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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 201092 January 15, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff -Appellee,


vs.
JOEL AQUINO y CENDANA @ "AKONG," Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

Before this Court is an appeal from a Decision1 dated July 29, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04265, entitled
People of the Philippines v. Joel Aquino y Cendana alias Akong, which affirmed with modifications the Decision2 dated September 18
2009 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 12 which convicted appellant Joel Aquino y Cendana alias Akong for the
felony of Murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code in Criminal Case No. 483-M-2003 and for the crime of violation of
Republic Act No. 6539 otherwise known as the Anti-Camapping Act of 1972 in Criminal Case No. 484-M-2003.

The pertinent portion of the lnformation3 dated December 9, 2002 charging appellant with Murder in Criminal Case No. 483-M-2003
is reproduced here:

That on or about the 6th day of September, 2002, in San Jose del Monte City, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with an ice pick and with intent to kill one Jesus O. Lita, with
evident premeditation, treachery and abuse of superior strength, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said ice pick the said Jesus O. Lita, hitting him on
the different parts of his body, thereby inflicting upon him mortal wounds which directly caused his death.

On the other hand, the accusatory portion of the Information4 also dated December 9, 2002 accusing appellant with violating
Republic Act No. 6539 in Criminal Case No. 484-M-2003 reads:

That on or about the 6th day of September, 2002, in San Jose del Monte City, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with an ice pick and by means of force, violence and
intimidation, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with
intent [to] gain and without the knowledge and consent of the owner thereof, take, steal and carry away with them one (1) tricycle
with Plate No. TP-9198 valued at ₱120,500.00, belonging to Jesus Lita and Sisinio Contridas, to the damage and prejudice of the said
owners in the said amount of ₱120,500.00; and that on the occasion or by reason of said carnapping, the said accused, pursuant to
their conspiracy and with intent to kill, attack, assault and stab Jesus Lita, owner and driver of the said tricycle, hitting him on the
different parts of his body which directly caused his death.

Arraignment for the two criminal cases was jointly held on February 13, 2004 wherein appellant pleaded "NOT GUILTY" to both
charges.5

As indicated in the Appellee’s Brief, the following narration constitutes the prosecution’s summation of this case:

On September 5, 2005, at around 8:30 in the evening, the victim Jesus Lita, accompanied by his ten-year old son, Jefferson, went out
aboard the former’s black Kawasaki tricycle. Upon reaching San Jose del Monte Elementary School, appellant Joel Aquino together
with Noynoy Almoguera a.k.a. Negro, Rodnal, Bing, John Doe and Peter Doe boarded the tricycle. Noynoy Almoguera instructed the
victim to proceed to the nipa hut owned by appellant.

Upon reaching the said nipa hut, Jesus Lita, appellant and his companions had a shabu session while Jefferson was watching TV. After
using shabu, Noynoy Almoguera demanded from the victim to pay Five Hundred Pesos (₱500.00), but the victim said that he had no
money. Appellant shouted at the victim demanding him to pay. Bing suggested to her companions that they leave the nipa hut. Thus,
the victim mounted his tricycle and started the engine. Noynoy Almoguera and John Doe rode in the tricycle behind the victim while
appellant and Rodnal rode in the sidecar with Jefferson [sitting] at the toolbox of the tricycle. Inside the tricycle, appellant pointed a
knife at Jefferson while Noynoy Almoguera stabbed the victim’s side. After the victim was stabbed, he was transferred inside the
tricycle while appellant drove the tricycle to his friend’s house where they again stabbed the victim using the latter’s own knife. Then
they loaded the victim to the tricycle and drove to a grassy area where appellant and his companions dumped the body of the victim.
Thereafter, they returned to appellant’s residence. Jefferson told the sister of appellant about the death of his father but the sister of
appellant only told him to sleep.

The next day, Jefferson was brought to the jeepney terminal where he rode a jeepney to get home. Jefferson told his mother, Ma.
Theresa Calitisan-Lita, about the death of his father.

In the meantime, SPO3 Servillano Lactao Cabading received a call from Barangay Captain Danilo Rogelio of Barangay San Rafael IV, San
Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan thru the two (2) way radio, that the body of a male person with several stab wounds was found dead on
a grassy area beside the road of the said barangay. Immediately, SPO3 Cabading together with a police aide proceeded to the area.
Thereat, they found the dead body whom they identified thru his Driver’s License in his wallet as Jesus Lita, the victim. Also recovered
were a big stainless ice pick about 18 inches long including the handle and a tricycle key. The police officers brought the body of the
victim to the Sapang Palay District Hospital. Thereafter, they proceeded to the address of the victim.

Ma. Theresa Calitisan-Lita and Jefferson were about to leave for the morgue when they met SPO3 Cabading outside their residence.
SPO3 Cabading informed Ma. Theresa that the body of the victim was found in Barangay San Rafael IV. Jefferson told SPO3 Cabading
that he was with his father at the time of his death and he brought the police officers to the place where his father was stabbed and
to the hut owned by appellant. Thereat, the police officers recovered a maroon colored knife case and the sandals of the victim.
Appellant was invited to the police station for questioning but he refused alleging that he does not know anything about the incident.
The police officers were able to obtain a picture of appellant which was shown to Jefferson and he positively identified the same as
"Akong" one of those who stabbed his father. Likewise, a video footage of Noynoy Almoguera alias "Negro" was shown to Jefferson
and he likewise identified the person in the video footage as the same "Negro" who also stabbed his father.

Dr. Richard Ivan Viray, medico-legal, who conducted an autopsy on the victim, concluded that cause of death is Hemorrhagic Shock
due to multiple stab wounds.6

However, appellant held a different version of the events of this case. In his Appellant’s Brief, the succeeding account is entered:

[Appellant] denied the accusations against him. On September 6, 2002, he was working as a laborer/mason in the construction of his
uncle’s (Rene Cendana) house located at Area C, Acacia Homes, Cavite, together with Paul Maglaque, Eman Lozada, Raul Lozada and
Lorenzo Cendana. They worked from 7:30 x x x in the morning until 4:30 x x x in the afternoon, with lunch and "merienda" breaks
from 11:30 x x x to 12:00 o’clock noon and 3:00 o’clock to 3:15 x x x in the afternoon, respectively. After work, they just stayed in their
barracks located within their workplace. They would prepare their food and take supper at around 7:00 o’clock to 7:30 x x x in the
evening, after which, they would smoke cigarettes. They would go to bed at around 8:00 o’clock to 9:00 o’clock in the evening.

He goes home to Sapang Palay, San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan every Saturday. During Mondays, he would leave their house at
around 4:00 o’clock to 5:00 o’clock in the morning and would arrive at his workplace at around 8:00 o’clock or 9:00 o’clock in the
morning.

[Appellant] does not know either Ma. Theresa Lita, his son Jefferson, or the victim Jesus Lita. Also, he does not know a certain Noynoy
Almoguera and alias Rodnal. Likewise, he denied using illegal drugs (i.e., shabu).

[Appellant] knew SPO3 Cabading because the former had served as a police aide to him since he was seventeen (17) years old. He had
no misunderstanding with the police officer. He cannot think of any reason why Ma. Theresa Lita and Jefferson pointed to him as one
of the perpetrators of the subject crimes.

Paul Maglague (Paul) corroborated [appellant’s] testimony. On September 6, 2002, a Friday, [appellant] was working with him,
together with Roldan Lozada and Oweng Cendana, at Area C, Dasmariñas, Cavite, in the construction of Boy Cendana’s house, Paul’s
brother-in-law. Paul was the cement mixer while [appellant], being his partner, carries it to wherever it is needed. Their work ends at
5:00 o’clock in the afternoon. After their work, they just stayed in their barracks located within their workplace. [Appellant] was their
cook. They usually sleep at around 8:00 o’clock to 9:00 o’clock in the evening. They get their pay only during Saturdays. Hence, they
would go home to Bulacan every Saturday.

At around 6:00 o’clock to 7:00 o’clock in the evening of September 7, 2002, they left Cavite and went to their respective homes in
Bulacan.

On the night of September 5, 2002, [appellant] slept together with Paul and their other co-workers inside their barracks. Paul woke up
in the middle of the night to urinate and was not able to see whether the accused was there, as there were no lights in the place
where they were sleeping. The following morning, [appellant] was the one who cooked their food.7 (Citations omitted.)

At the conclusion of trial, a guilty verdict was handed down by the trial court on both criminal charges. The dispositive portion of the
assailed September 18, 2009 Decision states:

WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 483-M-2003, the Court finds the Accused JOEL AQUINO alias "Akong" guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Murder and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua. The Court hereby orders the
accused JOEL AQUINO to pay the heirs of Jesus Lita, the expenses incurred in his burial and funeral services in the total amount of
Sixty Thousand One Hundred (₱60,100.00) Pesos as actual damages, the sum of Fifty Thousand (₱50,000.00) Pesos as moral damages,
and ₱30,000.00 as exemplary damages.

In Criminal Case No. 484-M-2003, the Court likewise finds the accused JOEL AQUINO alias "Akong" guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
violating R.A. 6539, otherwise known as the Anti-Carnapping Law, and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of Life
Imprisonment pursuant to Section 14 of the said R.A. 6539. The said accused is also ordered to pay the amount of Sixty-Five
Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy-Five (₱65,875.00) Pesos representing the total installment payments of the Motorcycle.

The accused is also ordered to pay costs of this suit.8

Insisting on his innocence, appellant filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. However, the appellate court upheld the judgment of
the trial court along with some modifications. The dispositive portion of the assailed July 29, 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals, in
turn, reads:

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is hereby MODIFIED, as follows:

a) In Criminal Case No. 483-M-2003, appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for
parole. Appellant is ordered to pay the heirs of the victim actual damages in the sum of ₱60,100.00, duly proven during the
trial, ₱75,000.00 civil indemnity, ₱75,000.00 moral damages and ₱30,000.00 exemplary damages.

b) In Criminal Case No. 484-M-2003, appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of Fourteen (14) years and
Eight (8) months, as minimum, to Seventeen (17) years and Four (4) months, as maximum and to pay the sum of ₱65,875.00
representing the total installment payments of the motorcycle.9

Hence, appellant seeks the Court’s favorable action on the instant appeal. In his Brief, appellant reiterated the following errors
allegedly committed by the trial court when it adjudged him guilty of the charges leveled against him:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE
CRIMES CHARGED.

II

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ALLEGED LONE EYEWITNESS POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT AS ONE OF THE PERPETRATORS OF THE CRIMES.

III

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT TREACHERY ATTENDED THE KILLING.10

Appellant challenges his conviction by arguing that the trial court was not able to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt because it
only relied on the incredible and inconsistent testimony of Jefferson Lita – the sole eyewitness presented by the prosecution. He
contends that if Jefferson was indeed present during the murder of his father, Jesus Lita, then it would be highly inconceivable that
Jefferson would have lived to tell that tale since he would most likely be also killed by the perpetrators being an eyewitness to the
crime. Furthermore, appellant maintains that he cannot possibly have committed the crimes attributed to him because, on the night
that Jesus was murdered, he was asleep in the barracks of a construction site somewhere in Dasmariñas City, Cavite.

We are not persuaded.

It is settled in jurisprudence that, absent any showing that the lower court overlooked circumstances which would overturn the final
outcome of the case, due respect must be made to its assessment and factual findings, moreover, such findings, when affirmed by the
Court of Appeals, are generally binding and conclusive upon this Court.11 After a thorough examination of the records of this case, we
find no compelling reason to doubt the veracity of the findings and conclusions made by the trial court.

With regard to appellant’s inquiry into the credibility of the lone eyewitness of the prosecution, we depend upon the principle that
the trial court is in a better position to adjudge the credibility of a witness. In People v. Vergara,12 we elaborated on this premise in
this wise:

When it comes to the matter of credibility of a witness, settled are the guiding rules some of which are that (1) the appellate court
will not disturb the factual findings of the lower court, unless there is a showing that it had overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied
some fact or circumstance of weight and substance that would have affected the result of the case, which showing is absent herein;
(2) the findings of the trial court pertaining to the credibility of a witness is entitled to great respect since it had the opportunity to
examine his demeanor as he testified on the witness stand, and, therefore, can discern if such witness is telling the truth or not; and
(3) a witness who testifies in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner and remains consistent on cross-
examination is a credible witness.13

Jurisprudence also tells us that when a testimony is given in a candid and straightforward manner, there is no room for doubt that the
witness is telling the truth.14 A perusal of the testimony of Jefferson indicates that he testified in a manner that satisfies the
aforementioned test of credibility. More importantly, during his time at the witness stand, Jefferson positively and categorically
identified appellant as one of the individuals who stabbed his father.

We quote the relevant portions of Jefferson’s detailed testimony:

[PROSECUTOR CARAIG]

Q Why do you know that your father died on the early morning of September 6, 2002, in Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte?

xxxx

A Because we left the house together at 8:30 in the evening, and my father looked at the calendar.
Q You said you were with your father. Do you know where were you going at that time?

A To the house of Akong.

Q And what mode of transportation did you take, as you said, you were going to the house of Akong?

A Our tricycle, sir.

Q Do you know the trade mark of that tricycle of your father?

A Kawasaki, sir.

Q Do you know the color of that tricycle?

A Black, sir.

Q While on your way to the residence of Akong, could you please tell us if there was any unusual incident that took place?

A Yes, sir, there was.

Q What was that?

A My father was being stabbed. x x x x

Q Did you see who stabbed your father?

A Yes, sir.

Q How many?

A There were three (3) of them.

Q If you will see those three (3) persons again, can you still identify them?

A Yes, sir.

Q Are they inside the courtroom?

A Yes, sir.

Q Will you please look around and point to them.

INTERPRETER

Witness pointed to accused Joel Aquino inside the courtroom.

[PROSECUTOR CARAIG]

Q Who else?
A The others are not here.

Q Now, prior to the stabbing incident and you were able to recognize the three, one of them you identified here inside the courtroom.
What was Joel Aquino doing when you first saw him?

A He was inside our tricycle sitting.

Q You are referring to the sidecar of your tricycle?

A Yes, sir.

Q You said a while ago that you and your father were only the one[s] on board the tricycle. Why was he, that Joel, now inside the
tricycle?

A They rode in our tricycle.

Q You are referring to Aquino together with his two (2) companions?

A Yes, sir.

Q Where in particular did these three (3) persons ride in your tricycle?

A Joel Aquino was inside the sidecar of our tricycle while the other two (2) rode at the back of my father.

Q At that precise moment, where were you seated?

A Also inside the sidecar, sir.

Q You are sitting side by side with Aquino? Is that what you mean?

A No, sir.

Q While inside the tricycle, what did Aquino do, if any?

A He pointed his knife at me.

Q What else?

A Nothing else.

Q What about the two (2) companions, what did they do, if any?

A Inunahan nila agad ang Tatay ko sa tagiliran.

Q What do you mean by "inunahan"?

A They stabbed my father on his side.

Q Did you see what part of the body of your father was stabbed?
COURT:

Witness pointing to the right side of his stomach.

[PROSECUTOR CARAIG]

Q What happened to your father when he was stabbed?

A He appeared dizzy and he was placed inside the sidecar.

Q And who brought your father inside the sidecar?

A The two (2) other persons previously at the back of my father.

Q And at that time, what did Joel do?

A He started driving the tricycle.

Q Did Aquino drive the tricycle after he started it?

A Yes, sir.

xxxx

Q And did you come to know where did Joel Aquino proceed?

A To their house, sir.

Q How far was that house of Aquino from the place where your father was stabbed?

A Quite far, sir.

Q Were you able to reach the house of Joel Aquino?

A Yes, sir.

Q What did Aquino and these two (2) persons do to your father when you reached his house?

A They brought him down from the tricycle.

Q Where did these three (3) persons bring your father?

A They brought my father to their friend.

Q Did you come to know who was that friend where your father was brought?

A I do not know the name of their friend.

Q What happened to your father when he was brought to their friend?


A My father was already dying and they went back to him and stabbed him several times.

Q How many times was your father stabbed at that time?

A I do not know, sir.

Q Did you see who stabbed him again?

A Yes, sir.

Q Who?

A The three (3) of them.

Q Do you mean to say that Aquino at that time stabbed your father?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you see what kind of weapon did these three (3) persons use in stabbing your father? A My father’s own knife.

Q Who among the three (3) used your father’s knife?

A Akong po.

Q That Akong was the friend of the three (3) persons to where these three (3) persons brought your father?

A No, sir.

Q You are referring to one of the two (2) companions of Joel?

A Yes, sir.

Q And after that what else transpired next?

A They boarded my father to the tricycle.

Q How about you?

A While they were boarding my father to the tricycle, Akong pointed his knife at my stomach.

Q Were the three (3) persons able to board your father inside your tricycle?

A Yes, sir.

Q And what did the three (3) persons do after your father was already inside the tricycle?

A They started the tricycle.

Q And then what happened next?


A After they started the motorcycle, they drove the tricycle and threw away my father.

Q Did you see the act of these three (3) persons throwing your father away from the tricycle?

A Yes, sir.

Q How far were you from them when they threw your father?

A More or less about 5 to 6 meters, sir.

Q Describe the place where your father was thrown.

A It was a grassy area.

Q The grass are tall?

A Short grass, sir.

Q And after your father was thrown away, what did the three (3) persons do?

A They started our tricycle and left my father.15

In the face of this serious accusation, appellant puts forward the defense of alibi. We have held that for the defense of alibi to prosper,
the accused must prove not only that he was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime, but also that it was
physically impossible for him to be at the locus delicti or within its immediate vicinity.16 These requirements of time and place must
be strictly met. A review of the evidence presented by appellant reveals that it falls short of the standard set by jurisprudence.
Appellant failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for him to be at San Jose Del Monte
City, Bulacan when Jesus was murdered. His own testimony revealed that the distance between the locus delicti and Dasmariñas City,
Cavite is only a four to five hour regular commute.17 Thus, it would not be physically impossible for him to make the round trip
between those two points from dusk till dawn of September 5-6, 2002 and still have more than enough time to participate in the
events surrounding the murder of Jesus.

Furthermore, the only person that could corroborate appellant’s alibi is his friend and former co-worker, Paul Maglaque. However, we
have consistently assigned less probative weight to a defense of alibi when it is corroborated by friends and relatives since we have
established in jurisprudence that, in order for corroboration to be credible, the same must be offered preferably by disinterested
witnesses.18 Clearly, due to his friendship with appellant, Maglaque cannot be considered as a disinterested witness.

Nevertheless, it is jurisprudentially settled that positive identification prevails over alibi since the latter can easily be fabricated and is
inherently unreliable.19 It is likewise settled that where there is nothing to indicate that a witness for the prosecution was actuated
by improper motive, the presumption is that he was not so actuated and his testimony is entitled to full faith and credit.20 In the case
at bar, no allegation was made nor proven to show that Jefferson had any ill motive to falsely testify against appellant.

With regard to appellant’s argument that Jefferson would surely have also been killed by his father’s murderers had he indeed
witnessed the crime, we can only surmise and speculate on this point. Whatever may be the killers’ motivation to spare Jefferson’s
life remains a mystery. Nonetheless, it does not adversely affect what has been clearly established in this case and that is the cold-
blooded murder of Jesus by a group of assailants which includes herein appellant.

According to jurisprudence, to be convicted of murder, the following must be established: (1) a person was killed; (2) the accused
killed him; the killing was with the attendance of any of the qualifying circumstances under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code; and
(4) the killing neither constitutes parricide nor infanticide.21

Contrary to appellant’s assertion, the qualifying circumstance of treachery did attend the killing of Jesus.1âwphi1 We have
consistently held that treachery is present when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, methods,
or forms in the execution, which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to the offender arising from the
defense which the offended party might make.22 On this point, we quote with approval the Court of Appeals’ discussion of this
aspect of the case, to wit:

The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by the aggressor on an unsuspecting victim, depriving him of any real
chance to defend himself. Even when the victim was forewarned of the danger to his person, treachery may still be appreciated since
what is decisive is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victim to defend himself or to retaliate. Records disclose
that Jesus was stabbed by the group on the lateral part of his body while he was under the impression that they were simply leaving
the place where they had [a] shabu session. Judicial notice can be taken that when the tricycle driver is seated on the motorcycle, his
head is usually higher or at the level of the roof of the side car which leaves his torso exposed to the passengers who are seated in the
side car. Hence, there was no way for Jesus to even be forewarned of the intended stabbing of his body both from the people seated
in the side car and those seated behind him. Thus, the trial court’s finding of treachery should be affirmed. There is treachery when
the means, methods, and forms of execution gave the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate; and such
means, methods, and forms of execution were deliberately and consciously adopted by the accused without danger to his person.
What is decisive in an appreciation of treachery is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victim to defend
himself.23 (Citations omitted.)

However, in contrast to the pronouncements of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals, we cannot consider abuse of superior
strength as an aggravating circumstance in this case. As per jurisprudence, when the circumstance of abuse of superior strength
concurs with treachery, the former is absorbed in the latter.24 Since there is no aggravating or mitigating circumstance present, the
proper penalty is reclusion perpetua, in accordance with Article 63 paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code,25 it being the lesser
penalty between the two indivisible penalties for the felony of murder which is reclusion perpetua to death.

However, we concur with the modification made by the Court of Appeals with respect to the penalty of life imprisonment for
carnapping originally imposed by the trial court. Life imprisonment has long been replaced with the penalty of reclusion perpetua to
death by virtue of Republic Act No. 7659. Furthermore, the said penalty is applicable only to the special complex crime of carnapping
with homicide which is not obtaining in this case. Jurisprudence tells us that to prove the special complex crime of carnapping with
homicide, there must be proof not only of the essential elements of carnapping, but also that it was the original criminal design of the
culprit and the killing was perpetrated in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the occasion thereof.26 The appellate
court correctly observed that the killing of Jesus cannot qualify the carnapping into a special complex crime because the carnapping
was merely an afterthought when the victim’s death was already fait accompli. Thus, appellant is guilty only of simple carnapping.

It is enshrined in jurisprudence that when death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex
delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; and (5)
temperate damages.27

There being no aggravating circumstance since, as discussed earlier, abuse of superior strength is absorbed in the qualifying
circumstance of treachery, the award of ₱75,000.00 as moral damages should be decreased to ₱50,000.00. Such an amount is granted
even in the absence of proof of mental and emotional suffering of the victim’s heirs.28

Pursuant to current jurisprudence, the award of civil indemnity in the amount of ₱75,000.0029 and exemplary damages in the
amount of ₱30,000.0030 is correct. The amount of actual damages duly proven in court in the sum of ₱60,100.00 is likewise upheld.
Finally, we impose interest at the rate of 6% per annum on all damages from the date of finality of this ruling until fully paid.31

With regard to appellant’s conviction for simple carnapping, we affirm the penalty of imprisonment imposed by the Court of Appeals
which is fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months, as maximum. Likewise,
we uphold the order upon appellant to pay the sum of ₱65,875.00 representing the total amount of the installment payments made
on the motorcycle.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated July 29, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04265, affirming
the conviction of appellant Joel Aquino Cendana alias "Akong" in Criminal Cases No. 483-M-2003 and 484-M-2003, is hereby
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS that:

(1) The amount of moral damages to be paid by appellant Joel Aquino Cendana alias "Akong" in Criminal Case No. 483-M-
2003, is decreased from Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (₱75,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (PS0,000.00); and

(2) Appellant Joel Aquino Cendana alias Akong is ordered to pay interest on all damages at the legal rate of six percent ( 6%)
per annum from the date of finality of this judgment.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 179041 April 1, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ARNEL NOCUM,* REY JOHNNY RAMOS, CARLOS JUN POSADAS, PANDAO POLING PANGANDAG (all at large), Accused,
REYNALDO MALLARI, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

This is an appeal from the January 31, 2007 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00930, which dismissed the
appeal of appellant Reynaldo Mallari (Mallari) and affirmed with modification the December 15, 2003 Decision 2 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 276, Muntinlupa City in Criminal Case No. 00-551 finding Mallari guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
carnapping with homicide.

Factual Antecedents

On May 25, 2000, an Information3 was filed charging Mallari and co-accused Arne! Nocum (Nocum ), Rey Johnny Ramos (Ramos),
Carlos Jun Posadas (Posadas) and Pandao Poling Pangandag alias Rex Pangandag (Pangandag) with violation of Republic Act (RA) No.
6539, otherwise known as the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972, as amended by RA 7659. 4 The accusatory portion of the Information
reads:

That on or about September 12, 1998 in Muntinlupa City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, with intent to gain for themselves and without the
consent of the owner, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take and carry away one motor vehicle more
particularly described as follows:

Make/Type :- Toyota Tamaraw FX


Motor No. :- 7K-0157101
Chassis No. :- KF52-011609
Plate No. :- PXT- 143
Color :- Med. Grey Net
valued at more or less Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (₱300,000.00) to the damage and prejudice of its owner, Lourdes Eleccion, in
the aforestated amount and in the course of the commission thereof, Erico Medel, the driver of the said vehicle, was killed.

CONTRARY TO LAW.5

When the case was called for arraignment on November 10, 2000, only Mallari appeared as his co-accused remain at-large. He
pleaded "not guilty" to the charge.6 Thereafter, trial ensued.

The Prosecution's Version

The prosecution’s lone witness was Chris Mahilac (Mahilac), a self-confessed member of "FX gang," a syndicate notorious for
carjacking Toyota FX vehicles. The modus operandi of the gang is to carnap Toyota FX vehicles, transport them to Mindanao, and have
them registered and sold to prospective buyers there. Together with Mallari and several others, Mahilac was previously charged with
carnapping7 before the RTC of Parañaque City but was later on discharged to be a state witness. 8 Consequently, Mahilac was placed
under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice (DOJ). 9

Mahilac testified that the "FX gang" was active in Metro Manila and Mindanao. 10 Nocum led the syndicate’s criminal activities in
Metro Manila while Pangandag, who was the head of the Land Transportation Office in Lanao Del Norte, 11 led the Mindanao
operations.12 Ramos, Posadas and Mallari were members of the gang.13

On September 6, 1998, while in Calamba, Laguna, Mahilac received a call from Nocum 14 informing him of Pangandag’s arrival in
Manila on September 12, 1998.15 Subsequently, Mahilac, Nocum, Pangandag, Ramos, Posadas and Mallari met in Chowking fastfood
restaurant in Poblacion, Muntinlupa City.16 During the said meeting, Pangandag demanded that their group deliver two Toyota FX
vehicles to him in Lanao Del Norte by Monday or Tuesday of the following week. 17 Nocum agreed and gave Mallari ₱20,000.00 for
operating expenses. Mahilac received ₱3,500.00 and was instructed to meet the group in Cagayan de Oro City. 18

As the group was departing from the restaurant, a Toyota FX taxi with plate number PXT-143 passed-by.19 Mallari flagged it down,
talked to the driver, and boarded the same together with Ramos and Posadas.20 They proceeded south.21

On September 14, 1998, Mahilac arrived in Cagayan de Oro City and proceeded to McDonald’s Restaurant on Limketkai Street.22
Mallari, Ramos and Posadas arrived at around 4:14 p.m. on board the same Toyota FX taxi that Mallari flagged down in Muntinlupa
City.23 They agreed to proceed to Iligan City en route to Tubod, Lanao del Norte, where said vehicle was to be delivered to
Pangandag.24 Mallari told Mahilac not to board the said vehicle because its back portion reeked of the dried blood of the FX taxi
driver, Erico Medel (Medel), who was stabbed to death while resisting the group. 25 Mallari also informed Mahilac that Medel’s
corpse was dumped somewhere in Atimonan, Quezon.26 Mahilac thus took a taxi to Iligan City.27

Upon their arrival in Iligan City, Pangandag instructed them to take the vehicle to his residence in Tubod, Lanao del Norte. 28 They
arrived at Pangandag’s residence and were given ₱250,000.00 as consideration for the vehicle. 29 Mahilac received ₱20,000.00 as his
share.

The gang continued to engage in this nefarious activity until Mahilac’s arrest by law enforcement officers. 30

In the meantime, on September 27, 1999, a cadaver in advance state of decomposition was found along Zigzag Road, Barangay
Malinao Ilaya, Atimonan, Quezon. It was interred in the municipal cemetery of Atimonan, Quezon but was later on exhumed for
identification.31 Based on the four extracted teeth and a piece of white "FILA" shoe,32 the mother and the wife of the victim
positively identified the cadaver to be that of Medel.

Appellant's Version

Mallari denied any knowledge of the carnapping incident. 33 He also denied knowing Nocum, Ramos and Posadas.34 He testified that
he was with his wife and two children in their home in Tunasan, Muntinlupa City at the time the alleged carnapping occurred. 35 He
claimed that on June 25, 1999, four men in civilian clothes came to his house and forced him to board a van 36 where he was
blindfolded. He was then taken to Camp Crame, Quezon City.37

According to Mallari, Mahilac was his employer.38 He was unaware of Mahilac’s reason for implicating him in the case.39

Mallari further testified that while in detention, he was made to sign a document which he cannot remember.40 He was taken to the
DOJ and told that his case would be studied if he signs a document the contents of which were duly explained to him. 41 Should he
not sign the same, he will be charged immediately with carnapping with homicide.42 He therefore decided to sign the documents
without the assistance of a lawyer, but continued to be detained in Camp Crame, Quezon City. 43

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On December 15, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision 44 finding Mallari guilty beyond reasonable doubt of carnapping with homicide.
The trial court ruled that the testimony of Mahilac that Mallari participated in the theft of the FX taxi and the killing of its driver,
Medel, cannot be negated by Mallari’s denial and uncorroborated alibi. It also found that the commission of the crime was a result of
a planned operation with Mallari and all the accused doing their assigned tasks to ensure the consummation of their common
criminal objective.45

The trial court further held that Mahilac would not have known about the killing of Medel if he had not been informed by Mallari. He
had no reason to falsely accuse Mallari and even implicated himself by: (1) admitting his presence during the planned theft of the FX
taxi; (2) admitting his presence in Cagayan De Oro City together with Mallari; (3) directing Mallari and his co-accused to proceed with
him to Pangandag in Lanao Del Norte; and (4) receiving the sum of ₱20,000.00 as his share in the criminal operation.

The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:

PREMISES CONSIDERED, Accused Reynaldo Mallari is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of CARNAPPING WITH
HOMICIDE and is hereby sentenced to die by lethal injection.

The Jail Warden of Muntinlupa City is hereby directed to bring Reynaldo Mallari to the New Bilibid Prison where he may serve his
sentence.

It Is SO ORDERED.46

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On January 31, 2007, the CA rendered its Decision 47 affirming with modification the ruling of the trial court. The appellate court held
that Mahilac’s positive identification of Mallari as a member of the "FX gang" and his participation in the theft of the FX taxi and
killing of its driver, Medel, sufficiently established his guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. The discovery of the
remains of Medel in the vicinity mentioned by Mallari to Mahilac also gave credence to the latter’s testimony.
The CA further held that the trial court’s determination on the credibility of Mahilac must be given great respect and, as a rule, will
not be reversed on appeal in the absence of cogent reason. The CA also found no ill-motive on the part of Mahilac to testify falsely
against Mallari.

According to the CA, the fact that the prosecution presented Mahilac as its sole witness is of no moment. His positive and credible
testimony is sufficient to convict Mallari,48 whose defense of denial and alibi cannot prevail over the straightforward testimony of the
former.49

However, the CA modified the penalty from death to reclusion perpetua pursuant to RA 934650 which prohibited the imposition of
the death penalty.51

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The assailed December 15, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Muntinlupa City, Branch 276, in Criminal Case No. 00-551, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the death penalty
imposed is reduced to reclusion perpetua, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346, which did away with the imposition of death penalty.

SO ORDERED.52

Mallari filed a Notice of Appeal.53 On October 15, 2007,54 we accepted the appeal and notified the parties to file their supplemental
briefs. However, Mallari opted not to file a supplemental brief in the absence of new issues to be raised. For its part, the Office of the
Solicitor General manifested that it is likewise adopting the Appellee’s Brief it filed with the CA as its Supplemental Brief.55

The Assignment of Errors

The errors assigned in the Appellant’s Brief are as follows:

I. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT DESPITE THE LACK OF MATERIAL EVIDENCE TO JUSTIFY HIS CONVICTION; and

II. GRANTING WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT THE ACCUSED- APPELLANT COMMITTED THE CRIME CHARGED, THE COURT A QUO
GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING THE SUPREME PENALTY OF DEATH DESPITE THE LACK OF EVIDENCE OTHER THAN THE MERE
ALLEGATION BY THE LONE PROSECUTION WITNESS CHRIS MAHILAC THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT PARTICIPATED IN THE
KILLING OF ERIC MEDEL.56

Mallari assails the credibility of Mahilac. He contends that as a state witness under the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ,
Mahilac would implicate just any person as his cohort to justify his inclusion in the program. 57 Mallari also argues that the evidence
of the prosecution is not sufficient to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. 58

On the other hand, the prosecution maintains that the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to convict Mallari. 59 Finally, the
prosecution sought civil indemnity and moral damages of ₱50,000.00 each. 60

Our Ruling

The appeal is unmeritorious.

Carnapping defined; Burden of the prosecution in a case for Carnapping with Homicide.

Section 2 of RA 6539 defines carnapping as "the taking, with intent to gain, of a motor vehicle belonging to another without the
latter’s consent, or by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force upon things." The crime of carnapping
with homicide is punishable under Section 1461 of the said law, as amended by Section 20 of RA 7659. To prove the special complex
crime of carnapping with homicide, there must be proof not only of the essential elements of carnapping, but also that it was the
original criminal design of the culprit and the killing was perpetrated "in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the
occasion thereof." Thus, the prosecution in this case has the burden of proving that: (1) Mallari took the Toyota FX taxi; (2) his original
criminal design was carnapping; (3) he killed the driver, Medel; and (4) the killing was perpetrated "in the course of the commission of
the carnapping or on the occasion thereof."62

The trial and appellate courts held that the prosecution was able to discharge its burden of proving that Mallari was guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of carnapping with homicide. These courts ruled that Mallari stole the FX taxi driven by Medel after he agreed to
illegally supply his co-accused with this type of vehicle. The trial and appellate courts found that Mallari killed Medel in the course of
the commission of the carnapping.

We find no reason to deviate from these courts’ evaluation as to Mallari’s culpability.

The crime of carnapping with homicide, as well as the identity of Mallari as one of the perpetrators of the crime, is duly established
by circumstantial evidence.

The culpability of Mallari for the complex crime of carnapping with homicide is duly established by the confluence of circumstantial
evidence. Mahilac testified that he was present when Mallari and his co-accused, all members of the "FX Gang," gathered in
Muntinlupa City to plan and conspire to steal vehicles and sell them to unscrupulous buyers in Mindanao. Immediately after said
meeting, Mahilac saw Mallari hail the FX taxi driven by Medel, talk to him, board it together with two other conspirators, and head
south towards the direction of Quezon province. A few days later, Mallari and his companions met Mahilac in Cagayan De Oro City on
board the same FX taxi they rode in Muntinlupa City. All these show that Mallari’s original criminal design was to carnap the taxi and
that he accomplished his purpose without the consent of its owner. In addition, when the vehicle was brought to Cagayan de Oro City,
its driver, Medel, was no longer with them. The vehicle also reeked of dried human blood. Upon inquiry by Mahilac, Mallari admitted
that the dried blood belonged to Medel who had to be killed for resisting the group. Mallari also told him that Medel’s body was
dumped along Zigzag Road in Atimonan, Quezon. Mallari and his co-accused received ₱250,000.00 upon delivery of the FX taxi to its
final destination. These prove that Medel was killed in the course of the commission of the carnapping.

The identity of Medel as the driver of the taxi was established by his mother and wife who both stated that he was the driver of the
taxi on the day it was stolen by Mallari and his co-conspirators.63 The two later on identified his corpse when it was discovered in the
same vicinity which Mallari told Mahilac to be the place where they dumped the dead body of Medel. 64

In fine, all the elements of the special complex crime of carnapping with homicide, as well as the identity of Mallari as one of the
perpetrators of the crime, were all proved beyond reasonable doubt. The foregoing circumstances inevitably lead to the lone, fair and
reasonable conclusion that Mallari participated in stealing the FX taxi driven by Medel and in killing him.

Mallari’s defense of alibi deserves no credence.

Mallari’s claim that he was helping his wife with household chores at the time the crime was committed does not deserve credence.
This defense of alibi cannot prevail over the testimony of Mahilac which, taken in its entirety, leads to the reasonable conclusion that
Mallari participated in the commission of the crime.

Moreover, alibi is inherently weak, unreliable, and can be easily fabricated.65 Hence, it must be supported by credible corroboration
from disinterested witnesses, and if not, is fatal to the accused. 66 Here, Mallari could have presented evidence to support his alibi,
but oddly, he did not. Thus, such a defense fails.

The Penalty

Under the last clause of Section 14 of the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972 as amended by Section 20 of RA 7659, the penalty of reclusion
perpetua to death shall be imposed when the owner or driver of the vehicle is killed in the course of the commission of the
carnapping or on the occasion thereof.67 In this case, the trial court considered as aggravating circumstance the commission of the
offense by a member of an organized or syndicated crime group under Article 62 of the RPC as amended by RA 7659 68 and, hence,
imposed upon Mallari the death penalty.

However, under Rule 110, Section 8 of the Rules of Court, all aggravating and qualifying circumstances must be alleged in the
Information. This new rule took effect on December 1, 2000, but applies retroactively to pending cases since it is favorable to the
appellant.69 Here, there is no allegation in the Information that Mallari was a member of a syndicate or that he and his companions
"had formed part of a group organized for the general purpose of committing crimes for gain, which is the essence of a syndicated or
organized crime group."70 Hence, the same cannot be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance against Mallari. Thus, in
consonance with Article 63(2) of the RPC, which provides that in the absence of any aggravating circumstance in the commission of
the offense, the lesser penalty shall be applied. Mallari must, therefore, suffer the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua. 71 Mallari is
also not eligible for parole pursuant to Section 372 of RA 9346.

The Damages

For the killing of Medel, we award to his heirs the amount of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence. 73
Said heirs are also entitled to an award of moral damages in the sum of ₱50,000.00 as in all cases of murder and homicide, without
need of allegation and proof other than the death of the victim. 74 We cannot, however, award actual damages due to the absence of
receipts to substantiate the expenses incurred for Medel’s funeral. The rule is that only duly receipted expenses can be the basis of
actual damages.75 "Nonetheless, under Article 2224 of the Civil Code, temperate damages may be recovered as it cannot be denied
that the heirs of the victim suffered pecuniary loss although the exact amount was not proved."76 We therefore award the sum of
₱25,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of actual damages to the heirs of Medel.. "In addition, and in conformity with current policy,
we also impose on all the monetary awards for damages an interest at the legal rate of 6o/o from date of finality of this Decision until
fully paid."77

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00930 finding appellant Reynaldo
Mallari guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the special complex crime of carnapping with homicide is AFFIRMED with the following
modifications: ( 1) appellant Reynaldo Mallari is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole;
and, (2) appellant Reynaldo Mallari is ordered to pay the heirs of Erico Medel the amounts of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity,
₱50,000.00 as moral damages, ₱25,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of actual damages, and interest on all these damages
assessed at the legal rate of 6% from date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 188708 July 31, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
ALAMADA MACABANDO, Appellant.

DECISION
BRION, J.:

This is an appeal filed by appellant Alamada Macabando assailing the February 24, 2009 decision1 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00208-MIN. The CA decision affirmed in toto the August 26, 1002 judgment2 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 25, Cagayan de Oro City, finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of destructive
arson, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

THE CASE

The prosecution's evidence showed that at around 4:00 p.m. on December 21, 2001, the appellant broke bottles on the
road while holding a G.I. pipe, and shouted that he wanted to get even ("manabla ko").3 Afterwards, he uttered that he
would burn his house.4

At 6:35 p.m. of the same day, Cornelio Feliciano heard his neighbors shout that there was a fire. When Cornelio went out
of his house to verify, he saw smoke coming from the appellant’s house. He got a pail of water, and poured its contents
into the fire.5 Eric Quilantang, a neighbor whose house was just 10 meters from that of the appellant, ran to the barangay
headquarters to get a fire extinguisher. When Eric approached the burning house, the appellant, who was carrying a
traveling bag and a gun, told him not to interfere; the appellant then fired three (3) shots in the air.6 The appellant also
told the people around that whoever would put out the fire would be killed.7

Upon hearing the gunshots, Cornelio hurriedly went home to save his nephews and nieces.8 Eric also returned to his
house to save his belongings.9

Fire Officer (FO) II Victor Naive and FOI Reynaldo Maliao conducted a spot investigation of the incident, and concluded,
among others, that the fire started in the appellant’s house; and that it had been intentional.10 Barangay Chairman
Modesto Ligtas stated that the fire gutted many houses in his barangay, and that he assisted the City Social Welfare and
Development Department personnel in assessing the damage.11

The defense, on the other hand, presented a different version of the events.

The appellant declared on the witness stand that he lived in the twostorey house in Barangay 35, Limketkai Drive, which
was owned by his sister, Madji Muslima Edemal.12 He admitted that he felt angry at around 2:00 p.m. on December 21,
2001 because one of his radio cassettes for sale had been stolen.13 The appellant claimed that he went to sleep after
looking for his missing radio cassette, and that the fire had already started when he woke up. He denied making a threat to
burn his house, and maintained that he did not own a gun. He added that the gunshots heard by his neighbors came from
the explosion of firecrackers that he intended to use during the New Year celebration.14

Lomantong Panandigan, the appellant’s cousin, stated, among others, that he did not see the appellant carry a revolver or
fire a shot on December 21, 2001.15 Dimas Kasubidan, the appellant’s brother-in-law, stated that he and the appellant
lived in the same house, and that the latter was asleep in his room at the ground floor before the fire broke out.16

The prosecution charged the appellant with the crime of destructive arson under Article 320 of the Revised Penal Code
(RPC), as amended, before the RTC.17 The appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge on arraignment.18 In its judgment
dated August 26, 2002, the RTC found the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged, and sentenced
him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC judgment in toto. It gave weight to the RTC’s factual findings since these findings were
based on unrebutted testimonial and documentary evidence. The CA held that the totality of the presented circumstantial
evidence led to the conclusion that the appellant was guilty of the crime charged.

THE COURT’S RULING

We deny the appeal, but modify the crime committed by the appellant and the penalty imposed on him.

Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence


We point out at the outset that no one saw the appellant set fire to his house in Barangay 35, Limketkai Drive, Cagayan de
Oro City. The trial and appellate courts thus resorted to circumstantial evidence since there was no direct evidence to
prove the appellant’s culpability to the crime charged.

It is settled that in the absence of direct evidence, circumstantial evidence may be sufficient to sustain a conviction
provided that: "(a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived have been
proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances results in a moral certainty that the accused, to the exclusion of
all others, is the one who has committed the crime. Thus, to justify a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, the
combination of circumstances must be interwoven in such a way as to leave no reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the
accused."19

In the present case, the following circumstances constitute an unbroken chain that leads to an unavoidable conclusion that
the appellant, to the exclusion of others, set fire to his house: first, the appellant, while holding an iron lead pipe, acted
violently and broke bottles near his house at around 4:00 p.m. of December 21, 2001; second, while he was still in a fit of
rage, the appellant stated that he would get even, and then threatened to burn his own house; third, Judith Quilantang
saw a fire in the appellant’s room approximately two hours after the appellant returned to his house; fourth, the appellant
prevented Cornelio, Eric, and several other people from putting out the fire in his house; fifth, the appellant fired shots in
the air, and then threatened to kill anyone who would try to put out the fire in his house; sixth, the appellant carried a
traveling bag during the fire; and finally, the investigation conducted by the fire marshals of the Bureau of Fire Protection
revealed that the fire started in the appellant’s house, and that it had been intentional.

The combination of these circumstances, indeed, leads to no other conclusion than that the appellant set fire to his house.
We find it unnatural and highly unusual for the appellant to prevent his neighbors from putting out the fire in his house,
and threaten to kill them if they did, if he had nothing to do with the crime. The first impulse of an individual whose house
is on fire is to save his loved ones and/or belongings; it is contrary to human nature, reason and natural order of things for
a person to thwart and prevent any effort to put out the fire in his burning property. By carrying (and firing) a gun during
the fire, the appellant showed his determination to repel any efforts to quell the fire. Important to note, too, is the fact
that the appellant carried a traveling bag during the fire which, to our mind, showed deliberate planning and preparedness
on his part to flee the raging fire; it likewise contradicted his statement that he was asleep inside his house when the fire
broke out, and that the fire was already big when he woke up. Clearly, the appellant’s indifferent attitude to his burning
house and his hostility towards the people who tried to put out the fire, coupled with his preparedness to flee his burning
house, belied his claim of innocence. Notably, the appellant failed to impute any improper motive against the prosecution
witnesses to falsely testify against him; in fact, he admitted that he had no misunderstanding with them prior to the
incident.

The Crime Committed

The CA convicted the appellant of destructive arson under Article 320 of the RPC, as amended, which reads:

Article 320. Destructive Arson. - The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death shall be imposed upon any person who shall
burn:

1. One (1) or more buildings or edifices, consequent to one single act of burning, or as a result of simultaneous
burnings, committed on several or different occasions.

2. Any building of public or private ownership, devoted to the public in general or where people usually gather or
congregate for a definite purpose such as, but not limited to, official governmental function or business, private
transaction, commerce, trade, workshop, meetings and conferences, or merely incidental to a definite purpose
such as but not limited to hotels, motels, transient dwellings, public conveyances or stops or terminals, regardless
of whether the offender had knowledge that there are persons in said building or edifice at the time it is set on
fire and regardless also of whether the building is actually inhabited or not.
3. Any train or locomotive, ship or vessel, airship or airplane, devoted to transportation or conveyance, or for
public use, entertainment or leisure.1âwphi1

4. Any building, factory, warehouse installation and any appurtenances thereto, which are devoted to the service
of public utilities.

5. Any building the burning of which is for the purpose of concealing or destroying evidence of another violation
of law, or for the purpose of concealing bankruptcy or defrauding creditors or to collect from insurance.

xxxx

The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death shall also be imposed upon any person who shall burn:

1. Any arsenal, shipyard, storehouse or military powder or fireworks factory, ordinance, storehouse, archives or
general museum of the Government.

2. In an inhabited place, any storehouse or factory of inflammable or explosive materials.

In sum, "Article 320 contemplates the malicious burning of structures, both public and private, hotels, buildings, edifices,
trains, vessels, aircraft, factories and other military, government or commercial establishments by any person or group of
persons."20

Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1613,21 on the other hand, currently governs simple arson. Section 3 of this law provides:

Section 3. Other Cases of Arson. The penalty of Reclusion Temporal to Reclusion Perpetua shall be imposed if the property
burned is any of the following:

1. Any building used as offices of the government or any of its agencies;

2. Any inhabited house or dwelling;

3. Any industrial establishment, shipyard, oil well or mine shaft, platform or tunnel;

4. Any plantation, farm, pastureland, growing crop, grain field, orchard, bamboo grove or forest;

5. Any rice mill, sugar mill, cane mill or mill central; and

6. Any railway or bus station, airport, wharf or warehouse. [italics and emphasis ours]

P.D. No. 1613 contemplates the malicious burning of public and private structures, regardless of size, not included in Article
320 of the RPC, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659.22 This law punishes simple arson with a lesser penalty because the
acts that constitute it have a lesser degree of perversity and viciousness. Simple arson contemplates crimes with less
significant social, economic, political, and national security implications than destructive arson.23

The elements of simple arson under Section 3(2) of P.D. No. 1613 are: (a) there is intentional burning; and (b) what is
intentionally burned is an inhabited house or dwelling. Both these elements have been proven in the present case. The
Information alleged that the appellant set fire to his own house, and that the fire spread to other inhabited houses. These
allegations were established during trial through the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses which the trial and
appellate courts found credible and convincing, and through the report of the Bureau of Fire Protection which stated that
damaged houses were residential, and that the fire had been intentional. Moreover, the certification from the City Social
Welfare and Development Department likewise indicated that the burned houses were used as dwellings. The appellant
likewise testified that his burnt two-story house was used as a residence. That the appellant’s act affected many families
will not convert the crime to destructive arson, since the appellant’s act does not appear to be heinous or represents a
greater degree of perversity and viciousness when compared to those acts punished under Article 320 of the RPC. The
established evidence only showed that the appellant intended to burn his own house, but the conflagration spread to the
neighboring houses.
In this regard, our ruling in Buebos v. People24 is particularly instructive, thus:

The nature of Destructive Arson is distinguished from Simple Arson by the degree of perversity or viciousness of the
criminal offender. The acts committed under Art. 320 of The Revised Penal Code constituting Destructive Arson are
characterized as heinous crimes "for being grievous, odious and hateful offenses and which, by reason of their inherent or
manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and
norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society." On the other hand, acts committed under PD 1613
constituting Simple Arson are crimes with a lesser degree of perversity and viciousness that the law punishes with a lesser
penalty. In other words, Simple Arson contemplates crimes with less significant social, economic, political and national
security implications than Destructive Arson.

The Proper Penalty

Under Section 3, paragraph 2, of P.D. No. 1613, the imposable penalty for simple arson is reclusion temporal, which has a
range of twelve (12) years and one (1) day, to reclusion perpetua. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the penalty
imposable should be an indeterminate penalty whose minimum term should be within the range of the penalty next lower
in degree, which is prision mayor, or six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years, and whose maximum should be the
medium period of reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua, or sixteen (16) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years,
taking into account the absence of any aggravating or mitigating circumstances that attended the commission of the crime.
Taking these rules into account, we therefore impose on the appellant the indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years and one
(1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to sixteen (16) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

As regards the award of damages, we sustain the lower courts' findings that the records do not adequately reflect any
concrete basis for the award of actual damages to the offended parties. To seek recovery of actual damages, it is necessary
to prove the actual amount of loss with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised upon competent proof and on the best
evidence obtainable.25

WHEREFORE, the assailed February 24, 2009 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00208-MIN is
AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:

(1) appellant Alamada Macabando is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of simple arson under Section 3(2) of
Presidential Decree No. 1613; and

(2) he is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty often (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as
minimum, to sixteen (16) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 181409 February 11, 2010

INTESTATE ESTATE OF MANOLITA GONZALES VDA. DE CARUNGCONG, represented by MEDIATRIX CARUNGCONG, as Administratrix,
Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and WILLIAM SATO, Respondents.
DECISION

CORONA, J.:

Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

ART. 332. Persons exempt from criminal liability. – No criminal, but only civil liability shall result from the commission of the crime of
theft, swindling, or malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by the following persons:

1. Spouses, ascendants and descendants, or relatives by affinity in the same line;

2. The widowed spouse with respect to the property which belonged to the deceased spouse before the same shall have
passed into the possession of another; and

3. Brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, if living together.

The exemption established by this article shall not be applicable to strangers participating in the commission of the crime. (emphasis
supplied)

For purposes of the aforementioned provision, is the relationship by affinity created between the husband and the blood relatives of
his wife (as well as between the wife and the blood relatives of her husband) dissolved by the death of one spouse, thus ending the
marriage which created such relationship by affinity? Does the beneficial application of Article 332 cover the complex crime of estafa
thru falsification?

Mediatrix G. Carungcong, in her capacity as the duly appointed administratrix 1 of petitioner intestate estate of her deceased mother
Manolita Gonzales vda. de Carungcong, filed a complaint-affidavit2 for estafa against her brother-in-law, William Sato, a Japanese
national. Her complaint-affidavit read:

I, MEDIATRIX CARUNGCONG Y GONZALE[S], Filipino, of legal age, single, and resident of Unit 1111, Prince Gregory Condominium, 105
12th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City, after being duly sworn, depose and state that:

1. I am the duly appointed Administratrix of the Intestate Estate of Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s], docketed as Spec.
Procs. No. [Q]-95-23621[,] Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 104, being one (1) of her surviving daughters. Copy of
the Letters of Administration dated June 22, 1995 is hereto attached as Annex "A" to form an integral part hereof.

2. As such Administratrix, I am duty bound not only to preserve the properties of the Intestate Estate of Manolita Carungcong
Y Gonzale[s], but also to recover such funds and/or properties as property belonging to the estate but are presently in the
possession or control of other parties.

3. After my appointment as Administratrix, I was able to confer with some of the children of my sister Zenaida Carungcong
Sato[,] who predeceased our mother Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzales, having died in Japan in 1991.

4. In my conference with my nieces Karen Rose Sato and Wendy Mitsuko Sato, age[d] 27 and 24 respectively, I was able to
learn that prior to the death of my mother Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s], [s]pecifically on o[r] about November 24,
1992, their father William Sato, through fraudulent misrepresentations, was able to secure the signature and thumbmark of
my mother on a Special Power of Attorney whereby my niece Wendy Mitsuko Sato, who was then only twenty (20) years old,
was made her attorney-in-fact, to sell and dispose four (4) valuable pieces of land in Tagaytay City. Said Special Power of
Attorney, copy of which is attached as ANNEX "A" of the Affidavit of Wendy Mitsuko Sato, was signed and thumbmark[ed] by
my mother because William Sato told her that the documents she was being made to sign involved her taxes. At that time,
my mother was completely blind, having gone blind almost ten (10) years prior to November, 1992.

5. The aforesaid Special Power of Attorney was signed by my mother in the presence of Wendy, my other niece Belinda Kiku
Sato, our maid Mana Tingzon, and Governor Josephine Ramirez who later became the second wife of my sister’s widower
William Sato.

6. Wendy Mitsuko Sato attests to the fact that my mother signed the document in the belief that they were in connection
with her taxes, not knowing, since she was blind, that the same was in fact a Special Power of Attorney to sell her Tagaytay
properties.

7. On the basis of the aforesaid Special Power of Attorney, William Sato found buyers for the property and made my niece
Wendy Mitsuko Sato sign three (3) deeds of absolute sale in favor of (a) Anita Ng (Doc. 2194, Page No. 41, Book No. V, Series
of 1992 of Notary Public Vicente B. Custodio), (b) Anita Ng (Doc. No. 2331, Page No. 68, Book No. V, Series of 1992 of Notary
Public Vicente B. Custodio) and (c) Ruby Lee Tsai (Doc. No. II, Page No. 65, Book No. II, Series of 1993 of Notary Public Toribio
D. Labid). x x x

8. Per the statement of Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato, the considerations appearing on the deeds of absolute sale were not the true
and actual considerations received by her father William Sato from the buyers of her grandmother’s properties. She attests
that Anita Ng actually paid ₱7,000,000.00 for the property covered by TCT No. 3148 and ₱7,034,000.00 for the property
covered by TCT No. 3149. All the aforesaid proceeds were turned over to William Sato who undertook to make the proper
accounting thereof to my mother, Manolita Carungcong Gonzale[s].

9. Again, per the statement of Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato, Ruby Lee Tsai paid ₱8,000,000.00 for the property covered by Tax
Declaration No. GR-016-0735, and the proceeds thereof were likewise turned over to William Sato.

10. The considerations appearing on the deeds of sale were falsified as Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato has actual knowledge of the
true amounts paid by the buyers, as stated in her Affidavit, since she was the signatory thereto as the attorney-in-fact of
Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s].

11. Wendy was only 20 years old at the time and was not in any position to oppose or to refuse her father’s orders.

12. After receiving the total considerations for the properties sold under the power of attorney fraudulently secured from my
mother, which total ₱22,034,000.00, William Sato failed to account for the same and never delivered the proceeds to
Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s] until the latter died on June 8, 1994.

13. Demands have been made for William Sato to make an accounting and to deliver the proceeds of the sales to me as
Administratrix of my mother’s estate, but he refused and failed, and continues to refuse and to fail to do so, to the damage
and prejudice of the estate of the deceased Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s] and of the heirs which include his six (6)
children with my sister Zenaida Carungcong Sato. x x x3

Wendy Mitsuko Sato’s supporting affidavit and the special power of attorney allegedly issued by the deceased Manolita Gonzales vda.
de Carungcong in favor of Wendy were attached to the complaint-affidavit of Mediatrix.

In a resolution dated March 25, 1997, the City Prosecutor of Quezon City dismissed the complaint. 4 On appeal, however, the
Secretary of Justice reversed and set aside the resolution dated March 25, 1997 and directed the City Prosecutor of Quezon City to file
an Information against Sato for violation of Article 315, paragraph 3(a) of the Revised Penal Code. 5 Thus, the following Information
was filed against Sato in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 87:6

INFORMATION

The undersigned accuses WILLIAM SATO of the crime of ESTAFA under Article 315[,] par. 3(a) of the Revised Penal Code, committed as
follows:

That on or about the 24th day of November, 1992, in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused, by means of deceit, did,
then and there, wil[l]fully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud MANOLITA GONZALES VDA. DE CARUNGCONG in the following manner,
to wit: the said accused induced said Manolita Gonzales Vda. De Carungcong[,] who was already then blind and 79 years old[,] to sign
and thumbmark a special power of attorney dated November 24, 1992 in favor of Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato, daughter of said accused,
making her believe that said document involved only her taxes, accused knowing fully well that said document authorizes Wendy
Mitsuko C. Sato, then a minor, to sell, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of to any person or entity of her properties all located at
Tagaytay City, as follows:

1. One Thousand Eight Hundred Seven(ty) One (1,871) square meters more or less and covered by T.C.T. No. 3147;

2. Five Hundred Forty (540) square meters more or less and covered by T.C.T. No. 3148 with Tax Declaration No. GR-016-0722,
Cadastral Lot No. 7106;

3. Five Hundred Forty (540) square meters more or less and covered by T.C.T. No. 3149 with Tax Declaration No. GR-016-0721,
Cadastral Lot No. 7104;

4. Eight Hundred Eighty Eight (888) square meters more or less with Tax Declaration No. GR-016-1735, Cadastral Lot No.
7062;

registered in the name of Manolita Gonzales Vda. De Carungcong, and once in the possession of the said special power of attorney
and other pertinent documents, said accused made Wendy Mitsuko Sato sign the three (3) Deeds of Absolute Sale covering Transfer
Certificate of Title [TCT] No. 3148 for ₱250,000.00, [TCT] No. 3149 for ₱250,000.00 and [Tax Declaration] GR-016-0735 for
₱650,000.00 and once in possession of the proceeds of the sale of the above properties, said accused, misapplied, misappropriated
and converted the same to his own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of Manolita Gonzales Vda. De
Carungcong who died in 1994.

Contrary to law.7

Subsequently, the prosecution moved for the amendment of the Information so as to increase the amount of damages from
₱1,150,000, the total amount stated in the deeds of sale, to ₱22,034,000, the actual amount received by Sato.

Sato moved for the quashal of the Information, claiming that under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, his relationship to the
person allegedly defrauded, the deceased Manolita who was his mother-in-law, was an exempting circumstance.

The prosecution disputed Sato’s motion in an opposition dated March 29, 2006.

In an order dated April 17, 2006,8 the trial court granted Sato’s motion and ordered the dismissal of the criminal case:

The Trial Prosecutor’s contention is that the death of the wife of the accused severed the relationship of affinity between accused and
his mother-in-law. Therefore, the mantle of protection provided to the accused by the relationship is no longer obtaining.

A judicious and thorough examination of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code convinces this Court of the correctness of the
contention of the [d]efense. While it is true that the death of Zenaida Carungcong-Sato has extinguished the marriage of accused with
her, it does not erase the fact that accused and Zenaida’s mother, herein complainant, are still son[-in-law] and mother-in-law and
they remained son[-in-law] and mother-in-law even beyond the death of Zenaida.

Article 332(1) of the Revised Penal Code, is very explicit and states no proviso. "No criminal, but only civil liability[,] shall result from
the commission of the crime of theft, swindling or malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by xxx 1) spouses, ascendants
and descendants, or relatives by affinity in the same line."

Article 332, according to Aquino, in his Commentaries [to] Revised Penal Code, preserves family harmony and obviates scandal, hence
even in cases of theft and malicious mischief, where the crime is committed by a stepfather against his stepson, by a grandson against
his grandfather, by a son against his mother, no criminal liability is incurred by the accused only civil (Vicente Alavare, 52 Phil. 65;
Adame, CA 40 OG 12th Supp. 63; Cristobal, 84 Phil. 473).

Such exempting circumstance is applicable herein.

WHEREFORE, finding the Motion to Quash Original Information meritorious, the same is GRANTED and, as prayed for, case is hereby
DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.9 (underlining supplied in the original)

The prosecution’s motion for reconsideration10 was denied in an order dated June 2, 2006.11

Dissatisfied with the trial court’s rulings, the intestate estate of Manolita, represented by Mediatrix, filed a petition for certiorari in
the Court of Appeals12 which, however, in a decision13 dated August 9, 2007, dismissed it. It ruled:

[W]e sustain the finding of [the trial court] that the death of Zenaida did not extinguish the relationship by affinity between her
husband, private respondent Sato, and her mother Manolita, and does not bar the application of the exempting circumstance under
Article 332(1) of the Revised Penal Code in favor of private respondent Sato.

We further agree with the submission of the [Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)] that nothing in the law and/or existing
jurisprudence supports the argument of petitioner that the fact of death of Zenaida dissolved the relationship by affinity between
Manolita and private respondent Sato, and thus removed the protective mantle of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code from said
private respondent; and that notwithstanding the death of Zenaida, private respondent Sato remains to be the son-in-law of
Manolita, and a brother-in-law of petitioner administratrix. As further pointed out by the OSG, the filing of the criminal case for estafa
against private respondent Sato already created havoc among members of the Carungcong and Sato families as private respondent’s
daughter Wendy Mitsuko Sato joined cause with her aunt [Mediatrix] Carungcong y Gonzales, while two (2) other children of private
respondent, William Francis and Belinda Sato, took the side of their father.

There is a dearth of jurisprudence and/or commentaries elaborating on the provision of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code.
However, from the plain language of the law, it is clear that the exemption from criminal liability for the crime of swindling (estafa)
under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code applies to private respondent Sato, as son-in-law of Manolita, they being "relatives by
affinity in the same line" under Article 332(1) of the same Code. We cannot draw the distinction that following the death of Zenaida in
1991, private respondent Sato is no longer the son-in-law of Manolita, so as to exclude the former from the exempting circumstance
provided for in Article 332 (1) of the Revised Penal Code.

Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. Basic is the rule in statutory construction that where the law does not distinguish,
the courts should not distinguish. There should be no distinction in the application of law where none is indicated. The courts could
only distinguish where there are facts or circumstances showing that the lawgiver intended a distinction or qualification. In such a
case, the courts would merely give effect to the lawgiver’s intent. The solemn power and duty of the Court to interpret and apply the
law does not include the power to correct by reading into the law what is not written therein.

Further, it is an established principle of statutory construction that penal laws are strictly construed against the State and liberally in
favor of the accused. Any reasonable doubt must be resolved in favor of the accused. In this case, the plain meaning of Article 332 (1)
of the Revised Penal Code’s simple language is most favorable to Sato.14

The appellate court denied reconsideration.15 Hence, this petition.

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in not reversing the orders of the trial court. It cites the commentary of Justice
Luis B. Reyes in his book on criminal law that the rationale of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code exempting the persons mentioned
therein from criminal liability is that the law recognizes the presumed co-ownership of the property between the offender and the
offended party. Here, the properties subject of the estafa case were owned by Manolita whose daughter, Zenaida Carungcong-Sato
(Sato’s wife), died on January 28, 1991. Hence, Zenaida never became a co-owner because, under the law, her right to the three
parcels of land could have arisen only after her mother’s death. Since Zenaida predeceased her mother, Manolita, no such right
came about and the mantle of protection provided to Sato by the relationship no longer existed.

Sato counters that Article 332 makes no distinction that the relationship may not be invoked in case of death of the spouse at the
time the crime was allegedly committed. Thus, while the death of Zenaida extinguished her marriage with Sato, it did not dissolve the
son-in-law and mother-in-law relationship between Sato and Zenaida’s mother, Manolita.

For his part, the Solicitor General maintains that Sato is covered by the exemption from criminal liability provided under Article 332.
Nothing in the law and jurisprudence supports petitioner’s claim that Zenaida’s death dissolved the relationship by affinity between
Sato and Manolita. As it is, the criminal case against Sato created havoc among the members of the Carungcong and Sato families, a
situation sought to be particularly avoided by Article 332’s provision exempting a family member committing theft, estafa or malicious
mischief from criminal liability and reducing his/her liability to the civil aspect only.

The petition has merit.

The resolution of this case rests on the interpretation of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code. In particular, it calls for the
determination of the following: (1) the effect of death on the relationship by affinity created between a surviving spouse and the
blood relatives of the deceased spouse and (2) the extent of the coverage of Article 332.

Effect of Death on Relationship By Affinity as Absolutory Cause

Article 332 provides for an absolutory cause16in the crimes of theft, estafa (or swindling) and malicious mischief. It limits the
responsibility of the offender to civil liability and frees him from criminal liability by virtue of his relationship to the offended party.

In connection with the relatives mentioned in the first paragraph, it has been held that included in the exemptions are parents-in-law,
stepparents and adopted children.17 By virtue thereof, no criminal liability is incurred by the stepfather who commits malicious
mischief against his stepson;18 by the stepmother who commits theft against her stepson; 19 by the stepfather who steals something
from his stepson;20 by the grandson who steals from his grandfather; 21 by the accused who swindles his sister-in-law living with
him;22 and by the son who steals a ring from his mother.23

Affinity is the relation that one spouse has to the blood relatives of the other spouse. It is a relationship by marriage or

a familial relation resulting from marriage.24 It is a fictive kinship, a fiction created by law in connection with the institution of
marriage and family relations.

If marriage gives rise to one’s relationship by affinity to the blood relatives of one’s spouse, does the extinguishment of marriage by
the death of the spouse dissolve the relationship by affinity?

Philippine jurisprudence has no previous encounter with the issue that confronts us in this case. That is why the trial and appellate
courts acknowledged the "dearth of jurisprudence and/or commentaries" on the matter. In contrast, in the American legal system,
there are two views on the subject. As one Filipino author observed:

In case a marriage is terminated by the death of one of the spouses, there are conflicting views. There are some who believe that
relationship by affinity is not terminated whether there are children or not in the marriage (Carman vs. Newell, N.Y. 1 [Denio] 25, 26).
However, the better view supported by most judicial authorities in other jurisdictions is that, if the spouses have no living issues or
children and one of the spouses dies, the relationship by affinity is dissolved. It follows the rule that relationship by affinity ceases
with the dissolution of the marriage which produces it (Kelly v. Neely, 12 Ark. 657, 659, 56 Am Dec. 288). On the other hand, the
relationship by affinity is continued despite the death of one of the spouses where there are living issues or children of the marriage
"in whose veins the blood of the parties are commingled, since the relationship of affinity was continued through the medium of the
issue of the marriage" (Paddock vs. Wells, 2 Barb. Ch. 331, 333).25

The first view (the terminated affinity view) holds that relationship by affinity terminates with the dissolution of the marriage either
by death or divorce which gave rise to the relationship of affinity between the parties. 26 Under this view, the relationship by affinity is
simply coextensive and coexistent with the marriage that produced it. Its duration is indispensably and necessarily determined by the
marriage that created it. Thus, it exists only for so long as the marriage subsists, such that the death of a spouse ipso facto ends the
relationship by affinity of the surviving spouse to the deceased spouse’s blood relatives.

The first view admits of an exception. The relationship by affinity continues even after the death of one spouse when there is a
surviving issue.27 The rationale is that the relationship is preserved because of the living issue of the marriage in whose veins the
blood of both parties is commingled.28

The second view (the continuing affinity view) maintains that relationship by affinity between the surviving spouse and the kindred of
the deceased spouse continues even after the death of the deceased spouse, regardless of whether the marriage produced children
or not.29 Under this view, the relationship by affinity endures even after the dissolution of the marriage that produced it as a result of
the death of one of the parties to the said marriage. This view considers that, where statutes have indicated an intent to benefit step-
relatives or in-laws, the "tie of affinity" between these people and their relatives-by-marriage is not to be regarded as terminated
upon the death of one of the married parties.30

After due consideration and evaluation of the relative merits of the two views, we hold that the second view is more consistent with
the language and spirit of Article 332(1) of the Revised Penal Code.

First, the terminated affinity view is generally applied in cases of jury disqualification and incest. 31 On the other hand, the
continuing affinity view has been applied in the interpretation of laws that intend to benefit step-relatives or in-laws. Since
the purpose of the absolutory cause in Article 332(1) is meant to be beneficial to relatives by affinity within the degree
covered under the said provision, the continuing affinity view is more appropriate.

Second, the language of Article 332(1) which speaks of "relatives by affinity in the same line" is couched in general language.
The legislative intent to make no distinction between the spouse of one’s living child and the surviving spouse of one’s
deceased child (in case of a son-in-law or daughter-in-law with respect to his or her parents-in-law)32 can be drawn from
Article 332(1) of the Revised Penal Code without doing violence to its language.

Third, the Constitution declares that the protection and strengthening of the family as a basic autonomous social institution
are policies of the State and that it is the duty of the State to strengthen the solidarity of the family.33 Congress has also
affirmed as a State and national policy that courts shall preserve the solidarity of the family. 34 In this connection, the spirit of
Article 332 is to preserve family harmony and obviate scandal.35 The view that relationship by affinity is not affected by the
death of one of the parties to the marriage that created it is more in accord with family solidarity and harmony.

Fourth, the fundamental principle in applying and in interpreting criminal laws is to resolve all doubts in favor of the accused.
In dubio pro reo. When in doubt, rule for the accused.36 This is in consonance with the constitutional guarantee that the
accused shall be presumed innocent unless and until his guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt. 37

Intimately related to the in dubio pro reo principle is the rule of lenity.38 The rule applies when the court is faced with two possible
interpretations of a penal statute, one that is prejudicial to the accused and another that is favorable to him. The rule calls for the
adoption of an interpretation which is more lenient to the accused.

Lenity becomes all the more appropriate when this case is viewed through the lens of the basic purpose of Article 332 of the Revised
Penal Code to preserve family harmony by providing an absolutory cause. Since the goal of Article 332(1) is to benefit the accused,
the Court should adopt an application or interpretation that is more favorable to the accused. In this case, that interpretation is the
continuing affinity view.

Thus, for purposes of Article 332(1) of the Revised Penal Code, we hold that the relationship by affinity created between the surviving
spouse and the blood relatives of the deceased spouse survives the death of either party to the marriage which created the affinity.
(The same principle applies to the justifying circumstance of defense of one’s relatives under Article 11[2] of the Revised Penal Code,
the mitigating circumstance of immediate vindication of grave offense committed against one’s relatives under Article 13[5] of the
same Code and the absolutory cause of relationship in favor of accessories under Article 20 also of the same Code.)

Scope of Article 332 of The Revised Penal Code

The absolutory cause under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code only applies to the felonies of theft, swindling and malicious
mischief. Under the said provision, the State condones the criminal responsibility of the offender in cases of theft, swindling and
malicious mischief. As an act of grace, the State waives its right to prosecute the offender for the said crimes but leaves the private
offended party with the option to hold the offender civilly liable.

However, the coverage of Article 332 is strictly limited to the felonies mentioned therein. The plain, categorical and unmistakable
language of the provision shows that it applies exclusively to the simple crimes of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. It does not
apply where any of the crimes mentioned under Article 332 is complexed with another crime, such as theft through falsification or
estafa through falsification.39

The Information against Sato charges him with estafa. However, the real nature of the offense is determined by the facts alleged in
the Information, not by the designation of the offense. 40 What controls is not the title of the Information or the designation of the
offense but the actual facts recited in the Information. 41 In other words, it is the recital of facts of the commission of the offense, not
the nomenclature of the offense, that determines the crime being charged in the Information. 42 It is the exclusive province of the
court to say what the crime is or what it is named. 43 The determination by the prosecutor who signs the Information of the crime
committed is merely an opinion which is not binding on the court. 44

A reading of the facts alleged in the Information reveals that Sato is being charged not with simple estafa but with the complex crime
of estafa through falsification of public documents. In particular, the Information states that Sato, by means of deceit, intentionally
defrauded Manolita committed as follows:

(a) Sato presented a document to Manolita (who was already blind at that time) and induced her to sign and thumbmark the
same;

(b) he made Manolita believe that the said document was in connection with her taxes when it was in fact a special power of
attorney (SPA) authorizing his minor daughter Wendy to sell, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of Manolita’s properties in
Tagaytay City;

(c) relying on Sato’s inducement and representation, Manolita signed and thumbmarked the SPA in favor of Wendy Mitsuko
Sato, daughter of Sato;

(d) using the document, he sold the properties to third parties but he neither delivered the proceeds to Manolita nor
accounted for the same and

(d) despite repeated demands, he failed and refused to deliver the proceeds, to the damage and prejudice of the estate of
Manolita.

The above averments in the Information show that the estafa was committed by attributing to Manolita (who participated in the
execution of the document) statements other than those in fact made by her. Manolita’s acts of signing the SPA and affixing her
thumbmark to that document were the very expression of her specific intention that something be done about her taxes. Her
signature and thumbmark were the affirmation of her statement on such intention as she only signed and thumbmarked the SPA (a
document which she could not have read) because of Sato’s representation that the document pertained to her taxes. In signing and
thumbmarking the document, Manolita showed that she believed and adopted the representations of Sato as to what the document
was all about, i.e., that it involved her taxes. Her signature and thumbmark, therefore, served as her conformity to Sato’s proposal
that she execute a document to settle her taxes.

Thus, by inducing Manolita to sign the SPA, Sato made it appear that Manolita granted his daughter Wendy a special power of
attorney for the purpose of selling, assigning, transferring or otherwise disposing of Manolita’s Tagaytay properties when the fact was
that Manolita signed and thumbmarked the document presented by Sato in the belief that it pertained to her taxes. Indeed, the
document itself, the SPA, and everything that it contained were falsely attributed to Manolita when she was made to sign the SPA.

Moreover, the allegations in the Information that

(1) "once in the possession of the said special power of attorney and other pertinent documents, [Sato] made Wendy
Mitsuko Sato sign the three (3) Deeds of Absolute Sale" and

(2) "once in possession of the proceeds of the sale of the above properties, said accused, misapplied, misappropriated and
converted the same to his own personal use and benefit" raise the presumption that Sato, as the possessor of the falsified
document and the one who benefited therefrom, was the author thereof.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the prosecution moved for the amendment of the Information so as to increase the amount of
damages from ₱1,150,000 to ₱22,034,000. This was granted by the trial court and was affirmed by the Court of Appeals on certiorari.
This meant that the amended Information would now state that, while the total amount of consideration stated in the deeds of
absolute sale was only ₱1,150,000, Sato actually received the total amount of ₱22,034,000 as proceeds of the sale of Manolita’s
properties.45 This also meant that the deeds of sale (which were public documents) were also falsified by making untruthful
statements as to the amounts of consideration stated in the deeds.

Therefore, the allegations in the Information essentially charged a crime that was not simple estafa. Sato resorted to falsification of
public documents (particularly, the special power of attorney and the deeds of sale) as a necessary means to commit the estafa.

Since the crime with which respondent was charged was not simple estafa but the complex crime of estafa through falsification of
public documents, Sato cannot avail himself of the absolutory cause provided under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code in his favor.

Effect of Absolutory Cause Under Article 332 on Criminal Liability For The Complex Crime of Estafa Through Falsification of Public
Documents

The question may be asked: if the accused may not be held criminally liable for simple estafa by virtue of the absolutory cause under
Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, should he not be absolved also from criminal liability for the complex crime of estafa through
falsification of public documents? No.

True, the concurrence of all the elements of the two crimes of estafa and falsification of public document is required for a proper
conviction for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public document. That is the ruling in Gonzaludo v. People. 46 It
means that the prosecution must establish that the accused resorted to the falsification of a public document as a necessary means
to commit the crime of estafa.

However, a proper appreciation of the scope and application of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code and of the nature of a complex
crime would negate exemption from criminal liability for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public documents, simply
because the accused may not be held criminally liable for simple estafa by virtue of the absolutory cause under Article 332.

The absolutory cause under Article 332 is meant to address specific crimes against property, namely, the simple crimes of theft,
swindling and malicious mischief. Thus, all other crimes, whether simple or complex, are not affected by the absolutory cause
provided by the said provision. To apply the absolutory cause under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code to one of the component
crimes of a complex crime for the purpose of negating the existence of that complex crime is to unduly expand the scope of Article
332. In other words, to apply Article 332 to the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public document would be to
mistakenly treat the crime of estafa as a separate simple crime, not as the component crime that it is in that situation. It would
wrongly consider the indictment as separate charges of estafa and falsification of public document, not as a single charge for the
single (complex) crime of estafa through falsification of public document.

Under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, the State waives its right to hold the offender criminally liable for the simple crimes of
theft, swindling and malicious mischief and considers the violation of the juridical right to property committed by the offender against
certain family members as a private matter and therefore subject only to civil liability. The waiver does not apply when the violation
of the right to property is achieved through (and therefore inseparably intertwined with) a breach of the public interest in the
integrity and presumed authenticity of public documents. For, in the latter instance, what is involved is no longer simply the
property right of a family relation but a paramount public interest.

The purpose of Article 332 is to preserve family harmony and obviate scandal. 47 Thus, the action provided under the said provision
simply concerns the private relations of the parties as family members and is limited to the civil aspect between the offender and the
offended party. When estafa is committed through falsification of a public document, however, the matter acquires a very serious
public dimension and goes beyond the respective rights and liabilities of family members among themselves. Effectively, when the
offender resorts to an act that breaches public interest in the integrity of public documents as a means to violate the property rights
of a family member, he is removed from the protective mantle of the absolutory cause under Article 332.

In considering whether the accused is liable for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public documents, it would be
wrong to consider the component crimes separately from each other. While there may be two component crimes (estafa and
falsification of documents), both felonies are animated by and result from one and the same criminal intent for which there is only
one criminal liability.48 That is the concept of a complex crime. In other words, while there are two crimes, they are treated only as
one, subject to a single criminal liability.

As opposed to a simple crime where only one juridical right or interest is violated (e.g., homicide which violates the right to life, theft
which violates the right to property),49 a complex crime constitutes a violation of diverse juridical rights or interests by means of
diverse acts, each of which is a simple crime in itself.50 Since only a single criminal intent underlies the diverse acts, however, the
component crimes are considered as elements of a single crime, the complex crime. This is the correct interpretation of a complex
crime as treated under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code.

In the case of a complex crime, therefore, there is a formal (or ideal) plurality of crimes where the same criminal intent results in two
or more component crimes constituting a complex crime for which there is only one criminal liability. 51 (The complex crime of estafa
through falsification of public document falls under this category.) This is different from a material (or real) plurality of crimes where
different criminal intents result in two or more crimes, for each of which the accused incurs criminal liability. 52 The latter category is
covered neither by the concept of complex crimes nor by Article 48.

Under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, the formal plurality of crimes (concursus delictuorum or concurso de delitos) gives rise to
a single criminal liability and requires the imposition of a single penalty:

Although [a] complex crime quantitatively consists of two or more crimes, it is only one crime in law on which a single penalty is
imposed and the two or more crimes constituting the same are more conveniently termed as component crimes. 53 (emphasis
supplied)

—∞——∞——∞—

In [a] complex crime, although two or more crimes are actually committed, they constitute only one crime in the eyes of the law as
well as in the conscience of the offender. The offender has only one criminal intent. Even in the case where an offense is a necessary
means for committing the other, the evil intent of the offender is only one. 54

For this reason, while a conviction for estafa through falsification of public document requires that the elements of both estafa and
falsification exist, it does not mean that the criminal liability for estafa may be determined and considered independently of that for
falsification. The two crimes of estafa and falsification of public documents are not separate crimes but component crimes of the
single complex crime of estafa and falsification of public documents.

Therefore, it would be incorrect to claim that, to be criminally liable for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public
document, the liability for estafa should be considered separately from the liability for falsification of public document. Such approach
would disregard the nature of a complex crime and contradict the letter and spirit of Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. It would
wrongly disregard the distinction between formal plurality and material plurality, as it improperly treats the plurality of crimes in the
complex crime of estafa through falsification of public document as a mere material plurality where the felonies are considered as
separate crimes to be punished individually.

Falsification of Public Documents May Be a Necessary Means for Committing Estafa Even Under Article 315 (3[a])

The elements of the offense of estafa punished under Article 315 (3[a]) of the Revised Penal Code are as follows:

(1) the offender induced the offended party to sign a document;

(2) deceit was employed to make the offended party sign the document;

(3) the offended party personally signed the document and

(4) prejudice is caused to the offended party.

While in estafa under Article 315(a) of the Revised Penal Code, the law does not require that the document be falsified for the
consummation thereof, it does not mean that the falsification of the document cannot be considered as a necessary means to commit
the estafa under that provision.

The phrase "necessary means" does not connote indispensable means for if it did, then the offense as a "necessary means" to commit
another would be an indispensable element of the latter and would be an ingredient thereof.55 In People v. Salvilla,56 the phrase
"necessary means" merely signifies that one crime is committed to facilitate and insure the commission of the other. 57 In this case,
the crime of falsification of public document, the SPA, was such a "necessary means" as it was resorted to by Sato to facilitate and
carry out more effectively his evil design to swindle his mother-in-law. In particular, he used the SPA to sell the Tagaytay properties of
Manolita to unsuspecting third persons.

When the offender commits in a public document any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code
as a necessary means to commit another crime, like estafa, theft or malversation, the two crimes form a complex crime under Article
48 of the same Code.58 The falsification of a public, official or commercial document may be a means of committing estafa because,
before the falsified document is actually utilized to defraud another, the crime of falsification has already been consummated,
damage or intent to cause damage not being an element of the crime of falsification of a public, official or commercial document.59
In other words, the crime of falsification was committed prior to the consummation of the crime of estafa. 60 Actually utilizing the
falsified public, official or commercial document to defraud another is estafa. 61 The damage to another is caused by the commission
of estafa, not by the falsification of the document. 621avvphi1

Applying the above principles to this case, the allegations in the Information show that the falsification of public document was
consummated when Sato presented a ready-made SPA to Manolita who signed the same as a statement of her intention in
connection with her taxes. While the falsification was consummated upon the execution of the SPA, the consummation of the estafa
occurred only when Sato later utilized the SPA. He did so particularly when he had the properties sold and thereafter pocketed the
proceeds of the sale. Damage or prejudice to Manolita was caused not by the falsification of the SPA (as no damage was yet caused to
the property rights of Manolita at the time she was made to sign the document) but by the subsequent use of the said document.
That is why the falsification of the public document was used to facilitate and ensure (that is, as a necessary means for) the
commission of the estafa.

The situation would have been different if Sato, using the same inducement, had made Manolita sign a deed of sale of the properties
either in his favor or in favor of third parties. In that case, the damage would have been caused by, and at exactly the same time as,
the execution of the document, not prior thereto. Therefore, the crime committed would only have been the simple crime of
estafa.63 On the other hand, absent any inducement (such as if Manolita herself had been the one who asked that a document
pertaining to her taxes be prepared for her signature, but what was presented to her for her signature was an SPA), the crime would
have only been the simple crime of falsification.64

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision dated August 9, 2007 and the resolution dated January 23, 2008 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. S.P. No. 95260 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is remanded to the trial court which is directed to
try the accused with dispatch for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public documents.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-9600 October 1, 1914

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
EUGENIO GACUTAN, defendant-appellant.

F. Sanches and B. Pobre for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor General Corpus for appellee.

MORELAND, J.:

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of the Province of Cagayan convicting the accused of the
crime of prevaricacion, and sentencing him to imprisonment for two months, to pay the costs of the proceeding, and to
suffer temporary special disqualification in its maximum degree for the period of ten years and one day.

This case arises out of the facts on which is formed the case of United States vs. Gacutan, ante, p. 100.

The evidence shows that on July 20, 1912, Elias Pagulayan was charged before the accused, a justice of the peace in and
for the pueblo of Solana, Cagayan Province, with the theft of a horse belonging to one Pascua; that on or about July 31,
1912, the accused promised Pascua that, in consideration of the delivery to him of a female carabao worth P80 he would
decide the case against Pagulayan regardless of the evidence; that said carabao was delivered in pursuance of that
agreement; that Gacutan, fulfilling his promise, did on August 12, 1912, convict the said Pagulayan of the crime of larceny
and sentence him to six months' imprisonment, to pay the costs, and to indemnify Pascua in the sum of P50, the value of
the horse alleged to have been stolen; that the sentence imposed was not executed for the reason that on August 23,
1912, the accused transferred the cause to the Court of First Instance, the same, under Act No. 2030 of the Philippine
Legislature, not being within his jurisdiction.

Gacutan, the accused, was, on the 2nd of October, 1913, convicted of bribery in the Court of First Instance of Cagayan , it
having been found that he accepted from Pascua a carabao as a bribe in consideration of which he agreed to and
subsequently did decide a criminal case then pending before him against Pagulayan and in favor of the people without
regard to the evidence upon which the same was founded.
The appellant assigns in this court as errors:

1. That the court allowed the motion of the fiscal asking for additional time to present further evidence and in
permitting the prosecuting attorney in pursuance of said permission to produce evidence of facts which had not
theretofore been presented in the case.

2. For having disallowed the plea of double jeopardy.

3. For having convicted the accused and sentencing him as he was sentenced.

We do not believe that the conviction can stand.

The information is based on article 347 of the Penal Code which provides that "any judge who shall knowingly render an
unjust decision against the defendant, etc.," shall be punished as provided therein.

As we said in the bribery case against the same accused, (ante, p. 100), we do not know whether the decision rendered by
the accused was an unjust or a just decision. Neither do we know whether it has been executed or not. In fact, the decision
deems subsequently to have been set aside and the cause sent to the Court of First Instance for original action in the
premises. What has become of the case, we do not know.lawphil.net

Moreover, it does not appear that the accused knowingly rendered an unjust judgment even if we concede that the
judgment was unjust. The mere fact that the court may not have had jurisdiction of the subject matter of the action does
not necessarily establish the fact that his judgment was unjust. He may have been honestly mistaken with respect to his
jurisdiction. In fact, this seems to have been precisely the case, for, on being informed of the existence of the law depriving
his court of jurisdiction in such cases, he immediately set aside his judgment of conviction and sent the case to the Court
of First Instance for trial.

Without, therefore, referring to the effect, if any, which the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of
Alzua vs. Johnson (231 U.S., 106) has upon Chapter I, Title VII of the Penal Code, we may say upon the record that there is
no evidence warranting the conviction of the accused, and the judgment of conviction is accordingly reversed and the
sentence imposed thereunder set aside; costs de officio.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Carson and Araullo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.C. No. 134-J January 21, 1974

IN RE: THE HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, BRANCH I, SILAY CITY.

RESOLUTION
ANTONIO, J.:1äwphï1.ñët

In a verified complaint filed on October 15, 1968 by Acting City Fiscal Norberto L. Zulueta, of Cadiz, Negros Occidental, and Eva
Mabug-at, widow of the deceased Norberto Tongoy, respondent is charged with gross malfeasance in office, gross ignorance of the
law, and for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment.

The aforecited charges stemmed from the order of respondent dated September 5, 1968 and his decision acquitting accused Carlos
Caramonte promulgated on September 21, 1968, in Criminal Case No. 690, entitled "People the Philippines versus Isabelo
Montemayor, et al.," for Robbery in Band with Homicide.

In the Resolution of this Court dated October 22, 1968, the complaint was given due course, and respondent was required to file,
an answer to the complaint within ten (10) days from notice thereof, and after the filing of respondent's answer, the case was
referred on December 17, 1968 to the Hon. Nicasio Yatco, Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, for investigation and report. On
April 11, 1968, after conducting the requisite investigation thereon, the investigator submitted his Report recommending the
exoneration of respondent.

It appears from the record that Acting City Fiscal Norberto L. Zulueta, of Cadiz, Negros Occidental, filed a charge for Robbery in
Band with Homicide against thirteen (13) persons as principals, seven (7) persons as accomplices, and two (2) persons as
accessories, with the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, in Criminal Case No. 690.<äre||anº•1àw> The case was assigned
to Branch I, Silay City, presided over by the respondent. Out of the 13 persons charged as principals for the crime, only Carlos
Caramonte was arrested and tried (the six other alleged principals, including Isabelo Montemayor, remained at large), while of the
persons charged as accomplices and accessories, the case with respect to them was dismissed at the instance of the prosecution or
with its conformity, in the following manner:

(a) Before arraignment: —

Jorge Canonoyo

(b) After arraignment: —

Agustin Cañete
Rosendo Cañete
Arsenio Luyao
Elias Giducos
Pedro Layon
Antonio Placencia

(c) Accused Luciano Salinas was discharged from the information and utilized as state witness; and

(d) Accused Honorato de Sales, Paulino Quijano, Cristeta Jimenez, Constancio Pangahin, Julio Elmo, Primitivo
Mata, and Rene Fernandez before the Amended Information of April 26, 1968, were dropped.

After the case was submitted for decision, respondent issued an order, dated September 5, 1968, which reads as follows:

The parties are notified that the Court intends to take judicial notice that the Mateo Chua-Antonio Uy Compound
Cadiz City is the hub of a large fishing industry operating in the Visayas; that the said compound is only about 500
meters away from the Police Station and the City Hall in Cadiz; that the neighborhood is well-lighted and well-
populated. SO ORDERED.

Thereafter, or more particularly, on September 21, 1968, respondent promulgated his decision in the case acquitting Carlos
Caramonte.

Subsequently, Acting City Fiscal Zulueta appealed aforementioned decision to this Court; and when required to comment on said
appeal, Solicitor General Antonio P. Barredo, now an Associate Justice of this Court, submitted his comment on November 28, 1968
to the effect that prosecution cannot appeal from the judgment of acquittal in view of the constitutional protection against double
jeopardy, and made the observation that "While the validity of the ocular inspection conducted by the lower court is open to
doubt, the unvarnished fact remains that the judgment of acquittal was not premised solely on the results of said ocular
inspection, as erroneously contended by prosecutor. A cursory perusal of the decision will at once show that said acquittal was
predicated on other well-considered facts and circumstances so thoroughly discussed by the lower court in its decision and the
least of those was its observation arising from the ocular inspection.

On January 30, 1969, this Court, through Justice Fernando, promulgated its Resolution dismissing the appeal (G.R. No. L-29599). In
the meantime, on October 15, 1968, the aforementioned complaint against respondent was instituted as aforestated..

In his Report, the investigator stated:

Under the first indictment, complainants bewail as gross malfeasance in office and gross ignorance of the law, the
following behaviour of the respondent Judge in the case:

I. GROSS MALFEASANCE IN OFFICE

and

GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW

After both parties submitted their respective Memorandum attached herewith as Annexes "C" and "D", Criminal
Case No. 690 for "Robbery in Band with Homicide" was closed and submitted for Decision on July 1, 1968.

About one and a half (1-½) months thereafter, or at about 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon of Sunday, 11 August
1968, respondent judge made a secret ocular inspection of the poblacion of the City of Cadiz. Without anybody to
guide him, he visited the places which he thought erroneously were the scene of the robbery where the Chief of
Police was killed by the Montemayor gang at about 11:00 o'clock of the dark night of December 31, 1967. It
should be noted that Cadiz City is 65 kms. away from Bacolod City, the capital of the province. Because of that
undeniably biased ocular inspection, the honorable trial judge, who is reputed to be brilliant, issued a reckless,
extremely senseless and stupid order dated 5 September 1968, to wit:

The parties are notified that the Court intends to take judicial notice that the Mateo Chua-
Antonio Uy Compound in Cadiz City is the hub of a large fishing industry during industry
operating in the Visayas; that the said compound is only about 500 meters away from the Police
Station and the City Hall in Cadiz; and that the neighborhood is well-lighted and well-populated.

SO ORDERED. —

which Order, as any student of law would tell you, is null and void, and illegal per se. Why respondent Honorable
Judge went out of his way to gather those immaterial and "fabricated" evidence in favor of the accused is
shocking to the conscience. To say the least, it is gross ignorance of the law. Why did respondent judge show his
hand unnecessarily and prematurely? Perhaps, a psychologist or a psychiatrist would explain that the Order of
September 5th is that of an anguished mind; an Order issued by a Judge who for the first time had to violate his
oath of office; by a judge who, due to political pressure and against his will and better judgment, had to acquit
councilor Carlos Caramonte of the municipality of Bantayan, province of Cebu. Like an amateur murderer
respondent judge left telltale clues all around. A murderer, however, may have a strong motive. But what of a
judge who knowingly commits a "revolting injustice" or through gross ignorance of the law?

It could be gleaned from a careful perusal of the complaint that complainants bemoaned the fact that the
respondent Judge conducted a "secret ocular inspection" of the poblacion of the City of Cadiz at about 3:00
o'clock in the afternoon Sunday, August 11, 1968, without anybody to guide him, less in the presence of the
prosecution and concluded that such alleged secret ocular inspection was the basis of the Order of September 5,
1968. A painstaking scrutiny of the records as well as the evidence presented by the parties does not show any
concrete proof that respondent Judge did conduct a "secret ocular inspection" of the poblacion of the City of
Cadiz as seriously charge by the complainants. In fact, the lone witness presented by the complainants in this case
did not even make an insinuation supporting such serious allegation of said complainants. The fact is, from the
order of September 5, 1968, the respondent Judge took judicial notice "that the Mateo Chua-Antonio Uy
Compound in Cadiz City is the hub of a large fishing industry operating in the Visayas; that the said compound is
only about 500 meters away from the Police Station and the City Hall in Cadiz; and that the neighborhood is well-
lighted and well-populated. Nowhere therefrom could it be deduced that respondent Judge took judicial notice of
these facts by virtue of an ocular inspection he conducted on the date alleged by the complainants.

In any event, there is likewise nothing in the record to support the charge of the complainants that the order of
September 5, 1968, was made by the respondent Judge as the sole basis for the acquittal of Carlos Caramonte. In
fact, the decision of the respondent Judge shows that in rendering judgment of acquittal in the case before him,
said respondent entertained serious doubts as to the guilt of Caramonte because of the failure of anyone — in the
Chua and in the Uy households, the security guards, the policemen who engaged the robbers in battle — to
identify Caramonte as one of the participants in the alleged crime. Thus, the decision pertinently reads:

Is Caramonte guilty?

In spite of the admission of Caramonte's Exh. C and the damaging inferences derived from his
staying from the ceremony when the newly-elected officials of Bantayan were inducted into
office, there is doubt in the mind of the Court as to his actual participation in then bold raid in
Cadiz City on December 31, 1967, because of the failure of anyone — the adults and the children
in the Chua and in the Uy households, the security guards, the policemen who engaged the
robbers in battle — to say on the stand that Caramonte was indeed one of the robbers.

The Uy spouses and Mateo Chua all took the stand. They and the other members of the household were tied up
by the robbers, who then ransacked the two houses for about an hour. Thereafter, some of them were taken to
the seashore to prevent the police from firing on the retreating robbers:

Mateo Chua said at the trial:

Q — At about 9:30 in the evening of Dec. 31, 1967, where were you?

A — I was in my house.

Q — Do you remember anything unusual that happened that evening in


your house?

A — Yes, sir.

Q — Please tell the Court what happened?

A — Several men, pirates, came up my house and broke into my house.

Q — About what time did you notice those pirates forced themselves
inside your residence?

A — Between 9:30 and 10:00 that evening.

Q — What was the first thing you noticed when the pirates as you said
arrived?

A — I was about to sleep when they came up, three of them went
straight up my house.

Q — How many floors has your house?

A — Two floors.

xxx xxx xxx

Q — What did the robbers do when they came up your house?

A — They hogtied me and made me lie flat on the floor face down.

Q — At that time were not your family inside your house?

A — Yes, sir, my children and my wife.

Q — What did the robbers do with your wife and children?

A — Because I was hogtied and was lying flat on the floor face down, I
cannot tell what did they do to my wife and children.

Q — What did the robbers do in your house?

A — They ransacked my house.

Q — How many minutes did the armed robbers stay pin your house?

A — Almost one hour.

xxx xxx xxx

Q — After nearly one hour, did the robbers who came up your house leave?

A — I don't know because I was lying flat on the floor.

Q — How did they come out, you cannot tell?

A — No, sir.

Q — Who untied you that evening?

A — My son untied me after the men left.

Court —

This witness did not identify any of the accused?


Fiscal —

No, Your Honor.

On her part, Mrs. Ong Sy San (wife of Uy) related on the witness stand that:

Q — Please tell the Court what unusual thing happened that evening
in your house?

A — The robbers broke into our house.

Q — More or less, how many robbers broke into your house that evening of
Dec. 31, 1967?

A — About four or five.

Q — Were they armed?

A — Yes, sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q — After the four or five persons fired their shots inside your house, what did
they do?

A — We were downstairs when they broke into our house, using the axe at the
door and then after entering the first floor they went up.

xxx xxx xxx

Q — Can you identify any of the robbers that came up your house from among
the accused in courtroom?

A — I cannot, because I was frightened, I did not have a chance to look at them.

The bold assault did not take place in absolute darkness. Why could no one in the Chua and Uy households say
that Carlos Caramonte was one of the team of robbers?

The police battled with the raiders from a distance of about 60 meters, according to Patrolman Armando
Maravilla. Two security guards employed by Uy (Placencia and Giducos) remained with the besieged families thru
the raid.

Security Guard Elias Giducos gave this testimony:

Q — At about 10:00 o'clock of that same evening of December 31, 1967, do you
remember if there was anything unusual that happened?

A — Yes, sir.

Q — What was that which happened?

A — At about that time we heard a voice of a man and woman and they asked us where
we were guarding.

Q — What did you answer?

A — At that time we were on duty at the gate of the house of Mateo Chua and then we
heard the voice of a man and a woman.

Q — After you heard those voices of a man and a woman, what happened?

A — Then we were told not to go to the seashore because there were armed men.

Q — What did you do after hearing that?

A — My companion Antonio Placencia called me because he was the one who had
talked to those persons. He told me not to go to the seashore because there were
armed men there.

Q — What did you do after that?

A — My companion also suggested that we better call the Police Department by


telephone because that was already 10:50 in the evening.

Q — Were you able to call the Police Department by telephone?

A — We went to the house of Erning Tan because there is a telephone there connected
with the Police Department and the stand is also at the window overlooking the Caltex
Station. So Antonio Placencia told me to call the Police Department and tell them that
there are armed men in the seashore.

Q — What did you do after that?

A — Then we saw Erning Tan entered his store to use the telephone and then we saw
Antonio (Kaya) Uy on the other side so we went to him and told him that there were
armed men in the seashore and Antonio Uy told us. "If anything happen don't resist
because my children might be hit."

xxx xxx xxx

Q — So what did you do after that?

A — Because there was a policeman there, we asked him where our companion security
guard was.

Q — And what was his answer?

A — The policeman informed us that he did not report for duty and that it was Guarino
who reported for duty that evening.

xxx xxx xxx

Q — When you went down, what happened?


A — When I went down, Antonio Uy saw me so he reprimanded me. He said, "Why are
you walking there? Come up."

Q — And then you obeyed his order? You came up.

A — Yes, sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q — What did Kaya Uy do when he heard the news?

A — Our employer Antonio Uy told us not to resist. He said, "If they want to get
something, just allow them to get it."

Q — What happened after that?

A — Because we were there with him, we went to office to hide.

Q — Did you notice anything while you were hiding there?

A — Yes, sir, we heard something.

Q — What did you hear?

A — We heard several shots.

xxx xxx xxx

Q — After the shots lasted, where did you go?

A — After the shooting stopped, the mother of Antonio Uy came to him and informed
Mr. Uy that his wife was brought along by the armed men.

Q — What did Mr. Uy do because you were there.

A — He went down and returned to his own house.

Q — When Mr. Uy went down and returned to his own house, what did you do?

A — I followed him.

Q — Where did you go?

A — To his house and I called the rest of the guards.

Q — Were you able to reach his house?

A — Yes, sir. —

which indicates that many people in the compound must or could have seen some or all of the robbers — and no
one could say that Caramonte was one of them.

The Court takes notice that the Uy Chua compound is the hub of a large fishing industry, and is located barely 500
meters from the Cadiz police station and City Hall. Also that there are many houses in the neighborhood. Under
the circumstances, the failure of anyone — members of the Chua and Uy households, the security guards and
other employees of the fishing business, the police, the neighbors — to perceive the presence of Caramonte at
the time of the attack raises doubts as to his participation therein. (Decision, pp. 12-16).

Be that as it may, under Section 173 of the Revised Administrative Code, the grounds for removal of a judge of
first instance are (1) serious misconduct and (2) inefficiency. For serious misconduct to exist, there must be
reliable evidence showing that the judicial acts complained of were corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate
the law, or were in persistent disregard of well-known legal rules. (In re Impeachment of Hon. Antonio Horrilleno,
43 Phil. 212). In the case at bar, there has been no proof that in issuing the order of September 5, 1968 (Exh. B),
and in rendering a judgment of acquittal the respondent Judge was inspired by a dishonest or corrupt intention
which prompted him to violate the law or to disregard well-known legal rules. In fact, in spite of the biting
language of the complainants in their complaint and in their memorandum, they admit that the respondent Judge
is not dishonest as far as they know. Of course, there has been an insinuation that "respondent Judge prostituted
this Court and acquitted, obviously in bad faith, Councilor Caramonte of Bantayan, province of Cebu, in all
likelihood because of the dirty hands of power politics." Inasmuch as proceedings against judges as the case at
bar, have been said to be governed by the rules of law applicable to penal cases, the charges must, therefore, be
proved beyond reasonable doubt (In re Horrilleno, supra), and it is incumbent upon the complainants to prove
their case not by a preponderance of evidence but beyond a reasonable doubt, and in this venture, it is believed
they failed. There is, indeed, a paucity of proof that respondent Judge has acted partially, or maliciously, or
corruptly, or arbitrarily or oppressively.

xxx xxx xxx

In issuing the order of Sept. 5, 1968, respondent Judge as stated in his answer, was guided by the Model Code of
Evidence cited by Chief Justice Moran in his Comments on the Rules of Court. Whether in taking judicial notice of
the facts stated in the order of September 5, 1968, respondent Judge erred or not, it is believed, this is not the
proper forum to dwell on the matter. Since this is an administrative case against him the controlling factor should
be the circumstances surrounding the issuance of such
order — whether in doing so the respondent Judge was arbitrary, corrupt, partial, or oppressive. As heretofore
stated, the undersigned finds no proof beyond reasonable doubt along that line.

Furthermore, it appears from the record that the Office of the City Fiscal received a copy of the Order of
September 5, 1968 on September 13, 1968. If it were true as alleged by the complainants that the issuance of
such order was and that the matters taken judicial notice of therein were wrong, it behooves upon Fiscal Zulueta,
as the prosecutor of the case, to seek for the reconsideration of such order and at the same time to invite the
attention of the court to the alleged errors, if there were any. But as the records show, the prosecution in the said
case did not take any steps — from September 13 to September 21, or a span of eight — to protect the interests
of the State against what complainants herein term to be an "illegality." Of course, the complainants herein lean
on the argument that —

Fiscal Zulueta —

Because if I do that, Your Honor, respondent Judge would realize his mistake which we believe
malicious (p. 29, t.s.n.).

It may be pertinent to state at this juncture, that this attitude of the prosecution in Criminal Case No. 690 does
appear to be commendable. A prosecutor should lay the court fairly and fully every fact and circumstance known
to him to exist, without regard to whether such fact tends to establish the guilt or innocence of the accused
(Malcolm, Legal and Judicial Ethics, p. 123) and to this may be added without regard to any personal conviction or
presumption of what the Judge may do or is disposed to do. Prosecuting officer presumed to be men learned in
the law, of a high character, and to perform their duties impartially and with but one object in view, that being
that justice may be meted out to all violators of the law and that no innocent man be punished (Malcolm, p. 124).
In the pursuit of that solemn obligation, therefore, personal conviction should be ignored lest it may lead to a
sacrifice of the purpose sought to be achieved. Fortunately, in Criminal Case No. 690, the very witness of the
complainants affirmed the correctness of the matters taken judicial notice of by the respondent Judge. Thus, Mr.
Agustin Javier, lone witness for the complainants, testified —

Atty. Aquino —

Q — When Fiscal Zulueta on September 13, 1968 showed you that order of Judge
Climaco wherein he stated that he was taking judicial notice that Mateo Chua-Antonio
Uy Compound in Cadiz City is a hub of a large fishing industry operating in the Visayas;
that said compound is only a five hundred (500) meters from the City Hall in Cadiz and
that the neighborhood is well-lighted and well-populated, after reading that order, did
you make any comment to Fiscal Zulueta?

A — No, sir.

Q — But the statements here in the order are true?

A — Yes, you mean the "Uy-Chua Compound"?

Q — I mean the statements in the order are true?

A — Yes, sir. (pp. 64-65, t.s.n.)

The charges impute upon respondent (a) dereliction of duty or misconduct in office ( prevaricacion), which contemplates the
rendition of an unjust judgment knowingly, and/or in (b) rendering a manifestly unjust judgment by reason of inexcusable
negligence or ignorance.

In order that a judge may be held liable for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, it must be shown beyond doubt that the
judgment is unjust as it is contrary to law or is not supported by the evidence, and the same was made with conscious and
deliberate intent to do an injustice. "Es tan preciso," commented Viada, "que la falta se cometa a sabiendas, esto es, con malicia,
con voluntad reflexiva, que en cada de uno de estos articulos vemos consignada dicha expresion para que por nadie y en ningun
caso se confunda la falta de justicia producida por ignorancia, la preocupacion o el error, con la que solo inspira la enemistad, el
odio o cualquiera otra pasion bastarda y corrompida. Esta es la prevaricacion verdadera."1

To hold a judge liable for the rendition of a manifestly unjust judgment by reason of inexcusable negligence or ignorance, it must be
shown, according to Groizard, that although he has acted without malice, he failed to observe in the performance of his duty, that
diligence, prudence and care which the law is entitled to exact in the rendering of any public service.2 Negligence and ignorance are
inexcusable if they imply a manifest injustice which cannot be explained by a reasonable interpretation.3 Inexcusable mistake only
exists in the legal concept when it implies a manifest injustice, that is to say, such injustice which cannot be explained by a reasonable
interpretation, even though there is a misunderstanding or error of the law applied, in the contrary it results, logically and reasonably,
and in a very clear and indisputable manner, in the notorious violation of the legal precept.4

It is also well-settled that a judicial officer, when required to exercise his judgment or discretion, is not liable criminally, for any error
he commits, provided he acts in good faith.

From a review of the record, We find that the decision respondent contains clearly and distinctly the facts and law on which it is
based. We cannot conclude on the basis thereof that respondent has knowingly rendered an unjust judgment, much less could it be
held that respondent in the performance of his duty has failed to observe the diligence, prudence and care required by law.

As noted in the aforecited report, the Acting City Fiscal of Cadiz had employed offensive and abusive language his complaint and
memorandum. It bears emphasis that the use in pleadings of language disrespectful to the court or containing offensive personalities
serves no useful purpose and on the contrary constitutes direct contempt.5

We must repeat what this Court thru Justice Sanchez stated in an earlier case:6

A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of
justice." (People ex rel. Karlin vs. Culkin, 60 A.L.R. 851, 855.). His duty is to uphold the dignity and authority of the
courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice." (In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595,
602.). Faith in the courts a lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to the
continuity of government and to the attainment of the liberties of the people." (Malcolm, Legal and Judicial Ethics,
1949 ed., p. 160.).

Thus has it been said of a lawyer that "[as] an officer of the court, it is his own and moral duty to help build and not
destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the court so essential to the proper administration of
justice. (People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 572, 580.).

... It has been said that "[a] lawyer's language should be dignified in keeping with the dignity of the legal profession."
(5 Martin, op. cit., p. 97.). It is Sotto's duty as a member of the Bar "[t]o abstain from all offensive personality and to
advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the
cause with which he is charged." (Section 20 (f), Rule 138, Rules of Court.).

We have analyzed the facts, and there is nothing on the basis thereof which would in any manner justify their inclusion in the
pleadings.

WHEREFORE, respondent judge is hereby exonerated of the aforestated charges. Acting City Fiscal Norberto L. Zulueta, of Cadiz City,
is, nevertheless, censured for his use of offensive and abusive language in the complaint and other pleadings filed with this Court,
with a warning that repetition of the same may constrain Us to impose a more severe sanction.

Makalintal, C.J., Zaldivar, Castro, Esguerra, Fernandez and Muñoz Palma, JJ., concur.1äwphï1.ñët

Barredo, Makasiar and Aquino, JJ., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-2971 April 20, 1951

FELICIANO MANIEGO y CATU, petitioner,


vs.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Llorente and Yumul for petitioner.


Office of the Solicitor General Felix Bautista Angelo and Solicitor Augusto M. Luciano for respondent.

BENGZON, J.:

This petitioner was convicted, by the Fifth Division of the Court of Appeals, of a violation of article 210 of the Revised Penal
Code. He pleads for acquittal, insisting upon purely legal points.

The facts found by that appellate court are substantially the following:
That on February 27, 1947, the accused, although appointed as a laborer, had been placed in charge of issuing
summons and subpoenas for traffic violations in the Sala of Judge Crisanto Aragon of the Municipal Court of the
City of Manila. It appears furthermore, from the testimony of Clerk of Court Baltazar and Fiscal De la Merced, then
Deputy Fiscal attending to traffic violations, that the accused had been permitted to write motions for dismissal of
prescribed traffic cases against offenders without counsel, and to submit them to the Court for action, without
passing through the regular clerk. On the day in question, Felix Rabia, the complainant herein, appeared and
inquired from the accused about a subpoena that he received. He was informed that it was in connection with a
traffic violation for which said Rabia had been detained and given traffic summons by an American MP. The
accused after a short conversation went to Fiscal De la Merced and informed the Fiscal that the case had already
prescribed. The Fiscal having found such to be the case, instructed the accused that if the traffic violator had no
lawyer, he could write the motion for dismissal and have it signed by the party concerned. This was done by the
accused and after the signing by Felix Rabia the matter was submitted to the Court, which granted the petition for
dismissal.

According to Felix Rabia and Agent No. 19 (La forteza) of the National Bureau of Investigation, the accused
informed Rabia that the latter was subject to a fine of P15; that Rabia inquired whether the same could be
reduced because he had no money, and that the accused informed Rabia that he could fix the case if Rabia would
pay him P10; which Rabia did and the accused pocketed. This charged was denied by the accused.

The pertinent portion of article 210 of the Revised Penal Code reads:

Any public officer who shall agree to perform an act constituting a crime, in connection with the performance of
his official duties, in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present received by such officer, personally or
through the mediation of another, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium
periods and fine of not lees than the value to the penalty corresponding to the crime agreed upon if the same
shall have been committed.

If the gift was accepted by the officer in consideration of the execution of an act which does not constitute a
crime, and the officer executed said act, he shall suffer the same penalty provided in the preceding paragraph. . . .

As correctly indicated by counsel for petitioner the four essential elements of the offense are: (1) the the accused is a
public officer within the scope of article 203 of the Revised Penal Code; (2) that the accused received by himself or thru
another, some gift or present, offer or promise; (3) that such gift, present or promises has been given in consideration of
his commission of some crime or any act not constituting a crime; (4) that the crime or act relates to the exercise of the
functions of the public officer.

There can be no question that petitioner was a public officer within the meaning of article 203, which includes all persons
"who, by direct provision of law, popular election or appointment by competent authority, shall take part in the
performance of public functions in the Philippine Government, or shall perform in said government or any of its branches,
public duties as an employee, agent or subordinate official or any rank or class." That definition is quite comprehensive,
embracing as it does, every public servant from the highest to the lowest. For the purposes of the Penal Code, it obliterates
the standard distinction in the law of public officers between "officer" and "employee".

Petitioner, however, contending that the Court of Appeals erred in regarding him as a public officer, expounded and
discussed several grounds arranged under the following hearings:

a. The doctrine of "the temporary performance of public functions by a laborer" should not apply in defendant's
case.

b. The overt act imputed on the accused does not constitute a circumstance by which he may be considered a
public official.
c. His appointment as laborer came from one source, while the designation and delimitation of the functions of
his appointment came from another source.

After having carefully considered the expository argumentation, we are unconvinced. The law is clear, and we perceive no
valid reason to deny validity to the view entertained by the Spanish Supreme Court that, for the purposes of punishing
bribery, the temporary performance of public functions is sufficient to constitute a person a public official. This opinion, it
must be stated, was followed and applied by the Court of Appeals because the accused, although originally assigned to the
preparation of summons and subpoenas, had been allowed in some instance to prepare motions for dismissal of traffic
cases.

And this Tribunal has practically concurred with the Spanish court when it opined1 that a laborer in the Bureau of Post
temporarily detailed as filer of money orders was a public officer within the meaning of article 203 of the Revised Penal
Code. Indeed, common sense indicates that the receipt of bribe money is just as pernicious when committed by temporary
employees as when committed by permanent officials.

The second essential element has likewise been proven. The Court of Appeals said this petitioner received ten pesos from
Rabia (and pocketed the money) in consideration of his "fixing" Rabia's case, and thereafter he "fixed" it by filing a motion
for dismissal, which was approved in due course.

In connection with the last two elements of the offense, it should be stated that our pronouncements under the first
sufficiently answer petitioner's propositions elaborated in several parts of his brief, revolving around the thesis that since
he was a mere laborer by appointment he may not be convicted, because the preparation of motions for dismissal is not
surely the official function of a laborer. Enough to recall that although originally appointed as a mere laborer, this
defendant was on several occasions designated or given the work to prepare motions for dismissal. He was consequently
temporarily discharging such public functions. And as in the performance thereof he accepted, even solicited, monetary
reward, he certainly guilty as charged.

Wherefore, there being no issue about the penalty imposed, the decision of the Court of Appeals is affirmed in toto. With
costs.

Paras, C.J., Feria, Pablo, Tuason, Montemayor, Jugo and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 1173 August 27, 1903

THE UNITED STATES, complainant-appellee,


vs.
BONIFACIO FULGENCIO, defendant-appellant.

Joaquin Rodriguez Serra for appellant.


Solicitor-General Araneta for appellee.

WILLARD, J.:

Eulogio La Orinario and Gregorio Rivera both testified that the defendant, a Manila policeman, demanded of Eulogio 20
pesos. The testimony of these witnesses, as it appears in the record, is somewhat confused, but in view of the fact that the
defendant presented no evidence, and that the statements of these two witnesses are therefore uncontradicted, we
consider them sufficient to establish the fact of this demand.
Eulogio, telling the defendant and his companions that he would get the money, reported the matter to the authorities,
and by them was furnished with two marked bills of 5 pesos each, which he in the afternoon of the same day gave to the
defendant. The latter was arrested almost in the act, with the marked bills in his pocket.

Eulogio and his companions had overturned a barrel from a carreton and scattered its contents in the street. The
defendant and his companions had, on this account, either arrested the witness or threatened to do so unless money was
paid to them.

The offense falls within article 383 of the Penal Code.

The court below, without appreciating any aggravating circumstances, sentenced the defendant in the maximum degree.
This was error. We fix the penalty at the maximum of the medium degree.

Before the trial commenced the case was dismissed as to the defendants Medina and Piñon. Why this was done does not
appear. But, whatever the reason may have been, such dismissal can not be alleged by the defendant as a ground for
acquitting him of an offense of which he has been proven guilty.

The judgment below is reversed, and the defendant sentenced to four months and twenty days of arresto mayor, and a
fine of 30 pesos, with the costs of both instances against him.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Cooper, Mapa, and McDonough, JJ., concur.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 2433 September 15, 1906

THE UNITED STATES, complainant-appellee,


vs.
DEOGRACIAS BUENAVENTURA, defendant-appellant.

Palma, Gerona and Mercado, for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Araneta, for appellee.

WILLARD, J.:

Esteban Sergio was arrested without a warrant by the defendant, an officer in the Constabulary, for alleged violation of the
act defining and punishing brigandage. He was kept in the confinement by the defendant for four days and was then
released by him. Within a short time thereafter he paid to the defendant 150 pesos cash, and delivered to him a certain
amount of cacao. The defendant was prosecuted for bribery, and having been convicted, was sentenced to two years
eleven months and ten days' imprisonment and to pay a fine of 540 pesos. From this judgment he appealed. Sergio was
never brought before a justice of the peace by the defendant for prosecution.

The facts above stated are conclusively proved. It is claimed by the appellant, however, that the money was not paid by
virtue of any agreement or promise made between the parties prior to the released, but that it was a present given to him
by Sergio after such release, and that the case therefore is governed by article 386 of the Penal Code. The wife of Sergio
gave testimony to this effect, and something was said also by Sergio himself to the same effect, but also testified that
before he was released he promised to pay the defendant 200 pesos, and it is proved beyond question that before he was
released he gave to the defendant a receipt or paper, and that when the defendant was paid the first 100 pesos this paper
was destroyed by the defendant. We think the evidence is sufficient to show that Sergio was released from imprisonment
by the defendant by reason of this promise made by him before the release to pay this money to the defendant.

The facts above set fourth show the commission of the crime of bribery. (United States vs. Eustaquio Horca,1 No. 2676,
March 31, 1906.) The court below convicted the defendant of bribery under the provisions of article 381 of the Penal
Code. The crime committed by the defendant is that defined by article 383 of that code. (United States vs. Pablo
Valdehueza,2 3 Off. Gaz., 413.)

It suggested by the Solicitor-General that the case falls within section 19 of Act No. 175. We do not think, however, that
section is applicable, for there is no proof that the arrest was made for the purpose of extorting this money from the
complaining witness.

The judgment of the court below is reversed, and the defendant is convicted of the crime defined and punished an article
383 of the Penal Code, and is sentenced to four months and twenty days' imprisonment (arresto mayor), temporary special
disqualification for eight years and one day, to pay the cost of both instances, and to pay a fine of 540 pesos, with the
accessories provided by law, and in case of insolvency to suffer subsidiary imprisonment as provided by law. After the
expiration of ten days from the date of final judgment let the cause be remanded to the court of its origin for proper
procedure. So ordered.

Torres, Johnson and Tracey, JJ., concur.


Carson, J., disqualified.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 1586 April 9, 1904

THE UNITED STATES, complainant-appellee,


vs.
FELIPE NAVARRO, defendant-appellant.

Wm. H. Lawrence for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Araneta for appellee.

COOPER, J.:

The defendant, Felipe Navarro, is charged with the offense of bribery committed in the following manner, to wit:

That, being a duly appointed, qualified, and acting sanitary inspector for the Board of Health of the city of Manila, he did
solicit, accept, and receive a present from Tiong Siaco and San Kaco, to wit, the sum of 3.50 pesos local currency, to the
end that the said defendant should abstain from performing an act which he should perform in the exercise of the duties
of his office, to wit, the reporting to his superior officers that the said Tiong Siaco and San Kaco had violated the health
ordinances and regulations of the city of Manila.

The defendant was found guilty by the Court of First Instance and sentenced to imprisonment at hard labor, in Bilibid, for
the period of four months and one day and a fine of 10.50 pesos and to pay the costs of the case. From this judgment he
has appealed to this court.

The prosecution is based upon the provisions contained in article 383 of the Penal Code, which reads as follows:
When the purpose of the gift received or promised was that the public official should abstain from performing an
act which he should perform in the exercise of the duties of his office, the penalties shall be those of arresto
mayor in its medium to its maximum degree and a fine of an amount equal to three times the value thereof.

The proof shows that the defendant was a sanitary inspector for the Board of Health of the city of Manila, and that in
pursuance of his duties as such he called at various times at the house of the Chinamen for the purpose of inspecting the
sanitary condition of their premises, and on these occasions collected sums of money amounting to from 20 to 30 cents,
Mexican.

San Kaco testified that the defendant went to the house of Tiong Siaco frequently and whenever he came he said that the
house was dirty; that sometimes he collected 20 cents and sometimes 50 cents, in all amounting to about 4 pesos; he
testified that Tiong Siaco paid the money because he was afraid of being fined for not keeping the house clean; that every
time that the defendant came to the house of Tiong Siaco he told him to clean the house and if he did not do so that he
would be arrested, but the witness stated that Tiong Siaco had never been arrested.

The defendant testified in his own behalf and stated that he had inspected the houses in his district once a day and
recollects of having inspected the house of the Chinamen at No. 15 Calle Mestizos. He stated that the house of these
Chinamen was always found in a dirty and unsanitary condition and that he reported the case to the sanitary department.

If he had made such a report he should have corroborated his testimony by having the report produced and offered in
evidence. This he failed to do.

Although he was on the stand testifying in his own behalf, he also failed to deny the testimony given by the Chinamen that
he had received money from them on the occasion of his visits to their house.

No explanation was made by him as to why he had made these collections, nor was there any denial on his part that such
collections were made.

We think the proof is sufficient to sustain the conviction, and the judgment of the lower court will be affirmed with costs
and with a modification of the sentence in so far as he is sentenced to imprisonment at hard labor. The law defining and
punishing this offense does not provide for hard labor as a part of the punishment.

Arellano, C. J., Torres, Mapa, McDonough and Johnson, JJ., concur.