
stamped the date February 8, 2006 on the envelope containing the mail matter addressed to this Court did not
execute an affidavit to that effect, so that the allegations in the affidavit of Mrs. Pangandian are hearsay.[24]

Further, the Court of Appeals took exception to the fact that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), being the
official counsel of the People of the Philippinesin appeals before the appellate court and the Supreme Court,
was not served a copy of said petition. In its place, the Provincial Prosecutor was the one furnished a copy
thereof.

Hence, petitioners come to this Court, challenging the dismissal by the Court of Appeals of their Petition
anchored on the following arguments:

A. WITH REGARD TO THE ACTUATIONS OF THE COURT OF APPEALS:

1. WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DISMISSING THE PETITION
FOR CERTIORARI FOR ALLEGEDLY HAVING BEEN FILED ONE DAY LATE, CONSIDERING THAT:

a. FIRST, THE REGISTRY RECEIPT BOOK OF THE CABANATUANCITY POST OFFICE SHOWED AND THE
ASSISTANT POSTMASTER STATED THAT THE MAIL MATTER ADDRESSED TO THE COURT OF
APPEALS WAS MAILED BY THE PETITIONERS ON 7 FEBRUARY 2006 AND NOT ON 8 FEBRUARY 2006.

b. SECOND, THE PETITIONERS ARE NOW SUBMITTING A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE REGISTRY
RECEIPT BOOK AND AN AFFIDAVIT OF THE CLERK CONCERNED WHO STAMPED THE NOTATION THAT
IT WAS MAILED ON 8 FEBRUARY 2006 AND INSTEAD OF 7 FEBRUARY 2006.

2. WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DENYING THE MOTION
FOR RECONSIDERATION ON THE GROUND THAT NO COPY OF THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI WAS
FURNISHED TO THE OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL. PETITIONERS ARE NOW SUBMITTING A
COPY OF THIS PETITION AND THE OTHER PLEADINGS ARE NOW BEING FURNISHED TO THE OFFICE
OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL.

B. WITH REGARD TO THE ACTUATIONS OF THE TRIAL COURT:

1. WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION,
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION, WHEN IT DENIED THE MOTION TO QUASH AND WHEN IT
ORDERED THE SUSPENSION OF THE PETITIONERS CONSIDERING THAT:
a. FIRST, THE SUBJECT INFORMATION DATED 5 JUNE 2002 WAS AN INVALID INFORMATION,
CONSIDERING THAT IT WAS NOT SIGNED BY THE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR CONCERNED ON
THE DATE IT WAS FILED ON 18 JULY 2002;

b. SECOND, EVEN IF IT WAS BELATEDLY SIGNED, THE SAME INFORMATION REMAINED AS INVALID
AND WAS NOT CURED BY THE FACT OF SIGNING AND COULD NOT BE GIVEN A RETROACTIVE
EFFECT AS IF IT WERE VALID AT THE TIME IT WAS ORIGINALLY FILED;

c. THIRD, EVEN IF IT WAS RENDERED VALID BY THE FACT OF ITS BELATED SIGNING BY THE
GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR CONCERNED, THE SAID INFORMATION HAS INSUFFICIENT
ALLEGATIONS IN IT AND SUCH, THE SAME SHOULD BE QUASHED;

d. FOURTH, THE TRIAL COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION TO TRY AND HEAR THIS CASE, MUCH MORE
IMPOSE SUSPENSION AGAINST THE PETITIONERS.

e. FIFTH, WITH DUE RESPECT, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE PRUDENT IF THE TRIAL COURT HAD
CONDUCTED A PRE-SUSPENSION HEARING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RULING OF THE SUPREME
COURT IN THE CASE OF SANTIAGO V. SANDIGANBAYAN, 356 SCRA 636.

f. SIXTH, WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT FAILED TO CONSIDER THAT THE ACCUSED
ARE ALREADY SERVING DIFFERENT TERMS OF OFFICES AND THAT THE ALLEGED ACTS
COMPLAINED OF WERE COMMITTED DURING THEIR PAST TERMS. [25]

Cutting through the issues, it would appear that ultimately, the central question and bone of contention in the
petition before us boils down to the appreciation and determination of factual matters, first and foremost of
which is the issue of whether the Petition for Certiorari filed with the Court of Appeals was indeed mailed on 7
February 2006. And only when the foregoing issue is resolved in the affirmative, is it still relevant for us to
proceed to the legal question of whether the trial court erred in denying petitioners motion to quash and
granting the Peoples motion to suspend them from public office.

Factual issues are not the proper subject of this Courts discretionary power of judicial review under Rule 45 of
the Revised Rules of Court. We have defined a question of law as distinguished from a question of fact, to wit:

A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a
question of fact when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of
law, the same must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants
or any of them. The resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of
circumstances. Once it is clear that the issue invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is
one of fact. Thus, the test of whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation given to such
question by the party raising the same; rather, it is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised
without reviewing or evaluating the evidence, in which case, it is a question of law; otherwise it is a question of
fact.[26]

Under Rule 45, only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari before this Court as we
are not a trier of facts. Our jurisdiction in such a proceeding is limited to reviewing only errors of law that may
have been committed by the lower courts. Consequently, findings of fact of the trial court and the Court of
Appeals are final and conclusive, and cannot be reviewed on appeal.[27] It is not the function of this Court to
reexamine or reevaluate evidence, whether testimonial or documentary, adduced by the parties in the
proceedings below.[28] The preceding rule however, admits of certain exceptions and has, in the past, been
relaxed when the lower courts findings were not supported by the evidence on record or were based on a
misapprehension of facts,[29] or when certain relevant and undisputed facts were manifestly overlooked that, if
properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.[30]

Be that as it may, we are hard pressed to apply any of the exceptions to the case at bar.

Timeliness of an appeal is a factual issue. It requires a review or evaluation of evidence on when the present
petition was actually mailed and received by the appellate court. In the case at bar, to prove that they mailed
their Petition for Certiorari addressed to the Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals on 7 February 2006 instead
of 8 February 2006 as shown by the stamped date on the envelope, petitioners initially submitted (1) a
photocopy of the pertinent page of the Registry Book of the Cabanatuan Post Office sans any official
guarantee that it was a faithful reproduction of the original; (2) an Affidavit of Service executed by one Lolita S.
Rase stating under oath that she was the one who served copies of the Petition for Certiorari, by registered
mail, to the parties of the subject case, including that intended for the Court of Appeals, with an attached
photocopy of the registry receipt corresponding to the mail sent to the appellate court; and (3) an Affidavit of
Merit/Certification made under oath by one Marita Pangandian, claiming to be the Assistant PostMaster of
Cabanatuan City Post Office, which stated that said office received for mailing on 7 February 2006 four (4)
parcels/mail matters addressed to (a) Atty. Romeo Viloria; (b) the Clerk of Court of RTC-Br. 87, Gapan, Nueva
Ecija; (c) the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor; and (d) Court of Appeals Clerk of Court.To be precise, the
supposed Assistant PostMaster attested in her affidavit that:

1. Based on our records, we received in our office on 7 February 2006 for mailing as registered mail four (4)
parcels/envelopes addressed to the following persons, namely:
a) Atty. Romeo Viloria 2092
b) The Clerk of Court, Gapan 2093
c) The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor 2094
d) The Clerk of Court, Manila A-2094 (for the Court of Appeals)

2. As a practice, mail matters are dispatched in the morning. If the mail matters are received in the afternoon,
then they are dispatched on the next day. As such, of the said registered mail matters were received in the
afternoon of 7 February 2006, then they were dispatched on the next day or on 8 February 2006;

3. Unknown to me, the registered mail matter for The Clerk of Court of Court of Appeals, manila may not have
been stamped when it was received on 7 February 2006 and/or may have been stamped with an erroneous
date on 8 February 2006 when it was about to be dispatched.

4. When I examined the Registry Book, it appeared to be that there was some confusion on the part of our new
clerk Lorena Datus, as the registered mail matter for the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor was also entered
as 2094 while the one intended for The Clerk of Court, Manila in the Registry Receipt Book was marked as A-
2094. With two (2) registered mail matters with Nos. 2094, it may possibly occur that the other parcel intended
for the Clerk of Court, Manila was not stamped with the date February 7, 2006when it was received by our Post
Office. The fact that it was not stamped may have gone unnoticed until that time that the said matters were
about to be dispatched on February 8, 2006 and possibly, one of our staff might have stamped the copy for the
Court of Appeals with the date 8 February 2006.

5. This oversight on the erroneous stamping of the date was clearly unintentional and not deliberate on our
part.

6. I am executing the foregoing for the purpose of attesting to the truth of the foregoing and upon the request of
Atty. Christian B. Flores for the purpose of proving that the registered mail matter A-2094 was received by our
Post Office on 7 February 2006.[31]

Both of the affidavits submitted by petitioners were notarized by Atty. Bener Ortiz Bauto of Bauto, Bauto and
Flores Law Offices - evidently, the same law firm as that of the counsel of petitioners.

Based on the foregoing documents, nevertheless, the Court of Appeals stood pat in its dismissal of the petition.
When petitioners came to this Court via the present petition for review on certiorari, they attached thereto the
same photocopy of the pertinent page of the Registry Book of the Cabanatuan City Post Office, but this time
with a typewritten notation certified true copy signed by one Lorena Gatus, purportedly a clerk of such post
office. Likewise, petitioners annexed to their present petition, the additional affidavit of the same clerk Lorena
Gatus attesting to the fact that she erroneously stamped on the envelopes of petitioners mails the date 8
February 2006 instead of 7 February 2006.

Upon closer examination of the aforementioned documents, including those submitted before the appellate
court, this Court finds no evidentiary basis to reverse the dismissal by the Court of Appeals of petitioners
petition for certiorari for being belatedly filed.

True, petitioners sent the Court of Appeals a registered mail containing seven (7) copies of their Petition
for Certiorari. But the envelope in which the copies of the petition were contained bore the notation 8 February
2006 as the date of mailing.Such date fell beyond the reglementary period within which to file such a petition.

To dispute the date of mailing as stamped on the envelope of their mail, petitioners presented the attestation,
under oath, of the supposed Assistant Postmaster of the Cabanatuan City Post Office that the subject
registered mail was received in our office on 7 February 2006 for mailing x x x; as well as that of the purported
clerk of the same post office admitting to having mistakenly stamped the envelope of the subject registered
mail with the date 8 February 2006.

There is a presumption that official duties have been regularly performed.[32]On this basis, we have ruled in
previous cases that the Postmasters certification is sufficient evidence of the fact of mailing. This presumption,
however, is disputable. In this case, the Affidavit/Certification of the alleged Assistant Postmaster cannot give
rise to such a presumption, for not only does it attest to an irregularity in the performance of official duties (i.e.,
mistake in stamping the date on the registered mail), it is essentially hearsay evidence.

Though notarized, we cannot give the affidavits of the Assistant Postmaster and the clerk any probative value,
since they were both notarized by a lawyer belonging to the same law firm as petitioners counsel and, as such,
are self-serving assertions not corroborated by any other evidence. Considering the interest of his law firm in
the case, we cannot rely solely on the jurat of the notary public that the affiants/certifiers are indeed who they
say they are. The affiants/certifiers herein claimed to be officers or employees of the Cabanatuan City Post
Office, but this Court has no way of ensuring the veracity of such claim.

It would have been different had petitioners presented an Official Receipt as evidence of payment of
appropriate fees corresponding to the issuance of such certifications by the Assistant Postmaster and the clerk,
who certified that the photocopy of the pertinent page of the Registry Book was a faithful reproduction of the
original and that she was the one who erroneously made the notation 8 February 2006 on the envelope
addressed to the Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals. Under PhilPost Administrative Order No. 05-17
dated 20 December 2005, in relation to Department of Transportation and Communications Memorandum
Circular No. 2000-17 dated 18 February 2000, concerning fees for administrative services rendered, a fee of
Php25.00 is imposed for certification of every document or information based on record. Without such receipt,
plus the fact that the jurats of the affidavits/certifications were made by a lawyer from the same law firm as
petitioners counsel, we cannot help but doubt that the said documents were issued by the officers of the
Cabanatuan City Post Office.

In addition, petitioners could have easily presented the original Registry Receipt No. A-2094. It would have
constituted the best evidence of the fact of mailing on 7 February 2006, even if a different date had been
stamped on the envelope of the subject registered mail. Regrettably, petitioners have not seen fit to present
such original. Their continued failure to present the original receipt can only lead one to remember the well-
settled rule that when the evidence tends to prove a material fact which imposes a liability on a party, and he
has it in his power to produce evidence which from its very nature must overthrow the case made against him if
it is not founded on fact, and he refuses to produce such evidence, the presumption arises that the evidence, if
produced, would operate to his prejudice, and support the case of his adversary.[33] Mere photocopy of Registry
Receipt No. A-2094 militates against their position as there is no indicium of its authenticity. A mere photocopy
lacks assurance of its genuineness, considering that photocopies can easily be tampered with.

Given the foregoing, we find no reason to reverse the assailed resolutions of the Court of Appeals and disturb
its conclusions therein. Petitioners miserably failed to adduce credible and sufficient substantiation that any
inadvertence was committed by the Post Office of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. Instead of supporting their
cause, the affidavits submitted by petitioners, taken together with the mere photocopy of Registry Receipt No.
A-2094 without the presentation of the original thereof, actually lead this Court to doubt whether petitioners
counsel has been sincere in his dealings with the courts. Needless to stress, a lawyer is bound by ethical
principles in the conduct of cases before the courts at all times.[34]

It has been said time and again that the perfection of an appeal within the period fixed by the rules is
mandatory and jurisdictional.[35] But it is always in the power of this Court to suspend its own rules, or to except
a particular case from its operation, whenever the purposes of justice require it.[36] This Court is mindful of the
policy of affording litigants the amplest opportunity for the determination of their cases on the merits[37] and of
dispensing with technicalities whenever compelling reasons so warrant or when the purpose of justice requires
it.[38]

Assuming that we suspend the rules, in the interest of justice, and direct the Court of Appeals to admit
petitioners Petition for Certiorari even if it was one day late, we would still affirm the dismissal of said Petition
by the appellate court considering petitioners failure to serve the OSG with a copy of the same.

In addressing the issue, petitioners exploit the oft used defense in the interest of justice; and the fact that they
have now furnished the OSG copies of the present petition, as well as other pleadings.

Failure to furnish the OSG a copy of the petition filed before the Court of Appeals was a fatal defect.
We agree with the disposition of the Court of Appeals in that we have stated in Salazar v. Romaquin[39] that
Section 5, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

SEC. 5. Who must prosecute criminal actions. All criminal actions commenced by a complaint or information
shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the prosecutor. However, in the Municipal Trial Courts or
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts when the prosecutor assigned thereto or to the case is not available, the offended
party, any peace officer, or public officer charged with the enforcement of the law violated may prosecute the
case. This authority shall cease upon actual intervention of the prosecutor or upon elevation of the case to the
Regional Trial Court.

The authority of the Provincial Prosecutor to appear for and represent the respondent People of
the Philippines is confined only to the proceedings before the trial court.
We further elucidated in the same case that:

The pleadings of the accused and copies of the orders or resolutions of the trial court are served on the People
of the Philippines through the Provincial Prosecutor. However, in appeals before the Court of Appeals and the
Supreme Court either (a) by writ of error; (b) via petition for review; (c) on automatic appeal; or (d) in special
civil actions where the People of the Philippines is a party, the general rule is that the Office of the Solicitor
General is the sole representative of the People of the Philippines. This is provided for in Section 35(l) Chapter
12, Title III of Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code, viz:

(l) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings;
represent the Government and its officers in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and all other courts or
tribunals in all civil actions and special proceedings in which the Government or any officer thereof in his official
capacity is a party.

A copy of the petition in such action must be served on the People of the Philippines as mandated by Section
3, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court, through the Office of the Solicitor General (citation omitted). The service of a
copy of the petition on the People of the Philippines, through the Provincial Prosecutor would be inefficacious.
The petitioners failure to have a copy of his petition served on the respondent, through the Office of the
Solicitor General, shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition as provided in the last paragraph of
Section 3, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court. Unless and until copies of the petition are duly served on the
respondent, the appellate court has no other recourse but to dismiss the petition.

The purpose of the service of a copy of the petition on the respondent in an original action in the appellate
court prior to the acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of the respondent is to apprise the latter of the filing
of the petition and the averments contained therein and, thus, enable the respondent to file any appropriate
pleading thereon even before the appellate court can act on the said petition, or to file his comment thereon if
so ordered by the appellate court. But if a copy of the petition is served on the Provincial Prosecutor who is not
authorized to represent the People of the Philippines in the appellate court, any pleading filed by the said
Prosecutor for and in behalf of the People of the Philippines is unauthorized, and may be expunged from the
records.[40]

In the more recent case of Go v. Court of Appeals,[41] this Court, through Mr. Justice Quisumbing, once again
made clear that Section 1, Rule 65 in relation to Section 3, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court, clearly states that in
a petition filed originally in the Court of Appeals, the petitioner is required to serve a copy of the petition on the
adverse party before its filing (citation omitted). If the adverse party appears by counsel, service shall be made
on such counsel pursuant to Section 2, Rule 13. Since the OSG represents the Republic of
the Philippines once the case is brought before this Court of the Court of Appeals, then service of the petition
should be made on that office (citation omitted).

As a last ditch effort, petitioners hark on a liberal construction of the rules of procedure in order to bring about
substantial justice and appeal to this Courts exercise of equity jurisdiction.

We are not convinced.

It must always be remembered that the liberality with which we exercise our equity jurisdiction is always
anchored on the basic consideration that the same must be warranted by the circumstances obtaining in each
case. Aside from the above disquisition, there is no showing herein of any exceptional circumstance that may
rationalize a digression from the rule on timely filing of appeals.

Rules of procedure are intended to ensure the orderly administration of justice and the protection of
substantive rights in judicial and extrajudicial proceedings. It is a mistake to suppose that substantive law and
adjective law are contradictory to each other; or, as has often been suggested, that enforcement of procedural
rules should never be permitted if it will result in prejudice to the substantive rights of the litigants. This is not
exactly true; the concept is much misunderstood. As a matter of fact, the policy of the courts is to give effect to
both kinds of law, as complementing each other, in the just and speedy resolution of the dispute between the
parties. Observance of both substantive and procedural rights is equally guaranteed by due process, whatever
the source of such rights, be it the Constitution itself or only a statute or a rule of court.[42]

As we have put it long before:

For all its conceded merits, equity is available only in the absence of law and not as its replacement. Equity is
described as justice outside legality, which simply means that it cannot supplant although it may, as often
happens, supplement the law. We said in an earlier case, and we repeat it now, that all abstract arguments
based only on equity should yield to positive rules, which pre-empt and prevail over such
persuasions. Emotional appeals for justice, while they may wring the heart of the Court, cannot justify
disregard of the mandate of the law as long as it remains in force. The applicable maxim, which goes back to
the ancient days of the Roman jurists- and is now still reverently observed- is `aequetas nunquam contravenit
legis.[43]

Having found the explanation of petitioners less than worthy of credence and lacking in evidentiary support,
this Court is obliged to adhere austerely to the procedural rules on the timeliness of submission before the
court.
All told, We find that the Court of Appeals did not err in dismissing the petition for (1) being filed beyond the
reglementary period within which to file the same; and (2) failure to observe the requirement of service upon
the OSG as counsel for the People of the Philippines.

In view of the foregoing, this Court sees no need to discuss the second assigned error.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed 23 February
2006 Resolution and 13 June 2006Resolution, both of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 93272, are
hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners Leoncio D. Mangahas, Zaldy G. Matias, Orlando O. Oanes,
Dante Y. Arcilla and Jocelyn R. de la Cruz.
SO ORDERED.

RICO ROMMEL ATIENZA, G.R. No. 177407

Petitioner,
Promulgated:
- versus -
February 9, 2011
BOARD OF MEDICINE and EDITHA SIOSON,

Respondents.

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision [1] dated
September 22, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 87755. The CA dismissed the petition
for certiorari filed by petitioner Rico Rommel Atienza (Atienza), which, in turn, assailed the Orders [2]issued by public
respondent Board of Medicine (BOM) in Administrative Case No. 1882.

The facts, fairly summarized by the appellate court, follow.

Due to her lumbar pains, private respondent Editha Sioson went to Rizal Medical Center (RMC) for
check-up on February 4, 1995. Sometime in 1999, due to the same problem, she was referred to Dr.
Pedro Lantin III of RMC who, accordingly, ordered several diagnostic laboratory tests. The tests revealed
that her right kidney is normal. It was ascertained, however, that her left kidney is non-functioning and
non-visualizing. Thus, she underwent kidney operation in September, 1999.

On February 18, 2000, private respondents husband, Romeo Sioson (as complainant), filed a complaint
for gross negligence and/or incompetence before the [BOM] against the doctors who allegedly
participated in the fateful kidney operation, namely: Dr. Judd dela Vega, Dr. Pedro Lantin, III, Dr. Gerardo
Antonio Florendo and petitioner Rico Rommel Atienza.

It was alleged in the complaint that the gross negligence and/or incompetence committed by the said
doctors, including petitioner, consists of the removal of private respondents fully functional right kidney,
instead of the left non-functioning and non-visualizing kidney.

The complaint was heard by the [BOM]. After complainant Romeo Sioson presented his evidence, private
respondent Editha Sioson, also named as complainant there, filed her formal offer of documentary
evidence. Attached to the formal offer of documentary evidence are her Exhibits A to D, which she offered
for the purpose of proving that her kidneys were both in their proper anatomical locations at the time she
was operated. She described her exhibits, as follows:

EXHIBIT A the certified photocopy of the X-ray Request form dated December 12, 1996, which is also
marked as Annex 2 as it was actually originally the Annex to x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, IIIs counter affidavit filed
with the City Prosecutor of Pasig City in connection with the criminal complaint filed by [Romeo Sioson] with
the said office, on which are handwritten entries which are the interpretation of the results of the ultrasound
examination. Incidentally, this exhibit happens to be the same as or identical to the certified photocopy of the
document marked as Annex 2 to the Counter-Affidavit dated March 15, 2000, filed by x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin,
III, on May 4, 2000, with this Honorable Board in answer to this complaint;

EXHIBIT B the certified photo copy of the X-ray request form dated January 30, 1997, which is also marked
as Annex 3 as it was actually likewise originally an Annex to x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, IIIs counter-affidavit filed
with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City in connection with the criminal complaint filed by the
herein complainant with the said office, on which are handwritten entries which are the interpretation of the
results of the examination. Incidentally, this exhibit happens to be also the same as or identical to the
certified photo copy of the document marked as Annex 3 which is likewise dated January 30, 1997, which is
appended as such Annex 3 to the counter-affidavit dated March 15, 2000, filed by x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, III
on May 4, 2000, with this Honorable Board in answer to this complaint.

EXHIBIT C the certified photocopy of the X-ray request form dated March 16, 1996, which is also marked as
Annex 4, on which are handwritten entries which are the interpretation of the results of the examination.

EXHIBIT D the certified photocopy of the X-ray request form dated May 20, 1999, which is also marked as
Annex 16, on which are handwritten entries which are the interpretation of the results of the examination.
Incidentally, this exhibit appears to be the draft of the typewritten final report of the same examination which
is the document appended as Annexes 4 and 1 respectively to the counter-affidavits filed by x x x Dr. Judd
dela Vega and Dr. Pedro Lantin, III in answer to the complaint. In the case of Dr. dela Vega however, the
document which is marked as Annex 4 is not a certified photocopy, while in the case of Dr. Lantin, the
document marked as Annex 1 is a certified photocopy. Both documents are of the same date and typewritten
contents are the same as that which are written on Exhibit D.

Petitioner filed his comments/objections to private respondents [Editha Siosons] formal offer of exhibits.
He alleged that said exhibits are inadmissible because the same are mere photocopies, not properly
identified and authenticated, and intended to establish matters which are hearsay. He added that the
exhibits are incompetent to prove the purpose for which they are offered.

Dispositions of the Board of Medicine

The formal offer of documentary exhibits of private respondent [Editha Sioson] was admitted by the [BOM] per
its Order dated May 26, 2004. It reads:

The Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence of [Romeo Sioson], the Comments/Objections of [herein petitioner]
Atienza, [therein respondents] De la Vega and Lantin, and the Manifestation of [therein] respondent Florendo
are hereby ADMITTED by the [BOM] for whatever purpose they may serve in the resolution of this case.

Let the hearing be set on July 19, 2004 all at 1:30 p.m. for the reception of the evidence of the respondents.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the abovementioned Order basically on the same reasons stated in his
comment/objections to the formal offer of exhibits.

The [BOM] denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner in its Order dated October 8, 2004. It concluded
that it should first admit the evidence being offered so that it can determine its probative value when it decides
the case. According to the Board, it can determine whether the evidence is relevant or not if it will take a look at
it through the process of admission. x x x.[3]

Disagreeing with the BOM, and as previously adverted to, Atienza filed a petition for certiorari with the CA,
assailing the BOMs Orders which admitted Editha Siosons (Edithas) Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence.
The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari for lack of merit.

Hence, this recourse positing the following issues:

I. PROCEDURAL ISSUE:

WHETHER PETITIONER ATIENZA AVAILED OF THE PROPER REMEDY WHEN HE FILED THE PETITION
FOR CERTIORARI DATED 06 DECEMBER 2004 WITH THE COURT OF APPEALS UNDER RULE 65 OF
THE RULES OF COURT TO ASSAIL THE ORDERS DATED 26 MAY 2004 AND 08 OCTOBER 2004 OF
RESPONDENT BOARD.

II. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE:

WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR AND DECIDED A
QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW AND THE APPLICABLE
DECISIONS OF THE HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE ADMISSION OF INCOMPETENT AND
INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE BY RESPONDENT BOARD, WHICH CAN RESULT IN THE DEPRIVATION OF
PROFESSIONAL LICENSE A PROPERTY RIGHT OR ONES LIVELIHOOD.[4]
We find no reason to depart from the ruling of the CA.

Petitioner is correct when he asserts that a petition for certiorari is the proper remedy to assail the Orders of
the BOM, admitting in evidence the exhibits of Editha. As the assailed Orders were interlocutory, these cannot
be the subject of an appeal separate from the judgment that completely or finally disposes of the case.[5]At that
stage, where there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the
only and remaining remedy left to petitioner is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court on
the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

However, the writ of certiorari will not issue absent a showing that the BOM has acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. Embedded in the CAs finding that the BOM did not exceed its
jurisdiction or act in grave abuse of discretion is the issue of whether the exhibits of Editha contained in her
Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence are inadmissible.

Petitioner argues that the exhibits formally offered in evidence by Editha: (1) violate the best evidence rule; (2)
have not been properly identified and authenticated; (3) are completely hearsay; and (4) are incompetent to
prove their purpose. Thus, petitioner contends that the exhibits are inadmissible evidence.

We disagree.

To begin with, it is well-settled that the rules of evidence are not strictly applied in proceedings before
administrative bodies such as the BOM.[6] Although trial courts are enjoined to observe strict enforcement of the
rules of evidence,[7] in connection with evidence which may appear to be of doubtful relevancy, incompetency,
or admissibility, we have held that:

[I]t is the safest policy to be liberal, not rejecting them on doubtful or technical grounds, but admitting them
unless plainly irrelevant, immaterial or incompetent, for the reason that their rejection places them beyond the
consideration of the court, if they are thereafter found relevant or competent; on the other hand, their
admission, if they turn out later to be irrelevant or incompetent, can easily be remedied by completely
discarding them or ignoring them.[8]

From the foregoing, we emphasize the distinction between the admissibility of evidence and the probative
weight to be accorded the same pieces of evidence. PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation v. Court of
Appeals[9] teaches:

Admissibility of evidence refers to the question of whether or not the circumstance (or evidence) is to be
considered at all. On the other hand, the probative value of evidence refers to the question of whether or not it
proves an issue.

Second, petitioners insistence that the admission of Edithas exhibits violated his substantive rights leading to
the loss of his medical license is misplaced. Petitioner mistakenly relies on Section 20, Article I of the
Professional Regulation Commission Rules of Procedure, which reads:

Section 20. Administrative investigation shall be conducted in accordance with these Rules. The Rules of Court
shall only apply in these proceedings by analogy or on a suppletory character and whenever practicable and
convenient. Technical errors in the admission of evidence which do not prejudice the substantive rights of
either party shall not vitiate the proceedings.[10]

As pointed out by the appellate court, the admission of the exhibits did not prejudice the substantive rights of
petitioner because, at any rate, the fact sought to be proved thereby, that the two kidneys of Editha were in
their proper anatomical locations at the time she was operated on, is presumed under Section 3, Rule 131 of
the Rules of Court:

Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be
contradicted and overcome by other evidence:

xxxx

(y) That things have happened according to the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits of life.

The exhibits are certified photocopies of X-ray Request Forms dated December 12, 1996, January 30, 1997,
March 16, 1996, and May 20, 1999, filed in connection with Edithas medical case. The documents contain
handwritten entries interpreting the results of the examination. These exhibits were actually attached as
annexes to Dr. Pedro Lantin IIIs counter affidavit filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City, which
was investigating the criminal complaint for negligence filed by Editha against the doctors of Rizal Medical
Center (RMC) who handled her surgical procedure. To lay the predicate for her case, Editha offered the
exhibits in evidence to prove that her kidneys were both in their proper anatomical locations at the time of her
operation.

The fact sought to be established by the admission of Edithas exhibits, that her kidneys were both in their
proper anatomical locations at the time of her operation, need not be proved as it is covered by mandatory
judicial notice.[11]

Unquestionably, the rules of evidence are merely the means for ascertaining the truth respecting a matter of
fact.[12] Thus, they likewise provide for some facts which are established and need not be proved, such as those
covered by judicial notice, both mandatory and discretionary.[13] Laws of nature involving the physical sciences,
specifically biology,[14] include the structural make-up and composition of living things such as human beings. In
this case, we may take judicial notice that Edithas kidneys before, and at the time of, her operation, as with
most human beings, were in their proper anatomical locations.
Third, contrary to the assertion of petitioner, the best evidence rule is inapplicable. Section 3 of Rule 130
provides:

1. Best Evidence Rule

Sec. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a
document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself, except in the following
cases:

(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, without bad faith on the part
of the offeror;

(b) When the original is in the custody or under the control of the party against whom the evidence is offered,
and the latter fails to produce it after reasonable notice;

(c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot be examined in court
without great loss of time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the general result of the
whole; and

(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office.

The subject of inquiry in this case is whether respondent doctors before the BOM are liable for gross
negligence in removing the right functioning kidney of Editha instead of the left non-functioning kidney, not the
proper anatomical locations of Edithas kidneys. As previously discussed, the proper anatomical locations of
Edithas kidneys at the time of her operation at the RMC may be established not only through the exhibits
offered in evidence.

Finally, these exhibits do not constitute hearsay evidence of the anatomical locations of Edithas kidneys. To
further drive home the point, the anatomical positions, whether left or right, of Edithas kidneys, and the removal
of one or both, may still be established through a belated ultrasound or x-ray of her abdominal area.

In fact, the introduction of secondary evidence, such as copies of the exhibits, is allowed.[15] Witness Dr. Nancy
Aquino testified that the Records Office of RMC no longer had the originals of the exhibits because [it]
transferred from the previous building, x x x to the new building.[16] Ultimately, since the originals cannot be
produced, the BOM properly admitted Edithas formal offer of evidence and, thereafter, the BOM shall
determine the probative value thereof when it decides the case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87755
is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 107623 February 23, 1994

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ANGELITA MANALO y DELA PAZ, accused-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Public Attorney's Office for accused-appellant.

PUNO, J.:

Accused Angelita Manalo is not unaccustomed to prosecution for violation of our anti-drug law (Republic Act 6425). On
June 21, 1990, she was arrested for violation of sections 15 and 18 of Article III of the said law. She was subjected to
inquest by the Prosecutor's Office.1 In August 1991, confidential information was again received by the Dangerous Drugs
Enforcement Division (DDED) of the Pasig Police Station concerning her drug trafficking activities. A surveillance of
Manalo's illegal activities was conducted by operatives of the DDED headed by PO2 Adonis Corpuz. They were able to
establish that Manalo was conducting her illegal drug trade at Rotonda, Caniogan, Pasig. 2

The Chief of DDED of the Pasig police station then formed a buy-bust team composed of the following operatives: SPO1
Francisco Evangelista, SPO1 Marlon Paulete, PO3 Graciano Delosata, PO3 Benjamin Placido and SPO3 Dominador
Cruz. PO2 Corpuz acted as the poseur-buyer while the other operatives served as his back-up men. On January 24,
1992, the team proceeded to Rotonda, Caniogan, Pasig. 3 At around ten (10:00) o'clock in the evening, Corpuz casually
approached the accused and said: "Paiskor ng piso" 4 and handed to her a previously marked one hundred (P100.00)
peso bill. Manalo reached out for the P100 bill and handed Corpuz a deck of "shabu." The transaction having been
consummated, Corpuz signaled his back-up operatives to apprehend Manalo. 5

After her arrest, Manalo was brought to the police headquarters where a policewoman, PO2 June Valencia, bodily
searched her. Found in her possession was the P100 bill given to her by Corpuz, a deck of "shabu," a sealed plastic bag
which contained an undetermined amount of suspected "shabu," another plastic bag containing an undetermined amount
of suspected marijuana leaves and an improvised glass tooter containing suspected "shabu" residue. Policewoman
Valencia testified how and where the accused hid the "shabu" and marijuana leaves, thus:

Q. When the suspect Angelita Manalo was brought to the police station, (w)hat order was given to you by your
(C)hief?
A. He ordered me to conduct a body search on the suspect.
Q. And what was the result of the body search?
A. I recovered from her: one (1) deck of shabu in aluminum foil; the P100.00 bill used in the buy-bust
operation; one (1) heat-sealed plastic bag with marijuana leaves and an improvised tooter?
Q. For clarity's sake, Ms. Witness, where did you recover the deck of shabu and the improvised tooter?
A. In Ms. Manalo's black shoulder bag.
Q. How about the plastic bag containing an undetermined amount of shabu?
A. It was inserted inside her vagina, sir.
Q. How about the marijuana leaves?
A. it was inserted at (sic) her rectum, sir.6

These articles were sent to the PNP Crime Laboratory for chemical examination. 7 A request for Manalo's blood test to
determine whether she was a drug-user was likewise made. 8

The qualitative examination of the articles seized from Manalo revealed that the plastic bags contained methamphetamine
hydrochloride ("shabu"), a regulated drug. Another bag was tested positive for marijuana. 9Similarly, the urine sample taken
from Manalo was tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride. 10

Consequently, Angelita Manalo was charged in two (2) separate Informations with violations of Republic Act 6425,
particularly: Section 8, Article II for possession or use of prohibited drugs, and; Section 15, Article III for sale of regulated
drugs without authority.

The Information in Criminal Case No. 1869-D-92, for violation of Section 8, Article II of R.A. 6425 reads:

That on or about the 24th day of January, 1992, in the municipality of Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without having been
authorized by law, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in her possession and
under her control one (1) transparent plastic bag containing dried marijuana fruiting tops weighing 1.46
grams, a prohibited drugs (sic) in violation of the abovecited law.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Original Records, p. 1)

Upon the other hand, the Information in Criminal Case No. 1870-D-92 for violation of Section 15, Article III of R.A. 6425
reads:

That on or about the 24th day January, 1992, in the municipality of Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being lawfully authorized to possess
any regulated drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver and give away to another
methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug and was further found to be in possession of the following:
a. One (1) transparent plastic bag containing one (1) piece of aluminum foil with white crystalline substance
weighing 0.02 gram (sic)
b. One (1) transparent plastic bag containing one (1) piece of aluminum foil with white crystalline substance
weighing 0.02 gram (sic)
c. One (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic bag containing white crystalline substance weighing 3.78 grams
d. One transparent plastic bag containing one (1) piece of improvised glass tooter with white crystalline
substance which were (sic) found positive to the test for methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) which is a
regulated drug, in violation of the above cited (sic) law.
CONTRARY TO LAW. (Original Records, p. 8)
11
The two (2) criminal cases were filed and jointly tried at the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Metro Manila, Branch CLVIII.

At the trial, the accused admitted her presence at the scene of the crime. She, however, denied selling "shabu" to Corpuz.
She explained that on said date and time, she was in the company of a certain Jorge Alombro, a Taguig policeman, inside
an owner-type jeep. Their jeep was parked beside a hamburger store in Caniogan, Pasig where they were waiting for the
hamburger they ordered. From out of nowhere, a passenger jeepney parked in front of their vehicle. A certain Sgt.
Dominador Cruz alighted therefrom and asked her to come with him. When she refused, Sgt. Cruz pulled her out of the
jeep by force. She resisted and began hitting him with her bag. Alombro pacified her and told her to stop screaming. She
complied and handed over her bag to Sgt. Cruz. De Lara, Corpuz and Greg searched her bag. The hamburger attendant
likewise searched her body. Both yielded nothing. She was, nevertheless, taken by force to the Pasig Police Station where
she was asked to strip naked. She was bodily searched by a female detention prisoner. Again, no illegal drugs were found
in her possession. 12

After trial, a decision was rendered by Judge Hernandez acquitting the accused in Criminal Case No. 1869-D-92 for
failure of the prosecution to present PO2 June Valencia who seized the marijuana from the accused during her body
search. However, the accused was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal Case No. 1870-D-92 for selling
"shabu" without authority. Accused was sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of thirty
thousand pesos (P30,000.00) and the cost of the suit. 13

Hence this appeal.

Accused-appellant contends that:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE PROSECUTION'S VERSION THAT THE ACCUSED
HAD BEEN APPREHENDED IN FLAGRANTE SELLING METHAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE IN THE
COURSE OF A NARCOTIC BUY-BUST OPERATION WHICH HAD BEEN REGULARLY CONDUCTED BY THE
MEMBERS OF THE DANGEROUS DRUGS ENFORCEMENT DIVISION, PASIG POLICE STATION.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF
VIOLATION OF SECTION 15, ARTICLE III OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425, AS AMENDED, AND IN SENTENCING
HER TO SUFFER THE PENALTY OF LIFE IMPRISONMENT AND TO PAY A FINE OF P30,000.00 AND THE
COSTS, UNMINDFUL OF THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE OF THE PROSECUTION WHICH FAILED TO
PROVE BEYOND THE CAVIL OF DOUBT THE IDENTITY OF THE METHAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE
ALLEGED TO BE THE OBJECT OF SALE AND OMITTED TO PROVE THAT THE ACCUSED HAD NO LEGAL
AUTHORITY OR LICENSE TO SELL THE ALLEGED REGULATED DRUG.

In support of the first assigned error, accused-appellant challenges the credibility of the testimony of prosecution witness
PO2 Adonis Corpuz who acted as the poseur-buyer. She charges that nowhere in the records was it shown that the
poseur-buyer introduced himself to her as a drug-user. Neither was it shown that the poseur-buyer had been her regular
customer. Under such circumstances, accused-appellant claims that it is highly improbable for her to instantaneously
produce and sell to PO2 Cruz a given quantity of "shabu."

Our rulings on this issue are clear and consistent. Trafficking of prohibited and regulated drugs has become so rampant
that it is not uncommon for drug pushers to sell their wares to total strangers. 14 Nor is it incredulous that the accused-
appellant readily produced the required quality and quantity of illegal drug at a moment's notice. A lot of drug pushers and
retailers possess a ready stock of "shabu" or marijuana, pre-packed in varying quantities, for a fast sale to a willing
buyer. 15

Accused-appellant likewise hoists the defense that the prosecution evidence showed that the poseur buyer instigated her
to commit the crime charged. She maintains that with the poseur-buyer's offer to buy, she was lured to sell regulated drug
despite her lack of intention to do so.

There is a well-cut distinction between "instigation" and "entrapment" in criminal law. We delineated this distinction
in People v. Ramos, Jr. (203 SCRA 237, 243) as follows:

In entrapment, the idea to commit the crime originates from the accused. Nobody induces or prods him
into committing the offense. This act is distinguished from inducement or instigation wherein the criminal
intent originates in the mind of the instigator and the accused is lured into the commission of the offense
charged in order to prosecute him. The instigator practically induces the would-be accused into the
commission of the offense and himself becomes a co-principal.

In a number of cases, we have recognized the conduct of buy-bust operations as an established means of entrapment for
the apprehension in flagrante delicto of persons engaged in illegal drug trades. 16 Hence, the argument of the accused-
appellant that she was merely instigated to sell "shabu" does not hold water. Moreover, the circumstances attending her
arrest clearly proved her intent to sell "shabu." For one, at the time of her arrest, she was carrying a ready supply of the
regulated drug. Moreover, she immediately made a sale when propositioned by PO2 Corpuz.

Accused-appellant also challenges the reliance of the trial court on the presumption that the police officers who
apprehended her regularly performed their duties. She cited alleged irregularities in the course of the conduct of the buy-
bust operation. She avers that the prosecution failed to establish that the alleged surveillance on her drug trafficking
activities and the money used in the buy-bust operation were annotated in the police blotter. She also maintains that there
was no showing that a report documenting her arrest and the cause thereof was ever made since the arrest report itself
was not presented in court. She urges that these omissions clearly showed that the arresting officers failed to discharge
their duties regularly. On this basis, accused-appellant now claims that she should be exculpated.

Examination of the evidence shows clearly that after a successful entrapment operation, accused-appellant was arrested
by the police authorities. At the trial, PO3 Benjamin Placido testified that the corresponding arrest report was made in
connection with accused-appellant's arrest. He, however, explained that he inadvertently forgot to bring the arrest report in
court. 17 Moreover, the prosecution's omission to establish that an entry in the police logbook or blotter has been made
regarding the marked money and the surveillance activities on the accused would not suffice to absolve accused-
appellant from liability. Viewed in the light of the entire evidence, the inculpatory fact remains that the accused-appellant
was caught in flagrante selling "shabu." Neither can the trial court be faulted for giving credence to the testimony of the
arresting officers. No evidence was adduced by the defense to show that the police authorities harbored any ill-motive
against the accused to charge her with so grave a crime.

Anent the second assigned error, accused-appellant charges that the identity of the "shabu" sold to the poseur-buyer was
not sufficiently established by the prosecution as the poseur-buyer himself failed to put identifying marks thereon.

We disagree. The records will bear that the poseur-buyer positively identified in court Exhibit "I" as the "shabu" sold to him
by the accused-appellant. 18 Although he did not place his initials on the "shabu" after he received it from the accused-
appellant, he was able to identify it for he personally turned over the "shabu" to their investigator Pat. Edilberto Sanchez,
who, in turn, placed the identifying mark in his presence. 19 Clearly, then, the identity of the corpus delicti has been duly
preserved and established by the prosecution.

Accused-appellant also underscores the fact that there was no showing by the prosecution that he had no license or
authority to sell "shabu" which is a regulated drug. Citing the case of People v. Pajenado, 20 accused-appellant maintains
that since the absence of a license or authority is an essential ingredient of the crime, proof of such negative allegation
should have been presented by the prosecution.

The general rule is that if a criminal charge is predicated on a negative allegation, or a negative averment is an essential
element of a crime, the prosecution has the burden to prove the charge. However, this rule admits of exceptions. Where
the negative of an issue does not permit of direct proof, or where the facts are more immediately within the knowledge of
the accused, the onus probandi rests upon him. Stated otherwise, it is not incumbent on the prosecution to adduce
positive evidence to support a negative averment the truth of which is fairly indicated by established circumstances and
which, if untrue, could readily be disproved by the production of documents or other evidence within the defendant's
knowledge or control. For example, where a charge is made that a defendant carried on a certain business without a
license (as in the case at bar, where the accused is charged with the sale of a regulated drug without authority), the fact
that he has a license is a matter which is peculiarly within his knowledge and he must establish that fact or suffer
conviction. 21 Even in the case of Pajenado, this Court categorically ruled that although the prosecution has the burden of
proving a negative averment which is an essential element of a crime, the prosecution, in view of the difficulty of proving a
negative allegation, "need only establish a prima faciecase from the best evidence obtainable." 22 In fact, Pajenado was
acquitted of the charge of illegal possession of firearm for the Court found that, in said case, the prosecution was not able
to establish even a prima facie case upon which to hold him guilty of the crime charged.

In the case at bar, the negative averment that the accused-appellant had no license or authority to sell "shabu," a
regulated drug, has been fairly indicated by the following circumstances, deduced from and established by the testimony
of the arresting officers, viz: the accused was caught selling "shabu" not in a hospital or pharmacy but near a hamburger
store, along a bridge at barangay Caniogan, Pasig, at an unholy hour of 10:00 o'clock in the evening. She delivered the
drug to the poseur-buyer PO2 Corpuz and accepted the buy-bust money. Proof of these circumstances thus shifted the
onus on the accused. She could have very easily disproved these damning circumstances by mere presentation of a copy
of her license or any other document evidencing her authority to sell a regulated drug. No such thing was done during the
trial. There is nothing now to exculpate the accused from liability.

Finally, it should be noted that, for her defense, accused-appellant relied solely on her uncorroborated testimony. She did
not present her alleged companion, Jorge Alombro, notwithstanding the presence of the latter at the trial, nor the
hamburger attendant who she claims was initially requested by the police to frisk her. On cross-examination, accused-
appellant admitted that she did not file any criminal charge against the police officers who allegedly manhandled
her. 23 Thus, on the face of the overwhelming evidence against the accused-appellant, we are constrained to affirm her
conviction.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED in toto. Costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. Nos. L-27680-81 February 27, 1970

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
OPENIANO PAJENADO @ PEMING, defendant-appellant.

In the Court of First Instance of Samar appellant Openiano Pajenado was charged with murder (Criminal Case No. 3492,
now G.R. No. L-27680) and with illegal possession of a firearm (Criminal Case No. 3558, now G.R. No. L-27681). Upon
arraignment he pleaded not guilty in both cases, and after a joint trial thereof he was convicted and sentenced as follows:

Wherefore, in view of the foregoing considerations, the Court finds the accused Openiano Pajenado alias Peming,
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and he is hereby condemned to suffer the penalty of Reclusion
Perpetua, to indemnify the heirs of Carlos Tapong in the amount of P6,000.00 and to pay the cost of suit.

The same accused Openiano Pajenado is likewise guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of firearm and
is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of not less than One (1) year nor more than Five (5) years and to pay the
cost of suit.

The facts established conclusively by the evidence are the following:

At about 12:00 o'clock noon on December 31, 1965 while prosecution witness Epifanio Cabe was walking along one of
the streets of barrio Dapdap, municipality of Las Navas, North Samar, and arrived in front of the house of one Pablo
Jazmines, he saw appellant holding the now deceased Carlos Tapong by the neck. As the two were apparently wrestling
with each other, Carlito Pajenado, appellant's cousin, intervened and the two Pajenados were able to throw Tapong to the
ground. Carlito Pajenado held Tapong by the shoulder and pinned him down to the ground, while appellant held him by
one leg. As they thus held Carlos Tapong helpless, appellant drew his gun and fired at him. Thereupon, Carlito Pajenado
stood up and ran away, while appellant remained at the scene of the crime with his drawn gun until a policeman, another
Pajenado (Ernesto), arrived and took the firearm from him. Carlos Tapong, mortally wounded, was thereafter carried home
by his father and other relatives.

Another prosecution witness, Pelagia Tapong, testified that at noon on the day in question, while she was at the window of
the house of her elder brother, Angel, along the street where the incident took place, she saw appellant standing on the
street; that when Carlos Tapong appeared, appellant immediately met him and held him by the neck; that thereafter Carlito
Pajenado intervened and with his help appellant was able to fell Carlos to the ground.

It is not denied that Carlos Tapong died as a result of the gun-shot wound inflicted upon him on that occasion. Testifying
on the nature thereof, Dr. Angel Tan, municipal health officer of Las Navas, said that he conducted a post
mortem examination of the cadaver on January 1, 1966 and found that the deceased sustained three gun-shot wounds
which, in his opinion, were caused by a single shot from a .45 caliber pistol. The wounds are described by him in his
autopsy report, Exhibits A, A-1 and A-2 as follows:

Gun shot wound with entrance at the postero-medial portion of the distal third of the thigh making an exit at its upper
promixmal third in the antero-lateral margin, making another entrance at the right hypogastric region, penetrating the
abdominal cavity. Perforating the intestines, penetrating the left dome of the diaphragm to enter the left thoracic cavity.

Dr. Tan also testified that considering the presence of powder burns in the body of the deceased, he must have been shot
at a distance of less than one meter, and that the cause of his death was shock due to external and internal hemorrhage.

The issues raised in the assignments of error made in appellant's brief call for the resolution of: firstly, the question of
whether appellant should be convicted only of homicide instead of murder, and whether, upon the evidence of record, he
should also be found guilty of the crime of illegal possession of a firearm.

The Solicitor General agrees with appellant's view that the latter should be convicted merely of homicide committed with
one aggravating circumstance not offset by any mitigating circumstance, because the qualifying circumstances of evident
premeditation and treachery alleged in the information have not been proved.

We disagree.

The testimony of prosecution witness Pelagia Tapong clearly shows that, for sometime before the incident, appellant had
been waiting for Carlos Tapong to appear, and that as soon as the latter showed up and arrived in front of the house of
Pablo Jazmines, appellant met him and held him by the neck; that thereafter his cousin Carlito helped him throw their
victim to the ground. This, We believe, is sufficient evidence of premeditation.
We agree, however, that treachery was not proved. On the other hand, the aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior
strength, admitted by appellant's counsel (p. 8, appellant's brief), must be considered in the imposition of the
corresponding penalty.

Upon the question of whether or not appellant should also be convicted of the crime of illegal possession of a firearm, We
agree with both appellant's counsel and the Solicitor General that the appealed decision should be reversed.

It is true that People vs. Lubo, 101 Phil. 179 and People vs. Ramos, 8 SCRA 758 could be invoked to support the view
that it is incumbent upon a person charged with illegal possession of a firearm, to prove the issuance to him of a license to
possess the firearm, but We are, of the considered opinion that under the provisions of Section 2, Rule 131 of the Rules of
Court which, provide that in criminal cases the burden of proof as to the offense charged lies on the prosecution and that a
negative fact alleged by the prosecution must be proven if "it is an essential ingredient of the offense charged", the burden
of proof was with the prosecution in this case to prove that the firearm used by appellant in committing the offense
charged was not properly licensed.

It cannot be denied that the lack or absence of a license is an essential ingredient of the offense of illegal possession of a
firearm. The information filed against appellant in Criminal Case No. 3558 of the lower court (now G.R. No. 27681)
specifically alleged that he had no "license or permit to possess" the .45 caliber pistol mentioned therein. Thus it seems
clear that it was the prosecution's duty not merely to allege that negative fact but to prove it. This view is supported by
similar adjudicated cases. In U.S. vs. Tria, 17 Phil. 303, the accused was charged with having criminally inscribed himself
as a voter knowing that he had none of the qualifications required to be a voter. It was there held that the negative fact of
lack of qualification to be a voter was an essential element of the crime charged and should be proved by the prosecution.
In another case (People vs. Quebral, 68 Phil. 564) where the accused was charged with illegal practice of medicine
because he had diagnosed, treated and prescribed for certain diseases suffered by certain patients from whom he
received monetary compensation, without having previously obtained the proper certificate of registration from the Board
of Medical Examiners, as provided in Section 770 of the Administrative Code, this Court held that if the subject of the
negative averment like, for instance, the act of voting without the qualifications provided by law is an essential ingredient
of the offense charged, the prosecution has the burden of proving the same, although in view of the difficulty of proving a
negative allegation, the prosecution, under such circumstance, need only establish a prima facie case from the best
evidence obtainable. In the case before Us, both appellant and the Solicitor General agree that there was not even
a prima facie case upon which to hold appellant guilty of the illegal possession of a firearm. Former Chief Justice Moran
upholds this view as follows:

The mere fact that the adverse party has the control of the better means of proof of the fact alleged, should not relieve
the party making the averment of the burden of proving it. This is so, because a party who alleges a fact must be
assumed to have acquired some knowledge thereof, otherwise he could not have alleged it. Familiar instance of this is
the case of a person prosecuted for doing an act or carrying on a business, such as, the sale of liquor without a
license. How could the prosecution aver the want of a license if it had acquired no knowledge of that fact? Accordingly,
although proof of the existence or non-existence of such license can, with more facility, be adduced by the defendant, it
is, nevertheless, incumbent upon the party alleging the want of the license to prove the allegation. Naturally, as the
subject matter of the averment is one which lies peculiarly within the control or knowledge of the accused prima
facie evidence thereof on the part of the prosecution shall suffice to cast the onus upon him. (6 Moran, Comments on
the Rules of Court, 1963 edition, p. 8.)

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

(1) Appellant is found guilty of murder, with the aggravating circumstance of use of superior strength, without any
mitigating circumstance to offset the same, but for lack of the required number of votes to impose the corresponding
penalty in its maximum degree, We only affirm the penalty of reclusion perpetua imposed upon him by the trial court.
However, the indemnity appellant must pay the heirs of Carlos Tapong is increased to P12,000.00.

(2) The appealed decision is reversed and set aside in so far as it finds appellant guilty of illegal possession of a firearm,
with the result that he is hereby acquitted of said charge.

MODIFIED AS ABOVE INDICATED, the appealed decision is affirmed in all other respects, with costs.

G.R. No. 105813 September 12, 1994

CONCEPCION M. CATUIRA, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Is the testimony of a witness inadmissible in evidence if not formally offered at the time the witness is called to testify, as
required in Sec. 35, in relation to Sec. 34, Rule 132, of the Revised Rules on Evidence? 1
On 8 June 1990, two (2) Informations for estafa were filed against petitioner Concepcion M. Catuira with the Regional Trial
Court of Calamba, Laguna, for having issued two (2) checks in payment of her obligation to private complainant Maxima
Ocampo when petitioner had no sufficient funds to cover the same, which checks upon presentment for payment were
dishonored by the drawee bank. 2

After the prosecution had presented its evidence, petitioner Concepcion M. Catuira filed a Motion to Dismiss (by way of
Demurrer to Evidence) under Sec. 15, Rule 119, of the 1985 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. 3 Petitioner contended
that the testimony of private respondent Ocampo was inadmissible in evidence since it was not properly introduced when
she was called to testify as mandated in Sec. 35, Rule 132, of the Revised Rules on Evidence. Petitioner also argued that
even if the testimony of private respondent was considered, the evidence of the prosecution still failed to prove that the
checks were issued in payment of an obligation.

On 26 July 1991, the trial court denied the motion to dismiss for lack of merit. On 18 October 1991, it likewise denied the
motion to reconsider its denial of the motion to dismiss.

On 4 November 1991 petitioner elevated her case to the Court of Appeals through a petition for certiorari, prohibition
and mandamus. In a similar move, the appellate court rejected her petition and sustained the trial court in its denial of the
motion to dismiss. Hence, this recourse seeking to annul the decision of the Court of Appeals rendered on 27 February
1992 as well as its resolution of 1 June 1992. 4

Petitioner claims that the Court of Appeals erred when it accepted the testimony of private respondent despite the
undisputed fact that it was not offered at the time she was called to testify; her testimony should have been stricken off the
record pursuant to Sec. 34, Rule 132, which prohibits the court from considering evidence which has not been formally
offered; and, it was error for respondent appellate court to declare that petitioner's objection was not done at the proper
time since under Sec. 36, Rule 132, 5 objection to evidence offered orally must be made immediately after the offer is
made. Evidently, petitioner could not have waived her right to object to the admissibility of the testimony of private
respondent since the rule requires that it must be done only at the time such testimony is presented and the records
plainly show that the opportunity for petitioner to object only came when the prosecution attempted, albeit belatedly, to
offer the testimony after it has rested its case. 6

The petition is devoid of merit. The reason for requiring that evidence be formally introduced is to enable the court to rule
intelligently upon the objection to the questions which have been asked. 7 As a general rule, the proponent must show its
relevancy, materiality and competency. Where the proponent offers evidence deemed by counsel of the adverse party to
be inadmissible for any reason, the latter has the right to object. But such right is a mere privilege which can be waived.
Necessarily, the objection must be made at the earliest opportunity, lest silence when there is opportunity to speak may
operate as a waiver of objections. 8

Thus, while it is true that the prosecution failed to offer the questioned testimony when private respondent was called to
the witness stand, petitioner waived this procedural error by failing to object at the appropriate time, i.e., when the ground
for objection became reasonably apparent the moment private respondent was called to testify without any prior offer
having been made by the proponent. Most apt is the observation of the appellate court:

While it is true that the prosecution failed to offer in evidence the testimony of the complaining witness upon calling
her to testify and that it was only after her testimony and after the petitioner moved that it be stricken that the offer
was made, the respondent Court did not gravely err in not dismissing the case against the petitioner on the ground
invoked. For, she should have objected to the testimony of the complaining witness when it was not first offered upon
calling her and should not have waited in ambush after she had already finished testifying. By so doing she did not
save the time of the Court in hearing the testimony of the witness that after all according to her was inadmissible.
And for her failure to make known her objection at the proper time, the procedural error or defect was
waived. 9

Indeed, the rationale behind Sec. 34, Rule 132, is manifest in the minutes of the Revision of Rules Committee. 10Thus —

The new rule would require the testimony of a witness to offer it at the time the witness is called to testify. This is the
best time to offer the testimony so that the court's time will not be wasted. Since it can right away rule on whether the
testimony is not necessary because it is irrelevant or immaterial.

If petitioner was genuinely concerned with the ends of justice being served, her actuations should have been otherwise.
Instead, she attempted to capitalize on a mere technicality to have the estafa case against her dismissed. 11 But even
assuming that petitioner's objection was timely, it was at best pointless and superfluous. For there is no debating the fact
that the testimony of complaining witness is relevant and material in the criminal prosecution of petitioner for estafa. It is
inconceivable that a situation could exist wherein an offended party's testimony is immaterial in a criminal proceeding.
Consequently, even if the offer was belatedly made by the prosecution, there is no reason for the testimony to be
expunged from the record. On the contrary, the unoffered oral evidence must be admitted if only to satisfy the court's
sense of justice and fairness and to stress that substantial justice may not be denied merely on the ground of
technicality. 12

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals sustaining the order of the Regional Trial Court of Calamba, Laguna,
Br. 35, denying petitioner's motion to dismiss (by way of demurrer to evidence) is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 157221

- versus - CESAR GALVEZ, Promulgated:

Appellant. March 30, 2007

For review before this Court is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 18255 dated
March 30, 2001, which affirmed the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Isabela, Basilan finding the
accused-appellant Cesar Galvez (Galvez), guilty of Murder, but modifying the penalty of the RTC from a
sentence of seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day as minimum to twenty (20) years as
maximum to reclusion perpetua.
The facts are as follows:
At around 11 oclock in the evening of July 27, 1991, Danilo Perez, Rosalio Enojarda, Noel Cugal, Ricardo
Francisco and Wilfredo Rellios, took a break from making copra to eat leftover dinner inside the copra kiln in
the farm of Perez in Matarling, Lantawan, Basilan. When Enojarda stood up from the circle where they were
eating to drink water, shots rang out and Enojarda fell to the ground shouting Dan ya tupa comigo (Dan, I am
hit). The rest of the group took cover, crawling to different directions. After the attack, Rellios reported the
incident to the barangay captain and they brought Enojardas dead body to his family.[3]
On May 28, 1992, an Information was filed against Cesar Galvez (Galvez), a member of the Philippine National
Police (PNP) for Murder, which reads:
That on or about the 27th day of July, 1991, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, viz. at Matarling,
Municipality of Lantawan, Province of Basilan, Philippines, the above named accused, armed with an M16
armalite rifle, with treachery and evident premeditation, and with intent to kill, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack and shoot one Rosalio Enojarda with the said M16 armalite rifle,
thereby inflicting gunshot wound on the body of the latter which caused his death.[4]

The prosecution presented evidence showing that: after Enojarda fell, the rest of the group took cover and
Rellios while in a crawling position, saw Galvez about 5 meters away holding an armalite rifle and firing at their
direction; Rellios also saw that Galvez had companions but did not recognize them as well as the firearms they
carried because they were approximately nine meters away;[5] Perez, also crawled and hid in the bushes about
5 meters away; when the firing stopped, one of the attackers passed by about two meters from where Perez
was hiding and because the moon was bright, he recognized Galvez, his cousin, who was wearing a fatigue
uniform and armed with an armalite rifle; he also saw that Galvez had three armed companions but did not
recognize them nor the firearms they were carrying because they were about nine meters from Galvez.[6]
Galvez put up denial and alibi as his defenses. He testified that he was staying at his father-in-laws house on
July 27, 1991 and drank tuba at around 10:30 p.m. at a nearby store. He went home and slept with his wife
soon after.[7] To corroborate his testimony, he presented SPO2 Danilo Ramillano, a visitor at his father-in-laws
house and Wilhelmina Espinosa, a sari-sari store owner. [8] He also presented Athena Elisa Anderson,
Document Examiner and Forensic Analyst of the PNP Crime Laboratory of Region 9, Zamboanga City, who
testified that the paraffin test conducted on both his hands showed that there was no nitrate present;[9] and
Police Inspector Lemuel Caser, Ballistic Examiner, who testified that the shells found at the scene of the crime
were not fired from the firearm issued to Galvez.[10]
After trial, the RTC rendered its Decision dated February 27, 1995 with the following findings:

From the foregoing facts as well as from the records of this case, this Court finds the following facts to be
undisputable, to wit:

1) That at the late night of July 27, 1991, Rosalio Enojarda, while making copra in the coconut land of
Danilo Perez at Matarling, Lantawan, Basilan, was shot to death by one of the four (4) men. How many
gunshot wounds he suffered and what part of his body was hit by the gunfire, the evidence is found wanting.

2) That a day before the incident and on the date of the incident which was July 27, 1991, the accused
Cesar Galvez has not fired any firearms.
xxx

3) That the five (5) empty shells of armalite rifleallegedly found by Barangay Captain Inocente Manicap from
the scene of the crime and later turned over to PFC Samuel Omoso, the Police Investigator of this case, did
not come from the M16 armalite rifle with Serial No. 117460, the gun issued to the accused Cesar Galvez.
(citations omitted).[11]
Further, the trial court found that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, Rellios and Perez, were credible
and trustworthy as there was no motive to perjure themselves; that the testimony of defense witness SPO2
Ramillano was full of loopholes; and that the testimony of the store owner was insufficient to disprove the
presence of the accused at the scene of the crime.[12]

The RTC concluded:

xxx since this accused, Cesar Galvez, has not fired his M16 armalite rifle on that night of July 27, 1991, and
those five (5) empty shells were not fired from his armalite, then xxx the bullet that hit and instantly killed
Rosalio Enojarda on that night of July 27, 1991 at the copra kiln of Danilo Perez came from the gun
fired by any of the three (3) unidentified persons who were the companions of the accused, Cesar
Galvez at the night of the incident xxx.[13] (emphasis supplied)

Despite the fact that the Information failed to allege conspiracy and the aggravating circumstances of
nocturnity and armed band, the RTC still convicted Galvez of murder based on conspiracy since Galvez was
seen by two witnesses at the scene of the crime carrying a firearm together with his unidentified armed
companions.[14]The trial court also held that the offer of Galvez to have the case settled out of court is an
indication of his guilt.[15]

The RTC then disposed of the case as follows:

WHEREFORE, all factual and circumstantial matters surrounding the commission of the crime, being carefully
and meticulously examined and studied, this Court finds the accused SPO2 Cesar Galvez, a member of the
Philippine National Police GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal in committing the crime of Murder as
alleged in the Information and which crime is defined and penalized under Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code,
but considering his good military records after the commission of the crime, hereby sentences him to suffer an
imprisonment of SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY as minimum, to TWENTY
(20) YEARS as maximum, which is the minimum period of Reclusion Temporal in its maximum period to
death. And to indemnify the heirs of the late Rosalio Enojarda, the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages
and to pay the Court the amount of P500.00 as judicial costs and other accessory penalties attached to the
penalty of Reclusion Temporal.

And further this accused is hereby stripped of all the military ranks he now hold [sic] in the Armed Forces of the
Philippines.

And upon the promulgation of this decision, the accused shall immediately be committed to the Provincial Jail
where the Provincial Warden is directed to immediately transfer him to the National Penitentiary at San Ramon
Penal Colony at Zamboanga City for commitment thereat.

And the property bail bond he has posted for his provisional liberty is hereby ordered cancelled and its
pertinent papers returned, upon receipt to the bondsman.[16]

Galvez appealed the case to the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 18255, which rendered its Decision on
March 30, 2001 affirming his guilt but modifying the penalty to be imposed, thus:

WHEREFORE, with the MODIFICATION that appellant CESAR GALVEZ is hereby sentenced to reclusion
perpetua, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED in all other respects.[17]

The CA held that the RTC erred in holding Galvez criminally liable based on conspiracy when such fact was
not alleged in the Information. However, it still found Galvez guilty of Murder.[18] The CA reasoned that: the
negative results of the paraffin and ballistic tests do not negate the possibility that Galvez used another gun in
shooting the victim; the eyewitnesses of the prosecution identified Galvez as the perpetrator if not one of the
perpetrators of the crime; alibi, which was offered by Galvez, is the weakest of all defenses and cannot prevail
over positive identification; the offer of Galvez to the wife of the victim to have the case settled is also a strong
indication of Galvezs culpability; and treachery was adequately established as the attack was sudden,
unexpected and did not accord the victim an opportunity to defend himself.[19] The CA further held that since
there was no mitigating circumstance, the proper penalty should be reclusion perpetua.[20]

Galvez filed a Motion for Reconsideration[21] which the CA denied in its Resolution dated August 21, 2001,
stating that it was a mere rehash of the arguments already addressed in the decision.[22]

The entire records of the case were forwarded to this Court pursuant to Section 13, Rule 124 of the Rules of
Criminal Procedure. On April 8, 2003, the Court issued a Resolution[23] accepting the case; committing the
accused to the Davao Prison and Penal Farm; and informing the accused and the Solicitor General that they
may file additional briefs with this Court.[24]

In his Appellants Brief, Galvez argued that the trial court erred:
I

IN HOLDING THAT (HE) THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT IS LIABLE FOR MURDER FOR THE DEATH OF
ROSALIO ENOJARDA ON JULY 27, 1991 DESPITE ITS EXPRESS FINDINGS THAT THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANT DID NOT FIRE HIS RIFLE ON THAT FATAL NIGHT AND THAT THE BULLET THAT HIT AND
KILLED ROSALIO ENOJARDA COULD HAVE BEEN FIRED FROM ANY OF THE GUNS OR RIFLES
BELONGING TO ANY OF THE THREE UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS WHO WERE NOT CHARGED NOR
INDICTED TOGETHER WITH THE ACCUSED IN THE SAME CRIMINAL INFORMATION IN QUESTION.

II

IN HOLDING THAT DANILO PEREZ AND WILFREDO RELLIOS, WHILE IN CRAWLING POSITION WHOSE
CHESTS WERE ALMOST TOUCHING THE GROUND AND UNDER CONDITIONS DESCRIBED BY THEM,
HAD SEEN THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT ARMED WITH M16 ARMALITE RIFLE IN THE NIGHTIME, OF 27
JULY 1991 DESPITE DANILO PEREZ [sic] POSITIVE ASSERTION THAT IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE OF HIS
(SIC) TO IDENTIFY THE ACCUSED WHEN ASKED TO DEMONSTRATE IN OPEN COURT IN THE MANNER
AND CIRCUMSTANCE NARRATED BY HIM.[25]

In his Supplemental Appellants Brief, Galvez further claims that it was seriously erroneous:
I.
TO CONCLUDE THAT THERE WAS CONSPIRACY BETWEEN ACCUSED-APPELLANT AND THE OTHER
MALEFACTORS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRESENT CASE.

II.

TO BE SELECTIVE IN APPRECIATING MATTERS NOT INCLUDED IN THE INFORMATION, MORE SO THE


THEORY OF CONSPIRACY AGAINST ACCUSED-APPELLANT, THERE BEING NO OTHER PERSONS
CHARGED IN THE PRESENT CASE.

III.

TO FIND THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF MURDER UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES FAR DIFFERENT


FROM THE INFORMATION, IN EFFECT DENYING ACCUSED-APPELLANT [THE] RIGHT TO BE
INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND CAUSE OF ACCUSATION AGAINST HIM.

IV.

TO GIVE CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF THE TWO ALLEGED EYE WITNESSES WHOSE
DECLARATIONS WERE CLEARLY BELIED DURING THEIR CROSS EXAMINATION.

V.

NOT TO CONSIDER THE DEFENSE OF ALIBI OF ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

VI.

TO MAKE UNSUBSTANTIATED, BASELESS PRESUMPTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS IN A CRIMINAL CASE


WHERE THE INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED IS PRESUMED. [26]

Galvez also filed an Addendum to Supplemental Appellants Brief adding that:


VII
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE RESULTS OF THE
PARAFFIN AND BALLISTIC TESTS AND IN ASSUMING THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT SHOT THE
DECEASED USING AN M16 RIFLE OTHER THAN THE ONE ISSUED TO HIM.[27]

Galvez contends that: the degree of proof required in criminal cases is proof beyond reasonable doubt
because an accused is always presumed to be innocent unless proven otherwise;[28] when circumstances yield
two or more inferences, one of which is consistent with the presumption of innocence and the other compatible
with the finding of guilt, the court must side with that which will acquit the accused; in this case, the RTC found
undisputed the fact that he did not shoot the victim on the night of July 27, 1991 and the firearm that was used
in killing the victim was owned and possessed by another man, as shown by the negative results of the paraffin
and ballistic tests; the statement of Danilo Perez that he saw the accused on the night of July 27, 1991 is not
credible since Perez was in a crawling position with his chest almost touching the ground at the time he
allegedly saw the accused; Judge Memoracion, who penned the decision could not have assessed the
demeanor of the prosecution witnesses while testifying as it was another judge who heard and received their
testimonies;[29] the two defense witnesses, who corroborated his (Galvezs) alibi are unbiased and unrelated to
him; while alibi is the weakest defense, it is the only defense if it is the truth and it assumes importance where
the prosecution evidence is weak; the statement of the trial court that the offer of the accused to have the case
extra-judicially settled is a tacit admission of guilt is also unsubstantiated as there is nothing in the records that
shows that the accused made an offer to settle the case out of court.[30]

For the plaintiff-appellee, the Solicitor General argued that: the paraffin test and the ballistic examination are
not conclusive proof that Galvez did not fire a gun during the incident; in this case, the paraffin test was
conducted on Galvez two days from the date of the incident; Galvez was also positively identified by the
prosecution witnesses as one of four armed men who attacked them during the incident; Perez clarified that
while he was in a crawling position, he was looking upward, thus, he was able to identify Galvez; between
Galvezs alibi and the positive declarations of witnesses whose testimonies have not been assailed nor
discredited by improper motive, the latter deserves greater credence; the trial court correctly convicted Galvez
of murder as there was treachery since the victim was not in a position to defend himself from the attack of the
accused; the proper penalty should be reclusion perpetua under Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code as there
was no mitigating circumstance;[31] Galvez is also liable for temperate damages of P25,000.00 since pecuniary
loss has been suffered although its exact amount could not be determined, and exemplary damages
of P25,000.00 due to the presence of the qualifying circumstance of treachery; the amount of P50,000.00 as
civil indemnity should also be awarded to the heirs of the victim together with the P50,000.00 awarded by the
trial court for moral damages.[32]

After reviewing the entire records of the case, the Court resolves to acquit Galvez.

Conspiracy must be alleged in the information in order that an accused may be held liable for the acts of his
co-accused. In the absence of any averment of conspiracy in the information, an accused can only be made
liable for the acts committed by him alone and such criminal responsibility is individual and not collective. [33]

As explained in People v. Tampis,[34]

The rule is that conspiracy must be alleged, not merely inferred, in the information.Absence of a particular
statement in the accusatory portion of the charge sheet concerning any definitive act constituting conspiracy
renders the indictment insufficient to hold one accused liable for the individual acts of his co-accused.Thus,
each of them would be held accountable only for their respective participation in the commission of the offense.
[35]

The rationale for this rule has long been settled. In People v. Quitlong, the Court explained:

Overwhelming, such as it may have been thought of by the trial court, evidence of conspiracy is not enough for
an accused to bear and respond to all its grave legal consequences; it is equally essential that such accused
has been apprised when the charge is made conformably with prevailing substantive and procedural
requirements. Article III, Section 14, of the 1987 Constitution, in particular, mandates that no person shall be
held answerable for a criminal offense without due process of law and that in all criminal prosecutions the
accused shall first be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. The right to be informed
of any such indictment is likewise explicit in procedural rules. x x x

xxx

x x x Quite unlike the omission of an ordinary recital of fact which, if not excepted from or objected to during
trial, may be corrected or supplied by competent proof, an allegation, however, of conspiracy, or one that would
impute criminal liability to an accused for the act of another or others, is indispensable in order to hold such
person, regardless of the nature and extent of his own participation, equally guilty with the other or others in
the commission of the crime. Where conspiracy exists and can rightly be appreciated, the individual acts done
to perpetrate the felony becomes of secondary importance, the act of one being imputable to all the
others.Verily, an accused must know from the information whether he faces a criminal responsibility not only for
his acts but also for the acts of his co-accused as well.[36]

Since conspiracy was not alleged in the Information in this case, it is imperative that the prosecution prove
Galvezs direct participation in the killing of the victim. This, the prosecution failed to do.

The CA, in holding Galvez guilty of Murder, gave weight to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses Rellios
and Perez that they saw Galvez fire an armalite rifle in their direction on the night in question. The positive
identification of these witnesses, the CA ruled, has more weight than the negative results of the paraffin and
ballistic tests.[37]

We disagree.

The prosecution witnesses never actually saw Galvez shoot the victim. While this Court does not ordinarily
interfere with the findings of the lower courts on the trustworthiness of witnesses, when there appears on the
records, however, facts and circumstances of real weight which might have been overlooked or
misapprehended, this Court cannot shirk from its duty to render the law and apply justice.[38]
During his direct examination, Perez testified as follows:

Q: While you were eating your merienda at about 11:00 oclock in the evening on July 27, 1991 what
happened?
A: Suddenly we heard shots and we could not determine where it came from and one of our
companion was hit.
Q: Do you know who was that companion of yours who was hit?
A: Yes, Rosalio Enojarda.
xxx
Q: After you heard the gun fire which hit your companion Rosalio Enojarda, what did you do?
A: I dropped and crawled, sir.
xxx
Q: And then did the gunfire stop after you hid yourself among the grasses?
A: Yes sir.
Q: What happened after the firings stopped, when you were already hiding among the grasses?
A: I recognized the culprit sir because he passed by where I was hiding about two meters from me.
Q: You said you recognized the culprit when he passed by where you were hiding, who was that culprit?
A: Cesar Galvez, sir.
xxx
COURT:
After you heard the shots how long after you saw him passed by?
xxx
Q: Was it 30 minutes after?
xxx
A: In my own estimate about 20 to 25 minutes.
Q: In other words more or less you saw him (accused) passed by together with his companions around 20 to
25 minutes after you heard the shots, is that what you want to impress this Court?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
xxx
Q: Did you see him really shoot?
A: No, Your Honor.[39] (Emphasis supplied)
During his cross-examination, Perez further testified:

Q: So, when you said the explosions came from different directions, was not true?
A: We heard shots but we do not know where it came from, what we did was to drop and crawl.
COURT: (To the witness)
You did not see the one firing?
Yes, your Honor, because I crawled.
Q: And how many minutes after you heard firings you saw this accused and companions pass by?
A: I am not sure Your Honor about the exact time but I think it has about 20 to 25 minutes.[40]
xxx
Q: Mr. Perez, you did not see the accused shot at Mr. Enojarda?
A: No sir.[41] (Emphasis supplied).

Rellios also admitted during his cross-examination the following:

Q: You did not actually see Mr. Galvez shoot at Mr. Enojarda?
A: No sir.
COURT: (To the witness)
In other words you were only presuming that it was him.
A: No, Your Honor, I saw him.
ATTY. MARTIN: (Continuing)
Did you understand the question when you were asked by the Court.Since you did not actually see Mr.
Galvez shoot at the victim, and reportedly you saw him only five minutes thereafter, you only presume
Mr. Galvez to have shoot Mr. Enojarda?
A: Yes sir.[42] (Emphasis supplied)

Based on the above testimonies, the following circumstances appear to have been established: (1) at around
11 p.m., Enojarda, Rellios, Perez, and their two companions were eating merienda near the copra kiln when
they were sprayed with gunfire; (2) Enojarda was fatally hit and fell on the ground; (3) Rellios, Perez and their
two companions ducked and crawled to seek cover; (4) about five minutes after the first burst of gunfire,
Galvez, armed with an M16 armalite rifle, was seen firing at Rellios, Perez and their two companions as well as
in the direction of the copra kiln; and (5) about 20 to 25 minutes after the first burst of gunfire, Galvez was
again seen clad in fatigue uniform and carrying an M16 armalite rifle along with three armed companions, after
which, their group left the scene of the crime.
However, these circumstances are not sufficient to establish the guilt of Galvez beyond reasonable doubt.

It is well to emphasize the four basic guidelines that must be observed in assaying the probative value of
circumstantial evidence:

x x x (a) It should be acted upon with caution; (b) All the essential facts must be consistent with the hypothesis
of guilt; (c) The facts must exclude every other theory but that of guilt of the accused; and, (d) The facts must
establish with certainty the guilt of the accused as to convince beyond reasonable doubt that he was the
perpetrator of the offense. The peculiarity of circumstantial evidence is that the series of events pointing to the
commission of a felony is appreciated not singly but collectively. The guilt of the accused cannot be deduced
from scrutinizing just one (1) particular piece of evidence. It is more like a puzzle which when put together
reveals a convincing picture pointing to the conclusion that the accused is the author of the crime.[43]

as well as the doctrines enunciated by the Court that the prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt
every circumstance essential to the guilt of the accused;[44] and that every circumstance or doubt favoring the
innocence of the accused must be duly taken into account.[45]

The incriminating circumstances enumerated above are mainly based on the testimonies of prosecution
witnesses Perez and Rellios. A perusal of said testimonies reveals, however, other circumstances that should
be appreciated in favor of Galvez, to wit:

(a) Both Perez and Rellios testified that they saw Galvez with three other armed companions minutes after
Enojarda was shot but they did not testify that they saw him in the vicinity before the shooting of Enojarda.[46]

(b) Perez testified that only one shot hit Enojarda.[47]


(c) Perez testified that he did not see Galvez shoot at Enojarda and that he merely assumed that Galvez was
the one who shot the victim when the latter passed by him.[48] Rellios testified that he only presumed that
Galvez shot at Enojarda.[49]

(d) Perez testified that he had no misunderstanding with Galvez[50] and that he does not know any motive why
Enojarda was killed.[51]

In considering both favorable and incriminating circumstances for or against Galvez, the following must always
be borne in mind: that the Information charged Galvez as the sole perpetrator of the crime of Murder; that the
three other armed men were not included as John Does; and that there was no allegation of conspiracy in the
Information.

Consequently, it was incumbent upon the prosecution to prove that Galvez was the sole author of the shot that
killed Enojarda. The incriminating circumstances do not point to Galvez as the sole perpetrator of the
crime. The presence of the three armed men raises the probability that any one of those men inflicted the fatal
shot. It must be stressed that the prosecution witnesses merely presumed that it was Galvez who shot
Enojarda.

Moreover, the fact that Galvez was seen minutes after Enojarda was shot does not sufficiently establish that
Galvez was the one who shot Enojarda. There is no evidence that Galvez was seen or was together with the
three other armed men when Enojarda was hit. There is a missing link that precludes the Court from
concluding that it was Galvez who shot Enojarda.[52] It cannot be said therefore that there was positive
identification of Galvez through circumstantial evidence.

In People v. Comendador,[53] the Court held:

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 one fair and reasonable conclusion which points to the accused, to the
exclusion of all others as the guilty person.[54] (Emphasis supplied)

And in Dela Cruz v. People,[55] the Court stressed, thus:

To emphasize, the foundation of the ruling of acquittal is reasonable doubt, which simply means that the
prosecutions evidence was not sufficient to sustain the guilt of the accused-petitioner beyond the point of moral
certainty certainty that convinces and satisfies the reason and the conscience of those who are to act upon it. It
is such proof to the satisfaction of the court, keeping in mind the presumption of innocence, as precludes every
reasonable hypothesis except that which it is given to support it. An acquittal based on reasonable doubt
will prosper even though the accuseds innocence may be doubted, for a criminal conviction rests on
the strength of the evidence of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense. And, if the
inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is
consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence
does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction, and, thus, that
which is favorable to the accused should be considered.[56] (Emphasis supplied).

And when the evidence on the commission of the crime is purely circumstantial or inconclusive, motive is vital.
As held in Crisostomo v. Sandiganbayan,[57]
Motive is generally held to be immaterial because it is not an element of the crime.However, motive becomes
important when the evidence on the commission of the crime is purely circumstantial or inconclusive. Motive is
thus vital in this case.[58]

In this case, prosecution witness Perez testified that he did not know of any motive on the part of Galvez to kill
Enojarda.[59] This is a circumstance that should be taken in favor of Galvez.

In line with the ruling of the Court in Torralba v. People,[60] to wit:

Time and again, this Court has faithfully observed and given effect to the constitutional presumption of
innocence which can only be overcome by contrary proof beyond reasonable doubt one which requires moral
certainty, a certainty that convinces and satisfies the reason and conscience of those who are to act upon it.As
we have so stated in the past

Accusation is not, according to the fundamental law, synonymous with guilt, the prosecution must overthrow
the presumption of innocence with proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. To meet this standard, there is need
for the most careful scrutiny of the testimony of the State, both oral and documentary, independently of
whatever defense is offered by the accused. Only if the judge below and the appellate tribunal could
arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on trial under such
an exacting test should the sentence be one of conviction. It is thus required that every circumstance
favoring innocence be duly taken into account. The proof against him must survive the test of
reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment.[61] (Emphasis supplied)

There could not be any doubt that the facts, as established by the circumstantial evidence, failed to exclude the
possibility that another person shot Enojarda. There were three other armed men, any one of whom could be
the culprit.

When a crime is committed, it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the identity of the perpetrator of the crime
beyond reasonable doubt for there can be no conviction even if the commission of the crime is established.
[62]
Indeed, the State, aside from showing the existence of a crime, has the burden of correctly identifying the
author of such crime.[63] Both facts must be proved by the State beyond reasonable doubt on the strength of its
evidence and without solace from the weakness of the defense.[64]

Galvez correctly pointed out in his supplemental brief before this Court that it was erroneous for the CA to have
affirmed the RTC ruling that Galvezs offer to the victims wife to settle the case is a tacit admission of guilt.[65]

While the Court agrees that in criminal cases, an offer of compromise by the accused may be received in
evidence as an implied admission of guilt,[66] such principle is not applicable in this case.

The only basis of the RTC in concluding that Galvez made on offer of compromise,[67] is the March 3, 1993
Order of the RTC which reads as follows:

Considering that the accused as well as his Counsel, Atty. Bienvenido G. Martin appeared in Court together
with Rosaflor Enojarda, the wife of the victim, and manifested that there is a possibility of understanding and
settlement between the parties, the above-entitled case is hereby reset for new assignment.[68]

Galvezs supposed offer of compromise was not formally offered and admitted as evidence during the trial. The
victims widow or any prosecution witness did not testify on any offer of compromise made by Galvez. We have
held that when the evidence on the alleged offer of compromise is amorphous, the same shall not benefit the
prosecution in its case against the accused.[69]
The Court also recognizes that there may be instances when an offer of compromise will not amount to an
admission of guilt. Thus, in People v. Godoy,[70] the Court pronounced that:

In criminal cases, an offer of compromise is generally admissible as evidence against the party making it. It is a
legal maxim, which assuredly constitutes one of the bases of the right to penalize, that in the matter of public
crimes which directly affect the public interest, no compromise whatever may be entered into as regards the
penal action. It has long been held, however, that in such cases the accused is permitted to show that
the offer was not made under a consciousness of guilt, but merely to avoid the inconvenience of
imprisonment or for some other reason which would justify a claim by the accused that the offer to
compromise was not in truth an admission of guilt or an attempt to avoid the legal consequences
which would ordinarily ensue therefrom.[71] (Emphasis supplied).

As the alleged offer of compromise was not presented in court, it was not shown that Galvez indeed made
such an offer under the consciousness of guilt.Galvez was not given the opportunity to explain that it was given
for some other reason that would justify a claim that it was not an admission of guilt or an attempt to avoid its
legal consequences.

In this case, the presumption of innocence of Galvez prevails over the alleged implied admission of
guilt. In Godoy, the Court, in acquitting the accused, explained that:
It frequently happens that in a particular case two or more presumptions are involved. Sometimes the
presumptions conflict, one tending to demonstrate the guilt of the accused and the other his innocence. In such
case, it is necessary to examine the basis for each presumption and determine what logical or social basis
exists for each presumption, and then determine which should be regarded as the more important and entitled
to prevail over the other. It must, however, be remembered that the existence of a presumption indicating his
guilt does not in itself destroy the presumption against innocence unless the inculpating presumption, together
with all the evidence, or the lack of any evidence or explanation, is sufficient to overcome the presumption of
innocence by proving the defendants guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Until the defendants guilt is shown in
this manner, the presumption of innocence continues.[72]
xxx
The presumption of innocence, x x x is founded upon the first principles of justice, and is not a mere form but a
substantial part of the law. It is not overcome by mere suspicion or conjecture; a probability that the defendant
committed the crime; nor by the fact that he had the opportunity to do so. Its purpose is to balance the scales
in what would otherwise be an uneven contest between the lone individual pitted against the People and all the
resources at their command. Its inexorable mandate is that, for all the authority and influence of the
prosecution, the accused must be acquitted and set free if his guilt cannot be proved beyond the whisper of a
doubt.This is in consonance with the rule that conflicts in evidence must be resolved upon the theory of
innocence rather than upon a theory of guilt when it is possible to do so.[73]

Thus, taking into account all the circumstances in favor of Galvez, there could not be a moral certainty as to
the guilt of Galvez. The prosecution has not proven the guilt of Galvez beyond reasonable doubt.

It may be pointed out that the following circumstances support the conviction of Galvez as charged:

(a) the negative findings of the paraffin and ballistic tests do not prove that Galvez did not fire a gun;
(b) Galvez was a police officer who could have justified his presence at the scene of the crime with a lawful
purpose, yet he put up alibi which is inherently weak;

(c) Galvez did not present his wife and father-in-law as witnesses to corroborate his story that he was at their
house on the night in question; and

(d) Galvez refused three times to give a statement to the investigating police officer.

These circumstances do not help the prosecution in the discharge of its duty to prove the guilt of Galvez
beyond reasonable doubt.

It is true that a negative finding in a paraffin test is not a conclusive proof that one has not fired a gun, as held
by this Court in People v. Pagal[74] and People v. Teehankee[75] which were cited by the CA in its Decision, since
it is possible for a person to fire a gun and yet bear no traces of nitrate or gunpowder as when the hands are
bathed in perspiration or washed afterwards.[76] Such principle, however, has no bearing in the present case. In
the Pagal and Teehankee cases, the Court concluded that a negative finding does not prove that the accused
therein had not fired a gun because the accused were positively identified by witnesses as having shot their
victims, unlike in the case at hand where Galvez is not positively identified by direct or circumstantial evidence
that he shot Enojarda. If the principle should be given any weight at all, it should be in favor of Galvez, that is,
considering that he is not positively identified, then, the negative results of the paraffin test bolster his claim
that he did not shoot Enojarda, and not the other way around.

The argument that the negative result of the ballistic examination does not prove that Galvez did not fire a gun
during the incident as it was possible that he used another gun, should also be struck down. It is the
prosecution which has the burden of showing that Galvez used a firearm other than the one issued to him and
that such firearm, which Galvez used, was the one that killed the victim. It is not for Galvez to prove the
opposite of the possibility adverted to by the prosecution as it is the prosecution which must prove his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt and not for him to prove his innocence.

Thus, while it is true that the negative results of the paraffin and ballistic tests do not conclusively prove that
Galvez did not shoot the victim, the same negative results cannot be used as circumstantial evidence against
Galvez to prove that he shot Enojarda. To do otherwise would violate the basic precepts of criminal law which
presumes the innocence of the accused. Every circumstance favoring an accuseds innocence must be duly
taken into account, the proof against him must survive the test of reason, and the strongest suspicion must not
be permitted to sway judgment.[77]

That Galvez was a police officer who could have justified his presence at the scene of the crime with a lawful
purpose, yet he put up an alibi which is inherently weak; and that Galvez did not present his wife and father-in-
law as witnesses to corroborate his story that he was at their house on the night in question, pertain to the
weakness of Galvezs alibi which may cast doubt on his innocence. However, these circumstances do not
prove beyond reasonable doubt Galvezs guilt. Although an accused must satisfactorily prove his alibi, the
burden in criminal cases still rests on the prosecution to prove the accuseds guilt. The prosecution evidence
must stand or fall on its own weight and cannot draw strength from the weakness of the defense. Unless the
prosecution overturns the constitutional presumption of innocence of an accused by competent and credible
evidence proving his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the presumption remains.[78] Courts must judge the guilt or
innocence of the accused based on facts and not on mere conjectures, presumptions, or suspicions.[79]

That Galvez refused three times to give a statement to the investigating police officer is a prerogative given to
the accused and should not be given evidentiary value to establish his guilt. In People v. Saavedra,[80] the Court
held that an accused has the right to remain silent and his silence should not be construed as an admission of
guilt.

Even if the defense of the appellant may be weak, the same is inconsequential if, in the first place, the
prosecution failed to discharge the onus of his identity and culpability.[81] Conviction must be based on the
strength of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense, i.e., the obligation is upon the shoulders
of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused and not the accused to prove his innocence.[82] The
prosecutions job is to prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.[83] Thus, when the evidence for
the prosecution is insufficient to sustain a conviction, it must be rejected and the accused absolved and
released at once.[84]

Time and again, the Court has pronounced that the great goal of our criminal law and procedure is not to send
people to jail but to render justice.[85] Under our criminal justice system, the overriding consideration is not
whether the court doubts the innocence of the accused, but whether it entertains reasonable doubt as to his
guilt.[86]

It is indeed lamentable that because of the lapses of the Prosecution, justice could not be rendered in this case
for the untimely death of Enojarda. Justice, however, would also not be served with the conviction of the herein
accused. It is well to quote Justice Josue N. Bellosillo:

In fine, we are not unmindful of the gravity of the crime charged; but justice must be dispensed with an
even hand. Regardless of how much we want to punish the perpetrators of this ghastly crime and give
justice to the victim and her family, the protection provided by the Bill of Rights is bestowed upon all
individuals, without exception, regardless of race, color, creed, gender or political persuasion whether
privileged or less privileged to be invoked without fear or favor. Hence, the accused deserves no less
than an acquittal; ergo, he is not called upon to disprove what the prosecution has not proved.
[87]
(Emphasis supplied)

As the prosecution in this case failed to discharge its burden of proving Galvezs guilt beyond reasonable
doubt, the Court has no choice but to acquit him.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Isabela, Basilan, Branch 1 in Criminal Case No. 1816
dated February 2, 1995 and the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 18255 dated March 30,
2001 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The accused-appellant Cesar Galvez is hereby ACQUITTED on the
ground that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is
ordered to cause the immediate release of Cesar Galvez unless he is being lawfully held for another crime and
to inform this Court accordingly within ten (10) days from notice.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 175842

NILO MACAYAN, JR. y MALANA, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

This resolves a Petition for Review on Certiorari praying that the assailed Decision 1 dated June 31, 2006 of the Court of
Appeals be reversed and set aside and that a new one be rendered acquitting petitioner Nilo Macayan, Jr.

The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals affirmed with modification (by increasing the duration of the penalty) the
Decision2 dated November 15, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, which found Nilo Macayan, Jr. (Macayan)
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of robbery.

In the Information dated February 20, 2001, Macayan was charged with robbery as follows:

That on or about the 16th day of February 2001, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, with intent to gain and by
means of force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously rob / divest one ANNIE UY JAO of
the amount of P4,000.00 in cash in the manner as follows: on the date and in the place afore-mentioned, said accused
threatened complainant that he would destroy her and her entire family and that he will have her and members of her
family kidnapped unless she gives to him the amount of P200,000.00, Philippine Currency and thereafter negotiated with
said Annie Uy Jao at McDonald’s located at Quezon Avenue, this City, thus creating fear in the mind of said complainant
who was compelled to give as in fact she gave and delivered to the accused the amount of P4,000.00, Philippine
Currency, to the damage and prejudice of said Annie Uy Jao in the amount aforementioned.

CONTRARY TO LAW.3

The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-01-98670 and raffled to Branch 101 of the Regional Trial Court, Quezon
City.4

During trial, the prosecution presented as it witnesses: Annie Uy Jao, the private complainant; Rodrigo Mapoy, team
leader of the NBI operatives who conducted the supposed entrapment operation that led to Macayan’s arrest; and
Resurreccion R. Bajado, a forensic chemist. Macayan was the sole witness for the defense. 5

Annie Uy Jao (Jao) is the owner of Lanero Garments Ext (Lanero). In 1995, she hired Macayan as a sample cutter and to
undertake materials purchasing for her garments business. 6

In her testimony, Jao acknowledged that in 2000, when her business was doing poorly, she allowed her employees to
accept engagements elsewhere to augment their income, provided they prioritize their work at Lanero. It came to her
attention that Macayan and his wife (also an employee at Lanero) accepted work for a rival company. Thus, Jao
confronted Macayan to impress upon him the need to prioritize work at Lanero. Macayan still took his work at Lanero for
granted, so Jao confronted him again. In this confrontation, Macayan allegedly responded, "Kung gusto mo, bayaran mo
na lang ako at aalis ako." Macayan then stopped reporting for work. 7

Following this, Jao was surprised to find out that Macayan had filed a Complaint for illegal dismissal against her (docketed
as NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-09-05057-00). Several conferences were set for this illegal dismissal case. Immediately after
the postponement of the conference on February 12, 2001, Macayan allegedly threatened Jao that her family would be
harmed and/or kidnapped if she did not give him 200,000.00. Marjorie Angel (Angel), Jao’s secretary, was supposedly
present when she was threatened. The following day, Macayan allegedly called Jao to reiterate his threat and to specify
the time and place — February 16, 2001, sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. at McDonald’s Banawe Branch — in
which the 200,000.00 should be handed to him. Jao claimed that she was sure it was Macayan speaking to her, as the
person on the phone addressed her as "Madam," which was how he customarily called her. 8

Fearing for her family’s safety, Jao sought assistance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). She asked that an
entrapment operation be set up. The NBI operatives asked her to prepare bills totalling 4,000.00 to be marked and used in
the operation.9

On February 16, 2001, Jao, Angel, and the NBI operatives arrived at McDonald’s Banawe. They stayed there for about 30
minutes before Macayan called Angel and told her that they were to meet at McDonald’s Quezon Avenue instead. They
arrived there at about 7:30 p.m. Macayan called Angel again and told her that he was moving the venue to McDonald’s
EDSA. They then proceeded to McDonald’s EDSA and waited for Macayan, while the NBI operatives waited outside.
Macayan arrived and proceeded to where Jao and Angel were seated. Jao handed him an envelope containing the
marked bills. Macayan pulled the bills halfway out of the envelope, and the NBI operatives accosted him. 10

Prosecution witness Rodrigo Mapoy, team leader of the NBI operatives who arrested Macayan, testified to the
circumstances before and the conduct of the entrapment operation. The testimony of forensic chemist Resurreccion R.
Bajado regarding the marked bills handed to Macayan was subject of a joint stipulation by the prosecution and the
defense.11

Macayan, testifying for himself, emphasized that he enjoyed a relatively trouble-free employment with Lanero. However,
sometime in 1999, after his wife gave birth to their first child, he discovered that Jao had not been remitting required
premiums to the Social Security System.12
On August 18, 2000, as his child was confined in a hospital, Macayan inquired with Jao regarding his Medicare benefits.
This displeased Jao. The following day, she prevented him from performing his tasks at work. Construing this as
harassment, he stopped reporting for work.13

Thereafter, Macayan filed a Complaint for illegal dismissal against Jao. In the course of the proceedings for this illegal
dismissal case, no less than 11 conferences/hearings were set. As evidenced by these conferences’ minutes or
constancias, at no instance did Jao ever attend, as it was either her legal counsel or Angel who did so. Macayan recalled
that in one of these conferences, he expressed to Angel his willingness to settle the case for 40,000.00. 14

On February 16, 2001, at about 9:00 a.m., Angel called Macayan. She told him that Jao was ready to settle the illegal
dismissal case. She added that Jao wanted to pay him already, as Jao was leaving for Hong Kong. Angel set a
rendezvous later in the day at McDonald’s Banawe. At about 11:00 a.m., Angel called him again, resetting the rendezvous
to McDonald’s EDSA. She even reasoned that this venue was more convenient for her since she was going home to
Zambales.15

Macayan arrived at the agreed venue at about 9:00 p.m. He saw Angel standing outside McDonald’s. He approached
Angel, who then accompanied him inside and led him to a four-seat corner table. He was surprised to see Jao present.
Jao then brought out of her bag a piece of paper indicating that Macayan received the settlement amount for the illegal
dismissal case. Macayan signed this as he was of the understanding that this was necessary to the settlement. Jao then
pulled out a white envelope, handed it to Macayan, and told him to count its contents. While counting the contents, a flash
bulb went on somewhere to his right. Then, a man who claimed to be an NBI operative struck a blow on the right side of
Macayan’s face and told him, "Tatanga-tanga ka. Pupunta ka rito ng walang kasama, ikaw ngayon ang me [sic] kaso." 16

Handcuffed, he was taken aboard a minivan and physically abused. He was taken to several police stations in the hope
that an inquest fiscal was available. It was only at 10:00 a.m. of the following day that an inquest fiscal, Prosecutor Hilda
Ibuyan, became available.17

The Information charging him with robbery dated February 20, 2001 was then prepared, and the criminal case (docketed
as Criminal Case No. Q-01-98670) was filed and raffled to Branch 101 of the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City.

In the meantime, on October 31, 2001, the illegal dismissal case was decided in Macayan’s favor by Labor Arbiter Daisy
G. Cauton-Barcelona. A total of 186,632.00 was awarded to him. 18 On appeal, the National Labor Relations Commission
would find that Macayan was entitled to unpaid benefits though he was legally dismissed. The Decision of the National
Labor Relations Commission was subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeals with modification as to the applicable
rate of interest.19

After trial, the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City rendered the Decision 20 convicting Macayan of robbery. The trial court
found the prosecution’s version of events "from the time of the telephone overtures of the Accused which is consistent
with the elements of intimidation and/or extortion, up to complainant Annie Uy Jao’s reporting the matter to the NBI, to the
time of the NBI entrapment" as "ring[ing] a loud bell of truth and consistency, not to say credibility." 21 It accorded the
presumption of regularity to the entrapment operation and held that the forensic findings connecting the marked money to
Macayan militated against his defense.22

The dispositive portion of the trial court’s Decision reads:

PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Court, therefore, finds the Accused GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT of the
crime of robbery and hereby sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty (there being no mitigating/aggravating
circumstance) of FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of ARRESTO MAYOR as minimum to FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO
(2) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of PRISION CORRECCIONAL as maximum.

Lastly the P4,000.00 marked money exhibit, which has been claimed to be owned by the private complainant, is
ORDERED RELEASED to her after the finality of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.23 (Emphasis and underscoring in the original)

Macayan then appealed to the Court of Appeals. He filed his Appellant’s Brief 24 on August 25, 2004.

The Office of the Solicitor General, representing the People of the Philippines at the appellate stage, did not file an
appellee’s brief. Instead, it filed a Manifestation and Motion in Lieu of Appellee’s Brief 25 recommending that Macayan be
acquitted. It asserted that his guilt was not established beyond reasonable doubt.

Noting that Jao was never present in any of the conferences for the illegal dismissal case and that the sole witness who
could confirm if she was indeed threatened or intimidated on or immediately after such an occasion (i.e., Angel) was never
presented, the Office of the Solicitor General asserted that the fourth requisite of the offense of robbery (i.e., violence
against or intimidation of a person) could not have been made by Macayan on the occasion of a conference for the illegal
dismissal case. It added that the other occasion when Macayan was supposed to have threatened Jao was equally
dubious since Jao’s sole reason for claiming that it was Macayan speaking to her (i.e., her having been addressed as
"Madam") was insufficient to ascertain that person’s identity. 26

On July 31, 2006, the Court of Appeals Tenth Division rendered the assailed Decision 27 affirming Macayan’s conviction
and increasing the duration of the penalty imposed. It reasoned that Jao’s sole, uncorroborated testimony was
nevertheless positive and credible. As regards Jao’s having been threatened after the postponement of the February 12,
2001 conference in the illegal dismissal case, the Court of Appeals reasoned that constancias are "not the best evidence
of attendance"28 and that, in any case, Jao was threatened after and not during the conference.

The dispositive portion of this Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 101, in Criminal
Case No. Q-01- 98670 is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the accused-appellant is hereby sentenced to
an indeterminate sentence of one (1) year, seven (7) months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as MINIMUM, to
six (6) years, one (1) month and eleven (11) days of prision mayor as MAXIMUM.

SO ORDERED.29 (Emphasis in the original)

On December 18, 2006, the Court of Appeals Tenth Division rendered the Resolution 30 denying Macayan’s Motion for
Reconsideration.31

Hence, this Petition was filed.32

Asked by this court to file a Comment, the Office of the Solicitor General instead filed a Manifestation and Motion 33to adopt
as its Comment the same Manifestation and Motion in Lieu of Appellee’s Brief that it filed with the Court of Appeals. Thus,
the Office of the Solicitor General reiterated its position that Macayan’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt has not been
established and that he must be acquitted.

On September 11, 2007, Macayan filed the Manifestation in Lieu of Reply 34 in view of the Office of the Solicitor General’s
earlier Manifestation and Motion.

For resolution is the sole issue of whether Macayan’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt has been established.

We reverse the Decision of the Court of Appeals and acquit petitioner Nilo Macayan, Jr. of the charge of robbery.

Rule 133, Section 2 of the Revised Rules on Evidence specifies the requisite quantum of evidence in criminal cases:

Section 2. Proof beyond reasonable doubt. — In a criminal case, the accused is entitled to an acquittal, unless his guilt is
shown beyond reasonable doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean such a degree of proof, excluding
possibility of error, produces absolute certainly. Moral certainly only is required, or that degree of proof which produces
conviction in an unprejudiced mind.

This rule places upon the prosecution the task of establishing the guilt of an accused, relying on the strength of its own
evidence, and not banking on the weakness of the defense of an accused. Requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt finds
basis not only in the due process clause35 of the Constitution, but similarly, in the right of an accused to be "presumed
innocent until the contrary is proved."36 "Undoubtedly, it is the constitutional presumption of innocence that lays such
burden upon the prosecution."37 Should the prosecution fail to discharge its burden, it follows, as a matter of course, that
an accused must be acquitted. As explained in Basilio v. People of the Philippines: 38

We ruled in People v. Ganguso:

An accused has in his favor the presumption of innocence which the Bill of Rights guarantees. Unless his guilt is shown
beyond reasonable doubt, he must be acquitted. This reasonable doubt standard is demanded by the due process clause
of the Constitution which protects the accused from conviction except upon proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact
necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and unless it
discharges that burden the accused need not even offer evidence in his behalf, and he would be entitled to an acquittal.
Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not, of course, mean such degree of proof as, excluding the possibility of error,
produce absolute certainty. Moral certainty only is required, or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an
unprejudiced mind. The conscience must be satisfied that the accused is responsible for the offense charged.

Well-entrenched in jurisprudence is the rule that the conviction of the accused must rest, not on the weakness of the
defense, but on the strength of the prosecution. The burden is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt,
not on the accused to prove his innocence.39 (Citations omitted)

II

The determination of the guilt of an accused hinges on how a court appreciates evidentiary matters in relation to the
requisites of an offense. Determination of guilt is, thus, a fundamentally factual issue.

This court, however, is not a trier of facts. Consistent with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, "[a]s a rule, only questions of law,
not questions of fact, may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45." 40 More specifically, "in a criminal
case, factual findings of the trial court are generally accorded great weight and respect on appeal, especially when such
findings are supported by substantial evidence on record." 41
Nevertheless, there are exceptions allowing this court to overturn the factual findings with which it is confronted. Speaking
specifically of criminal cases, this court stated in People of the Philippines v. Esteban 42 that "in exceptional circumstances,
such as when the trial court overlooked material and relevant matters . . . this Court will re-calibrate and evaluate the
factual findings of the [lower courts]."43 Below are the recognized exceptions to the general rule binding this court to the
factual findings of lower courts:

(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, and conjectures;

(2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;

(3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion;

(4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;

(5) When the findings of fact are conflicting;

(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is
contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee;

(7) When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court;

(8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based;

(9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners' main and reply briefs are not disputed by
the respondents; and

(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and
contradicted by the evidence on record.44 (Emphasis supplied)

Here, Macayan asserts that the lower courts committed a serious misapprehension of facts, thereby wrongly concluding
that he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. He argues that the evidence adduced by the prosecution falls seriously short of
the quantum of evidence required to convict him. He specifically draws attention to the following:

First, Jao’s claim that, immediately after the postponement of the February 12, 2001 conference in the illegal dismissal
case and in the presence of Angel, Macayan threatened to harm and/or kidnap the members of her family, despite the
records in the same case showing that Jao never attended any of the 11 conferences that were set or conducted;

Second, the prosecution’s unjustified failure to present Angel as a witness and its sole reliance on Jao’s testimony,
considering that it was Angel who can confirm if, indeed, Macayan threatened Jao’s family immediately after the
postponement of the February 12, 2001 conference;

Third, Jao’s reliance on nothing more than how she was addressed as "Madam" by the person speaking to her on the
phone as basis for concluding that it must have been Macayan who was supposedly calling and threatening her and her
family;

Fourth, the inconsistency and absurdity of Jao’s conduct in considering Macayan’s threats of such serious nature that she
needed to report it to the National Bureau of Investigation for the prospective conduct of an entrapment operation, and yet
not telling her husband about the threats simply because he would easily get annoyed; and

Lastly, the inconsistent claims of Jao and prosecution witness Rodrigo Mapoy, the NBI operations team leader, as to who
Macayan called on the evening of February 16, 2001 to reset the rendezvous to McDonald’s EDSA. Jao claimed that
Macayan called Angel, while Rodrigo Mapoy claimed that Macayan called Jao herself.

Macayan’s position is buttressed by the Office of the Solicitor General, the public institution otherwise charged with the
task of pursuing the prosecution’s case on appeal. As the Office of the Solicitor General stated:

In the instant case, however, clues of untruthfulness in the testimony of Annie Uy Jao are abundant while incentives for
fabrication of a story [are] not wanting. The only way to eliminate any doubt in Annie Uy Jao’s assertions would have been
to find independent confirmation from the other sources, as by way of unambiguous testimony of a competent and
credible witness. Sadly, no such confirmation could be had as the prosecution’s evidence on the most crucial elements of
the crime was limited to that testified on by Annie Uy Jao.

It is respectfully submitted that had the trial court seen and understood these realities laid on clearly in the records of this
case, it would have concluded reasonable doubt as to acquit appellant. 45 (Underscoring in the original)

The position taken by the Office of the Solicitor General has resulted in the peculiar situation where it is not the
prosecution but, effectively, the trial court and the Court of Appeals arguing for Macayan’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

With the backdrop of these assertions, we deem it proper to reevaluate the factual findings and the conclusions reached
by both the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
III

Article 293 of the Revised Penal Code provides for who are guilty of robbery:

ARTICLE 293. Who are Guilty of Robbery. — Any person who, with intent to gain, shall take any personal property
belonging to another, by means of violence against or intimidation of any person, or using force upon anything, shall be
guilty of robbery.

Accordingly, the following elements must be established to sustain a conviction for robbery:

1)there is a taking of personal property [i.e., unlawful taking]; 2) the personal property belongs to another; 3) the taking is
with animus lucrandi [i.e., intent to gain]; and 4) the taking is with violence against or intimidation of persons or with force
upon things.46

As pointed out by the Office of the Solicitor General, the "bone of contention" 47 centers on the elements of unlawful taking
and of violence against or intimidation of persons. This is precisely Macayan’s contention: that he neither intimidated nor
threatened Jao, and that he could not have unlawfully taken money from her on account of any act of intimidation and/or
threats made by him.

Consistent with the rule on burden of proof, the requisite quantum of evidence in criminal cases, and in light of the points
highlighted by both Macayan and the Office of the Solicitor General, we find that the prosecution failed to establish
Macayan’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, a reversal of the rulings of the trial court and Court of Appeals is in order.
Macayan must be acquitted.

As correctly pointed out by the Office of the Solicitor General, the resolution of this case hinges on whether Jao was
indeed threatened and/or intimidated by Macayan into giving him money, that is, whether he extorted money from Jao. Per
Jao’s own testimony, there were two (2) instances in which she was threatened and/or intimidated: first, immediately after
the postponement of the February 12, 2001 conference in the illegal dismissal case; and second, when Macayan called
her on February 13, 2001 and set a rendezvous for handing over the extorted money.

Contrary to the conclusions of the trial court and the Court of Appeals, we find Jao’s testimony regarding these occasions
(and ultimately, the presence of the requisite of violence against or intimidation of a person) dubious and unreliable.

Macayan and the Office of the Solicitor General are one in pointing out that the records of NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-09-
05057-00 are bereft of any indication that Jao was present in any of the 11 conferences held or set (only to be postponed
even if both parties were represented). The defense introduced as its Exhibits "2" to "12" the minutes and/or constancias
of these conferences. Exhibit "2" was the minutes/constancia of the February 12, 2001 conference. During his testimony,
Macayan specifically referred to this document as proof that he never saw, met, or spoke to Jao on the occasion of or
immediately after the conference set on that date:

Q:Mr. Witness, you were present when complaining witness Annie Uy Jao told this Honorable Court that sometime on
February 12, 2001, during the hearing of the labor case in the NLRC, at Banawe, Quezon City, you threatened her that
you will kidnap her and her family if she will not give P200,000.00. What can you say about this?

A: That is not true, Sir.


Q: Why did you say there is no truth in it?
A: Because we did not meet on February 12.
Q: Do you mean to tell this Honorable Court that Annie Uy Jao was not present during the hearing of that
case?
A: She was not there.
Q: Has she an [sic] representative?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: Who is that?
A: Marjorie Angel, the secretary.
Q: Do you have any proof that she was not present?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q:I am showing to you constancia, date of hearing 2/12/03. Will you please examine this document. Does it
have anything to do with what you said?
A: This is the Minutes of Hearing on February 12, 2001.
Atty. Oliva: We would like to request that this constancia be marked as Exhibit "2."
Court: Mark it. On its face, this is a form by the NLRC containing the caption, the name of the parties and the
case number, date of hearing and the time.
Atty. Oliva: Mr. Witness, there are signature [sic] below this constancia, complaining witness, there is a
signature above the complainant.
A:This is my signature and this is the signature of Marjorie Angel.
Q: How do you know that this is her signature[?]
A: Because I was with her for five (5) months.48
Jao’s absence in the intended conference (though subsequently postponed despite both parties to the illegal dismissal
case being represented) places serious doubt on the occurrence of the supposed first instance of intimidation on February
12, 2001.

The Court of Appeals reasoned that a constancia "would not be the best evidence of attendance in any of the National
Labor Relations Commission hearings."49 It added that, in any case, the act of intimidation happened after, and not during,
the conference. This is a strained consideration of the facts of this case.

First, consistent with the presumption "[t]hat official duty has been regularly performed" 50 and "[t]hat a person takes
ordinary care of his concerns,"51 both the personnel of the Labor Arbiter’s office who prepared the minutes of the February
12, 2001 conference and the persons who signed it must be considered as having taken the necessary care to make it a
faithful and accurate record of what transpired and of who were present in the conference. Thus, the minutes’ indication
that only Angel was present should be taken as accurate and reliable absent any proof to the contrary. If the principal, Jao,
were present, there would not have been a need for Angel, her representative, to sign in such capacity.

Second, much is made of how the threats were delivered after and not during the conference. To recall the prosecution’s
allegation, the intimidation took place immediately after the conference, outside the Labor Arbiter’s office, along the
corridor of the National Labor Relations Commission Building. 52 As there was neither an appreciable duration of time
between the conference and the subsequent threatening exchange nor a significant distance between where the
conference was held and where the subsequent threatening exchange took place, it may be deduced that whatever
exchange, if any, that transpired must have been between those who were present at the conference. Conversely, those
who were absent from the conference must have been equally unavailable to engage in an exchange with Macayan.

Apart from these, that the rest of the minutes of the illegal dismissal case shows that Jao never attended any conference
gives rise to the question of why she chose to be personally present in, of all conferences, the postponed February 12
conference. If, indeed, she was present in this despite her absence in all others, some particular significance must have
characterized this conference, something that Jao has not accounted for. In any case, if there was any particular
significance to this February 12 conference, then, all the more, her presence or attendance should have been indicated in
the records.

Of course, many explanations — well within the realm of possibility — could be offered for why Jao’s attendance was not
indicated in the minutes. For instance, Jao could have simply chosen to wait outside the Labor Arbiter’s office, or she
could have declined from having her attendance specified in the minutes. What is crucial, however, this being a criminal
case, is for the prosecution to establish the guilt of an accused on the strength of its own evidence. Its case must rise on
its own merits. The prosecution carries the burden of establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt; it cannot merely rest on
the relative likelihood of its claims. Any lacunae in its case gives rise to doubt as regards the "fact[s] necessary to
constitute the crime with which [an accused] is charged." 53

Here, there is serious doubt on whether Jao was actually threatened or intimidated at the time she specified. Thus, there
is serious doubt on the existence of the fourth requisite for robbery — violence against or intimidation of a person — in
relation to the alleged February 12, 2001 incident.

The prosecution could have addressed the deficiency in Jao’s allegation that she was threatened on February 12, 2001 by
presenting as witness the other person who was supposedly present in the incident: Angel, Jao’s secretary. However, she
was never presented as a witness.

The Court of Appeals noted that corroborative testimony is dispensable; "the lack of it does not necessarily condemn a
lone witness’ recital of the crime for as long as that single witness’ testimony is credible." 54

People of the Philippines v. Cleopas,55 which the Court of Appeals cited, states that the testimony of a lone witness "may
suffice for conviction if found trustworthy and reliable." 56

Precisely, conviction resting on a singular testimony is warranted if this is, in the words of Cleopas, "trustworthy and
reliable,"57 or, in the words of the Court of Appeals, "credible." 58 This could not be said of Jao’s testimony. As previously
discussed, her very presence in the February 12, 2001 conference that she claimed to have been immediately followed by
Macayan’s threats, is in serious doubt. Nothing casts greater doubt on the reliability of Jao’s claim than her having not
been at the time and place of the supposed intimidation.

With the first alleged instance of intimidation being discredited, the prosecution is left to rely on the second supposed
instance of intimidation: the phone call made by Macayan to Jao on February 13, 2001, during which he not only
reiterated his threats but also set a rendezvous for the handover of the extorted money. Even this, however, is doubtful.

The prosecution itself acknowledged that there is no basis for ascertaining the identity of Macayan as the caller other than
the caller’s use of "Madam" in addressing Jao. The following excerpt is taken from Jao’s direct examination:

Atty. Garena: Madam Witness, you said you received another call after February 12, 2001. Is that from the accused or
from another person?

A: From the accused.


Q: What was the call about?
A:He repeated the threat again that I have to give him P200,000.00 or else, he will harm y [sic] family; and he
set a place to give the money.
....
Court: The first word uttered by him. You narrated, more or less.
Did he introduce himself?
A: He never stated his name because he knew I know his name.
Court: That is your presumption, but what was the first word uttered by him and what was your reply, line by
line[?]
A: He always calls me madam.
Court: You answer the question of the Court now. How did the conversation go?
A:He said, Madam, Kung hindi mo ibibigay sa akin ang P200,000.00, ipapakidnap ko ang pamilya mo.
(Madam, if you don’t give me that P200,000.00, I am going to ask somebody to kidnap you and your family.)
Court: That was the first line. Was that the end of the first line of the accused?
A:Those were the only words that he told me. I cannot say anything. I just put down the phone.
Court: After he said those lines, you put down the telephone?
A: After he said the date and time.
Court: The Court is asking you to narrate line by line. What he said. What you said.
A:If you will not give me P200,000.00, I will ask somebody to kidnap you, your child and your husband.
Court: That was the first line. Did you reply to him?
A:No, sir. I did not ask. The next line, he said he was going to wait for me at McDo Banawe at around 6:00 [to]
7:00 in the evening.
Court: Did he state the date?
A: February 16.
Court: You are impressing to this Court that the accused had said two lines already without you uttering any
word. How did the accused knew [sic] that it is Annie Uy Jao on the other line?
A:Because the first word [sic] that I said, Hello, then he replied, Madam.
Court: You uttered the hello, that is why the accused recognized you on the line.
A:Yes, your Honor. Because he knew that only two persons are answering [sic] the phone, my secretary and
me.59(Emphasis supplied)

The prosecution should have offered more convincing proof of the identity of the supposed caller. Even if it were true that
Macayan customarily addressed Jao as "Madam," merely being called this way by a caller does not ascertain that he is
the alleged caller. The prosecution never made an effort to establish how addressing Jao as "Madam" is a unique trait of
Macayan’s and Jao’s relationship. Other persons may be equally accustomed to calling her as such; for instance,
"Madam" may be Jao’s preferred manner of being addressed by her subordinates or employees. Likewise, it was
established that Macayan and Jao have known each other since 1995. Their relation was more than that of employer and
employee, as Jao was Macayan’s godmother in his wedding. 60

Certainly, Jao could have offered other, more reliable means of ascertaining that it was, indeed, Macayan with whom she
was conversing. The second alleged instance of intimidation is likewise cast in serious doubt. Left with no other act of
intimidation to rely on, the prosecution fails in establishing the fourth requisite of the crime of robbery.

Apart from these, another point underscores the unreliability of Jao’s allegations. As pointed out by Macayan and
acknowledged by the prosecution, Jao never saw it proper to warn her family, more specifically, her husband, of the threat
of being kidnapped. Nevertheless, she supposedly perceived Macayan’s alleged threat as being of such a serious nature
that she must not only report the matter to the National Bureau of Investigation, but also entreat its officers to conduct an
entrapment operation.

Jurisprudence has established the standard for appreciating the credibility of a witness’ claim:

[F]or evidence to be believed, however, it must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but must be credible
in itself such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve under the circumstances. The test to
determine the value of the testimony of a witness is whether such is in conformity with knowledge and consistent with the
experience of mankind. Whatever is repugnant to these standards becomes incredible and lies outside of judicial
cognizance.61

Jao’s inconsistent conduct, coupled with flimsy justifications for acting as she did, betrays the absurdity and unreliability of
her claims and ultimately, of her as a witness:

Court: You did not inform anybody about that call?


A: Only my secretary. She was beside me.
Court: What about your husband? At that time, where was he?
A: He was outside.
Court: Does he have a cellular phone at that time?
A: Only a pager.
Court: Did it not occur to you to inform your husband about the call?
A: No, your Honor.
Court: How about the words uttered to you in the Labor hearing, did you inform you [sic] husband?
A: No, your Honor.
Court: What was the reason?
A:I was afraid because he might accused (sic) me of what happened?
Court: This is a very private question. That date of hearing in the
NLRC, you slept together [with] your husband?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Court: That night, you did not inform him?
A: He knows about the labor case.
Court: You did not inform him about the extortion threat of the
Accused?
A: No, sir.62
On cross examination, Jao explained:
Q: During the direct examination, the Honorable Court asked you whether you told this matter to your husband
and you said you did not?
A: I am not [the] type of person who don’t usually tell [sic] everything to my husband specially [sic] regarding
things like this because he is medyo makulit and I don’t want him asking same questions again and again (sic).
Q: Instead of telling your husband, you went to the NBI to report the matter?
A: Yes, sir.63 (Emphasis supplied)

The Court of Appeals stated that "the subsequent and contemporaneous actions of the private complainant from the time
the threat was made bolsters the veracity of her story." 64 This cannot be farther from the truth. On the contrary,
inconsistencies and absurdities in Jao’s actions cast serious doubt on the veracity of her claims.

Finally, the trial court made much of how Macayan is supposedly estopped by the joint stipulation that the prosecution and
the defense made as regards the "existence, authenticity, due execution and contents of [the] NBI Physics Report on the
powder dusting/ positive results."65

The defense’s accession to these is inconsequential. These only prove that Macayan handled the bills used in the alleged
entrapment operation, a fact that he does not dispute. It remains, however, that they do not establish any certainty as to
the circumstances surrounding his handling of the bills, among these: whether there was, indeed, unlawful taking by
Macayan, and whether Jao did hand him the bills because he extorted them from her.

In sum, the prosecution failed to establish the elements of unlawful taking and of violence against or intimidation of a
person. Reasonable doubt persists.1âwphi1 As is settled in jurisprudence, where the basis of conviction is flawed, this
court must acquit an accused:

In criminal cases, the prosecution has the onus probandi of establishing the guilt of the accused. Ei incumbit probatio non
qui negat. He who asserts - not he who denies - must prove. The burden must be discharged by the prosecution on the
strength of its own evidence, not on the weakness of that for the defense. Hence, circumstantial evidence that has not
been adequately established, much less corroborated, cannot be the basis of conviction. Suspicion alone is insufficient,
the required quantum of evidence being proof beyond reasonable doubt. Indeed, "the sea of suspicion has no shore, and
the court that embarks upon it is without rudder or compass."

It must be stressed that in our criminal justice system, the overriding consideration is not whether the court doubts the
innocence of the accused, but whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to their guilt. Where there is no moral certainty
as to their guilt, they must be acquitted even though their innocence may be questionable. The constitutional right to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty can be overthrown only by proof beyond reasonable doubt. 66 (Emphasis in the
original, citations omitted)

With the prosecution having failed to discharge its burden of establishing Macayan's guilt beyond reasonable doubt, this
court is constrained, as is its bounden duty when reasonable doubt persists, to acquit him.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CR No. 28380 is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Nilo Macayan, Jr. y Malana is hereby ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove his
guilt beyond reasonable doubt. If detained, he is ordered immediately RELEASED, unless he is confined for any other
lawful cause. Any amount paid by way of a bailbond is ordered RETURNED.

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 108028. July 30, 1996]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CRISTINA M. HERNANDEZ, accused-appellant.


DECISION
FRANCISCO, J.:

Accused-appellant Cristina Hernandez was charged with the crime of illegal recruitment committed in large scale in
violation of Article 38 (a) and (b) in relation to Article 13 (b) and (c) of the New Labor Code, [1] committed as follows:

"That in or about and during the period comprised between December 14, 1988 to December 24, 1988, inclusive in the
City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused representing herself to have the capacity to contract, enlist and transport
Filipino workers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully and unlawfully for a fee, recruit and promise
employment/job placement abroad to the following persons to wit: ROGELIO N. LEGASPI, ULDARICO P. LEGASPI,
SONNY P. BERNABE, ARNEL B. MENDOZA, BENITO L. BERNABE, ARNOLD P. VALENZUELA, ARMANDO P.
PAGULAYAN, GREGORIO P. MENDOZA, JR., RONALD T. CORREA, DANILO PALAD and ROBERT P. VELASQUEZ
(hereinafter known as private complainants) without first having secured the required license or authority from the
POEA."[2] (underscoring supplied.)

Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty and trial on the merits ensued. Of the fourteen (14) private
complainants, four (4) were presented as witnesses for the prosecution, namely: Benito L. Bernabe, Robert P. Velasquez,
Gregorio P. Mendoza and Arnel Mendoza. They testified to the following essential facts: Private complainants' first
encounter with the appellant was on December 12, 1988 when one Josefa Cinco accompanied them to the office of the
Philippine Thai Association, Inc. (Philippine-Thai) in Ermita, Manila to meet the appellant. Introducing herself as the
general manager of Philippine-Thai, appellant asserted that her company recruited workers for placement abroad and
asked private complainants if they wanted to work as factory workers in Taipeh. Enticed by the assurance of immediate
employment and an $800 per month salary, private complainants applied. Appellant required private complainants to pay
placement and passport fees in the total amount of P22,500.00 per applicant, to be paid in three installments, to wit:
P1,500 on December 14, 1988, P10,000.00 on December 16, 1988, and P11,000.00 on December 22, 1988. When the
complainants-witnesses paid the first two installments, they were issued receipts by Liza Mendoza, the alleged treasurer
of Philippine-Thai signed by the latter in the presence of the appellant. The receipts for the last installment paid by them
were signed by Liza Mendoza, and the appellant. After having received the entire amount [3] from the witnesses, appellant
assured them that they would be able to leave for Taipeh sometime before the end of December, 1988. But contrary to
appellant's promise, complainants-witnesses were unable to leave for abroad. They demanded for the return of their
money but to no avail. Appellant's unfulfilled promise of employment and her refusal to return the money that had been
paid by way of placement and passport fees, triggered the filing of the complaint.
For its part, the defense presented as its lone witness, the appellant whose testimony consisted mainly in denying
the charges against her. Appellant claimed that she never met any of the complainants nor did she ever recruit any of
them. She likewise denied having received money from anyone and asserted that she did not know any Liza Mendoza
who is the alleged treasurer of Philippine-Thai. Appellant maintained that although she had an office in Ermita Building
located at Arquiza Street, Ermita, Manila, the said office belonged to B.C. Island Wood Products Corporation which was
engaged in the logging business. However, when questioned further, appellant admitted being the president of Philippine-
Thai but only in a nominal capacity, and claimed that as nominee-president, she did not participate in any of its
transactions. Appellant likewise insisted that Philippine-Thai was engaged solely in the barong tagalog business.
After careful calibration of the evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense, the court a quo rendered a
decision holding that the defense of "denial" interposed by the accused could not prevail over the positive and clear
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses which had established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. [4] The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby finds that the accused CRISTINA HERNANDEZ, (sic) guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment, committed in large scale, as defined in Article 38(a) & (b) of
Presidential Decree No. 1412, x x x in relation to Article 13 (b) and (c) x x x, accordingly, sentences the accused to suffer
the penalty of life imprisonment (RECLUSION PERPETUA) with the accessory penalties provided for by law; to pay a fine
of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND (P100,000.00) PESOS without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; to return
and pay to BENITO L. BERNABE the amount of TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED (P28,500.00)
PESOS; to ROBERT P. VELASQUEZ the amount of TWENTY TWO THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED (P22,500.00)
PESOS; to GREGORIO P. MENDOZA the amount of TWENTY TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P22,500.00)
PESOS; to ARNEL MENDOZA the amount of TWENTY TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P22,500.00) PESOS also
without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.

Manila, Philippines, November 29, 1991."[5]

Appellant comes to this Court for the reversal of the judgment of conviction assigning the following errors against the
lower court:
I

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED "LIABLE OF (sic) ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT COMMITTED IN A
LARGE SCALE AND BY A SYNDICATED (sic)" FOR HAVING "MAINTAINED OFFICE WITHOUT LICENSE OR
REGISTRATION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, THRU ITS OFFICE, THE PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS
EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION (POEA)."

II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN TAKING JUDICIAL NOTICE OF THE "FACT THAT ACCUSED CRISTINA M.
HERNANDEZ HAD BEEN CHARGED x x x OF ANOTHER ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT x x x DOCKETED AS CRIMINAL
CASE NO. 88-62599" AND IN CONSIDERING THE PENDENCY THEREOF AS EVIDENCE OF THE "SCHEME AND
STRATEGY ADOPTED BY THE ACCUSED x x x AND PRACTICED WITH THE HELP OF HER AGENTS AND OTHER
PERSONS WORKING UNDER THE SHADE OF HER PROTECTION."

III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING CREDENCE OR WEIGHT TO THE DEFENSE OF THE ACCUSED. [6]

The first assignment of error is anchored on the contention that the prosecution failed to prove one of the essential
elements of the crime of illegal recruitment -- that the offender is a non-licensee or non-holder of authority to lawfully
engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. [7] The aforementioned element, specifically the fact that neither
appellant nor Philippine-Thai was licensed or authorized to recruit workers as shown by the records of the POEA, was the
subject of a stipulation proposed by the prosecution and admitted by the defense during trial. Appellant assails as
erroneous the reliance placed by the prosecution on the said stipulation of facts in dispensing with the presentation of
evidence to prove the said element of the crime of illegal recruitment. Appellant argues that: (1) the stipulation of facts was
not tantamount to an admission by the appellant of the fact of non-possession of the requisite authority or license from the
POEA, but was merely an admission that the Chief Licensing Officer of the POEA, if presented in court, would testify to
this fact, and (2) the stipulation of facts is null and void for being contrary to law and public policy. Appellant posits the
foregoing arguments to bolster her contention that the stipulation of facts did not relieve the prosecution of its duty to
present evidence to prove all the elements of the crime charged to the end that the guilt of the accused may be proven
beyond reasonable doubt.
At the outset, it should be said that the above contention and the arguments are insignificant in view of the fact that
records disclose that the prosecution had in fact presented evidence to prove the said element of the crime of illegal
recruitment. "EXHIBIT I", a certification issued by the Chief Licensing Branch of the POEA, attesting to the fact that neither
appellant nor Philippine-Thai is licensed/authorized to recruit workers for employment abroad, was offered and admitted in
evidence without the objection of the appellant. [8]
Although appellant's arguments find no significant bearing in the face of the existence of "EXHIBIT I", they
nonetheless require deeper scrutiny and a clear response for future application. Hence, the following discussion.
Appellant correctly distinguishes between an admission that a particular witness if presented in court would testify to
certain facts, and an admission of the facts themselves. According to the appellant, what was stipulated on between the
prosecution and defense counsel at the hearing on June 6, 1990 was "merely that the testimony of the Chief Licensing
Officer of the POEA would be to the effect that appellant is not licensed nor authorized to recruit workers", [9] Thus:
"Prosecutor
x x x Before we call on our first witness, we propose some stipulations regarding the testimony of the Chief Licensing
Branch of the POEA that Cristina Hernandez is not a (sic) licensed nor authorized by the Department of Labor to
recruit workers abroad.
Court
Would you agree?
Atty. Ulep (Counsel for the Accused): Agreed, Your Honor." [10]
She claims that the foregoing clearly indicate that there was no judicial admission of the fact of non-possession of a
license/authority but rather a mere admission that the witness, if presented, would testify to such fact. This being the case,
it remained incumbent upon the prosecution to present evidence of such fact. To buttress her position, the following was
cited to note the distinction:

"Suppose a case is set for trial and one of the parties moves for a continuance because of the absence of W, an important
witness. His opponent, who is anxious to go to trial; asks what are the facts to which W would testify. The other attorney
tells him, adding: 'If I consent to the overruling of my motion, will you stipulate that those are the facts?' The attorney who
is pressing for trial says: 'No but I will stipulate that if W were called in this case as a witness, he would so testify.' What is
the difference between the two stipulations?

In the first stipulation proposed there is a judicial admission of the facts, and they cannot be contradicted. But the second
stipulation proposed will only have the same effect as if the witness had testified to the facts. Such testimony the party is
free to contradict."[11]

The distinction, though cogent, is unfortunately inapplicable to the case at bar.Conveniently omitted from the
appellant's reply brief is the ensuing statement made by the court after counsel for the accused, Atty. Ulep agreed to the
stipulation proposed by the prosecution, to wit:
Atty. Ulep (counsel for the accused): Agreed, Your Honor.
Court
The prosecution and the defense agreed to stipulate/admit that from the record of the POEA Licensing and
Regulation Office, Dept. of Labor and Employment, accused Cristina Hernandez/Phil. etc., Ass. x x x is neither
licensed nor authorized by that office to recruit workers overseas abroad and that if the duly authorized
representative from the POEA Administration is to take the witness stand, he will confirm to this fact as borne by
the records.[12] (Underscoring supplied .)
From the foregoing, it is evident that the prosecution and the defense counsel stipulated on two things: that "x x x
from the record of the POEA, x x x accused Cristina Hernandez, Phil. etc. Ass. x x x is neither licensed nor authorized by
that office to recruit workers for overseas abroad and that if the duly authorized representative from the POEA
Administratin (sic) is to take the witness stand, he will confirm to this fact x x x." [13]The claim that the lower court mistakenly
interpreted defense counsel's acquiescence to the prosecution's proposed stipulation as an admission of non-possession
of the requisite POEA license or authority is belied by the fact that after the above enunciation by the court, no objection
was interposed by defense counsel.
Appellant further contends that granting arguendo that defense counsel had in fact agreed to the above stipulation of
facts, the same is null and void for being contrary to the well-established rule that a stipulation of facts is not allowed in
criminal cases. To bolster this contention, appellant cited the consistent ruling of this Court on the matter. Thus, as held in
the case of U.S. vs. Donato:[14]

"Agreements between attorneys for the prosecution and for the defense in criminal cases, by which it is stipulated that
certain witnesses, if present, would testify to certain facts prevent a review of the evidence by the Supreme Court and are
in violation of the law."[15]

The above ruling was reiterated in a subsequent case where the accused was convicted solely on the basis of an
agreement between the fiscal and the counsel for the accused that certain witnesses would testify confirming the
complaint in all its parts. In reversing the judgment of conviction, this Court held that:

"It is neither proper nor permissible to consider a case closed, or to render judgment therein, by virtue of an agreement
entered into between the provincial fiscal and the counsel for the accused with reference to facts, some of which are
favorable to the defense, and others related to the prosecution, without any evidence being adduced or testimony taken
from the witnesses mentioned in the agreement; such practice is not authorized and defeats the purposes of criminal law;
it is an open violation of the rules of criminal procedure x x x." [16]

The rule prohibiting the stipulation of facts in criminal cases is grounded on the fundamental right of the accused to
be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the corollary duty of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused
beyond reasonable doubt. It is therefore advanced that the prosecution being duty-bound to prove all the elements of the
crime, may not be relieved of this obligation by the mere expedient of stipulating with defense counsel on a matter
constitutive of an essential element of the crime charged.
The rationale behind the proscription against this class of agreements between prosecution and defense was
enunciated in the case of U.S. vs. Manlimos:[17]

"It is not supposed to be within the knowledge or competence of counsel to predict what a proposed witness shall say
under the sanction of his oath and the test of cross-examination. A conviction for crime should not rest upon mere
conjecture. Nor is it possible for a trial court to weigh with exact nicety the contradictory declaration of witnesses not
produced so as to be subjected to its observation and its judgment as to their credibility." [18]

However, in the light of recent changes in our rules on criminal procedure, particularly the pre-trial provisions found in
Rule 118, the prohibition against a stipulation of facts in criminal cases no longer holds true. Rule 118 provides the
following:

"Section 1. Pre-trial; when proper To expedite trial, where the accused and counsel agree, the court shall conduct a pre-
trial conference on the matters enunciated in Section 2 hereof, without impairing the rights of the accused.

Sec. 2 Pre-trial conference; subjects x x x The pre-trial conference shall consider the following:

(a) Plea bargaining;

(b) Stipulation of facts;

x x x x x x x x x"(underscoring supplied)

By virtue of the foregoing rule, a stipulation of facts in criminal cases is now expressly sanctioned by law. In further
pursuit of the objective of expediting trial by dispensing with the presentation of evidence on matters that the accused is
willing to admit, a stipulation of facts should be allowed not only during pre-trial but also and with more reason, during trial
proper itself. Parenthetically, although not expressly sanctioned under the old rules of court, a stipulation of facts by the
parties in criminal cases has long been allowed and recognized as declarations constituting judicial admissions, hence,
binding upon the parties. In the case of People vs. Mapa[19] where the accused was charged with illegal possession of
firearms, the prosecution and the defense stipulated on the fact that the accused was found in possession of a gun
without the requisite permit or license. More at point is the case of People vs. Bocar[20] wherein the fiscal proposed the
admission by the accused of the affidavits and other exhibits already presented by the prosecution to dispense with oral
testimonies on the matter. Holding that the admissions made by the parties were binding, this Court stated that:

"x x x [T]here is nothing unlawful or irregular about the above procedure. The declarations constitute judicial admissions,
which are binding on the parties, by virtue of which the prosecution dispensed with the introduction of additional evidence
and the defense waived the right to contest or dispute the veracity of the statements contained in the
exhibits."[21] (underscoring supplied .)
American jurisprudence has established the acceptability of the practice of stipulating during the trial of criminal
cases, and categorically stated in People vs. Hare[22] that:

"That record discloses that the defense counsel stipulated to what certain witnesses would testify if they were present in
court. x x x

x x x The defendant contends that it was error for his counsel to make these stipulations. This court has held that an
accused may by stipulation waive the necessity of proof of all or any part of the case which the people have alleged
against him and that having done so, he cannot complain in this Court of evidence which he has stipulated into the record.
[23]

The corollary issue left for the determination of this Court is whether or not Section 4 of Rule 118 -- requiring an
agreement or admission made or entered during the pre-trial conference to be reduced in writing and signed by the
accused and his counsel before the same may be used in evidence against the accused -- equally applies to a stipulation
of facts made during trial. We resolved this issue in the negative.
A stipulation of facts entered into by the prosecution and defense counsel during trial in open court is automatically
reduced into writing and contained in the official transcript of the proceedings had in court. The conformity of the accused
in the form of his signature affixed thereto is unnecessary in view of the fact that: "x x x an attorney who is employed to
manage a party's conduct of a lawsuit x x x has prima facie authority to make relevant admissions by pleadings, by oral or
written stipulation, x x x which unless allowed to be withdrawn are conclusive." [24] (underscoring supplied.) In fact, "judicial
admissions are frequently those of counsel or of the attorney of record, who is, for the purpose of the trial, the agent of his
client. When such admissions are made x x x for the purpose of dispensing with proof of some fact, x x x they bind the
client, whether made during, or even after, the trial." [25]
The foregoing find basis in the general rule that a client is bound by the acts of his counsel who represents him.
[26]
For all intents and purposes, the acts of a lawyer in the defense of a case are the acts of his client. The rule extends
even to the mistakes and negligence committed by the lawyer except only when such mistakes would result in serious
injustice to the client.[27] No cogent reason exists to make such exception in this case. It is worth noting that Atty. Ulep,
appellant's counsel in the lower court, agreed to the stipulation of facts proposed by the prosecution not out of mistake nor
inadvertence, but obviously because the said stipulation of facts was also in conformity to defense's theory of the case. It
may be recalled that throughout the entire duration of the trial, appellant staunchly denied ever having engaged in the
recruitment business either in her personal capacity or through Philippine-Thai. Therefore, it was but logical to admit that
the POEA records show that neither she nor Philippine-Thai was licensed or authorized to recruit workers.
It is true that the rights of an accused during trial are given paramount importance in our laws on criminal
procedure. Among the fundamental rights of the accused is the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against
him.[28] But the right of confrontation guaranteed and secured to the accused is a personal privilege which may be waived.
[29]
Thus, in the case of U.S. vs. Anastasio,[30] this Court deemed as a waiver of the right of confrontation, the admission by
the accused that witnesses if present would testify to certain facts stated in the affidavit of the prosecution. [31]
In the same vein, it may be said that such an admission is a waiver of the right of an accused to present evidence on
his behalf. Although the right to present evidence is guaranteed by no less than the Constitution itself for the protection of
the accused, this right may be waived expressly or impliedly. [32] This is in consonance with the doctrine of waiver which
recognizes that "x x x everyone has a right to waive, and agree to waive, the advantage of a law or rule made solely for
the benefit and protection of the individual in his private capacity, if it can be dispensed with and relinquished without
infringing on any public right, and without detriment to the community at large." [33]
The abovementioned doctrine is squarely applicable to the case at bar. Appellant was never prevented from
presenting evidence contrary to the stipulation of facts. If appellant believed that the testimony of the Chief Licensing
Officer of the POEA would be beneficial to her case, then it is the defense who should have presented him. Her
continuous failure to do so during trial was a waiver of her right to present the pertinent evidence to contradict the
stipulation of facts and establish her defense.
In view of the foregoing, the stipulation of facts proposed during trial by prosecution and admitted by defense counsel
is tantamount to a judicial admission by the appellant of the facts stipulated on. Controlling, therefore, is Section 4, Rule
129 of the Rules of Court which provides that:

"An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require
proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such
admission was made."

We now go to appellant's second and third assignment of errors. In her second assignment of error, appellant makes
much ado of the "judicial notice" taken by the lower court of the fact that appellant had been charged with another illegal
recruitment case,[34]and in considering the pendency thereof as evidence of the scheme and strategy adopted by the
accused. Appellant cites a violation of Section 3 of Rule 129 of the Rules of Court which provides that before the court
may take judicial notice of any matter, the parties shall be heard thereon if such matter is decisive of a material issue in
the case. It is claimed that the lower court never announced its intention to take judicial notice of the pendency of the
other illegal recruitment case nor did it allow the accused to be heard thereon.
It is true that as a general rule, courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of the contents of the records of other
cases, even when such cases have been tried or are pending in the same court, and notwithstanding the fact that both
cases may have been tried or are actually pending before the same judge. [35] However, this rule is subject to the exception
that:
"x x x in the absence of objection and as a matter of convenience to all parties, a court may properly treat all or any part of
the original record of the case filed in its archives as read into the records of a case pending before it, when with the
knowledge of the opposing party, reference is made to it, by name and number or in some other manner by which it is
sufficiently designated, x x x"[36] (underscoring supplied .)

The judicial notice taken by the lower court of the pendency of another illegal recruitment case against the appellant
falls squarely under the above exception in view of the fact that it was the appellant herself who introduced evidence on
the matter when she testified in open court as follows:
"Q: You mean to say . . . by the way, where (sic) were you at the NBI when Mrs. Cinco inquired from you about
placement abroad?
A: I was just invited by the personnel of the NBI and I was not allowed to go home.
Q: Why were you invited by the NBI?
A: They told me that there was a complaint against me.
Q: Complaint about what?
A: The same case.
Q: You mean illegal recruitment also?
A: Yes, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q: You made mention than an illegal recruitment case which was supposed to be the cause of your detention at the
NBI. . . .
I am not referring to this case, Mrs. Hernandez -- what happened to that case, what is the status of that case?
A: It is also in this sala.
COURT: It is already submitted for decision.[37]
Even assuming, however, that the lower court improperly took judicial notice of the pendency of another illegal
recruitment case against the appellant, the error would not be fatal to the prosecution's cause. The judgment of conviction
was not based on the existence of another illegal recruitment case filed against appellant by a different group of
complainants, but on the overwhelming evidence against her in the instant case.
Anent the last assignment of error, suffice it to say that we do not find any compelling reason to reverse the findings
of the lower court that appellant's bare denials cannot overthrow the positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
against her.
Well established is the rule that denials if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence are negative, self-serving
evidence which deserve no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary weight over the testimony of credible
witnesses who testify on affirmative matters. [38] That she did not merely deny, but likewise raised as an affirmative defense
her appointment as mere nominee-president of Philippine-Thai is a futile attempt at exculpating herself and is of no
consequence whatsoever when weighed against the positive declarations of witnesses that it was the appellant who
executed the acts of illegal recruitment as complained of.
Finally, under Article 39 of the New Labor Code, the penalty for illegal recruitment committed in large scale is life
imprisonment and a fine of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00). As previously held by this Court, life
imprisonment is not synonymous with reclusion perpetua.[39] The lower court erred in imposing "the penalty of life
imprisonment (reclusion perpetua) with the accessory penalties provided for by law; x x x"[40] (Underscoring supplied)
WHEREFORE, appellant's conviction of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale is hereby AFFIRMED, and the
penalty imposed MODIFIED as follows: the court sentences the accused to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to
pay a fine of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND (P100,000.00) PESOS without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency;
to return and pay to BENITO L. BERNABE the amount of TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P28,500.00)
PESOS; to ROBERT P. VELASQUEZ the amount of TWENTY TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P22,500.00) PESOS;
to GREGORIO P. MENDOZA the amount of TWENTY TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P22,500.00) PESOS; to
ARNEL MENDOZA the amount of TWENTY TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P22,500.00) PESOS also without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.