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G.R. No.

110662 August 4, 1994

TERESITA SALCEDO-ORTANEZ, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. ROMEO F. ZAMORA, Presiding Judge, Br. 94, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City and RAFAEL S. ORTANEZ, respondents.

Oscar A. Inocentes & Associates Law Office for petitioner.

Efren A. Santos for private respondent.

PADILLA, J.:

This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which seeks to reverse the decision * of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No.
28545 entitled "Teresita Salcedo-Ortanez versus Hon. Romeo F. Zamora, Presiding Judge, Br. 94, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City and
Rafael S. Ortanez".

The relevant facts of the case are as follows:

On 2 May 1990, private respondent Rafael S. Ortanez filed with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City a complaint for annulment of marriage with damages
against petitioner Teresita Salcedo-Ortanez, on grounds of lack of marriage license and/or psychological incapacity of the petitioner. The complaint was docketed
as Civil Case No. Q-90-5360 and raffled to Branch 94, RTC of Quezon City presided over by respondent Judge Romeo F. Zamora.

Private respondent, after presenting his evidence, orally formally offered in evidence Exhibits "A" to "M".

Among the exhibits offered by private respondent were three (3) cassette tapes of alleged telephone conversations between petitioner and unidentified persons.

Petitioner submitted her Objection/Comment to private respondent's oral offer of evidence on 9 June 1992; on the same day, the trial court admitted all of private
respondent's offered evidence.

A motion for reconsideration from petitioner was denied on 23 June 1992.

A petition for certiorari was then filed by petitioner in the Court of Appeals assailing the admission in evidence of the aforementioned cassette tapes.

On 10 June 1993, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment which is the subject of the present petition, which in part reads:

It is much too obvious that the petition will have to fail, for two basic reasons:

(1) Tape recordings are not inadmissible per se. They and any other variant thereof can be admitted in evidence for certain purposes,
depending on how they are presented and offered and on how the trial judge utilizes them in the interest of truth and fairness and the
even handed administration of justice.

(2) A petition for certiorari is notoriously inappropriate to rectify a supposed error in admitting evidence adduced during trial. The ruling on
admissibility is interlocutory; neither does it impinge on jurisdiction. If it is erroneous, the ruling should be questioned in the appeal from
the judgment on the merits and not through the special civil action of certiorari. The error, assuming gratuitously that it exists, cannot be
anymore than an error of law, properly correctible by appeal and not by certiorari. Otherwise, we will have the sorry spectacle of a case
being subject of a counterproductive "ping-pong" to and from the appellate court as often as a trial court is perceived to have made an
error in any of its rulings with respect to evidentiary matters in the course of trial. This we cannot sanction.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari being devoid of merit, is hereby DISMISSED. 1

From this adverse judgment, petitioner filed the present petition for review, stating:

Grounds for Allowance of the Petition

10. The decision of respondent [Court of Appeals] has no basis in law nor previous decision of the Supreme Court.

10.1 In affirming the questioned order of respondent judge, the Court of Appeals has decided a question of
substance not theretofore determined by the Supreme Court as the question of admissibility in evidence of tape
recordings has not, thus far, been addressed and decided squarely by the Supreme Court.

11. In affirming the questioned order of respondent judge, the Court of Appeals has likewise rendered a decision in a way not in accord
with law and with applicable decisions of the Supreme Court.
11.1 Although the questioned order is interlocutory in nature, the same can still be [the] subject of a petition
for certiorari.
2

The main issue to be resolved is whether or not the remedy of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court was properly availed of by the petitioner in the Court
of Appeals.

The extraordinary writ of certiorari is generally not available to challenge an interlocutory order of a trial court. The proper remedy in such cases is an ordinary
appeal from an adverse judgment, incorporating in said appeal the grounds for assailing the interlocutory order.

However, where the assailed interlocutory order is patently erroneous and the remedy of appeal would not afford adequate and expeditious relief, the Court may
allow certiorari as a mode of redress. 3

In the present case, the trial court issued the assailed order admitting all of the evidence offered by private respondent, including tape recordings of telephone
conversations of petitioner with unidentified persons. These tape recordings were made and obtained when private respondent allowed his friends from the military
to wire tap his home telephone. 4

Rep. Act No. 4200 entitled "An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Wire Tapping and Other Related Violations of the Privacy of Communication, and for other purposes"
expressly makes such tape recordings inadmissible in evidence. The relevant provisions of Rep. Act No. 4200 are as follows:

Sec. 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken
word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such
communication or spoken word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-
talkie or tape-recorder, or however otherwise described. . . .

Sec. 4. Any communication or spoken word, or the existence, contents, substance, purport, or meaning of the same or any
part thereof, or any information therein contained, obtained or secured by any person in violation of the preceding sections of
this Act shall not be admissible in evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation.

Clearly, respondents trial court and Court of Appeals failed to consider the afore-quoted provisions of the law in admitting in evidence the cassette tapes in
question. Absent a clear showing that both parties to the telephone conversations allowed the recording of the same, the inadmissibility of the subject tapes is
mandatory under Rep. Act No. 4200.

Additionally, it should be mentioned that the above-mentioned Republic Act in Section 2 thereof imposes a penalty of imprisonment of not less than six (6) months
and up to six (6) years for violation of said Act.
5

We need not address the other arguments raised by the parties, involving the applicability of American jurisprudence, having arrived at the conclusion that the
subject cassette tapes are inadmissible in evidence under Philippine law.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 28545 is hereby SET ASIDE. The subject cassette tapes are declared inadmissible in
evidence.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 93833 September 28, 1995

SOCORRO D. RAMIREZ, petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and ESTER S. GARCIA, respondents.

KAPUNAN, J.:

A civil case damages was filed by petitioner Socorro D. Ramirez in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City alleging that the private respondent, Ester S. Garcia, in
a confrontation in the latter's office, allegedly vexed, insulted and humiliated her in a "hostile and furious mood" and in a manner offensive to petitioner's dignity
and personality," contrary to morals, good customs and public policy." 1

In support of her claim, petitioner produced a verbatim transcript of the event and sought moral damages, attorney's fees and other expenses of litigation in the
amount of P610,000.00, in addition to costs, interests and other reliefs awardable at the trial court's discretion. The transcript on which the civil case was based
was culled from a tape recording of the confrontation made by petitioner. The transcript reads as follows:
2

Plaintiff Soccoro D. Ramirez (Chuchi) — Good Afternoon M'am.

Defendant Ester S. Garcia (ESG) — Ano ba ang nangyari sa 'yo, nakalimot ka na kung paano ka napunta rito,
porke member ka na, magsumbong ka kung ano ang gagawin ko sa 'yo.
CHUCHI — Kasi, naka duty ako noon.

ESG — Tapos iniwan no. (Sic)

CHUCHI — Hindi m'am, pero ilan beses na nila akong binalikan, sabing ganoon —

ESG — Ito and (sic) masasabi ko sa 'yo, ayaw kung (sic) mag explain ka, kasi hanggang 10:00 p.m.,
kinabukasan hindi ka na pumasok. Ngayon ako ang babalik sa 'yo, nag-aaply ka sa States, nag-aaply ka sa
review mo, kung kakailanganin ang certification mo, kalimutan mo na kasi hindi ka sa akin makakahingi.

CHUCHI — Hindi M'am. Kasi ang ano ko talaga noon i-cocontinue ko up to 10:00 p.m.

ESG — Bastos ka, nakalimutan mo na kung paano ka pumasok dito sa hotel. Magsumbong ka sa Union kung
gusto mo. Nakalimutan mo na kung paano ka nakapasok dito "Do you think that on your own makakapasok ka
kung hindi ako. Panunumbyoyan na kita (Sinusumbatan na kita).

CHUCHI — Itutuloy ko na M'am sana ang duty ko.

ESG — Kaso ilang beses na akong binabalikan doon ng mga no (sic) ko.

ESG — Nakalimutan mo na ba kung paano ka pumasok sa hotel, kung on your own merit alam ko naman kung
gaano ka "ka bobo" mo. Marami ang nag-aaply alam kong hindi ka papasa.

CHUCHI — Kumuha kami ng exam noon.

ESG — Oo, pero hindi ka papasa.

CHUCHI — Eh, bakit ako ang nakuha ni Dr. Tamayo

ESG — Kukunin ka kasi ako.

CHUCHI — Eh, di sana —

ESG — Huwag mong ipagmalaki na may utak ka kasi wala kang utak. Akala mo ba makukuha ka dito kung hindi
ako.

CHUCHI — Mag-eexplain ako.

ESG — Huwag na, hindi ako mag-papa-explain sa 'yo, makaalala ka kung paano ka puma-rito. "Putang-ina"
sasabi-sabihin mo kamag-anak ng nanay at tatay mo ang mga magulang ko.

ESG — Wala na akong pakialam, dahil nandito ka sa loob, nasa labas ka puwede ka ng hindi pumasok, okey
yan nasaloob ka umalis ka doon.

CHUCHI — Kasi M'am, binbalikan ako ng mga taga Union.

ESG — Nandiyan na rin ako, pero huwag mong kalimutan na hindi ka makakapasok kung hindi ako. Kung hindi
mo kinikilala yan okey lang sa akin, dahil tapos ka na.

CHUCHI — Ina-ano ko m'am na utang na loob.

ESG — Huwag na lang, hindi mo utang na loob, kasi kung baga sa no, nilapastangan mo ako.

CHUCHI — Paano kita nilapastanganan?

ESG — Mabuti pa lumabas ka na. Hindi na ako makikipagusap sa 'yo. Lumabas ka na. Magsumbong ka. 3

As a result of petitioner's recording of the event and alleging that the said act of secretly taping the confrontation was illegal, private respondent filed a criminal
case before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City for violation of Republic Act 4200, entitled "An Act to prohibit and penalize wire tapping and other related
violations of private communication, and other purposes." An information charging petitioner of violation of the said Act, dated October 6, 1988 is quoted herewith:

INFORMATION
The Undersigned Assistant City Fiscal Accusses Socorro D. Ramirez of Violation of Republic Act No. 4200, committed as follows:

That on or about the 22nd day of February, 1988, in Pasay City Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this honorable court, the above-named accused, Socorro D. Ramirez not being authorized by
Ester S. Garcia to record the latter's conversation with said accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, with the use of a tape recorder secretly record the said conversation and thereafter communicate in
writing the contents of the said recording to other person.

Contrary to law.

Pasay City, Metro Manila, September 16, 1988.

MARIANO M. CUNETA
Asst. City Fiscal

Upon arraignment, in lieu of a plea, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash the Information on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, particularly
a violation of R.A. 4200. In an order May 3, 1989, the trial court granted the Motion to Quash, agreeing with petitioner that 1) the facts charged do not constitute an
offense under R.A. 4200; and that 2) the violation punished by R.A. 4200 refers to a the taping of a communication by a person other than a participant to the
communication. 4

From the trial court's Order, the private respondent filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court, which forthwith referred the case to the Court of Appeals
in a Resolution (by the First Division) of June 19, 1989.

On February 9, 1990, respondent Court of Appeals promulgated its assailed Decision declaring the trial court's order of May 3, 1989 null and void, and holding
that:

[T]he allegations sufficiently constitute an offense punishable under Section 1 of R.A. 4200. In thus quashing the information based on the
ground that the facts alleged do not constitute an offense, the respondent judge acted in grave abuse of discretion correctible
by certiorari.
5

Consequently, on February 21, 1990, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration which respondent Court of Appeals denied in its Resolution dated June 19,
6

1990. Hence, the instant petition.

Petitioner vigorously argues, as her "main and principal issue" that the applicable provision of Republic Act 4200 does not apply to the taping of a private
7

conversation by one of the parties to the conversation. She contends that the provision merely refers to the unauthorized taping of a private conversation by a
party other than those involved in the communication. In relation to this, petitioner avers that the substance or content of the conversation must be alleged in the
8

Information, otherwise the facts charged would not constitute a violation of R.A. 4200. Finally, petitioner agues that R.A. 4200 penalizes the taping of a "private
9

communication," not a "private conversation" and that consequently, her act of secretly taping her conversation with private respondent was not illegal under the
said act.10

We disagree.

First, legislative intent is determined principally from the language of a statute. Where the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the law is applied
according to its express terms, and interpretation would be resorted to only where a literal interpretation would be either impossible or absurb or would lead to an
11

injustice.
12

Section 1 of R.A. 4200 entitled, " An Act to Prohibit and Penalized Wire Tapping and Other Related Violations of Private Communication and Other Purposes,"
provides:

Sec. 1. It shall be unlawfull for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap
any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken
word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however
otherwise described.

The aforestated provision clearly and unequivocally makes it illegal for any person, not authorized by all the parties to any private communication to secretly record
such communication by means of a tape recorder. The law makes no distinction as to whether the party sought to be penalized by the statute ought to be a party
other than or different from those involved in the private communication. The statute's intent to penalize all persons unauthorized to make such recording is
underscored by the use of the qualifier "any". Consequently, as respondent Court of Appeals correctly concluded, "even a (person) privy to a communication who
records his private conversation with another without the knowledge of the latter (will) qualify as a violator" under this provision of R.A. 4200.
13

A perusal of the Senate Congressional Records, moreover, supports the respondent court's conclusion that in enacting R.A. 4200 our lawmakers indeed
contemplated to make illegal, unauthorized tape recording of private conversations or communications taken either by the parties themselves or by third persons.
Thus:

xxx xxx xxx

Senator Tañada: That qualified only "overhear".

Senator Padilla: So that when it is intercepted or recorded, the element of secrecy would not appear to be material. Now, suppose, Your
Honor, the recording is not made by all the parties but by some parties and involved not criminal cases that would be mentioned under
section 3 but would cover, for example civil cases or special proceedings whereby a recording is made not necessarily by all the parties
but perhaps by some in an effort to show the intent of the parties because the actuation of the parties prior, simultaneous even
subsequent to the contract or the act may be indicative of their intention. Suppose there is such a recording, would you say, Your Honor,
that the intention is to cover it within the purview of this bill or outside?

Senator Tañada: That is covered by the purview of this bill, Your Honor.

Senator Padilla: Even if the record should be used not in the prosecution of offense but as evidence to be used in Civil Cases or special
proceedings?

Senator Tañada: That is right. This is a complete ban on tape recorded conversations taken without the authorization of all the parties.

Senator Padilla: Now, would that be reasonable, your Honor?

Senator Tañada: I believe it is reasonable because it is not sporting to record the observation of one without his knowing it and then using
it against him. It is not fair, it is not sportsmanlike. If the purpose; Your honor, is to record the intention of the parties. I believe that all the
parties should know that the observations are being recorded.

Senator Padilla: This might reduce the utility of recorders.

Senator Tañada: Well no. For example, I was to say that in meetings of the board of directors where a tape recording is taken, there is no
objection to this if all the parties know. It is but fair that the people whose remarks and observations are being made should know that the
observations are being recorded.

Senator Padilla: Now, I can understand.

Senator Tañada: That is why when we take statements of persons, we say: "Please be informed that whatever you say here may be used
against you." That is fairness and that is what we demand. Now, in spite of that warning, he makes damaging statements against his own
interest, well, he cannot complain any more. But if you are going to take a recording of the observations and remarks of a person without
him knowing that it is being taped or recorded, without him knowing that what is being recorded may be used against him, I think it is
unfair.

xxx xxx xxx

(Congression Record, Vol. III, No. 31, p. 584, March 12, 1964)

Senator Diokno: Do you understand, Mr. Senator, that under Section 1 of the bill as now worded, if a party secretly records a public
speech, he would be penalized under Section 1? Because the speech is public, but the recording is done secretly.

Senator Tañada: Well, that particular aspect is not contemplated by the bill. It is the communication between one person and another
person — not between a speaker and a public.

xxx xxx xxx

(Congressional Record, Vol. III, No. 33, p. 626, March 12, 1964)

xxx xxx xxx

The unambiguity of the express words of the provision, taken together with the above-quoted deliberations from the Congressional Record, therefore plainly
supports the view held by the respondent court that the provision seeks to penalize even those privy to the private communications. Where the law makes no
distinctions, one does not distinguish.

Second, the nature of the conversations is immaterial to a violation of the statute. The substance of the same need not be specifically alleged in the information.
What R.A. 4200 penalizes are the acts of secretly overhearing, intercepting or recording private communications by means of the devices enumerated therein. The
mere allegation that an individual made a secret recording of a private communication by means of a tape recorder would suffice to constitute an offense under
Section 1 of R.A. 4200. As the Solicitor General pointed out in his COMMENT before the respondent court: "Nowhere (in the said law) is it required that before one
can be regarded as a violator, the nature of the conversation, as well as its communication to a third person should be professed." 14

Finally, petitioner's contention that the phrase "private communication" in Section 1 of R.A. 4200 does not include "private conversations" narrows the ordinary
meaning of the word "communication" to a point of absurdity. The word communicate comes from the latin word communicare, meaning "to share or to impart." In
its ordinary signification, communication connotes the act of sharing or imparting signification, communication connotes the act of sharing or imparting, as in
a conversation, or signifies the "process by which meanings or thoughts are shared between individuals through a common system of symbols (as language
15

signs or gestures)" These definitions are broad enough to include verbal or non-verbal, written or expressive communications of "meanings or thoughts" which
16

are likely to include the emotionally-charged exchange, on February 22, 1988, between petitioner and private respondent, in the privacy of the latter's office. Any
doubts about the legislative body's meaning of the phrase "private communication" are, furthermore, put to rest by the fact that the terms "conversation" and
"communication" were interchangeably used by Senator Tañada in his Explanatory Note to the bill quoted below:

It has been said that innocent people have nothing to fear from their conversations being overheard. But this statement ignores the usual
nature of conversations as well the undeniable fact that most, if not all, civilized people have some aspects of their lives they do not wish
to expose. Free conversationsare often characterized by exaggerations, obscenity, agreeable falsehoods, and the expression of anti-
social desires of views not intended to be taken seriously. The right to the privacy of communication, among others, has expressly been
assured by our Constitution. Needless to state here, the framers of our Constitution must have recognized the nature
of conversations between individuals and the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They must have
known that part of the pleasures and satisfactions of life are to be found in the unaudited, and free exchange of communication between
individuals — free from every unjustifiable intrusion by whatever means. 17

In Gaanan vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, a case which dealt with the issue of telephone wiretapping, we held that the use of a telephone extension for the
18

purpose of overhearing a private conversation without authorization did not violate R.A. 4200 because a telephone extension devise was neither among those
"device(s) or arrangement(s)" enumerated therein, following the principle that "penal statutes must be construed strictly in favor of the accused." The instant
19 20

case turns on a different note, because the applicable facts and circumstances pointing to a violation of R.A. 4200 suffer from no ambiguity, and the statute itself
explicitly mentions the unauthorized "recording" of private communications with the use of tape-recorders as among the acts punishable.

WHEREFORE, because the law, as applied to the case at bench is clear and unambiguous and leaves us with no discretion, the instant petition is hereby
DENIED. The decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-69809 October 16, 1986

EDGARDO A. GAANAN, petitioner,


vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

This petition for certiorari asks for an interpretation of Republic Act (RA) No. 4200, otherwise known as the Anti-Wiretapping Act, on the issue of whether or not an
extension telephone is among the prohibited devices in Section 1 of the Act, such that its use to overhear a private conversation would constitute unlawful
interception of communications between the two parties using a telephone line.

The facts presented by the People and narrated in the respondent court's decision are not disputed by the petitioner.

In the morning of October 22, 1975, complainant Atty. Tito Pintor and his client Manuel Montebon were in the living room of complainant's
residence discussing the terms for the withdrawal of the complaint for direct assault which they filed with the Office of the City Fiscal of
Cebu against Leonardo Laconico. After they had decided on the proposed conditions, complainant made a telephone call to Laconico
(tsn, August 26, 1981, pp. 3-5).

That same morning, Laconico telephoned appellant, who is a lawyer, to come to his office and advise him on the settlement of the direct
assault case because his regular lawyer, Atty. Leon Gonzaga, went on a business trip. According to the request, appellant went to the
office of Laconico where he was briefed about the problem. (Exhibit 'D', tsn, April 22, 1982, pp. 4-5).

When complainant called up, Laconico requested appellant to secretly listen to the telephone conversation through a telephone extension
so as to hear personally the proposed conditions for the settlement. Appellant heard complainant enumerate the following conditions for
withdrawal of the complaint for direct assault.

(a) the P5,000.00 was no longer acceptable, and that the figure had been increased to P8,000.00. A breakdown of the P8,000.00 had
been made together with other demands, to wit: (a) P5,000.00 no longer for the teacher Manuel Montebon, but for Atty. Pintor himself in
persuading his client to withdraw the case for Direct Assault against Atty. Laconico before the Cebu City Fiscal's Office;

(b) Public apology to be made by Atty. Laconico before the students of Don Bosco Technical High School;

(c) Pl,000.00 to be given to the Don Bosco Faculty club;

(d) transfer of son of Atty. Laconico to another school or another section of Don Bosco Technical High School;

(e) Affidavit of desistance by Atty. Laconico on the Maltreatment case earlier filed against Manuel Montebon at the Cebu City Fiscal's
Office, whereas Montebon's affidavit of desistance on the Direct Assault Case against Atty. Laconico to be filed later;

(f) Allow Manuel Montebon to continue teaching at the Don Bosco Technical School;

(g) Not to divulge the truth about the settlement of the Direct Assault Case to the mass media;

(h) P2,000.00 attorney s fees for Atty. Pintor. (tsn, August 26, 1981, pp. 47-48).

Twenty minutes later, complainant called up again to ask Laconico if he was agreeable to the conditions. Laconico answered 'Yes'.
Complainant then told Laconico to wait for instructions on where to deliver the money. (tsn, March 10, 1983, pp. 2-12).
Complainant called up again and instructed Laconico to give the money to his wife at the office of the then Department of Public
Highways. Laconico who earlier alerted his friend Colonel Zulueta of the Criminal Investigation Service of the Philippine Constabulary,
insisted that complainant himself should receive the money. (tsn, March 10, 1982, pp. 26-33). When he received the money at the Igloo
Restaurant, complainant was arrested by agents of the Philippine Constabulary.

Appellant executed on the following day an affidavit stating that he heard complainant demand P8,000.00 for the withdrawal of the case
for direct assault. Laconico attached the affidavit of appellant to the complainant for robbery/extortion which he filed against complainant.
Since appellant listened to the telephone conversation without complainant's consent, complainant charged appellant and Laconico with
violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Act.

After trial on the merits, the lower court, in a decision dated November 22, 1982, found both Gaanan and Laconico guilty of violating Section 1 of Republic Act No.
4200. The two were each sentenced to one (1) year imprisonment with costs. Not satisfied with the decision, the petitioner appealed to the appellate court.

On August 16, 1984, the Intermediate Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the trial court, holding that the communication between the complainant and
accused Laconico was private in nature and, therefore, covered by Rep. Act No. 4200; that the petitioner overheard such communication without the knowledge
and consent of the complainant; and that the extension telephone which was used by the petitioner to overhear the telephone conversation between complainant
and Laconico is covered in the term "device' as provided in Rep. Act No. 4200.

In this petition for certiorari, the petitioner assails the decision of the appellate court and raises the following issues; (a) whether or not the telephone conversation
between the complainant and accused Laconico was private in nature; (b) whether or not an extension telephone is covered by the term "device or arrangement"
under Rep. Act No. 4200; (c) whether or not the petitioner had authority to listen or overhear said telephone conversation and (d) whether or not Rep. Act No. 4200
is ambiguous and, therefore, should be construed in favor of the petitioner.

Section 1 of Rep. Act No. 4200 provides:

Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap
any wire or cable or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken
word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape-recorder, or however
otherwise described:

It shall be unlawful for any person, be he a participant or not in the act or acts penalized in the next preceeding sentence, to knowingly
possess any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies thereof, of any communication or spoken word
secured either before or after the effective date of this Act in the manner prohibited by this law; or to replay the same for any other person
or persons; or to communicate the contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish transcriptions thereof, whether complete or
partial, to any other person: Provided, that the use of such record or any copies thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or
trial of offenses mentioned in Section 3 hereof, shall not be covered by this prohibition.

We rule for the petitioner.

We are confronted in this case with the interpretation of a penal statute and not a rule of evidence. The issue is not the admissibility of evidence secured over an
extension line of a telephone by a third party. The issue is whether or not the person called over the telephone and his lawyer listening to the conversation on an
extension line should both face prison sentences simply because the extension was used to enable them to both listen to an alleged attempt at extortion.

There is no question that the telephone conversation between complainant Atty. Pintor and accused Atty. Laconico was "private" in the sense that the words
uttered were made between one person and another as distinguished from words between a speaker and a public. It is also undisputed that only one of the parties
gave the petitioner the authority to listen to and overhear the caller's message with the use of an extension telephone line. Obviously, complainant Pintor, a
member of the Philippine bar, would not have discussed the alleged demand for an P8,000.00 consideration in order to have his client withdraw a direct assault
charge against Atty. Laconico filed with the Cebu City Fiscal's Office if he knew that another lawyer was also listening. We have to consider, however, that
affirmance of the criminal conviction would, in effect, mean that a caller by merely using a telephone line can force the listener to secrecy no matter how obscene,
criminal, or annoying the call may be. It would be the word of the caller against the listener's.

Because of technical problems caused by the sensitive nature of electronic equipment and the extra heavy loads which telephone cables are made to carry in
certain areas, telephone users often encounter what are called "crossed lines". An unwary citizzen who happens to pick up his telephone and who overhears the
details of a crime might hesitate to inform police authorities if he knows that he could be accused under Rep. Act 4200 of using his own telephone to secretly
overhear the private communications of the would be criminals. Surely the law was never intended for such mischievous results.

The main issue in the resolution of this petition, however, revolves around the meaning of the phrase "any other device or arrangement." Is an extension of a
telephone unit such a device or arrangement as would subject the user to imprisonment ranging from six months to six years with the accessory penalty of
perpetual absolute disqualification for a public officer or deportation for an alien? Private secretaries with extension lines to their bosses' telephones are sometimes
asked to use answering or recording devices to record business conversations between a boss and another businessman. Would transcribing a recorded message
for the use of the boss be a proscribed offense? or for that matter, would a "party line" be a device or arrangement under the law?

The petitioner contends that telephones or extension telephones are not included in the enumeration of "commonly known" listening or recording devices, nor do
they belong to the same class of enumerated electronic devices contemplated by law. He maintains that in 1964, when Senate Bill No. 9 (later Rep. Act No. 4200)
was being considered in the Senate, telephones and extension telephones were already widely used instruments, probably the most popularly known
communication device.

Whether or not listening over a telephone party line would be punishable was discussed on the floor of the Senate. Yet, when the bill was finalized into a statute,
no mention was made of telephones in the enumeration of devices "commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph, detectaphone or walkie talkie or tape
recorder or however otherwise described." The omission was not a mere oversight. Telephone party lines were intentionally deleted from the provisions of the Act.

The respondent People argue that an extension telephone is embraced and covered by the term "device" within the context of the aforementioned law because it
is not a part or portion of a complete set of a telephone apparatus. It is a separate device and distinct set of a movable apparatus consisting of a wire and a set of
telephone receiver not forming part of a main telephone set which can be detached or removed and can be transferred away from one place to another and to be
plugged or attached to a main telephone line to get the desired communication corning from the other party or end.

The law refers to a "tap" of a wire or cable or the use of a "device or arrangement" for the purpose of secretly overhearing, intercepting, or recording the
communication. There must be either a physical interruption through a wiretap or the deliberate installation of a device or arrangement in order to overhear,
intercept, or record the spoken words.

An extension telephone cannot be placed in the same category as a dictaphone, dictagraph or the other devices enumerated in Section 1 of RA No. 4200 as the
use thereof cannot be considered as "tapping" the wire or cable of a telephone line. The telephone extension in this case was not installed for that purpose. It just
happened to be there for ordinary office use. It is a rule in statutory construction that in order to determine the true intent of the legislature, the particular clauses
and phrases of the statute should not be taken as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part thereof must be considered in fixing the
meaning of any of its parts. (see Commissioner of Customs v. Esso Estandard Eastern, Inc., 66 SCRA 113,120).

In the case of Empire Insurance Com any v. Rufino (90 SCRA 437, 443-444), we ruled:

Likewise, Article 1372 of the Civil Code stipulates that 'however general the terms of a contract may be, they shall not be understood to
comprehend things that are distinct and cases that are different from those upon which the parties intended to agree.' Similarly, Article
1374 of the same Code provides that 'the various stipulations of a contract shall be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones
that sense which may result from all of them taken jointly.

xxx xxx xxx

Consequently, the phrase 'all liabilities or obligations of the decedent' used in paragraph 5(c) and 7(d) should be then restricted only to
those listed in the Inventory and should not be construed as to comprehend all other obligations of the decedent. The rule that
'particularization followed by a general expression will ordinarily be restricted to the former' is based on the fact in human experience that
usually the minds of parties are addressed specially to the particularization, and that the generalities, though broad enough to
comprehend other fields if they stood alone, are used in contemplation of that upon which the minds of the parties are centered. (Hoffman
v. Eastern Wisconsin R., etc., Co., 134 Wis. 603, 607, 115 NW 383, cited in Francisco, Revised Rules of Court (Evidence), 1973 ed, pp.
180-181).

Hence, the phrase "device or arrangement" in Section 1 of RA No. 4200, although not exclusive to that enumerated therein, should be construed to comprehend
instruments of the same or similar nature, that is, instruments the use of which would be tantamount to tapping the main line of a telephone. It refers to instruments
whose installation or presence cannot be presumed by the party or parties being overheard because, by their very nature, they are not of common usage and their
purpose is precisely for tapping, intercepting or recording a telephone conversation.

An extension telephone is an instrument which is very common especially now when the extended unit does not have to be connected by wire to the main
telephone but can be moved from place ' to place within a radius of a kilometer or more. A person should safely presume that the party he is calling at the other
end of the line probably has an extension telephone and he runs the risk of a third party listening as in the case of a party line or a telephone unit which shares its
line with another. As was held in the case of Rathbun v. United States (355, U.S. 107, 2 L Ed 2d 137-138):

Common experience tells us that a call to a particular telephone number may cause the bell to ring in more than one ordinarily used
instrument. Each party to a telephone conversation takes the risk that the other party may have an extension telephone and may allow
another to overhear the conversation. When such takes place there has been no violation of any privacy of which the parties may
complain. Consequently, one element of 605, interception, has not occurred.

In the same case, the Court further ruled that the conduct of the party would differ in no way if instead of repeating the message he held out his hand-set so that
another could hear out of it and that there is no distinction between that sort of action and permitting an outsider to use an extension telephone for the same
purpose.

Furthermore, it is a general rule that penal statutes must be construed strictly in favor of the accused. Thus, in case of doubt as in the case at bar, on whether or
not an extension telephone is included in the phrase "device or arrangement", the penal statute must be construed as not including an extension telephone. In the
case of People v. Purisima, 86 SCRA 542, 562, we explained the rationale behind the rule:

American jurisprudence sets down the reason for this rule to be the tenderness of the law of the rights of individuals; the object is to
establish a certain rule by conformity to which mankind would be safe, and the discretion of the court limited. (United States v. Harris, 177
US 305, 44 L Ed 780, 20 S Ct 609; Braffith v. Virgin Islands (CA3) 26 F2d 646; Caudill v. State, 224 Ind 531, 69 NE2d; Jennings v.
Commonwealth, 109 VA 821,63 SE 1080, all cited in 73 Am Jur 2d 452). The purpose is not to enable a guilty person to escape
punishment through a technicality but to provide a precise definition of forbidden acts." (State v. Zazzaro, 20 A 2d 737, quoted in Martin's
Handbook on Statutory Construction, Rev. Ed. pp. 183-184).

In the same case of Purisima, we also ruled that on the construction or interpretation of a legislative measure, the primary rule is to search for and determine the
intent and spirit of the law. A perusal of the Senate Congressional Records will show that not only did our lawmakers not contemplate the inclusion of an extension
telephone as a prohibited device or arrangement" but of greater importance, they were more concerned with penalizing the act of recording than the act of merely
listening to a telephone conversation.

xxx xxx xxx

Senator Tañada. Another possible objection to that is entrapment which is certainly objectionable. It is made
possible by special amendment which Your Honor may introduce.

Senator Diokno.Your Honor, I would feel that entrapment would be less possible with the amendment than
without it, because with the amendment the evidence of entrapment would only consist of government testimony
as against the testimony of the defendant. With this amendment, they would have the right, and the government
officials and the person in fact would have the right to tape record their conversation.

Senator Tañada. In case of entrapment, it would be the government.

Senator Diokno. In the same way, under this provision, neither party could record and, therefore, the court would
be limited to saying: "Okay, who is more credible, the police officers or the defendant?" In these cases, as
experienced lawyers, we know that the Court go with the peace offices.

(Congressional Record, Vol. 111, No. 33, p. 628, March 12, 1964).

xxx xxx xxx

Senator Diokno. The point I have in mind is that under these conditions, with an agent outside listening in, he
could falsify the testimony and there is no way of checking it. But if you allow him to record or make a recording
in any form of what is happening, then the chances of falsifying the evidence is not very much.

Senator Tañada. Your Honor, this bill is not intended to prevent the presentation of false testimony. If we could
devise a way by which we could prevent the presentation of false testimony, it would be wonderful. But what this
bill intends to prohibit is the use of tape record and other electronic devices to intercept private conversations
which later on will be used in court.

(Congressional Record, Vol. III, No. 33, March 12, 1964, p. 629).

It can be readily seen that our lawmakers intended to discourage, through punishment, persons such as government authorities or representatives of organized
groups from installing devices in order to gather evidence for use in court or to intimidate, blackmail or gain some unwarranted advantage over the telephone
users. Consequently, the mere act of listening, in order to be punishable must strictly be with the use of the enumerated devices in RA No. 4200 or others of
similar nature. We are of the view that an extension telephone is not among such devices or arrangements.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court dated August 16, 1984 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The
petitioner is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime of violation of Rep. Act No. 4200, otherwise known as the Anti-Wiretapping Act.

G.R. No. 121087 August 26, 1999

FELIPE NAVARRO, petitioner,


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

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision1 of the Court of Appeals, dated December 14, 1994, which affirmed the judgment of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 5, Lucena City, dated July 27, 1992, finding petitioner Felipe Navarro guilty beyond reasonable doubt of homicide and sentencing him to ten (10)
years of prision mayor, as minimum, and fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months, and (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum, but increased the death
indemnity awarded to the heirs of the victim, Enrique "Ike" Lingan, from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00.

The information against petitioner alleged —

That on or about the 4th day of February, 1990, in the nighttime, in the City of Lucena, Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the said accused, being then a member of the Lucena Integrated National Police, with intent to kill, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously assault one Ike Lingan inside the Lucena police headquarters, where authorities are supposed to be engaged in the
discharge of their duties, by boxing the said Ike Lingan in the head with the butt of a gun and thereafter when the said victim fell, by banging his head
against the concrete pavement, as a consequence of which said Ike Lingan suffered cerebral concussion and shock which directly caused his death.

The evidence show that, at around 8:40 in the evening of February 4, 1990, Stanley Jalbuena and Enrique "Ike" Lingan, who were reporters of the radio station
DWTI in Lucena City, together with one Mario Ilagan, went to the Entertainment City following reports that it was showing the nude dancers. After the three had
seated themselves at a table and ordered beer, a scantily clad dancer appeared on stage and began to perform a strip act. As she removed her brassieres,
Jalbuena brought out his camera and took a picture.2

At that point, the floor manager, Dante Liquin, with a security guard, Alex Sioco, approached Jalbuena and demanded to know why he took a picture.3 Jalbuena
replied: "Wala kang pakialam, because this is my job."4 Sioco pushed Jalbuena towards the table as he warned the latter that he would kill him.5 When Jalbuena
saw that Sioco was about to pull out his gun, he ran out of the joint followed by his companions.6

Jalbuena and his companions went to the police station to report the matter. Three of the policeman on duty, including petitioner Navarro, were having drinks in
front of the police station, and they asked Jalbuena and his companions to join them. Jalbuena declined and went to the desk officer, Sgt. Añonuevo, to report the
incident. In a while, Liquin and Sioco arrived on a motorcycle.7

Sioco and Liquin were met by petitioner Navarro who talked with them in a corner for around fifteen minutes.8Afterwards, petitioner Navarro turned to Jalbuena
and, pushing him to the wall, said to him: "Putang ina, kinakalaban mo si Kabo Liquin, anak yan ni Kabo Liquin, hindi mo ba kilala?"9 Petitioner Navarro then pulled
out his firearm and cocked it, and, pressing it on the face of Jalbuena, said "Ano, uutasin na kita?"10
At this point, Lingan intervened and said to petitioner Navarro: "Huwag namang ganyan pumarito kami para magpa-blotter, I am here to mediate."11 Petitoner
Navarro replied: "Walang press, press, mag-sampu pa kayo."12 He then turned to Sgt. Añonuevo and told him to make of record the behavior of Jalbuena and
Lingan.13

This angered Lingan, who said: "O, di ilagay mo diyan"14 Petitioner Navarro retorted: "Talagang ilalagay ko."15 The two then had a heated exchange.16 Finally,
Lingan said: "Masyado kang abusado, alisin mo yang baril mo at magsuntukan na lang tayo."17 Petitioner Navarro replied: "Ah, ganoon?"18

As Lingan was about turn away, petitioner Navarro hit him with the handle of the pistol above the left eyebrow. Lingan fell on the floor, blood flowing down his face.
He tried to get up, but petitioner Navarro gave him a fist blow on the forehead which floored him.19

Petitioner Navarro turned to Jalbuena and said: "Kita mo yan ha, buhay kang testigo, si Ike Lingan and naghamon."20 He said to Sgt. Añonuevo: "Ilagay mo diyan
sa blotter sa harap ni Alex Sioco at Dante Liquin, na si Ike Lingan ang naghamon."21 He then poked his gun at the right temple of Jalbuena and made him sign his
name on the blotter.22 Jalbuena could not affix his signature. His right hand was trembling and he simply wrote his name in print. 23

Capt. Coronado, the station commander, called petitioner Navarro to his office, while a policeman took Lingan to the Quezon Memorial Hospital. The station
manager of DWTI, Boy, Casañada, arrived and, learning that Lingan had been taken to the hospital, proceeded there. But Lingan died from his injuries.24

Unknown to petitioner Navarro, Jalbuena was able to record on tape the exchange between petitioner and the deceased.25 The following is an excerpt from the
tape recording:

Lingan: Pare, you are abusing yourself.

Navarro: Who is that abusing?

Lingan: I'm here to mediate. Do not include me in the problem. I'm out of the problem.

xxx xxx xxx

Navarro: Wala sa akin yan. Ang kaso lang . . .

Lingan: Kalaban mo ang media, pare, Ako at si Stanley, dalawa kami. Okay. Do not fight with me. I just came here to ayusin things. Do not say bad
things against me. I'm the number one loko sa media. I'm the best media man. . . .

Navarro: Huwag tayong mag-lokohan sa ganyan! Huwag na tayong mag-takotan! Huwag mong sabihing loko ka!

Lingan: I'm brave also.

Navarro: Ay lalo na ako. Tahimik lang naman ako. Wala ka namang masasabi sa akin dahil nag-tatrabaho lang ako ng ayon sa serbisyo ko.

Lingan: You are challenging me and him. . . .

Navarro: Ay walastik ka naman Ike! Pag may problema ka dito sinasabihan kita na may balita tayong maganda. Pambihira ka Ike. Huwag mong
sabihin na . . . Parang minomonopoly mo eh.

Lingan: Pati ako kalaban ninyo.

Navarro: Talagang kalaban namin ang press. Lahat, hindi lang ikaw!

Lingan: You are wrong. Bakit kalaban nyo ang press?

Navarro: Pulis ito! Aba!

Lingan: Alisin mo ang baril mo! Alisin mo ang baril mo! Suntukan tayo, sige.

Navarro: Mayabang ka ah!

(Sounds of a scuffle)

Navarro: Hinamon ako nyan! Pare hinamon ako nyan! Pare hinamon ako nyan, testigo kayo. Alisin ko daw ang baril ko. Hinamon ako nyan. Pare,
ilagay mo diyan, hinamon ako sa harap ni Stanley. Testigo kayo, hinamon ako. Pulis tayo eh. Puta, buti nga, suntok lang ang inabot nyan. Sa harap ni
Alex, ni Joe, ni Stanley, hinamon ako. Pare, hinamon ako, kinig nyo ha. Hinamon ako nyan. Sige, dalhin nyo sa hospital yan.

Petitioner Felipe Navarro claims that it was the deceased who tried to hit him twice, but he (petitioner) was able to duck both times, and that Lingan was so drunk
he fell on the floor twice, each time hitting his head on the concrete. 26
In giving credence to the evidence for the prosecution, the trial court stated:

After a thorough and in-depth evaluation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and the defense, this court finds that the evidence for the
prosecution is the more credible, concrete and sufficient to create that moral certainty in the mind of the court that accused herein is criminally
responsible.

The defense's evidence which consists of outright denial could not under the circumstance overturn the strength of the prosecution's evidence.

This court finds that the prosecution witnesses, more particularly Stanley Jalbuena, lacked any motive to make false accusation, distort the truth,
testify falsehood or cause accusation of one who had neither brought him harm or injury.

Going over the evidence on record, the postmortem report issued by Dra. Eva Yamamoto confirms the detailed account given by Stanley Jalbuena on
how Lingan sustained head injuries.

Said post-mortem report together with the testimony of Jalbuena sufficiently belie the claim of the defense that the head injuries of deceased Lingan
were caused by the latter's falling down on the concrete pavement head first.

The Court of Appeals affirmed:

We are far from being convinced by appellant's aforesaid disquisition. We have carefully evaluated the conflicting versions of the incident as
presented by both parties, and we find the trial court's factual conclusions to have better and stronger evidentiary support.

In the first place, the mere fact that Jalbuena was himself a victim of appellant's aggression does not impair the probative worth of his positive and
logical account of the incident in question. In fact, far from proving his innocence, appellant's unwarranted assault upon Jalbuena, which the defense
has virtually admitted, clearly betrays his violent character or disposition and his capacity to harm others. Apparently, the same motivation that led him
into assailing Jalbuena must have provoked him into also attacking Lingan who had interceded for Jalbuena and humiliated him and further
challenged to a fist fight.
1âwphi1.nêt

xxx xxx xxx

On the other hand, appellant's explanation as how Lingan was injured is too tenuous and illogical to be accepted. It is in fact contradicted by the
number, nature and location of Lingan's injuries as shown in thepost-mortem report (Exh. D). According to the defense, Lingan fell two times when he
was outbalanced in the course of boxing the appellant. And yet, Lingan suffered lacerated wounds in his left forehead, left eyebrow, between his left
and right eyebrows, and contusion in the right temporal region of the head (Exh. E.). Certainly, these injuries could not have been resulted from
Lingan's accidental fall.

Hence, this appeal. Petitioner Navarro contends:

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAS DECIDED THE CASE NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THE SUPREME COURT. ITS CONCLUSION IS A FINDING BASED ON SPECULATION, SURMISE OR CONJECTURE; THE INFERENCE IT MADE
IS MANIFESTLY MISTAKEN, ABSURD OR IMPOSSIBLE; IT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION; ITS JUDGMENT IS BASED ON A
MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS; ITS FINDING IS CONTRADICTED BY EVIDENCE ON RECORD; AND ITS FINDING IS DEVOID OF SUPPORT
IN THE RECORD.

The appeal is without merit.

First. Petitioner Navarro questions the credibility of the testimony of Jalbuena on the ground that he was a biased witness, having a grudge against him. The
testimony of a witness who has an interest in the conviction of the accused is not, for this reason alone, unreliable.27 Trial courts, which have the opportunity
observe the facial expressions, gestures, and tones of voice of a witness while testifying, are competent to determine whether his or her testimony should be given
credence.28 In the instant case, petitioner Navarro has not shown that the trial court erred in according weight to the testimony of Jalbuena.

Indeed, Jalbuena's testimony is confirmed by the voice recording had made. It may be asked whether the tape is admissible in view of R.A. No. 4200, which
prohibits wire tapping. The answer is in the affirmative. The law provides:

Sec. 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or
cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device
commonly known as dictaphone or dictagraph of dectectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape-recorder, or however otherwise described:

It shall also be unlawful for any person, be he a participant or not in the act or acts penalized in the next preceding sentence, to knowingly possess
any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies thereof, of any communication or spoken word secured either before or
after the effective date of this Act in the manner prohibited by this law; or to replay the same for any other person or persons; or to communicate the
contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish transcriptions thereof, whether complete or partial, to any other person: Provided, That the
use of such record or any copies thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of offenses mentioned in section 3 hereof, shall not be
covered by this prohibition.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 4. Any communication or spoken word, or the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the same or any part thereof, or any
information therein contained obtained or secured by any person in violation of the preceding sections of this Act shall not be admissible in evidence in
any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation.
Thus, the law prohibits the overhearing, intercepting, or recording of private communications.29 Since the exchange between petitioner Navarro and Lingan was not
private, its tape recording is not prohibited.

Nor is there any question that it was duly authenticated. A voice recording is authenticated by the testimony of a witness (1) that he personally recorded the
conversations; (2) that the tape played in the court was the one he recorded; and (3) that the voices on the tape are those of the persons such are claimed to
belong.30 In the instant case, Jalbuena testified that he personally made the voice recording;31 that the tape played in the court was the one he recorded;32 and that
the speakers on the tape were petitioner Navarro and Lingan.33 A sufficient foundation was thus laid for the authentication of the tape presented by the
prosecution.

Second. The voice recording made by Jalbuena established: (1) that there was a heated exchange between petitioner Navarro and Lingan on the placing in the
police blotter of an entry against him and Jalbuena; and (2) that some form of violence occurred involving petitioner Navarro and Lingan, with the latter getting the
worst of it.

Furthermore, Dr. Eva Yamamoto, who performed the autopsy on the body of Lingan, issued the medical certificate,34 dated February 5, 1990, containing the
following findings:

Post Mortem Findings:

= Dried blood, forehead & face

= No blood oozed from the ears, nose & mouth

= Swelling, 3 cm x 2 cm, temporal region, head, right

= Lacerated wound, 2 cm in length, 1-2 in depth, lateral eyebrow, Left

= Lacerated wound, 0.5 cm in length, superficial, between the left & right eyebrow

= Lacerated wound, 2 cm in length, 1 cm in depth, forehead, Left

= Cyanosis of the tips of fingers & toes

CAUSE OF DEATH:

= CEREBRAL CONCUSSION & SHOCK

= BLOW ON THE HEAD

Dr. Yamamato testified:

Q Give your opinion as to what was the possible cause of this findings number one, which is oozing of blood from the forehead?

A It may be due to a blow on the forehead or it bumped to a hard object, sir.

Q Could a metal like a butt of a gun have caused this wound No. 1.?

A It is possible, sir.

Q And in the alternative, could have it been caused by bumping on a concrete floor?

A Possible, sir.

FISCAL:

What could have been the cause of the contusion and swelling under your findings No. 2 doctor?

WITNESS:

It may be caused by bumping to a hard object, sir.

Q Could a butt of a gun have caused it doctor?

A The swelling is big so it could have not been caused by a butt of a gun because the butt of a gun is small, sir.
Q How about this findings No. 4?

A By a bump or contact of the body to a hard object, sir.

Q And findings No. 5 what could have caused it?

A Same cause, sir.

Q This findings No. 6 what could have caused this wound?

A Same thing sir.

Q How about the last finding, cyanosis of tips of fingers and toes, what could have caused it doctor?

WITNESS:

It indicates there was cardiac failure, sir.

FISCAL:

In this same post mortem report and under the heading cause of death it states: Cause of Death: Cerebral concussion and Shock, will you explain it?

A Cerebral concussion means in Tagalog "naalog ang utak" or jarring of the brain, sir.

Q What could have been the cause of jarring of the brain?

A It could have been caused by a blow of a hard object, sir.

Q What about the shock, what could have caused it?

A It was due to peripheral circulatory failure, sir.

Q Could any one of both caused the death of the victim?

A Yes, sir.

Q Could cerebral concussion alone have caused the death of the deceased?

A May be, sir.

FISCAL:

Which of these two more likely, to cause death?

WITNESS:

Shock, sir.

Q Please explain further the meaning of the medical term shock?

A It is caused by peripheral circulatory failure as I have said earlier sir.

xxx xxx xxx

FISCAL:

Could a bumping or pushing of one's head against a concrete floor have caused shock?

WITNESS:
Possible, sir.

How about striking with a butt of a gun, could it cause shock?

A Possible, sir.35

The above testimony clearly supports the claim of Jalbuena that petitioner Navarro hit Lingan with the handle of his pistol above the left eyebrow and struck him on
the forehead with his fist.

Third. It is argued that the mitigating circumstances of sufficient provocation or threat on the part of the offended party immediately preceding the act should have
been appreciated in favor of petitioner Navarro. Provocation is defined to be any unjust or improper conduct or act of the offended party, capable of exciting,
inciting or irritating anyone.36 The provocation must be sufficient and should immediately precede the act.37 To be sufficient, it must be adequate to excite a person
to commit the wrong, which must accordingly be proportionate in gravity.38 And it must immediately precede the act so much so that there is no interval between
the provocation by the offended party and the commission of the crime by the accused.39

In the present case, the remarks of Lingan, which immediately preceded the act of petitioner, constituted sufficient provocation. In People v. Macaso,40 we
appreciated this mitigating circumstance in favor of the accused, a policeman, who shot a motorist after the latter had repeatedly taunted him with defiant words.
Hence, this mitigating circumstance should be considered in favor of petitioner Navarro.

Furthermore, the mitigating circumstance that the offender had no intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed should also be appreciated in favor of
petitioner. The frantic exclamations of petitioner Navarro after the scuffle that it was Lingan who provoked him shows that he had no intent to kill the latter. Thus,
this mitigating circumstance should be taken into account in determining the penalty that should be imposed on petitioner Navarro. The allowance of this mitigating
circumstance is consistent with the rule that criminal liability shall be incurred by any person committing a felony although the wrongful act done be different from
that which he intended.41 In People v.Castro,42 the mitigating circumstance of lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong as that committed was appreciated in favor
of the accused while finding him guilty of homicide.

However, the aggravating circumstance of commission of a crime in a place where the public authorities are engaged in the discharge of their duties should be
appreciated against petitioner Navarro. The offense in this case was committed right in the police station where policemen were discharging their public
functions.43

The crime committed as found by the trial court and the Court of Appeals was homicide, for which the penalty under Art. 249 of the Revised Penal Code
is reclusion temporal. As there were two mitigating circumstances and one aggravating circumstances, the penalty should be fixed in its minimum
period.44 Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, petitioner Navarro should be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty, the minimum of which is within the range
of the penalty next lower degree, i.e., prision mayor, and the maximum of which is reclusion temporal in its minimum period.45

The indemnity as increased by the Court of Appeals from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00 is in accordance with the current jurisprudence. 46

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the modification that petitioner Felipe Navarro is hereby SENTENCED to suffer a prison
terms of 18 years of prision mayor, as minimum, to 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

SO ORDERED. 1âwphi1.nêt

Bellosillo, Quisumbing and Buena, JJ., concur.

G.R.No. 74869 July 6, 1988

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
IDEL AMINNUDIN y AHNI, defendant-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Herminio T. Llariza counsel de-officio for defendant-appellant.

CRUZ, J.:

The accused-appellant claimed his business was selling watches but he was nonetheless arrested, tried and found guilty of illegally
transporting marijuana. The trial court, disbelieving him, held it was high time to put him away and sentenced him to life imprisonment plus a
fine of P20,000.00. 1

Idel Aminnudin was arrested on June 25, 1984, shortly after disembarking from the M/V Wilcon 9 at about 8:30 in the evening, in Iloilo City. The PC officers who
were in fact waiting for him simply accosted him, inspected his bag and finding what looked liked marijuana leaves took him to their headquarters for investigation.
The two bundles of suspect articles were confiscated from him and later taken to the NBI laboratory for examination. When they were verified as marijuana leaves,
an information for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act was filed against him. Later, the information was amended to include Farida Ali y Hassen, who had also
2

been arrested with him that same evening and likewise investigated. Both were arraigned and pleaded not guilty. Subsequently, the fiscal filed a motion to
3 4
dismiss the charge against Ali on the basis of a sworn statement of the arresting officers absolving her after a 'thorough investigation." The motion was granted,
5

and trial proceeded only against the accused-appellant, who was eventually convicted . 6

According to the prosecution, the PC officers had earlier received a tip from one of their informers that the accused-appellant was on board a vessel bound for
Iloilo City and was carrying marijuana. He was Identified by name. Acting on this tip, they waited for him in the evening of June 25, 1984, and approached him as
7 8

he descended from the gangplank after the informer had pointed to him. They detained him and inspected the bag he was carrying. It was found to contain three
9

kilos of what were later analyzed as marijuana leaves by an NBI forensic examiner, who testified that she conducted microscopic, chemical and chromatographic
10

tests on them. On the basis of this finding, the corresponding charge was then filed against Aminnudin.

In his defense, Aminnudin disclaimed the marijuana, averring that all he had in his bag was his clothing consisting of a jacket, two shirts and two pairs of
pants. He alleged that he was arbitrarily arrested and immediately handcuffed. His bag was confiscated without a search warrant. At the PC headquarters, he
11

was manhandled to force him to admit he was carrying the marijuana, the investigator hitting him with a piece of wood in the chest and arms even as he parried
the blows while he was still handcuffed. He insisted he did not even know what marijuana looked like and that his business was selling watches and sometimes
12

cigarettes. He also argued that the marijuana he was alleged to have been carrying was not properly Identified and could have been any of several bundles kept
13

in the stock room of the PC headquarters. 14

The trial court was unconvinced, noting from its own examination of the accused that he claimed to have come to Iloilo City to sell watches but carried only two
watches at the time, traveling from Jolo for that purpose and spending P107.00 for fare, not to mention his other expenses. Aminnudin testified that he kept the
15

two watches in a secret pocket below his belt but, strangely, they were not discovered when he was bodily searched by the arresting officers nor were they
damaged as a result of his manhandling. He also said he sold one of the watches for P400.00 and gave away the other, although the watches belonged not to
16

him but to his cousin, to a friend whose full name he said did not even know. The trial court also rejected his allegations of maltreatment, observing that he had
17 18

not sufficiently proved the injuries sustained by him. 19

There is no justification to reverse these factual findings, considering that it was the trial judge who had immediate access to the testimony of the witnesses and
had the opportunity to weigh their credibility on the stand. Nuances of tone or voice, meaningful pauses and hesitation, flush of face and dart of eyes, which may
reveal the truth or expose the lie, are not described in the impersonal record. But the trial judge sees all of this, discovering for himself the truant fact amidst the
falsities.

The only exception we may make in this case is the trial court's conclusion that the accused-appellant was not really beaten up because he did not complain about
it later nor did he submit to a medical examination. That is hardly fair or realistic. It is possible Aminnudin never had that opportunity as he was at that time under
detention by the PC authorities and in fact has never been set free since he was arrested in 1984 and up to the present. No bail has been allowed for his release.

There is one point that deserves closer examination, however, and it is Aminnudin's claim that he was arrested and searched without warrant, making the
marijuana allegedly found in his possession inadmissible in evidence against him under the Bill of Rights. The decision did not even discuss this point. For his part,
the Solicitor General dismissed this after an all-too-short argument that the arrest of Aminnudin was valid because it came under Rule 113, Section 6(b) of the
Rules of Court on warrantless arrests. This made the search also valid as incidental to a lawful arrest.

It is not disputed, and in fact it is admitted by the PC officers who testified for the prosecution, that they had no warrant when they arrested Aminnudin and seized
the bag he was carrying. Their only justification was the tip they had earlier received from a reliable and regular informer who reported to them that Aminnudin was
arriving in Iloilo by boat with marijuana. Their testimony varies as to the time they received the tip, one saying it was two days before the arrest, another two
20

weeks and a third "weeks before June 25." On this matter, we may prefer the declaration of the chief of the arresting team, Lt. Cipriano Querol, Jr., who testified
21 22

as follows:

Q You mentioned an intelligence report, you mean with respect to the coming of Idel Aminnudin on June 25,
1984?

A Yes, sir.

Q When did you receive this intelligence report?

A Two days before June 25, 1984 and it was supported by reliable sources.

Q Were you informed of the coming of the Wilcon 9 and the possible trafficking of marijuana leaves on that
date?

A Yes, sir, two days before June 25, 1984 when we received this information from that particular informer, prior
to June 25, 1984 we have already reports of the particular operation which was being participated by Idel
Aminnudin.

Q You said you received an intelligence report two days before June 25, 1984 with respect to the coming of
Wilcon 9?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you receive any other report aside from this intelligence report?

A Well, I have received also other reports but not pertaining to the coming of Wilcon 9. For instance, report of
illegal gambling operation.

COURT:
Q Previous to that particular information which you said two days before June 25, 1984, did you also receive
daily report regarding the activities of Idel Aminnudin

A Previous to June 25, 1984 we received reports on the activities of Idel Aminnudin.

Q What were those activities?

A Purely marijuana trafficking.

Q From whom did you get that information?

A It came to my hand which was written in a required sheet of information, maybe for security reason and we
cannot Identify the person.

Q But you received it from your regular informer?

A Yes, sir.

ATTY. LLARIZA:

Q Previous to June 25, 1984, you were more or less sure that Idel Aminnudin is coming with drugs?

A Marijuana, sir.

Q And this information respecting Idel Aminnudin's coming to Iloilo with marijuana was received by you many
days before you received the intelligence report in writing?

A Not a report of the particular coming of Aminnudin but his activities.

Q You only knew that he was coming on June 25,1984 two days before?

A Yes, sir.

Q You mean that before June 23, 1984 you did not know that minnudin was coming?

A Before June 23,1984, I, in my capacity, did not know that he was coming but on June 23, 1984 that was the
time when I received the information that he was coming. Regarding the reports on his activities, we have
reports that he was already consummated the act of selling and shipping marijuana stuff.

COURT:

Q And as a result of that report, you put him under surveillance?

A Yes, sir.

Q In the intelligence report, only the name of Idel Aminnudin was mentioned?

A Yes, sir.

Q Are you sure of that?

A On the 23rd he will be coming with the woman.

Q So that even before you received the official report on June 23, 1984, you had already gathered information to
the effect that Idel Aminnudin was coming to Iloilo on June 25, 1984?

A Only on the 23rd of June.

Q You did not try to secure a search warrant for the seizure or search of the subject mentioned in your
intelligence report?

A No, more.
Q Why not?

A Because we were very very sure that our operation will yield positive result.

Q Is that your procedure that whenever it will yield positive result you do not need a search warrant anymore?

A Search warrant is not necessary. 23

That last answer is a cavalier pronouncement, especially as it comes from a mere lieutenant of the PC. The Supreme Court cannot countenance such a statement.
This is still a government of laws and not of men.

The mandate of the Bill of Rights is clear:

Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of
whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable
cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may
produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

In the case at bar, there was no warrant of arrest or search warrant issued by a judge after personal determination by him of the existence of probable cause.
Contrary to the averments of the government, the accused-appellant was not caught in flagrante nor was a crime about to be committed or had just been
committed to justify the warrantless arrest allowed under Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. Even expediency could not be invoked to dispense with the obtention of
the warrant as in the case of Roldan v. Arca, for example. Here it was held that vessels and aircraft are subject to warrantless searches and seizures for violation
24

of the customs law because these vehicles may be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction before the warrant can be secured.

The present case presented no such urgency. From the conflicting declarations of the PC witnesses, it is clear that they had at least two days within which they
could have obtained a warrant to arrest and search Aminnudin who was coming to Iloilo on the M/V Wilcon 9. His name was known. The vehicle was Identified.
The date of its arrival was certain. And from the information they had received, they could have persuaded a judge that there was probable cause, indeed, to justify
the issuance of a warrant. Yet they did nothing. No effort was made to comply with the law. The Bill of Rights was ignored altogether because the PC lieutenant
who was the head of the arresting team, had determined on his own authority that a "search warrant was not necessary."

In the many cases where this Court has sustained the warrantless arrest of violators of the Dangerous Drugs Act, it has always been shown that they were caught
red-handed, as a result of what are popularly called "buy-bust" operations of the narcotics agents. Rule 113 was clearly applicable because at the precise time of
25

arrest the accused was in the act of selling the prohibited drug.

In the case at bar, the accused-appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or that he had just
done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there was no outward indication that called for his arrest. To all appearances,
he was like any of the other passengers innocently disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that
he suddenly became suspect and so subject to apprehension. It was the furtive finger that triggered his arrest. The Identification by the informer was the probable
cause as determined by the officers (and not a judge) that authorized them to pounce upon Aminnudin and immediately arrest him.

Now that we have succeeded in restoring democracy in our country after fourteen years of the despised dictatorship, when any one could be picked up at will,
detained without charges and punished without trial, we will have only ourselves to blame if that kind of arbitrariness is allowed to return, to once more flaunt its
disdain of the Constitution and the individual liberties its Bill of Rights guarantees.

While this is not to say that the accused-appellant is innocent, for indeed his very own words suggest that he is lying, that fact alone does not justify a finding that
he is guilty. The constitutional presumption is that he is innocent, and he will be so declared even if his defense is weak as long as the prosecution is not strong
enough to convict him.

Without the evidence of the marijuana allegedly seized from Aminnudin, the case of the prosecution must fall. That evidence cannot be admitted, and should never
have been considered by the trial court for the simple fact is that the marijuana was seized illegally. It is the fruit of the poisonous tree, to use Justice Holmes'
felicitous phrase. The search was not an incident of a lawful arrest because there was no warrant of arrest and the warrantless arrest did not come under the
exceptions allowed by the Rules of Court. Hence, the warrantless search was also illegal and the evidence obtained thereby was inadmissible.

The Court strongly supports the campaign of the government against drug addiction and commends the efforts of our law-enforcement officers against those who
would inflict this malediction upon our people, especially the susceptible youth. But as demanding as this campaign may be, it cannot be more so than the
compulsions of the Bill of Rights for the protection of the liberty of every individual in the realm, including the basest of criminals. The Constitution covers with the
mantle of its protection the innocent and the guilty alike against any manner of high- handedness from the authorities, however praiseworthy their intentions.

Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in disregarding the rights of the individual in the name of order. Order is too high a price for the loss of
liberty. As Justice Holmes, again, said, "I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part." It is simply
not allowed in the free society to violate a law to enforce another, especially if the law violated is the Constitution itself.

We find that with the exclusion of the illegally seized marijuana as evidence against the accused-appellant, his guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt
and he must therefore be discharged on the presumption that he is innocent.

ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the trial court is REVERSED and the accused-appellant is ACQUITTED. It is so ordered.

Narvasa, Gancayco and Medialdea, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 130491 March 25, 1999


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ROBERTO MENGOTE, accused-appellant.

PER CURIAM:

For automatic review by this Court is the decision dated May 16, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 17, convicting Roberto Mengote of
rape, as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused Roberto Mengote guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape, as
defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 7659, and hereby sentences him to suffer the
penalty of Death and to pay the offended party Jenny Mengote the following:

1. P100,000.00 as moral damages and

2. P100,000.00 as exemplary damages.

Roberto Mengote was charged with rape under the following information:

That on or about the 20th day of March, 1996, in the municipality of Hagonoy, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being then the father of the offended party, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously by means of force and intimidation and with lewd designs, have carnal knowledge of the offended party, Jenny Mengote, a
twelve (12) year old girl against her will and without her consent.

Contrary to law.

The accused with the assistance of counsel de oficio pleaded NOT GUILTY upon arraignment. 1

The prosecution presented the victim Jenny Mengote, her mother Dolores Mengote who assisted her when she filed a complaint for rape and Dr. Edgardo Gueco,
who prepared the medico-legal report dated April 22, 1996 marked as Exh. "D".

Jenny Mengote is the daughter of the accused Roberto Mengote and Dolores Mengote. She turned twelve on January 25, 1996, and was a Grade 6 student at the
Sagrada Familia Elementary School in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

She testified on June 27, 1996 on the incident that happened on March 20, 1996 between the hours of 7:00 o'clock and 8:00 o'clock in the evening. She was
watching TV in her Tita Meloida's house, which is about 2 or 3 meters from her own home, when her father called her from the door of their house and ordered her
to get his lighter upstairs. When she not got the lighter, her father followed and embraced her from behind. She was surprised because her father was not in the
habit of embracing her except when she was a small child. She evaded him by going to the place where they kept their clothes. Her father followed her again,
embraced her and kissed her on the face, at the same time telling her to keep quiet and not to report to anybody ("huwag akong magsusumbong"). She left the
place and went down to where their water jar was located in order to evade her father. Her father followed pinched her ear and pulled her upstairs while still
holding her ear. He again embraced and kissed her, touched her private part (referring to her vagina) while she was in a standing position, and proceeded to
remove her T-shirt, her shorts and her panty. She protested "huwag, huwag" but her father told her ''sandali lang iyon." Thereafter, he laid her down on the floor,
removed his pants and briefs and put his body on top of her, face down. She was then lying straight, and her father separated her right thigh from the left and
inserted his penis into her vagina, which caused her pain. The penis penetrated about an inch into the vagina, and he was "moving up and down, push and
pull" about five times. She felt something come out from his penis, which was colored white.
2

Her father noticed that her mother was coming, and he stood up and wiped his penis with a white rag and put on his shorts and briefs. When her mother entered,
she asked her father what he had done to her. He said, nothing and her mother got mad. Her mother saw the piece of rag that her father used in wiping his penis,
smelled it, and asked him what it means; her father did not answer and left the house. She was also asked by her mother about what her father did to her. She did
not answer because of her father's threat to kill them ("na papatayin kayo"). She told her mother about the incident two weeks after, when their mother left the
house to go to the house of a relative in another barangay. The reason she did not reveal to her mother earlier what happened was that she was thinking of her
3

brothers and sisters and her father might also do to her sister what she did to her. She was no longer afraid of her father after she reported the same to her
mother. Her mother promptly brought her to the police station to file a complaint. 4

In court, Jenny attested to the truth of the contents of her sworn statement. Asked about her answer to Question No. 8 wherein she stated that her father
committed the act against her three times, she explained that on the two previous occasions that took place in January and February 1996, her father embraced
and kissed her, but did not attempt to insert his penis into her private part. She did not tell anybody because she was afraid of her father who told her not to report
these to anybody, and who in the past used to beat them when his orders were not followed. 5

Upon cross-examination, witness Jenny answered the questions propounded substantially as she testified during the direct examination. 6

A medico-legal examination was conducted by Dr. Edgardo Gueco, upon the request of the Chief of Police of Hagonoy, Bulacan. The extra-genital examination of
the hymen revealed the "presence of deep healed lacerations at 4 and 12 o'clock and shallow healed laceration at 7 o'clock positions." The report carried the
7

remarks "subject is in non-virgin state physically." Dr. Gueco testified that the presence of the laceration of the hymen means that subject was no longer a virgin
8

at the time of the examination and the possible cause of said laceration is sexual intercourse, and that because the healing period is usually ten days, the
laceration inflicted by the sexual intercourse on March 22nd could have already been healed. 9
Dolores Mengote identified her signature on the sworn complaint of her daughter, and stated that it took a long time for her to give her consent to Jenny's filing
10

the complaint against her father because she did not want the people around them to know because she was ashamed, and that when they filed the complaint
11

she did not know that the penalty for rape is death. 12

The accused Roberto Mengote testified in his defense. He declared that he was admitting the crime and repents for what he did, but prays that a lower sentence
be imposed upon him. He testified that he was not in his right senses at the time of the incident as he was only drunk; in the months of January and February when
he first attempted to rape Jenny, he could not recall where his other daughters were because he was drunk. 13

As aforestated. the court a quo found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.

The accused-appellant raises the following assignment of errors in his brief:

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN TOTALLY DISREGARDING THE DEFENSE PUT UP BY THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

II

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT APPLYING THE SAFEGUARDS SET FORTH UNDER RULE 116. 1987 RULES ON
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE.

III

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME CHARGED
HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

Accused-appellant submits that the degree of his intoxication at the time of the incident affected his mental faculty to a degree that he was no longer conscious
and in control of what he was doing; that his mental faculties were so far "overcome by intoxication that it produces a mental condition of insanity." Appellant
further claims that the trial court erred in not applying the safeguards imposed by Section 3, Rule 116 of the 1987 Rules on Criminal Procedure after a plea of guilty
to a capital offense, in that it did not endeavor to conduct a searching inquiry as to the voluntariness and full comprehension of the consequences of his plea of
guilt; thus, the accused admitted his guilt in his testimony in court in the belief that the penalty to be meted by the court is life imprisonment. Finally, appellant
14

contends that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt as there were "glaring inconsistencies between the testimony of Jenny during the direct
examination and that during the cross-examination, as well as between her testimony and the testimony of her mother.

We find no merit in the appeal.

We have scrutinized the evidence and reviewed the testimony of the complainant with great caution and are convinced that the trial court correctly held that the
guilt of Roberto Mengote was established beyond reasonable doubt. The narration of Jenny is positive, categorical and full of details, free of any significant
inconsistencies and clearly described the sexual assault wherein, as the trial court observed, "her juvenile resistance proved no match to the strength and evil
determination of her father". We are not unmindful of the crucial importance in a rape case of determining the credibility of both the victim herself and her version
as to how the crime charged was committed but we repose almost total reliance on the findings and conclusions of the trial court which had the clear advantage of
a trial judge over an appellate court magistrate in the appreciation of testimonial evidence. In the absence of any showing that the trial court's assessment of the
15

credibility of the witness was flawed, we are bound by its assessment. 16

Furthermore, it is doctrinally settled that testimonies of rape victims who are of tender age are credible. The revelation of an innocent child whose chastity was
abused deserves full credit, as the willingness of the complainant to face police investigation and to undergo the trouble and humiliation of a public trial is eloquent
testimony of the truth of her complaint. 17

The trial court observed:

It is an undeniable fact that because of their filial relationship, the accused exercised a great degree of moral ascendancy over his 12
year old daughter Jenny, so much so that even if she found her father's embraces and kisses to be quite peculiar because it was not his
wont to kiss and embrace his children even as a show of love (tsn, June 27, 1996, p. 12), she could not adequately repel his advances.
Furthermore, her father's practice of beating them up when he was mad (tsn, July 11, 1996, pp. 13-14) which was foremost in her young
mind then disabled her to struggle against him. In this respect, the employment of force and intimidation by the accused has been fully
established.

The testimony of Dr. Edgardo Gueco who conducted the medical examination corroborated Jenny's claim that she was sexually abused. The presence of deep
healed lacerations in the hymen indicated that she was no longer a virgin and the possible cause of said lacerations is sexual
intercourse.18

Neither are we persuaded by appellant's plea of insanity allegedly caused by intoxication that has affected his mental faculty to a degree that he was no longer
conscious of what he was doing. The accused pleaded insanity quite late and obviously as an afterthought. More important, it was not substantiated. The law
presumes every man to be sane and if the accused interposes the defense of mental incapacity, the burden of establishing such fact rests upon him. Insanity
19

must be proven by clear and positive evidence. As an exempting circumstance, insanity means that the accused must have been deprived completely of reason
20

and freedom of the will at the time of the commission of the crime or be incapable of entertaining criminal intent.
21 22

In this case, the appellant merely stated that he "was not in my right senses at that time", because he was drunk. Thus:

COURT:
xxx xxx xxx

Q: Can you tell us what compelled you to rape your daughter?

A: I was not in my right senses at that time, your Honor

Q: Why, were you under the influence of a any liquor or drugs?

A: I was drunk at that time your Honor.

xxx xxx xxx

COURT:

Q: How many daughters do you have?

A: Five (5), your Honor.

Q: Why did you specifically pick on Jenny to be your victim?

A: I did not intend to do it, your Honor.

Q: You will recall that at that time Jenny was out of your house and you just called her?

A: I don't remember that, your Honor.

Q: So, at that time you were not also aware where your other daughters were?

A: No, your honor. 23


(emphasis supplied)

The above testimony of the accused clearly falls short of the degree of proof necessary to prove insanity.

The appellant's second assignment of error is not tenable. The records show that appellant pleaded not guilty upon arraignment. Before the prosecution started
24

the presentation of its second witness, the defense counsel manifested that the accused would be changing his plea to that of guilty. The court ruled that
considering that the offense charged is a grave offense, the presentation of the prosecution's evidence is still required to determine the guilt of the accused. After
25

the prosecution had rested its case, counsel for the accused manifested that the accused "intended his willingness to plead guilty". The records show:

PROS. JOAQUIN:

For the prosecution, your Honor.

ATTY. DELA CRUZ:

For the accused, ready, your Honor. Your Honor please, considering that the accused in this case intended his
willingness to plead guilty to this case, your Honor. . .

COURT:

Up to now have you not still understood the position of the Court, in the first place a plea of guilty should not be
unconditional.

ATTY. DELA CRUZ:

That is the wish of the accused, your Honor, and I could not be more than the accused.

COURT:

Is it the accused dictating to the court what penalty should be imposed upon him and that if the Court will not
agree to his condition he will not plead, guilty, is that it?

ATTY. DELA CRUZ:


I think the court has already made an order that he could not be bound by the offer of the accused, your Honor.
That is why the case went through and the prosecution rested its case, your Honor. So; now we are presenting
the accused, your Honor.

COURT:

(to interpreter) Call the witness and swear in the witness.

INTERPRETER:

(to witness) Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth before the Honorable Court?

WITNESS:

I do, mam.

INTERPRETER:

Please state your name and other personal circumstances.

WITNESS:

I am ROBERTO MENGOTE, 40, years old, married, fisherman and residing at Sagrada Familia, Hagonoy,
Bulacan.

ATTY. DELA CRUZ

We are offering the testimony of the witness to initiate from the witness his decision as to whether he will admit
in open Court guilty or not guilty to this case, anyway, he was already arraigned but up to now this
representation is under doubt as to whether he is willing to admit or not, your Honor. With the kind permission of
the Hon. Court?

COURT:

Kindly proceed.

D. EXAM. OF WIT. R. MENGOTE BY

ATTY. DELA CRUZ:

Q: What is your relationship with the complainants in this case?

A: My wife and my daughter, sir.

Q: During the presentation of the prosecution's evidence they presented you as the one who molested your
daughter, what can you say about that?

A: That is not true, sir.

Q: What is the truth Mr. Witness?

A: I am admitting the crime, sir, and repent to what I did and I am praying to the Hon. Court that a lower
sentence be imposed upon me, sir.

Q: Do you have other things to say before this Court?

A: No more, sir.

ATTY. DELA CRUZ:

I think that is all, your Honor.

COURT:
Q: Is it not true that the reason why you are repenting is because you are afraid to be imposed the death
penalty?

A: No your Honor.

Q: In other words, even if you have heard your daughter say that she is willing to have the death penalty
imposed on you, you are not still afraid?

A: I have nothing to do if that is the penalty and I wish that is not the penalty, your Honor. 26

It is clear that appellant initially denied that he molested his daughter although he later stated that he was admitting the crime and was repenting what he did
praying that a lower sentence be imposed and that the death penalty is not the penalty to be imposed. The trial court did not act favorably on his offer because the
plea of guilty should be unconditional. i.e., not conditioned on his getting a lower penalty. It has been held that a plea of guilty made after arraignment and after trial
had began does not entitle the accused to have such plea considered as a mitigating circumstance. Moreover, in cases where the law prescribes a single
27

indivisible penalty, it shall be applied regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may have attended the commission of the deed. 28

At any rate, the court is convinced that the evidence of the prosecution has undoubtedly established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and the
accused was given full opportunity to present his own evidence. The court did not rest its finding of guilt on the statement of the accused admitting the crime.

The alleged inconsistencies in the testimony of the victim do not cast doubt on her credibility. They refer to minor and insubstantial details, e.g., whether the
accused embraced Jenny first before kissing her or kissed her first and then embraced her, or whether or not Jenny tried to evade her father by going to the
29 30

kitchen near the water jar. They do not detract from the substance of her testimony that her father succeeded in performing the carnal act against her will.
31

This Court has ruled in numerous cases that an errorless recollection of a harrowing incident cannot be expected of a witness especially when she is recounting
details of an experience so humiliating and so painful as rape. Minor errors in the testimony of a rape victim tend to buttress rather than weaken her credibility
32

since that would indicate that her testimony was not contrived. 33

The crime of rape is defined and made punishable by Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of R.A. No. 7659 34
which reads:

Sec. 11. Article 335 of the same Code (Revised Penal Code, as amended) is hereby amended to reads follows:

Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. — Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman
under any of the following circumstances:

1. By using force or intimidation;

2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise


unconscious; and

3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is


demented.

The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.

Whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion
perpetua to death.

When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has become insane, the penalty shall be death.

When the rape is attempted or frustrated and a homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion thereof, the penalty shall be reclusion
perpetua to death.

The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:

1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by
consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.

2. When the victim is under the custody of the police or military authorities.

3. When the rape is committed in full view of the husband, parent, any of the children or other relatives within the third degree of
consanguinity.

4. When the victim is a religious or child below seven (7) years old.

5. When the offender knows that he is afflicted with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) disease.
6. When committed by any member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police or any law enforcement
agency.

7. When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has suffered permanent physical mutilation. (emphasis supplied).

Accordingly, the Court is constrained to affirm the death penalty imposed by the trial court. Four justices of the Court, however, have continued to maintain the
unconstitutionality of Republic Act No. 7659 insofar as it prescribes the death penalty; nevertheless, they submit to the ruling of the majority to the effect that the
law is constitutional and that the death penalty can be lawfully imposed in the case at bar.

Relative to the monetary liability of accused-appellant, the Court, in line with prevailing jurisprudence, finds an award of P75,000.00 by way of indemnity and an
35

amount of P50, 000.00 as moral damages to be in order. The award of P100,000.00 for exemplary damages is hereby deleted for lack of legal basis.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the trial court finding accused-appellant Roberto Mengote guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and
imposing upon him the penalty of death is AFFIRMED, with the modification that accused appellant is ordered to pay P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, and
P50,000.00 as moral damages. The award for exemplary damages is hereby deleted.

In accordance with Section 25 of Republic Act No. 7659, amending Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, upon the finality of the decision, let the records of this
case be forthwith forwarded to the Office of the President for possible exercise of the pardoning power. No pronouncement on costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 128587 March 16, 2007

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. PERFECTO A.S. LAGUIO, JR., in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Branch 18, RTC, Manila, and LAWRENCE WANG Y CHEN, Respondents.

DECISION

GARCIA, J.:

On pure questions of law, petitioner People of the Philippines has directly come to this Court via this petition for review on certiorari to nullify and set aside the
Resolution1 dated 13 March 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 18, in Criminal Case Nos. 96-149990 to 96-149992, entitled People of the
Philippines v. Lawrence Wang y Chen, granting private respondent Lawrence C. Wang’s Demurrer to Evidence and acquitting him of the three (3) charges filed
against him, namely: (1) Criminal Case No. 96-149990 for Violation of Section 16, Article III in relation to Section 2(e)(2), Article I of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425
(Dangerous Drugs Act); (2) Criminal Case No. 96-149991 for Violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866 (Illegal Possession of Firearms); and (3) Criminal Case No.
96-149992 for Violation of Comelec Resolution No. 2828 in relation to R.A. No. 7166 (COMELEC Gun Ban).

The three (3) separate Informations filed against Lawrence C. Wang in the court of origin respectively read:

Criminal Case No. 96-149990 (Violation of Dangerous Drugs Act):

That on or about the 17th day of May 1996, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his
possession and under his custody and control a bulk of white and yellowish crystalline substance known as SHABU contained in thirty-two (32) transparent plastic
bags weighing approximately 29.2941 kilograms, containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, without the corresponding license or prescription
therefor.

Contrary to law.2

Criminal Case No. 96-149991 (Illegal Possession of Firearms):

That on or about the 17th day of May 1996, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his
possession and under his custody and control one (1) DAEWOO Cal. 9mm, automatic pistol with one loaded magazine and one AMT Cal. .380 9mm automatic
backup pistol with magazine loaded with ammunitions without first having secured the necessary license or permit therefor from the proper authorities.

Contrary to law. 3

Criminal Case No. 96-149992 (Violation of Comelec Gun Ban):

That on or about the 17th day of May 1996, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his
possession and under his custody and control one (1) DAEWOO Cal. 9mm automatic pistol with one loaded magazine and one (1) AMT Cal. 380 9mm automatic
backup pistol with magazine loaded with ammunitions, carrying the same along Maria Orosa St., Ermita, Manila, which is a public place, on the date which is
covered by an election period, without first securing the written permission or authority from the Commission on Elections, as provided by the COMELEC
Resolution 2828 in relation to Republic Act 7166.

Contrary to law. 4
During his arraignment, accused Wang refused to enter a plea to all the Informations and instead interposed a continuing objection to the admissibility of the
evidence obtained by the police operatives. Thus, the trial court ordered that a plea of "Not Guilty" be entered for him.5 Thereafter, joint trial of the three (3)
consolidated cases followed.

The pertinent facts are as follows:

On 16 May 1996, at about 7:00 p.m., police operatives of the Public Assistance and Reaction Against Crime of the Department of Interior and Local Government,
namely, Captain Margallo, Police Inspector Cielito Coronel and SPO3 Reynaldo Cristobal, arrested SPO2 Vergel de Dios, Rogelio Anoble and a certain Arellano,
for unlawful possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug popularly known as shabu. In the course of the investigation of the three arrested
persons, Redentor Teck, alias Frank, and Joseph Junio were identified as the source of the drug. An entrapment operation was then set after the three were
prevailed upon to call their source and pretend to order another supply of shabu.

At around 11:00 p.m. that same date, Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio were arrested while they were about to hand over another bag of shabu to SPO2 De Dios
and company. Questioned, Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio informed the police operatives that they were working as talent manager and gymnast instructor,
respectively, of Glamour Modeling Agency owned by Lawrence Wang. Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio did not disclose their source of shabu but admitted that
they were working for Wang.6 They also disclosed that they knew of a scheduled delivery of shabu early the following morning of 17 May 1996, and that their
employer (Wang) could be found at the Maria Orosa Apartment in Malate, Manila. The police operatives decided to look for Wang to shed light on the illegal drug
activities of Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio. Police Inspector Cielito Coronel and his men then proceeded to Maria Orosa Apartment and placed the same under
surveillance.

Prosecution witness Police Inspector Cielito Coronel testified that at about 2:10 a.m. of 17 May 1996, Wang, who was described to the operatives by Teck, came
out of the apartment and walked towards a parked BMW car. On nearing the car, he (witness) together with Captain Margallo and two other police officers
approached Wang, introduced themselves to him as police officers, asked his name and, upon hearing that he was Lawrence Wang, immediately frisked him and
asked him to open the back compartment of the BMW car.7 When frisked, there was found inside the front right pocket of Wang and confiscated from him an
unlicensed AMT Cal. 380 9mm automatic Back-up Pistol loaded with ammunitions. At the same time, the other members of the operatives searched the BMW car
and found inside it were the following items: (a) 32 transparent plastic bags containing white crystalline substance with a total weight of 29.2941 kilograms, which
substance was later analyzed as positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug locally known as shabu; (b) cash in the amount of ₱650,000.00;
(c) one electronic and one mechanical scales; and (d) an unlicensed Daewoo 9mm Pistol with magazine. Then and there, Wang resisted the warrantless arrest
and search.8

On 6 December 1996, the prosecution rested its case and upon motion, accused Wang was granted 25 days from said date within which to file his intended
Demurrer to Evidence.9 On 19 December 1996, the prosecution filed a Manifestation10 to the effect that it had rested its case only in so far as the charge for
Violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act in Criminal Case No. 96-149990 is concerned, and not as regards the two cases for Illegal Possession of Firearms (Crim.
Case No. 96-149991) and Violation of the Comelec Gun Ban (Crim. Case No. 96-149992). Accordingly, trial continued.

On 9 January 1997, Wang filed his undated Demurrer to Evidence,11 praying for his acquittal and the dismissal of the three (3) cases against him for lack of a valid
arrest and search warrants and the inadmissibility of the prosecution’s evidence against him. Considering that the prosecution has not yet filed its Opposition to the
demurrer, Wang filed an Amplification12 to his Demurrer of Evidence on 20 January 1997. On 12 February 1997, the prosecution filed its Opposition13 alleging that
the warrantless search was legal as an incident to the lawful arrest and that it has proven its case, so it is now time for the defense to present its evidence.

On 13 March 1997, the respondent judge, the Hon. Perfecto A.S. Laguio, Jr., issued the herein assailed Resolution14 granting Wang’s Demurrer to Evidence and
acquitting him of all charges for lack of evidence, thus:

WHEREFORE, the accused's undated Demurrer to Evidence is hereby granted; the accused is acquitted of the charges against him for the crimes of Violation of
Section 16, Article III of the Dangerous Drugs Act, Illegal Possession of Firearms, and Violation of Comelec Gun Ban, for lack of evidence; the 32 bags of shabu
with a total weight of 29.2941 kilograms and the two unlicensed pistols, one AMT Cal. .380 9mm and one Daewoo Cal. 9mm. are ordered confiscated in favor of
the government and the branch clerk is directed to turn over the 32 bags of shabu to the Dangerous Drugs Board in Intramuros, Manila, and the two firearms to the
Firearms and Explosive Units, PNP, Camp Crame, Quezon City, for proper disposition, and the officer-in-charge of PARAC, Department of Interior and Local
Government, is ordered to return the confiscated amount of P650,000.00 to the accused, and the confiscated BMW car to its registered owner, David Lee. No
costs.

SO ORDERED.

Hence, this petition15 for review on certiorari by the People, submitting that the trial court erred -

XXX IN HOLDING THAT THE UNDISPUTED FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES DID NOT CONSTITUTE PROBABLE CAUSE WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION
OF SECTION 2, ARTICLE III OF THE CONSTITUTION, AND IN HOLDING THAT SUCH FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES NEITHER JUSTIFIED THE
WARRANTLESS SEARCH OF ACCUSED'S VEHICLE AND THE SEIZURE OF THE CONTRABAND THEREIN.

ll

XXX IN HOLDING, IN EFFECT, THAT A WARRANTLESS SEARCH IS CONSTITUTIONALLY ALLOWABLE AND CAN ONLY BE VALID AS AN INCIDENT TO A
LAWFUL ARREST.

lII

XXX IN DECLARING THE WARRANTLESS ARREST OF THE ACCUSED AND THE SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF HIS HANDGUNS UNLAWFUL.

IV
XXX IN NOT DECLARING THE ACCUSED AS HAVING WAIVED, AS A RESULT OF HIS SUBMISSION AND FAILURE TO PROTEST THE SEARCH AND HIS
ARREST, HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCH AND SEIZURE AND HIS OBJECTION TO THE ADMISSION OF THE
EVIDENCE SEIZED.

XXX IN NOT ADMITTING IN EVIDENCE THE EVIDENCE SEIZED AND OFFERED BY THE PROSECUTION AND IN NOT DENYING ACCUSED'S DEMURRER
TO EVIDENCE.

In its Resolution16 of 9 July 1997, the Court, without giving due course to the petition, required the public and private respondents to comment thereon within ten
days from notice. Private respondent Wang filed his comment17on 18 August 1997.

On 10 September 1997, the Court required the People to file a reply,18 which the Office of the Solicitor General did on 5 December 1997, after several extensions.19

On 20 October 2004, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective memoranda,20 which they did.

The case presents two main issues: (a) whether the prosecution may appeal the trial court’s resolution granting Wang’s demurrer to evidence and acquitting him of
all the charges against him without violating the constitutional proscription against double jeopardy; and (b) whether there was lawful arrest, search and seizure by
the police operatives in this case despite the absence of a warrant of arrest and/or a search warrant.

First off, it must be emphasized that the present case is an appeal filed directly with this Court via a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 in relation to
Rule 41, Section 2, paragraph (c) of the Rules of Court raising only pure questions of law, ordinary appeal by mere filing of a notice of appeal not being allowed as
a mode of appeal directly to this Court. Then, too, it bears stressing that the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part of due process, it being merely a
statutory privilege which may be exercised only in the manner provided for by law (Velasco v. Court of Appeals21). Although Section 2, Rule 122 of the Rules on
Criminal Procedure states that any party may appeal, the right of the People to appeal is, in the very same provision, expressly made subject to the prohibition
against putting the accused in double jeopardy. It also basic that appeal in criminal cases throws the whole records of the case wide open for review by the
appellate court, that is why any appeal from a judgment of acquittal necessarily puts the accused in double jeopardy. In effect, the very same Section 2 of Rule 122
of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, disallows appeal by the People from judgments of acquittal.

An order granting an accused’s demurrer to evidence is a resolution of the case on the merits, and it amounts to an acquittal. Generally, any further prosecution of
the accused after an acquittal would violate the constitutional proscription on double jeopardy. To this general rule, however, the Court has previously made some
exceptions.

The celebrated case of Galman v. Sandiganbayan22 presents one exception to the rule on double jeopardy, which is, when the prosecution is denied due process
of law:

No court whose Presiding Justice has received "orders or suggestions" from the very President who by an amendatory decree (disclosed only at the hearing of
oral arguments on November 8, 1984 on a petition challenging the referral of the Aquino-Galman murder cases to the Tanodbayan and Sandiganbayan instead of
to a court martial, as mandatorily required by the known P.D. 1850 at the time providing for exclusive jurisdiction of courts martial over criminal offenses committed
by military men) made it possible to refer the cases to the Sandiganbayan, can be an impartial court, which is the very essence of due process of law. As the writer
then wrote, "jurisdiction over cases should be determined by law, and not by preselection of the Executive, which could be much too easily transformed into a
means of predetermining the outcome of individual cases." This criminal collusion as to the handling and treatment of the cases by public respondents at the
secret Malacañang conference (and revealed only after fifteen months by Justice Manuel Herrera) completely disqualified respondent Sandiganbayan and voided
ab initio its verdict. This renders moot and irrelevant for now the extensive arguments of respondents accused, particularly Generals Ver and Olivas and those
categorized as accessories, that there has been no evidence or witness suppressed against them, that the erroneous conclusions of Olivas as police investigator
do not make him an accessory of the crimes he investigated and the appraisal and evaluation of the testimonies of the witnesses presented and suppressed.
There will be time and opportunity to present all these arguments and considerations at the remand and retrial of the cases herein ordered before a neutral and
impartial court.

The Supreme Court cannot permit such a sham trial and verdict and travesty of justice to stand unrectified. The courts of the land under its aegis are courts of law
and justice and equity. They would have no reason to exist if they were allowed to be used as mere tools of injustice, deception and duplicity to subvert and
suppress the truth, instead of repositories of judicial power whose judges are sworn and committed to render impartial justice to all alike who seek the enforcement
or protection of a right or the prevention or redress of a wrong, without fear or favor and removed from the pressures of politics and prejudice. More so, in the case
at bar where the people and the world are entitled to know the truth, and the integrity of our judicial system is at stake. In life, as an accused before the military
tribunal Ninoy had pleaded in vain that as a civilian he was entitled to due process of law and trial in the regular civil courts before an impartial court with an
unbiased prosecutor. In death, Ninoy, as the victim of the "treacherous and vicious assassination" and the relatives and sovereign people as the aggrieved parties
plead once more for due process of law and a retrial before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor. The Court is constrained to declare the sham trial a
mock trial — the non-trial of the century — and that the predetermined judgment of acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.

1. No double jeopardy. — It is settled doctrine that double jeopardy cannot be invoked against this Court's setting aside of the trial courts' judgment of dismissal or
acquittal where the prosecution which represents the sovereign people in criminal cases is denied due process. As the Court stressed in the 1985 case of People
vs. Bocar,

Where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and prove its case, its right to due process is thereby violated.

The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional rights, courts are ousted of their jurisdiction. Thus, the violation of the State's right to
due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue (Gumabon vs. Director of the Bureau of Prisons, L-30026, 37 SCRA 420 [Jan. 30, 1971]) which cannot be glossed
over or disregarded at will. Where the denial of the fundamental right of due process is apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of
jurisdiction (Aducayen vs. Flores, L-30370 [May 25, 19731, 51 SCRA 78; Shell Co. vs. Enage, L-30111-12, 49 SCRA 416 Feb. 27, 1973]). Any judgment or
decision rendered notwithstanding such violation may be regarded as a "lawless thing, which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever it
exhibits its head" (Aducayen vs. Flores, supra).
Respondent Judge's dismissal order dated July 7, 1967 being null and void for lack of jurisdiction, the same does not constitute a proper basis for a claim of
double jeopardy (Serino vs. Zosa, supra).

xxx xxx xxx

Legal jeopardy attaches only (a) upon a valid indictment, (b) before a competent court, (c) after arraignment, (d) a valid plea having been entered; and (e) the case
was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused (People vs. Ylagan, 58 Phil. 851). The lower court was not competent as it was
ousted of its jurisdiction when it violated the right of the prosecution to due process.

In effect, the first jeopardy was never terminated, and the remand of the criminal case for further hearing and/or trial before the lower courts amounts merely to a
continuation of the first jeopardy, and does not expose the accused to a second jeopardy.

Another exception is when the trial court commits grave abuse of discretion in dismissing a criminal case by granting the accused’s demurrer to evidence. In point
is the fairly recent case of People v. Uy,23 which involved the trial court’s decision which granted the two separate demurrers to evidence filed by the two accused
therein, both with leave of court, resulting in their acquittal of their respective charges of murder due to insufficiency of evidence. In resolving the petition for
certiorari filed directly with this Court, we had the occasion to explain:

The general rule in this jurisdiction is that a judgment of acquittal is final and unappealable. People v. Court of Appeals explains the rationale of this rule:

In our jurisdiction, the finality-of-acquittal doctrine as a safeguard against double jeopardy faithfully adheres to the principle first enunciated in Kepner v. United
States. In this case, verdicts of acquittal are to be regarded as absolutely final and irreviewable. The cases of United States v. Yam Tung Way, People v.
Bringas, Gandicela v. Lutero, People v. Cabarles, People v. Bao, to name a few, are illustrative cases. The fundamental philosophy behind the constitutional
proscription against double jeopardy is to afford the defendant, who has been acquitted, final repose and safeguard him from government oppression through the
abuse of criminal processes. As succinctly observed in Green v. United States "(t)he underlying idea, one that is deeply ingrained in at least the Anglo-American
system of jurisprudence, is that the State with all its resources and power should not be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged
offense, thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as
enhancing the possibility that even though innocent, he may be found guilty." (Underscoring supplied)

The same rule applies in criminal cases where a demurrer to evidence is granted. As held in the case of People v. Sandiganbayan:

The demurrer to evidence in criminal cases, such as the one at bar, is "filed after the prosecution had rested its case," and when the same is granted, it calls "for
an appreciation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and its sufficiency to warrant conviction beyond reasonable doubt, resulting in a dismissal of the case
on the merits, tantamount to an acquittal of the accused." Such dismissal of a criminal case by the grant of demurrer to evidence may not be appealed, for to do so
would be to place the accused in double-jeopardy. The verdict being one of acquittal, the case ends there. (Italics in the original)

Like any other rule, however, the above-said rule is not absolute. By way of exception, a judgment of acquittal in a criminal case may be assailed in a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court upon a clear showing by the petitioner that the lower court, in acquitting the accused, committed not
merely reversible errors of judgment but also grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction or a denial of due process, thus rendering the
assailed judgment void. (Emphasis supplied.)

In Sanvicente v. People,24 the Court allowed the review of a decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) which reversed the accused’s acquittal upon demurrer to
evidence filed by the accused with leave of court, the CA ruling that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in preventing the prosecution from
establishing the due execution and authenticity of certain letter marked therein as Exhibit "LL," which supposedly "positively identified therein petitioner as the
perpetrator of the crime charged." The Court, in a petition for certiorari, sustained the CA’s power to review the order granting the demurrer to evidence, explaining
thus:

Under Rule 119, Section 23 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, the trial court may dismiss the action on the ground of insufficiency of
evidence upon a demurrer to evidence filed by the accused with or without leave of court. In resolving accused’s demurrer to evidence, the court is merely required
to ascertain whether there is competent or sufficient evidence to sustain the indictment or support a verdict of guilt.

The grant or denial of a demurrer to evidence is left to the sound discretion of the trial court and its ruling on the matter shall not be disturbed in the absence of a
grave abuse of discretion. Significantly, once the court grants the demurrer, such order amounts to an acquittal and any further prosecution of the accused would
violate the constitutional proscription on double jeopardy. This constitutes an exception to the rule that the dismissal of a criminal case made with the express
consent of the accused or upon his own motion bars a plea of double jeopardy. The finality-of-acquittal rule was stressed thus in People v. Velasco:

The fundamental philosophy highlighting the finality of an acquittal by the trial court cuts deep into the "humanity of the laws and in jealous watchfulness over the
rights of the citizens, when brought in unequal contest with the State xxx. Thus Green expressed the concern that "(t)he underlying idea, one that is deeply
ingrained in at least the Anglo-American system of jurisprudence, is that the State with all its resources and power should not be allowed to make repeated
attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing
state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility that even though innocent, he may be found guilty."

It is axiomatic that on the basis of humanity, fairness and justice, an acquitted defendant is entitled to the right of repose as a direct consequence of the finality of
his acquittal. The philosophy underlying this rule establishing the absolute nature of acquittals is "part of the paramount importance criminal justice system
attaches to the protection of the innocent against wrongful conviction." The interest in the finality-of-acquittal rule, confined exclusively to verdicts of not guilty, is
easy to understand: it is a need for "repose", a desire to know the exact extent of one’s liability. With this right of repose, the criminal justice system has built in a
protection to insure that the innocent, even those whose innocence rests upon a jury’s leniency, will not be found guilty in a subsequent proceeding.

Given the far-reaching scope of an accused’s right against double jeopardy, even an appeal based on an alleged misappreciation of evidence will not lie. The only
instance when double jeopardy will not attach is when the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, such as where
the prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or where the trial was a sham. However, while certiorari may be availed of to correct an erroneous
acquittal, the petitioner in such an extraordinary proceeding must clearly demonstrate that the trial court blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as to
deprive it of its very power to dispense justice. (Emphasis supplied.)
By this time, it is settled that the appellate court may review dismissal orders of trial courts granting an accused’s demurrer to evidence. This may be done via the
special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 based on the ground of grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Such dismissal order,
being considered void judgment, does not result in jeopardy. Thus, when the order of dismissal is annulled or set aside by an appellate court in an original special
civil action via certiorari, the right of the accused against double jeopardy is not violated.

Unfortunately, what petitioner People of the Philippines, through then Secretary of Justice Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. and then Solicitor General Silvestre H. Bello,
III, filed with the Court in the present case is an appeal by way of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 raising a pure question of law, which is different
from a petition for certiorari under Rule 65.

In Madrigal Transport Inc. v. Lapanday Holdings Corporation,25 we have enumerated the distinction between the two remedies/actions, to wit:

Appeal and Certiorari Distinguished

Between an appeal and a petition for certiorari, there are substantial distinctions which shall be explained below.

As to the Purpose. Certiorari is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction, not errors of judgment. In Pure Foods Corporation v. NLRC, we
explained the simple reason for the rule in this light:

"When a court exercises its jurisdiction, an error committed while so engaged does not deprive it of the jurisdiction being exercised when the error is committed. If
it did, every error committed by a court would deprive it of its jurisdiction and every erroneous judgment would be a void judgment. This cannot be allowed. The
administration of justice would not survive such a rule. Consequently, an error of judgment that the court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction is not
correct[a]ble through the original civil action of certiorari."

The supervisory jurisdiction of a court over the issuance of a writ of certiorari cannot be exercised for the purpose of reviewing the intrinsic correctness of a
judgment of the lower court -- on the basis either of the law or the facts of the case, or of the wisdom or legal soundness of the decision. Even if the findings of the
court are incorrect, as long as it has jurisdiction over the case, such correction is normally beyond the province of certiorari. Where the error is not one of
jurisdiction, but of an error of law or fact -- a mistake of judgment -- appeal is the remedy.

As to the Manner of Filing. Over an appeal, the CA exercises its appellate jurisdiction and power of review. Over a certiorari, the higher court uses its original
jurisdiction in accordance with its power of control and supervision over the proceedings of lower courts. An appeal is thus a continuation of the original suit, while
a petition for certiorari is an original and independent action that was not part of the trial that had resulted in the rendition of the judgment or order complained of.
The parties to an appeal are the original parties to the action. In contrast, the parties to a petition for certiorari are the aggrieved party (who thereby becomes the
petitioner) against the lower court or quasi-judicial agency, and the prevailing parties (the public and the private respondents, respectively).

As to the Subject Matter. Only judgments or final orders and those that the Rules of Court so declared are appealable. Since the issue is jurisdiction, an original
action for certiorari may be directed against an interlocutory order of the lower court prior to an appeal from the judgment; or where there is no appeal or any plain,
speedy or adequate remedy.

As to the Period of Filing. Ordinary appeals should be filed within fifteen days from the notice of judgment or final order appealed from. Where a record on appeal
is required, the appellant must file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal within thirty days from the said notice of judgment or final order. A petition for review
should be filed and served within fifteen days from the notice of denial of the decision, or of the petitioner’s timely filed motion for new trial or motion for
reconsideration. In an appeal by certiorari, the petition should be filed also within fifteen days from the notice of judgment or final order, or of the denial of the
petitioner’s motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration.

On the other hand, a petition for certiorari should be filed not later than sixty days from the notice of judgment, order, or resolution. If a motion for new trial or
motion for reconsideration was timely filed, the period shall be counted from the denial of the motion.

As to the Need for a Motion for Reconsideration. A motion for reconsideration is generally required prior to the filing of a petition for certiorari, in order to afford the
tribunal an opportunity to correct the alleged errors. Note also that this motion is a plain and adequate remedy expressly available under the law. Such motion is
not required before appealing a judgment or final order.

Also in Madrigal, we stressed that the special civil action of certiorari and appeal are two different remedies mutually exclusive; they are neither alternative nor
successive. Where appeal is available, certiorari will not prosper. In the dismissal of a criminal case upon demurrer to evidence, appeal is not available as such an
appeal will put the accused in double jeopardy. Certiorari, however, is allowed.

For being the wrong remedy taken by petitioner People of the Philippines in this case, this petition is outrightly dismissible. The Court cannot reverse the assailed
dismissal order of the trial court by appeal without violating private respondent’s right against double jeopardy.

Even assuming that the Court may treat an "appeal" as a special civil action of certiorari, which definitely this Court has the power to do, when there is a clear
showing of grave abuse of discretion committed by the lower court, the instant petition will nevertheless fail on the merits as the succeeding discussion will show.

There are actually two (2) acts involved in this case, namely, the warrantless arrest and the warrantless search. There is no question that warrantless search may
be conducted as an incident to a valid warrantless arrest. The law requires that there be first a lawful arrest before a search can be made; the process cannot be
reversed.26 However, if there are valid reasons to conduct lawful search and seizure which thereafter shows that the accused is currently committing a crime, the
accused may be lawfully arrested in flagrante delicto27 without need for a warrant of arrest.

Finding that the warrantless arrest preceded the warrantless search in the case at bar, the trial court granted private respondent's demurrer to evidence and
acquitted him of all the three charges for lack of evidence, because the unlawful arrest resulted in the inadmissibility of the evidence gathered from an invalid
warrantless search. The trial court’s ratiocination is quoted as follows:
The threshold issue raised by the accused in his Demurrer to Evidence is whether his warrantless arrest and search were lawful as argued by the prosecution, or
unlawful as asserted by the defense.

Under Section 5, Rule 113 of the New Rules of Court, a peace officer may arrest a person without a warrant: (a) when in his presence, the person to be arrested
has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) when an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge
of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it, and (c) when the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal
establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while being transferred from one confinement to another. None of these
circumstances were present when the accused was arrested. The accused was merely walking from the Maria Orosa Apartment and was about to enter the
parked BMW car when the police officers arrested and frisked him and searched his car. The accused was not committing any visible offense at the time of his
arrest. Neither was there an indication that he was about to commit a crime or that he had just committed an offense. The unlicensed AMT Cal.380 9mm Automatic
Back-up Pistol that the accused had in his possession was concealed inside the right front pocket of his pants. And the handgun was bantam and slim in size that
it would not give an outward indication of a concealed gun if placed inside the pant's side pocket as was done by the accused. The arresting officers had no
information and knowledge that the accused was carrying an unlicensed handgun, nor did they see him in possession thereof immediately prior to his arrest.

Ditto on the 32 bags of shabu and the other unlicensed Daewoo Cal. 9mm Pistol with magazine that were found and seized from the car. The contraband items in
the car were not in plain view. The 32 bags of shabu were in the trunk compartment, and the Daewoo handgun was underneath the driver’s seat of the car. The
police officers had no information, or knowledge that the banned articles were inside the car, or that the accused had placed them there. The police officers
searched the car on mere suspicion that there was shabu therein.

On this matter, pertinent portions of the testimonies of Police Inspector Cielito Coronel and SP03 Reynaldo are hereunder quoted:

POLICE INSPECTOR CIELITO CORONEL’S TESTIMONY

"PROSECUTOR TO WITNESS: Direct-Examination

Q. Mr. Witness, what was your role or participation in this case?

A. I am one of those responsible for the arrest of the accused.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Where did you make that arrest, Mr. Witness?

A. The apprehension was made in front of an apartment along Maria Orosa Street, Ermita, Manila.

Q. What date was that when you arrested the accused?

A. It was on May 17, 1996, at about 2:10 a.m.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. What was the reason why you together with other policemen effected the arrest of the accused?

A. We arrested him because of the information relayed to us by one of those whom we have previously apprehended in connection with the delivery of shabu
somewhere also in Ermita, Manila.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. When you established that he was somewhere at Maria Orosa, what did you do?

A. We waited for him.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. You yourself, Mr. Witness, where did you position yourself during that time?

A. I was inside a vehicle waiting for the accused to appear.

Q. What about your other companions where were they?

A. They were position in strategic places within the area.

Q. What happened when you and your companions were positioned in that place?
A. That was when the accused arrived.

Q. How many of your approached him.

A. Inspector Margallo, myself and two other operatives.

Q. What happened when you approached the accused, Mr. Witness?

A. We introduced ourselves as police officers and we frisked him and we asked him to open the back compartment of his car.

Q. You said you frisked him, what was the result of that?

A. He was found in possession of one back-up pistol with one loaded magazine and likewise when the compartment was opened several plastic bags containing
white crystalline substance suspected to be shabu (were found).

Q. What did you do when you found out Mr. Witness?

A. When the car was further search we later found another firearm, a Daewoo Pistol at the place under the seat of the driver.

Q. Then what happened?

A. He was brought to our headquarters at Mandaluyong for further investigation.

Q. What about the suspected shabu that you recovered, what did you do with that?

A. The suspected shabu that we recovered were forwarded to the NBI for laboratory examination.

Q. Did you come to know the results?

A. It was found positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride. (TSN, pp. 3-8, November 15, 1996).

ATTY. LOZANO TO WITNESS: CROSS

Q. You arrested Joseph Junio and Redentor Teck for alleged transporting of shabu on May 16, 1996, at 11:00 p.m., is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. You asked Redentor Teck where he is employed, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Redentor Teck told you that he is a talent manager at the Glenmore Modeling Agency, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

.Q. The Glenmore Modeling Agency is owned by Lawrence Wang, is it not?

A. I supposed, Sir.

Q. And that is why immediately after Redentor Teck told you that he is an employee of the Glenmore Modeling Agency owned by Lawrence Wang, naturally, you
and your companions look for Lawrence Wang to shed light on the transporting of shabu by Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. Thereafter, you spotted a person previously described by Redentor Teck as Lawrence Wang, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. While you were arresting Lawrence Wang, your companions at the same time searched the BMW car described in your affidavit of arrest, is it not?
A. Yes, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Lawrence Wang was not inside the BMW car while the same was searched, is it not?

A. He was outside, Sir.

Q. The driver of the car was inside the car when the arrest and search were made, is it not?

A. He was likewise outside, Sir.

Q. Lawrence Wang did resist arrest and search is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. When you effected the arrest, there was no warrant of arrest, is it not?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. When the search was made on the BMW car, there was no search warrant, is it not?

A. Yes, none, Sir. (TSN, pp. 3-12, November 15, 1996)

SPO3 REYNALDO CRISTOBAL’S TESTIMONY

PROSECUTOR TO WITNESS: DIRECT EXAMINATION

Q. What is you role or participation in this case?

A. I was one of the arresting officers and investigator, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. What kind of specific offense did the accused allegedly do so that you arrested him, Mr. Witness?

A. He was arrested on the basis of the recovered drugs in his possession placed inside his car.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Mr. witness, you said that you recovered drug from the car of the accused, please tell us the antecedent circumstances which led you to recover or confiscate
these items?

A. Earlier in the evening about 11:00 p.m. of May 16, we arrested one Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio.

COURT: Where did you arrest these people?

A They were arrested in Metro Manila also.

COURT: The same date?

A. May 16, about 11:00 p.m. They were arrested and when they were investigated, Teck mentioned the name of Lawrence Wang as his employer.

COURT: Why were these people, arrested?

A. For violation of R.A. 6425.

COURT: How were they arrested?

A. They were arrested while in the act of transporting shabu or handling shabu to another previously arrested person. It was a series of arrest.
COURT: So, this involved a series of operation?

A. Yes, Your Honor. About 11:00 p.m. of May 16, we arrested three (3) persons, SPO2 Vergel de Dios, a certain Arellano and a certain Rogelio Noble. When they
were arrested they divulged the name of the source.

COURT: They were arrested for what, for possession?

A. Yes, Your Honor. For unlawful possession of shabu . Then they divulged to us the name of the person from whom they get shabu.

COURT: Whose name did they mention:

A. One Alias Frank, who turned out to be Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio. We let them call Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio thru the cellphone and pretend and
to order another supply of shabu.

COURT: So there was an entrapment?

A. Yes, Your Honor.

COURT: So, these two (2) were arrested?

A. While they were about to hand over another bag of shabu to Noble and company.

COURT: And these two reveals (revealed) some information to you as to the source of the shabu?

A. Yes, Your Honor.

COURT: What was the information?

A. Teck told us that he is an employee of Lawrence Wang.

COURT: What did you do when you were told about that?

A. They also told us that there was an ongoing delivery of shabu on that morning.

COURT: When?

A. Of that date early morning of May 17, 1996.

COURT: At what place?

A. We asked them where we could find Lawrence Wang and Teck lead us to Maria Orosa Apartment where we conducted a stake out which lasted up to 2:00 a.m.

xxx xxx xxx

COURT: What happened during the stake out?

A. When the person of the accused was identified to us, we saw him opening his car together with his driver.

COURT: So, he was about to leave when you saw him?

A. Probably, Sir.

COURT: What did you do?

A. We saw him opened his car and we have a suspicion that there was a shabu inside the compartment of the car.

xxx xxx xxx

COURT: All right, when you saw the accused opened his car, what did you do?

A. We approached him.
COURT: What happened when you approached him?

A. We suspected the shabu inside the compartment of his car.

COURT: And this shabu that you saw inside the compartment of the car, what did you do with that?

A. Well, he was first arrested by Captain Margallo and Lt. Coronel while I was the one who inspected and opened the compartment of the car and saw the shabu.
(TSN, pp. 15-24, December 16, 1996).

CLARIFICATORY QUESTIONING OF SPO3 CRISTOBAL BY THE COURT

COURT: From your testimony and that of Police Inspector Cielito Coronel, this Court has gathered that prior to the arrest of the accused there were three (3) men
that your team arrested. One of whom is a police officer.

A: Yes, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

COURT: And on the occasion of the arrest of these three men shabu were confiscated from them?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: And in the course of the investigation of these three men, you were able to discover that Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio were the source of the regulated
drug that were confiscated from the three men that you have arrested?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: Now, thru entrapment base[d] on your testimony you were able to apprehend also these two men, Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio?

A: Yes, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: These two men, Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio they were also investigated by your team?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: You were present while they were investigated?

A: I was the one whom investigated them.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: Did you ask Redentor and Joseph the source of shabu that you confiscated from them at the time of the (their) arrest?

A: Yes, Sir. They refuse to say the source, however, they told me that they were working for the accused.

Q: You also testified that Redentor informed you that there was another delivery of shabu scheduled that morning of (stop) was it May 16 or 17? The other delivery
that is scheduled on?

A: On the 17th.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: Did he tell you who was to make the delivery?

A: No, Sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: At that time when you decided to look for the accused to ask him to shed light on the matter concerning the arrest of these two employees in possession of
shabu. Did you and did your team suspect the accused as being involved in the transaction that lead (led) to the arrest of Redentor and Joseph?
A: Yes, Sir. We suspected that he was the source of the shabu.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: When you saw the accused walking towards his car, did you know whether he was carrying a gun?

A: No, Sir. It cannot be seen.

Q: It was concealed?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: So, the only time that you and your team learned that he was in possession of the gun is when he was bodily search?

A: Yes, Sir. That is the only time that I came to know about when Capt. Margallo handed to me the gun.

Q: Other than walking towards his car, the accused was not doing anything else?

A: None, Sir.

Q: That would invite your suspicion or give indication that he was intending to do something unlawful or illegal?

A: No, Sir.

Q: When you searched the car, did the accused protest or try to prevent your team from searching his car?

A: No, Sir." (TSN pp. 3-16, Feb. 26, 1997)

Clearly therefore, the warrantless arrest of the accused and the search of his person and the car were without probable cause and could not be licit. The arrest of
the accused did not fall under any of the exception to the requirements of warrantless arrests, (Sec. 5, Rule 113, Rules of Court) and is therefore, unlawful and
derogatory of his constitutional right of liberty. x x x

The trial court resolved the case on the basis of its findings that the arrest preceded the search, and finding no basis to rule in favor of a lawful arrest, it ruled that
the incidental search is likewise unlawful. Any and all pieces of evidence acquired as a consequence thereof are inadmissible in evidence. Thus, the trial court
dismissed the case for lack of evidence.

Contrary to its position at the trial court, the People, however, now posits that "inasmuch as it has been shown in the present case that the seizure without warrant
of the regulated drugs and unlicensed firearms in the accused’s possession had been validly made upon probable cause and under exigent circumstances, then
the warrantless arrest of the accused must necessarily have to be regarded as having been made on the occasion of the commission of the crime in flagrante
delicto, and therefore constitutionally and statutorily permissible and lawful."28In effect, the People now contends that the warrantless search preceded the
warrantless arrest. Since the case falls under an exception to the general rule requiring search warrant prior to a valid search and seizure, the police officers were
justified in requiring the private respondent to open his BMW car’s trunk to see if he was carrying illegal drugs.

The conflicting versions as to whether the arrest preceded the search or vice versa, is a matter of credibility of evidence. It entails appreciation of evidence, which
may be done in an appeal of a criminal case because the entire case is thrown open for review, but not in the case of a petition for certiorari where the factual
findings of the trial court are binding upon the Court. Since a dismissal order consequent to a demurrer to evidence is not subject to appeal and reviewable only by
certiorari, the factual finding that the arrest preceded the search is conclusive upon this Court. The only legal basis for this Court to possibly reverse and set aside
the dismissal order of the trial court upon demurrer to evidence would be if the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in excess of jurisdiction when it ruled
that there was no legal basis to lawfully effect a warrantless arrest.

The pertinent provisions of Rule 113 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure on warrantless arrest provide:

Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

b) When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the
person to be arrested has committed it; and

c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is
temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

Section 5, above, provides three (3) instances when warrantless arrest may be lawfully effected: (a) arrest of a suspect in flagrante delicto; (b) arrest of a suspect
where, based on personal knowledge of the arresting officer, there is probable cause that said suspect was the author of a crime which had just been committed;
(c) arrest of a prisoner who has escaped from custody serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending.
For a warrantless arrest of an accused caught in flagrante delicto under paragraph (a) of Section 5 to be valid, two requisites must concur: (1) the person to be
arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done
in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.29
1aw phi 1.nét

The facts and circumstances surrounding the present case did not manifest any suspicious behavior on the part of private respondent Lawrence Wang that would
reasonably invite the attention of the police. He was merely walking from the Maria Orosa Apartment and was about to enter the parked BMW car when the police
operatives arrested him, frisked and searched his person and commanded him to open the compartment of the car, which was later on found to be owned by his
friend, David Lee. He was not committing any visible offense then. Therefore, there can be no valid warrantless arrest in flagrante delicto under paragraph (a) of
Section 5. It is settled that "reliable information" alone, absent any overt act indicative of a felonious enterprise in the presence and within the view of the arresting
officers, is not sufficient to constitute probable cause that would justify an in flagrante delicto arrest.30

Neither may the warrantless arrest be justified under paragraph (b) of Section 5. What is clearly established from the testimonies of the arresting officers is that
Wang was arrested mainly on the information that he was the employer of Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio who were previously arrested and charged for illegal
transport of shabu. Teck and Junio did not even categorically identify Wang to be their source of the shabu they were caught with in flagrante delicto. Upon the
duo’s declaration that there will be a delivery of shabu on the early morning of the following day, May 17, which is only a few hours thereafter, and that Wang may
be found in Maria Orosa Apartment along Maria Orosa Street, the arresting officers conducted "surveillance" operation in front of said apartment, hoping to find a
person which will match the description of one Lawrence Wang, the employer of Teck and Junio. These circumstances do not sufficiently establish the existence of
probable cause based on personal knowledge as required in paragraph (b) of Section 5.

And doubtless, the warrantless arrest does not fall under paragraph (c) of Section 5.

The inevitable conclusion, as correctly made by the trial court, is that the warrantless arrest was illegal. Ipso jure, the warrantless search incidental to the illegal
arrest is likewise unlawful.

In People v. Aminnudin,31 the Court declared as inadmissible in evidence the marijuana found in appellant’s possession during a search without a warrant,
because it had been illegally seized, in disregard of the Bill of Rights:

In the case at bar, the accused-appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or that he had just
done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there was no outward indication that called for his arrest. To all appearances,
he was like any of the other passengers innocently disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that
he suddenly became a suspect and so subject to apprehension. It was the fugitive finger that triggered his arrest. The identification of the informer was the
probable cause as determined by the officer (and not a judge) that authorized them to pounce upon Aminnudin and immediately arrest him.

The People’s contention that Wang waived his right against unreasonable search and seizure has no factual basis. While we agree in principle that consent will
validate an otherwise illegal search, however, based on the evidence on record, Wang resisted his arrest and the search on his person and belongings.32 The
implied acquiescence to the search, if there was any, could not have been more than mere passive conformity given under intimidating or coercive circumstances
and is thus considered no consent at all within the purview of the constitutional guarantee. 33Moreover, the continuing objection to the validity of the warrantless
arrest made of record during the arraignment bolsters Wang’s claim that he resisted the warrantless arrest and search.

We cannot close this ponencia without a word of caution: those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in disregarding the rights of the individual in
the name of order. Order is too high a price for the loss of liberty. As Justice Holmes once said, "I think it is less evil that some criminals should escape than that
the government should play an ignoble part." It is simply not allowed in free society to violate a law to enforce another, especially if the law violated is the
Constitution itself.34

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED.

G.R. No. 168773 October 27, 2006

ELIZA ABUAN, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

DECISION

CALLEJO, SR, J.:

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 25726 and Resolution2 denying the motion
for reconsideration thereof. The CA affirmed the Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 41, Dagupan City in Criminal Case No. 98-02337-D,
convicting Eliza T. Abuan of violating Section 16, Article III of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425, as amended, otherwise known as The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

The Antecedents
A criminal complaint was filed in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Calasiao, Pangasinan charging Abuan with violating R.A. No. 6425, as amended. On May 8,
1998, she filed a motion to quash the criminal complaint, praying that pending the resolution of her motion, she be allowed to post bail without waiving her right to
question her arrest and assail Search Warrant No. 98-62.4 The public prosecutor conformed to the motion. Thus, the motion was granted and bail was fixed
at P60,000.00.5

The MTC found probable cause against Abuan for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, and recommended the filing of an Information
against her. It ordered the elevation of the records to the RTC for further proceedings.

On November 12, 1998, an Amended Information was filed in the RTC of Dagupan City, charging Abuan with violating Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as
amended. The inculpatory portion of the Information reads:

That on or about 8:45 o’clock in the morning of May 6, 1998 at Brgy, Lasip, [M]unicipality of Calasiao, [P]rovince of Pangasinan, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously has in her possession,
custody and control of the following to wit:

Fifty seven (57) small heat-sealed plastic sachets of met[h]aphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) weighing 5.67grams.

one (1) roll aluminum foil and assorted plastic (luminous) sachets.

without authority to possess the same.

CONTRARY to Art. III, Section 16 of R.A. 6425, as amended.6

During the arraignment on November 12, 1998, the accused, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charge.7During the pre-trial on November 19, 1998,
Abuan rejected the prosecution’s proposal for her to admit the validity of Search Warrant No. 98-62, and that, in the enforcement thereof, 57 sachets of shabu
were found in her house and later confiscated by the policemen.8 She maintained that the warrant was invalid and that any material allegedly confiscated from her
house was inadmissible in evidence.

The court set the initial presentation of evidence by the prosecution on December 3, 1998. However, on said date, accused filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence,
alleging that there was no probable cause for the issuance of Search Warrant No. 98-62; the applicant, Cesar Ramos, had no personal knowledge of his claim that
she had in her possession methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and other drug paraphernalia; Marissa Gorospe was a fictitious person, and her testimony
was fabricated to convince the Executive Judge to make a finding of probable cause required for the issuance of a search warrant; and the Executive Judge failed
to ask searching questions and elicit from "Gorospe" the particularity of the alleged paraphernalia in Abuan’s possession. Abuan asserted that since the search
warrant is void, whatever evidence was discovered as a result of the search conducted based on the warrant was inadmissible in evidence. 9

Instead of allowing the accused to present her evidence in support of her motion, the court declared that any such evidence may be adduced at the trial.10

The Case for the Prosecution

At around 8:30 a.m. on May 5, 1998, SPO2 Marcelino Gamboa and SPO2 Beliguer de Vera of the Calasiao Police Station received information from a confidential
informant that Abuan was conducting illegal drug activities in her house at Barangay Lasip, Calasiao, Pangasinan. Acting on the said information, Gamboa and de
Vera conducted surveillance-monitoring operations on her residence, three times for more than an hour. They saw more or less 20 people who were coming in and
out of Abuan’s house. According to the informant, these people were drug addicts,11and Abuan was a known drug pusher.12 On the same day, the officers, through
SPO3 Cesar Ramos, applied for a warrant13 with Executive Judge Eugenio G. Ramos of the RTC in Lingayen, Pangasinan, to search the house of Abuan for
violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, and the seizure of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), weighing scale, aluminum foil, and
burner.

The application was docketed as Search Warrant No. 98-62. To establish probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant, Ramos presented their informant,
Marissa Gorospe, who was subjected to searching questions by the Executive Judge.14

Gorospe testified that she was a resident of Barangay Sapang, Manaoag, Pangasinan. She knew Abuan because they were employed as dealers of Avon
Cosmetics. Abuan was a prominent personality in Barangay Lasip.15 Her unnumbered house is a green bungalow-type, cemented and decorated with ornamental
plants up front. She visited Abuan in her house at least three to four times a week.16 She first came upon the drugs in Abuan’s house when the latter invited her to
a "jamming" and drinking session. She refused because she had to go home to BarangaySapang, Manaoag, Pangasinan, a place of considerable distance from
Calasiao.17 Abuan then suggested that they use the shabu that she kept inside her bedroom instead. Abuan kept a substantial amount of shabu in her house and
sold it.18 The informant further narrated that several people, including teenagers, arrived in the house of Abuan and bought the substance.19 During her visits, she
observed that Abuan placed shabu inside plastic bags. She also saw weighing scales and paraphernalias used in sniffing shabu. Being a mother herself, she did
not want teenagers and her children to become drug addicts.20 Gorospe identified and affirmed the truth of the contents of her deposition.21

The Executive Judge found probable cause and issued Search Warrant No. 98-62 which reads:

TO ANY OFFICER OF THE LAW:

GREETINGS:

It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned after examining under oath thru searching questions on the applicant, SPO3 Cesar A. Ramos, PNP,
and his witnesses that there is probable cause to believe that the respondent is in possession without any authority to do so in violation of R.A. 6425
of the following:

Met[h]amphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu)


Tooter

Weighing Scale

Aluminum Foil

Burner

which she keeps and conceals in her house premises at Brgy. Lasip, Calasiao, Pangasinan, which should be seized and brought to the undersigned.

YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED to make an immediate search at any time of the day or night and take possession of the above-described
properties and bring them to the undersigned to be dealt with as the law directs.

This Search Warrant shall be valid only for ten (10) days from its issuance, thereafter, the same shall be void.22

On May 6, 1998, police operatives composed of Col. Fidel Posadas, Major Froilan Perez, SPO2 Gamboa, SPO2 Madrid, SPO2 de Vera, PO2 Tomelden, PO2
Rosario, PO3 Ubando, PO1 Moyano and PO3 Vallo went to BarangayLasip to enforce the search warrant. However, before proceeding to Abuan’s residence, the
policemen invited Barangay Captain Bernardo Mangaliag and Kagawad Miguel Garcia of Barangay Lasip to witness the search.

Upon arriving at the premises, Officers De Vera, Gamboa and Garcia and Mangaliag entered the house; the rest of the policemen remained outside. Mangaliag
introduced the police officers to Abuan who presented Search Warrant No. 98-62 to her. Abuan read the warrant and permitted the officers to conduct the search.23

De Vera, Mangaliag, Gamboa and Garcia entered the bedroom and found 57 sachets of suspected shabu, one roll of aluminum foil and assorted luminous plastic
sachets in the drawer just beside Abuan’s bed.24 The police officers confiscated all these and brought them, along with Abuan, to the police station where an
inventory of the items was made. Mangaliag and Garcia affixed their signatures on the inventory/receipt,25 but Abuan refused to sign it.26

The police officers prepared a certification of orderly search which Garcia and Mangaliag also signed. Abuan likewise refused to sign the certification.27 The police
officers requested the PNP Crime Laboratory Unit of Lingayen, Pangasinan to conduct a laboratory examination on the confiscated substance.28 According to the
laboratory examination conducted by P/Supt. Theresa Ann Bugayong CID, Regional Chief Chemist, the 57 sachets of the suspected shabu weighing 5.67 grams
gave positive results for the presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug.29

After presenting its witnesses, the prosecution offered in evidence Search Warrant No. 98-62, the Receipt of the Property Seized, the Physical Science Report and
the articles confiscated from Abuan’s house.30 However, Abuan objected to the admission of the search warrant and the articles confiscated based thereon on the
ground that the warrant was issued without probable cause.31 The court admitted the documentary evidence of the prosecution subject to the comment or objection
interposed by accused and the eventual determination of their probative weight.32

The Case for the Accused

Abuan testified that she was jobless in 1998. Her parents and her sister Corazon Bernadette sent her money from Canada once or twice a month to support her
and her daughters. It was her father who spent for the education of her daughters.33 She was married to Crispin Abuan, a policeman, but they separated in
1997.34 She did not know any person by the name of Marissa Gorospe. She did not work for Avon Cosmetics nor used any of its products.35

At around 8:30 a.m. on May 6, 1998, she was with her two daughters, 21-year old Ediliza Go and 9-year old Mae Liza Abuan.36 They were still in bed inside their
room. Suddenly, four armed men barged into their house and declared a raid.37 About eight to ten others were outside her house. She inquired if they had a search
warrant but she was not shown any.38 The men searched her house for about 10 to 15 minutes and turned up with nothing. 39Some of the men went out of the
house and boarded a jeepney. The men outside again went into the bedroom and came out with "powder placed in a plastic."40 At this instance, Barangay Captain
Bernardo Mangaliag was brought to the scene and was shown the "powder substance" recovered from her bedroom. She refused to sign the inventory and receipt
of the property seized and the certification of orderly search. However, Mangaliag signed the same. 41

She declared that the sachets/substances which the policemen claimed to have found in her house were merely "planted" to implicate her. The raid as well as the
charge against her were instigated by her brother Arsenio Tana, who was enraged when she refused his demand to entrust the properties of the family to the care
of his son. It appears that Tana carried out his threat to have her house raided since the policemen did come to her house on May 6, 1998.42 Her brother was by
the gate of her house at the time of the raid.

Abuan also testified that, during the raid, she saw Tana talking to the police officers who arrested her. Abuan also declared that the money kept inside a box in her
room amounting to P25,000.00 (US$1,100.00) given by her sister Corazon Bernardino had gone missing after the raid.43 She did not file any charge for the loss of
her money because she was scared. She did not know who took it.

Barangay Captain Robert Calachan of Barangay Sapang, Manaoag, Pangasinan and Mercedes Carvajal, an employee of Avon Cosmetics in Dagupan holding the
position of team leader, testified for accused.

Calachan declared that he was born in Barangay Sapang and never left the place. He was familiar with the residents of the small barangay.44 He issued a
certification45 stating that "as per record of this barangay, a certain Marissa Gorospe is not a resident of this barangay." Before he signed the certification, he
inquired from the barangay members if they knew a Marissa Gorospe, and he was told that no one by that name was a transient. 46

Carvajal, for her part, testified that, based on the certification dated November 12, 1998 of Dagupan City Avon Branch Manager Gigi dela Rosa, "Marissa Gorospe
is not a registered dealer of Avon Dagupan Branch based on our records." She did not know any Avon Cosmetics employee or dealer named Marissa Gorospe in
Pangasinan. She further testified that she had been a team leader/dealer of Avon Cosmetics for 21 years already, and that Abuan was not such a
dealer/employee. On cross-examination, she declared that she was a team leader of Avon Cosmetics (Dagupan Branch), and thus had no participation in the
preparation of the certification of Gigi dela Rosa and was not in a position to know if the certification was correct.
On March 28, 2001, the trial court rendered a decision finding accused guilty of the charge. The dispositive portion reads:

WHEREFORE, finding accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of Section 15 (sic), Article 6425, she is hereby sentenced to suffer an
imprisonment of TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY to FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS of PRISION
CORRECTIONAL.

The prohibited drug and paraphernalia seized from the accused are hereby confiscated in favor of the government and should be turned over to the
Dangerous Drugs Board for disposition in accordance with law.

SO ORDERED.47

The trial court declared that the testimonies of police officers Gamboa and de Vera should be accorded great weight and credence as they testified positively
regarding what transpired during the raid. In contrast, the testimony of accused was self-serving, negative and feeble. She failed to prove that it was her brother
who manipulated the unfortunate events. Neither was she able to prove ill motive on the part of the police officers who conducted a search in her house; hence,
the presumption is that they regularly performed their duties. The failure of the accused to present her two daughters as witnesses amounted to suppression of
evidence, giving rise to the presumption that if they had been presented, their testimonies would be adverse to her.

On the issue of the validity of the search warrant, the court ruled that there was probable cause for its issuance. The proceedings conducted by the Execute Judge
relative to the application of the police for a search warrant, its issuance and implementation were valid, regular, and in accordance with the requirements of the
law and Constitution.48 The trial court declared that Gorospe may have lied about her address and being a dealer of Avon Cosmetics; however, it does not
necessarily mean that she was a fictitious person. It explained that Gorospe may have lied "a little" in order to conceal herself for her protection, but the rest of her
testimony constituted sufficient evidence of probable cause.

Abuan filed her motion for reconsideration dated April 16, 2001, which the court denied in an Order 49 dated May 10, 2001. She appealed the decision to the CA,
where she averred that:

THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT CONSIDERED THE ALLEGED SHABU AND OTHER PARAPHERNALIA AS ADMISSIBLE
EVIDENCE AGAINST THE ACCUSED THEREBY DISREGARDING THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROHOBITION AGAINST "FRUITS" OF THE
POISONOUS TREE.

II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED AND GRAVELY MISAPPRECIATED THE EVIDENCE AGAINST THE ACCUSED WHEN IT OVERLOOKED THE
GLARING DISCREPANCIES IN THE TESTIMONIES OF THE SUPPOSED EYEWITNESSES.

Abuan insisted that the applicant failed to show probable cause for the issuance of Search Warrant No. 98-62. "Marissa Gorospe" is a fictitious person whose
alleged testimony is fabricated and was used by the police officers to convince the Executive Judge that there was probable cause for the issuance of the search
warrant when, in fact, there was none. The Executive Judge failed to ask Gorospe searching questions. Consequently, Search Warrant No. 98-62 is void and the
substances and paraphernalia confiscated by the policemen are inadmissible in evidence. She further claimed that the testimonies of De Vera and Gamboa were
pockmarked with inconsistencies and as such, the trial court should not have given them probative weight.

For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) averred that the trial court merely confirmed Executive Judge Ramos’ finding of probable cause. Besides,
appellant failed to file a motion to quash Search Warrant No. 98-62, hence, was estopped from assailing it and the search and seizure conducted thereafter. The
OSG cited the ruling of this Court in Demaisip v. Court of Appeals.50 It likewise claimed that the inconsistencies adverted to by appellant pertained merely to
collateral matters and were not determinative of her guilt or innocence. As gleaned from the evidence of the prosecution, her defenses could not prevail over the
evidence adduced by the prosecution.

The CA rendered judgment affirming the RTC decision. The fallo of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed Decision dated March 28, 1001 in Criminal Case No. 98-02337-D of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Dagupan City convicting Eliza T. Abuan of violation of Section 16, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, is
AFFIRMED. Costs against the accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.51

The appellate court ruled that the prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt of Abuan’s guilt for the crime charged. The alleged discrepancies in the
testimonies of Gamboa and de Vera were peripheral matters. Moreover, Abuan’s failure to assail the legality of the search and seizure conducted by the policemen
before her arraignment was equivalent to a waiver of her right to assail the search warrant. The CA cited the ruling of this Court in Malaloan v. Court of Appeals.52

Abuan filed a motion for reconsideration,53 reiterating her argument that the search warrant is not valid. She also argued that she did not waive her right to assail
the validity of the search warrant at her arraignment and during the trial. She maintained that the CA should not rely on the evaluation by the RTC of the witnesses’
credibility, and that the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were on material relevant details.

The appellate court denied the motion in a Resolution54 dated May 26, 2005 on its finding that no new and substantial matter was presented to warrant
reconsideration thereof.55

In the instant petition, Abuan, now petitioner, asserts that


I

THE CA GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE SEARCH WARRANT VALID DESPITE FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS
MANDATED BY THE CONSTITUTION.

II

THE CA ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ISSUE OF THE VALIDITY OF THE SEARCH WARRANT WAS DEEMED WAIVED AFTER
ARRAIGNMENT.

III

THE CA ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE SHABU AND OTHER PARAPHERNALIA ALLEGEDLY TAKEN FROM THE PETITIONER AS ADMISSIBLE
IN EVIDENCE.

IV

THE CA ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE CONVICTION OF THE PETITIONER.56

Petitioner avers that the search warrant issued by the Executive Judge was void because the circumstances leading to its issuance were not based on probable
cause but on mere fabrications. She points out that according to Gorospe, she became acquainted with petitioner and visited her in her house because of their
employment with Avon Cosmetics. However, considering that she and Gorospe were never employed by Avon Cosmetics and were not even acquainted, such
testimony is false. Thus, the search warrant should be declared invalid as it is based on the testimony of a fictitious person, a "planted witness" with a fabricated
testimony and, consequently, any evidence discovered on the basis thereof should be suppressed and excluded in accordance with Section 3(2), Article III of the
Constitution. Petitioner points out that with the inadmissibility of the shabu and other paraphernalia, the appellate court should have acquitted her of the charges by
reason of the prosecution’s failure to prove the commission of the crime beyond reasonable doubt.

Petitioner insists that, based on the records, she sought to suppress the search warrant throughout the entire proceedings in the trial court. She rejected the
prosecution’s offer to admit the validity of the search warrant and even filed a motion to suppress the search. She was thus not proscribed from filing her motion to
suppress the search warrant even after the arraignment.

In its Comment,57 the OSG maintains that the search warrant is valid. It insists that the CA correctly ruled that the requisites of a valid search warrant were present,
noting that the Executive Judge conducted searching questions and answers on the person of Marissa Gorospe. It asserts that, in applying for a search warrant, a
police officer need not possess personal knowledge regarding an illegal activity; it is the witness who should possess such personal knowledge, and upon whose
testimony under oath probable cause may be established. In this case, it was Gorospe who narrated, under oath and before the judge, her personal knowledge of
(petitioner’s) criminal activities.58

The OSG maintains that petitioner in effect waived whatever objections she had regarding the validity of the search warrant. It points out that she never questioned
the warrant before the court which issued the same, never questioned nor moved for the quashal of the warrant before her arraignment. And while petitioner was
allowed to present evidence on the alleged invalidity of the search warrant, this did not cure her omission or inaction in raising the issue at the proper time.

In her Reply,59 petitioner declares that a close scrutiny of the judge’s investigation of Gorospe would reveal that her personal circumstances are pivotal in her
acquisition of personal knowledge regarding the alleged possession of shabu by petitioner. If these personal circumstances are fabricated, then such "personal
knowledge" regarding the possession bears no credit.

Petitioner likewise maintains that contrary to the allegations of the OSG, she did not waive her right to question the validity of the warrant. She could not have done
any better under the circumstances at that time because all the evidence against Gorospe was made known and available to her only after her arraignment.

The Court is tasked to resolve the following threshold issues: (a) whether petitioner waived her right to question Search Warrant No. 98-62 and the admissibility of
the substances and paraphernalia and other articles confiscated from her house based on said warrant; and (b) whether the prosecution adduced evidence to
prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.

The Ruling of the Court

Petitioner Did not Waive Her Right to File a Motion

To Quash Search Warrant No. 98-62 and for the

Suppression of the Evidence Seized by the Police Officers

Section 14, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure reads:

Sec. 14. Motion to quash a search warrant or to suppress evidence; where to file. – A motion to quash a search warrant and/or to suppress evidence
obtained thereby may be filed in and acted upon only by the court where the action has been instituted. If no criminal action has been instituted, the
motion may be filed in and resolved by the court that issued the search warrant. However, if such court failed to resolve the motion and a criminal
case is subsequently filed in another court, the motion shall be resolved by the latter court.
The Court ruled in the Malaloan case that the motion to quash the search warrant which the accused may file shall be governed by the omnibus motion rule,
provided, however, that objections not available, existent or known during the proceedings for the quashal of the warrant may be raised in the hearing of the
motion to suppress the resolution of the court not on the motion to quash the search warrant and to suppress evidence shall be subject to any proper remedy in
the appropriate higher court.60 A motion to quash a search warrant may be based on grounds extrinsic of the search warrant, such as (1) the place searched or the
property seized are not those specified or described in the search warrant; and (2) there is no probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant.61 Section 7,
Rule 133 of the Rules of Court provides that the court may hear the motion, as follows:

When a motion is based on facts not appearing of record, the court may hear the matter on affidavits or depositions presented by the respective
parties, but the court may direct that the matter be heard wholly or partly on oral testimony or depositions.

In the present case, petitioner reserved her right to question Search Warrant No. 98-62 when she filed her motion for bail in the RTC. The public prosecutor
conformed to the motion. During pre-trial in the RTC, petitioner rejected the prosecution’s proposal for her to admit the validity of Search Warrant No. 98-62,
insisting that it was void. In her motion to suppress, petitioner averred that the search warrant is void for the following reasons: lack of probable cause; failure of
the Executive Judge to ask searching questions on Gorospe; and the evidence seized by the police officers on the basis of the search warrant are inadmissible in
evidence. She likewise prayed that the search warrant be nullified, and that the evidence seized by the policemen on the basis of said warrant be suppressed.62

Petitioner was ready to adduce evidence in support of her motion, but the court declared that this should be done during the trial. Petitioner thus no longer assailed
the ruling of the trial court and opted to adduce her evidence at the trial. She likewise objected to the admission of the search warrant and the evidence confiscated
by the police officers after the search was conducted. It bears stressing that the trial court admitted the same and she objected thereto. It cannot, therefore, be said
that petitioner waived her right to assail the search warrant and object to the admissibility of the regulated drugs found in her house.

On the second issue, the trial court’s ruling (which the appellate court affirmed) that the prosecution adduced evidence to prove petitioner’s guilt of crime charged
beyond reasonable doubt is correct.

Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by R.A. No. 7659 reads:

SEC. 16. Possession or Use of Regulated Drugs. – The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to
ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall possess or use any regulated drug without the corresponding license or prescription,
subject to the provisions of Section 20 hereof.

The elements of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs are as follows: (a) the accused was in possession of the regulated drugs; (b) the accused was
fully and consciously aware of being in possession of the regulated drug; and (c) the accused had no legal authority to possess the regulated drug.63 Possession
may be actual or constructive. In order to establish constructive possession, the People must prove that petitioner had dominion or control on either the substance
or the premises where found.64 The State must prove adequate nexus between the accused and the prohibited substance.65 Possession of dangerous drugs
constitutes prima facieevidence of knowledge or aminus possidendi sufficient to convict an accused in the absence of any satisfactory explanation of such
possession. The burden of evidence is shifted to petitioner to explain the absence of aminus possidendi.66

We agree with the trial court’s finding that, indeed, petitioner had in her possession and control 57 small, heat-sealed sachets of shabu weighing 5.67 gm when
Search Warrant No. 98-62 was served on her. As testified to by the witnesses of the prosecution, the police officers, in the presence of Garcia and Mangaliag,
found the said substances in a drawer in her bedroom. Petitioner likewise failed to present any legal authority to justify her possession of the regulated drug found
in her bedroom.

The mere denial by petitioner of the crime charged and her bare claim of being the victim of a frame-up by de Vera and Gamboa cannot prevail over the positive
and steadfast testimonies of the police officers. Their testimonies were corroborated by the inventory/receipt of property, stating that, indeed, 57 small heat-sealed
plastic sachets containing methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) weighing 5.67 grams were found in a drawer in petitioner’s bedroom. The police officers are
presumed to have performed their duties in good faith, in accordance with law. Absent any clear and convincing evidence that such officers had ill or improper
motive or were not performing their duties, their testimonies with respect to the surveillance operation, the implementation of search warrant, and the seizure of the
regulated drug in the house of petitioner must be accorded full faith and credence.67 Like alibi, the defense of denial and frame-up had been invariably viewed by
the courts with disfavor. Denial is a negative of self-serving defense, while frame-up is as easily concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in most
prosecutions for violation of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.68 For the defense of frame-up to prosper, the evidence must be clear and convincing.69

It bears stressing that the policemen saw to it that the search of petitioner’s house was conducted with the assistance and in the presence of Barangay Captain
Mangaliag and Kagawad Garcia. They testified that the regulated drugs confiscated by the policemen were found in the searched premises. Petitioner failed to
present clear and convincing evidence that the policemen and the barangay officials had any improper motive to frame her and falsely ascribe to her the crime of
violating R.A. No. 6425, as amended.

Except for her bare testimony, petitioner failed to prove that her brother Arsenio Tana instigated the policemen to secure Search Warrant No. 98-62, conducted a
search in her house, "planted" the drugs in her bedroom and stole money from her. Petitioner failed to make such a claim when she was arrested and brought to
the MTC for preliminary investigation. She also failed to file any criminal complaint against the policemen and her brother Arsenio Tana for filing the fabricated
charge against her and for "planting" evidence in her house. It was only when she testified in her defense in the trial court that she alleged, for the first time, that
the charge against her was instigated by her brother, in cahoots with the policemen. We quote with approval the disquisitions of the OSG on this matter:

SECOND: The police officers who testified had not proven bad or ill motive to testify against accused.

The suspicion of accused that it was her brother who manipulated the events in her life is unsubstantiated and too far-fetched to happen and is,
therefore, unbelievable.

The presumption, therefore, is that said police officers performed their official duties regularly (People v. Cuachon, 238 SCRA 540).

THIRD: The testimony of accused is too self-serving. It is uncorroborated.

According to her, the intrusion into her house by the police was witnessed by her two daughter (sic). However, she did not present them as witnesses.
In the case of her daughter Ediliza, she was already twenty years old at the time so that she was already mature for all legal intents and purposes. In
the case of her daughter Mae Liza, who was nine years old, there was no reason why she could not articulate what she personally saw and
experienced, if what she would be made to state was true.

The inability of the said accused, therefore, to present her two daughters is tantamount to a suppression of evidence, thus raising the presumption that
if they were presented, their testimonies would have been adverse to her.

Furthermore, it has been [the] consistent ruling of the Supreme Court that a plain denial or negative testimony, if unsubstantiated by a clear and
convincing testimony, cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of prosecution witnesses (People v. Amaguin, 229 SCRA 155).

FOURTH: The other defense of accused is that it was unlikely for her to have engaged in pushing or peddling drugs for a living because she had to
set a good example of decent living for the sake of her two beautiful daughters and good neighbors. Furthermore, she did not have financial problems
which could have pushed her into the drug business because her sister Corazon Bernardino had been regularly sending her money.

The aforecited unlikelihood perceived by accused could not prevail over the affirmative testimonies of policemen Gamboa and de Vera who positively
declared that they found 57 sachets of shabu in her room.70

Search Warrant No. 98-62

Is Valid; the Articles, Paraphernalia and Regulated

Drugs Found in Petitioner’s Bedroom and Confiscated

by the Police Officers are Admissible in Evidence

We agree with the ruling of the CA affirming, on appeal, the findings of the trial court that based on the deposition and testimony of Gorospe, there was probable
cause for the issuance of Search Warrant No. 98-62 for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.

Section 2, Article III of the Constitution provides:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever
nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined
personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing
the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Thus, any evidence obtained in violation of this provision is inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.71

Sections 4 and 5, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure enumerate the requisites for the issuance of a search warrant, thus:

SEC. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. – A search warrant shall not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense
to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witness he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines.

SEC. 5. Examination of complainant, record. – The judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally examine in the form of searching questions and
answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the record
their sworn statements, together with the affidavits submitted.

The requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: (1) probable cause is present; (2) such probable cause must be determined personally by the judge; (3)
the judge must examine, in writing and under oath or affirmation, the complainant and the witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the applicant and the witnesses
testify on the facts personally known to them; and (5) the warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be seized.72

Probable cause is defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been
committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. Reasonable minds may differ on the question of
whether a particular affidavit/deposition or testimony of the affiant/deponent establishes probable cause. However, great deference is to be accorded to the
Judge’s determination.73 The affidavit/deposition supporting an application for a search warrant is presumed to be valid.74

Affidavits/depositions for search warrants must be tested and interpreted by Judges in a common-sense and realistic fashion. They are normally drafted by non-
lawyers in the midst and haste of a criminal investigation. Technical requisites of elaborate specificity have no place in this area.75 The Judge in determining
probable cause is to consider the totality of the circumstances made known to him and not by a fixed and rigid formula,76 and must employ a flexible, totality of the
circumstances standard.77 Probable cause exists if a practical, common-sense evaluation of the facts and circumstances show a fair possibility that dangerous
drugs will be found in the asserted location.78 There must be a factual showing sufficient to comprise probable cause of particular facts and circumstances so as to
allow the Judge to make an independent evaluation of the matter. It is sufficient if the information put forth in the affidavit/deposition or testimony of the
affiant/deponent are believed or appropriately accepted by the affiant/deponent as true.79 Sufficient information must be presented to allow a Judge to determine
probable cause; his action cannot be a mere ratification of the bare/unsubstantiated contention of others.

The general rule is that the task of a reviewing court is not to conduct a de novo determination of probable cause but only to determine whether there is substantial
evidence in the records supporting the Judge’s decision to issue the search warrant.80 The reviewing court is simply to ensure that the Judge had a substantial
basis for concluding that probable cause existed,81 and once ascertained that the Judge had substantial basis for concluding that a search would unearth evidence
of a wrongdoing, the determination of probable cause must be upheld. In the absence of any showing that the Judge was recreant of his duties in connection with
the personal examination he so conducted on the affiants/deponent before him, there is no basis for doubting the reliability and correctness of his findings and
impressions.82

However, the finding of probable cause of the Judge may be set aside and the search warrant issued by him based on his finding may be quashed; the evidence
seized by the police officers based on said search warrant may be suppressed if the accused presents clear and convincing evidence that the police officers
and/or a government informant made a deliberate falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth in said affidavit/deposition or testimony which is essential or
necessary to a showing of probable cause. Such evidence must focus on the state of mind of the affiants/deponents that he was conscious of the falsity of his
assertion or representation.83 The requirement that a search warrant not issue but upon probable cause would be reduced to a nullity if a police officer and his
informant are able to use deliberately falsehood allegations to demonstrate probable cause and, having misled the Judge, was able to remain confident that the
ploy succeeded.84 However, innocent and negligent omissions or misrepresentation of a police officer or government informant will not invalidate a search warrant.
And even if the police officer or government informant may have deliberately made a falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth in his or her affidavit/deposition
but the remaining portions thereof are sufficient to establish probable cause, the search warrant will not be quashed for lack of probable cause.85

The evidence presented by petitioner that Gorospe was not a resident or transient of Barangay Sapang, even if true and credible, is not at all material or necessary
to the determination of probable cause. Whether petitioner and Gorospe were dealers of Avon Cosmetics as of May 5, 1998 may be relevant to the issue of
whether there was factual basis for the finding of probable cause by the Executive Judge against petitioner; however, petitioner’s evidence to prove his claim is
tenuous and does not warrant the quashal of Search Warrant No. 98-62 and the suppression of the evidence seized after the enforcement of the search warrant.

The evidence petitioner presented to disprove the testimony of Gorospe that they were dealers of Avon Cosmetics are her (petitioner’s) testimony and that of
Carvajal. The certification purportedly signed by dela Rosa, the Branch Manager of Avon Cosmetics Dagupan Branch, is hearsay because she did not testify.
Carvajal admitted that she was not in a position to confirm the veracity of the contents of the certification:

PROSECUTOR JAIME DOJILLO

ON CROSS-EXAMINATION

q What is your position at Dagupan Avon Cosmetics?

a Team Leader, Sir.

q Do you have any participation in the preparation of this certification?

a None, Sir.

q So, you had not in position to know the truth of this certification, hence, you were not the one who prepared the same?

a Yes, Sir.86

Carvajal was merely one of many team leaders of Avon Cosmetics in Dagupan City. She did not testify nor did petitioner adduce evidence that Gorospe was not
such a dealer in places other than Dagupan City or Pangasinan for that matter. In fine, petitioner failed to adduce competent and credible evidence that Gorospe
was not a dealer of Avon products in the branches of Avon Cosmetics other than Pangasinan. Other than the denial of petitioner and the testimony of Carvajal,
petitioner failed to present evidence that she was not a dealer of Avon Cosmetics. On the other hand, the testimony of Gorospe before the Executive Judge was
corroborated by the testimonies of police officers Gamboa and de Vera.

In the present case, the Executive Judge found probable cause after conducting the requisite searching questions on Gorospe for violation of Section 16, Article III
of R.A. No. 6425, as amended. The trial court reviewed the testimony of Gorospe before the Executive Judge87 and confirmed that, indeed, there was probable
cause against petitioner for violation of said crime. The finding of the Executive Judge was corroborated by the testimony of police officers de Vera and Gamboa,
who, in their surveillance operation, partially confirmed Gorospe’s claim that, indeed, people had been going to the house of petitioner to buy shabu. The findings
of the trial court were, in turn, affirmed by the CA.

The well-entrenched rule is that the findings of the trial court affirmed by the appellate court are accorded high respect, if not conclusive effect, by this Court,
absent clear and convincing evidence that the tribunals ignored, misconstrued or misapplied facts and circumstances of substances such that, if considered, the
same will warrant the modification or reversal of the outcome of the case. In this case, petitioner failed to establish any such circumstance.

The trial and appellate courts ruled that petitioner possessed 5.67 gm of methamphetamine hydrochloride and sentenced her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2)
years, four (4) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional. The penalty imposed by the trial court and affirmed by the CA is
incorrect. As the Court ruled in People v. Tira:88

Under Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, the imposable penalty of possession of a regulated drug, less than 200 grams, in this
case, shabu, is prision correccional to reclusion perpetua. Based on the quantity of the regulated drug subject of the offense, the imposable penalty
shall be as follows:

QUANTITY IMPOSABLE PENALTY

Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 grams prision correccional

49.26 grams to 98.50 grams prision mayor

98.51 grams to 147.75 grams reclusion temporal


147.76 grams to 199 grams reclusion perpetua

Considering that the regulated drug found in the possession of the appellants is only 1.001 grams, the imposable penalty for the crime is prision
correccional. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the appellants are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from four (4) months and
one (1) day of arresto mayor in its medium period as minimum, to three (3) years of prision correccional in its medium period as maximum, for
violation of Section 16 of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended.89

The penalty imposed in the Tira case is the correct penalty, which should likewise be imposed against petitioner herein.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 25726 is AFFIRMED WITH
MODIFICATION as to penalty. Petitioner is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor in its medium
period as minimum to three (3) years of prision correccional in its medium period as maximum.

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, C.J. (Chairperson), Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur

G.R. No. 123546 July 2, 1998

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

vs.

JOERAL GALLENO, accused-appellant.

PER CURIAM:

What could be more compelling than deciding a case which involves the sexual abuse of a five-year old child? Equally important is the fact that the case before us
involves the highest penalty imposable by law. Being the guardian of the most fundamental liberties of every citizen, the Court must pass upon every intricate
detail of the case at bar to determine whether or not accused-appellant committed the gruesome act imputed against him.

Accused-appellant Joeral Galleno seeks reversal of the judgment of Branch 14 of the Regional Trial Court of the 6th Judicial Region stationed in Roxas City,
relying on the defense of denial. Since the case involves the death penalty, the matter has been elevated to this Court for automatic review.

Accused-appellant was charged in an Information docketed as Criminal Case No. C-4629 for the crime of Statutory Rape, reading as follows:

The undersigned Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, upon prior authority and approval of the Provincial Prosecutor, and the original
complaint filed by the guardian of the offended party, accuses JOERAL GALLENO of the crime of STATUTORY RAPE, committed as
follows:

That on or about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of August 16, 1994, at Brgy. Balighot, Maayon, Capiz, and within the jurisdiction of this
Court, the said accused did, then and there, wilfully and feloniously, and without the permission of anyone, enter the house of EVELYN
OBLIGAR, a five-year old child, and succeeded in having carnal knowledge of her thereby inflicting upon the latter a vaginal laceration
which caused continuous bleeding and her admission of five (5) days at the Roxas Memorial Hospital.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

(p. 9, Rollo.)

Accused-appellant entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued, resulting in a judgment of conviction, the dispositive portion of which reads:

IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING ESTABLISHED FACTS, the Court finds accused JOERAL GALLENO GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt under Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659 amending Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code.

Accordingly, accused JOERAL GALLENO is sentenced to suffer the supreme penalty of DEATH and to indemnify the victim Evelyn
Obligar Garganera the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND (P50,000.00) PESOS.

Let this DECISION serve as clear signal, warning the perverts, the misguided elements of our society, especially their lackadaisical
parents in their innate moral obligation and responsibility in educating their children that in this corner of the world the wheels of justice is
not asleep and its unforgiving hands and watchful eyes are as vigilant as ever.

(pp. 44-45, Rollo.)


In flashback, let us visualize the events.

Evelyn Obligar Garganera is the 5-year old daughter of Rosita Obligar Garganera who had to leave the province to find work in Manila after separating from her
husband. Evelyn, together with her younger brother, 3-year old Eleazar, was thus left under the care and custody of their uncle, Emeterio Obligar, and aunt,
Penicola Obligar.

Less than a kilometer away from their place of residence lived accused-appellant, 19-year old Joeral Galleno, known well to Evelyn's family due to his frequent
visits at the Obligars' abode as he was paying court to Emeterio's eldest child, Gina.

On August 16, 1994, Emeterio and Penicola left their residence to work at the sugarcane plantation owned by Magdalena Dasibar. Their three children had all
earlier left for school. The only persons left in the house were niece Evelyn and nephew Eleazar.

At around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, accused-appellant was on his way to his Lola Esing to have his pants tailored. Since it was drizzling, he passed by the
Obligars' residence and found the two children left to themselves. The prosecution and the defense presented conflicting versions on what occurred at said
residence. However, the result is undisputed. Evelyn sustained a laceration in her vagina which resulted in profuse, and to our mind, life-threatening bleeding due
to her tender age.

The prosecution's version of what took place at the Obligars' residence is based on the testimony of Evelyn herself, her uncle Emeterio, and the doctors who
examined and treated her. The Solicitor General summarized the same in this wise:

2. Appellant took advantage of the situation by sexually molesting Evelyn. After lowering her shorts, he made Evelyn sit on his lap, facing
him. Then he forcibly inserted his penis into her vagina. As Evelyn was only five-years old while appellant was a fully-grown man, the
penetration caused the child's vagina to bleed, making her cry in pain. (pp. 10-11 and 18-25, tsn, Garganera, January 10, 1995).

3. Appellant tried to stop the bleeding by applying, with his finger, the sap of "madre de cacao" leaves on her vagina. Unsuccessful in his
attempt, he left Evelyn grimacing and crying in pain. (pp. 14-15, tsn, Garganera, January 10, 1995; pp. 6-7, tsn, Obligar, February 7,
1995).

4. Shortly, Emeterio and Penicola came home from work. The spouses were laborers in a sugarcane plantation about two kilometers
away from their house. They arrived to find Evelyn crying. Emeterio noticed that there was blood in Evelyn's dress and she was pressing
a rug against her genital organ. (pp. 11-12, tsn, Obligar, January 10, 1995; pp. 8-9, tsn, Obligar, February 7, 1995).

5. Emeterio asked Evelyn what happened but she did not answer. Emeterio spread the child's legs and saw that her vagina had been
lacerated and blood was oozing therefrom. He summoned a "quack" doctor who applied herbal medicine on Evelyn's vagina but this did
not stop the bleeding. (pp. 12-14, tsn, Obligar, January 12, 1995).

6. The following day, August 17, 1994, Emeterio brought Evelyn to the clinic of Dr. Alfonso D. Orosco, the Rural Health Physician of
Maayon, Capiz. Dr. Orosco reported, upon examining Evelyn, that he found (1) clotted blood, about 1 centimeter in diameter, in her
vaginal opening, and (2) a vaginal laceration, measuring 1.0 centimeter x 0.5 centimeter, between the 3:00 o'clock and 6:00 o'clock
position. He also affirmed that Evelyn's vaginal laceration could have been caused by a blunt instrument inserted into the vagina, that it
was possible that a human penis in full erection had been forcibly inserted into her vagina and that a human penis in full erection is
considered a blunt instrument. (pp. 4-7, tsn, Orosco, November 28, 1994; p. 14, tsn, Obligar, January 12, 1995).

7. While he was examining Evelyn, Dr. Orosco asked Evelyn what caused her injuries. The child told him that a penis was inserted into
her vagina and that its insertion caused her pain. (pp. 9-10, 14 and 18-19, tsn, Orosco, November 28, 1994).

8. Since his clinic lacked the proper medical facilities needed to treat Evelyn, Dr. Orosco, after dressing the victim's wound which
continued to bleed, advised Emeterio and Penicola to bring the child to the hospital for further medical treatment (p. 8, tsn, Orosco,
November 28, 1994; pp. 14-16, tsn, Obligar, January 12, 1995).

9. On August 18, 1994, Emeterio brought Evelyn to the Roxas Memorial General Hospital where she was examined by resident physician
Dr. Ma. Lourdes Lañada, Dr. Lañada, upon examining Evelyn, found that "there was a 3 cm. lacerated wound at the left anterior one-third
of the vagina" and "the presence of about 10-15 cc of blood" at the vaginal vault. Dr. Lañada recommended that Evelyn be admitted for
confinement in the hospital because the wound in her vagina, which was still bleeding, had to be repaired. Due to financial constraints,
Evelyn was not admitted into the hospital that day and went home with Emeterio to Barangay Balighot. (pp. 6-8, tsn, Lañada January 4,
1995; pp. 15-16, tsn, Obligar, January 12, 1995).

10. Upon her examination of the victim on August 18, 1994, Dr. Lañada opined that "a lot of things will cause the lacerated wound in the
vagina." (p. 9, tsn, Lañada, January 4, 1995). According to Dr. Lañada, the vaginal laceration may be caused (1) by trauma to the area,
when a girl falls and hits her genital area on a blunt instrument; (2) by medical instrumentation, like the insertion of a speculum into the
vagina; or (3) by the insertion of a blunt foreign object into the vagina, like a finger of a penis of a man in full erection. (pp. 8-10, tsn,
Lañada, January 4, 1995).

11. On August 19, 1994, Emeterio brought Evelyn back to the Roxas Memorial General Hospital where she was attended to by Dr.
Machel Toledo, the resident physician on duty, who found blood clots and minimal bleeding in the genital area. Dr. Toledo ". . . pack(ed)
the area to prevent further bleeding and (he) . . . admitted the patient for possible repair of that laceration and blood transfusion because
she has anaemia 2ndary to bleeding." Two hundred five (255) cc of blood was transfused to Evelyn and she was given antibiotics to
prevent infection. However, she was no longer operated on because the laceration had healed. Five days later, Evelyn was discharged
and sent home with medication. (pp. 11-13, 17 and 26, tsn, Toledo, December 2, 1994).

12. Upon his examination of Evelyn on August 19, 1994, Dr. Toledo disclosed that the child suffered severe compound laceration which
could have been caused by a normal and fully developed penis of a man in a state of erection that was forcibly inserted into her vagina
and that the insertion caused her vagina to hemorrhage which thus required the transfusion of 255 cc of blood. (pp. 14-16 and 26, tsn,
Toledo, December 2, 1994).

13. Prior to her confinement in the Roxas Memorial General Hospital on August 19, Emeterio and Penicola Obligar brought Evelyn to the
Maayon Police Station on August 18, 1994, where they reported the crime to SPO1 Paulino Durana. That same day, appellant was
apprehended in a house near the Balighot Elementary School and brought to the police station. (pp. 17-19, tsn, Obligar, January 12,
1995; pp. 5-9, 16-17 and 21, tsn, Durana, January 16, 1995).

(pp. 164-171, Rollo.)

Denial is presented as the defense. Accused-appellant testified that when he arrived at the Obligar residence that afternoon of August 16, 1994, he found the two
children, Evelyn and Eleazar (also referred to in the record as Pilfo). While seated at the balcony, accused-appellant was approached by Evelyn, who knew him
(tsn, April 5, 1995, pp. 5 and 8). He cajoled her by throwing her up and down, his right hand holding the child and his left hand covering her vagina (Ibid., p. 21).
Upon lifting up the child the first time, his left ring finger was accidentally inserted into the vagina of the child since his fingernail was long and the child was not
wearing any underwear. Consequently, Evelyn began to cry because her vagina started to bleed. Upon seeing this, he immediately went down the house and got
some bark or leaves of a madre de cacao tree and applied the sap on the child's wound. The bleeding ceased and Evelyn stopped crying. Thereafter, accused-
appellant went home. (Ibid., pp. 9-10).

Accused-appellant further testified that on August 18, 1994, at around 9 o'clock in the morning, he was arrested. On the same day, Emeterio Obligar asked him to
admit the offense so that he could be released the next day, but accused-appellant did not do so (Ibid., pp. 26-27).

Accused-appellant's father Raul Galleno was also called to the witness stand and he testified that he learned about the arrest of his son on August 18, 1994 (tsn,
May 12, 1995 p. 6). The following day, he went to the house of the Obligars to ask Evelyn what happened to her. The child allegedly answered that a finger was
accidentally inserted into her genital organ, but that Penicola who was then present, butted into the conversation and told Raul Galleno that the penis of accused-
appellant was likewise inserted (Ibid., p. 8).

The trial court did not accord credence to the version of the defense, pointing out in its decision that accused-appellant's defense of denial hinged on the argument
that the statement of Evelyn as to how she sustained her vaginal laceration was a mere concoction and a plain distortion of facts by her guardian. The trial court
called this a "desperate attempt of the defense to becloud the charge of rape."

The trial court believed and accepted the testimony of Police Officer Paulino Durana that during the interrogation of Evelyn which he conducted at the PNP Station
of Maayon, Emeterio and Penicola Obligar did not interfere with the responses of Evelyn, although, true enough, it was difficult to obtain answers from her because
of her tender age.

The trial court deemed the following circumstances significant in finding accused-appellant culpable:

1. Accused-appellant failed to explain how his left ring finger accidentally came in contact with Evelyn's vagina, while in the process of throwing her up and down.
Besides, the prosecution was able to establish that Evelyn was wearing shorts. And assuming for the sake of argument that Evelyn was not wearing any pants or
underwear at that time, accused-appellant failed to explain how his finger could possibly penetrate the victim's vagina by about one-fourth of an inch (p. 23, tsn,
April 5, 1995).

2. After satisfying his lust, accused-appellant left the victim with her 3-year old brother, in pain and bleeding.

3. Evelyn's statement given to Dr. Ma. Lourdes Lañada, the physician who examined her at the Roxas Memorial General Hospital, that it was accused-appellant's
finger which injured her, was a consequence of the victim's confusion.

4. The formal offer of settlement made by accused-appellant's father Raul Galleno militates against the cause of the defense.

Hence, the instant appeal and review, with accused-appellant assigning the following errors:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING FULL WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF THE MEDICAL DOCTORS
WHEN THE SAME FAILED TO CONCLUSIVELY AND SUFFICIENTLY ESTABLISH THE CAUSE OF THE LACERATION IN THE
OFFENDED PARTY'S VAGINA

THE TRIAL COURT SHOWED MANIFEST BIAS THEREBY DEPRIVING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL
TRIAL AND DISREGARDED THE RIGHT OF THE ACCUSED TO BE PRESUMED INNOCENT, WHEN HE ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED
IN THE CROSS EXAMINATION OF THE ACCUSED

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THE WARRANTLESS ARREST OF THE ACCUSED AS UNJUSTIFIED

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN INTERPRETING THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE EXTENDED BY THE PARENTS OF THE ACCUSED
TO THE OFFENDED PARTY AS AN IMPLIED ADMISSION OF GUILT.

(pp. 81-82, Rollo.)

One can not escape the feeling of utmost compassion for any rape victim, and more especially so for a 5-year old statutory rape victim. However, in our
consideration of the matter before us, we set aside emotion and observe impartiality and coldness in drawing conclusions.
Under the first assigned error, accused-appellant contends that the testimony of the three expert witnesses presented by the prosecution, namely, Dr. Alfonso
Orosco, Dr. Ma. Lourdes Lañada, and Dr. Machael Toledo, which convinced the trial court that rape was committed against the offended party, is not impeccable
considering that they found that there was no presence of spermatozoa, and that they were not sure as to what caused the laceration in the victim's vagina; that
Dr. Lañada herself testified that Evelyn told her that it was the finger of accused-appellant which caused the laceration. In addition, accused-appellant banks on the
victim's testimony on cross-examination, that it was the finger of accused-appellant which caused the laceration; and that she even disclosed this to accused-
appellant's father, Raul Galleno.

We are not persuaded.

As a general rule, witnesses must state facts and not draw conclusions or give opinions. It is the court's duty to draw conclusions from the evidence and form
opinions upon the facts proved (Francisco, Pleadings and Trial Practice, Vol. 1, 1989 ed., pp. 889-890). However, conclusions and opinions of witnesses are
received in many cases, and are not confined to expert testimony, based on the principle that either because of the special skill or expert knowledge of the
witness, or because of the nature of the subject matter under observation, or for other reasons, the testimony will aid the court in reaching a judgment (Ibid., p.
886).

In the case at bar, the trial court arrived at its conclusions not only with the aid of the expert testimony of doctors who gave their opinions as to the possible cause
of the victim's laceration, but also the testimony of the other prosecution witnesses, especially the victim herself. In other words, the trial court did not rely solely on
the testimony of the expert witnesses. Such expert testimony merely aided the trial court in the exercise of its judgment on the facts. Hence, the fact that the
experts enumerated various possible causes of the victim's laceration does not mean that the trial court's inference is wrong.

The absence of spermatozoa in the victim's vagina does not negate the conclusion that it was his penis which was inserted in the victim's vagina (People vs.
Cañada, 253 SCRA 277 [1996]). In rape, the important consideration is not the emission of semen but the penetration of the female genitalia by the male organ
(People vs. Dones, 254 SCRA 696 [1996]). Verily, it is entirely probable that climax on the part of accused-appellant was not reached due to the cries of pain of the
victim and the profuse bleeding of her vagina.

As regards the inconsistencies in Evelyn's declarations, particularly as to what really caused the laceration, we are convinced that the child, due to her tender age,
was just confused. This is best exemplified by the testimony of Dr. Lourdes Lañada on cross-examination, as follows:

Q Now, Doctor, at the time that you conducted your examination, you were aware that this child was only five
years old?

A Yes, sir.

Q And at that tender age, Doctor, is it possible that the child may not know the difference or distinction between
fingers of the hands and a finger protruding between the legs of a person?

A Yes, sir, it is possible.

Q So that it is possible, Doctor, that the child may have referred to a finger that is between the legs?

WITNESS

You mean the penis?

PROSECUTOR OBIENDA

Yes.

WITNESS

It is possible.

(tsn, p. 27 March 30, 1995.)

Of vital consideration and importance too is the unreliability, if not the outright incredulity of the version of accused-appellant which is not in accord with ordinary
human experience. We thus can not help expressing sentiments similar to those of the trial court when it said:

The contention of accused Joeral Galleno raises serious doubts to his credibility. He failed to explain how his ring finger accidentally
came in contact with the genitalia of Evelyn, while in the process of throwing her up and down, when it was established by the
prosecution that at that time Evelyn was wearing shorts. Even assuming "ex gratia argumente" that Evelyn was pantyless, how could it be
possible for his finger to penetrate the vagina for about one-fourth of an inch . . . when she was in shorts. The Supreme Court, in People
vs. Fulgencio Baquiran, 20 SCRA 451, (held that) evidence, to be believed must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness,
but it must be credible in itself. Human perception can be warped by the impact of events and testimony colored by the unconscious
workings of the mind. No better test has yet been found to measure the value of a witness' testimony than its conformity to the knowledge
and common experience of mankind.

(pp. 42-43, Rollo.)


Sec. 4, Rule 128 of the Rules of Court provides that "(e)vidence must have such a relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or non-existence."
This simply means that relevancy is determinable by the rules of logic and human experience (Regalado, Remedial law Compendium, Vol. II, 1988 ed., p. 434).
There is no precise and universal test of relevancy provided by law. However, the determination of whether particular evidence is relevant rests largely at the
discretion of the court, which must be exercised according to the teachings of logic and everyday experience (Sibal and Salazar; Compendium on Evidence, 1995
ed., p. 6, citing Alfred Asmore Pope Foundation vs. New York 138 A. 444, 106 Conn. 432).

There is no explanation how the left ring finger (allegedly with a long fingernail) of accused-appellant penetrated the victim's vagina by a depth of one fourth of an
inch. Admittedly, accused-appellant's right hand held the child while his left hand supposedly held her in the vagina area. Why would he hold the child's vagina if
his only intention was to frolic and kid around with her?

Accused-appellant likewise failed to explain why after injuring Evelyn (and after applying to the wound the sap of madre de cacao), he left her in the company of an
even younger child, the victim's 3-year old brother. He did not even make an effort to immediately inform Emeterio and Penicola of what had happened. Instead,
he went home and kept mum about the incident.

Accused-appellant also said that after the alleged accident, before going home, he removed Eleazar's shorts and put them on Evelyn. Assuming this to be true,
this only shows that the child was still bleeding. Why then would he leave the child considering that there was no adult to attend to her? Significantly, his act of
immediately leaving the place, when considered in the light of the other evidence, reflects his fear because of what he had done. The proverb "the wicked fleeth
even when no man pursueth, but the innocent are as bold as a lion" was correctly adopted by the trial court in drawing its conclusions.

All of these loopholes are palpable and manifest, and clearly work against the credibility of accused-appellant's story on which his defense is based.

Besides, the trial court's conclusions find support in the testimony of accused-appellant's own witness, Dr. Lourdes Lañada (who was earlier presented during the
trial as a prosecution witness), who testified that a laceration is caused by a blunt instrument and that a fingernail is not a blunt but a sharp instrument (tsn, pp. 32-
33, March 30, 1995).

As regards accused-appellant's argument that the victim's testimony is just a concocted story of what really happened, we apply the rule that the revelation of an
innocent child whose chastity was abused deserves full credence (People vs. Cagto, 253 SCRA 455 [1996]). We likewise consider the fact that her uncle and aunt,
virtually her foster parents, themselves support her story of rape. It is unnatural for a parent to use her offspring as an engine of malice, especially if it will subject a
daughter to embarrassment and even stigma (People vs. Dones, supra.).

Accused-appellant's father, Raul Galleno, tried to destroy the credibility of Evelyn when he took the stand and testified that the child disclosed to him that it was
accused-appellant's finger which was inserted into her vagina. Nevertheless, this testimony cannot prevail over the testimony of the victim, to wit:

FISCAL OBIENDA

Q You said that Joeral Galleno the accused in this case hurt you while you were in the farm, can you tell the
Honorable Court which part of your body was hurt by Joeral Galleno?

A (Witness pointing to her vagina)

Here.

Q When you said you were hurt did you bleed?

WITNESS

A Yes, Sir.

FISCAL OBIENDA

Q What was used by Joeral Galleno in hurting your sexual organ?

A His (Pitoy). Penis.

COURT

Make the translation of "Pitoy" into Penis. Do you agree that the translation of Pitoy is Penis in English?

ATTY. DISTURA

Agreeable, Your Honor.

FISCAL OBIENDA

Q What did Joeral Calleno do with his Pitoy (Penis) to your vagina (Putay)?
A It was inserted (ginsulod) to my vagina (Putay).

Q When Joeral Galleno inserted his penis (Pitoy) to your vagina (Putay), that was the reason why it bleed?

A Yes, sir.

Q And it was very painful?

A Yes, Sir.

Q And you cried because of the pain?

A Yes, Sir.

FISCAL OBIENDA

Q And you were brought to the Doctor and admitted to the hospital because of that?

A Yes, Sir.

(tsn, pp. 10-12, January 10, 1995.)

Under the second assigned error, accused-appellant alleges that he was deprived of a fair and impartial trial since the trial court showed bias by discounting his
testimony, and by actually participating in the cross-examination of accused-appellant.

We recently pronounced in People vs. Malabago (265 SCRA 198 [1996]) that a judge may properly intervene in the presentation of evidence to expedite and
prevent unnecessary waste of time and clarify obscure and incomplete details after the witness has given direct testimony. And such discretion to question
witnesses in order to clear obscurities in their testimony cannot be assailed as a specie of bias.

Of course, we are aware of Rule 3.06 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides:

While a judge may, to promote justice, prevent waste of time or clear up some obscurity, properly intervene in the presentation of
evidence during the trial, it should always be borne in mind that undue interference may prevent the proper presentation of the cause or
the ascertainment of truth.

And there is undoubtedly undue interference if the judge extensively propounds questions to the witnesses which will have the effect of or will tend to build or
bolster the case for one of the parties. We have, however, carefully examined the record and transcript of stenographic notes of the instant case. The trial court
judge, the Honorable Salvador S. Gubaton, did propound questions but this was done only for clarification purposes and not to build the case for one of the parties.
For instance, accused-appellant, in his brief, refers to the questions propounded by the trial court on his act of cajoling the child. A perusal of the line of questioning
referred to hardly shows bias on the part of the trial court, but pure clarification.

In the third assigned error, accused-appellant questions the validity of his arrest.

It is settled jurisprudence that any objection involving a warrant of arrest or procedure in the acquisition by the court of jurisdiction over the person of the accused
must be made before he enters his plea, otherwise the objection is deemed waived (People vs. Lopez, Jr., 245 SCRA 95 [1995]). An accused should question the
validity of his arrest before he enters his plea in the trial court (Filoteo, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan, 263 SCRA 222 [1996]). He is estopped from questioning any defect
in the manner of his arrest if he fails to move for the quashing of the information before the trial court (People vs. Compil, 244 SCRA 135 [1995]) or if he voluntarily
submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court by entering a plea and by participating in the trial (People vs. De Guzman, 224 SCRA 93 [1993]; People vs. Lopez,
Jr., supra).

It does not appear in the record that accused-appellants raised this matter before entering his plea of "not guilty" to the charge (pp. 63 & 67, Record). Further, this
issue was not even touched during the trial.

Lastly, accused-appellant, in his fourth assigned error, argues that the trial court misinterpreted the financial assistance extended by his parents as an attempt to
settle the case. Accused-appellant even banks on the alleged close relationship between Emeterio Obligar and Raul Galleno as compadres, and the fact that
Emeterio borrowed forty pesos from Raul Galleno, despite the fact that Emeterio already knew that accused-appellant caused the laceration in Evelyn's vagina.

Accused-appellant also draws attention to two incidents involving alleged financial assistance extended by Raul Galleno to the spouses Emeterio and Penicola
Obligar. First, Emeterio Obligar, whom Raul Galleno said is his compadre, borrowed P40.00 for fare going to Roxas City where Evelyn was confined. Second, on
August 20, 1994, Raul Galleno and his wife and one of the brothers of Penicola Obligar went to Roxas Memorial General Hospital. There he gave P400.00
financial assistance to Penicola Obligar. Raul Galleno later admitted that the sum of P440.00 was returned to him by the spouses. Accused-appellant insists that
these offers of financial assistance were not attempts at an amicable settlement but were prompted out of a sincere desire on the part of Raul Galleno to help the
offended party.

We find no merit in me above-stated argument. It may be inferred that Raul Galleno wanted to settle the case by offering an amount to the spouses Obligar, to wit:
Q Now, according to you, you were paid in the amount of Four Hundred Pesos (P400.00) then you expected
your Comareng Pening as financial assistance to Evelyn Garganera, isn't it?

A Yes, Your Honor.

Q How long after August 19, 1994, that your Comareng Pening returned to you the amount of Four Hundred
Pesos (P400.00)?

A A week after when Evelyn had already checked up from the hospital.

Q It was given by you or as voluntary financial assistance, why did you receive the amount or the payment
returned to that amount of Four Hundred Pesos (P400.00)?

A That was telling me that they refused already for the settlement of the case.

Q And that is why they returned the amount of Four Hundred Pesos (P400.00).

(tsn, pp. 29-30, May 12, 1995.)

From the above-stated clarificatory questions by the trial court, it may be gleaned that Raul Galleno no longer had any interest in aiding the victim when he found
that the Obligar spouses would still pursue the case against his son, accused-appellant, and hence he found that his offer for settlement was unavailing. Hence, on
this point we likewise agree with the trial court when it took the financial assistance to mean an act of settling the case. This act does manifest a father's attempt to
rescue his guilty son from sure incarceration.

The nightmare that was forced into the tender mind of 5-year old Evelyn Obligar Garganera may unfortunately haunt her all her life. Justice may not be able to
save her from this nightmare but it can calm and assure her that her tormentor and abuser shall undoubtedly face retribution.

Four members of the Court — although maintaining their adherence to the separate opinions expressed in People vs. Echegaray (G.R. No. 117472, February 7,
1997) that Republic Act No. 7659, insofar as it prescribes the death penalty is unconstitutional — nevertheless submit to the ruling of the Court, by a majority vote,
that the law is constitutional and that the death penalty should accordingly be imposed.

WHEREFORE, finding the conviction of accused-appellant justified by the evidence on record, the assailed decision is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.

In accordance with Section 25 of Republic Act No. 7659, amending Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, upon finality of this decision, let the record of the case be
forthwith forwarded to the Office of the President for the possible exercise of the pardoning power.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 175692 October 29, 2008

ANGEL UBALES y VELEZ, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

While the correctness of a Decision is not impaired solely by the fact that the writer took over from a colleague who had earlier presided at trial, it is the bounden
duty of appellate courts to even more closely examine the testimonies of the witnesses whose deportment the writer was not able to observe.

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the Decision1of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
28813 dated 30 November 2006. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33, in Criminal Case
No. 01-196713 finding petitioner Angel Ubales y Velez (Ubales) guilty of the crime of homicide.

On 30 October 2001, the Assistant City Prosecutor filed an Information against petitioner Ubales for the crime of homicide allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about October 17, 2001, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, armed with a .38 caliber paltik revolver marked Smith and Wesson, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, attack, assault and use personal violence upon one MARK TANGLAW SANTOS y ORPIANA
by then and there shooting the latter on the head, thereby inflicting upon him mortal gun shot wound which was the direct and immediate cause of his death
thereafter.2

On the same date, the Executive Judge issued an Order of Release in view of a personal bail bond filed by Ubales.

On 19 November 2001, petitioner Ubales, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty of the offense charged.
The prosecution presented as witnesses Eduardo Galvan, SPO1 Eduardo E. Ko, Laila Cherry Cruz, SPO2 Rosales M. Fernandez, P/Chief Inspector Carlos G.
Mendez, and Efigenia Santos. The prosecution also presented as evidence Medico Legal Report No. W-737-2001 and the receipt of the funeral expenses
incurred.

Laila Cherry Cruz, the sister of Mark Santos, testified that on 16 October 2001, at about 8 p.m., petitioner Ubales and the deceased Mark Santos (Mark) were
drinking liquor in front of the victim’s house at 4334 Interior 5 Albina Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila. They were with a group which included a certain Jon-Jon, Solo
Perez, and Jojo Santos. In the course of their carousal, Ubales and Mark engaged in an argument about the former calling the latter’s cousin a homosexual. Mark
told Ubales not to meddle because he (Ubales) did not know what was happening within his (Mark’s) family. The argument was soon apparently resolved, with
Ubales patting the shoulders of Mark.

The carousal ended at 1 a.m. the following day. Mark and Ubales went inside the house. Ubales asked permission from Laila Cruz to use their comfort room.
Before Ubales went inside the comfort room, Laila Cruz saw Ubales place his gun with black stripes on top of the dining table. Mark asked permission from his
mother to bring Ubales to his house in J.P. Laurel Street and also asked for money so that they could eat lugaw on their way there. Mark and Ubales then left.

Eduardo Galvan (Galvan), a 65-year old balut vendor and the best friend of the deceased Mark Santos, testified that at 3 a.m. in the morning of 17 October 2001,
while he was selling balut near the Malacañang area, he saw Mark and Ubales quarreling around a meter away from him. The argument lasted for about three
minutes, culminating with Ubales taking out his gun and shooting Mark on the head. Galvan is certain about this, as he was still only one meter away from Mark
and Ubales when the former shot the latter, and the place was well-illuminated. When Mark fell, Ubales ran towards Atienza Street. Galvan also testified that he
was an acquaintance of Ubales for about five months prior to the incident.

SPO1 Eduardo Ko testified that he was assigned as the night-shift investigator of the Homicide Section of the Western Police District (WPD) when he received a
report at around 3:55 a.m. of 17 October 2001 that a body was found at Jose P. Laurel St. corner Matienza St., San Miguel, Manila. Upon arrival thereat, he,
together with SPO1 Benito Cabatbat, saw Mark’s body, which had no injury other than a gunshot wound on the forehead, lying on its left side. The gunshot
appeared to have been fired at close range because it had powder burns around the entry of the wound. They proceeded to interview people at the scene, during
which time a barangay official named Abraham Sison turned over a .38 Caliber snub nose paltik revolver with three live bullets and one empty shell. The gun was
recovered several meters away from where the victim’s body was found.

SPO2 Rosales Fernandez testified that at around 3 p.m. of 25 October 2001, while he was at home, Laila Cruz approached him and asked for his assistance in
apprehending Ubales who was spotted near the Malacañang area. SPO2 Fernandez reported to the Homicide Section of the WPD that a murder suspect was
seen in the vicinity of Malacañang. SPO2 Fernandez and Laila Cruz then proceeded to J. P. Laurel Street, where Laila Cruz pointed at the person she identified to
be the one who killed her brother. SPO2 Fernandez, introducing himself as a police officer, approached Ubales. SPO2 Fernandez found out that Ubales was a
former member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force. He apprised Ubales of his rights and invited him to go to the PNP Field Force for
proper investigation. Ubales told SPO2 Fernandez that he would voluntarily join him to prove to him that he was not in hiding. Before going to the PNP Field Force,
SPO2 Fernandez and Ubales went to the Philippine General Hospital in order to have Ubales undergo a medical examination. SPO2 Fernandez and Ubales
proceeded to the PNP Malacañang Field Force to coordinate with them, since the latter made the initial investigation of the shooting incident. At the Malacañang
Field Force, Ubales was brought to the Homicide Section for investigation and description. SPO2 Fernandez admitted during cross examination that the arrest of
Ubales came before witness Galvan appeared and executed a sworn statement.

P/Chief Inspector Carlos G. Mendez, a forensic firearm examiner, testified that on 5 November 2001, he received a .38 caliber paltik revolver with three bullets and
one empty shell from Desk Officer PO2 Lopez. He examined it by firing the same. The gun was marked as Exhibit "H". Laila Cruz then testified that said gun was
the same one she saw Mark place on the dining table the night before her brother was killed.

The prosecution and the defense stipulated that the cause of death of Mark was a gunshot wound, frontal region, measuring 0.5 x 0.4 cm, 3 cm right of the anterior
midline, with a uniform collar measuring 0.2 and an area of tattooing measuring 6x5 cm, directed posteriorward, downward and medialward, fracturing the frontal
bone, lacerating both cerebral hemisphere of the brain, with a deformed slug recovered at the cerebellum as stated in the Crime Laboratory report prepared and
signed by Dr. Romeo Salen, the medico-legal officer of OIC WPDCLO, documented as Medico-Legal Report No. W-737-2001.

After the prosecution rested its case, Ubales filed a Motion to File Demurrer to Evidence on the ground that the prosecution presented insufficient evidence to
destroy the presumption of innocence of the accused. The trial court denied the Motion and accordingly set the hearing for presentation of the evidence of the
defense.

Ubales testified that on 16 October 2001, at around 6 or 7 p.m., he went to the home of his friend Guido Almosera on Uli-Uli Street, where he saw Joseph
Karunungan, Rico Sison, Eric Marquez and Henry Ponce.

The group was initially engaged in light conversation until Guido Almosera brought out some liquor while they were playing the guitar. Ubales stayed with the
group until 10 p.m., when he left for Sta. Mesa to go to the house of a certain Alex to meet a man named Boy. He arrived at Alex’s house at around 11 p.m., but
left immediately when he learned that Boy was already asleep. Along the way, he saw Mark who had been having a drinking spree with other persons. He decided
to join the group for a while before returning home.

At around 12 midnight, Ubales bade leave to go home. Mark went along with him to the place where he could get a ride home. They parted ways and Ubales got
on a jeep which he rode to J.P. Laurel Street. He stopped by a 7-Eleven convenience store and bought something to eat before proceeding home.

On the way home, Ubales saw the group of Guido Almosera still having drinks. He decided to join them again until around 1 a.m. of 17 October 2001.

Ubales testified that although he is a former policeman, he no longer had a gun and that his sidearm is in the custody of the WPD. He stated further that he was
arrested without a warrant.

The defense also presented the testimonies of Guido Almosera and Henry Norman Ponce. Both witnesses essentially corroborated the testimony of Ubales that
he was with their group from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on 16 October 2001 and then from around 12:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. of 17 October 2001.

Ubales’ sister, Irene Riparip, testified that her brother was at their home until around 7:00 p.m. on 16 October 2001, and he returned around 1 a.m. in the morning
of 17 October 2001. She stated that Ubales did not leave the house after he returned because she stayed awake until 4 a.m.
On 20 July 2004, the Regional Trial Court rendered its Decision finding Angel Ubales guilty of the crime of homicide, as follows:

WHEREFORE, the prosecution having established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, judgment is hereby rendered CONVICTING the accused as
principal in the crime of homicide and he is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years of Prision Mayor as minimum, to fourteen (14) years,
eight (8) months and one (1) day medium of Reclusion Temporal, as maximum.

The accused is also ordered to pay the heirs of the offended party the amount of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity, ₱50,000.00 as moral damages, and ₱8,000.00 as
actual damages.3

On 28 July 2004, the trial court issued an Order giving provisional liberty to Ubales provided the bonding company agrees to the extension of the bond. On 30 July
2004, the bonding company manifested its assent to continue its undertaking as bondsman for Ubales during the pendency of his appeal. Ubales appealed to the
Court of Appeals. The case was docketed thereon as CA-G.R. CR No. 28813. On 30 November 2006, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision affirming with
modification the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33 in Criminal Case No. 01-196713 finding the accused-appellant
Angel Ubales y Velez guilty of the crime of Homicide is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The heirs of the victim Mark Tanglaw Santos are further awarded the
amount of ₱25,000.00 as temperate damages.4

Hence, this Petition, where Ubales presents the following issues for our consideration:

WHETHER OR NOT THE EVIDENCE FOR THE PROSECUTION PROVES THAT PETITIONER COMMITTED THE CRIME CHARGED BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT.

II

WHETHER OR NOT THE ADDITIONAL AWARD OF TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (PHP25,000.00) AS TEMPERATE DAMAGES IS IN ACCORD WITH
LAW AND THE RELEVANT DECISIONS OF THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT.5

Petitioner Ubales claims that the prosecution has failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and the Court of Appeals had erred in giving credence to
Galvan’s testimony which allegedly defies common experience.

After a meticulous review of the records of the case at bar, we are constrained to agree with petitioner Ubales.

Petitioner Ubales was arrested on 25 October 2001, eight days after Mark’s body was found. Ubales’ arrest was made by SPO2 Rosales Fernandez at the
insistence of Laila Cruz, who approached SPO2 Fernandez for assistance in apprehending Ubales. Up to the time of this arrest, the only piece of evidence which
remotely links Ubales to the killing of Mark Santos is the recovery of a gun resembling a gun allegedly seen by Laila Cruz in his (Ubales’) possession the night
Mark was killed. This gun found several meters away from where Mark’s body was found but was never identified as the gun where the bullet that killed Mark
came from. All that the forensic firearm examiner testified to about this gun was that this is a .38 caliber paltik revolver with three bullets and one empty shell. The
slug found in the head of Mark was never subjected to a ballistic examination, either.

It was at this point, when Angel Ubales had already been arrested despite the lack of evidence clearly linking him to the crime, that Mark Santos’ best friend, balut
vendor Eduardo Galvan, appeared and executed a sworn statement that he was an eyewitness to the killing of Mark Santos. He proceeded to identify Angel
Ubales without the benefit of a police line-up. Thereafter, he became the star witness in the prosecution of Angel Ubales.

In order to illuminate the analysis of Eduardo Galvan’s testimony against Angel Ubales, we reproduce its relevant portions as follows:

Q: On October 17, 2001 at about 3:00 in the morning, did you sell your balut?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: At that time in what place were you?

A: Near Malacañang.

Q: What is the name of the street?

A: I forgot the name of the street.

ATTY. MORALES:

Q: Can’t you recall the name of the street?

WITNESS:
A: Yes, sir.

Q: You said the street near Malacañang?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Now while selling balut near Malacañang, have you witnessed an incident?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What is that incident?

A: A quarrel.

Q: Who was quarrelling at that time?

A: Angel.

Q: And who?

A: Mark.

Q: What is the surname of Mark?

A: I forgot the surname but the name is Mark.

Q: How about Angel, what is the surname of Angel?

A: I cannot recall the surname.

Q: If Angel is inside the courtroom will you please go down and approach him and point to him?

A: (witness tap shoulder of a person who when asked his name answered Angel Ubales)

Q: Now you said there was a quarrel between Angel and Mark. Where were you when you saw them quarreling, how far were you from them?

A: About one (1) meter more or less.

Q: How long did they quarrel?

A: About three (3) minutes.

Q: After three (3) minutes what happened?

A: Angel suddenly drew something.

Q: What is that something that Angel drew?

A: Gun, sir, a shining gun.

ATTY. GARENA:

May we put on record that witness is demonstrating his hand pulling a gun pointing upward.

ATTY. MORALES:

Q: From where did he pull the gun?

WITNESS:
A: From his right waist and shot.

Q: After Angel pulled out a gun what did he do?

COURT:

He said he fired.

ATTY. MORALES:

What did he do with the gun when he pulled it out from his waist?

A: Shot and hit the victim.

Q: Whom he shot?

A: Mark.

Q: What part of the body was hit by the bullet?

A: Forehead.

Q: How many times was Mark shot by Ubales?

A: Only once.

Q: What happened to Mark after he was shot?

A: He fell to the ground.

ATTY. MORALES:

Q: How far were you from these two (2) people Angel and Mark when Angel shot Mark?

WITNESS:

A: Only one (1) meter away, I was near the flower box.

Q: You said that it was 3:00 o’clock in the morning when the incident happened?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And what is the condition of the place, what (sic) it dark or bright?

A: It was lighted.

Q: Why (sic) is the place?

A: There was a light there.

Q: What kind of light was there?

A: There is an electric bulb.

Q: How far were these two people referring to Mark and Angel Ubales when Angel Ubales shot Mark?

A: About one (1) meter away.

COURT:
Q: Facing each other?

WITNESS:

A: Yes, Your Honor.

ATTY. MORALES:

Q: How about the light, how far is the light from Mark Ubales?

A: About one (1) arm length.

Q: You said that after Ubales shot Mark he fell down, what happened to Ubales?

A: He ran away.6 (Emphasis supplied.)

In the assessment of the testimonies of witnesses, this Court is guided by the rule that for evidence to be believed, it must not only proceed from the mouth of a
credible witness, but must be credible in itself such as the common experience of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances. We have no test of
the truth of human testimony except its conformity to our knowledge, observation, and experience. Whatever is repugnant to these belongs to the miraculous, and
is outside of juridical cognizance.7

Since the alleged eyewitness was the best friend and acquaintance of the victim since childhood, Galvan’s testimony pointing to the accused as the perpetrator
must be subjected to a rigid test which should demonstrate beyond cavil his truthfulness, honesty and rectitude as actual eyewitness to the perpetration of the
criminal act.8Galvan’s account is nowhere probable under the circumstances. As argued by the defense, there can be only two ways by which Galvan could have
witnessed the altercation based on his testimony that he saw the whole thing within one meter from him. First, Galvan walked towards the protagonists and
stopped within one meter from them during their three minutes of altercation. Second, Galvan was already at the place where he saw the protagonists, who walked
towards him, and stopped within one meter from him to engage in their quarrel.

Upon further inquiry from Judge Romulo Lopez, the judge who had heard the testimony of Galvan, but not the one who penned the RTC Decision, we learned from
Galvan that it was the first of the two options: he was walking from the checkpoint at Malacañang towards Legarda Street before the incident.

At the onset, we can easily see that Galvan’s version of the facts raises very serious questions. Why would Eduardo Galvan, a 65-year old man, stop one meter
away from two quarreling men at the very dangerous hour of 3 a.m. and stay there to watch for three minutes as if what he was witnessing is a movie scene? How
come neither Angel Ubales, nor Galvan’s best friend, Mark, acknowledge Galvan’s presence for the entire three minutes that they were all were barely one meter
from each other, and in a well-illuminated place at that? After Angel Ubales ran away following his shooting of Mark, why did Galvan simply leave his bloodied best
friend to die on the pavement? We should take note that Eduardo Galvan could not claim to be afraid at this point, as he had already seen Angel Ubales flee.

Furthermore, since it took an hour after the killing before the presence of the dead body of Mark Santos was reported to the police, it can fairly be assumed that if
Galvan’s version of the facts were true, there were no other people at the scene of the crime. Why was Galvan selling balut at a place with no pedestrian traffic at
3 a.m.?

In reading Eduardo Galvan’s testimony, it is hard to ignore how he seemed not to remember a lot of things about the places involved in his testimony:

COURT:

Q: How far is the place of the incident from the house of Mark?

A: I cannot estimate how far is the place of the incident and the house of Mark.

Q: When you sell ballot, what time do you start?

A: From 8:00 o’clock in the evening up to 3:00 o’clock in the morning.

Q: How do you conduct your vending of balot?

A: I sell.

Q: Where do you get your balot?

A: It was only delivered to me.

Q: Where?

A: In the house of my friend.


Q: Where is that house of your friend located?

A: Palawan St.

Q: Where is that Palawan St.

A: Balik – Balik.

Q: From Palawan St. to Balic-balic, you start selling from 8:00 o’clock in the evening, how many balot have you sold?

A: About thirty (30) pieces.

Q: From your house how far was that place of the incident?

A: I cannot estimate.

ATTY. GARENA:

How many blocks from your house?

A: I cannot estimate, I just walk and walk.

Q: On October 17, 2001 when was the first time on October 17, 2001 you saw Mark the victim?

A: In the evening.

COURT

What time?

A: About 3:00 o’clock in the morning.

ATTY. GARENA:

That was the first time you saw Mark?

A: 3:00 o’clock in the morning.

Q: From where did you get the balot that night?

A: I do not know the owner of the balot, it was just delivered to me.

Q: From your friend?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What is the name of your friend?

A: I cannot remember, sir.

COURT:

Do you remember the place where this friend of yours resides when you took the balot that night?

A: I cannot remember.

Q: How many balot?

A: 40 pieces of balot.
Q: And you started selling from 8:00 o’clock in the evening to 3:00 o’clock in the morning?

A: Yes, your Honor.

Q: How many pieces have you sold when the incident occurred?

A: About 15 pieces.

Q: Describe the vicinity of the place where you took the balot?

A: I cannot remember.

Q: Prior to that night when you took 40 pieces of balot, you have been frequenting the place because you used to get your balot there?

A: The balot was delivered to me.

Q: By your friend?

A: Yes, your Honor.

Q: So you are changing your previous statement that you took the balot from the place of your friend?

A: When I went to the place.

Q: Since when you started selling balot which you get from that place?

A: About one year.

Q: Now Mr. Witness, you said you know Mark the victim since childhood, is that correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How about the parents of Mark, do you know them?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How about the sisters and brothers, do you know them?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What is the name of Mark’s father?

A: I don’t know but I know his face.

Q: How about the mother?

A: Also I know her by face.

Q: How many brothers has this Mark?

A: I do not know Your Honor.

Q: You also do not know if he has sister?

A: He has sister how many I do not know Your Honor.

Q: When you know Mark since childhood, do you know if he is attending school?

A: Yes, Your Honor.


Q: Where?

A: I do not know the school.

Q: You also do not know what he finished?

A: I do not know.

Q: Mr. Witness, on October 17, 2001 at about 3:30 in the morning prior to that time where have you been?

A: I came from Legarda.

Q: Did you pass by Mendiola?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: In Mendiola that is the time you are vending balot?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: You usually shout balot?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: That is from Mendiola to Malacañang?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What time you were in Mendiola at that time?

A: I cannot tell the time I was just walking.

Q: Were there still so many people in Mendiola at that time?

COURT

He do not know the exact place.

ATTY. GERANA:

That is why I am asking leading question to the witness Your Honor.

COURT:

Do you know the gate of Malacañang?

A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: What gate is nearer to the place where Mark was shot?

A: I cannot remember the gate.

Q: There are schools along Mendiola proceeding towards gate 1 or gate (sic). Which school is near to the place where Mark was shot?

A: I cannot remember because it was night time.

Q: But you used to sell balot along Mendiola going to the gate of Malacañang?

A: Yes, Your Honor.


Q: So you are familiar with the schools along Mendiola?

A: I do not know the schools.

ATTY. GERENA:

Do you know St. Jude Church?

A: No, sir.

Q: You also do not know the hospital in front or opposite St. Jude church?

A: No, sir.

Q: Facing Malacañang, do you know the first street by the right side facing Malacañang?

A: Gate 1.

Q: I am asking you facing the gate of Malacañang, do you know the first street in the right when you are standing at Mendiola?

A: No, sir.9

The original judge himself, Judge Romulo Lopez, does not seem impressed with the testimony of Eduardo Galvan. Judge Romulo Lopez asked several
clarificatory questions in order to test Galvan’s credibility, and Galvan failed the test miserably. Eduardo Galvan repeatedly changed his answer on whether he told
anyone about the incident before he executed his statement with the police station:

COURT:

Q: Under what circumstance were you able or you were make to execute your statement?

A: I went to the police station myself.

Q: What what (sic) reason do you have when you voluntarily went to the police station?

A: Because I was bothered by my conscience.

Q: That was the first time you narrated?

A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: So you are impressing the Court that from the time you saw Mark due to the shooting fall to the ground you did not relay the story you saw to any person?

A: None, Your Honor.

Q: Despite the fact that you were neighbor of Mark and his family you did not relay the incident to Mark’s parents?

A: On the following day I narrated it to them the incident.

Q: The following day you were not brought by Mark’s parents to the police station to give your statement?

A: No, Your Honor.

Q: There was a wake following that in the residence of Mark?

A: No, Your Honor.

Q: Where was the wake held?

A: The wake was held at the Arlington.

Q: Did you attend the wake?


A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: Did you talk to a member of Mark’s family in the wake?

A: No, Your Honor.10

Upon reading Galvan’s testimony, we do not find the same sufficient to prove Ubales’ guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. While the correctness of a Decision is
not impaired solely by the fact that the writer took over from a colleague who had earlier presided at trial, it is the bounden duty of appellate courts to even more
closely examine the testimonies of the witnesses whose deportment the writer was not able to observe.

The prosecution seeks to establish Ubales’ motive in killing Mark by the alleged altercation between the two during their drinking spree. However, as testified by
Laila Cruz herself, the argument was soon apparently resolved, with Ubales patting the shoulders of Mark Santos.

Furthermore, in both versions of the facts, Mark had been gracious enough to accompany Ubales after their carousal, clearly showing that whatever
misunderstanding they had during their drinking spree was already resolved. If Galvan’s version of the facts is to be believed, Ubales and Mark had even been
together for a several hours more before Mark was killed. We have ruled that though the general rule is that motive is not essential to a conviction especially where
the identity of the assailant is duly established by other competent evidence or is not disputed, the absence of such motive is important in ascertaining the truth as
between two antagonistic theories or versions of the killing.11 Proof as to motive is essential when the evidence on the commission of the crime is purely
circumstantial or inconclusive.12 Verily, the dominating rule is that, with respect to the credibility of witnesses, this Court has always accorded the highest degree of
respect to the findings of the trial court, unless there is proof of misappreciation of evidence – which is precisely the situation in the case at bar.

We also take note of petitioner Ubales’ stance when he was confronted by Laila Cruz and SPO2 Fernandez. Ubales told SPO2 Fernandez that he would
l awphi1

voluntarily join him to prove to him that he was not in hiding. Ubales then cooperated fully with SPO2 Fernandez, allowing himself to undergo a medical
examination, which apparently yielded nothing as the findings thereof was not presented as evidence, and going with the SPO2 Fernandez to the PNP
Malacañang Field Force. Flight evidences guilt and guilty conscience: the wicked flee, even when no man pursues, but the righteous stand fast as bold as a
lion.13 In all, we find it hard to lend credence to the testimony of the lone alleged eyewitness.

We have said that it is better to acquit ten guilty individuals than to convict one innocent person.14 Every circumstance against guilt and in favor of innocence must
be considered.15 Where the evidence admits of two interpretations, one of which is consistent with guilt, and the other with innocence, the accused must be given
the benefit of doubt and should be acquitted.16 In the instant case, while it is possible that the accused has committed the crime, there is also the possibility, based
on the evidence presented, that he has not. He should be deemed to have not for failure to meet the test of moral certainty. Finally, an accused should not be
convicted by reason of the weakness of his alibi. It is fundamental that the prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and must not rely on the
weakness of the evidence of the defense.17 Since there are very serious doubts in the testimony of the lone eyewitness to the killing of Mark Santos, we have no
choice but to acquit petitioner Angel Ubales on the ground of reasonable doubt.

Having ruled that the prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of petitioner beyond a reasonable doubt, the second issue, which relates to the temperate damages
which petitioner would have been liable for had he been found guilty, is now mooted.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 28813 dated 30 November 2006 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Angel Ubales
y Velez is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime of homicide on account of reasonable doubt.

SO ORDERED.

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

G.R. No. 105582 July 19, 2000

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ROLANDO CARDEL Y DIZON, and ARNOLD CALUMPANG Y VALERIO, accused-appellants.

DECISION

DE LEON, JR., J.:

Before Us on appeal is the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Branch 172 in Criminal Case No. 457-V-91, convicting herein
1

appellants, Rolando Cardel y Dizon and Arnold Calumpang y Valerio, of the crime of murder.

On August 12, 1991 at around 8:00 o’clock in the evening, Noel Rioflorido, Jr. was stabbed to death in Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila. Noel was on his
way home to Paso de Blas, Valenzuela, Metro Manila after having visited his friends in Bagong Nayon when the incident happened. Upon investigation of the case
by the police, two (2) eyewitnesses pinpointed Rolando Cardel and Arnold Calumpang, as responsible for the death of the victim.

On August 14, 1991, the appellants, Rolando Cardel and Arnold Calumpang, were charged in court with the crime of murder, defined and penalized under Article
248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, in an information that reads:

That on or about the 12th day of August, 1991 in the Municipality of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, conspiring together and mutually helping one another, without any justifiable cause, with treachery and evident premeditation and with
deliberate intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab with a bladed weapon one Noel Rioflorido, Jr. y Garalza,
thereby inflicting upon the latter serious physical injuries which caused the death of the said victim.
Contrary to law.

Upon being arraigned on August 28, 1991, both appellants, assisted by counsel, separately pleaded "Not guilty" to the information. Thereafter, trial on the merits
ensued.

The evidence of the prosecution shows that on August 12, 1991 Willy Conde and Elmer Olesco were in front of the Aling Digna’s Store in Bagong Nayon,
Valenzuela, Metro Manila. Conde was buying some cigarettes while Olesco was sitting, drinking coke. At around 8:00 o’clock in the evening, Conde and Olesco
noticed Noel Rioflorido, Jr. together with Rolando Cardel and Arnold Calumpang, who came close to two (2) arms length in front of Aling Digna’s Store.
Calumpang punched Rioflorido, Jr. on the right side of the face before he hurriedly left. Cardel held Rioflorido, Jr. in the nape and stabbed him at the back, on the
left side of his body, before he, too, fled from the crime scene leaving Rioflorido, Jr. sprawling on the ground. Thereafter, Conde, Olesco and a certain Arnel carried
Rioflorido, Jr. to a passenger jeep and brought him to the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila where he died. 2

Fe G. Rioflorido identified the body of the victim at the morgue as that of her son, Noel Rioflorido, Jr. She also signed the form for the request for examination of
3

the dead body dated August 13, 1991. 4

Dr. Maximo Reyes, M.D., medico-legal officer of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted the post mortem examination on the body of Noel Rioflorido,
Jr. on August 13, 1991. His findings showed that the victim suffered two (2) stab wounds which were both caused by a three-sided weapon (tres cantos). Wound
5

No. 1 measures 2.0 x 1.5 x 1.8 centimeters with an approximate depth of 11.0 centimeters. It was located on the left intrascapular area, just below the chest. It was
directed slightly upward entering the posterior chest wall, severing the lower part of the upper lobe, left lung, and posterior aspect of the left ventricle of the heart.
Wound No. 2 which involved the skin and soft tissues measures 2.0 x 1.8 x 2.0 centimeters. It was located over the right deltoid area. Wound No. 1, according to
Dr. Reyes, was the fatal wound. 6

Meanwhile, after learning that he was being implicated in the said stabbing incident in Bagong Nayon, Bagbaguin, Valenzuela on August 12, 1991, Rolando Cardel
surrendered to the Paso de Blas Police Station in Valenzuela, Metro Manila on the same day. He was turned over to Patrolman Arnold Alabastro of the
investigation section of the Valenzuela police for proper investigation.7

Subsequent investigation which was conducted by Patrolman Alabastro reveals that the victim Noel Rioflorido, Jr. was apprehended by Rolando Cardel and other
concerned citizens in Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila on August 12, 1991 at around 7:30 o’clock in the evening on the ground that he was a suspect in
the robbery hold-up of a certain Arnold Calumpang. A commotion subsequently ensued in front of Aling Digna’s Store in Bagong Nayon when Rioflorido, Jr.
resisted arrest and attempted to escape. A certain Ronaldo Alborque admitted having punched Rioflorido, Jr. in the process. On the other hand, Rolando Cardel
lost his temper so he held Rioflorido, Jr. in the nape, and stabbed him. 8

At the scene of the crime, a wristwatch and a necklace were recovered and the same were later identified by Arnold Calumpang as among the personal
belongings that were forcibly taken from him earlier by Rioflorido, Jr. and two (2) other persons. Patrolman Alabastro also recovered the improvised three-sided
knife that was allegedly used in stabbing Rioflorido, Jr. in the house of Rolando Cardel. Said knife and the maong pair of pants and t-shirt of Cardel, together with a
sando belonging to Ronaldo Alborque, which were all smeared with red substance, were forwarded by Patrolman Alabastro to the NBI in Manila for laboratory
examination. 9

The defense denied any liability of the appellants for the charge of murder in the information. Rolando Cardel, a construction worker, testified that he was in the
hospital from 6:00 to 7:00 o’clock in the evening of August 12, 1991. His neighbor, a certain Anita Antipolo, had earlier requested for his assistance in bringing her
sick child to the hospital for treatment. On his way home at around 7:30 o’clock in the evening, his attention was incidentally drawn to a group of people carrying a
wounded person to be brought to the hospital. He was informed that the person, whose name he later learned as Noel Rioflorido, Jr., was stabbed after having
been caught for snatching. Among the group of people, a certain Elmer handed to Cardel a wristwatch with an instruction to return the same to the nephew of a
certain Cadiz in Bagong Nayon. Being a member of the bantay bayan in Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Cardel proceeded to the house of Cadiz.
10

Cardel learned from Arnold Calumpang, whom he met for the first time in the house of Cadiz, that the wristwatch was among the personal belongings that were
forcibly taken from him.11

Arnold Calumpang allegedly informed Rolando Cardel that three (3) persons blocked his path. One of them punched Calumpang before they divested him of his
necklace, wristwatch and wallet containing P1,000.00 pesos. Cardel stated that the description of one of the three (3) persons which was provided him by
Calumpang fitted that of Noel Rioflorido, Jr., who appeared thin and short. On the same evening, Rolando and other members of the bantay bayan in Bagong
Nayon were investigated by Patrolman Arnold Alabastro of the Valenzuela police. They informed Patrolman Alabastro that none of them witnessed the stabbing
incident.
12

Patrolman Alabastro requested Rolando Cardel to assist him locate the whereabout of Arnold Calumpang so that the latter could give a statement to the police. It
was Cardel who accompanied Arnold Calumpang to the police headquarters upon the request of his aunt. Upon arrival at the police headquarters in Valenzuela,
Metro Manila, Cardel and Calumpang were pinpointed by alleged witnesses to the stabbing incident as responsible for the death of Noel Rioflorido, Jr.. 13

Rolando Cardel vehemently denied before the police any participation in the killing of Noel Rioflorido, Jr. claiming that the incident on August 12, 1991 was already
finished when he returned to Bagong Nayon from the hospital at 7:30 o’clock in the evening. He also claimed that the two (2) prosecution witnesses, Willy Conde
and Elmer Olesco, and the victim, Noel Rioflorido, Jr., were members of the AKHRO fraternity; and that the brother of prosecution witness Willy Conde, a certain
Danilo Conde, who is also a member of the AKHRO fraternity, was apprehended previously by Rolando for allegedly snatching a shoulder bag. In addition,
14

Rolando repudiated authorship of the statement marked as Exhibit "D" of the prosecution. He claimed that the said Exhibit "D" of the prosecution was prepared by
a bantay bayan member and that he signed without reading it beforehand.

For his defense, Arnold Calumpang testified that he is a native of Dumaguete City and had been staying in Muñoz, Quezon City for only more than two (2) months
when the stabbing incident happened. Calumpang recalled that on August 12, 1991 he decided to visit his aunt in Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila. After
alighting from the jeep at around 6:00 o’clock in the evening, his path was blocked by three (3) unidentified persons. They held him and simultaneously took his
necklace, wristwatch and wallet. Calumpang scampered toward the house of his aunt for fear of his life after one (1) of the persons pulled out a fan knife. 15

Upon reaching the house, Arnold immediately informed his aunt that he was held up along the way by three (3) persons and took some of his personal belongings.
His aunt went outside and returned at around 7:30 o’clock in the evening together with an alleged member of the bantay bayan who was introduced to him as
Rolando Cardel. Cardel informed him that a policeman was waiting outside to take Calumpang’s statement involving the stabbing incident. Upon arrival at the
police headquarters in Valenzuela, certain alleged witnesses to the stabbing incident pointed to him and Rolando Cardel as responsible for the death of Noel
Rioflorido, Jr.. Specifically, he was allegedly seen by the witnesses punched Rioflorido, Jr..16
Calumpang denied the accusation against him for the reason that according to him, he did not go out of the house of his aunt from the time he arrived therein until
7:30 o’clock in the evening when the police and Rolando Cardel arrived to fetch him. 17

After analyzing the evidence, the trial court found, as follows:

It is clear from the evidence presented that before the stabbing incident, subject of this case, the accused Arnold Calumpang was divested of his wristwatch and
necklace by holduppers when he was on his way home. As the holduppers ran away with his belongings, he shouted for help. The accused Rolando Cardel who
testified that he is a bantay bayan exhibiting his I.D. as such, and while drinking with friends, heard the shouts of Arnold, responded by chasing the holduppers and
was able to collar one of them, the victim of this murder case Noel Rioflorido, (Jr.). With a certain Ronaldo Alborque, Rolando Cardel was able to drag the victim to
Bagong Nayon, place of the stabbing incident where the victim was stabbed by Rolando Cardel after having been collared by Ronaldo Alborque and boxed by
Arnold Calumpang. So this is a case of a mob action and revenge against a snatcher who was caught while running with the loot.

xxx

From the foregoing, both accused took the law into their own hands by practically executing Noel Rioflorido, (Jr.), alleged snatcher of accused Arnold’s wristwatch
and necklace, by grabbing him, boxing him, and stabbing him in conspiracy with each other.

xxx

When both accused held the victim Noel Rioflorido, (Jr.) and the latter was stabbed, superior strength was taken advantage of by both accused, and treachery was
used because the said victim had no chance to defend himself. 18

The dispositive portion of the decision of the trial court reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds both accused guilty of murder beyond reasonable doubt acting in conspiracy with each other, and hereby
sentences them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, to indemnify the heirs of Noel Rioflorido, (Jr.) y Garalza in the sum of P50,000.00 and to pay the costs
of the suit.

SO ORDERED. 19

In their appeal, the appellants raise the following assignments of error:


20

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING BOTH ACCUSED FOR MURDER AND NOT FOR HOMICIDE ONLY CONSIDERING THAT THE
QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY AND/OR USE OF SUPERIOR STRENGTH WAS NOT DULY PROVED.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALSO CONVICTING ARNOLD CALUMPANG FOR MURDER CONSIDERING THAT CONSPIRACY WAS NOT
DULY ESTABLISHED.

III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT ROLANDO CARDEL OR IN THE ASSUMPTION THAT HE IS GUILTY,
IN NOT APPRECIATING IN HIS FAVOR THE PRIVELEGE MITITGATING CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER ARTICLE 69 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE
AND THE ORDINARY MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES OF VOLUNTARY SURRENDER AND LACK OF INTENTION TO COMMIT SO GRAVE A
WRONG AS THAT COMMITTED.

IV

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT APPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF THE INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW TO LOWER THE IMPOSABLE
PENALTY.

Appellant Rolando Cardel claimed that the stabbing incident was already finished when he arrived in Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila from the hospital at
7:30 o’clock in the evening on August 12, 1991. Appellant Arnold Calumpang also claimed that he was inside the house of his aunt in Bagong Nayon, after he was
robbed of his personal belongings by three (3) persons at around 6:30 o’clock in the evening, and remained therein until 7:30 o’clock in the evening. In effect, the
appellants seek refuge under the defense of alibi to escape responsibility for the killing of Noel Rioflorido, Jr..

It must be emphasized that aside from being inherently weak, the defense of alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification of the appellants by the prosecution
witnesses. Prosecution witness Willy Conde was buying some cigarettes at Aling Digna’s Store in Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila when Noel Rioflorido,
21

Jr. was stabbed in front of the store just about two (2) arms length away. Prosecution witness Elmer Olesco was sitting in front of the said store, drinking coke,
when the stabbing incident occurred. Both prosecution witnesses categorically declared that they saw Calumpang punched Rioflorido, Jr. on the right side of the
face and that thereafter, Rolando Cardel held the victim in the nape and stabbed him at the back, on the right side of his body. They saw the incident clearly for the
reason that the premises was well-lighted by an electric bulb in front of Aling Digna’s Store. 22

The respective testimonies of the two (2) prosecution witnesses do not suffer from any serious and material contradictions that can detract from their credibility.
The trial court gave full faith and credence to the respective testimonies of prosecution witnesses Willy Conde and Elmer Olesco as against those of the
appellants. The defense did not dispute the presence of the said prosecution witnesses in front of Aling Digna’s Store in Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila
when the stabbing incident occurred. The defense likewise failed to adduce adequate evidence to establish any improper motive that may have impelled the same
witnesses to falsely testify against the appellants. The bare allegation of the defense that the prosecution witnesses, Willy Conde and Elmer Olesco, and the
victim, Noel Rioflorido, Jr., were members of a fraternity is too shallow and does not deserve even a scant consideration. It is well-settled rule that the evaluation of
the testimonies of witnesses by the trial court is received on appeal with the highest respect because such court has the direct opportunity to observe the
witnesses on the stand and determine if they are telling the truth or not. 23

However, this Court finds itself unable to agree with the trial court that conspiracy existed in this case. Under Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code, a conspiracy
exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Likewise, there is conspiracy if at the time
of the commission of the offense the appellants had the same purpose and were united in its execution. 24

It appears that appellant Arnold Calumpang was divested of his wristwatch, necklace and wallet by three (3) unidentified persons while he was on his way to visit
his aunt in Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila. Subsequently, Noel Rioflorido, Jr. was apprehended by appellant Rolando Cardel and other concerned
citizens in Bagong Nayon as suspect in the snatching of Calumpang’s personal belongings. The prosecution failed to establish that appellants Cardel and
Calumpang came to an agreement to kill Rioflorido, Jr., nor any such agreement may be deduced from the manner in which the offense was committed; or from
the acts of the appellants before, during, and after the commission of the crime, indubitably pointing to and indicating a joint purpose, concert of action and a
community of interest. 25

The evidence shows that appellant Cardel and the concerned citizens were on their way to bring Noel Rioflorido, Jr. to the bantay bayan headquarters in Bagong
Nayon, when the latter resisted arrest and attempted to escape. Prosecution witness Willy Conde testified on direct examination that when appellant Cardel
stabbed Rioflorido, Jr., appellant Calumpang had already fled from the scene of the crime, to wit:

Fiscal: At the time that Cardel stabbed Jun what was Arnold doing?

A: He ran away, sir.

Q: You mean he was not around when Cardel stabbed Noel?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: So you are saying that Arnold after boxing Jun had already left or immediately ran away?

A: Yes and then Rolando stabbed him, sir.

Q: So when Jun was stabbed only Rolando Cardel was there?

A: Yes sir. 26

There is no basis for the conclusion of the trial court "that both accused took the law into their own hands by practically executing Noel Rioflorido, Jr. xxx in
conspiracy with each other". It should be pointed out that apppellant Calumpang could not have assented nor actively cooperated in the killing of the victim for the
reason that he was no longer at the scene of the crime when appellant Cardel stabbed Rioflorido, Jr.. The existence of conspiracy is never presumed. It is
axiomatic that the prosecution must establish conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, the appellants will be separately adjudged according to the extent of
27

their individual participation in the commission of the crime charged in the information.

Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, states:

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

1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or employing means to weaken the defense or of means or
persons to insure or afford impunity.

2. In consideration of a price, reward or promise.

3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment or assault upon a railroad, fall of an airship, or by
means of motor vehicles, or with the use of any other means involving great waste and ruin.

4. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone,
epidemic or other public calamity.

5. With evident premeditation.

6. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, or outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse."

We do not find sufficient evidence to hold appellant Arnold Calumpang liable for the killing of Noel Rioflorido, Jr.. Appellant Calumpang desisted from inflicting
further blows, after punching Rioflorido, Jr. once on the right side of the face, and immediately fled from the scene of the crime. His actuation hardly suggests any
intent to kill the victim. He merely vented his anger on Rioflorido, Jr. when the latter, who was allegedly one (1) of the three (3) persons who earlier divested him of
his personal belongings, resisted apprehension and attempted to escape. Dr. Maximo Reyes did not find any injury on the body of Rioflorido, Jr. that may have
caused or contributed to his death as a result of the fist blow from appellant Calumpang. Accordingly, appellant Calumpang should be acquitted.

On the other hand, it has been sufficiently established that appellant Rolando Cardel was the one who inflicted the stab wound at the back, on the right side of the
body of Noel Rioflorido, Jr. which, according to Dr. Maximo Reyes, was the wound that caused the death of the victim. Prosecution witnesses Willy Conde and
Elmer Olesco testified that appellant Cardel stabbed Rioflorido, Jr. and left the scene of the crime only after the body of Rioflorido, Jr. was already sprawling on the
ground.

The evidence, however, failed to establish the existence of the qualifying circumstance of treachery. The requisites for appreciating treachery (alevosia) in the
commission of the crime are: 1) at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to defend himself; 2) appellant consciously and deliberately adopted the
particular means, methods or forms of the attack employed by him. As correctly observed by the Office of the Solicitor General, when appellant Cardel stabbed
28

Noel Rioflorido, Jr. the latter was resisting and was even attempting to escape. Treachery cannot be appreciated when the evidence shows that at the time of the
attack, the victim was not rendered totally helpless and defenseless. 29

The fact that the victim had a stab wound at the back is not, in itself, indicative of treachery. Where treachery is alleged, the manner of attack must be proven. It
30

cannot be presumed or concluded merely on the basis of the resulting crime. Also, it does not appear that appellant Cardel consciously adopted the mode of
31

attack to facilitate the killing of Rioflorido, Jr. without risk to himself. The stabbing of the victim by appellant Cardel was the result of a rash and impetuous impulse
of the moment, rather than from a deliberate act of will thus, negating the existence of treachery. Based on the investigation that he conducted relative to the
32

stabbing incident, Patrolman Arnold Alabastro testified, as follows:

Atty. Domingo:

Q: Mr. witness, based on your investigation, what precipitated the stabbing incident?

A: The snatching incident, sir.

Q: Specifically, what?

A: The resistance put up by Rioflorido, (Jr.) when he was arrested, sir. May I be allowed to elaborate on my answer?

Q: Please do.

A: When the victim Noel Rioflorido, (Jr.) is a suspect in the snatching incident, then he was nabbed by Rolando Cardel together with the concerned citizens. He
was arrested and was brought along with the Bantay Bayan, concerned citizens together with the victim in the snatching incident and on their way to the Bantay
Bayan Noel Rioflorido, (Jr.) resisted and that precipitated the stabbing incident. (sic)

Court:

Q: Who resisted?

A: Noel Rioflorido, (Jr.) ma’am and that brought the stabbing incident. 33

Likewise, abuse of superior strength may not be appreciated to qualify the killing to the crime of murder for the reason that the same is not alleged in the
information. It has been the rule that qualifying circumstances must be properly pleaded in the indictment. If the same are not pleaded but proved, they shall be
considered only as aggravating circumstances. 34

In any event, the trial court grievously erred when it ruled the existence of abuse of superior strength in the case at bench. To appreciate the attendant
circumstance of abuse of superior strength, what should be considered is whether the aggressors took advantage of their combined strength in order to
consummate the offense. It is considered whenever there is a notorious inequality of forces between the victim and the aggressor, possessing a superiority of
strength notoriously advantageous to the aggressor which is selected or taken advantage of by him in the commission of the crime. There is no evidence in the
35

case at bar to show that appellants Rolando Cardel and Arnold Calumpang took advantage of their combined strength in order to consummate the offense. It
should be pointed out that appellant Calumpang immediately fled from the scene of the crime after punching Noel Rioflorido, Jr., leaving behind appellant Cardel
who stabbed the victim subsequently.

On the other hand, appellant Rolando Cardel cannot be considered as acting in the fulfillment of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right or office so as to justify
his act of stabbing to death Noel Rioflorido, Jr. under Article 11(5) of the Revised Penal Code. It appears from the evidence that effective July 2, 1991, appellant
Cardel was not anymore a member of the bantay bayan of Bagong Nayon, Valenzuela, Metro Manila. 36

The ordinary mitigating circumstance of lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong under Article 13(3) of the Revised Penal Code is also unavailing in this case.
This mitigating circumstance addresses itself to the intention of the offender at the particular moment when he executes or commits the criminal act. Noel 37

Rioflorido, Jr. suffered two (2) serious stab wounds in his body. One (1) was located in the right deltoid area while the other was aimed by appellant Cardel at the
back of the victim, on the left side of the body, severing the lower part of the upper lobe, left lung, and posterior aspect of the left ventricle of the heart. The
number, location and nature of the said stab wounds belie the appellant’s claim of lack of intention to commit so grave a wrong against his victim.

However, the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender should be credited in favor of appellant Rolando Cardel. For voluntary surrender to be appreciated as
a mitigating circumstance, the following requisites must concur: (1) the offender has not been actually arrested; (2) the offender surrenders himself to a person in
authority; and (3) his surrender was voluntary. It appears that Cardel was never arrested in connection with the killing of Noel Rioflorido, Jr.. He voluntarily
38

surrendered to the Paseo de Blas Police Station in Valenzuela, Metro Manila on the same day the stabbing incident happened on August 12, 1991.
Considering the absence of any qualifying circumstance in the case at bar, appellant Rolando Cardel is liable for the crime of homicide only. While there is one (1)
attendant mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, there is no aggravating circumstance.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Branch 172, in Criminal Case No. 457-V-91, is MODIFIED. Appellant Arnold
Calumpang y Valerio is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime of murder on the ground of reasonable doubt. Appellant Rolando Cardel y Dizon is hereby found GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide, and there being one mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender and no aggravating circumstance in offset,
he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion
temporal, as maximum; and to pay the heirs of the victim the amount of P50,000.00 by way of civil indemnity ex delicto.

G.R. No. 155208 March 27, 2007

NENA LAZALITA* TATING, Petitioner,


vs.
FELICIDAD TATING MARCELLA, represented by SALVADOR MARCELLA, CARLOS TATING, and the COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents.

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Assailed in the Special Civil Action for Certiorari before the Court are the Decision1 dated February 22, 2002 and the Resolution dated August 22, 2002 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 64122, which affirmed the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Branch 60.

The present case arose from a controversy involving a parcel of land denominated as Lot 56 of Subdivision plan Psd-31182, located at Abelarde St., Cadiz City,
Negros Occidental. The subject lot, containing an area of 200 square meters, was owned by Daniela Solano Vda. de Tating (Daniela) as evidenced by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-4393 issued by the Registry of Deeds of the City of Cadiz.3

On October 14, 1969, Daniela sold the subject property to her granddaughter, herein petitioner Nena Lazalita Tating (Nena). The contract of sale was embodied in
a duly notarized Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Daniela in favor of Nena.4 Subsequently, title over the subject property was transferred in the name of
Nena.5 She declared the property in her name for tax purposes and paid the real estate taxes due thereon for the years 1972, 1973, 1975 to 1986 and
1988.6 However, the land remained in possession of Daniela.

On December 28, 1977, Daniela executed a sworn statement claiming that she had actually no intention of selling the property; the true agreement between her
and Nena was simply to transfer title over the subject property in favor of the latter to enable her to obtain a loan by mortgaging the subject property for the
purpose of helping her defray her business expenses; she later discovered that Nena did not secure any loan nor mortgage the property; she wants the title in the
name of Nena cancelled and the subject property reconveyed to her. 7

Daniela died on July 29, 19888 leaving her children as her heirs, namely: Ricardo, Felicidad, Julio, Carlos and Cirilo who predeceased Daniela and was
represented by herein petitioner.

In a letter dated March 1, 1989, Carlos informed Nena that when Daniela died they discovered the sworn statement she executed on December 28, 1977 and, as a
consequence, they are demanding from Nena the return of their rightful shares over the subject property as heirs of Daniela.9 Nena did not reply. Efforts to settle
the case amicably proved futile.

Hence, on September 6, 1989, Carlos and Felicidad, represented by her son Salvador, filed a complaint with the RTC of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental against
Nena praying for the nullification of the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Daniela in her favor, cancellation of the TCT issued in the name of Nena, and issuance
of a new title and tax declaration in favor of the heirs of Daniela.10 The complaint also prayed for the award of moral and exemplary damages as well as attorney’s
fees and litigation expenses. On March 19, 1993, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint with leave of court for the purpose of excluding Ricardo as a party
plaintiff, he having died intestate and without issue in March 1991.11 He left Carlos, Felicidad, Julio, and Nena as his sole heirs.

In her Answer, Nena denied that any fraud or misrepresentation attended the execution of the subject Deed of Absolute Sale. She also denied having received the
letter of her uncle, Carlos. She prayed for the dismissal of the complaint, and in her counterclaim, she asked the trial court for the award of actual, exemplary and
moral damages as well as attorney’s fees and litigation expenses.12

Trial ensued. On November 4, 1998, the RTC rendered judgment with the following dispositive portion:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendant, and hereby declaring the document of
sale dated October 14, 1969 (Exh. "Q") executed between Daniela Solano Vda. de Tating and Nena Lazalita Tating as NULL and VOID and further ordering:

1. The Register of Deeds of Cadiz City to cancel TCT No. 5975 and in lieu thereof to issue a new title in the names of Carlos Tating, Pro-indiviso
owner of one-fourth (¼) portion of the property; Felicidad Tating Marcella, Pro-indiviso owner of one-fourth (¼) portion; Julio Tating, Pro-indiviso
owner of one-fourth (¼) portion and Nena Lazalita Tating, Pro-indiviso owner of one-fourth (¼) portion, all of lot 56 after payment of the prescribed
fees;

2. The City Assessor of the City of Cadiz to cancel Tax Declaration No. 143-00672 and in lieu thereof issue a new Tax Declaration in the names of
Carlos Tating, ¼ Pro-indiviso portion; Felicidad Tating Marcella, ¼ Pro-indiviso portion; Julio Tating, ¼ Pro-indiviso portion; and Nena Lazalita Tating,
¼ Pro-indiviso portion, all of lot 56 as well as the house standing thereon be likewise declared in the names of the persons mentioned in the same
proportions as above-stated after payment of the prescribed fees;

3. The defendant is furthermore ordered to pay plaintiffs the sum of ₱20,000.00 by way of moral damages, ₱10,000.00 by way of exemplary damages,
₱5,000.00 by way of attorney’s fees and ₱3,000.00 by way of litigation expenses; and to
4. Pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.13

Nena filed an appeal with the CA. On February 22, 2002, the CA rendered its Decision affirming the judgment of the RTC.14

Nena’s Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the CA in its Resolution dated August 22, 2002.15

Hence, herein petition for certiorari anchored on the ground that the CA "has decided the instant case without due regard to and in violation of the applicable laws
and Decisions of this Honorable Court and also because the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, which it has affirmed, is not supported by and is even against the
evidence on record."16

At the outset, it must be stated that the filing of the instant petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is inappropriate. Considering that the assailed
Decision and Resolution of the CA finally disposed of the case, the proper remedy is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

The Court notes that while the instant petition is denominated as a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, there is no allegation that the CA
committed grave abuse of discretion. On the other hand, the petition actually avers errors of judgment, rather than of jurisdiction, which are the proper subjects of a
petition for review on certiorari. Hence, in accordance with the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court and in the interest of justice, the Court decided to treat the
present petition for certiorari as having been filed under Rule 45, especially considering that it was filed within the reglementary period for filing the same.17

As to the merits of the case, petitioner contends that the case for the private respondents rests on the proposition that the Deed of Absolute Sale dated October
14, 1969 is simulated because Daniela’s actual intention was not to dispose of her property but simply to help petitioner by providing her with a collateral.
Petitioner asserts that the sole evidence which persuaded both the RTC and the CA in holding that the subject deed was simulated was the Sworn Statement of
Daniela dated December 28, 1977. However, petitioner argues that said Sworn Statement should have been rejected outright by the lower courts considering that
Daniela has long been dead when the document was offered in evidence, thereby denying petitioner the right to cross-examine her.

Petitioner also contends that while the subject deed was executed on October 14, 1969, the Sworn Statement was purportedly executed only on December 28,
1977 and was discovered only after the death of Daniela in 1994.18Petitioner argues that if the deed of sale is indeed simulated, Daniela would have taken action
against the petitioner during her lifetime. However, the fact remains that up to the time of her death or almost 20 years after the Deed of Absolute Sale was
executed, she never uttered a word of complaint against petitioner.

Petitioner further asserts that the RTC and the CA erred in departing from the doctrine held time and again by the Supreme Court that clear, strong and convincing
evidence beyond mere preponderance is required to show the falsity or nullity of a notarial document. Petitioner also argues that the RTC and the CA erred in its
pronouncement that the transaction between Daniela and petitioner created a trust relationship between them because of the settled rule that where the terms of a
contract are clear, it should be given full effect.

In their Comment and Memorandum, private respondents contend that petitioner failed to show that the CA or the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in
arriving at their assailed judgments; that Daniela’s Sworn Statement is sufficient evidence to prove that the contract of sale by and between her and petitioner was
merely simulated; and that, in effect, the agreement between petitioner and Daniela created a trust relationship between them.

The Court finds for the petitioner.

The CA and the trial court ruled that the contract of sale between petitioner and Daniela is simulated. A contract is simulated if the parties do not intend to be
bound at all (absolutely simulated) or if the parties conceal their true agreement (relatively simulated). 19 The primary consideration in determining the true nature of
a contract is the intention of the parties.20 Such intention is determined from the express terms of their agreement as well as from their contemporaneous and
subsequent acts.21

In the present case, the main evidence presented by private respondents in proving their allegation that the subject deed of sale did not reflect the true intention of
the parties thereto is the sworn statement of Daniela dated December 28, 1977. The trial court admitted the said sworn statement as part of private respondents’
evidence and gave credence to it. The CA also accorded great probative weight to this document.

There is no issue in the admissibility of the subject sworn statement. However, the admissibility of evidence should not be equated with weight of evidence.22 The
admissibility of evidence depends on its relevance and competence while the weight of evidence pertains to evidence already admitted and its tendency to
convince and persuade.23Thus, a particular item of evidence may be admissible, but its evidentiary weight depends on judicial evaluation within the guidelines
provided by the rules of evidence.24 It is settled that affidavits are classified as hearsay evidence since they are not generally prepared by the affiant but by another
who uses his own language in writing the affiant’s statements, which may thus be either omitted or misunderstood by the one writing them.25 Moreover, the
adverse party is deprived of the opportunity to cross-examine the affiant.26 For this reason, affidavits are generally rejected for being hearsay, unless the affiants
themselves are placed on the witness stand to testify thereon.27 The Court finds that both the trial court and the CA committed error in giving the sworn statement
probative weight. Since Daniela is no longer available to take the witness stand as she is already dead, the RTC and the CA should not have given probative value
on Daniela’s sworn statement for purposes of proving that the contract of sale between her and petitioner was simulated and that, as a consequence, a trust
relationship was created between them.

Private respondents should have presented other evidence to sufficiently prove their allegation that Daniela, in fact, had no intention of disposing of her property
when she executed the subject deed of sale in favor of petitioner. As in all civil cases, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove the material allegations of his complaint
and he must rely on the strength of his evidence and not on the weakness of the evidence of the defendant.28 Aside from Daniela’s sworn statement, private
respondents failed to present any other documentary evidence to prove their claim. Even the testimonies of their witnesses failed to establish that Daniela had a
different intention when she entered into a contract of sale with petitioner.

In Suntay v. Court of Appeals,29 the Court ruled that the most protuberant index of simulation is the complete absence, on the part of the vendee, of any attempt in
any manner to assert his rights of ownership over the disputed property.30 In the present case, however, the evidence clearly shows that petitioner declared the
property for taxation and paid realty taxes on it in her name. Petitioner has shown that from 1972 to 1988 she religiously paid the real estate taxes due on the said
lot and that it was only in 1974 and 1987 that she failed to pay the taxes thereon. While tax receipts and declarations and receipts and declarations of ownership
for taxation purposes are not, in themselves, incontrovertible evidence of ownership, they constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title over the
property.31 The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for taxation purposes manifests not only one’s sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the property
and announces his adverse claim against the State and all other interested parties, but also the intention to contribute needed revenues to the Government.32 Such
an act strengthens one’s bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership.33 On the other hand, private respondents failed to present even a single tax receipt or
declaration showing that Daniela paid taxes due on the disputed lot as proof that she claims ownership thereof. The only Tax Declaration in the name of Daniela,
which private respondents presented in evidence, refers only to the house standing on the lot in controversy.34 Even the said Tax Declaration contains a notation
that herein petitioner owns the lot (Lot 56) upon which said house was built.

Moreover, the Court agrees with petitioner that if the subject Deed of Absolute Sale did not really reflect the real intention of Daniela, why is it that she remained
silent until her death; she never told any of her relatives regarding her actual purpose in executing the subject deed; she simply chose to make known her true
intentions through the sworn statement she executed on December 28, 1977, the existence of which she kept secret from her relatives; and despite her declaration
therein that she is appealing for help in order to get back the subject lot, she never took any concrete step to recover the subject property from petitioner until her
death more than ten years later.

It is true that Daniela retained physical possession of the property even after she executed the subject Absolute Deed of Sale and even after title to the property
was transferred in petitioner’s favor. In fact, Daniela continued to occupy the property in dispute until her death in 1988 while, in the meantime, petitioner continued
to reside in Manila. However, it is well-established that ownership and possession are two entirely different legal concepts. 35Just as possession is not a definite
proof of ownership, neither is non-possession inconsistent with ownership. The first paragraph of Article 1498 of the Civil Code states that when the sale is made
through a public instrument, the execution thereof shall be equivalent to the delivery of the thing which is the object of the contract, if from the deed the contrary
does not appear or cannot clearly be inferred. Possession, along with ownership, is transferred to the vendee by virtue of the notarized deed of
conveyance.36 Thus, in light of the circumstances of the present case, it is of no legal consequence that petitioner did not take actual possession or occupation of
the disputed property after the execution of the deed of sale in her favor because she was already able to perfect and complete her ownership of and title over the
subject property.

As to Daniela’s affidavit dated June 9, 1983, submitted by petitioner, which confirmed the validity of the sale of the disputed lot in her favor, the same has no
probative value, as the sworn statement earlier adverted to, for being hearsay. Naturally, private respondents were not able to cross-examine the deceased-affiant
on her declarations contained in the said affidavit.

However, even if Daniela’s affidavit of June 9, 1983 is disregarded, the fact remains that private respondents failed to prove by clear, strong and convincing
evidence beyond mere preponderance of evidence37 that the contract of sale between Daniela and petitioner was simulated. The legal presumption is in favor of
the validity of contracts and the party who impugns its regularity has the burden of proving its simulation.38 Since private respondents failed to discharge the burden
of proving their allegation that the contract of sale between petitioner and Daniela was simulated, the presumption of regularity and validity of the October 14, 1969
Deed of Absolute Sale stands.

Considering that the Court finds the subject contract of sale between petitioner and Daniela to be valid and not fictitious or simulated, there is no more necessity to
discuss the issue as to whether or not a trust relationship was created between them.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 64122, affirming the Decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Branch 60, in Civil Case No. 278-C, are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The complaint of the private
respondents is DISMISSED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ

G.R. No. 151857. April 28, 2005

CALAMBA STEEL CENTER, INC. (formerly JS STEEL CORPORATION), Petitioners,


vs.
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondents.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

A tax refund may be claimed even beyond the taxable year following that in which the tax credit arises. Hence, excess income taxes paid in 1995 that have not
been applied to or used in 1996 may still be the subject of a tax refund in 1997, provided that the claim for such refund is filed with the internal revenue
commissioner within two years after payment of said taxes. As a caveat, the Court stresses that the recognition of the entitlement to a tax refund does not
necessarily mean the automatic payment of the sum claimed in the final adjustment return of the taxpayer. The amount of the claim must still be proven in the
normal course.

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the January 10, 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No.
1 2

58838. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:

"IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is DISMISSED and the assailed Decision and Resolution are AFFIRMED. Costs against
Petitioner."3
The Facts

Quoting the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), the CA narrated the antecedents as follows:

"Petitioner is a domestic corporation engaged in the manufacture of steel blanks for use by manufacturers of automotive, electrical, electronics in industrial and
household appliances.

"Petitioner filed an Amended Corporate Annual Income Tax Return on June 4, 1996 declaring a net taxable income of ₱9,461,597.00, tax credits of ₱6,471,246.00
and tax due in the amount of ₱3,311,559.00.

"Petitioner also reported quarterly payments for the second and third quarters of 1995 in the amounts of ₱2,328,747.26 and ₱1,082,108.00, respectively.

"It is the proposition of the [p]etitioner that for the year 1995, several of its clients withheld taxes from their income payments to [p]etitioner and remitted the same
to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in the sum of ₱3,159,687.00. Petitioner further alleged that due to its income/loss positions for the three quarters of 1996,
it was unable to use the excess tax paid for and in its behalf by the withholding agents.

"Thus, an administrative claim was filed by the [p]etitioner on April 10, 1997 for the refund of ₱3,159,687.00 representing excess or unused creditable withholding
taxes for the year 1995. The instant petition was subsequently filed on April 18, 1997.

"Respondent, in his Answer, averred, among others, that:

‘1) Petitioner has no cause of action;

‘2) Petitioner failed to comply with the procedural requirements set out in Section 5 of Revenue Regulations No. [(RR)] 12-94;

‘3) It is incumbent upon [p]etitioner to prove by competent and sufficient evidence that the tax refund or tax credit being sought is allowed under the National
Internal Revenue Code and its implementing rules and regulations; and

‘4) Claims for tax refund or tax credit are construed strictly against the taxpayer as they partake the nature of tax exemption.

"To buttress its claim, [p]etitioner presented documentary and testimonial evidence. Respondent, on the other hand, presented the [r]evenue [o]fficer who
conducted the examination of [p]etitioner’s claim and found petitioner liable for deficiency value added tax. Petitioner also presented rebuttal evidence.

"The sole issue submitted for [o]ur determination is whether or not [p]etitioner is entitled to the refund of ₱3,159,687.00 representing excess or overpaid income
tax for the taxable year 1995."4

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In denying petitioner’s refund, the CA reasoned out that no evidence other than that presented before the CTA was adduced to prove that excess tax payments
had been made in 1995. From the inception of the case to the formal offer of its evidence, petitioner did not present its 1996 income tax return to disclose its total
income tax liability, thus making it difficult to determine whether such excess tax payments were utilized in 1996.

Hence, this Petition. 5

The Issue

Petitioner raises this sole issue for our consideration:

"Whether the Court of Appeals gravely erred when, while purportedly requiring petitioner to submit its 1996 annual income tax return to support its claim for refund,
nonetheless ignored the existence of the tax return extant on the record the authenticity of which has not been denied or its admissibility opposed by the
Commissioner of Internal Revenue." 6

The Court’s Ruling

The Petition is partly meritorious.

Sole Issue:

Entitlement to Tax Refund

Section 69 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) provides:


7
"Sec. 69. Final adjustment return. -- Every corporation liable to tax under Section 24 shall file a final adjustment return covering the total taxable income for the
preceding calendar or fiscal year. If the sum of the quarterly tax payments made during the said taxable year is not equal to the total tax due on the entire taxable
net income of that year the corporation shall either:

‘(a) Pay the excess tax still due; or

‘(b) Be refunded the excess amount paid, as the case may be.

"In case the corporation is entitled to a refund of the excess estimated quarterly income taxes paid, the refundable amount shown on its final adjustment return
may be credited against the estimated quarterly income tax liabilities for the taxable quarters of the succeeding taxable year."

Tax Refund

Allowed by NIRC

A perusal of this provision shows that a taxable corporation is entitled to a tax refund when the sum of the quarterly income taxes it paid during a taxable year
exceeds its total income tax due also for that year. Consequently, the refundable amount that is shown on its final adjustment return may be credited, at its option,
against its quarterly income tax liabilities for the next taxable year.

Petitioner is a corporation liable to pay income taxes under Section 24 of the NIRC. Hence, it is a taxable corporation. In 1995, it reported that it had
excess income taxes that had been paid for and on its behalf by its withholding agents; and that, applying the above-quoted Section 69, this excess should be
credited against its income tax liabilities for 1996. However, it claimed in 1997 that it should get a refund, because it was still unable to use the excess income
taxes paid in 1995 against its tax liabilities in 1996. Is this possible? Stating the argument otherwise, may excess income taxes paid in 1995 that could not be
applied to taxes due in 1996 be refunded in 1997?

The answer is in the affirmative. Here are the reasons:

Claim of Tax Refund Beyond the

Succeeding Taxable Year

First, a tax refund may be claimed even beyond the taxable year following that in which the tax credit arises.

No provision in our tax law limits the entitlement to such a refund, other than the requirement that the filing of the administrative claim for it be made by the
taxpayer within a two-year prescriptive period. Section 204(3) of the NIRC states that no refund of taxes "shall be allowed unless the taxpayer files in writing with
the Commissioner [the] claim for x x x refund within two years after the payment of the tax."

Applying the aforequoted legal provisions, if the excess income taxes paid in a given taxable year have not been entirely used by a taxable corporation against its
quarterly income tax liabilities for the next taxable year, the unused amount of the excess may still be refunded, provided that the claim for such a refund is made
within two years after payment of the tax. Petitioner filed its claim in 1997 -- well within the two-year prescriptive period. Thus, its unused tax credits in 1995 may
still be refunded.

Even the phrase "succeeding taxable year" in the second paragraph of the said Section 69 is a limitation that applies only to a tax credit, not a tax refund.
Petitioner herein does not claim a tax credit, but a tax refund. Therefore, the statutory limitation does not apply.

Income Payments Merely

Declared Part of Gross Income

Second, to be able to claim a tax refund, a taxpayer only needs to declare the income payments it received as part of its gross income and to establish the fact of
withholding.

Section 5 of RR 12-94 states:


8

xxxxxxxxx

"(a) Claims for Tax Credit or Refund of income tax deducted and withheld on income payments shall be given due course only when it is shown on the return that
the income payment received has been declared as part of the gross income and the fact of withholding is established by a copy of the Withholding Tax Statement
duly issued by the payor to the payee showing the amount paid and the amount of tax withheld therefrom.

"(b) Excess Credits. -- A taxpayer's excess expanded withholding tax credits for the taxable quarter/taxable year shall automatically be allowed as a credit for
purposes of filing his income tax return for the taxable quarter/taxable year immediately succeeding the taxable quarter/taxable year in which the aforesaid excess
credit arose, provided, however, he submits with his income tax return a copy of his income tax return for the aforesaid previous taxable period showing the
amount of his aforementioned excess withholding tax credits.

"If the taxpayer, in lieu of the aforesaid automatic application of his excess credit, wants a cash refund or a tax credit certificate for use in payment of his other
national internal tax liabilities, he shall make a written request therefor. Upon filing of his request, the taxpayer's income tax return showing the excess expanded
withholding tax credits shall be examined. The excess expanded withholding tax, if any, shall be determined and refunded/credited to the taxpayer-applicant. The
refund/credit shall be made within a period of sixty (60) days from date of the taxpayer's request provided, however, that the taxpayer-applicant submitted for audit
all his pertinent accounting records and that the aforesaid records established the veracity of his claim for a refund/credit of his excess expanded withholding tax
credits."

That petitioner filed its amended 1995 income tax return in 1996 is uncontested. In addition, the resulting investigation by the BIR on August 15, 1997, reveals that
the income accounts were "correctly declared based on the existing supporting documents." Therefore, there is no need for petitioner to show again the income
9

payments it received in 1995 as part of its gross income in 1996.

That petitioner filed its 1996 final adjustment return in 1997 is the crux of the controversy. However, as will be demonstrated shortly, the lack of such a return will
not defeat its entitlement to a refund.

Tax Refund Provisions:

Question of Law

Third, it is a cardinal rule that "only legal issues may be raised" in petitions for review under Rule 45.
10 11

The proper interpretation of the provisions on tax refund is a question of law that "does not call for an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented
by the parties-litigants." Having been unable to use the excess income taxes paid in 1995 against its other tax liabilities in 1996, petitioner clearly deserves a
12

refund. It cannot by any sweeping denial be deprived of what rightfully belongs to it.

The truth or falsity of the contents of or entries in the 1996 final adjustment return, which has not been formally offered in evidence and examined by respondent,
involves, however, a question of fact. This Court is not a trier of facts. Neither is it a collection agency for the government. Although we rule that petitioner is
entitled to a tax refund, the amount of that refund is a matter for the CTA to determine judiciously based on the records that include its own copy of petitioner’s
1996 final adjustment return.

Liberal Construction

of Rules

Fourth, ordinary rules of procedure frown upon the submission of final adjustment returns after trial has been conducted. However, both the CTA law and
jurisprudence mandate that the proceedings before the tax court "shall not be governed strictly by technical rules of evidence." As a rule, its findings of fact (as
13 14

well as that of the CA) are final, binding and conclusive on the parties and upon this Court; however, as an exception, such findings may be reviewed or disturbed
15

on appeal when they are not supported by evidence.


16 17

Our Rules of Court apply "by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable and convenient" and "shall be liberally construed in order to promote
18 19

their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding." After all, "[t]he paramount consideration remains the
20

ascertainment of truth."21

In the present case, the 1996 final adjustment return was attached as Annex A to the Reply to Comment filed by petitioner with the CA. The return shows a
22

negative amount for its taxable income that year. Therefore, it could not have applied or used the excess tax credits of 1995 against its tax liabilities in 1996.

Judicial Notice

of Attached Return

Fifth, the CA and CTA could have taken judicial notice of the 1996 final adjustment return which had been attached in CTA Case No. 5799. "Judicial notice takes
the place of proof and is of equal force." 23

As a general rule, courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of the contents of records in other cases tried or pending in the same court, even when those
cases were heard or are actually pending before the same judge. However, this rule admits of exceptions, as when reference to such records is sufficiently made
without objection from the opposing parties:

‘". . . [I]n the absence of objection, and as a matter of convenience to all parties, a court may properly treat all or any part of the original record of a case filed in its
archives as read into the record of a case pending before it, when, with the knowledge of the opposing party, reference is made to it for that purpose, by name and
number or in some other manner by which it is sufficiently designated; or when the original record of the former case or any part of it, is actually withdrawn from the
archives by the court's direction, at the request or with the consent of the parties, and admitted as a part of the record of the case then pending.’" 24

Prior to rendering its Decision on January 12, 2000, the CTA was already well-aware of the existence of another case pending before it, involving the same subject
matter, parties and causes of action. Because of the close connection of that case with the matter in controversy, the CTA could have easily taken judicial
25

notice of the contested document attached in that other case.


26

Furthermore, there was no objection raised to the inclusion of the said 1996 final adjustment return in petitioner’s Reply to Comment before the CA. Despite clear
reference to that return, a reference made with the knowledge of respondent, the latter still failed to controvert petitioner’s claim. The appellate court should have
cast aside strict technicalities and decided the case on the basis of such uncontested return. Verily, it had the authority to "take judicial notice of its records and of
27

the facts [that] the record establishes." 28


Section 2 of Rule 129 provides that courts "may take judicial notice of matters x x x ought to be known to judges because of their judicial functions." If the lower
29

courts really believed that petitioner was not entitled to a tax refund, they could have easily required respondent to ascertain its veracity and accuracy and to 30

prove that petitioner did not suffer any net loss in 1996.

Contrary to the contention of petitioner, BPI-Family Savings Bank v. CA (on which it rests its entire arguments) is not on all fours with the facts of this case.
31

While the petitioner in that case also filed a written claim for a tax refund, and likewise failed to present its 1990 corporate annual income tax return, it nonetheless
offered in evidence its top-ranking official’s testimony and certification pertaining to only two taxable years (1989 and 1990). The said return was attached only to
its Motion for Reconsideration before the CTA.

Petitioner in this case offered documentary and testimonial evidence that extended beyond two taxable years, because the excess credits in the first
(1995) taxable year had not been used up during the second (1996) taxable year, and because the claim for the refund of those credits had been filed during the
third (1997) taxable year. Its final adjustment return was instead attached to its Reply to Comment filed before the CA.

Moreover, in BPI-Family Savings Bank, petitioner was able to show "the undisputed fact: that petitioner had suffered a net loss in 1990 x x x." In the instant case,
32

there is no such "undisputed fact" as yet. The mere admission into the records of petitioner’s 1996 final adjustment return is not a sufficient proof of the truth of the
contents of or entries in that return.

In addition, the BIR in BPI-Family Savings Bank did not controvert the veracity of the return or file an opposition to the Motion and the return. Despite the fact that
the return was ignored by both the CA and the CTA, the latter even declared in another case (CTA Case No. 4897) that petitioner had suffered a net
loss for taxable year 1990. When attached to the Petition for Review filed before this Court, that Decision was not at all claimed by the BIR to be fraudulent or
nonexistent. The Bureau merely contended that this Court should not take judicial notice of the said Decision.

In this case, however, the BIR has not been given the chance to challenge the veracity of petitioner’s final adjustment return. Neither has the CTA decided any
other case categorically declaring a net loss for petitioner in taxable year 1996. After this return was attached to petitioner’s Reply to Comment before the CA, the
appellate court should have required the filing of other responsive pleadings from respondent, as was necessary and proper for it to rule upon the return.

Admissibility Versus Weight

Indeed, "[a]dmissibility x x x is one thing, weight is another." "To admit evidence and not to believe it are not incompatible with each other x x x." Mere allegations
33 34

by petitioner of the figures in its 1996 final adjustment returnare not a sufficient proof of the amount of its refund entitlement. They do not even constitute
evidence adverse to respondent, against whom they are being presented.
35 36

While it seems that the "[non-production] of a document which courts almost invariably expect will be produced ‘unavoidably throws a suspicion over the
cause,’" this is not really the conclusion to be arrived at here. When petitioner purportedly filed its administrative claim for a tax refund on April 10, 1997, the
37

deadline for filing the 1996 final adjustment return was not yet over. Hence, it could not have attached this return to its claim.

For reasons unknown even to this Court, petitioner failed to offer such return as evidence during the trial phase of this case. For its negligence, petitioner "cannot
be allowed to seek refuge in a liberal application of the [r]ules" by giving it a blanket approval of the total refund it claims. "While in certain instances, we allow a
38

relaxation in the application of the rules, we never intend to forge a weapon for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity. The liberal interpretation and
application of rules apply only in proper cases of demonstrable merit and under justifiable causes and circumstances." 39

It would not be proper to allow petitioner to simply prevail and compel a refund in the amount it claims, without affording the government a reasonable opportunity
to contest the former’s allegations. Negligence consisting of the unexplained failure to offer the exhibit should not be rewarded with undeserved leniency.
40

Petitioner still bears the burden of proving the amount of its claim for tax refund. After all, "[t]ax refunds are in the nature of tax exemptions" and are to be
41

construed strictissimi juris against the taxpayer.

Finally, even in the absence of a final adjustment return or any claim for a tax refund, respondent is authorized by law to examine any book, paper, record or other
data that may be relevant or material to such inquiry. Failure to make an assessment of petitioner’s proper tax liability or to contest the return could be errors or
42

omissions of administrative officers that should never be allowed to jeopardize the government’s financial position.

Verily, "the officers of the Bureau of Internal Revenue should receive the support of the courts when these officers attempt to perform in a conscientious and lawful
manner the duties imposed upon them by law." Only after it is shown that "if something is received when there is no right to demand it, and it was duly delivered
43

through mistake, the obligation to return it arises." 44

In brief, we hold that petitioner is entitled to a refund; however, the amount must still be proved in proper proceedings before the CTA.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby PARTLY GRANTED, and the assailed Decision SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Court of Tax Appeals for the
proper and immediate determination of the amount to be refunded to petitioner on the basis of the latter’s 1996 final adjustment return. No pronouncement as to
costs.

SO ORDERED.

Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, and Garcia, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 174371 December 11, 2008

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
WARREN DELA CRUZ Y FRANCISCO, respondent.
DECISION

REYES, R.T., J.:

THE Holy Book tells the story of Cain treacherously slaying his brother Abel. Then God asked Cain: "Where is your brother Abel?" Cain replied, "I do not know. Am
I my brother's keeper?"1 The story ended with God punishing and banishing Cain.

Though not involving brothers, the case before Us is similar to the Bible story because it involves treachery. And like Cain, appellant anchors his defense on bare
denial despite the overwhelming evidence against him. As punishment, We affirm appellant's conviction for murder and his sentence of reclusion perpetua.

Appellant Warren dela Cruz y Francisco appeals the Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming with modification that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in
Malabon City3 convicting him of two (2) counts of murder for the deaths of Danilo Valeriano and Felix Valeriano.

The Facts

On May 9, 1999, at around 2:45 p.m., Leonardo Cayetano, Danilo Valeriano and Felix Valeriano were on their way to the cockpit arena in Dampalit, Malabon.
Leonardo was walking ahead of Danilo and Felix at the rice paddies at a distance of four (4) arms length away.

All of a sudden, Leonardo heard a couple of gunshots. Turning his back, he saw Danilo and Felix already sprawled and bloodied on the ground. Despite this, three
(3) persons continued shooting them.4 He recognized the person firing a .38 caliber as appellant Warren dela Cruz.5

Fearing for his life, Leonardo ran as fast as he could to an old storehouse. When the assailants left the crime scene, Leonardo ran towards the victims to help
them, but they were already dead.6

The autopsy conducted by Dr. Manuel Lagonera revealed that Danilo and Felix died of multiple gunshot wounds. Felix sustained two (2) gunshot wounds in the
body and one (1) in his head. Danilo had a gunshot wound in the left temporal region of his head.7 Dr. Lagonera opined that the fatal wounds were fired at close
range.8

On July 9, 1999, appellant and two (2) John Does were indicted for two (2) counts of murder, in two (2) Informations reading:

Criminal Case No. 21265-MN

The undersigned Asst. City Prosecutor accuses all the above-named accused of the crime of Murder, committed as follows:

That on or about the 9th day of May 1999 in the Municipality of Malabon, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, armed with guns, with intent to kill, treachery and evident
premeditation, and with abuse of superior strength did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot one DANILO L.
VALERIANO, hitting him on his head, which caused his immediate death.

CONTRARY TO LAW.9

Criminal Case No. 21266-MN

The undersigned Asst. City Prosecutor accuses all the above-named accused of the crime of Murder, committed as follows:

That on or about the 9th day of May 1999 in the Municipality of Malabon, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one another, armed with guns, with intent to kill, treachery and evident
premeditation, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot one FELIX VALERIANO, JR., hitting him on his
different parts of his body which caused his immediate death.

CONTRARY TO LAW.10

On November 11, 2001, appellant was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest.11 The other suspects remained at large. On arraignment, appellant, assisted by
counsel de oficio, pleaded not guilty to both Informations. 12 Trial on the merits thereafter ensued.13

Prosecution witness Leonardo Cayetano testified that he saw appellant and the other two suspects shoot the victims. Witness Dr. Lagonera testified on the cause
of death of the victims.

Appellant invoked the defense of denial. He testified that on May 9, 1999, at around 2:45 p.m., he was walking along the rice paddies on his way to the cockpit in
Dampalit, Malabon. He was 5 meters behind Felix and Danilo. While walking, a banca stopped in front of him and three (3) persons wearing black bonnets
alighted. Upon seeing them, appellant stopped walking but one of them held him by the nape. He was ordered to stoop down. He immediately obliged for fear that
he might be hurt.

With a gun pointed at his head, appellant was commanded not to shout and say anything. Then he heard around six (6) gun shots. He was told not to look back.
He remained stooping in the ground for about fifteen (15) minutes.
After the assailants left, appellant stood up and saw the victims lying down. He ran towards the cockpit to go to his mother's place in Obando, Bulacan. He told his
mother about the killing incidents. He did not report the killings to the authorities because of the threat he received from the assailants.14

Appellant's mother, Julieta Francisco, corroborated the testimony of her son. She testified that she was at the house of her in-law in Catanghalan, Obando,
Bulacan on May 9, 1999. At around 3:00 p.m., she was surprised to see her son. He was very pale and could not talk properly. Inquiring what was wrong, her son
told her that there was a killing incident at the back of the cockpit arena in Dampalit. When asked about the identity of the victim, he replied that it was Danilo. It did
not cross her mind to report the incident to the police.15

RTC and CA Dispositions

On December 23, 2003, the RTC rendered a joint decision convicting appellant of two (2) counts of murder, with a fallo reading:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused Warren de la Cruz y Francisco guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offenses charged
and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in each of these cases and to pay each of the heirs of the victims P50,000.00 by
way of civil indemnity for the death and P20,000.00 each as actual expenses in the wake and burial of the victims.16

The RTC held that the defense of denial cannot prevail over the positive identification of Cayetano that appellant was one of the assailants. No ill motive can be
imputed to Cayetano. The flight of appellant also belies his innocence.17

The RTC also ruled that the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation was absent but there was treachery. The means of execution employed by the
assailants did not give the victims opportunity to defend themselves or retaliate. It was also deliberately or consciously adopted.18 There was abuse of superior
strength considering the number of armed assailants against the unarmed victims. The element of treachery, however, absorbed abuse of superior strength.19

Appellant directly appealed to this Court.20 In accordance with Our decision in People v. Mateo,21 We referred the case to the CA for proper disposition.

On February 15, 2006, the CA rendered a decision affirming with modification that of the RTC, with a fallo reading:

UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE OF THIS CASE, THUS, the assailed Joint Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Malabon City, Branch 170, in Criminal
Cases Nos. 21265-MN and 21266-MN is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The accused-appellant Warren de la Cruz y Francisco is convicted of two
counts of murder, for the death of Danilo L. Valeriano and Felix Valeriano, Jr., and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in each
case. The accused-appellant is likewise ordered to pay the heirs of the victims the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages, in addition to the
amounts of P20,000.00 as actual damages and P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. Costs shall also be assessed against the accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.22

The appellate court held that the testimony of lone eyewitness Cayetano is credible. Like the RTC, the CA held that appellant's bare denial cannot prevail over
Cayetano's straightforward and unwaivering identification. Inconsistency in his testimony is only minor and does not affect his credibility.23 Appellant's flight also
evinces a consciousness of guilt and a silent admission of culpability.24

The CA agreed with the RTC that treachery was present. The manner of attack employed by appellant and his two (2) companions was deliberate and
unexpected. It did not give the victims the opportunity to defend themselves. They were shot from behind.25

The CA modified the RTC decision by awarding P50,000 moral damages in addition to the P20,000.00 actual damages and P50,000.00 civil indemnity awarded by
the trial court.26

Appellant moved of reconsideration but his motion was denied.27 Undaunted, he resorted to the present recourse.28

Issues

Appellant assigns twin errors in the RTC decision -

IN GIVING FULL WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE INCONSISTENT TESTIMONY OF PROSECUTION WITNESS LEONARDO CAYETANO AND
IN DISREGARDING THE DEFENSE INTERPOSED BY THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

II

IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FACT THAT HIS GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.29

In his supplemental brief,30 appellant claims that if he is guilty, he should only be convicted for homicide.31

Our Ruling
The trial court's assessment of credibility of witnesses is given great weight and respect; appellant was identified as one of the perpetrators of the
crime. The issues raised by appellant hinge on the credibility of a witness. Appellant argues that the testimony of Cayetano was materially inconsistent. Cayetano
initially testified that right after the shooting incident, the police authorities conducted an investigation where he gave his statement to them. However, he
contradicted himself when he further testified that he gave his testimony to the police two (2) weeks after the incident.32

Appellant also banks on the alleged inconsistencies in the evidence of Cayetano. He asserts that Cayetano testified that he recognized him as one of the
assailants but he failed to mention this to the authorities when they took his statement during the investigation.33 Appellant argues that although his defense is
based on mere denial, the prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence rather on the weakness of the defense.34

It is settled that appellate courts give due respect to the assessment of facts of the trial court. The reason is simple. The trial court had the opportunity of not only
receiving evidence but also of observing the witnesses while testifying. The respect accorded to the factual findings of the trial court should be maintained, unless
it has overlooked or failed to consider certain facts of weight and importance that could have materially affected the conclusion reached in a case.35

Here, We find no compelling reason to disturb the factual findings of the trial court. The alleged inconsistency in Cayetano's testimony refers only to a minor
matter. It is inconsequential and does not impair his credibility.36 In People v. Prado,37 this Court held:

Inconsistencies and discrepancies on minor details of the testimony of a witness serve instead to strengthen his credibility as they are badges of truth
rather than indicia of falsehood. The most candid witnesses oftentimes make mistakes and fall into confused and inconsistent statements but such
honest lapses do not necessarily affect their credibility. Far from eroding the effectiveness of the testimonies of the two witnesses, such trivial
differences in fact constitute signs of veracity.38

We agree with the CA that the alleged inconsistency "only challenges the exact time when Cayetano gave his statement to the police."39 The fact that Cayetano
had conflicting accounts as to when he gave his statement to the police, does not in any way alter his testimony that appellant is one of the malefactors. He
witnessed the crimes and had positively identified appellant.

Contrary to his claim, Cayetano specifically identified appellant as one of the assailants in his sworn affidavit before the police authorities. He even declared that
he could also identify the other two suspects in case he sees them again.40 Cayetano confirmed this on the witness stand, thus:

A: I turned my back and I saw my two (2) companions fell down with blood, Sir.

Q: Were those shots successive?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: When you turned your back you saw the two (2) victims slumped on the ground?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: What else did you see aside from the two victims slumped on the ground?

A: I saw the three (3) persons who shot them, Sir.

Q: Those three (3) persons who shot the victims, can you recognize them?

A: I only recognized one [but] I do not know the other two (2), Sir.

Q: You cannot recognize the two (2) persons who shot the victim[s]?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: You said that you recognized the (sic) one, who is that person whom you recognized?

A: Warren dela Cruz, Sir.

Q: Will you please rise and point at him.

(Witness pointed to a person inside the courtroom who when asked answered to the name Warren dela Cruz.)

Q: You said that you heard shots, did you also recognize the weapon used?

A: Yes, Sir, one (1) .45 and one (1) .38 caliber.

Q: And who was holding the .45 caliber firearm?


A: One of the companions of the accused Warren dela Cruz, Sir.

Q: How about the .38 caliber revolver?

A: Warren dela Cuz, Sir.41 (Emphasis supplied)

Cayetano also testified that he had known appellant for a long time as a tricycle driver.42 Thus, he could not have been mistaken with his identity. Nor is there any
evidence that Cayetano was impelled by improper motives in pointing a finger at appellant as one of the culprits. The absence of evidence of improper motive
tends to indicate that his testimony is worthy of full faith and credence.43

Self-serving denial cannot overthrow the positive identification that appellant was one of the perpetrators of the crime.44 In Ferrer v. People,45 this Court reiterated
the longstanding doctrine that denial -

x x x is intrinsically a weak defense which must be buttressed by strong evidence of non-culpability to merit credibility. To be sure, it is negative, self-
serving evidence that cannot be given evidentiary weight greater than that of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters. Time-tested is the
rule that between the positive assertions of prosecution witnesses and the negative averments of the accused, the former indisputably deserve more
credence and evidentiary weight.46

The Court reaffirmed this doctrine in Velasco v. People,47 where it was held that "[t]o be believed, denial must be buttressed by strong evidence of non-culpability.
Otherwise, it is purely self-serving and without merit."

Appellant even admitted his presence at the scene of the crime when it was committed.48 He admitted hiding from the clutches of the law for more than a year
instead of reporting the matter to the police.49 His flight is indicative of guilt.50

We are not unmindful of the testimony of appellant's mother, Julieta. We, however, give little weight to it because of the positive identification of Cayetano that her
son is one of the culprits. More importantly, as a mother, Julieta cannot totally be considered as a disinterested witness. Her maternal instincts may impel her to
protect her son at all cost, even to the point of prevarication.

Treachery qualified the killings to murder; treachery absorbs abuse of superior strength. Appellant argues that treachery was not present in the commission
of the crime. He claims that the prosecution failed to present any positive proof that he has resolved to commit the crime. There was no proof that the death of the
victims was the result of mediation, calculation or reflection.51

We hold otherwise. There is treachery when the offender commits the crime employing means, methods or forms of execution thereof which tend directly and
specifically to ensure its execution without risk to himself arising from the defense which the victim might make.52 The elements of treachery are: (1) the
employment of means of execution that gives the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate; and (2) the means of execution were deliberate
or consciously adopted.53

Here, Danilo and Felix were shot from behind while they were innocently walking on their way to the cockpit arena in Dampalit, Malabon. They were unaware of
the impending death that awaited them. In fact, they were unarmed. They were shot unceremoniously. The absence of warning denied them the opportunity to
defend themselves or retaliate. Treachery was clearly present.

Records also show that the malefactors were all armed while Danilo and Felix were not. 54 There was abuse of superior strength.55 However, as the RTC and CA
correctly held, abuse of superior strength is absorbed in treachery. Pursuant to this Court's ruling in People v. Ellado,56 abuse of superior strength can no longer be
separately considered as an aggravating circumstance.

There is no violation of appellant's right to information.Appellant also argues that he was denied due process of law. He claims that even if he is found guilty,
the qualifying circumstance of treachery, evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength alleged in the two Informations should not be appreciated against
him because they were not specified in ordinary and concise language sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what those qualifying
circumstances were.57

Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure provide:

Sec. 8. Designation of the offense. - The complaint or information shall state the designation of the offense given by the statute, aver the acts or
omissions constituting the offense, and specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense, reference shall
be made to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.

Sec. 9. Cause of the accusation. - The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense and the qualifying and aggravating circumstances
must be stated in ordinary and concise language and not necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of
common understanding to know what offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and aggravating circumstances and for the court to pronounce
judgment.

This Court interpreted the above sections in People v. Aquino,58 as requiring simply that the Information enumerate the attendant circumstances mentioned in the
law to qualify the offense. It is sufficient that these circumstances are specified in the Information to apprise the accused of the charge. Said the Court:

The use of the words "aggravating/qualifying circumstances" will not add any essential element to the crime. Neither will the use of such words further
apprise the accused of the nature of the charge. The specific allegation of the attendant circumstance in the Information, coupled with the designation
of the offense and a statement of the acts constituting the offense as required in Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110, is sufficient to warn the accused x x x.

xxxx
Thus, even the attendant circumstance itself, which is the essential element that raises the crime to a higher category, need not be stated in the
language of the law. With more reason, the words "aggravating/qualifying circumstances" as used in the law need not appear in the Information,
especially since these words are merely descriptive of the attendant circumstances and do not constitute an essential element of the crime. These
words are also not necessary in informing the accused that he is charged of a qualified crime. What properly informs the accused of the nature of the
crime charged is the specific allegation of the circumstances mentioned in the law that raise the crime to a higher category.

xxxx

We therefore reiterate that Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110 merely require that the Information allege, specify or enumerate the attendant circumstances
mentioned in the law to qualify the offense. These circumstances need not be preceded by the words "aggravating/qualifying," "qualifying," or
"qualified by" to be considered as qualifying circumstances. It is sufficient that these circumstances be specified in the Information to apprise the
accused of the charges against him to enable him to prepare fully for his defense, thus precluding surprises during the trial. When the prosecution
specifically alleges in the Information the circumstances mentioned in the law as qualifying the crime, and succeeds in proving them beyond
reasonable doubt, the Court is constrained to impose the higher penalty mandated by law. This includes the death penalty in proper cases.

xxxx

To guide the bench and the bar, this Resolution clarifies and resolves the issue of how to allege or specify qualifying or aggravating circumstances in
the Information. The words "aggravating/qualifying," "qualifying," "qualified by," "aggravating," or "aggravated by" need not be expressly stated as long
as the particular attendant circumstances are specified in the Information.59 (Citations omitted)

A reading of the allegations in the two Informations60 against appellant and his co-accused are very clear. These allegations, once proven beyond reasonable
doubt, qualify the killing of Danilo and Felix to murder. It would be an unreasonable burden for the prosecution if it is required to do more.

All told, We hold that appellant was properly convicted of murder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua in each case. We, however, find that an award of exemplary
damages in the amount of P25,000.00 a piece to the heirs of Danilo and Felix is proper. Exemplary damages are awarded, as here, when treachery attended
commission of the crime.61

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED but MODIFIED in that appellant is also liable to pay the heirs of the victims exemplary
damages in the amount of P25,000.00 apiece.

SO ORDERED.

RUBEN T. REYES

G.R. No. 164580 February 6, 2009

NORGIE CRUZ y CASTRO, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a petition for review filed by petitioner Norgie Cruz y Castro (petitioner) seeking to set aside the Decision1dated 31 March 2004 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR No. 26300 which affirmed with modification the Joint Decision2 dated 10 May 2001 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 72, Malabon City, Metro Manila
(RTC-Branch 72) in Criminal Cases Nos. 22086-MN to 22087-MN.

The Facts

On 16 November 1999, a confidential informant went to the office of the Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) of the Malabon Police Station and informed the DEG
operatives that he might be able to set up a sale of shabu with a drug pusher residing at Barangay Potrero, Malabon City. A surveillance team, composed of SPO1
Alberto Nepomuceno (SPO1 Nepomuceno), SPO1 Mario Saddoy (SPO1 Saddoy), PO1 Rodolfo Cruz (PO1 Cruz), and PO1 Allan Fernandez,3 was formed to
validate and confirm the informant’s claim. The following day, the informant reported that he was able to arrange the sale of shabu with the drug pusher at the
Dunkin’ Donuts establishment along MacArthur Highway near the Bonifacio Monument in Kalookan City. A buy-bust team, with SPO1 Nepomuceno designated as
poseur-buyer, was formed to entrap the drug pusher. SPO1 Nepomuceno was issued ₱8,400 worth of marked money. The informant accompanied SPO1
Nepomuceno to the Dunkin’ Donuts establishment and the rest of the team followed and took strategic positions to observe the transaction. Team member PO1
Cruz saw a person, later identified as petitioner, who talked to the informant and SPO1 Nepomuceno. Petitioner, the informant, and SPO1 Nepomuceno boarded
the latter’s vehicle and they proceeded to Reparo Street, Malabon City. The rest of the team followed.4 Along Reparo Street, PO1 Cruz saw petitioner meet a
teenager carrying a child, then petitioner pulled out two sachets from the child’s diaper and handed the sachets to SPO1 Nepomuceno. SPO1 Nepomuceno
handed to petitioner the marked money. Thereafter, the buy-bust team approached and arrested petitioner and retrieved the two sachets which turned out to
be shabu.5 SPO1 Saddoy recovered the marked money from petitioner.6 The police officers informed petitioner of his constitutional rights and proceeded to
question him. Later, petitioner led the police officers to his residence at No. 1, MacArthur Highway, Malabon City. Petitioner retrieved a large package
containing shabu from a hole dug into the stairway of his house which was turned over to PO1 Cruz. 7
On 22 November 1999, petitioner was charged with Illegal Sale of shabu and Illegal Possession of shabu in Criminal Cases Nos. 22086-MN and 22087-MN before
the RTC-Branch 72. Petitioner posted bail in both cases and was provisionally released from detention on 29 November 1999. Upon arraignment, petitioner
pleaded not guilty to both charges. Trial ensued.

Trial Court’s Ruling

The RTC-Branch 72 rendered judgment on 10 May 2001 convicting petitioner of both charges. He was sentenced to suffer imprisonment ranging from six months
of arresto mayor as minimum to four years, two months and one day of prision correccional as maximum in Criminal Case No. 22086-MN (illegal sale), and six
years of prision correccionalas minimum to ten years of prision mayor as maximum in Criminal Case No. 22087-MN (illegal possession).

The trial court ruled that the totality of the evidence adduced by the prosecution strongly established that petitioner was neither licensed nor authorized to possess
and sell shabu.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On appeal docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 26300, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment on 31 March 2004 affirming petitioner’s conviction in Criminal Case No.
22086-MN but acquitting him in Criminal Case No. 22087-MN. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Joint Decision dated May 10, 2001 of the RTC, Branch 72, Malabon, Metro Manila in Criminal Cases Nos. 22086-MN to
22087-MN is partly AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.

In Criminal Case No. 22087-MN, for violation of Section 16, Article III, RA 6425 as amended by RA 7659, for illegal possession of regulated drugs, accused-
appellant is hereby ACQUITTED.

In Criminal Case No. 22086-MN, for violation of Section 15, Article III, RA 6425 as amended by RA 7659, for illegal sale of regulated drugs, accused-appellant’s
conviction is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the penalty should be 6 months of arresto mayor to 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional.8

The Court of Appeals ruled that the commission of the offense of illegal sale of prohibited drugs required merely the consummation of the sale which happens the
moment the buyer received the drugs from the seller. What is material is the proof that the sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of
the corpus delicti as evidence. And since the quantity of drugs confiscated from petitioner was only 3.39 grams and 4.09 grams, and there was no aggravating or
mitigating circumstance, the Court of Appeals modified the penalty imposed by the trial court to "six months of arresto mayor to four years and two months
of prision correccional."

The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the finding of the trial court convicting petitioner of illegal possession of shabu. The Court of Appeals ruled that while the
warrantless arrest, being the consequence of a successful buy-bust operation, was valid and legal in all respects, the ensuing search and seizure in petitioner’s
house was already illegal as the same was effected without a warrant. A search as an incident to a lawful arrest is allowed provided that the search is made
contemporaneous to the arrest and within a permissible area of search. However, the search here was conducted at the point where the arrest was already
terminated. It was only after petitioner volunteered information that the police officers proceeded to petitioner’s house. Consequently, the shabu obtained from
petitioner’s house is excluded as evidence and the charge of illegal possession had no leg to stand on.

The Court’s Ruling

This Court will delve only on the criminal case which convicted petitioner of illegal sale of shabu since he was acquitted in Criminal Case No. 22087-MN for illegal
possession of shabu.

In the present petition, petitioner contends that the assailed Court of Appeals’ decision was not in accord with law and jurisprudence. He argues that the
prosecution failed to rebut his allegations that the failure to present the poseur-buyer, as the prosecution’s best witness, constitutes a fatal flaw in the prosecution’s
evidence. He insists that the testimony of the poseur-buyer is material and indispensable when the accused denies having committed the prohibited act. Petitioner
claims that no competent witness was presented to establish that he sold and delivered a prohibited drug to another and that he knew that what he had sold and
delivered was a dangerous drug. Petitioner further points out that the buy-bust money that was used in the buy-bust operation was not presented.

We disagree.

A buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment whereby ways and means are resorted to for the purpose of trapping and capturing the lawbreakers in the execution
of their criminal plan. For the successful prosecution of the illegal sale of shabu, the following elements must be established: (1) the identity of the buyer and the
seller, the object of the sale and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and its payment. What is material is the proof that the transaction or sale
actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti as evidence.9 Thus, the delivery of the illicit drug to the poseur-buyer and the receipt
by the seller of the marked money successfully consummate the buy-bust transaction.

The failure of the poseur-buyer to testify on the actual purchase is not fatal to the prosecution’s cause.10 SPO1 Nepomuceno, the poseur-buyer, was already
assigned in Iloilo City, Region VIII, when the cases were being tried. However, SPO1 Saddoy and PO1 Cruz saw the illicit transaction as both of them positioned
themselves at the barber shop opposite the Dunkin' Donuts establishment.11 PO1 Cruz witnessed the whole transaction where the marked money was exchanged
for two sachets of shabu. He was positioned at Reparo Street where he saw the exchange of shabu and the marked money along Reparo Street.12 SPO1 Saddoy,
on the other hand, was the one who recovered the marked money from petitioner.13 As long as there is proof that the sale actually took place, coupled with the
presentation in court of the corpus delicti as evidence, a conviction for illegal sale of shabu can be sustained.14

Petitioner was arrested in flagrante delicto during the buy-bust operation. Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that SPO1 Saddoy and PO1 Cruz were
inspired by any improper motive or were not properly performing their duty, and none has been adduced by the defense, their testimonies with respect to the buy-
bust operation deserve full faith and credit. The identity of petitioner cannot be doubted having been caught in flagrante delicto in an entrapment operation
conducted by the police.15
The failure to present the buy-bust money is likewise not fatal. The marked money used in the buy-bust operation is not indispensable but merely corroborative in
nature. In the prosecution for the sale of dangerous drugs, the absence of marked money does not create a hiatus in the evidence for the prosecution as long as
the sale of dangerous drugs is adequately proven and the drug subject of the transaction is presented before the court. Neither law nor jurisprudence requires the
presentation of any money used in the buy-bust operation. What is material to a prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or
sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti as evidence.16 The prosecution duly established both in this case.

Petitioner argues that SPO1 Saddoy was not part of the team that conducted the surveillance operation and the surveillance was conducted only for the purpose of
identifying the residence of petitioner without verifying if indeed he was engaged in illegal drugs. Petitioner further contends that the police officers or law
enforcement agents violated the Constitution casting doubt on the presumption of regularity of the apprehension made upon petitioner. Petitioner also claims that
the accounts of the police officers were full of material contradictions and inconsistencies. Petitioner was allegedly made to confess without the assistance of a
competent counsel in violation of his constitutional right. He did not undergo the regular procedure of being fingerprinted. And since the search of his house was
declared unconstitutional by the lower court, petitioner argues, the presumption of regularity has been rebutted.

The contention is untenable.

Settled is the rule that prior surveillance is not a prerequisite for the validity of an entrapment operation especially so if the buy-bust team is accompanied by the
informant, as in this case. The police officers may decide that time is of the essence and dispense with the need of prior surveillance.17

The absence of a prior surveillance or test buy does not affect the legality of the buy-bust operation. There is no textbook method of conducting buy-bust
operations. The Court has left to the discretion of police authorities the selection of effective means to apprehend drug dealers. Furthermore, if a police operation
requires immediate implementation, time is of the essence and only hasty preparations are sometimes possible. What is important is whether the speed of
preparation compromised the rights of the accused.18

Moreover, when a person is apprehended in flagrante delicto, the police is not only authorized, but duty-bound, to arrest him even without a warrant.19 Petitioner
was caught in flagrante delicto when SPO1 Nepomuceno gave him the marked money in exchange for two sachets of shabu. Petitioner’s arrest, as correctly found
by the trial court and the appellate court, was valid and legal.1avvphi1

Petitioner is harping on the declaration of the Court of Appeals that the search of his house was unconstitutional and thus the presumption of regularity has been
rebutted. This is likewise untenable. There is no connection between the prior entrapment of petitioner, which the Court of Appeals and this Court found to be
regular, legal and valid, and the subsequent search of his house, which the Court of Appeals found to be irregular. In the prior entrapment, petitioner was charged
with and convicted of illegal sale of shabu, an offense separate and distinct from the offense of illegal possession of shabu for which he was acquitted.

Petitioner further points to certain inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. It should be emphasized that inconsistencies regarding prior
surveillance and subsequent investigation relate to the credibility of witnesses. It involves a question of fact which cannot be raised and is not proper for
consideration in the present petition for review. This Court will not disturb the findings of the trial court in assessing the credibility of the witnesses, unless some
facts or circumstances of weight and influence have been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted by the trial court. This is because the
trial judge has the unique opportunity to observe the witnesses and to note their demeanor, conduct and attitude during direct and cross-examination.20 After a
careful review of the entire records of this case, we do not find any such oversight by the trial court.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 31 March 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 26300. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

G.R. No. 168299 October 6, 2008


(Formerly G.R. Nos. 156927-29)

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,


vs.
LUIS AYCARDO, appellant.

DECISION

AZCUNA, J.:

This is a petition for review of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR H.C. No. 00107, promulgated on May 5, 2005, which affirmed with modification
the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulan, Sorsogon City, Branch 65, promulgated on October 11, 2002, finding appellant Luis Aycardo guilty of
three counts of Statutory Rape and imposing on him the death penalty.

The facts are as follows:

Appellant was charged with three counts of rape under three separate Informations1 which read:

Criminal Case No. 00-387

The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor accuses LUIS AYCARDO, of San Francisco, Bulan, Sorsogon, of the crime of RAPE, defined and
penalized under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Section 5, Art. III of RA 7610, committed as follows:
That sometime in the month of March, 1994 at more or less 9:00 o'clock in the morning at Barangay San Francisco, Municipality of Bulan, Province of
Sorsogon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of force, violence and/or intimidation,
accused also gave the amount of P20.00, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, taking advantage of the tender age of the victim, have
carnal knowledge of one [AAA], a 9-year-old girl, a virgin of good reputation, his niece, against her will and consent, which act debased, demeaned
and degraded her integrity as a human being, to her damage and prejudice.

The alternative aggravating circumstance of relationship is present, the accused being the uncle of the victim.

Criminal Case No. 00-388

The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor accuses LUIS AYCARDO, of San Francisco, Bulan, Sorsogon, of the crime of RAPE, defined and
penalized under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Section 5, Art. III of RA 7610, committed as follows:

That sometime in the month of April, 1995 at more or less 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon at Barangay San Francisco, Municipality of Bulan, Province of
Sorsogon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of force, violence and/or intimidation,
accused also gave the amount of P50.00, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, taking advantage of the tender age of the victim, have
carnal knowledge of one [AAA], a 10-year-old girl, a virgin of good reputation, his niece, against her will and consent, which act debased, demeaned
and degraded her integrity as a human being, to her damage and prejudice.

The alternative aggravating circumstance of relationship is present, the accused being the uncle of the victim.

Criminal Case No. 00-389

The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor accuses LUIS AYCARDO, of San Francisco, Bulan, Sorsogon, of the crime of RAPE, defined and
penalized under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Section 5, Art. III of RA 7610, committed as follows:

That sometime in the month of April, 1995 at more or less 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon at Barangay San Francisco, Municipality of Bulan, Province of
Sorsogon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of force, violence and/or intimidation,
accused also gave the amount of P50.00, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, taking advantage of the tender age of the victim, have
carnal knowledge of one [AAA], a 10-year-old girl, a virgin of good reputation, his niece, against her will and consent, which act debased, demeaned
and degraded her integrity as a human being, to her damage and prejudice.

The alternative aggravating circumstance of relationship is present, the accused being the uncle of the victim.

Contrary to law.

On arraignment, appellant entered pleas of not guilty to all three charges. During the pre-trial conference, the defense admitted that private complainant AAA2 is
the niece of appellant. Thereafter, trial ensued.

AAA further testified that she was born on December 27, 1985. She grew up with her late paternal grandmother, BBB, who took care of her since she was a baby.
She lived with her grandmother and appellant in one house. Appellant is her uncle, being the brother of her father.3

Private complainant testified that she was raped by appellant thrice in the house of her grandmother in Barangay San Francisco, Bulan, Sorsogon, when her
grandmother was not around. She was first raped on March 19, 1994, when she was nine years old. At about 9:00 a.m. of that day, while she was in the house of
her grandmother, appellant forcefully pulled her inside the room and pushed her toward the bed. Appellant undressed himself by removing only his trousers and
brief, then he got hold of her and undressed her too. Thereafter, appellant lay on top of her and inserted his penis into her genitalia, then he made pumping
motions. She felt pain. After the ordeal, appellant put on his clothes and gave her P20 to keep her silent. He threatened her not to tell anybody about the incident.
Her grandmother returned that same day coming from the place where her other child lived. After the incident, appellant continued to stay with her grandmother in
the same house.4

Private complainant testified that appellant raped her again when she was 10 years old. Sometime in the month of April, 1995, at about 4:00 p.m., while her
grandmother went to the center of the barrio (Polot), appellant called her, but she did not want to approach him. He pulled her inside the room and pushed her
toward the bed and slapped her. She fell down face up. Appellant held both of her hands and undressed her. Then appellant removed his trousers and brief and
lay on top of her. She kept crying while appellant was on top of her and she felt pain. After she was sexually molested, appellant gave her P50 to keep her mum.
Her grandmother returned home on the same day, but she did not tell her about the incident, fearing that appellant might kill her.5

The third rape incident was committed almost a week after the second rape in April, 1995. AAA testified that it happened at about 2:00 p.m. when her grandmother
was not around. Appellant approached her, took hold of her hands and pulled her inside the room. Although she resisted, appellant overpowered her. After
undressing himself and her, appellant pushed her towards the bed and sexually molested her. She felt pain. After the ordeal, appellant dressed himself and
threatened her not to tell anybody or they would be killed. He again gave her P50.6

Private complainant testified that the ordeal she suffered in the hands of appellant only ended in June, 1996 when her grandmother died and her mother took her.
Although her parents visited her in her grandmother's house, she was not able to inform them about the rape incidents because of fear. Her mother only learned of
the rape incidents in January, 2000, because she could no longer withstand the emotional pain that she felt. Her mother brought her to a doctor for medical
examination, after which they proceeded to the Department of Social Welfare and Development. They also went to the police station where she executed a sworn
statement.7

Dr. Estrella A. Payoyo, a rural health physician, testified that on January 7, 2000, she examined private complainant, then 14 years old, and she executed a
Medico-legal Report.8 She found that complainant's hymen had old lacerations at 1, 5, 7, and 11 o'clock positions and that her vaginal orifice admitted one finger
with ease. She stated that the lacerations could have been caused by sexual intercourse, specifically so if the penetration was made violently or done in a hurry.
The old lacerations could have been inflicted sometime in 1995.9
CCC, the mother of private complainant, testified that she gave birth to AAA on December 27, 1985 in Sucat, Muntinlupa, and she identified the Birth
Certificate10 of her daughter. AAA is the eldest among her three children. Appellant is the full-blood brother of her (CCC's) husband. AAA was reared by her
mother-in-law since she was four months old, and she (CCC) took her back in custody after the death of her mother-in-law. She knew about the rape incidents only
on January 6, 2000. Her daughter acted strangely, which bothered her. After her daughter told her that she was raped, she brought her to the doctor.11

On cross-examination, CCC testified that her family does not have any dispute with appellant. She was a housewife and a permanent resident of Polot, San
Francisco, Bulan, Sorsogon. Her husband is a farmer. She stated that she and her husband used to work in Manila. Her mother-in-law, BBB, was able to gain
custody of her daughter, AAA, because her mother-in-law asked her husband to go home to the province to tend the ricefield. Her husband obeyed and brought
with him AAA. From then on, her mother-in-law had custody of AAA. She (CCC) was refused custody of her daughter, AAA, because she was not the one who
reared and took care of her. Appellant, her mother-in-law and AAA lived together in one house.12

On the other hand, appellant denied that he raped private complainant and put up the defense of alibi. During his direct examination, appellant testified that he was
in Jamorawon, Bulan, Sorsogon as of March 1994 and that he left for Manila on December 10, 1994 and returned to Bulan only in April, 1997. Hence, appellant
denied that he was living in San Francisco, Bulan, Sorsogon with his mother and private complainant when the rape incidents allegedly happened sometime in
March, 1994 and in April, 1995.13

Appellant testified that he came to know about the complaint for rape only in the year 2000 when he received a letter from the Chief of Police of Bulan. He claimed
that AAA was used by her mother CCC because of their long-standing dispute over a ricefield owned by a certain Crisanto. The land dispute between him and
CCC started in the year 1989, and since then they were no longer in speaking terms. When he returned to Bulan in 1997, the land he was tenanting was being
cultivated by private complainant's mother and her husband. Thus, what really prompted the filing of these cases against him was the long-standing dispute over
the property they cultivated.14

On cross-examination, appellant admitted that his niece, AAA, grew up with his late mother and with him. Time and again, he stayed at the residence of his
mother. However, a nephew also stayed in the house with them. He only stayed with his mother from 1994 to September 17, 1995. In 1993, when his mother
suffered a stroke, AAA stayed with his sibling in Jamorawon, Bulan, Sorsogon. He actually treated AAA like his real child, showering her with love and care. He did
not know any other reason why AAA would file criminal cases for rape against him because the only reason that he had in mind was the property dispute between
AAA's parents and him.15

When the trial court asked some clarificatory questions, appellant testified that he stayed in Manila for nine years. He returned to Jamorawon, Bulan, Sorsogon
when his mother had a stroke in 1993 up to March 10, 1994 on which date he went back to Manila. He returned home to Bulan when his mother died on
September 17, 1994 (sic) [1995?]. After his mother was buried, he left for Manila and he returned to Bulan with his family in 1997. He re-affirmed that he only came
to know about this case in the year 2000 when he was invited to the Police Station of Bulan. When he went home to Jamorawon together with his family, he
chanced upon private complainant as well as her parents. However, the father of private complainant did not even bother to inform him about these cases during
those times they met.16

Appellant was the lone witness of the defense.

In a Decision dated October 11, 2002, the RTC found appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three counts of Statutory Rape. The dispositive portion of the
Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused LUIS AYCARDO having been found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the three (3) counts of RAPE
as charged, defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, by R.A. 7610 and R.A. 7659, is hereby sentenced as
follows:

a) To suffer the penalties of DEATH each, for the three (3) counts of RAPE committed sometime in March of 1994 and in April of 1995;

b) To indemnify the victim [AAA] for each count of RAPE in the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, in addition to the P50,000.00 moral damages
and costs.17

These consolidated cases were elevated to this Court for automatic review. The Court referred the cases to the Court of Appeals for intermediate review
following People v. Mateo.18

Appellant's Brief, submitted by the Public Attorney's Office, argued that the trial court erred in convicting appellant of rape when his guilt was not proved beyond
reasonable doubt. Appellant claimed that it was impossible for him to commit the alleged offenses because his testimony showed that he was in Jamorawon,
Bulan, Sorsogon when the first rape on March 19, 1994 allegedly happened; while he was in Manila when the two incidents of rape in April, 1995 were allegedly
committed. Moreover, the alleged rape incidents transpired more that six years before the case was filed. It is apparent that private complainant filed the case in
2000 after the land dispute between her mother and him (appellant) had arisen. Thus, private complainant was motivated to falsely testify against him.

In the Decision promulgated on May 5, 2005, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Decision of the RTC with modification, disposing thus:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Bulan, Sorsogon City, Branch 65 dated 11 October 2002 is
hereby AFFIRMED, with the modification that accused-appellant is ordered to indemnify [AAA] the amount of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity for each
count of rape.19

The cases were forwarded to this Court for review.

The issue is whether or not the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the decision of the RTC finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three counts of
rape.

Appellant is charged under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides:
Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. - Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:

1. By using force or intimidation;

2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and

3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented.

Considering that private complainant was 9 years old at the time the first rape was allegedly committed and was 10 years old during the second and third rape
incidents, the three counts of rape fall under paragraph 3 of Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code. Carnal knowledge of a girl under 12 years old is statutory
rape.20 Consent of the offended party is immaterial as she is presumed not to have any will of her own, being of tender age. 21 The fact that the offended party is
under 12 years old at the time of the commission of the crime is an essential element of the crime and must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.22 In statutory
rape, violence or intimidation is not required, and the only subject of inquiry is whether carnal knowledge took place.23

The prosecution proved that private complainant was under 12 years of age when she was raped by submitting in evidence her Birth Certificate showing that she
was born on December 27, 1985.

The Court found private complainant's testimony that she was raped to be straightforward and credible. Her testimony is supported by the Medico-legal Report
showing that her hymen had old lacerations at 1, 5, 7 and 11 o' clock positions.

Appellant, however, disputes the charges with his alibi. He alleged that he was in another place when the incidents allegedly took place. He also questioned the
credibility and motive of private complainant since the complaint was filed after six years from the alleged commission of the offenses and after a land dispute
arose between him and private complainant's mother (appellant's sister-in-law).

It is settled that alibi is the weakest of all defenses for it is easy to contrive and difficult to disprove. It is thus generally rejected.24 For this defense to prosper, the
accused must establish two elements: (1) he was not at the locus delicti at the time the offense was committed; and (2) it was physically impossible for him to be at
the scene at the time of its commission.25 Moreover, alibi must be supported by credible corroboration from disinterested witnesses, and where such defense
is not corroborated, it is usually fatal to the accused.26

Appellant claimed that during the rape incident on March 19, 1994, he was in Jamorawon, Bulan, Sorsogon; while he was in Manila during the two rape incidents
which occurred sometime in April, 1995.

The Court observed that appellant testified inconsistently as regards the dates when he was in Bulan and when he left for Manila to show that he was not in San
Francisco, Bulan, Sorsogon when the three rapes were committed. In his direct examination, appellant testified that he was in Jamorawon, Bulan, Sorsogon in
March, 1994 and that he left for Manila on December 10, 1994.27 The Court of Appeals thus stated that although appellant testified that he was in Jamorawon,
Bulan, Sorosogon in March, 1994, this does not negate the possibility that he perpetrated the first count of rape in San Francisco, Bulan, Sorsogon, without any
proof of the distance between the two places. However, during cross-examination, appellant testified that he stayed with his mother (private complainant's
grandmother) from 1994 up to September 17, 1995,28 which defeated his alibi. When the trial court asked him clarificatory questions, appellant testified that he was
in Jamorawon, Bulan, Sorsogon when his mother had a stroke in 1993 up to March 10, 1994 on which date he left for Manila. He returned to Bulan on September
17, 1994 (sic) [1995?], when his mother died.29

Considering that appellant's alibi was uncorroborated and unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, the Court finds it self-serving and deserving of no
weight in law.30 Appellant's alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification of private complainant that he was the one who raped her. 31

Further, the Court finds that the delay in filing the rape cases was adequately explained by the trial court, thus:

The delay in reporting the rapes that were committed against her was justifiably explained by the complainant herself in the course of her testimony in
open court, which was caused by the death threats employed on her tender mind by the accused. Worth stressing, complainant was a girl of tender
age who was completely under the moral ascendancy and control of the accused. Fear alone of what the accused would do if she exposed his evil
deed was reason enough for her to suffer in silence for a long time. She was only able to master enough courage to expose her harrowing experience
in the hands of the accused, after she was taken back into their custody by her parents due to the demise of her [grandmother].32

In addition, the Court of Appeals correctly disregarded appellant's assertion that the rape charges were merely fabricated because of the land dispute between
appellant and private complainant's mother in the absence of any independent and corroborative evidence to support the assertion. Motives such as feuds,
resentment and revenge have never swayed the Court from giving full credence to the testimony of a minor complainant.33

Youth and immaturity are generally badges of truth and sincerity.34 No sane girl would concoct a story of defloration, allow an examination of her private parts and
subject herself to public trial or ridicule if she has not, in truth, been a victim of rape, and thus impelled to seek justice for the wrong done to her.35 The weight of her
testimony may be countered by physical evidence to the contrary, or indubitable proof that the accused could not have committed the rape, but in the absence of
such countervailing proof, the testimony shall be accorded utmost value.36

The rule is that when an alleged victim of rape says she was violated, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has been inflicted on her, and so
long as her testimony meets the test of credibility, the accused may be convicted on that basis.37

It is a settled doctrine that the assessment made by the trial court on the credibility of witnesses deserves great regard and weight on appeal.38 This is because the
trial judge has a unique position of hearing first hand the witnesses and observing their deportment, conduct and attitude during the course of the testimony in
open court.39The exception is when the trial court's evaluation was reached arbitrarily or when the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied certain facts
or circumstances of weight and substance which could affect the result of the case.40 The Court, after a careful review of the records of this case, finds no
compelling reason to reverse the finding of the trial court.
In fine, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the decision of the trial court with modification only as to the amount of civil indemnity awarded to private
complainant.

As regards the penalty imposed, the rape incidents occurring in 1994 and 1995 were covered by Republic Act No. 7659, 41 which amended Art. 335 of the Revised
Penal Code, thus:

Art. 335. When and how rape is committed.- Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:

xxx xxx xxx

The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:

1) When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by
consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law-spouse of the parent of the victim.

The concurrence of the minority of the victim and her relationship to the offender are special qualifying circumstances that are needed to be alleged in the
Complaint or Information for the penalty of death to be decreed.42

In these cases, the minority of private complainant and her relationship to appellant were alleged in the three Informations and proved in court. The Birth
Certificate43 of private complainant showed that she was born on December 27, 1985. She was thus below 12 years old when she was raped in March, 1994 and
April, 1995. Appellant admitted that private complainant was his niece, being the daughter of his brother. As private complainant's uncle, appellant is AAA's relative
by consanguinity within the third civil degree. Since private complainant's minority and relationship to appellant were proved in court, the imposition of the death
penalty was warranted under Republic Act No. 7659.

However, the imposition of the death penalty has been prohibited by Republic Act No. 934644 which took effect on June 30, 2006. Sections 2 and 3 of the Act
provide:

Sec. 2. In lieu of the death penalty, the following shall be imposed:

(a) the penalty of reclusion perpetua, when the law violated makes use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code; x x x x

Sec. 3. Persons convicted of offenses punished with reclusion perpetua, or whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua, by reason of this
Act, shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.

Hence, the death penalty imposed on appellant is reduced to reclusion perpetua, without eligibility for parole.

Finally, the Court of Appeals correctly increased the trial court's award to private complainant of civil indemnity from P50,000 to P75,000.45 Civil indemnity is
automatically awarded upon proof of the commission of the crime by the offender.46

Although moral damages was correctly awarded to private complainant, the amount should be increased from P50,000 to P75,000 for each case.47 Private
complainant is entitled to moral damages, for it is assumed that she has suffered moral injuries.48

In addition, private complainant is entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000 for each case due to the presence of the qualifying circumstances of
minority and relationship.49

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR H.C. No. 00107 dated May 5, 2005 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.
Appellant LUIS AYCARDO is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of committing three counts of Statutory Rape against private complainant, but the three
penalties of death imposed upon him are REDUCED to three penalties of reclusion perpetua, without eligibility for parole. Appellant is ordered to pay private
complaint AAA (to be identified through the Informations filed with the trial court in this case) civil indemnity in the amount of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos
(P75,000) for each case; moral damages in the amount of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000) for each case; and exemplary damages in the amount of
Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000) for each case.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 176385 February 26, 2008

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
EMELIO TOLENTINO y ESTRELLA and JESUS TRINIDAD y MARAVILLA, accused-appellants.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
For review is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00880 which affirmed the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Labo,
Camarines Norte, Branch 64, finding appellants Emelio E. Tolentino and Jesus M. Trinidad, guilty of the crime of Murder and two counts of Frustrated Murder.

On 13 February 1998, three separate informations of Murder and two counts of Frustrated Murder were filed before the RTC against appellants, together with
accused Jimmy Trinidad and Arnel Trinidad. The murder case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 98-0258 while the two frustrated murder cases were docketed
as Criminal Cases No. 98-0260 and No. 98-0270. The accusatory portions of the Informations read:

Criminal Case No. 98-0258

For: Murder

That on or about 11:10 o’clock in the evening, more or less, on the 29th day of August, 1997, at Purok 7, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Elena,
Camarines Norte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully,
and feloniously, with intent to kill, conspiring, confederating, and helping each other to attain a common purpose, with treachery, evident premeditation
and abuse of superior strength, while armed with firearms, assault, attack, and use personal violence upon one JOSITA FERNANDEZ-NOVELO, by
then and there shooting the said victim on her face causing upon the latter serious and mortal wounds which were the direct and proximate cause of
the death of the victim to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of said victim.

That the commission of the offense is attended by aggravating circumstance of nighttime purposely sought to facilitate the same and dwelling.

Criminal Case No. 98-0260

For: Frustrated Murder

That on or about 11:10 in the evening of the 29th day of August, 1997, at Purok 7, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Elena, Camarines Norte, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating, and mutually helping each other to attain a
common purpose, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously, with intent to kill, while armed with firearms and knife, and with treachery,
evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength, attack, assault, and use personal violence upon one ANTONIO BEA, by then and there, poking
a firearm at said private offended party, tying his hands with a rope and thereafter, stabbing said victim on different parts of his body, thus causing
upon the latter serious and mortal wounds capable of causing death, hence, performing all the acts of execution which could have produced the crime
of murder as a consequence, but nonetheless, did not produce it by reason of causes independent of their (accused) will, that is, by the timely and
able medical assistance rendered to said victim which prevented his death, to the damage and prejudice of herein private complainant.

Criminal Case No. 98-0270

For: Frustrated Murder

That on or about 11:10 o’clock in the evening of August 29, 1997 at the fishpond at Purok 7, Barangay San Vicente, municipality of Santa Elena,
province of Camarines Norte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and
mutually helping one another with intent to kill with treachery and evident premeditation and while armed with long firearms and 12 gauge shot gun,
did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, kick and strike one ANTONIO NOVELO with a shotgun, hitting him on the
different parts of his body and then shot one said Antonio Novelo but missed, which ordinarily would cause the death of Antonio Novelo thus
performing all the acts of execution which should have produced the crime of Murder as a consequence, but nonetheless, did not produce it by reason
of causes independent of their will, that is, by the timely and able medical assistance rendered to said Antonio Novelo, which prevented his death, to
his damage and prejudice.3

During the arraignment on 13 July 1998, appellants, with the assistance of counsel de parte, entered their respective pleas of not guilty.4 Accused Jimmy and Arnel
Trinidad remained at large. Thereafter, a joint trial on the merits of the three criminal cases ensued.

The prosecution presented the following witnesses and their respective testimonies: (1) Antonio Bea testified as an eyewitness on the killing of Josita Novelo and
narrated his own near death experience; (2) Ricardo Basila testified that he saw the accused escorting Antonio Bea whose hands were tied and disclosed that he
was also subjected to violent acts of the accused. He claimed that he later heard a gunshot coming from Josita Novelo’s house; (3) Wilfredo Llarena, a Barangay
Captain, testified that several persons went to his house carrying an injured Antonio Bea and they proceeded to the hospital. He later reported the incident to the
police officers; (4) Antonio Novelo testified that the accused went to the house of Josita Novelo and attempted to kill him; (5) Dr. Noli Bayani, the rural health
physician of Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte, conducted a post-mortem examination of the body of Josita Novelo; (6) Belen Avellera testified on the existence of the
medical records of Antonio Bea; (7) SPO2 Nelson Ricierra testified that Wilfredo Llarena reported to him the stabbing and the killing incidents and that he was a
member of the team who made a follow-up investigation of the report; (8) Rogelio Novelo testified that Jesus Trinidad used to be his partner in operating a
fishpond and that their partnership turned sour as Jesus Trinidad harvested the yields of the fishpond without his consent; (9) Dr. Rolando C. Victoria, a Medico-
Legal Officer of the NBI, Manila, conducted an autopsy of the body of Josita Novelo.

As documentary evidence, the prosecution offered the following: Exhibit "A" - a photograph of the bloody body of Josita Novelo; Exhibit "A-1" - the "x" mark on the
face of Josita Novelo; Exhibit "B" – a photograph showing the victim prostrate on the ground; Exhibits "C" and "D" - photographs of the house where the incident of
killing took place; Exhibit "E" - the medical certificate of Antonio Bea; Exhibit "F" - the affidavit of Antonio Bea; Exhibit "G" - the affidavit of Ricardo Basila; Exhibit
"H" - the affidavit of Antonio Novelo; Exhibit "I" - the medical certificate of Antonio Novelo; Exhibit "J" - the death certificate of Josita Novelo showing the result of
the post-mortem examination; and Exhibit "K" - the NBI autopsy report.

The collective evidence adduced by the prosecution shows that sometime in January 1997, Rogelio Novelo, the surviving spouse of the deceased-victim Josita
Novelo, and appellant Jesus Trinidad agreed to manage and operate a rented fishpond located at Baranggay San Vicente, Santa Elena, Camarines Norte.
Sometime in April of the same year, when the fishpond was yielding its first harvest, Rogelio Novelo and his wife Josita brought the produce to Manila to be sold,
while appellant Jesus Trinidad was left to manage the fishpond. Upon the couple’s return, they discovered that all the fish and crabs in the fishpond had already
been harvested and disposed of. Believing that appellant Trinidad was responsible for the pilferage, Josita demanded from him either the return of the couple’s
investment or be allowed to buy appellant Trinidad’s share in the partnership. Appellant chose the latter and was paid by the couple the amount of P9,700.00 as
his share in the partnership. After their partnership with appellant Trinidad was terminated, the couple proceeded to replenish the fishpond with crab seedlings.
When the crabs were ready for harvest, appellant Jesus Trinidad with appellant Emelio Tolentino, Jimmy and Arnel Trinidad, without the permission from the
couple, harvested the crabs for their own benefit. The couple confronted appellants and their cohorts, but the former’s protestation was merely ignored by the
latter. The couple filed a complaint before the barangay which was then set for hearing on 30 August 1997. A few days before the scheduled hearing, Rogelio
Novelo took a trip to Manila, leaving his wife Josita to manage the fishpond.

On 29 August 1997, at around 10:30 p.m., Antonio Bea, one of the complainants and the caretaker of the couple’s fishpond, was inside his house located at Purok
7, Tinagong Dagat, Barangay San Vicente, Santa Elena, Camarines Norte.5 He heard someone calling his name from outside his house. Carrying a flashlight, Bea
went outside and focused his flashlight towards the direction of the fishpond watergate ("prensa").6 Suddenly, someone whom he recognized to be appellant
Emelio Tolentino grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the house. 7 There he saw appellant Jesus Trinidad, Jimmy Trinidad and Arnel Trinidad. Jesus Trinidad
kicked Bea on the right side of his hip, and tied a rope around his hands behind his back. Then appellant Emelio Tolentino pulled him by the rope towards the
house of a certain Ricardo Basila.8 Upon reaching the house of Ricardo Basila, Arnel Trinidad called out the former. Ricardo Basila, with a flashlight in his hand,
went out of his house and focused the flashlight at the faces of the four perpetrators. Irritated by what Ricardo Basila did, Emelio Tolentino, Jesus and Arnel
Trinidad took turns in kicking Ricardo Basila and ordered the latter to get inside his house.9 While inside his house, Ricardo Basila noticed that Emelio Tolentino
was carrying a weapon.10

The assailants, together with Antonio Bea, proceeded to the house of the spouses Novelo situated alongside the fishpond which was more or less 100 meters from
Basila’s house.11 When they arrived at the Novelo house, Jesus Trinidad called Josita Novelo to get out of the house.12 Josita Novelo went out of the house holding
a light.13 Jesus Trinidad quickly grabbed Josita Novelo by her mouth and the two of them went inside the house together with Emelio Tolentino, Jesus Trinidad and
Antonio Bea. From inside the house, Emelio Tolentino and Jesus Trinidad took Antonio Bea to another door leading outside and chanced upon Antonio Novelo,
Rogelio Novelo’s brother.14Immediately, Jesus Trinidad and Emelio Tolentino kicked Antonio Novelo causing the latter to fall right into the fishpond and disappear
from sight.15 Antonio Bea was then tied to the door from the waist down with Emelio Tolentino guarding him.16 In that position, Antonio Bea saw Josita Novelo being
mauled by Jesus Trinidad and Arnel Trinidad. All of a sudden, Jesus Trinidad shot Josita Novelo on the left cheek with a gun. 17 Immediately after, Emelio Tolentino
entered the house and slashed the face of Josita with a jungle bolo.18 The three assailants untied the binding on Antonio Bea’s feet while leaving the ropes tied
behind his back.19 They left Novelo’s house proceeding towards the fishpond watergate which was about three meters from the house. Emelio Tolentino led the
way, followed by Bea, with Jesus and Arnel Trinidad taking the rear. Without warning, Emelio Tolentino stabbed Antonio Bea four times in the stomach with the
former’s jungle bolo. Antonio Bea fell into the fishpond.

The assailants left the victim and boarded a boat which was operated by Jimmy Trinidad. Injured and bleeding, Antonio Bea managed to untie his hands and swim
across the river to ask for help. He received help from the people of Purok 7 and was brought to the house of the Barangay Captain Wilfredo Llarena in a
hammock.20 The barangay captain then brought the victim to a hospital. From the hospital, Barangay Captain Wilfredo Llarena, along with some members of the
police, went to the house of spouses Novelo and came upon the dead body of Josita Novelo.21

Dr. Noli Bayani, the Rural Health Physician of Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte, conducted an autopsy of the body and found that the cause of Josita Novelo’s death
was "[h]ypovolemic shock secondary to gunshot wounds and lacerated wound."22 Dr. Rolando C. Victoria, a Medico-Legal Officer of the National Bureau of
Investigation, who also conducted an autopsy on the body of the deceased, testified that the shotgun wound at the left side of the face of the victim caused her
death.23

The medical certificate of Antonio Bea shows that the four stab wounds inflicted on him caused damage to his intestines.24

On 19 October 1999, the prosecution rested its case and made a formal offer of evidence.25

On 13 April 2000, appellants through counsel filed a Demurrer to Evidence, without leave of court.26 In an order27dated 17 May 2000, the RTC denied the demurrer
and submitted the case for decision pursuant to Section 15, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure. 28 On 31 May 2000, appellants filed a motion for
reconsideration, praying that the order denying their Demurrer to Evidence be recalled and that they be allowed to present evidence. The RTC denied the said
motion. Unfazed, appellants filed a petition for certiorari before this Court. This Court denied the petition in a Resolution dated 2 December 2002, which became
final and executory on 5 February 2003. As a result, the case was submitted for decision without any evidence proffered by the defense.

On 30 November 2004, the RTC rendered a decision finding appellants guilty of the crimes charged in Criminal Case No. 98-0258 and Criminal Case No. 98-0260
for murder and frustrated murder, respectively. The decretal portion of the RTC decision reads:

CRIM. CASE NO. 98-0258

For: MURDER

WHEREFORE, finding accused EMELIO TOLENTINO y ESTRELLA and JESUS TRINIDAD y MARAVILLA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Murder, they are hereby sentenced to suffer the supreme penalty of DEATH. They are also ordered to pay the heirs of the victim, Josita
Novelo, the amount of P75,000.00 by way of civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and another P50,000.00 as exemplary damages.

CRIM. CASE NO. 98-0260

For : FRUSTRATED MURDER

WHEREFORE, finding accused EMELIO TOLENTINO y ESTRELLA and JESUS TRINIDAD y MARAVILLA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Frustrated Murder, they are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA. They are also ordered to pay their victim,
Antonio Bea the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.29

The trial court, however, acquitted appellants of the crime of frustrated murder allegedly committed against Antonio Novelo in Criminal Case No. 98-0270.

On 10 December 2004, appellants filed a Motion For New Trial on the ground that "errors of law or irregularities prejudicial to the substantial rights of the accused
have been committed during the trial."30 Appellants argued that in the interest of justice and equity, they should be given the opportunity to testify in their favor
considering that they are meted out by the RTC the supreme penalty of death.
In an Order31 dated 15 December 2004, the RTC denied appellants’ motion for new trial ratiocinating that the error of appellants’ counsel during the trial does not
amount to error of law or irregularity which constitutes a valid ground for the granting of a motion for new trial. It appears that appellants no longer questioned the
denial of their motion for new trial.

The trial court ordered the transmittal of the entire records of the case to this Court. Thereafter, this Court ordered the referral of the case to the Court of Appeals
conformably with the ruling in the case of People v. Mateo.32

The Court of Appeals, on 8 November 2006, promulgated its Decision affirming the judgment of the trial court convicting the appellants, with modifications on the
award of civil liabilities, thus:

WHEREFORE, the decision dated November 23, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 64, of Labo, Camarines Norte finding accused-appellants
Emelio Tolentino y Estrella and Jesus Trinidad y Maravilla GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder in Criminal Case No. 98-0258,
and frustrated murder in Criminal Case No. 98-0260 is hereby AFFIRMED with the following modifications, to wit:

(1) In Criminal Case No. 98-0258, accused –appellants are hereby sentenced each to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and in
addition, to pay the heirs of the victim Josita Fernandez Novelo the amount of P50,000 as civil indemnity for her death; P50,000 as moral
damages and P25,000 representing exemplary damages.

(2) In Criminal Case No. 98-0260, accused-appellants are hereby sentenced each to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from 8
years of prision mayor (minimum), as minimum, to 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal (minimum) as maximum. Moreover, they
are ordered to pay the victim Antonio Bea the amount of P25,000 as temperate damages; P30,000 as moral damages, P30,000 as civil
indemnity and P25,000 as exemplary damages.33

Hence, the instant case.

In their brief, the appellants assign the following errors:

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIMES
CHARGED.

II

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT ALLOWING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS TO PRESENT DEFENSE EVIDENCE AFTER THE
DENIAL OF THE DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE CONSIDERING THE POSSIBILITY OF THE IMPOSITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY.

III

GRANTING ARGUENDO THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS WERE GUILTY OF INFLICTING INJURY ON ANTONIO BEA, THE COURT A QUO
ERRED IN FINDING THEM GUILTY OF THE CRIME OF FRUSTRATED MURDER ALTHOUGH THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE THAT
BEA’S WOUNDS WERE MORTAL.34

Before proceeding to the first and third assignment of errors, the Court deems it proper to first deal with the second assignment.

Appellants, as earlier mentioned, urge this Court to revisit the issue as to the propriety of the trial court’s Order dated 17 May 2000 denying the Demurrer to
Evidence and preventing them from presenting evidence due to their failure to seek leave of court prior to the filing of the demurrer to evidence.

It must be pointed out that the issue on the validity of the trial court’s order dated 17 May 2000 was elevated by appellants to this Court via petition
for certiorari. This Court in a Resolution dated 2 December 2000, dismissed the said petition, and upheld the trial court’s ruling that appellants are barred from
presenting their evidence for failure to seek leave of court prior to the filing of the demurrer to evidence which was denied by the lower court. Since the issue of
whether or not appellants may be allowed to adduce evidence despite their failure to file a prior leave of court had already been finally put to rest, the same has
attained finality and constitutes the law of the case. Any attempt to pass upon anew this final ruling constitutes a crass contravention of elementary rules of
procedure.

Law of the case has been defined as the opinion delivered on a former appeal.35 More specifically, it means that whatever is already irrevocably established as the
controlling legal rule or decision between the same parties in the same case continues to be the law of the case, whether correct on general principles or not, so
long as the facts on which such decision was predicated continue to be the facts of the case before the court.36 Indeed, courts must adhere thereto because public
policy, judicial orderliness and economy require such stability in the final judgments of courts or tribunals of competent jurisdiction.37

Besides, under Section 15, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, it is stated that when an accused files a demurrer to evidence without leave of court
and the same is denied, he waives his right to present evidence and submits the case for judgment on the basis of the evidence of the prosecution, thus:

SEC. 15. Demurrer to evidence. – After the prosecution has rested its case, the court may dismiss the case on the ground of insufficiency of evidence:
(1) on its own initiative after giving the prosecution an opportunity to be heard; or (2) on motion of the accused filed with prior leave of court.

If the Court denies the motion for dismissal, the accused may adduce evidence in his defense. When the accused files such motion to dismiss
without express leave of court, he waives the right to present evidence and submits the case for judgment on the basis of the evidence for
the prosecution.
The filing of a demurrer to evidence without leave of court is an unqualified waiver of the right to present evidence for the accused.38 The rationale for this rule is
that when the accused moves for dismissal on the ground of insufficiency of evidence of the prosecution evidence, he does so in the belief that said evidence is
insufficient to convict and, therefore, any need for him to present any evidence is negated.39 An accused cannot be allowed to wager on the outcome of judicial
proceedings by espousing inconsistent viewpoints whenever dictated by convenience.40 The purpose behind the rule is also to avoid the dilatory practice of filing
motions for dismissal as a demurrer to the evidence and, after denial thereof, the defense would then claim the right to present its evidence.41Thus, when the trial
court disallowed the appellants to present evidence on their behalf, it properly applied Section 15, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure. Not even the
gravity of the penalty for a particular offense can change this rule. As stressed by this Court:

The filing of the demurrer to evidence without leave of court and its subsequent denial results in the submission of the case for judgment on the basis
of the evidence on record. Considering that the governing rules on demurrer to evidence is a fundamental component of criminal procedure,
respondent judge had the obligation to observe the same, regardless of the gravity of the offense charged. It is not for him to grant
concessions to the accused who failed to obtain prior leave of court. The rule is clear that upon the denial of the demurrer to evidence in this case, the
accused, who failed to ask for leave of court, shall waive the right to present evidence in his behalf.42

Going back to the first issue, appellants take exception with the trial court’s assessment of the evidence before it and in giving weight and credence to the
testimony of the prosecution witnesses. Appellants maintain that considering the lateness of the hour when the incident took place, and the fact that it was dark,
witness Antonio Bea could not have seen clearly the faces of his attackers and that of the deceased Josita Novelo. Antoio Bea, according to appellants, is
incompetent to testify on matters relating to what was done to the late Josita Novelo because he was tied from the waist down to the door outside the house, thus,
he could not have seen what had happened inside the house where the deceased was brutally attacked.

Well-entrenched is the rule that the matter of assigning values to declarations on the witness stand is best and most competently performed by the trial judge who,
unlike appellate magistrates, can weigh such testimony in light of the declarant’s demeanor, conduct and position to discriminate between truth and
falsehood.43 Thus, appellate courts will not disturb the credence, or lack of it, accorded by the trial court to the testimonies of witnesses, unless it be manifestly
shown that the latter court had overlooked or disregarded arbitrarily the facts and circumstances of significance in the case.44

In the instant case, prosecution witness Antonio Bea steadfastly pointed to appellants and their companions as the malefactors. Such identification was detailed as
follows:

Q: Mr. Witness, do you know a certain Jesus Trinidad y Maravilla?

A: Yes, sir.

xxxx

Q: A certain Emelio Tolentino y Estrella, do you know a person with such name?

A: Yes, sir.

xxxx

Q: These persons that I made mention to you since when have you known them?

A: For almost ten (10) years.

Q: And because of that length of time you could not possibly [be] mistaken as to their identity?

A: Yes, sir.

xxxx

Q: On August 29, 1997 at about 10:30 or 11:00 in the evening thereof, do you recall of any unusual incident that happened?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Will you please tell us what is that incident that you recalled?

A: There was somebody that called me, sir.

xxxx

Q: When you heard somebody called you on that occasion, what did you do?

A: I flash[ed] a light to the Prensa, sir.

xxxx
Q: x x x [W]hat happened next?

A: Somebody hold (sic) my hand sir.

Q: Did you recognize who held your hand?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Who?

A: Emelio Tolentino.

xxxx

Q: Mr. Witness, what happened next after Emelio Tolentino held your hand?

A: He pulled me outside, sir.

Q: And what happened next after you were pulled outside your house?

A: I am (sic) telling him I have no fault.

xxxx

Q: Nang oras na iyon sino pa ang nakita mo kung mayroon man?

A: Jesus Trinidad, sir.

Q: Who else if any?

A: Arnel Trinidad, sir.

Q: What happened after you told them you have (sic) no fault?

A: He kicked me, sir.

Q: Who kicked you in particular?

A: Jesus Trinidad, sir.45

Cross-examination:

Q: Who was the person who held you?

A: Emelio Tolentino, sir.

Q: How did you recognize him to be Emelio Tolentino?

A: When I focused the light, I saw them because of the light, wearing bonnet and their faces were exposed to the light.

Q: You said "them", how many were they?

A: Jesus Trinidad, Emelio Tolentino and Arnel Trinidad, sir.46

The identification of witness Antonio Bea of the perpetrators of the crimes evinces factual truth of what really occurred on that fateful night. He could not have been
mistaken as to the identity of the appellants since, at that time, he has known them personally for ten (10) years already. Their faces were illuminated by the
flashlight when witness Antonio Bea focused the same in their direction. Also, Bea’s identification of the assailants was corroborated by Ricardo Basila and
Antionio Novelo who testified that they likewise suffered violent acts from the malefactors during the incident.

Although Antonio Bea was tied at the door outside the house of Josita Novelo, he declared with clarity the circumstances leading to the killing of Josita and his
near-death experience, viz:
Q: x x x Mr. Witness, where were you when you said you went out of the house let’s go back to the situation wherein you entered the house of
Josita Novelo in one door and then you exited on the other and there you said the other two, Jesus Trinidad and Emelio Tolentino saw Antonio
Novelo, where you at that time?

A: I was with them sir, because they are holding the other end of the rope.

Q: And what did they do to you afterwards?

A: They tied me at the door, sir.

Q: That door where you exited?

A: Yes, sir.

xxxx

Q: From the place you were tied did you see Josita Novelo?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And while you were tied on that occasion what happened to Josita Novelo?

A: They are asking Josita Novelo where was it placed?

Q: Do you know what were they asking?

xxxx

Q: Did you hear the reply of Josita Novelo, if any?

A: I cannot hear the reply of Josita Novelo because they are mauling her or "binubugbog nila."

Q: Who in particular was mauling Josita Novelo?

A: Jesus Trinidad and Arnel Trinidad, sir.

Q: What about Emelio Tolentino, what was he doing?

A: He is outside guarding me, sir.

Q: What happened after Josita Novelo was mauled by these two you mentioned?

A: Suddenly, Jesus Trinidad shot Josita Novelo.

Q: Did you see where Josita Novelo was hit?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Where was she hit, if you have seen?

A: On the left cheek which exited at the back of her head.

Q: After they have shot Josita Novelo, what did they do next?

A: They get (sic) out, sir.

xxxx

Q: What about Emelio Tolentino, what did he do if any?

A: Emelio Tolentino entered the house and then slashed the face of Josita Novelo.
Court: Anong ginamit? Nakita mo?

A: Jungle bolo.

Q: Saan? Sa kanan o kaliwa?

A: Sa kaliwa, po.

xxxx

Q: Now, Mr. Witness, you said that after Josita Novelo was shot by Jesus Trinidad, and Emelio Tolentino went inside the house and put an X mark
on the face of that dead woman, what happened next?

A: They untied me, sir.

Q: And what did they do after untying you?

A: They passed through the prensa and stabbed me, sir.

Q: Mr. witness, you said you were untied is it (sic) not?

A: Yes, sir, sa paa lang.

xxxx

Q: So in other words from the time you were untied you walked towards that ‘prensa’ for about three (3) meters?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: When you walked, who was ahead of you, if any?

A: Emelio Tolentino, sir.

Q: Were your hands still tied?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What about Tolentino who was ahead of you what was he doing?

A: He has a jungle bolo sir, and stabbed me.

xxxx

Q: How many times were you stabbed on that occasion?

A: Four times, sir.47

The foregoing testimony can only be told by a person who had really witnessed the incident and had been subjected to personal violence from the perpetrators,
hence, such testimony is entitled to full faith and credit. Furthermore, Bea’s testimony jibed with the physical evidence. The nature of the wound of the deceased
was affirmed by the medical experts to be a result of a gunshot wound. The location of the wounds found on Josita Novelo’s face as described by witness Bea was
consistent with the documentary evidence, i.e., photographs, autopsy result and the physical examination of the corpse of the victim. All these tend to dispel any
doubt that witness Bea would have concocted the whole story. The prosecution successfully established beyond reasonable doubt that the appellants and their
cohorts killed Josita Novelo.

Anent the third issue, appellants argue that in the stabbing of Antonio Bea, they should have been liable only for attempted murder and not frustrated murder since
the prosecution failed to prove, due to its failure to present the attending physician, that the injury suffered by the victim was fatal.

A crime is frustrated when the offender has performed all the acts of execution which should result in the consummation of the crime.48 The offender has passed
the subjective phase in the commission of the crime.49Subjectively, the crime is complete.50 Nothing interrupted the offender while passing through the subjective
phase. He did all that is necessary to consummate the crime. However, the crime was not consummated by reason of the intervention of causes independent of
the will of the offender.51 In homicide cases, the offender is said to have performed all the acts of execution if the wound inflicted on the victim is mortal and could
cause the death of the victim without medical intervention or attendance.52
In the instant case, the prosecution established that Antonio Bea sustained four stab wounds inflicted by Emelio Tolentino which caused damage to the victim’s
abdomen resulting in massive blood loss. The victim was hospitalized for two months because of these injuries.53 In fact, at the trial, the victim showed the scars in
his abdomen. All these tend to show the seriousness of the wounds suffered by the victim and which would have caused his death had it not been for the timely
medical intervention.

The trial court, in assessing the testimonial evidence of the prosecution, made this appropriate observation:

In the instant cases, the corroborative testimonies of prosecution witnesses, Antonio Bea, Ricardo Basila and Antonio Novelo, positively identifying the
accused as the perpetrators of the crime satisfactorily persuade the Court. x x x.

xxxx

Witness Antonio Bea testified that accused Jesus Trinidad and Emelio Tolentino are known to him for almost ten (10) years x x x.

Likewise, witness Antonio Novelo, on cross-examination, testified that he recognized the accused because their voices are very familiar to him being
neighbors and he had known the accused for a long time.

xxxx

The identification of an accused through his voice is acceptable, particulary if the witness knows the accused personally.

The sound of the voice of a person is an acceptable means of identification where it is established that the witness and the accused knew each other
personally and closely for a number of years.54

Worth stressing is that the Court of Appeals affirmed the findings of the RTC. The settled rule is that when the trial court’s findings have been affirmed by the
appellate court, said findings are generally conclusive and binding upon this Court.55 We find no cogent reason to veer away from their findings.

In an effort to exculpate themselves from the charges, appellants identified inconsistent statements of witness Bea such as the latter’s declaration that he was a
friend of Jesus Trinidad which is contradictory to his earlier testimony the he got mad at Jesus Trinidad four months prior to the incident. They also make an issue
of the statement of Bea during the cross-examination wherein he made mention that a gun was poked at him, which declaration is missing in the direct
examination.

These inconsistencies are very trivial and insignificant. Minor inconsistencies do not warrant rejection of the entire testimony nor the reversal of
judgment.56 Accuracy in accounts had never been applied as a standard to which the credibility of witnesses are tested since it is undeniable that human memory
is fickle and prone to the stresses of emotions and the passage of time.57 Witness Bea’s inconsistencies rather enhance truthfulness for it erases suspicion of a
rehearsed testimony.

The RTC convicted the appellants of murder in Criminal Case No. 98-0258 for the killing of Josita Novelo and frustrated murder for the assault of Antonio Bea in
Criminal Case No. 98-0260 by appreciating the qualifying circumstance of treachery and generic aggravating circumstances of nighttime and dwelling.

The RTC is correct in appreciating the qualifying circumstance of treachery in the killing of Josita Novelo and in the stabbing of Antonio Bea.

The essence of treachery is a deliberate and sudden attack, affording the hapless, unarmed and unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or to escape.58 Frontal
attack can be treacherous when it is sudden and unexpected and the victim is unarmed.59 What is decisive is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for
the victim to defend himself/herself or to retaliate.60

In the killing of Josita Novelo, the victim was at her home when someone called her. When the victim went outside, suddenly Jesus Trinidad held her. Thereafter,
Jesus Trinidad and Arnel Trinidad mauled Josita Novelo. Without warning, Jesus Trinidad shot the helpless victim on the cheek. Said attack was so sudden and
unexpected that the victim had not been given the opportunity to defend herself or repel the aggression. She was unarmed when she was attacked. Indeed, all
these circumstances indicate that the assault on the victim was treacherous.

The stabbing of Antonio Bea was also attended with treachery. While Bea, whose hands were tied behind his back, and the assailants were walking along the
dike, Emelio Tolentino unexpectedly stabbed the victim four times. The victim could not put up a defense as the attack was swift and he was not in the position to
repel the same since his hands were tied.

Also affirmed is the ruling of the RTC appreciating the presence of the generic aggravating circumstance of dwelling in Criminal Case No. 98-0258. Evidence
shows that Josita Novelo was killed in her own house. When the crime is committed in the dwelling of the offended party and the latter has not given provocation,
dwelling may be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance.61 Here, the crime was committed inside the house of the deceased victim. Dwelling is considered
aggravating primarily because of the sanctity of privacy the law accords to human abode.62 He who goes to another’s house to hurt him or do him wrong is more
guilty than he who offends him elsewhere. 63

Dwelling, however, cannot be appreciated in Criminal Case No. 98-0260 considering that the same was not alleged in the information. Under Section 9, Rule 10 of
the Revised Rules of Court, aggravating circumstances must be alleged in the information and proved otherwise; even if proved but not alleged in the information,
the same shall not be considered by the Court in the imposition of the proper penalty on the accused.64

The aggravating circumstance of nighttime in both cases was improperly appreciated by the RTC. Nighttime is considered an aggravating circumstance only when
it is sought to prevent the accused from being recognized or to ensure their escape. There must be proof that this was intentionally sought to ensure the
commission of the crime and that the perpetrators took advantage of it. Although the crime was committed at nighttime, there is no evidence that the appellants
and their companions took advantage of nighttime or that nighttime facilitated the commission of the crime.
Proceeding now to the appropriate penalty, in Criminal Case No. 98-0258, it must be borne in mind that the prosecution successfully established the presence of
the qualifying circumstance of treachery in the killing of Josita Novelo. With this, the crime committed by the appellants is murder in accordance with Article 248.
With the aggravating circumstance of dwelling and no mitigating circumstance, the penalty imposed should be in its maximum, which is death.65

In view, however, of the passage of Republic Act No. 9346, entitled "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines," which was signed into
law on 24 June 2006, the imposition of the death penalty has been prohibited.66 Thus, the penalty imposed upon appellants in Criminal case No. 98-0258 should
be reduced to reclusion perpetua, without eligibility of parole under the Indeterminate Sentence Law. 67

As to damages, when death occurs due to a crime, the following may be recovered: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or
compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; (5) attorney's fees and expenses of litigation; and (6) interest, in proper cases.68

The RTC awarded P75,000.00 in favor of the heirs of Josita Novelo as civil indemnity. The Court of Appeals reduced the award of civil indemnity to P50,000.00.
Civil indemnity is mandatory and granted to the heirs of the victim without need of proof other than the commission of the crime. Based on current jurisprudence,
the RTC award of civil indemnity ex delicto of P75,000.00 in favor of the heirs of Josita Novelo is in order.69

The RTC also correctly awarded moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 in view of the violent death of the victim. This does not require allegation and proof
of the emotional suffering of the heirs.70 Article 2230 of the Civil Code states that exemplary damages may be imposed when the crime was committed with one or
more aggravating circumstances, as in this case.71 To deter future similar transgressions, the Court finds that an award of P25,000.00 for exemplary damages is
proper.

In Criminal Case No. 98-060, the RTC imposed upon the appellants the penalty of reclusion perpetua for the crime of frustrated murder. The Court of Appeals
modified the penalty to 8 years of prision mayor as minimum to 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal as maximum.

Under Article 61, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty of frustrated murder is one degree lower than reclusion perpetua to death, which is reclusion
temporal.72 Reclusion temporal has a range of 12 years and 1 day to 20 years. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum of the indeterminate
penalty should be taken from reclusion temporal, the penalty for the crime taking into account any modifying circumstances in the commission of the crime.73 The
minimum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the full range of prision mayor which is one degree lower than reclusion temporal. Since there is no
modifying circumstance in the commission of the frustrated murder, an indeterminate prison term of eight (8) years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum, to
fourteen (14) years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as maximum74 may be considered reasonable for the frustrated murder under the facts of this case.

As to the award of actual damages, the prosecution failed to present any receipt to substantiate Antonio Bea’s hospitalization expenses. Nonetheless, in light of
the fact that Antonio was actually hospitalized and operated upon, this Court deems it prudent to award P20,000.00 as temperate damages since it cannot be
denied that he suffered pecuniary loss. The award of civil indemnity in the amount of P30,000.00 is in order.75 Moreover, Antonio is also entitled to moral damages
which this Court hereby awards in the amount of P40,000.00. Although there was no testimony on the moral damages that he sustained, the medical certificate
issued by the hospital indicated that Antonio Bea sustained serious stab injuries inflicted by appellants. It is sufficient basis to award moral damages as ordinary
human experience and common sense dictate that such wounds inflicted on Antonio Bea would naturally cause physical suffering, fright, serious anxiety, moral
shock, and similar injury.76 Finally, the award in the amount of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages is also in order considering that the crime was attended by the
qualifying circumstance of treachery. When a crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance, either qualifying or generic, an award of P25,000.00 as
exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of the New Civil Code.77 This kind of damage is intended to serve as deterrent to serious wrong-doings, and as a
vindication of undue sufferings and wanton invasion of the rights of an injured or a punishment for those guilty of outrageous conduct.78

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 08 November 2006 in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00880 finding appellants guilty of the crime of murder and
sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in Criminal Case. No. 98-0258, is hereby AFFIRMED with the modifications:

(1) In Criminal Case No. 98-0258, appellants are ordered to pay jointly and severally the heirs of the victim Josita Novelo the amount of P75,000.00 as
civil indemnity, the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 representing exemplary damages.

(2) In Criminal Case No. 98-0260, for the crime of Frustrated Murder, appellants are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty from 6 years and 1
day of prision mayor as minimum, to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as maximum. In addition, appellants are ordered to pay
jointly and severally the victim Antonio Bea the amount of P40,000.00 as moral damages, P30,000.00 as civil indemnity, P20,000.00 as temperate
damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 180507 November 20, 2008

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee


vs.
NESTOR BAJADA y BAUTISTA, VICTOR CALISAY y LOYAGA, and JOHN
DOE, accused-appellants.

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:


This is an appeal from the February 7, 2006 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01043 which affirmed the conviction of and
death penalty for accused-appellants for the crime of robbery with homicide.
Said judgment was originally handed down on October 30, 20012 by the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 28 in Sta. Cruz, Laguna in Criminal Case
No. SC-8076.

The Facts

An information dated January 21, 2000 was filed against accused-appellants


Nestor Bajada y Bautista, Victor Calisay y Loyaga, and John Doe which
accused them of committing robbery with homicide and serious physical
injuries, as follows:

That on or about 11:30 o'clock in the evening of December 22, 1999, at


Brgy. Calumpang, Municipality of Liliw, Province of Laguna and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with
intent to gain, without the knowledge and consent of the owner thereof,
and by means of violence and intimidation upon person, enter the house
of one ANTONIO C. VILLAMAYOR, and once inside, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, take, steal and carry away the
following valuables, to wit:

Cash Money - PhP 20,000.00;

Assorted jewelry - 80,000.00;

$500.00 (current rate $1.00=40.00) - 20,000.00;


and some pertinent
documents

with the total amount of HUNDRED TWENTY THOUSAND (PhP


120,000.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency, for their own personal use
and benefit, owned and belonging to said Antonio C. Villamayor, and in
the course of the said occasion, above-named accused while
conveniently armed with a handgun and bladed weapon, conspiring,
confederating and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, kick, attack, assault
and stab ANTONIO C. VILLAMAYOR, resulting [in] his instantaneous
death, and also inflicted upon ANABELLE ASAYTONO, stab wound on
her left chest, thus, accused had commenced all the acts of execution
which could have produced the crime of Homicide, as a consequence,
but nevertheless, did not produce it by reason/cause independent of the
will of the accused, which prevented her death, to the damage and
prejudice of the herein surviving heirs of Antonio Villamayor and
offended party, Anabelle Asaytono.

CONTRARY TO LAW.3

Bajada and Calisay pleaded not guilty to the charge.

During trial, the prosecution sought to establish the following facts: Bajada
and Calisay were overseers at Antonio C. Villamayor's farm in Bayate,
Laguna. As overseers, they visited Villamayor's house in Liliw, Laguna at least
four times a week to deliver vegetables from the farm.4

On December 22, 1999, around 11:30 p.m., while 81-year old Villamayor was
at home with his 24 year-old live-in partner, Anabelle Asaytono, they heard
someone call for Villamayor asking for coffee. The caller introduced himself as
"Hector," Villamayor's grandson, but Asaytono recognized the voice as
Bajada's. As Villamayor opened the door, the caller, "Hector," pushed the door
open with the barrel of a two-foot long gun. Asaytono recognized "Hector" as
Bajada because of his average physique, repulsive smell, the black bonnet
which he often wore at work, the deep-set eyes, mouth, a lump on his cheek,
and the green shirt which was given to him by Villamayor. Asaytono likewise
recognized one of the men as Calisay, noting his hair cut, eye bags, and
voice. Calisay wore a red handkerchief across his face and carried a 14-inch
knife in his right hand. The third unidentified man, John Doe, wore a bonnet
and carried a 2 ½ foot long gun with a magazine.5

Upon entering the house, John Doe said, "There are many people in
Calumpang who are angry at you because you are a usurer engaged in 5-6,
so give me PhP 100,000 right now." John Doe made Villamayor sit down but
when the latter refused, John Doe made him lie face down on the floor and
kicked his back several times. Meanwhile, Bajada pointed his gun at Asaytono
and demanded for money. Asaytono denied having any money. She was then
made to lie face down on the ground and was kicked. John Doe asked from
Villamayor the key to the cabinet which was a meter away from the latter.
Villamayor brought out a key from his pocket and handed it to Bajada.
Asaytono, who was able to stand up, saw the three accused unlock
Villamayor's cabinet and took out its contents which consisted of documents
and clothes. Accused-appellants also opened the drawer and took jewelry
valued at PhP 80,000 and the PhP 20,000 and USD 500 cash.6
Thereafter, Bajada pushed Asaytono towards Villamayor, laying her head
sideways on Villamayor's head. In this position, Asaytono was able to see
Calisay repeatedly stab Villamayor on the back. Calisay then stabbed
Asaytono on her left breast. Asaytono pretended to be dead as she lied on
Villamayor who was still moving. The three men then hurriedly left the house.
Asaytono stood up and saw through the three men move towards the rice
field. She noticed that Villamayor's dog wagged its tail as it followed the three
men, the way it did when accused-appellants would visit Villamayor.7

Assured that the men had left the area, Asaytono ran to the house of her
neighbor, Cristy Samparada, for help. After telling about incident to her
neighbor, Asaytono lost consciousness and regained the same after two days
at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila. Dr. Michael Baccay, the
attending physician, testified that Asaytono suffered pneumochemo thorax, or
the presence of air and blood in the thoracic cavity of the left lung, which could
cause death in six to eight hours if left untreated. Dr. Marilou Cordon, the
medico-legal officer, testified that Villamayor's death was caused by
hypovolemic shock secondary to stab wounds. She opined that the stab
wounds may have been caused by a single bladed knife inflicted by one
person. She added that the stab which pierced the right lung may have
caused his instantaneous death due to blood loss.8

The incident was reported to the police of Liliw, Laguna on December 22,
1999. Based on the information given by Villamayor's daughter, Perlita, PO2
Ronald Pana invited Bajada for questioning on December 26. The following
day, the police also invited Calisay for questioning. Thereafter, PO2 Pana and
his team went to PGH to interview Asaytono. On December 28, 1999,
Asaytono gave her sworn statement to the police officers of Liliw, Laguna and
identified Bajada and Calisay as the perpetrators of the crime. The following
day, she reiterated her statement during the preliminary investigation
conducted by Judge Renato Bercales of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court
(MCTC) in Magdalena, Laguna.

The defense presented Bajada, Calisay, and Editha Loyaga Calisay as


witnesses. Bajada is Calisay's stepfather, while Editha is Bajada's live-in
partner and Calisay's mother. Bajada and Calisay denied committing the
crime and offered an alibi. They said they were husking coconuts until around
11:00 p.m. on December 22, 1999. They went to sleep afterwards in view of
the work they had to do at Villamayor's farm on the following day. Editha
corroborated this alibi alleging that she helped accused-appellants in
gathering young coconuts on the night in question. Calisay testified that he
learned about the death of Villamayor from Villamayor's nephew when he and
Editha chanced upon him in town. Calisay and his mother thereafter went to
the funeral parlor to see the body of Villamayor. When they got home, they
informed Bajada of the news. Bajada went to see the remains of Villamayor to
know the circumstances surrounding the latter's death. Bajada was arrested in
the wake, questioned by the police, and eventually charged with the crime.9

Bajada testified that he had known Villamayor for two years and had a good
relationship with the latter and Asaytono. He believed that Asaytono accused
him as the perpetrator because he dissuaded Villamayor from visiting
Asaytono's relatives in Bicol since Villamayor was too old and frail to travel.
This was allegedly overheard by Asaytono. Bajada added that Villamayor fully
trusted him with the secret that Asaytono will not inherit any land from
Villamayor. Bajada also alleged that Asaytono accused him of the crime
because he warned Villamayor not to leave money in the house because
Bajada suspected Asaytono's motives. Calisay added that Asaytono used to
get angry whenever Bajada would get money from Villamayor. Calisay,
however, testified that he did not see any ill motive on the part of Asaytono
when she testified against accused-appellants.

On October 30, 2001, the RTC rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

WHEREFORE, IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING


CONSIDERATIONS, the Court finds both the accused NESTOR
BAJADA and VICTOR CALISAY as GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT as co-principals of the offense of ROBBERY WITH
HOMICIDE as defined and punished under paragraph No. (1) of Article
294 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by the Death Penalty Law
(RA 7659) and as charged in the Information and taking into
consideration the two (2) aggravating circumstances enumerated
hereinbefore without any mitigating circumstance that would offset the
same, hereby sentences both the said accused to suffer the SUPREME
PENALTY OF DEATH and to pay the heirs of the deceased Antonio
Villamayor the sum of P50,000.00 as death indemnity and the sum of
P78,620.00 as reasonable expenses incurred by reasons of said death
and to pay the cost of the instant suit.10

Accused-appellants filed their brief before this Court on April 3, 2003,


docketed as G.R. No. 153218. On September 21, 2004, we transferred the
case to the CA in accordance with People v. Mateo.11

The Ruling of the CA


In their appeal before the CA, accused-appellants reiterated their defenses of
denial and alibi. They claimed that Asaytono's testimonies in court on March
30, 2000 and April 4 and 6, 2000 were inconsistent to the statements she
gave to the police on December 28, 1999, and with the statements given to
MCTC Judge Bercales on December 29, 1999. These alleged inconsistencies
referred to the identity of the caller, the state of intoxication of accused-
appellants, and the manner of identification of accused-appellants as the
perpetrators of the crime.

The CA held that Asaytono's testimony was categorical and straightforward,


and her identification of accused-appellants was consistent. Having worked
with accused-appellants in the farm for a year, she can readily identify their
facial features, voices, physique, and smell. According to the CA, the details
which were lacking in her sworn statement but which she supplied in open
court only served to strengthen her testimony. The CA did not lend credence
to accused-appellants' defense of alibi since it was possible for them to be at
the crime scene--they claimed that they slept at 11:00 p.m. while the incident
happened at 11:30 p.m.; and the victims' house was only 15 minutes away by
jeep from the farm.

The CA, however, disagreed with the trial court's finding of the aggravating
circumstances of dwelling and additional serious physical injury. It said that
the information failed to specifically allege the aggravating circumstance of
dwelling; hence, it cannot be appreciated even if proved during trial. Also,
applying People v. Abdul, the appellate court held that the homicides or
murders and physical injuries committed on occasion or by reason of the
robbery are merged in the composite crime of "robbery with homicide."12 It
concluded that absent any mitigating or aggravating circumstances, the
penalty should be reduced to reclusion perpetua. The dispositive portion of
the CA's judgment reads:

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision, dated


30 October 2001, of the Regional Trial Court of Sta. Cruz, Laguna,
Branch 28, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accused-
appellants are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of robbery with
homicide. Considering that there are neither mitigating nor aggravating
circumstance which attended the commission of the crime, accused-
appellants are, hereby, sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua.13

Bajada's motion for reconsideration was denied in a resolution dated July 24,
2007. The Public Attorney's Office filed a Notice of Appeal; however, per
verification, there was neither a motion for reconsideration nor appeal on
behalf of Calisay. Thus, on August 24, 2007, the CA granted Bajada's notice
of appeal and entered judgment insofar as Calisay was concerned.14

Assignment of Error

In the instant appeal, accused-appellant Bajada reiterates his defenses and


assigns the following error:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-


APPELLANTS GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE
CRIME OF ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE WITHOUT THEIR GUILT
HAVING BEEN PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

Bajada asserts that the lower court erred in convicting him and his co-accused
based on the testimony in open court of the prosecution witness, Asaytono.
Such testimony is allegedly inconsistent with the December 28, 1999 sworn
statement given to the police and the December 29, 1999 statement given
before MCTC Judge Bercales during the preliminary investigation. In her
December 28, 1999 sworn statement, Asaytono mentioned that she
recognized Bajada as the caller though the latter misrepresented himself as
"Hector." Asaytono also said that while the three accused were inside the
house, they smelled like they had lambanog, a native wine. These facts,
Bajada alleges, were never mentioned in the preliminary investigation and in
court. Moreover, while Asaytono told the police that she was able to identify
the two accused because of the fluorescent lamp at the kitchen, she failed to
mention what parts of accused-appellants' faces were covered by the bonnet
and kerchief. She supplied these details only during the preliminary
investigation and examination in open court. Furthermore, when Asaytono
sought the help of her neighbor, Samparada, she only told the latter that three
persons robbed their house and stabbed her and Villamayor, without
identifying Bajada and Calisay as the perpetrators. Bajada believes that the
manner of identification is suspicious since he and his co-accused were
identified only after their arrest and detention based on the statements of
random witnesses and not by Asaytono.15 Lastly, Bajada tries to discredit
Asaytono by pointing out that as a paramour of Villamayor, she had no
compunction about seducing an 81-year-old man to meet her financial needs.
Her alleged interest in inheriting from Villamayor led her to cause the latter's
death and find a fall guy for it; hence, she accused Bajada and
Calisay.16 Bajada and Calisay also sent a letter entitled "Petition" addressed
to former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban. Said letter alleged that an
eyewitness who was afraid to testify revealed to Bajada that it was Asaytono's
live-in partner and the children of Villamayor who were responsible for the
crime. Two handwritten letters from the said eyewitness were attached to the
"Petition."

The Court's Ruling

The appeal has no merit.

The inconsistencies in the sworn statements and testimony of the prosecution


witness, Asaytono, referred to by accused-appellant Bajada do not affect her
credibility. The details which she supplied to the police and to the investigating
judge are trivial compared to the testimony she gave in open court. What is
important is that in all three statements, i.e., sworn statement before the
police, sworn statement before Judge Bercales, and testimony in open court,
Asaytono consistently and clearly identified accused-appellants as the
perpetrators. The essential facts do not differ: three men entered and robbed
the house of Villamayor and stabbed him and Asaytono, and Asaytono
witnessed the stabbing and recognized two of the accused because she was
familiar with the latter's physical attributes.

Also, the Solicitor General correctly pointed out that the defense counsel did
not confront Asaytono with these alleged inconsistencies. In People v.
Castillano, Sr., we held that:

Before the credibility of a witness and the truthfulness of his testimony


can be impeached by evidence consisting of his prior statements which
are inconsistent with his present testimony, the cross-examiner must lay
the predicate or the foundation for impeachment and thereby prevent an
injustice to the witness being cross-examined. The witness must be
given a chance to recollect and to explain the apparent inconsistency
between his two statements and state the circumstances under which
they were made. This Court held in People v. Escosura that the
statements of a witness prior to her present testimony cannot serve as
basis for impeaching her credibility unless her attention was directed to
the inconsistencies or discrepancies and she was given an opportunity
to explain said inconsistencies.17

This is in line with Section 13, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court which
states:

Section 13. How witness impeached by evidence of inconsistent


statements.–Before a witness can be impeached by evidence that he
has made at other times statements inconsistent with his present
testimony, the statements must be related to him, with the
circumstances of the times and places and the persons present, and he
must be asked whether he made such statements, and if so, allowed to
explain them. If the statements be in writing, they must be shown to the
witness before any question is put to him concerning them.

More controlling is our ruling in People v. Alegado where we held that


inconsistencies between the sworn statement and the testimony in court do
not militate against the witness' credibility since sworn statements are
generally considered inferior to the testimony in open court.18

In any case, Asaytono was able to sufficiently identify Bajada as one of the
perpetrators to the satisfaction of the trial court. Asaytono's familiarity with
Bajada cannot be denied; she has known Bajada and Calisay for more than a
year prior to the incident. The two accused were also frequent visitors at the
victim's house. Hence, Asaytono was acquainted with Bajada's physical
features. The trial court found her testimony to be credible, frank,
straightforward, and consistent throughout the trial. We see no reason to
disturb this finding since trial courts are in a unique position to observe the
demeanor of witnesses.19 The trial court's findings regarding the witness'
credibility are accorded the highest degree of respect.

Furthermore, Bajada could not ascribe any plausible ill motive against the
witness. His accusation against Asaytono that the latter was interested in
inheriting from Villamayor is self-serving and uncorroborated. Even Bajada's
own stepson, Calisay, stated that there was no prior misunderstanding
between him and Asaytono and that he did not know any reason why
Asaytono would accuse them of a crime. The letters allegedly written by an
eyewitness who was afraid to testify in trial cannot be given probative value.
The letters accused Asaytono as one of the culprits–a defense which was
already dismissed by the courts a quo. There was no evidence to support
such allegation. The said letters were belatedly submitted, uncorroborated,
and cannot be admitted in evidence.

Bajada's alibi likewise deserves no merit. For alibi to prosper, it must be


shown that the accused was somewhere else at the time of the commission of
the offense and that it was physically impossible for the accused to be present
at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission.20 Bajada himself
admitted, however, that the travel time from Bayate, Liliw, Laguna to the crime
scene is only 15 minutes by jeep. Hence, it was possible for him to be at the
crime scene at or around the time the offense was committed.
The appellate court correctly reduced the penalty to reclusion perpetua. The
aggravating circumstance of dwelling was not specifically alleged in the
information. As regards the additional charge of "serious physical injuries," we
held in Abdul21 that this is merged in the crime of robbery with homicide.

WHEREFORE, the February 7, 2006 Decision of the CA in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.


No. 01043 is AFFIRMED IN TOTO. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 6962 June 25, 2008

CHARLES B. BAYLON, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JOSE A. ALMO, respondent.

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

This case stemmed from the administrative complaint filed by the complainant at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) charging the respondent with fraud and
deceit for notarizing a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) bearing the forged signature of the complainant as the supposed principal thereof.

Complainant averred that Pacita Filio, Rodolfo Llantino, Jr. and his late wife, Rosemarie Baylon, conspired in preparing an SPA1 authorizing his wife to mortgage
his real property located in Signal Village, Taguig. He said that he was out of the country when the SPA was executed on June 17, 1996, and also when it was
notarized by the respondent on June 26, 1996. To support his contention that he was overseas on those dates, he presented (1) a certification2 from the
Government of Singapore showing that he was vaccinated in the said country on June 17, 1996; and (2) a certification3 from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration
showing that he was out of the country from March 21, 1995 to January 28, 1997. To prove that his signature on the SPA was forged, the complainant presented a
report4 from the National Bureau of Investigation stating to the effect that the questioned signature on the SPA was not written by him.

The complainant likewise alleged that because of the SPA, his real property was mortgaged to Lorna Express Credit Corporation and that it was subsequently
foreclosed due to the failure of his wife to settle her mortgage obligations.

In his answer, the respondent admitted notarizing the SPA, but he argued that he initially refused to notarize it when the complainant's wife first came to his office
on June 17, 1996, due to the absence of the supposed affiant thereof. He said that he only notarized the SPA when the complainant's wife came back to his office
on June 26, 1996, together with a person whom she introduced to him as Charles Baylon. He further contended that he believed in good faith that the person
introduced to him was the complainant because said person presented to him a Community Tax Certificate bearing the name Charles Baylon. To corroborate his
claims, the respondent attached the affidavit of his secretary, Leonilita de Silva.

The respondent likewise denied having taken part in any scheme to commit fraud, deceit or falsehood.5

After due proceedings, the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline recommended to the IBP-Board of Governors that the respondent be strongly admonished for
notarizing the SPA; that his notarial commission be revoked; and that the respondent be barred from being granted a notarial commission for one year.6

In justifying its recommended sanctions, the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline stated that

In this instance, reasonable diligence should have compelled herein respondent to ascertain the true identity of the person seeking his legal services
considering the nature of the document, i.e., giving a third party authority to mortgage a real property owned by another. The only saving grace on the
part of respondent is that he relied on the fact that the person being authorized under the SPA to act as agent and who accompanied the impostor, is
the wife of the principal mentioned therein. 7

On October 22, 2005, the IBP-Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVII-2005-109 which reads:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondent's failure to properly ascertain the true identity of
the person seeking his legal services considering the nature of the document, Atty. Jose A. Almo is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
one (1) year and Respondent's notarial commission is Revoked and Disqualified (sic) from reappointment as Notary Public for two (2) years.8

In our Resolution9 dated February 1, 2006, we noted the said IBP Resolution.

We agree with the finding of the IBP that the respondent had indeed been negligent in the performance of his duties as a notary public in this case.
The importance attached to the act of notarization cannot be overemphasized. In Santiago v. Rafanan,10 we explained,

. . . Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified or
authorized may act as notaries public. Notarization converts a private document into a public document thus making that document admissible in
evidence without further proof of its authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. Courts, administrative
agencies and the public at large must be able to rely upon the acknowledgment executed by a notary public and appended to a private instrument.

For this reason, notaries public should not take for granted the solemn duties pertaining to their office. Slipshod methods in their performance of the
notarial act are never to be countenanced. They are expected to exert utmost care in the performance of their duties, which are dictated by public
policy and are impressed with public interest.11

Mindful of his duties as a notary public and taking into account the nature of the SPA which in this case authorized the complainant's wife to mortgage the subject
real property, the respondent should have exercised utmost diligence in ascertaining the true identity of the person who represented himself and was represented
to be the complainant.12 He should not have relied on the Community Tax Certificate presented by the said impostor in view of the ease with which community tax
certificates are obtained these days.13 As a matter of fact, recognizing the established unreliability of a community tax certificate in proving the identity of a person
who wishes to have his document notarized, we did not include it in the list of competent evidence of identity that notaries public should use in ascertaining the
identity of persons appearing before them to have their documents notarized.14

Moreover, considering that respondent admitted15 in the IBP hearing on February 21, 2005 that he had already previously notarized some documents16 for the
complainant, he should have compared the complainant's signatures in those documents with the impostor's signature before he notarized the questioned SPA.

WHEREFORE, the notarial commission, if still extant, of respondent Atty. Jose A. Almo is hereby REVOKED. He is likewise DISQUALIFIED to be reappointed as
Notary Public for a period of two years.

To enable us to determine the effectivity of the penalty imposed, the respondent is DIRECTED to report the date of his receipt of this Decision to this Court.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the courts all over the country. Let a copy of this
Decision likewise be attached to the personal records of the respondent.

SO ORDERED.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING

G.R. No. 160811 April 14, 2008

RICKY BASTIAN, petitioner,


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

DECISION

REYES, R.T., J.:

COMPARED to appellate magistrates who merely read and rely on the cold and inanimate pages of the transcript of stenographic notes and the original records
brought before them, the trial judge is in a better position to calibrate the testimonies of the witnesses at the stand.

The bare claim of responsibility for the killing of the victim by the New People’s Army (NPA) does not bind or tie the hands of the Court in determining the real killer
as borne by the evidence.

Di tulad ng mga mahistrado sa apelasyon na tumutunghay at nananalig lamang sa mga record at stenographic notes, ang hukom sa paglilitis ay nasa
mas mainam na posisyon upang timbangin ang mga salaysay ng mga testigo.

Ang pag-amin ng NPA sa pagpatay ng biktima ay hindi makapagtatali sa hukuman upang alamin ang tunay na salarin ayon sa ebidensya.

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming with modification that2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Kalibo,
Aklan, Branch 8, finding petitioner Ricky Bastian guilty of homicide, instead of murder.

The Facts

On April 24, 1995, at around 11:00 p.m., Lorna Bandiola went to Solido Elementary School in Nabas, Aklan to fetch her children Lorena and Lorsen who were
attending a dance party.3 On her way inside the campus, she saw petitioner Ricky Bastian, together with co-accused Albino Layasan, Roque Prado and Renato
Prado. The trio were seated on the concrete fence of the school.4

Lorna did not mind them as she proceeded to the dance hall.5 Upon reaching the hall, she learned that the party was still in progress. She decided to while the
time and waited for her children. When the affair ended at around 2:00 a.m., Lorna left the school premises with Lorena and Lorsen in tow.
While on their way out of the campus, Lorna saw her son-in-law John Ronquillo, the victim, about ten (10) arms-stretch ahead of them. Apparently, he also went to
the dance party and was about to go home.6 It was at that point when Lorna saw petitioner step ahead of his co-accused. Unexpectedly, petitioner drew a gun and
shot Ronquillo on the head. The victim fell instantaneously. Petitioner continued shooting while Ronquillo lay sprawled on the ground. 7

Lorna heard petitioner’s co-accused saying, "He is dead already," before the group ran away.8 She trembled with fear and had to be helped by Lorena and Lorsen
in going out of the school campus.9

After receiving a dispatch report regarding the shooting incident at the school grounds, Police Officers Jose Roño, Elmer Villanueva and Ramie Zomil immediately
proceeded to the crime scene. The investigating team arrived at around 2:50 a.m. They found the dead body of John Ronquillo on the ground, face up. When they
checked the body, they recovered one (1) bullet slug on the ground, near the back of the victim.

The victim’s cadaver was later turned over to the Joy Funeral Parlor in Solido, Nabas, Aklan. There, Dr. Gloria Boliver of the Municipal Health Office conducted a
post-mortem autopsy.

On complaint of the heirs of the victim John Ronquillo, petitioner Ricky Bastian and his co-accused Albino Layasan, Roque Prado and Renato Prado, were all
indicted for murder in an Information bearing the following accusation:

That on or about the 25th day of April 1995, in the early morning in Barangay Solido, Municipality of Nabas, Province of Aklan, Republic of the
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, confederating together and mutually helping one another,
with intent to kill one JOHN RONQUILLO, with treachery and evident premeditation, while armed with a gun, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously attack, assault and shoot said JOHN RONQUILLO, thereby inflicting upon the latter serious and mortal wounds, to wit:

1. Gunshot wound, head, at the fronto-parietal region, 1 inch above the right ear, penetrating the skull and the brain tissue. Wound is round in shape
with clean cut edge (wound entrance).

2. Gunshot wound, oval in shape, abdomen level of the umbilicus, right side of the lumbar region (entrance).

3. Gunshot wound, abdomen, lumbar region, posterior to wound No. 2 with irregular edge (wound exit).

4. Gunshot wound, left breast, oval in shape, clean cut edge (entrance).

5. Gunshot wound, right chest, irregular edge (exit).

6. Wound, left arm posterior, irregular edge.

As per Autopsy Report issued by Dr. Gloria Z. Bolivar, Municipal Health Officer of the Rural Health Unit of Nabas, Aklan, hereto attached and forming
an integral part hereof which wounds directly caused the death of said JOHN RONQUILLO.

That as a result of the criminal acts of the above-named accused, the heirs of the deceased JOHN RONQUILLO suffered actual and compensatory
damages in the amount of P50,000.00.10

Petitioner waived the conduct of a pre-trial conference, hence, trial on the merits ensued.

The prosecution evidence, which was portrayed by the foregoing facts, was principally supplied by Lorna Bandiola, Dr. Gloria Boliver of the Nabas, Aklan
Municipal Health Office, and Jose Roño of the local Philippine National Police (PNP) office. Their accounts were corroborated in material points by the victim’s
spouse Analie Ronquillo and Nemelyn Tulio.

Upon the other hand, the defense version founded on denial, was summarized by the appellate court in the following tenor:

The defense, on the other hand, presented seven (7) witnesses including accused-appellant, who denied killing J. RONQUILLO and interposed the
defense of alibi. He claimed that in the evening of April 24, 1995, he was in the house of Barangay Captain VOLTAIRE GARCIA, drinking liquor with
the latter and ALBINO LAYASAN until 12:30 a.m. They were very drunk and were unable to go home. He went to bed ahead of the others, while
GARCIA and LAYASAN were still conversing (Id. at 9). He woke up at 8 a.m. and learned later at 2 p.m. of the following day that JOHN was shot. He
did not attend the dance party because he was heavily drunk (TSN, April 4, 2000, pp. 4-6). His testimony was corroborated by VOLTAIRE GARCIA.11

RTC and CA Dispositions

On March 20, 2001, the trial court convicted petitioner of homicide instead of murder. In the same breath, the RTC acquitted Layasan and Roque and Renato
Prado of the charge due to insufficient evidence. The fallo of the trial court judgment reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, considering the presence of the aggravating circumstance of nighttime and applying the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, accused Ricky Bastian is sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from TWELVE (12) years of prision mayor in its maximum
period as minimum penalty to SEVENTEEN (17) years, FOUR (4) months and ONE (1) day of reclusion temporal in its medium period as maximum
penalty and to indemnify the heirs of John Ronquillo the sum of P50,000.00 for the death of the victim and another sum of P200,000.00 for loss of
earning capacity, and another sum of P10,000.00 as reimbursement of burial expenses, and another sum of P50,000.00 for moral damages.

For lack of sufficient evidence, accused Albino Layasan, Roque Prado and Renato Prado are hereby ACQUITTED. No pronouncement as to cost.
SO ORDERED.12

Still dissatisfied, petitioner elevated the matter to the CA. The appeal was anchored on the lone ground that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. On
August 29, 2003, the CA Fifteenth Division affirmed the trial court disposition with modification as to the damages awarded. The dispositive part of the CA decision
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8 of Kalibo, Aklan, is hereby AFFIRMED with modification.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law and absent any modifying circumstance, the accused-appellant (petitioner) is hereby sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty ranging from ten (10) years of prision mayor as minimum to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months of reclusion temporal as
maximum. He is further ordered to indemnify the heirs of the victim the amount of P1,800 for burial expenses, P141,320 for lost earnings of the
deceased, P50,000 for death indemnity, and another P50,000 for moral damages (People v. Morano, G.R. No. 129235, Nov. 18, 2002).

SO ORDERED.13

In reducing the award of damages, the CA opined:

As to the amount of damages awarded, except for the P1,800 burial fee receipt (Exhibit "G," p. 213, Records) issued by the Nabas Parish Church, no
other official receipts were adduced to prove the actual damages incurred for the burial expenses. Offered as proof of the expenditures were the
certifications issued by the alleged owners of the funeral parlor and the band. But a certification, by its nature, is easy to fabricate and as such cannot
be admitted in lieu of official receipts. Hence, the reduction of the burial expense from P10,000 to P1,800. The well-settled rule is that actual damages
cannot be awarded based on the allegation of a witness without any competent document to support such claim – proof is required to be adequately
supported by receipts (People v. Enguito, 326 SCRA 508 [2000]).

Even if the prosecution did not present documentary evidence to support the claim for loss of earning capacity, testimonial evidence may be sufficient
to establish a basis for which the court can make a fair and reasonable estimate of damages for loss of earning capacity (People v. Perreras, 362
SCRA 202 [2001]). In People v. Muyco (331 SCRA 192 [2000]), the Supreme Court held:

To be able to claim damages for loss of earning capacity despite the non-availability of documentary evidence, there must be oral
testimony that: (a) the victim was self-employed earning less than the minimum wage under the current labor laws and judicial notice was
taken of the fact that in the victim’s line of work, no documentary evidence is available; (b) the victim was employed as a daily wage
worker earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws. x x x

Thus, his heirs are entitled to receive an award for lost earnings in accordance with the following formula: 2/3 (80 – ATD [age at the time
of death]) x (GAI [gross annual income]) – 80% GAI.

In the case at bench, no documentary evidence regarding the net income of the victim was offered that would serve as the basis for the computation
of his net income. But the wife, however, testified that her husband used to earn 50 cavans of rice every year as a farmer. In their line of employment,
no available documentary evidence could be considered to determine their net income. More so, this was not disputed by the defense. Thus, following
the above formula –

= 2/3 (80-27 years old) x (50 cavans x P400) - 80% (50 cavans x P400)
= 2/3 (53) x (P20,000) - 80% (P20,000)
= 35.33 x (P20,000) - (P16,000)
= P141,320

the heirs of JOHN RONQUILLO are entitled to receive P141,320 as an award for lost earnings.14

Issues

Undaunted, petitioner has resorted to the present recourse, imputing to the CA triple errors, viz.:

I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION, THE DECISION OF THE COURT A QUO DESPITE
THE FACT THAT THE EVIDENCED (SIC) PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION WERE MERELY BASED ON CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
THAT WERE TAINTED WITH INCONSISTENCIES, ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT THE NPA PUBLICLY CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE
KILLING OF JOHN RONQUILLO, AFTER FINDING HIM GUILTY OF MURDER AND RAPE;

II.

THAT THE POLICE AUTHORITIES OF NABAS, AKLAN, FAILED AS IT FAILED TO IDENTIFY THE ASSAILANT OF JOHN RONQUILLO, AND, IN
FACT, HAS NOT INITIATED THE FILING OF FORMAL COMPLAINT BEFORE THE PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR, AKLAN, AS THERE ARE NO
WITNESSESPRESENTED BY THE FAMILY OF THE VICTIM UP TO JUNE 20, 1995, FROM APRIL 25, 1995, THE DATE THE INCIDENT
OCCURRED;

III.
THE FACT THAT THE NPA HAS CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE KILLING OF JOHN RONQUILLO, THE HONORABLE COURT MUST
THEREFORE, REVERSED (SIC) AND SET ASIDE THE DECISION OF THE COURT A QUO AND THAT OF THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND
INSTEAD ACQUIT THE HEREIN ACCUSED-PETITIONER ON GROUND OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY AND TO REMAND THE CASE TO THE LOWER
COURT FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS.15 (Underscoring supplied)

Our Ruling

The matter of determining credibility of


witnesses is best left to the trial and
appellate courts. The NPA bare

claim for the killing does not bind the Court.

Petitioner scores both the RTC and the CA for accepting hook, line and sinker the prosecution version of the incident. According to petitioner, the accounts given
by the prosecution witnesses are highly-incredible and unworthy of credence and belief. It is also contended that the New People’s Army (NPA) has claimed
responsibility for the killing of John Ronquillo. The armed guerrilla group allegedly executed Ronquillo after they found him liable for murder and rape.

Verily, the thrust of this appeal is to assail the credibility of the witnesses for the People. Upon a review of the entire records, the Court finds no cogent reason to
depart from the findings and conclusions reached by the trial court and the CA. More specifically, this Court puts great weight on the factual findings of the trial
judge who conducted the trial of the case and heard the testimonies of the witnesses themselves.16 In People v. Sanchez,17 the Court had occasion to reiterate
that:

The matter of assigning values to declarations on the witness stand is best and most competently performed by the trial judge who had the unmatched
opportunity to observe the witnesses and to assess their credibility by the various indicia available but not reflected in the record. The demeanor of the
person on the stand can draw the line between fact and fancy. The forthright answer or the hesitant pause, the quivering voice or the angry tone, the
flustered look or the sincere gaze, the modest blush or the guilty blanch – these can reveal if the witness is telling the truth or lying in his teeth. 18

That the New Peoples’ Army allegedly publicly claimed responsibility for the killing of the victim is beside the point. It is not binding on the Court. It does not
preclude the Court from determining the real killer in accordance with the rule of evidence and settled jurisprudence.

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide’s explanation in People v. Quijada19 is likewise illuminating:

Settled is the rule that the factual findings of the trial court, especially on the credibility of witnesses, are accorded great weight and respect. For, the
trial court has the advantage of observing the witnesses through the different indicators of truthfulness or falsehood, such as the angry flush of an
insisted assertion or the sudden pallor of a discovered lie or the tremulous mutter of a reluctant answer or the forthright tone of a ready reply; or the
furtive glance, the blush of conscious shame, the hesitation, the sincere or the flippant or sneering tone, the heat, the calmness, the yawn, the sigh,
the candor or lack of it, the scant or full realization of the solemnity of an oath, the carriage and mien.20

Compared to appellate magistrates who merely deal and contend with the cold and inanimate pages of the transcript of stenographic notes and the original
records brought before them, the trial judge confronts the victim or his heirs, the accused and their respective witnesses. He personally observes their conduct,
demeanor and deportment while responding to the questions propounded by both the prosecutor and defense counsel. Moreover, it is also the trial judge who has
the opportunity to pose clarificatory questions to the parties. Tersely put, when a trial judge makes his findings as to the issue of credibility, such findings bear
great weight, at times even finality, on the appellate court.21

The RTC and the CA found the testimonies of the witnesses for the People to have met and passed the tests of credibility and believability.

Elementary is the rule that when the findings of the trial court have been affirmed by the appellate court, the said findings are generally binding upon this Court.22

Petitioner’s conviction is based on both


positive testimony of an eye-witness and
circumstantial evidence.

Petitioner insists that both the trial court and the CA erred in convicting him of the crime charged on circumstantial evidence. According to petitioner, the inference
upon which the conviction was premised was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The argument is misleading. It bears stressing that the trial court convicted petitioner of homicide mainly on the strength of the testimonies of prosecution
witnesses Lorna Bandiola and Nemelyn Tulio. Bandiola was an eyewitness to the commission of the crime while Tulio provided circumstantial evidence pointing to
petitioner as the author of the gruesome killing of the victim Ronquillo.

Circumstantial evidence is defined as that evidence that "indirectly proves a fact in issue through an inference which the fact-finder draws from the evidence
established." Resort to it is essential when the lack of direct testimony would result in setting a felon free.23

At the outset, We may well emphasize that direct evidence of the commission of a crime is not the only basis on which a court draws its finding of guilt. Established
facts that form a chain of circumstances can lead the mind intuitively or impel a conscious process of reasoning towards a conviction.24 Verily, resort to
circumstantial evidence is sanctioned by Rule 133, Section 5 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.25

The following are the requisites for circumstantial evidence to be sufficient to support conviction: (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.26
The trial court pointed to the following circumstantial evidence that sufficiently identified petitioner as the author of the gruesome killing:

There were a number of proven circumstances from which an inference could be made that Ricky Bastian was the assailant. Circumstance No. 1: The
fact that Nemelyn heard gunshots and saw gun-flashes twenty (20) meters away while she was on her way out of the school campus approaching the
main gate; Circumstance No. 2: The fact that after she heard gunshots, a short while thereafter, she saw Ricky Bastian holding a gun running past
behind her five (5) meters away coming from the direction where the shots came from; and Circumstance No. 3: The fact that when she lighted with
her flashlights the place where she heard gunshots, she saw the victim lying dead on the ground.

These are a combination of unbroken chain of circumstances consistent with the hypothesis that Ricky Bastian was the assailant and inconsistent with
the hypothesis that he was not. Otherwise stated, these unbroken chain of circumstances taken collectively engendered moral certainty for the Court
to believe that Ricky Bastian was the assailant. Nemelyn’s opportunity, however, of identifying Ricky Bastian as the assailant was put to question by
the accused through their witnesses. We will put to rest this question in the discussion that follow, but first, let us take a look on the eyewitness
account of Lorna Bandiola because her credibility and her presence as an eyewitness are likewise being questioned by the defense.27

Even assuming, ex gratia argumenti, that the testimony of Nemelyn Tulio can be discarded, petitioner’s conviction founded on the positive declarations of
eyewitness Lorna Bandiola still stands on terra firma. The rule is well-entrenched in this jurisdiction that in determining the value and credibility of evidence,
witnesses are to be weighed, not numbered. The testimony of only one witness, if credible and positive, is sufficient to convict.28 People v.
Ramos,29 quoting People v. Toyco,30 is good authority with the following pronouncement:

It is axiomatic that truth is established not by the number of witnesses but by the quality of their testimonies. The testimony of a single witness if
positive and credible is sufficient to support a conviction even in a charge of murder.31

On the penalty and civil liability

Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code defines and penalizes homicide in the following tenor:

Art. 249. Homicide. – Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 (Parricide), shall kill another without the attendance of any of the
circumstances enumerated in the next preceding article (Murder), shall be deemed guilty of homicide and be punished by reclusion temporal.

The penalty for homicide is reclusion temporal in any of its periods. It ranges from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. The trial court
appreciated the aggravating circumstance of nighttime. Upon review by the CA, the appellate court opined that while the crime was committed at around 2:00 a.m.,
the cover of darkness was not relevant to its commission. We sustain the CA conclusion that nighttime does not aggravate the killing of Ronquillo. Thus, the proper
penalty or maximum term of the indeterminate sentence could be reclusion temporal medium (fourteen [14] years, eight [8] months and one [1] day to seventeen
[17] years and four [4] months).

Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term must be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, which is prision mayor, ranging from six (6) years
and one (1) day to twelve (12) years, to be imposed in any of its periods. Of course, a better calibration is to likewise set the minimum term in the medium period
(eight [8] years and one [1] day to ten [10] years).

The CA award of burial expenses in the amount of P1,800.00 and P141,320.00 for lost earnings is duly covered by receipts and testimony of the victim’s spouse,
respectively. It should be maintained. The award of P50,000.00 for civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 for moral damages is likewise in accord with latest
jurisprudence.32

In fine, both the penalty and the civil liability imposed on the petitioner by the Court of Appeals are in order.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED in full.

SO ORDERED.

Ynares-Santiago, Chairperson, Austria-Martinez, Chico-Nazario, Nachura, concur.

G.R. No. 178541 March 27, 2008

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ANGELO ZETA, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

For review is the Decision dated 30 June 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02054,1 affirming in toto the Decision2 dated 29 November 2002 of
the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 88, in Criminal Case No. Q-95-63787, finding accused-appellant Angelo Zeta and his wife, Petronilla Zeta
(Petronilla), guilty of murder.

The facts are as follows:

On 6 November 1995, an Information3 was filed before the RTC charging appellant and Petronilla of Murder, thus:
That on or about the 28th day of October 1995, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping each
other, with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with evident premeditation, treachery, assault, attack and employ personal violence
upon the person of RAMON GARCIA y LOPEZ by then and there shooting the latter with the use of a .45 cal. pistol hitting him on the different parts of his body,
thereby causing the instant and immediate cause of his death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of said RAMON GARCIA Y LOPEZ.

When arraigned on 20 December 1995, appellant and Petronilla, assisted by their respective counsels de parte, pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charge of
murder.4 Trial on the merits thereafter ensued.

The prosecution presented as witnesses Aleine Mercado (Aleine), Dr. Maria Cristina Freyra (Dr. Freyra), Police Inspector Solomon Segundo (Inspector Segundo),
Rey Jude Naverra (Rey), Edwin Ronk (Edwin), Francisco Garcia (Francisco), SPO1 Carlos Villarin (SPO1 Villarin), and SPO2 Wakab Magundacan (SPO2
Magundacan). Their testimonies, taken together, bear the following:

On 28 October 1995, at around 12:00 midnight, Edwin, Rey and a certain Melvin Castillo (Melvin) had a drinking spree outside the house of Rey located at No. 30-
B Tacio Street, La Loma, Quezon City. At about 2:00 in the morning of the same date, a car stopped in front of the three. Appellant was driving the car while
Petronilla was seated beside him. Petronilla opened the car’s window and asked Edwin if he knows Ramon and the latter’s address at No. 25-C General Tinio
Street, La Loma, Quezon City. Edwin replied that he did not know Ramon or his address. Thereafter, appellant and Petronilla left on board the car and proceeded
to General Tinio Street, La Loma, Quezon City.5

At about 2:15 in the morning of the same date, the car boarded by appellant and Petronilla stopped in front of Ramon’s house at No. 25-C General Tinio Street, La
Loma, Quezon City. After parking nearby, appellant and Petronilla alighted from the car and proceeded to Ramon’s house. Petronilla repeatedly called Ramon.
Aleine (niece of Cristina Mercado, Ramon’s common-law wife) was awakened by the repeated calls and opened the door. Petronilla requested Aleine to call
Ramon. Aleine told Petronilla that she would wake up Ramon who was then sleeping with Cristina at the second floor of the house. Aleine invited appellant and
Petronilla inside the house but the two replied that they would just wait for Ramon outside. Aleine proceeded to the second floor of the house and knocked at the
door of Ramon’s room. Ramon woke up. Subsequently, Aleine went downstairs and proceeded to the dining table. While Ramon was walking down the stairs,
appellant suddenly entered the house and shot Ramon several times on different parts of the body with a caliber .45 Llama pistol. Upon seeing appellant shooting
Ramon, Aleine hid inside the restroom. When the gunshots ceased, Aleine went out of the restroom and saw Ramon sprawled and bloodied on the ground floor.6

Edwin, Rey and Melvin were still drinking when they heard the gunshots. They rushed to the direction of Ramon’s house. When they were nearing Ramon’s house,
Petronilla suddenly stepped out of the main door of Ramon’s house followed by appellant. Melvin uttered, "Mamamatay tao." Petronilla merely looked at them and
entered the car. Appellant also proceeded inside the car and thereafter the car sped away.7

Subsequently, Aleine went out of the house and called for help. Edwin, Rey and Melvin approached her. They carried Ramon and placed him inside a vehicle
owned by a neighbor. While they were on their way to the Chinese General Hospital, Ramon told Aleine that the one who shot him was "asawa ni Nellie na
kapitbahay namin sa Las Piñas." Ramon died due to gunshot wounds while being operated on at the Chinese General Hospital. Thereafter, the police arrived at
the crime scene and recovered several empty bullet shells and slugs. 8

At about 10:55 the following morning, SPO2 Magundacan received a report that a carnapped vehicle was parked along Lakandula Street, P. Tuazon Blvd.,
Quezon City. SPO2 Magundacan proceeded thereat and saw appellant about to board a car armed with a gun visibly tucked in his waist. SPO2 Magundacan
approached appellant and asked him for a license and/or registration papers of the gun but appellant did not show any. SP02 Magundacan also inquired from
Petronilla, who was inside the car also armed with a gun tucked in her waist, if she had a license but Petronilla likewise failed to show any. Thus, SPO2
Magundacan brought appellant and Petronilla to Police Precinct 8, Project 4, Quezon City, for investigation. Subsequently, appellant and Petronilla, upon the
request of the La Loma police, were turned over to the police station for investigation as regards the killing of Ramon. Appellant and Petronilla were thereafter
charged with murder.9

The prosecution also adduced documentary and object evidence to buttress the testimonies of its witnesses, to wit: (1) death certificate of Ramon; 10 (2) sworn
statement of Aleine;11 (3) request for autopsy examination of Ramon’s body;12 (4) medico-legal report issued and signed by Dr. Freyra stating that Ramon died due
to gunshot wounds;13(5) anatomical sketch of a human body signed by Dr. Freyra indicating the location of the gunshot wounds on Ramon’s body;14 (6) physical
science report stating that a paraffin test was conducted on both hands of Ramon and they were found negative for gunpowder nitrates;15 (7) handwritten sketch
made by Edwin depicting the streets of Tacio and General Tinio;16 (8) request for ballistic examination of the object evidence recovered from the crime scene;17 (9)
ballistic report issued and signed by Inspector Segundo stating that the bullet extracted from Ramon’s body and other bullets recovered from the crime scene were
similar to the bullets of the caliber .45 Llama pistol seized from appellant;18 (10) certification from the Personnel Division of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone
Company (PLDT) affirming that Ramon was its regular employee from 14 February 1981 up to 27 October 1995 and that he was receiving a monthly salary of
₱13,687.00 plus other benefits;19 (11) summary of expenses and receipts for the wake of Ramon;20 (12) joint affidavit of SPO2 Magundacan and a certain PO2
Ronald Zamora;21 (13) photographs showing the spot where appellant and Petronilla stood while waiting for Ramon, the stairs where Ramon walked down shortly
before he was shot several times by appellant, the area inside Ramon’s house where appellant positioned himself while shooting at Ramon, and the location
where Ramon fell down after he was shot several times by appellant;22 (14) nine empty shells and seven deformed slugs fired from a caliber .45 pistol which were
recovered by SPO1 Villarin from the crime scene;23 (15) a deformed slug fired from a caliber .45 pistol which was extracted from Ramon’s body; (16) test bullets
fired from the caliber .45 Llama pistol seized from appellant;24(17) the caliber .45 Llama pistol with Serial Number C-27854 seized from appellant;25 and (18) a
calling card recovered from Ramon with the print label "Cristine Rent A Car," "Angelo D. Zeta" and with telephone numbers and addresses.26

For its part, the defense presented the testimonies of appellant, Petronilla, and Annabelle Vergara (Annabelle) to refute the foregoing allegations. Their version of
the incident is as follows:

On 27 October 1995, at about 10:00 in the evening, appellant, Petronilla and Annabelle (housemaid of the couple) were in the couple’s house at Cainta,
Rizal.27 Later, appellant took Petronilla’s caliber .38 pistol and went to his brother’s (Jose Zeta, Jr.) house in Marikina arriving therein at around 12:00 midnight.
Jose was out of the house so appellant waited for him. At about 2:30 in the morning of 28 October 1995, Jose arrived. Thereafter, appellant demanded from Jose
the return of his three firearms, one of which is a caliber .45 pistol. Jose, however, handed only the caliber .45 pistol to appellant. Appellant berated Jose for
refusing to return the two other firearms. Irked, Jose drew a gun. Appellant also drew the caliber .45 pistol and shot Jose four times. Jose fell down on the ground.
Afterwards, appellant left the house, took Jose’s car which was parked near the house, and proceeded to Police Precinct 8, Project 4, Quezon City, where he
waited for a certain Tony Tolentino whom he claims to be a policeman assigned at the Southern Police District. At about 9:00 in the morning of 28 October 1995,
the policeman on duty at Precinct 8 informed appellant that the latter’s car parked inside the precinct was a carnapped vehicle. The policemen searched the car
and found several guns including the caliber .45 and the caliber .38. Appellant was thereupon detained and charged with illegal possession of firearms and
carnapping.28

At about 10:00 in the morning of 28 October 1995, Petronilla received a telephone call informing her that appellant was at Police Precinct 8, Project 4, Quezon
City. She immediately proceeded thereat and presented documents relative to her ownership and license of the caliber .38 seized from appellant. Thereafter, she
went home at about 11:00 in the evening.29
On 2 November 1995, Petronilla visited appellant at Precinct 8. During the visit, Aleine arrived at Precinct 8 and pointed to appellant and Petronilla. Subsequently,
appellant and Petronilla were informed by the police that they were suspects in the killing of Ramon. Thereafter, they were charged with murder.30

After trial, the RTC rendered a Decision on 29 November 2002 convicting appellant and Petronilla of murder. It held that appellant and Petronilla conspired in
killing Ramon. It also ruled that Ramon’s killing was attended by the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and nocturnity. In conclusion, it imposed
the death penalty on appellant while Petronilla was merely sentenced to reclusion perpetua "owing to her being a mother and her lesser degree of participation in
the killing of Ramon." The fallo of the decision reads:

Accordingly, based on the evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense and finding both accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
MURDER attended by the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and nocturnity without being offset by any mitigating circumstances, the accused
Angelo Zeta is hereby sentenced to death by lethal injection. The wife and co-accused Petronilla Zeta, although a co-conspirator in the commission of the offense
charged, is hereby sentenced to RECLUSION PERPETUA owing to her being a mother and her lesser degree of participation in the act of murder.

The accused Angelo Zeta and Petronilla Zeta are also sentenced to indemnify in SOLIDUM the heirs of the victim in the amount of ₱50,000.00 for the death of
Ramon Garcia; ₱146,000.00 for the hospital and burial expenses; and ₱1,642,440.00 for the lost income of the deceased reckoned at 10 years of productive life,
plus costs.

The .45 caliber Llama pistol with Serial Number C-27854 is confiscated in favor of the Government to be kept by the Philippine National Police as mandated by
law.31

On 9 December 2002, the RTC issued an Order forwarding the records of the instant case to Us for automatic review because of the death penalty imposed on
appellant.32

On 24 December 2002, Petronilla filed a Notice of Appeal with the RTC stating that she would appeal her conviction to this Court.33

On 28 April 2004, Petronilla, through counsel, filed a Motion to Withdraw Appeal before us34 stating that:

After a thorough review of the available stenographic notes obtained by the close relatives of the accused-appellant from the Regional Trial Court, the undersigned
counsel found out that there are no testimonial and/or documentary evidence presented before the lower Trial Court that could sufficiently serve as justifiable basis
to warrant the reversal of the appealed decision rendered insofar as PETRONILLA ZETA is concerned.

Moreover, the undersigned counsel sustained serious physical injuries that render difficult to further handle the appeal that will require lengthy preparation of
appellant’s brief and other legal pleadings as may be required under the Rules of Court.

Consequently, after discussion with accused-appellant PETRONILLA ZETA, the undersigned counsel informed her that he is now constrained to withdraw his
appearance in the above-entitled appealed case.

Upon being informed of the health predicament of the undersigned counsel and after being enlightened about the weakness of the appeal, accused-appellant
PETRONILLA ZETA willfully and voluntarily decided to WITHDRAW the appeal and do hereby signify to the Honorable Court that she is no longer interested in the
further prosecution of her appeal. She, likewise, has no objection to the withdrawal of the appearance of Atty. Alfredo E. Anasco, as her counsel in the above-
entitled case.

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the above-entitled appeal be ordered withdrawn and the MOTION TO WITHDRAW APPEAL be GRANTED, and the
withdrawal of appearance of counsel be given due course.

On 28 September 2004, we issued a Resolution granting Petronilla’s motion to withdraw appeal.35

On 22 November 2005, we issued a Resolution remanding the instant case to the Court of Appeals for proper disposition pursuant to our ruling in People v.
Mateo.36 On 30 June 2006, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming in toto the Decision of the RTC. Thus:

Thus, after finding that the trial court’s conclusions are supported by the evidence presented and in full accord with existing law and jurisprudence, We find no
reason to set it aside.

WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing premises, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The November 29, 2002 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 88 in Criminal Case No. Q-95-63787 is AFFIRMED.37

Appellant elevated the present case before us on the following grounds:

I.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE PROSECUTION
WITNESSES DID NOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY HIM;

II.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE DEFENSE OF DENIAL AND ALIBI INTERPOSED BY THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT;
III.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE FACT THAT HIS GUILT WAS UNDER A SHADOW OF
DOUBT.38

Apropos the first issue, appellant claims that although Edwin and Rey positively identified Petronilla as the one who asked them about Ramon and his address
shortly before the incident occurred, the two, nevertheless, failed to identify appellant as Petronilla’s companion during the said questioning. He also argues that
Aleine’s testimony identifying him as the one who shot Ramon during the incident is not morally certain because Aleine narrated that she saw only the side portion
of his face and the color of the shirt he wore during the incident.39

It appears that Edwin and Rey did not actually see appellant shoot Ramon during the incident. Nonetheless, Aleine saw appellant shoot Ramon on that fateful
night. Her positive identification of appellant and direct account of the shooting incident is clear, thus:

ATTY. A. OLIVETTI (DIRECT EXAMINATION)

Q. Aleine Mercado, are you the same Aleine Mercado who is listed as one of the witnesses in this case?

WITNESS

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you know the accused in this case?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. If they are inside the courtroom, will you identify them?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Will you please look around and point before the Honorable Court the person of the accused in this case?

A. Yes, sir. That man wearing yellow T-shirt and that lady who is also wearing yellow shirt. (witness pointing to a man who when asked of his name
identified himself as Angelo Zeta and to a lady beside Angelo Zeta who when asked of her name identified herself as Petronilla Zeta.)

xxx

Q. On October 28, 1995, at about 2:15 in the morning, do you remember if there was an unusual incident that happened?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Will you please tell the Court briefly what that unusual incident was?

A. Tito Ramon Garcia was shot, Sir.

Q. And who is this Tito Ramon Garcia that you are talking about?

A. He is the live-in partner of my aunt Cristy.

Q. A while ago you mentioned that you have been living with your auntie and Tito Ramon Garcia in Gen. Tinio, La Loma, Quezon City. Will you please
describe before the Honorable Court the residence or your house at that time where you were living with your auntie and Tito Ramon Garcia?

A. It is a small house we were living in. It has a mezzanine and it measures 4 x 3 meters, sir.

xxxx

Q. Do you know the person who shot your Tito Ramon Garcia?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Will you please tell the Honorable Court the name of the person who shot Ramon Garcia?

A. Angelo Zeta.
Q. Where in particular did Mr. Angelo Zeta shot Mr. Ramon Garcia?

A. Inside our house, sir.

Q. And how was he able to enter your house?

A. Our door then was opened, sir.

Q. Why was your door opened at that time?

A. I heard a woman calling for my Tito Ramon and so I opened the door, sir.

Q. What time was this Madam Witness?

A. 2:15.

Q. 2:15 in the afternoon?

A. 2:15 in the morning, your honor.

xxxx

ATTY. A. OLIVETTI

Q. And who was that woman that you saw was outside calling Mr. Ramon Garcia?

A. Petronilla Zeta, sir.

Q. When you opened the door and you saw this woman, what happened between you and her?

A. She asked me if a certain Ramon Garcia was there.

Q. What was your reply?

A. I told her he was sleeping. He was upstairs.

Q. And what did the woman do after that if she did anything?

A. She told me to call for my Tito Ramon.

Q. What did you do after she asked you to call Mr. Ramon Garcia?

A. I told her to enter before I call my Tito Ramon but they answered that they will remain outside.

Q. And so after they refused to enter the house, what did you do as they were asking you to call Mr. Ramon Garcia?

A. I told them to wait and then I went upstairs.

Q. What did you do upstairs?

A. I knocked at the door to wake up my Tito Ramon.

xxxx

Q. And was your Tito Ramon able to wake up?

A. When I felt that they were awakened, I went downstairs.

Q. Where in particular downstairs did you go?


A. Near our dining table, sir.

Q. How long was it from the door? How far was it from the door?

A. Two-arms-length, sir, or "dalawang dipa," sir.

Q. And what happened as you stood by downstairs?

A. While Tito Ramon was going down, sir, Angelo Zeta suddenly entered our house and immediately shot him several times.

Q. How far were you from Mr. Angelo Zeta when you saw him?

I withdraw that.

How far were you from Mr. Angelo Zeta when you saw him suddenly entered the house and shot Mr. Ramon Garcia?

A. Less than one meter, sir.

x x x x.

Q. Where was Petronilla Zeta at that time that the shooting occurred?

A. She was outside the door, sir.

xxxx

Q. What did you do as you were standing and while Mr. Angelo Zeta was shooting Mr. Ramon Garcia inside the house?

A. When I heard two shots, I run to the C.R. or comfort room.

Q. As you were in the C.R., what happened?

A. I heard successive shots, sir.

Q. How long did you stay in the C.R.?

A. Until the shots had stopped . . . Until the firing had stopped, sir.

Q. And you sensed that the firing had stopped, what did you do?

A. I slowly opened the door to take a look if Angelo Zeta and companion were still there.

Q. And what did you see?

A. They were no longer there, sir.

Q. And you saw that they have guns, what did you do?

A. I went out of the C.R. and I returned to the place where I was before where I was previously standing.

Q. And what did you see when you reached that portion that you are talking about?

A. I saw Tito Ramon lying frustrate and blooded.

Q And what did you do when you see (sic) him on that particular condition?

A. I peeped at the door to find out if Angelo Zeta and companion were still there.

Q. And what did you see?


A. They were no longer there.

Q. And what did you do after that?

A. I knocked at the door of the owner of the house to ask for help.40

It should be emphasized that the testimony of a single witness, if positive and credible, as in the case of Aleine, is sufficient to support a conviction even in the
charge of murder.41

Appellant’s argument that Aleine’s testimony identifying him as the one who shot Ramon is not morally certain because she saw only the side portion of his face
and the color of the shirt he wore during the incident, deserves scant consideration. A person can still be properly identified and recognized even by merely looking
at the side portion of his face. To be sure, Aleine recognized and identified appellant in the police line-up and during trial as the one who shot Ramon. Experience
dictates that precisely because of the unusual acts of violence committed right before their eyes, witnesses can remember with a high degree of reliability the
identity of criminals at any given time.42 A startling or frightful experience creates an indelible impression in the mind that can be recalled vividly. 43 It bears stressing
that Aleine was less than one meter away from appellant when the latter shot Ramon. The crime scene was also well-lighted during the incident because there
was a fluorescent bulb inside the house.44

The testimonies of Aleine and of the other prosecution witnesses are in harmony with the documentary and object evidence submitted by the prosecution. The
RTC and the Court of Appeals found their testimonies to be credible and trustworthy. The rule is that the findings of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies
of the witnesses and its assessment of the probative weight thereof, as well as its conclusions anchored on said findings are accorded respect if not conclusive
effect. This is more true if such findings were affirmed by the appellate court. When the trial court’s findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, said findings
are generally binding upon this Court.45

Anent the second and third issues, appellant contends that his conviction is unwarranted based on the following reasons: (1) the prosecution failed to establish any
possible motive for the appellant to kill Ramon; (2) there is an inconsistency in the testimony of the prosecution witnesses regarding the type and color of the car
boarded by appellant and Petronilla before and after the incident. Edwin testified that appellant and Petronilla left the scene on board a gold-colored Mitsubishi
Lancer; while SPO2 Magundacan narrated that he apprehended appellant while the latter was about to board a blue Toyota Corona Macho; (3) Jose could have
been the one who fatally shot Ramon and appellant could have been mistakenly identified as Jose because they have the same physical appearance and facial
features; (4) if appellant was indeed the one who shot Ramon, he could have immediately confessed such crime to the police just like what he did after killing Jose;
and (5) there is no proof that appellant is the husband of a certain "Mely." Ramon’s dying declaration to Aleine was that it was the husband of "Mely," his former
neighbor in Las Pinas, who shot him. Further, Petronilla’s nickname could either be "Nellie" or "Nelia" and not "Mely" as referred to by Ramon.46

Lack of motive does not preclude conviction when the crime and the participation of the accused in the crime are definitely shown, particularly when we consider
that it is a matter of judicial knowledge that persons have killed or committed serious offenses for no reason at all. Motive gains importance only when the identity
of the culprit is doubtful.47 Where a reliable eyewitness has fully and satisfactorily identified the accused as the perpetrator of the felony, motive becomes
immaterial to the successful prosecution of a criminal case.48 It is obvious from the records that Aleine positively and categorically identified appellant as the person
who shot Ramon during the incident. Her testimony was corroborated on relevant points by Edwin and Rey.

There is no inconsistency in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses regarding the car boarded by appellant and Petronilla in leaving the crime scene and,
subsequently, at the time they were apprehended. Edwin testified that appellant and Petronilla left the scene after the incident which was between 2:15 and 2:30 in
the morning on board a gold-colored Mitsubishi Lancer.49 SPO2 Magundacan told the court that he apprehended appellant at around 10:55 in the morning of the
same day while the latter was about to board a blue Toyota Corona Macho.50 In his affidavit attached to the records, Jan Ryan Zeta, son of Jose, narrated that
Jose was shot by appellant at about 4:00 in the morning of the same date.51 Appellant admitted that after shooting Jose on the early morning of 28 October 1995,
he took the latter’s Toyota Corona Macho and left.52 Thus, it is probable that after leaving the crime scene at La Loma on board a gold Mitsubishi Lancer at about
2:15 or 2:30 in the morning, appellant and Petronilla then proceeded to Marikina and took Jose’s blue Toyota Corona Macho. This explains why the car of
appellant and Petronilla used in leaving the crime scene was different from that which they used at the time of their apprehension.

Appellant’s theory of alibi that it was physically impossible for him to be at the crime scene in La Loma when the incident occurred because he was in Marikina,
and that Jose could have been the one who fatally shot Ramon is flimsy and cannot prevail over the positive and credible testimony of Aleine. Appellant was
mistakenly identified as Jose because they have the same physical appearance and facial feature. In addition, the empty bullet shells and slugs recovered from
the crime scene were found to have the same characteristics as those of the bullets of appellant’s caliber .45 Llama pistol. Further, there is no testimonial or
documentary proof showing that it was Jose who shot Ramon. Appellant himself testified that he met Jose in the latter’s house in Marikina at about 2:30 in the
morning of 28 October 1995. On the other hand, the shooting of Ramon at La Loma, Quezon City occurred at about 2:15 in the morning of the same date. Hence,
it was impossible for Jose to be at La Loma, Quezon City and to have shot Ramon at such time and place.

It is insignificant whether Petronilla was referred to by Ramon in his dying declaration as "Mely" or "Nellie." As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, Ramon
sustained twelve gunshot wounds and was catching his breath when he uttered the name or nickname of Petronilla as the wife of appellant. Thus, understandably,
he could not have spoken clearly in such a difficult situation. Moreover, Ramon referred to "Nellie" or "Mely" as his former neighbor in Las Piñas. Likewise,
appellant and Petronilla admitted that Ramon was their former neighbor in Las Piñas.53

We now go to the propriety of the penalty imposed and the damages awarded by the RTC which the Court of Appeals affirmed.

The RTC held that the killing of Ramon qualifies as murder because of the presence of the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and nighttime or
nocturnity. It is a rule of evidence that aggravating circumstances must be proven as clearly as the crime itself.54

Evident premeditation qualifies the killing of a person to murder if the following elements are present: (1) the time when the offender determined to commit the
crime; (2) an act manifestly indicating that the culprit clung to his resolve; and (3) a sufficient interval of time between the determination or conception and the
execution of the crime to allow him to reflect upon the consequence of his act and to allow his conscience to overcome the resolution of his will if he desired to
hearken to its warning.55

The first two elements of evident premeditation are present in the case at bar.
The time manifesting Petronilla and appellant’s determination to kill Ramon was when they, at about 2:00 in the morning of 28 October 1995, repeatedly asked
Edwin about Ramon and the latter’s address, and when they subsequently proceeded to the house of Ramon.

The fact that appellant and Petronilla waited for Ramon, and appellant’s subsequent act of shooting him at around 2:15-2:30 in the morning of 28 October 1995
indicate that they had clung to their determination to kill Ramon.

The third element of evident premeditation, however, is lacking in the instant case. The span of thirty minutes or half an hour from the time appellant and Petronilla
showed their determination to kill Ramon (2:00 in the morning of 28 October 1995) up to the time appellant shot to death Ramon (2:15-2:30 in the morning of 28
October 1995) could not have afforded them full opportunity for meditation and reflection on the consequences of the crime they committed. 56 We have held that
the lapse of thirty minutes between the determination to commit a crime and the execution thereof is insufficient for a full meditation on the consequences of the
act.57

The essence of premeditation is that the execution of the criminal act must be preceded by cool thought and reflection on the resolution to carry out the criminal
intent during a space of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment. To justify the inference of deliberate premeditation, there must be a period sufficient in a
judicial sense to afford full opportunity for meditation and reflection and to allow the conscience of the actor to overcome the resolution of his will if he desires to
hearken to its warning. Where no sufficient lapse of time is appreciable from the determination to commit the crime until its execution, evident premeditation cannot
be appreciated.58

Nonetheless, we find that treachery attended the killing of Ramon.

There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against a person, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly
and specially to ensure its execution, without risk to himself arising from any defensive or retaliatory act which the victim might make.59 The essence of treachery is
a deliberate and sudden attack that renders the victim unable and unprepared to defend himself by reason of the suddenness and severity of the attack. Two
essential elements are required in order that treachery can be appreciated: (1) the employment of means, methods or manner of execution that would ensure the
offender’s safety from any retaliatory act on the part of the offended party who has, thus, no opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; and (2) a deliberate or
conscious choice of means, methods or manner of execution. Further, this aggravating circumstance must be alleged in the information and duly proven. 60

In the case at bar, treachery was alleged in the information and all its elements were duly established by the prosecution.

It has been established that Ramon, still groggy after having been awakened by Aleine, was walking down the stairs when appellant suddenly shot him. The
suddenness and unexpectedness of the appellant’s attack rendered Ramon defenseless and without means of escape. Appellant admitted that he was a member
of a gun club and was proficient in using his caliber .45 Llama pistol.61 In fact, he was good at shooting a moving target during his practice.62 He also stated that he
owned five firearms.63 Evidently, appellant took advantage of his experience and skill in practice shooting and in guns to exact the death of Ramon. There is no
doubt that appellant’s use of a caliber .45 Llama pistol, as well as his act of positioning himself in a shooting stance and of shooting Ramon several times on the
chest area and on other parts of body, were obviously adopted by him to prevent Ramon from retaliating or escaping. Considering that Ramon was unarmed,
groggy from sleep, and was casually walking down narrow stairs unmindful of the danger that lurked behind, there was absolutely no way for him to defend himself
or escape.

As regards the appreciation by the RTC of the aggravating circumstance of nocturnity, it should be underscored that nocturnity or nighttime is, by and of itself, not
an aggravating circumstance. It becomes so only when (1) it was especially sought by the offender; or (2) it was taken advantage of by him; or (3) it facilitated the
commission of the crime by ensuring the offender’s immunity from capture.64

Although the crime in the instant case was committed between 2:15 and 2:30 in the morning, no evidence was presented showing that nighttime was especially
and purposely sought by appellant to facilitate the commission of the crime, or that it was availed of for the purpose of impunity. Moreover, the crime scene was
well-lighted by a fluorescent bulb. We have held that nocturnity is not aggravating where the place of the commission of the crime was well-illuminated.65

Even if we were to assume that nocturnity was present in the case at bar, this cannot still be appreciated in view of the presence of treachery that attended the
killing of Ramon. Nighttime cannot be considered an aggravating circumstance separate from treachery, since nighttime is absorbed in treachery.66

Accordingly, the death penalty imposed by the RTC on appellant should be modified. Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code states that murder is punishable
by reclusion perpetua to death. Article 63 of the same Code provides that if the penalty is composed of two indivisible penalties, as in the instant case, and there
are no aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the lesser penalty shall be applied. Since there is no mitigating or aggravating circumstance in the instant case,
and treachery cannot be considered as an aggravating circumstance as it was already considered as a qualifying circumstance, the lesser penalty of reclusion
perpetua should be imposed.67

The award of damages and its corresponding amount rendered by the RTC should also be modified in line with current jurisprudence.

In addition to the civil indemnity of ₱50,000.00 for Ramon’s death, the award of moral damages amounting to ₱50,000.00 is also proper since it is mandatory in
murder cases, without need of proof and allegation other than the death of the victim.68

The heirs of Ramon are also entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of ₱25,000.00, since the qualifying circumstance of treachery was firmly established.69

The amount of actual damages should be reduced from ₱146,000.00 to ₱115,473.00 per computation of the official receipts attached to the records.70 1avv phi 1

The heirs of Ramon should also be indemnified for loss of earning capacity pursuant to Article 2206 of the New Civil Code.71 Consistent with our previous
decisions,72 the formula for the indemnification of loss of earning capacity is:

Net Earning Capacity = Life Expectancy x Gross Annual Income (GAI) - Living Expenses

= 2/3 (80 - age of deceased) x (GAI - 50% of GAI).


Ramon’s death certificate states that he was 37 years old at the time of his demise.73 A certification from Ramon’s employer, Philippine Long Distance Telephone
Company, shows that Ramon was earning an annual gross income of ₱164,244.00.74

Applying the above-stated formula, the indemnity for the loss of earning capacity of Ramon is ₱2,354,163.99, computed as follows:

Net Earning Capacity = 2/3 (43) x (₱164,244.00 - ₱82,122.00)

= 28.66 x ₱82,122.00

= ₱2,354,163.99

WHEREFORE, after due deliberation, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 30 June 2006 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02054 is hereby AFFIRMED with the
following MODIFICATIONS: (1) the penalty of death imposed on appellant is lowered to reclusion perpetua; (2) appellant is ordered to pay the heirs of Ramon
Garcia the amounts of ₱50,000.00 as moral damages and ₱25,000.00 as exemplary damages; (3) the award of actual damages is reduced to ₱115,473.00; and
(4) the indemnity for Ramon’s loss of earning capacity is increased to ₱2,354,163.99. The award of civil indemnity in the amount of ₱50,000.00 is maintained.

Appellant’s caliber .45 Llama pistol with Serial Number C-27854 is hereby confiscated in favor of the Government.

SO ORDERED.

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO

G.R. No. 145169 May 13, 2004

SIENA REALTY CORPORATION, as represented by LYDIA CO HAO and LILIBETH MANLUGON, petitioner,
vs.
HON. LOLITA GAL-LANG, as Presiding Judge of the RTC of Manila, Branch 44; ANITA CO NG in trust for ROCKEFELLER NG; and the COURT OF
APPEALS, SPECIAL 13th DIVISION, respondents.

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Challenged via petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court is the September 13, 2000 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in
C.A.-G.R. SP No. 59096, Siena Realty Corporation, as represented by Lydia Co Hao and Lilibeth Manlugon v. Hon. Lolita O. Gal-lang, as Presiding Judge of Br.
44 of the RTC of Manila, and Anita Co Ng in trust for Rockefeller Ng.

Since the petition attributes grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court of Appeals in the issuance of subject resolution, what should have been filed was
one for certiorari under Rule 65. On this score alone, the petition must be denied due course.

But even if technicality were set aside, just the same the petition fails.

Petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals on June 7, 2000 or allegedly on the 60th day from their receipt of the March 23, 2000 Order of
Branch 44 of the Manila Regional Trial Court denying their motion for Reconsideration of said court’s Order dismissing, on motion of private respondent, their
complaint.

The Court of Appeals, by Resolution1 of June 20, 2000, dismissed petitioner’s petition for certiorari, however, for being filed out of time, it holding that:

Per records, it appears that petitioners had only until May 29, 2000 within which to file the Petition for Certiorari considering the following:

1. Petitioners received a copy of the October 20, 1999 Order denying their [counsel’s] Notice of Withdrawal [and likewise denying
petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dismissing their complaint] on November 8, 1999;

2. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the October 20, 1999 Order on November 17, 1999; and that

3. Petitioners received a copy of the March 23, 2000 Order denying their motion for reconsideration on April 8, 2000.

The instant petition was filed on June 7, 2000 or nine (9) days late.

Thus, for being belatedly filed, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED.

Petitioners thereupon filed (on July 10, 2000) a motion for reconsideration2 of the above-said June 20, 2000 Order of the appellate court.
In the meantime, this Court issued in A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC (Reglamentary Period to File Petitions for Certiorari and Petition for Review on Certiorari) a Resolution
dated August 1, 2000 approving the amendment to the following provision of Section 4, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SECTION 4. Where petition filed. – The petition may be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order, resolution
sought to be assailed in the Supreme Court or, if it relates to the acts or omissions of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer or person, in
the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area as defined by the Supreme Court. It may also be filed in the Court of Appeals
whether or not the same is in aid of its jurisdiction. If it involves the acts or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, and unless otherwise provided by law
or these Rules, the petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the Court of Appeals.

If the petitioner had filed a motion for new trial or reconsideration after notice of said judgment, order or resolution, the period herein fixed
shall be interrupted. If the motion is denied, the aggrieved party may file the petition within the remaining period, but which shall not be
less than five (5) days in any event, reckoned from notice of such denial. No extension of time shall be granted except for the most
compelling reason and in no case to exceed fifteen (15) days. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The amendment to Sec. 4, Rule 65, which took effect on September 1, 2000, reads:

SECTION 4. When and where petition filed. – The petition shall be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or
resolution. In case a motion for reconsideration or new trial is timely filed, whether such motion is required or not, the sixty (60) day period
shall be counted from notice of the denial of the said motion.

The petition shall be filed in the Supreme Court or, if it relates to the acts or omissions of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer or person, in
the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area as defined by the Supreme Court. It may also be filed in the Court of Appeals
whether or not the same is in the aid of its appellate jurisdiction, or in the Sandiganbayan if it is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. If it involves the acts
or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, unless otherwise provided by law or these rules, the petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the Court
of Appeals.

No extension of time to file the petition shall be granted except for compelling reason and in no case exceeding fifteen (15) days. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

The Court of Appeals, acting on petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration of its Order of June 20, 2000, denied, by Resolution of September 13, 2000,3 said motion
in this wise:

xxx

From the argument espoused by petitioners’ counsel, it appears that he overlooked the provision of second paragraph of Sec. 4, Rule 65 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure as amended per Supreme Court Circular dated July 21, 1998, which provides as follows:

"If the petitioner had filed a motion for new trial or reconsideration after notice of said judgment, order or resolution, the period herein fixed
shall be interrupted. If the motion is denied, the aggrieved party may file the petition within the remaining period, but which shall not be
less than five (5) days in any event, reckoned from notice of such denial. No extension of time shall be granted except for the most
compelling reason and in no case to exceed fifteen (15) days."

Verily, the sixty (60) day period within which to file a Petition for Certiorari is not counted from the date of the receipt of the denial of Motion for
Reconsideration, but from the date of the receipt of the questioned order or decision, except that such 60-day period is interrupted upon the filing of a
Motion for Reconsideration.

WHEREFORE, for reason above-stated, the instant motion is DENIED. Consequently, the present Petition for Certiorari is DISMISSED with finality.
(Underscoring supplied)

Hence, the petition at bar, petitioners challenging the September 13, 2000 Resolution of the appellant court as having been

. . . ISSUED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AS IT WAS MADE WITHOUT TAKING PRIOR JUDICIAL NOTICE OF SUPREME COURT
A.M. NO. 00-2 - 03 SC WHICH RESOLUTION TOOK EFFECT ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2000, AND WHICH AMENDED THE SECOND PARAGRAPH OF
SECTION 4, RULE 65 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.4 (Underscoring supplied)

Petitioner’s argument is well-taken.

Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules on Evidence reads:

SECTION 1. Judicial notice, when mandatory. – A court shall take judicial notice, without the introduction of evidence, of the existence and
territorial extent of states, their political history, forms of government and symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the admiralty and maritime courts
of the world and their seals, the political constitution and history of the Philippines, the official acts of the legislative, executive and judicial
departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the geographical divisions. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Even if petitioner did not raise or allege the amendment in their motion for reconsideration before it, the Court of Appeals should have taken mandatory judicial
notice of this Court’s resolution in A.M. Matter No. 00-02-03 SC. The resolution did not have to specify that it had retroactive effect as it pertains to a procedural
matter. Contrary to private respondent’s allegation that the matter was no longer pending and undetermined, the issue of whether the petition for certiorari was
timely filed was still pending reconsideration when the amendment took effect on September 1, 2000, hence, covered by the its retroactive application.
The amendatory rule in their favor notwithstanding, petitioners’ petition fails as stated early on. The order of the trial court granting private respondent’s Motion to
Dismiss the complaint was a final, not interlocutory, order and as such, it was subject to appeal,5 not a petition for certiorari. At the time petitioners filed before the
appellate court their petition for certiorari on the 60th day following their receipt of the October 20, 1999 Order of the trial court denying their Motion for
Reconsideration of its dismissal order, the said October 20, 1999 Order had become final and executory after the 15th day following petitioners’ receipt thereof.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is, in light of the foregoing discussions, hereby DENIED.

G.R. No. 149724 August 19, 2003

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, represented herein by its Secretary, HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ, Petitioner,
vs.
DENR REGION 12 EMPLOYEES, represented by BAGUIDALI KARIM, Acting President of COURAGE (DENR Region 12 Chapter), Respondents.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This is a petition for review assailing the Resolutions dated May 31, 2000 of the Court of Appeals which dismissed the petition for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No.
1

58896, and its Resolution dated August 20, 2001 , which denied the motion for reconsideration.
2

The facts are as follows:

On November 15, 1999, Regional Executive Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for Region XII, Israel C. Gaddi, issued a
Memorandum directing the immediate transfer of the DENR XII Regional Offices from Cotabato City to Koronadal (formerly Marbel), South Cotabato. The
3

Memorandum was issued pursuant to DENR Administrative Order No. 99-14, issued by then DENR Secretary Antonio H. Cerilles, which reads in part:

Subject: Providing for the Redefinition of Functions and Realignment of Administrative Units in the Regional and Field Offices:

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 192, dated June 10, 1987 and as an interim administrative arrangement to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in delivering its services pending approval of the government-wide reorganization by Congress, the
following redefinition of functions and realignment of administrative units in the regional and field offices are hereby promulgated:

Section 1. Realignment of Administrative Units:

The DENR hereby adopts a policy to establish at least one Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) or Administrative Unit per
Congressional District except in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the National Capital Region (NCR). The Regional Executive Directors
(REDs) are hereby authorized to realign/relocate existing CENROs and implement this policy in accordance with the attached distribution list per region which
forms part of this Order. Likewise, the following realignment and administrative arrangements are hereby adopted:

xxx xxx xxx

1.6. The supervision of the Provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani shall be transferred from Region XI to XII. 4

Respondents, employees of the DENR Region XII who are members of the employees association, "COURAGE", represented by their Acting President,
Baguindanai A. Karim, filed with the Regional Trial Court of Cotabato, a petition for nullity of orders with prayer for preliminary injunction.

On December 8, 1999, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining petitioner from implementing the assailed Memorandum. The dispositive
portion of the Order reads:

WHEREFORE, defendants DENR Secretary Antonio H. Cerilles and Regional Executive Director Israel C. Gaddi are hereby ordered to cease and desist from
doing the act complained of, namely, to stop the transfer of DENR [Region] 12 offices from Cotabato City to Korandal (Marbel), South Cotabato.

xxx xxx xxx.

SO ORDERED. 5

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Dismiss, raising the following grounds:

I.

The power to transfer the Regional Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is executive in nature.

II.

The decision to transfer the Regional Office is based on Executive Order No. 429, which reorganized Region XII.
III.

The validity of EO 429 has been affirmed by the Honorable Supreme Court in the Case of Chiongbian vs. Orbos (1995) 245 SCRA 255.

IV.

Since the power to reorganize the Administrative Regions is Executive in Nature citing Chiongbian, the Honorable Court has no jurisdiction to
entertain this petition.
6

On January 14, 2000, the trial court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:

CONSEQUENTLY, order is hereby issued ordering the respondents herein to cease and desist from enforcing their Memorandum Order dated November 15,
1999 relative to the transfer of the DENR Regional Offices from Region 12 to Region 11 at Koronadal, South Cotabato for being bereft of legal basis and issued
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on their part, and they are further ordered to return back the seat of the DENR Regional
Offices 12 to Cotabato City.

SO ORDERED. 7

Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order dated April 10, 2000. A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 was filed before the Court of Appeals,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 58896. The petition was dismissed outright for: (1) failure to submit a written explanation why personal service was not done on the
adverse party; (2) failure to attach affidavit of service; (3) failure to indicate the material dates when copies of the orders of the lower court were received; (4)
failure to attach certified true copy of the order denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration; (5) for improper verification, the same being based on petitioner’s
"knowledge and belief," and (6) wrong remedy of certiorari under Rule 65 to substitute a lost appeal. 8

The motion for reconsideration was denied in a resolution dated August 20, 2001. Hence, this petition based on the following assignment of errors:
9

RULES OF PROCEDURE CAN NOT BE USED TO DEFEAT THE ENDS OF SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE

II

THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT DATED 14 JANUARY 2000 WHICH WAS AFFIRMED IN THE QUESTIONED RESOLUTIONS OF THE COURT OF
APPEALS DATED 31 MAY 2000 AND 20 AUGUST 2001 IS PATENTLY ILLEGAL AND SHOULD BE NULLIFIED, CONSIDERING THAT:

A. RESPONDENTS HAVE NO CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST PETITIONER AS THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO CAUSE THE DENR REGION 12
OFFICE TO REMAIN IN COTABATO CITY.

B. THE STATE DID NOT GIVE ITS CONSENT TO BE SUED.

C. THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT DATED 14 JANUARY 2000 IS CONTRARY TO THE RULE OF PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY IN
THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS.

D. IN ANY EVENT, THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT DATED 14 JANUARY 2000 IS CONTRARY TO THE LETTER AND INTENT OF
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 429 AND REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6734.

E. THE DETERMINATION OF THE PROPRIETY AND PRACTICALITY OF THE TRANSFER OF REGIONAL OFFICES IS INHERENTLY
EXECUTIVE, AND THEREFORE, NON-JUSTICIABLE. 10

In essence, petitioner argues that the trial court erred in enjoining it from causing the transfer of the DENR XII Regional Offices, considering that it was done
pursuant to DENR Administrative Order 99-14.

The issues to be resolved in this petition are: (1) Whether DAO-99-14 and the Memorandum implementing the same were valid; and (2) Whether the DENR
Secretary has the authority to reorganize the DENR.

Prefatorily, petitioner prays for a liberal application of procedural rules considering the greater interest of justice.

This Court is fully aware that procedural rules are not to be simply disregarded for these prescribed procedures ensure an orderly and speedy administration of
justice. However, it is equally true that litigation is not merely a game of technicalities. Time and again, courts have been guided by the principle that the rules of
procedure are not to be applied in a very rigid and technical manner, as rules of procedure are used only to help secure and not to override substantial
justice. Thus, if the application of the Rules would tend to frustrate rather than promote justice, it is always within the power of this Court to suspend the rules, or
11

except a particular case from its operation. 12

Despite the presence of procedural flaws, we find it necessary to address the issues because of the demands of public interest, including the need for stability in
the public service and the serious implications this case may cause on the effective administration of the executive department. Although no appeal was made
within the reglementary period to appeal, nevertheless, the departure from the general rule that the extraordinary writ of certiorari cannot be a substitute for the lost
remedy of appeal is justified because the execution of the assailed decision would amount to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority. 13
Petitioner maintains that the assailed DAO-99-14 and the implementing memorandum were valid and that the trial court should have taken judicial notice of
Republic Act No. 6734, otherwise known as "An Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao," and its implementing Executive Order 429, as the 14

legal bases for the issuance of the assailed DAO-99-14. Moreover, the validity of R.A. No. 6734 and E.O. 429 were upheld in the case of Chiongbian v.
Orbos. Thus, the respondents cannot, by means of an injunction, force the DENR XII Regional Offices to remain in Cotabato City, as the exercise of the authority
15

to transfer the same is executive in nature.

It is apropos to reiterate the elementary doctrine of qualified political agency, thus:

Under this doctrine, which recognizes the establishment of a single executive, all executive and administrative organizations are adjuncts of the Executive
Department, the heads of the various executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief Executive, and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is
required by the Constitution or law to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative
functions of the Chief Executive are performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the Secretaries of such departments, performed and
promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive, presumptively the acts of the Chief Executive. 16

This doctrine is corollary to the control power of the President as provided for under Article VII, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution, which reads:

Sec. 17. The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.

However, as head of the Executive Department, the President cannot be expected to exercise his control (and supervisory) powers personally all the time. He may
delegate some of his powers to the Cabinet members except when he is required by the Constitution to act in person or the exigencies of the situation demand
that he acts personally.17

In Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB v. Zamora, this Court upheld the continuing authority of the President to carry out the reorganization in any branch or agency of the
18

executive department. Such authority includes the creation, alteration or abolition of public offices. The Chief Executive’s authority to reorganize the National
19

Government finds basis in Book III, Section 20 of E.O. No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, viz:

Section 20. Residual Powers. – Unless Congress provides otherwise, the President shall exercise such other powers and functions vested in the President which
are provided for under the laws and which are not specifically enumerated above or which are not delegated by the President in accordance with law.

Further, in Larin v. Executive Secretary, this Court had occasion to rule:


20

This provision speaks of such other powers vested in the President under the law. What law then gives him the power to reorganize? It is Presidential Decree No.
1772 which amended Presidential Decree No. 1416. These decrees expressly grant the President of the Philippines the continuing authority to reorganize the
national government, which includes the power to group, consolidate bureaus and agencies, to abolish offices, to transfer functions, to create and classify
functions, services and activities and to standardize salaries and materials. The validity of these two decrees is unquestionable. The 1987 Constitution clearly
provides that "all laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall
remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked." So far, there is yet no law amending or repealing said decrees.

Applying the doctrine of qualified political agency, the power of the President to reorganize the National Government may validly be delegated to his cabinet
members exercising control over a particular executive department. Thus, in DOTC Secretary v. Mabalot, we held that the President – through his duly constituted
21

political agent and alter ego, the DOTC Secretary – may legally and validly decree the reorganization of the Department, particularly the establishment of DOTC-
CAR as the LTFRB Regional Office at the Cordillera Administrative Region, with the concomitant transfer and performance of public functions and responsibilities
appurtenant to a regional office of the LTFRB.

Similarly, in the case at bar, the DENR Secretary can validly reorganize the DENR by ordering the transfer of the DENR XII Regional Offices from Cotabato City to
Koronadal, South Cotabato. The exercise of this authority by the DENR Secretary, as an alter ego, is presumed to be the acts of the President for the latter had
not expressly repudiated the same.

The trial court should have taken judicial notice of R.A. No. 6734, as implemented by E.O. No. 429, as legal basis of the President’s power to reorganize the
executive department, specifically those administrative regions which did not vote for their inclusion in the ARMM. It is axiomatic that a court has the mandate to
apply relevant statutes and jurisprudence in determining whether the allegations in a complaint establish a cause of action. While it focuses on the complaint, a
court clearly cannot disregard decisions material to the proper appreciation of the questions before it. In resolving the motion to dismiss, the trial court should have
22

taken cognizance of the official acts of the legislative, executive, and judicial departments because they are proper subjects of mandatory judicial notice as
provided by Section 1 of Rule 129 of the Rules of Court, to wit:

A court shall take judicial notice, without the introduction of evidence, of the existence and territorial extent of states, their political history, forms of government and
symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the admiralty and maritime courts of the world and their seals, the political constitution and history of the Philippines, the
official acts of the legislative, executive and judicial departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the geographical divisions.
(Emphasis supplied)

Article XIX, Section 13 of R.A. No. 6734 provides:

SECTION 13. The creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao shall take effect when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units
provided in paragraph (2) of Sec. 1 of Article II of this Act in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than ninety (90) days or later than one hundred twenty (120)
days after the approval of this Act: Provided, That only the provinces and cities voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao. The provinces and cities which in the plebiscite do not vote for inclusion in the Autonomous Region shall remain in the existing administrative
regions: Provided, however, That the President may, by administrative determination, merge the existing regions.

Pursuant to the authority granted by the aforequoted provision, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued on October 12, 1990 E.O. 429, "Providing for the
Reorganization of the Administrative Regions in Mindanao." Section 4 thereof provides:
SECTION 4. REGION XII, to be known as CENTRAL MINDANAO, shall include the following provinces and cities:

Provinces

Sultan Kudarat

Cotabato

South Cotabato

Cities

Cotabato

General Santos

The Municipality of Koronadal (Marinduque) in South Cotabato shall serve as the regional center.

In Chiongbian v. Orbos, this Court stressed the rule that the power of the President to reorganize the administrative regions carries with it the power to determine
the regional centers. In identifying the regional centers, the President purposely intended the effective delivery of the field services of government agencies. The
23

same intention can be gleaned from the preamble of the assailed DAO-99-14 which the DENR sought to achieve, that is, to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of the DENR in delivering its services.

It may be true that the transfer of the offices may not be timely considering that: (1) there are no buildings yet to house the regional offices in Koronadal, (2) the
transfer falls on the month of Ramadan, (3) the children of the affected employees are already enrolled in schools in Cotabato City, (4) the Regional Development
Council was not consulted, and (5) the Sangguniang Panglungsond, through a resolution, requested the DENR Secretary to reconsider the orders. However, these
concern issues addressed to the wisdom of the transfer rather than to its legality. It is basic in our form of government that the judiciary cannot inquire into the
wisdom or expediency of the acts of the executive or the legislative department, for each department is supreme and independent of the others, and each is
24

devoid of authority not only to encroach upon the powers or field of action assigned to any of the other department, but also to inquire into or pass upon the
advisability or wisdom of the acts performed, measures taken or decisions made by the other departments. 25

The Supreme Court should not be thought of as having been tasked with the awesome responsibility of overseeing the entire bureaucracy. Unless there is a clear
showing of constitutional infirmity or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the Court’s exercise of the judicial power, pervasive and
limitless it may seem to be, still must succumb to the paramount doctrine of separation of powers. After a careful review of the records of the case, we find that
26

this jurisprudential element of abuse of discretion has not been shown to exist. 1âwphi1

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for review is GRANTED. The resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 58896 dated May 31,
2000 and August 20, 2001, as well as the decision dated January 14, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Cotabato City, Branch 15, in Civil Case No 389, are
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The permanent injunction, which enjoined the petitioner from enforcing the Memorandum Order of the DENR XII Regional Executive
Director, is LIFTED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 107493 February 1, 1996

NATIVIDAD CANDIDO, assisted by her husband ALFREDO CANDIDO, and VICTORIA C. RUMBAUA, assisted by her husband AMOR
RUMBAUA, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SOFRONIO DABU, respondents.

DECISION

BELLOSILLO, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari was instituted for the re-examination of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP-24522 (CAR) affirming that of
the trial court which dismissed the complaint of petitioners for failure to establish their cause of action.

Petitioners Natividad Candido and Victoria Rumbaua are co-owners of a first-class irrigated riceland with an area of 21,193 square meters located in Orion,
Bataan. Respondent Sofronio Dabu served as their agricultural tenant. On 21 July 1986 petitioners lodged a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Bataan
1

against respondent Dabu for termination of tenancy relationship and recovery of unpaid rentals from crop-year 1983 plus attorney's fees and litigation expenses.

Petitioners averred in their complaint below that a team from the Ministry of Agrarian Reform had fixed a provisional rental of twenty-six (26) and twenty-nine (29)
sacks of palay for the rainy and dry seasons, respectively, which respondent failed to pay beginning the crop-year 1983 dry season up to the filing of the complaint.

Private respondent denied the material allegations of the complaint and claimed that until 1983 their sharing system was on a 50-50 basis; that his share in the
crop year 1983 dry season was still with petitioner Natividad Candido who likewise retained his water pump. He denied any provisional rental allegedly fixed by the
Ministry of Agrarian Reform and at the same time maintained that only a proposal for thirteen (13) cavans for the rainy season crop and twenty-five percent (25%)
of the net harvest during the dry season was put forward. He claimed that he paid his rentals by depositing thirteen (13) cavans of palay for the 1984 rainy season
crop, thirteen (13) cavans for 1985 and eight (8) cavans representing twenty-five percent (25%) of the dry season harvest.

On motion of respondent upon issues being joined, the case was referred to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for a preliminary determination of the
existing relationship between the parties and for certification as to its propriety for trial. Thereafter the DAR certified that the case was proper for trial but only on
the issue of non-payment of rentals and not on the ejectment of respondent Dabu. Accordingly trial proceeded on the issue of non-payment of rentals.

After finding that no evidence was adduced by petitioners to prove the provisional rental alleged to have been fixed by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, the lower
court dismissed the complaint. The counterclaim of respondent Dabu was likewise dismissed after it was established that the tenancy relationship prevailing
between the parties was on a 50-50 basis. 2

The Court of Appeals confirmed the findings of the court a quo and affirmed its judgment thus
3

We have carefully examined the testimonial and documentary evidence on record and found nothing therein about the so-called provisional rates
supposedly fixed by the DAR and allegedly breached by appellee. Indeed neither appellant herself Natividad C. Candido nor appellants' other witness
Benjamin Santos ever mentioned in the course of their respective testimonies the alleged provisional rates fixed by the DAR. For sure, going by
appellants' evidence it would appear that no such rates were in fact fixed by the DAR. 4

The appellate court also found that no evidence was introduced to prove the expenses incurred by the parties for planting and harvesting hence the amount of the
net harvest was never determined. Only the transfer certificate of title of the property and its corresponding tax declaration were offered in evidence.

The motion of petitioners for reconsideration was merely noted considering that under Sec. 4. par. (d), Rule 6, of the Revised Internal Rules of the Court of
5

Appeals (RIRCA), the filing of a motion for reconsideration in agrarian cases is not allowed. 6

Petitioners would impress upon us that the verified complaint and the affidavit presented by petitioners to the DAR are proofs of the provisional rentals fixed by it
and that it was error for the trial court not to have taken cognizance of these documents.

We are not persuaded. It is settled that courts will only consider as evidence that which has been formally offered. The affidavit of petitioner Natividad Candido
7

mentioning the provisional rate of rentals was never formally offered; neither the alleged certification by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, Not having been formally
offered, the affidavit and certification cannot be considered as evidence. Thus the trial court as well as the appellate court correctly disregarded them. If they
neglected to offer those documents in evidence, however vital they may be, petitioners only have themselves to blame, not respondent who was not even given a
chance to object as the documents were never offered in evidence.

A document, or any article for that matter, is not evidence when it is simply marked for identification; it must be formally offered, and the opposing counsel given an
opportunity to object to it or cross-examine the witness called upon to prove or identify it. A formal offer is necessary since judges are required to base their
8

findings of fact and judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties at the trial. To allow a party to attach any document to his pleading and
9

then expect the court to consider it as evidence may draw unwarranted consequences. The opposing party will be deprived of his chance to examine the
document and object to its admissibility. The appellate court will have difficulty reviewing documents not previously scrutinized by the court below. The pertinent
provisions of the Revised Rules of Court on the inclusion on appeal of documentary evidence or exhibits in the records cannot be stretched as to include such
pleadings or documents not offered at the hearing of the case. 10

Petitioners would insist that we take judicial notice of the affidavit of petitioner Natividad C. Candido despite absence of any formal offer during the proceedings in
the trial court. This is futile since this is not among the matters which the law mandatorily requires to be taken judicial notice of; neither can we consider it of
11

public knowledge, or capable of unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because of their judicial functions. 12

The testimony of petitioner Natividad Candido cannot even be relied upon, to say the least. Quite interestingly, she could not even recall when private respondent
first failed to pay his rent, if indeed there was any failure on his part to comply with his obligation. She only said that it was sometime in 1982 or 1983, and did not
even know precisely how many cavans of palay were being harvested per crop-year.

Petitioners definitely failed to establish their cause of action. They never proved that respondent Dabu failed to pay his rentals starting 1982. Neither were they
able to competently confirm the provisional rate of rentals allegedly fixed by the team of the Ministry of Agrarian Reform.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP-24522 (CAR) confirming the order of the Regional Trial Court of
Bataan in Civil Case No. 5429 dismissing the complaint is AFFIRMED, with costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Padilla, Vitug, Kapunan and Hermosisima, Jr., concur.

G.R. No. 178830 July 14, 2008

ROLEX SUPLICO, Petitioner,


vs.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, represented by NEDA SECRETARY ROMULO L. NERI, and the NEDA-INVESTMENT
COORDINATION COMMITTEE, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS (DOTC), represented by DOTC SECRETARY LEANDRO
MENDOZA, including the COMMISSION ON INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY, headed by its Chairman, RAMON P. SALES, THE
TELECOMMUNICATIONS OFFICE, BIDS AND AWARDS FOR INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY (ICT), headed by DOTC
ASSISTANT SECRETARY ELMER A. SONEJA as Chairman, and the TECHNICAL WORKING GROUP FOR ICT, AND DOTC ASSISTANT SECRETARY
LORENZO FORMOSO, AND ALL OTHER OPERATING UNITS OF THE DOTC FOR INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY, and ZTE
CORPORATION, AMSTERDAM HOLDINGS, INC., AND ALL PERSONS ACTING IN THEIR BEHALF, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

G.R. No. 179317

AMSTERDAM HOLDINGS, INC., and NATHANIEL SAUZ, Petitioners,


vs.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, SECRETARY LEANDRO MENDOZA, COMMISSION ON INFORMATION AND
COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY, and ASSISTANT SECRETARY LORENZO FORMOSO III, Respondents.

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

G.R. No. 179613

GALELEO P. ANGELES, VICENTE C. ANGELES, JOB FLORANTE L. CASTILLO, TRINI ANNE G. NIEVA, ROY ALLAN T. ARELLANO, CARLO MAGNO M.
REONAL, ETHEL B. REGADIO, RAENAN B. MALIG, AND VINALYN M. POTOT, TOGETHER WITH LAWYERS AND ADVOCATES FOR ACCOUNTABILITY,
TRANSPARENCY, INTEGRITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE (LATIGO), Petitioners,
vs.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS (DOTC), represented by DOTC SECRETARY LEANDRO MENDOZA, and ZHONG XING
EQUIPMENT (ZTE) COMPANY, LTD., AND ANY AND ALL PERSONS ACTING ON THEIR BEHALF, Respondents.

RESOLUTION

REYES, R.T., J.:

Under consideration is the Manifestation and Motion1 dated October 26, 2007 of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which states:

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) respectfully avers that in an Indorsement dated October 24, 2007, the Legal Service of the Department of Transportation
and Communications (DOTC) has informed it of the Philippine Government’s decision not to continue with the ZTE National Broadband Network Project (see
attachment2). That said, there is no more justiciable controversy for this Honorable Court to resolve. WHEREFORE, public respondents respectfully pray that the
present petitions be DISMISSED.

On November 13, 2007, the Court noted the OSG’s manifestation and motion and required petitioners in G.R. Nos. 178830, 179317, and 179613 to comment.

On December 6, 2007, Rolex Suplico, petitioner in G.R. No. 178830, filed his Consolidated Reply and Opposition,3opposing the aforequoted OSG Manifestation
and Motion, arguing that:

66. Aside from the fact that the Notes of the Meeting Between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Chinese President Hu Jintao held 2 October
2007 were not attached to the 26 October 2007 Manifestation and Motion – thus depriving petitioners of the opportunity to comment thereon – a mere
verbally requested 1st Indorsement is not sufficient basis for the conclusion that the ZTE-DOTC NBN deal has been permanently scrapped.

67. Suffice to state, said 1st Indorsement is glaringly self-serving, especially without the Notes of the Meeting Between President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo and Chinese President Hu Jintao to support its allegations or other proof of the supposed decision to cancel the ZTE-DOTC NBN deal. Public
respondents can certainly do better than that.4

Petitioner Suplico further argues that:

79. Assuming arguendo that some aspects of the present Petition have been rendered moot (which is vehemently denied), this Honorable Court,
consistent with well-entrenched jurisprudence, may still take cognizance thereof. 5

Petitioner Suplico cites this Court’s rulings in Gonzales v. Chavez,6 Rufino v. Endriga,7 and Alunan III v. Mirasol8that despite their mootness, the Court nevertheless
took cognizance of these cases and ruled on the merits due to the Court’s symbolic function of educating the bench and the bar by formulating guiding and
controlling principles, precepts, doctrines, and rules.

On January 31, 2008, Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. (AHI) and Nathaniel Sauz, petitioners in G.R. No. 179317, also filed their comment expressing their sentiments,
thus:

3. First of all, the present administration has never been known for candor. The present administration has a very nasty habit of not keeping its word. It
says one thing, but does another.

4. This being the case, herein petitioners are unable to bring themselves to feel even a bit reassured that the government, in the event that the above-
captioned cases are dismissed, will not backtrack, re-transact, or even resurrect the now infamous NBN-ZTE transaction. This is especially relevant
since what was attached to the OSG’s Manifestation and Motion was a mere one (1) page written communication sent by the Department of
Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to the OSG, allegedly relaying that the Philippine Government has decided not to continue with the NBN
project "x x x due to several reasons and constraints."

Petitioners AHI and Sauz further contend that because of the transcendental importance of the issues raised in the petition, which among others, included the
President’s use of the power to borrow, i.e., to enter into foreign loan agreements, this Court should take cognizance of this case despite its apparent mootness.
On January 15, 2008, the Court required the OSG to file respondents’ reply to petitioners’ comments on its manifestation and motion.

On April 18, 2008, the OSG filed respondents’ reply, reiterating their position that for a court to exercise its power of adjudication, there must be an actual case or
controversy – one which involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution; the case must not be moot or
academic or based on extra-legal or other similar considerations not cognizable by a court of justice.9

Respondents also insist that there is no perfected contract in this case that would prejudice the government or public interest. Explaining the nature of the NBN
Project as an executive agreement, respondents stress that it remained in the negotiation stage. The conditions precedent 10 for the agreement to become effective
have not yet been complied with.

Respondents further oppose petitioners’ claim of the right to information, which they contend is not an absolute right. They contend that the matters raised concern
executive policy, a political question which the judicial branch of government would generally hesitate to pass upon.

On July 2, 2008, the OSG filed a Supplemental Manifestation and Motion. Appended to it is the Highlights from the Notes of Meeting between President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo and Chinese President Hu Jintao, held in XI Jiao Guesthouse, Shanghai, China, on October 2, 2007. In the Notes of Meeting, the Philippine
Government conveyed its decision not to continue with the ZTE National Broadband Network Project due to several constraints. The same Notes likewise
contained President Hu Jintao’s expression of understanding of the Philippine Government decision.

We resolve to grant the motion.

Firstly, the Court notes the triple petitions to be for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, with application for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
and/or Preliminary Injunction. The individual prayers in each of the three (3) consolidated petitions are:

G.R. No. 178830

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court:

1. Upon the filing of this Petition, pursuant to the second paragraph of Rule 58, Section 5 of the Rules of Court, issue forthwith an ex parte temporary
restraining order enjoining respondents, their subordinates, agents, representatives and any and all persons acting on their behalf from pursuing,
entering into indebtedness, disbursing funds, and implementing the ZTE-DOTC Broadband Deal;

2. Compel respondents, upon Writ of Mandamus, to forthwith produce and furnish petitioner or his undersigned counsel a certified true copy of the
contract or agreement covering the NBN project as agreed upon with ZTE Corporation;

3. Schedule Oral Arguments in the present case pursuant to Rule 49 in relation to Section 2, Rule 56 of the revised Rules of Court; and,

4. Annul and set aside the award of the ZTE-DOTC Broadband Deal, and compel public respondents to forthwith comply with pertinent provisions of
law regarding procurement of government ICT contracts and public bidding for the NBN contract.11 (Emphasis supplied)

G.R. No. 179317

WHEREFORE, petitioners Amsterdam Holdings, Inc., and Nathaniel Sauz respectfully pray as follows:

A. upon the filing of this Petition for Mandamus and conditioned upon the posting of a bond in such amount as the Honorable Court may fix, a
temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction be issued directing the Department of Transportation and Communication, the
Commission on Information and Communications Technology, all other government agencies and instrumentalities, their officers, employees, and/or
other persons acting for and on their behalf to desist during the pendency of the instant Petition for Mandamus from entering into any other
agreements and from commencing with any kind, sort, or specie of activity in connection with the National Broadband Network Project;

B. the instant Petition for Mandamus be given due course; and,

C. after due consideration of all relevant issues, judgment be rendered directing respondents to allow herein petitioners access to all agreements
entered into with the Government of China, the ZTE Corporation, and/or other entities, government instrumentalities, and/or individuals with regard to
the National Broadband Network Project.12 (Emphasis supplied)

G.R. No. 179613

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court to:

1. Compel respondents, upon Writ of Mandamus, to forthwith produce and furnish petitioner or his undersigned counsel a certified true copy of the
contract or agreement covering the NBN project as agreed upon with ZTE Corporation;

2. Schedule Oral Arguments in the present case pursuant to Rule 49 in relation to Section 2, Rule 56 of the Revised Rules of Court;

3. Annul and set aside the award of the contract for the national broadband network to respondent ZTE Corporation, upon the ground that said
contract, as well as the procedures resorted to preparatory to the execution thereof, is contrary to the Constitution, to law and to public policy;
4. Compel public respondent to forthwith comply with pertinent provisions of law regarding procurement of government infrastructure projects,
including public bidding for said contract to undertake the construction of the national broadband network.13 (Emphasis supplied)

On September 11, 2007, the Court issued a TRO14 in G.R. No. 178830, enjoining the parties from "pursuing, entering into indebtedness, disbursing funds, and
implementing the ZTE-DOTC Broadband Deal and Project" as prayed for. Pertinent parts of the said Order read:

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court, on 11 September 2007, adopted a resolution in the above-entitled case, to wit:

"G.R. No. 178830 (Rolex Suplico vs. National Economic and Development Authority, represented by NEDA Secretary Romulo L. Neri, and the NEDA Investment
Coordination Committee, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), represented by DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza, including the
Commission on Information and Communications Technology, headed by its Chairman, Ramon P. Sales, The Telecommunications Office, Bids and Awards for
Information and Communications Technology Committee (ICT), headed by DOTC Assistant Secretary Elmer A. Soneja as Chairman, and The Technical Working
Group for ICT, and DOTC Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso, and All Other Operating Units of the DOTC for Information and Communications Technology,
and ZTE Corporation, Amsterdam Holdings, Inc., and ARESCOM, Inc.—Acting on the instant petition with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or writ of
preliminary injunction, the Court Resolved, without giving due course to the petition, to

xxxx

(d) Issue a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, enjoining the (i) National Economic
and Development Authority, (ii) NEDA-Investment Coordination Committee, (iii) Department of Transportation and Communications, Commission on Information
and Communications Technology, (iv) Telecommunications Office, Bids and Awards for Information and Communications Technology Committee (ICT), (v)
Technical Working Group for ICT, and all other Operating Units of the DOTC for Information and Communications Technology, (vi) ZTE Corporation; (vii)
Amsterdam Holdings, Inc., and (viii) ARESCOM, Inc., and any and all persons acting on their behalf from ‘pursuing, entering into indebtedness, disbursing funds,
and implementing the ZTE-DOTC Broadband Deal and Project’ as prayed for."

NOW THEREFORE, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, You, Respondents (i) National Economic and Development Authority,
(ii) NEDA-Investment Coordination Committee, (iii) Department of Transportation and Communications, Commission on Information and Communications
Technology, (iv) Telecommunications Office, Bids and Awards for Information and Communications Technology Committee (ICT), (v) Technical Working Group for
ICT, and all other Operating Units of the DOTC for Information and Communications Technology, (vi) ZTE Corporation; (vii) Amsterdam Holdings, Inc., and (viii)
ARESCOM, Inc., and any and all persons acting on their behalf are hereby ENJOINED from "pursuing, entering into indebtedness, disbursing funds, and
implementing the ZTE-DOTC Broadband Deal and Project" as prayed for.15 (Emphasis supplied.)

Petitioners in G.R. Nos. 178830 and 179613 pray that they be furnished certified true copies of the "contract or agreement covering the NBN project as agreed
upon with ZTE Corporation." It appears that during one of the Senate hearings on the NBN project, copies of the supply contract16 were readily made available to
petitioners.17Evidently, the said prayer has been complied with and is, thus, mooted.

When President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, acting in her official capacity during the meeting held on October 2, 2007 in China, informed China’s President Hu
Jintao that the Philippine Government had decided not to continue with the ZTE-National Broadband Network (ZTE-NBN) Project due to several reasons and
constraints, there is no doubt that all the other principal prayers in the three petitions (to annul, set aside, and enjoin the implementation of the ZTE-NBN Project)
had also become moot.

Contrary to petitioners’ contentions that these declarations made by officials belonging to the executive branch on the Philippine Government’s decision not to
continue with the ZTE-NBN Project are self-serving, hence, inadmissible, the Court has no alternative but to take judicial notice of this official act of the President
of the Philippines.

Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court provides:

SECTION 1. Judicial Notice, when mandatory. – A court shall take judicial notice, without introduction of evidence, of the existence and territorial extent of states,
their political history, forms of government and symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the admiralty and maritime courts of the world and their seals, the political
constitution and history of the Philippines, the official acts of the legislative, executive and judicial departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure
of time, and the geographical divisions. (Emphasis supplied)

Under the rules, it is mandatory and the Court has no alternative but to take judicial notice of the official acts of the President of the Philippines, who heads the
executive branch of our government. It is further provided in the above-quoted rule that the court shall take judicial notice of the foregoing facts without introduction
of evidence. Since we consider the act of cancellation by President Macapagal-Arroyo of the proposed ZTE-NBN Project during the meeting of October 2, 2007
with the Chinese President in China as an official act of the executive department, the Court must take judicial notice of such official act without need of evidence.

In David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,18 We took judicial notice of the announcement by the Office of the President banning all rallies and canceling all permits for public
assemblies following the issuance of Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No. 5.

In Estrada v. Desierto,19 the Court also resorted to judicial notice in resolving the factual ingredient of the petition.

Moreover, under Section 2, paragraph (m) of Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, the official duty of the executive officials 20 of informing this Court of the government’s
decision not to continue with the ZTE-NBN Project is also presumed to have been regularly performed, absent proof to the contrary. Other than petitioner AHI’s
unsavory insinuation in its comment, the Court finds no factual or legal basis to disregard this disputable presumption in the present instance.

Concomitant to its fundamental task as the ultimate citadel of justice and legitimacy is the judiciary’s role of strengthening political stability indispensable to
progress and national development. Pontificating on issues which no longer legitimately constitute an actual case or controversy will do more harm than good to
the nation as a whole. Wise exercise of judicial discretion militates against resolving the academic issues, as petitioners want this Court to do. This is especially
true where, as will be further discussed, the legal issues raised cannot be resolved without previously establishing the factual basis or antecedents.
Judicial power presupposes actual controversies, the very antithesis of mootness. In the absence of actual justiciable controversies or disputes, the Court
generally opts to refrain from deciding moot issues. Where there is no more live subject of controversy, the Court ceases to have a reason to render any ruling or
make any pronouncement.

Kapag wala nang buhay na kaso, wala nang dahilan para magdesisyon ang Husgado.

In Republic Telecommunications Holdings, Inc. v. Santiago,21 the lone issue tackled by the Court of Appeals (CA) was whether the Securities Investigation and
Clearing Department (SICD) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) en banc committed reversible error in issuing and upholding, respectively, the writ
of preliminary injunction. The writ enjoined the execution of the questioned agreements between Qualcomm, Inc. and Republic Telecommunications Holdings, Inc.
(RETELCOM). The implementation of the agreements was restrained through the assailed orders of the SICD and the SEC en banc which, however, were nullified
by the CA decision. Thus, RETELCOM elevated the matter to this Court praying for the reinstatement of the writ of preliminary injunction of the SICD and the SEC
en banc. However, before the matter was finally resolved, Qualcomm, Inc. withdrew from the negotiating table. Its withdrawal had thwarted the execution and
enforcement of the contracts. Thus, the resolution of whether the implementation of said agreements should be enjoined became no longer necessary.

Equally applicable to the present case is the Court ruling in the above-cited Republic Telecommunications. There We held, thus:

Indeed, the instant petition, insofar as it assails the Court of Appeals’ Decision nullifying the orders of the SEC en banc and the SICD, has been rendered moot
and academic. To rule, one way or the other, on the correctness of the questioned orders of the SEC en banc and the SICD will be indulging in a theoretical
exercise that has no practical worth in view of the supervening event.

The rule is well-settled that for a court to exercise its power of adjudication, there must be an actual case or controversy – one which involves a conflict of legal
rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution; the case must not be moot or academic or based on extra-legal or other similar
considerations not cognizable by a court of justice. Where the issue has become moot and academic, there is no justiciable controversy, and an adjudication
thereon would be of no practical use or value as courts do not sit to adjudicate mere academic questions to satisfy scholarly interest, however intellectually
challenging.

In the ultimate analysis, petitioners are seeking the reinstatement of the writ of injunction to prevent the concerned parties from pushing through with transactions
with Qualcomm, Inc. Given that Qualcomm, Inc. is no longer interested in pursuing the contracts, there is no actual substantial relief to which petitioners would be
entitled and which would be negated by the dismissal of the petition.

The Court likewise finds it unnecessary to rule whether the assailed Court of Appeals’ Decision had the effect of overruling the Court’s Resolution dated 29
January 1999, which set aside the TRO issued by the appellate court.

A ruling on the matter practically partakes of a mere advisory opinion, which falls beyond the realm of judicial review. The exercise of the power of judicial review is
limited to actual cases and controversies. Courts have no authority to pass upon issues through advisory opinions or to resolve hypothetical or feigned problems.

While there were occasions when the Court passed upon issues although supervening events had rendered those petitions moot and academic, the instant case
does not fall under the exceptional cases. In those cases, the Court was persuaded to resolve moot and academic issues to formulate guiding and controlling
constitutional principles, precepts, doctrines or rules for future guidance of both bench and bar.

In the case at bar, the resolution of whether a writ of preliminary injunction may be issued to prevent the implementation of the assailed contracts calls for an
appraisal of factual considerations which are peculiar only to the transactions and parties involved in this controversy. Except for the determination of whether
petitioners are entitled to a writ of preliminary injunction which is now moot, the issues raised in this petition do not call for a clarification of any constitutional
principle or the interpretation of any statutory provision.22

Secondly, even assuming that the Court will choose to disregard the foregoing considerations and brush aside mootness, the Court cannot completely rule on the
merits of the case because the resolution of the three petitions involves settling factual issues which definitely requires reception of evidence. There is not an iota
of doubt that this may not be done by this Court in the first instance because, as has been stated often enough, this Court is not a trier of facts.

Ang pagpapasiya sa tatlong petisyon ay nangangailangan ng paglilitis na hindi gawain ng Hukumang ito.

Respondent ZTE, in its Comment in G.R. No. 178830,23 correctly pointed out that since petitioner Suplico filed his petition directly with this Court, without prior
factual findings made by any lower court, a determination of pertinent and relevant facts is needed. ZTE enumerated some of these factual issues, to wit:

(1) Whether an executive agreement has been reached between the Philippine and Chinese governments over the NBN Project;

(2) Whether the ZTE Supply Contract was entered into by the Republic of the Philippines, through the DOTC, and ZTE International pursuant to, and
as an integral part of, the executive agreement;

(3) Whether a loan agreement for the NBN Project has actually been executed;

(4) Whether the Philippine government required that the NBN Project be completed under a Build-Operate-and-Transfer Scheme;

(5) Whether the AHI proposal complied with the requirements for an unsolicited proposal under the BOT Law;

(6) Whether the Philippine government has actually earmarked public finds for disbursement under the ZTE Supply Contract; and

(7) Whether the coverage of the NBN Project to be supplied under the ZTE Supply Contract is more extensive than that under the AHI proposal or
such other proposal submitted therefor.24
Definitely, some very specific reliefs prayed for in both G.R. Nos. 178830 and 179613 require prior determination of facts before pertinent legal issues could be
resolved and specific reliefs granted.

In G.R. No. 178830, petitioner seeks to annul and set aside the award of the ZTE-DOTC Broadband Deal and compel public respondents to forthwith comply with
pertinent provisions of law regarding procurement of government ICT contracts and public bidding for the NBN contract.

In G.R. No. 179613, petitioners also pray that the Court annul and set aside the award of the contract for the national broadband network to respondent ZTE
Corporation, upon the ground that said contract, as well as the procedures resorted to preparatory to the execution thereof, is contrary to the Constitution, to law
and to public policy. They also ask the Court to compel public respondent to forthwith comply with pertinent provisions of law regarding procurement of government
infrastructure projects, including public bidding for said contract to undertake the construction of the national broadband network.

It is simply impossible for this Court "to annul and set aside the award of the ZTE-DOTC Broadband Deal" without any evidence to support a prior factual finding
pointing to any violation of law that could lead to such annulment order. For sure, the Supreme Court is not the proper venue for this factual matter to be threshed
out.

Thirdly, petitioner Suplico in G.R. No. 178830 prayed that this Court order "public respondents to forthwith comply with pertinent provisions of law regarding
procurement of government ICT contracts and public bidding for the NBN contract."25 It would be too presumptuous on the part of the Court to summarily compel
public respondents to comply with pertinent provisions of law regarding procurement of government infrastructure projects without any factual basis or prior
determination of very particular violations committed by specific government officials of the executive branch. For the Court to do so would amount to a breach of
the norms of comity among co-equal branches of government. A perceived error cannot be corrected by committing another error. Without proper evidence, the
Court cannot just presume that the executive did not comply with procurement laws. Should the Court allow itself to fall into this trap, it would plainly commit grave
error itself.

Magiging kapangahasan sa Hukumang ito na pilitin ang mga pinipetisyon na tumalima sa batas sa pangongontrata ng pamahalaan kung wala pang pagtitiyak o
angkop na ebidensiya ng nagawang paglabag dito.

Let it be clarified that the Senate investigation in aid of legislation cannot be the basis of Our decision which requires a judicial finding of facts.

Justice Antonio T. Carpio takes the view that the National Broadband Network Project should be declared null and void. The foregoing threefold reasons would
suffice to address the concern of Our esteemed colleague.

The Court is, therefore, constrained to dismiss the petitions and deny them due course because of mootness and because their resolution requires reception of
evidence which cannot be done in an original petition brought before the Supreme Court.

WHEREFORE, the petitions are DISMISSED. The Temporary Restraining Order issued on September 11, 2007 is DISSOLVED.

SO ORDERED.

RUBEN T. REYES
Associate Justice

G.R. Nos. 184461-62 May 31, 2011

LT. COL. ROGELIO BOAC, LT. COL. FELIPE ANOTADO AND LT. FRANCIS MIRABELLE SAMSON, Petitioners,
vs.
ERLINDA T. CADAPAN AND CONCEPCION E. EMPEñO, Respondents.

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

G.R. No. 184495

ERLINDA T. CADAPAN AND CONCEPCION E. EMPEñO, Petitioners,


vs.
GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, P/DIR.GEN. AVELINO RAZON, (RET.) GEN. ROMEO TOLENTINO, (RET.) GEN. JOVITO PALPARAN, LT. COL. ROGELIO
BOAC, LT. COL. FELIPE ANOTADO, ET AL., Respondents.

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

G.R. No. 187109

ERLINDA T. CADAPAN AND CONCEPCION E. EMPEñO, Petitioners,


vs.
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, P/DIR.GEN. AVELINO RAZON, (RET.) GEN. ROMEO TOLENTINO, (RET.) GEN.
JOVITO PALPARAN, LT. COL. ROGELIO BOAC, LT. COL. FELIPE ANOTADO, DONALD CAIGAS, A.K.A. ALAN OR ALVIN, ARNEL ENRIQUEZ AND LT.
FRANCIS MIRABELLE SAMSON, Respondents.

DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:

At 2:00 a.m. of June 26, 2006, armed men abducted Sherlyn Cadapan (Sherlyn), Karen Empeño (Karen) and Manuel Merino (Merino) from a house in San Miguel,
Hagonoy, Bulacan. The three were herded onto a jeep bearing license plate RTF 597 that sped towards an undisclosed location.

Having thereafter heard nothing from Sherlyn, Karen and Merino, their respective families scoured nearby police precincts and military camps in the hope of
finding them but the same yielded nothing.

On July 17, 2006, spouses Asher and Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño filed a petition for habeas corpus1before the Court, docketed as G.R. No.
173228, impleading then Generals Romeo Tolentino and Jovito Palparan (Gen. Palparan), Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac (Lt. Col. Boac), Arnel Enriquez and Lt. Francis
Mirabelle Samson (Lt. Mirabelle) as respondents. By Resolution of July 19, 2006,2 the Court issued a writ of habeas corpus, returnable to the Presiding Justice of
the Court of Appeals.

The habeas corpus petition was docketed at the appellate court as CA-G.R. SP No. 95303.

By Return of the Writ dated July 21, 2006,3 the respondents in the habeas corpus petition denied that Sherlyn, Karen and Merino are in the custody of the military.
To the Return were attached affidavits from the respondents, except Enriquez, who all attested that they do not know Sherlyn, Karen and Merino; that they had
inquired from their subordinates about the reported abduction and disappearance of the three but their inquiry yielded nothing; and that the military does not own
nor possess a stainless steel jeep with plate number RTF 597. Also appended to the Return was a certification from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) that
plate number RTF 597 had not yet been manufactured as of July 26, 2006.

Trial thereupon ensued at the appellate court.

Witness Wilfredo Ramos, owner of the house where the three were abducted, recounted that on June 26, 2006, while he was inside his house in Hagonoy, he
witnessed armed men wearing bonnets abduct Sherlyn and Karen from his house and also abduct Merino on their way out; and that tied and blindfolded, the three
were boarded on a jeep and taken towards Iba in Hagonoy.4

Witness Alberto Ramirez (Ramirez) recalled that on June 28, 2006, while he was sleeping in his house, he was awakened by Merino who, in the company of a
group of unidentified armed men, repaired to his house; that onboard a stainless jeep bearing plate number RTF 597, he (Ramirez) was taken to a place in
Mercado, Hagonoy and was asked by one Enriquez if he knew "Sierra," "Tanya," "Vincent" and "Lisa"; and that Enriquez described the appearance of two ladies
which matched those of Sherlyn and Karen, whom he was familiar with as the two had previously slept in his house.5

Another witness, Oscar Leuterio, who was himself previously abducted by armed men and detained for five months, testified that when he was detained in Fort
Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, he saw two women fitting the descriptions of Sherlyn and Karen, and also saw Merino, his kumpare.6

Lt. Col. Boac, the then commander of Task Force Malolos, a special operations team tasked to neutralize the intelligence network of communists and other armed
groups, declared that he conducted an inquiry on the abduction of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino but his subordinates denied knowledge thereof. 7

While he denied having received any order from Gen. Palparan to investigate the disappearance of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino, his assistance in locating the
missing persons was sought by the mayor of Hagonoy.

Major Dominador Dingle, the then division adjutant of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division in Fort Magsaysay, denied that a certain Arnel Enriquez is a
member of his infantry as in fact his name did not appear in the roster of troops. 8

Roberto Se, a supervisor of the Equipment, Plate Number and Supply Units of the LTO, denied that his office manufactured and issued a plate number bearing
number RTF 597.9

On rebuttal, Lt. Mirabelle, Lt. Col. Boac and Gen. Palparan took the witness stand as hostile witnesses.

Lt. Mirabelle testified that she did not receive any report on the abduction of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino nor any order to investigate the matter. And she denied
knowing anything about the abduction of Ramirez nor who were Ka Tanya or Ka Lisa.10

Gen. Palparan testified that during a debate in a televised program, he mentioned the names of Ka Lisa and Ka Tanya as the ones involved in revolutionary tax
activities; and that he ordered Lt. Col. Boac to conduct an investigation on the disappearance of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino.11 When pressed to elaborate, he
stated: "I said that I got the report that it stated that it was Ka Tanya and Ka Lisa that, I mean, that incident happened in Hagonoy, Bulacan was the abduction of
Ka Lisa and Ka Tanya, Your Honor, and another one. That was the report coming from the people in the area."12

By Decision of March 29, 2007,13 the Court of Appeals dismissed the habeas corpus petition in this wise:

As Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño and Manuel Merino are indeed missing, the present petition for habeas corpus is not the appropriate remedy since the main
office or function of the habeas corpus is to inquire into the legality of one’s detention which presupposes that respondents have actual custody of the persons
subject of the petition. The reason therefor is that the courts have limited powers, means and resources to conduct an investigation. x x x.

It being the situation, the proper remedy is not a habeas corpus proceeding but criminal proceedings by initiating criminal suit for abduction or kidnapping as a
crime punishable by law. In the case of Martinez v. Mendoza, supra, the Supreme Court restated the doctrine that habeas corpus may not be used as a means of
obtaining evidence on the whereabouts of a person, or as a means of finding out who has specifically abducted or caused the disappearance of a certain person.
(emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Thus the appellate court disposed:


WHEREFORE, the petition for habeas corpus is hereby DISMISSED, there being no strong evidence that the missing persons are in the custody of the
respondents.

The Court, however, further resolves to refer the case to the Commission on Human Rights, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police
for separate investigations and appropriate actions as may be warranted by their findings and to furnish the Court with their separate reports on the outcome of
their investigations and the actions taken thereon.

Let copies of this decision be furnished the Commission on Human Rights, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police for their
appropriate actions.

SO ORDERED. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioners in CA-G.R. SP No. 95303 moved for a reconsideration of the appellate court’s decision. They also moved to present newly discovered evidence
consisting of the testimonies of Adoracion Paulino, Sherlyn’s mother-in-law who was allegedly threatened by soldiers; and Raymond Manalo who allegedly met
Sherlyn, Karen and Merino in the course of his detention at a military camp.

During the pendency of the motion for reconsideration in CA-G.R. SP No. 95303, Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño filed before this Court a Petition for
Writ of Amparo14 With Prayers for Inspection of Place and Production of Documents dated October 24, 2007, docketed as G.R. No. 179994. The petition
impleaded the same respondents in the habeas corpus petition, with the addition of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then Armed Forces of the Phil. (AFP)
Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr., then Phil. National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Avelino Razon (Gen. Razon), Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado (Lt. Col. Anotado) and
Donald Caigas.

Then President Arroyo was eventually dropped as respondent in light of her immunity from suit while in office.

Petitioners in G.R. No. 179994 also prayed that they be allowed to inspect the detention areas of the following places:

1. 7th Infantry Division at Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija

2. 24th Infantry Batallion at Limay, Bataan

3. Army Detachment inside Valmocina Farm, Pinaod, San Ildefonso, Bulacan

4. Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan

5. The Resthouse of Donald Caigas alias Allan or Alvin of the 24th Infantry Batallion at Barangay Banog, Bolinao, Pangasinan

6. 56th Infantry Batallion Headquarters at Iba, Hagonoy, Bulacan

7. Army Detachment at Barangay Mercado, Hagonoy, Bulacan

8. Beach House [at] Iba, Zambales used as a safehouse with a retired military personnel as a caretaker;

By Resolution of October 25, 2007, the Court issued in G.R. No. 179994 a writ of amparo returnable to the Special Former Eleventh Division of the appellate court,
and ordered the consolidation of the amparo petition with the pending habeas corpus petition.

Docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 002, respondents in the amparo case, through the Solicitor General, filed their Return of the Writ on November 6, 2007.15 In the
Return, Gen. Palparan, Lt. Col. Boac and Lt. Mirabelle reiterated their earlier narrations in the habeas corpus case.

Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. stated in the Return that he immediately caused to investigate and verify the identities of the missing persons and was aware of the
earlier decision of the appellate court ordering the police, the Commission on Human Rights and the National Bureau of Investigation to take further action on the
matter.16

Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, the then battalion commander of the 24th Infantry Battalion based in Balanga City, Bataan, denied any involvement in the abduction. While
the 24th Infantry Battalion detachment was reported to be a detention site of the missing persons, Lt. Col. Anotado claimed that he found no untoward incident
when he visited said detachment. He also claimed that there was no report of the death of Merino per his inquiry with the local police.17

Police Director General Avelino Razon narrated that he ordered the compilation of pertinent records, papers and other documents of the PNP on the abduction of
the three, and that the police exhausted all possible actions available under the circumstances.18

In addition to the witnesses already presented in the habeas corpus case, petitioners called on Adoracion Paulino and Raymond Manalo to testify during the trial.

Adoracion Paulino recalled that her daughter-in-law Sherlyn showed up at home on April 11, 2007, accompanied by two men and three women whom she believed
were soldiers. She averred that she did not report the incident to the police nor inform Sherlyn’s mother about the visit.19

Raymond Manalo (Manalo) claimed that he met the three abducted persons when he was illegally detained by military men in Camp Tecson in San Miguel,
Bulacan. His group was later taken to a camp in Limay, Bataan. He recalled that Lt. Col. Anotado was the one who interrogated him while in detention.20
In his Sinumpaang Salaysay,21 Manalo recounted:

xxxx

59. Saan ka dinala mula sa Sapang?

Pagkalipas ng humigit kumulang 3 buwan sa Sapang, dinala ako sa Camp Tecson sa ilalim ng 24th IB.

xxxx

Sa loob ng barracks ko nakilala si Sherlyn Cadapan, isang estudyante ng UP.

Ipinapalinis din sa akin ang loob ng barracks. Sa isang kwarto sa loob ng barracks, may nakita akong babae na nakakadena[.] Noong una, pinagbawalan akong
makipag-usap sa kanya. Sa ikatlo o ikaapat na araw, nakausap ko yung babaeng nagngangalang Sherlyn. Binigyan ko siya ng pagkain. Sinabi niya sa akin na
dinukot si[ya] sa Hagonoy, Bulacan at matindi ang tortyur na dinaranas niya. Sabi niya gusto niyang umuwi at makasama ang kanyang magulang. Umiiyak siya.
Sabi niya sa akin ang buong pangalan niya ay Sherlyn Cadapan, mula sa Laguna. Sa araw tinatanggal ang kanyang kadena at inuutusan si Sherlyn na maglaba.

x x x x.

61. Sino ang mga nakilala mo sa Camp Tecson?

Dito sa Camp Tecson naming nakilala si ‘Allan Alvin’ (maya-maya nalaman naming na siya pala si Donald Caigas), ng 24th IB, na tinatawag na ‘master’ o
‘commander’ ng kanyang mga tauhan.

Pagkalipas ng 2 araw matapos dalhin si Reynaldo sa Camp Tecson dumating sina Karen Empeño at Manuel Merinona mga bihag din. Inilagay si Karen at Manuel
sa kwarto ni ‘Allan[.]’ Kami naman ni Reynaldo ay nasa katabing kwarto, kasama si Sherlyn.

xxxx

62. x x x x

Kaming mga lalake (ako, si Reynaldo at si Manuel) ay ginawang utusan, habang sina Sherlyn at Karen ay ginawang labandera.

Si Sherlyn ang pinahirapan nina Mickey, Donald at Billy. Sabi ni Sherlyn sa akin na siya’y ginahasa.

xxxx

63. x x x x

xxxx

Kaming lima (ako, si Reynaldo, si Sherlyn, si Karen at si [Merino]) ang dinala sa Limay. Sinakay ako, si Reynaldo, si Sherlyn at si [Merino] sa isang stainless na
jeep. Si Karen ay isinakay sa itim na sasakyan ni Donald Caigas. x x x x

xxxx

66. Saan pa kayo dinala mula sa Limay, Bataan?

Mula sa Limay, kaming 5 (ako, si Reynaldo, si Sherlyn, Si Karen at si Manuel) ay dinala sa isang safehouse sa Zambales, tabi ng dagat. x x x x (underscoring
supplied; italics and emphasis in the original)

On rebuttal, Lt. Col. Anotado and Col. Eduardo Boyles Davalan were called to the witness stand.

Lt. Col. Anotado denied seeing or meeting Manalo. He posited that Manalo recognized him because he was very active in conducting lectures in Bataan and even
appeared on television regarding an incident involving the 24th Infantry Batallion. He contended that it was impossible for Manalo, Sherlyn, Karen and Merino to be
detained in the Limay detachment which had no detention area.

Col. Eduardo Boyles Davalan, the then chief of staff of the First Scout Ranger Regiment in Camp Tecson, testified that the camp is not a detention facility, nor
does it conduct military operations as it only serves as a training facility for scout rangers. He averred that his regiment does not have any command relation with
either the 7th Infantry Division or the 24th Infantry Battalion.22

By Decision of September 17, 2008,23 the appellate court granted the Motion for Reconsideration in CA-G.R. SP No. 95303 (the habeas corpus case) and ordered
the immediate release of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino in CA-G.R. SP No. 00002 (the amparo case). Thus it disposed:
WHEREFORE, in CA-G.R. SP NO. 95303 (Habeas Corpus case), the Motion for Reconsideration is GRANTED.

Accordingly, in both CA-G.R. SP NO. 95303 (Habeas Corpus case) and in CA-G.R. SP NO. 00002 (Amparo case), the respondents are thereby ordered to
immediately RELEASE, or cause the release, from detention the persons of Sher[lyn] Cadapan, Karen Empeño and Manuel Merino.

Respondent Director General Avelino Razon is hereby ordered to resume [the] PNP’s unfinished investigation so that the truth will be fully ascertained and
appropriate charges filed against those truly responsible.

SO ORDERED.

In reconsidering its earlier Decision in the habeas corpus case, the appellate court relied heavily on the testimony of Manalo in this wise:

With the additional testimony of Raymond Manalo, the petitioners have been able to convincingly prove the fact of their detention by some elements in the
military. His testimony is a first hand account that military and civilian personnel under the 7th Infantry Division were responsible for the abduction of Sherlyn
Cadapan, Karen Empeño and Manuel Merino. He also confirmed the claim of Oscar Leuterio that the latter was detained in Fort Magsaysay. It was there where he
(Leuterio) saw Manuel Merino.

His testimony that Leuterio saw Manuel Merino in Fort Magsaysay may be hearsay but not with respect to his meeting with, and talking to, the three
desaparecidos. His testimony on those points was no hearsay. Raymond Manalo saw the three with his very own eyes as they were detained and tortured
together. In fact, he claimed to be a witness to the burning of Manuel Merino. In the absence of confirmatory proof, however, the Court will presume that he is still
alive.

The testimony of Raymond Manalo can no longer be ignored and brushed aside. His narration and those of the earlier witnesses, taken together, constitute more
than substantial evidence warranting an order that the three be released from detention if they are not being held for a lawful cause. They may be moved from
place to place but still they are considered under detention and custody of the respondents.

His testimony was clear, consistent and convincing. x x x.

xxxx

The additional testimonies of Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and Col. Eduardo Boyles Davalan were of no help either. Again, their averments were the same negative
ones which cannot prevail over those of Raymond Manalo. Indeed, Camp Tecson has been utilized as a training camp for army scout rangers. Even Raymond
Manalo noticed it but the camp’s use for purposes other than training cannot be discounted.

xxxx

In view of the foregoing, there is now a clear and credible evidence that the three missing persons, [Sherlyn, Karen and Merino], are being detained in military
camps and bases under the 7th Infantry Division. Being not held for a lawful cause, they should be immediately released from detention. (italic in the original;
emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Meanwhile, in the amparo case, the appellate court deemed it a superfluity to issue any inspection order or production order in light of the release order. As it
earlier ruled in the habeas corpus case, it found that the three detainees’ right to life, liberty and security was being violated, hence, the need to immediately
release them, or cause their release. The appellate court went on to direct the PNP to proceed further with its investigation since there were enough leads as
indicated in the records to ascertain the truth and file the appropriate charges against those responsible for the abduction and detention of the three.

Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, et al. challenged before this Court, via petition for review, the September 17, 2008 Decision of the appellate court. This was docketed
as G.R. Nos. 184461-62, the first above-captioned case- subject of the present Decision.

Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño, on the other hand, filed their own petition for review also challenging the same September 17, 2008 Decision of the
appellate court only insofar as the amparo aspect is concerned. Their petition, docketed as G.R. No. 179994, was redocketed as G.R. No. 184495, the second
above-captioned case.

By Resolution of June 15, 2010, the Court ordered the consolidation of G.R. No. 184495 with G.R. Nos. 1844461-62.24

Meanwhile, Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño filed before the appellate court a Motion to Cite Respondents in Contempt of Court for failure of the
respondents in the amparo and habeas corpus cases to comply with the directive of the appellate court to immediately release the three missing persons. By
Resolution of March 5, 2009,25 the appellate court denied the motion, ratiocinating thus:

While the Court, in the dispositive portion, ordered the respondents "to immediately RELEASE, or cause the release, from detention the persons of Sherlyn
Cadapan, Karen Empeño and Manuel Merino," the decision is not ipso facto executory. The use of the term "immediately" does not mean that that it is
automatically executory. There is nothing in the Rule on the Writ of Amparo which states that a decision rendered is immediately executory. x x x.

Neither did the decision become final and executory considering that both parties questioned the Decision/Resolution before the Supreme Court. x x x.

Besides, the Court has no basis. The petitioners did not file a motion for execution pending appeal under Section 2 of Rule 39. There being no motion, the Court
could not have issued, and did not issue, a writ of execution. x x x. (underscoring supplied)
Via a petition for certiorari filed on March 30, 2009 before this Court, Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño challenged the appellate court’s March 5, 2009
Resolution denying their motion to cite respondents in contempt. The petition was docketed as G.R. No. 187109, the last above-captioned case subject of the
present Decision.

Only Lt. Col. Anotado and Lt. Mirabelle remained of the original respondents in the amparo and habeas corpus cases as the other respondents had retired from
government service.26 The AFP has denied that Arnel Enriquez was a member of the Philippine Army.27 The whereabouts of Donald Caigas remain unknown.28

In G.R. Nos. 184461-62, petitioners posit as follows:

…THE COURT OF APPEALS GROSSLY MISAPPRECIATED THE VALUE OF THE TESTIMONY OF RAYMOND MANALO.

II

THE PETITION[S] FOR HABEAS CORPUS AND WRIT OF AMPARO SHOULD BE DISMISSED BECAUSE RESPONDENTS FAILED TO PROVE
BY THE REQUIRED QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE THAT PETITIONERS HAVE SHERLYN CADAPAN, KAREN EMPEñO AND MANUEL MERINO ARE
IN THEIR CUSTODY.

III

PETITIONERS’ DENIALS PER SE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TAKEN AGAINST THEM BECAUSE THEY DID NOT REALLY HAVE ANY
INVOLVEMENT IN THE ALLEGED ABDUCTION; MOREOVER, THE SUPPOSED INCONSISTENCIES IN THEIR TESTIMONIES ARE ON POINTS
IRRELEVANT TO THE PETITION.

IV

THE DISPOSITIVE PORTION OF THE ASSAILED DECISION IS VAGUE AND INCONGRUENT WITH THE FINDINGS OF THE COURT OF
APPEALS.

THE COURT OF APPEALS IGNORED AND FAILED TO RULE UPON THE FATAL PROCEDURAL INFIRMITIES IN THE PETITION FOR WRIT OF
AMPARO.29

In G.R. No. 184495, petitioners posit as follows:

5. The Court of Appeals erred in not granting the Interim Relief for Inspection of Places;

6. The Court of Appeals erred in not granting the Interim Relief for Production of Documents;

7. The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the Police Director Gen. Avelino Razon did not make extraordinary diligence in investigating the
enforced disappearance of the aggrieved parties…

8. The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that this was not the command coming from the highest echelon of powers of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, Philippine Army and the Seventh Infantry Division of the Philippine Army to enforcibly disappear [sic] the aggrieved parties…

9. The Court of Appeals erred in dropping President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as party respondent in this case;

10. The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had command responsibility in the enforced disappearance and
continued detention of the three aggrieved parties…

11. The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the Armed Forces Chief of Staff then Hermogenes Esperon and the Present Chief of Staff as having
command responsibility in the enforced disappearance and continued detention of the three aggrieved parties…30

In G.R. No. 187109, petitioners raise the following issues:

[1] Whether… the decision in the Court of Appeals has become final and executory[.]

[2] Whether…there is a need to file a motion for execution in a Habeas Corpus decision or in an Amparo decision[.]

[3] Whether…an appeal can stay the decision of a Habeas Corpus [case] [or] an Amparo case[.]31
Essentially, the consolidated petitions present three primary issues, viz: a) whether the testimony of Raymond Manalo is credible; b) whether the chief of the AFP,
the commanding general of the Philippine Army, as well as the heads of the concerned units had command responsibility over the abduction and detention of
Sherlyn, Karen and Merino; and c) whether there is a need to file a motion for execution to cause the release of the aggrieved parties.

G.R. Nos. 184461-62

Petitioners Lt. Col. Boac, et al. contend that the appellate court erred in giving full credence to the testimony of Manalo who could not even accurately describe the
structures of Camp Tecson where he claimed to have been detained along with Sherlyn, Karen and Merino. They underscore that Camp Tecson is not under the
jurisdiction of the 24th Infantry Batallion and that Manalo’s testimony is incredible and full of inconsistencies.32

In Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo,33 an original petition for Prohibition, Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order which was treated as a petition under
the Amparo Rule, said Rule having taken effect during the pendency of the petition, the Court ruled on the truthfulness and veracity of the personal account of
Manalo which included his encounter with Sherlyn, Kara and Merino while on detention. Thus it held:

We affirm the factual findings of the appellate court, largely based on respondent Raymond Manalo’s affidavit and testimony, viz:

x x x x.

We reject the claim of petitioners that respondent Raymond Manalo’s statements were not corroborated by other independent and credible pieces of
evidence. Raymond’s affidavit and testimony were corroborated by the affidavit of respondent Reynaldo Manalo. The testimony and medical reports prepared by
forensic specialist Dr. Molino, and the pictures of the scars left by the physical injuries inflicted on respondents, also corroborate respondents’ accounts of the
torture they endured while in detention. Respondent Raymond Manalo’s familiarity with the facilities in Fort Magsaysay such as the "DTU," as shown in his
testimony and confirmed by Lt. Col. Jimenez to be the "Division Training Unit," firms up respondents’ story that they were detained for some time in said military
facility. (citations omitted; emphasis and underscoring supplied)

On Manalo’s having allegedly encountered Sherlyn, Karen and Merino while on detention, the Court in the immediately cited case synthesized his tale as follows:

The next day, Raymond’s chains were removed and he was ordered to clean outside the barracks. It was then he learned that he was in a detachment of the
Rangers. There were many soldiers, hundreds of them were training. He was also ordered to clean inside the barracks. In one of the rooms therein, he met
Sherlyn Cadapan from Laguna.She told him that she was a student of the University of the Philippines and was abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan. She confided that
she had been subjected to severe torture and raped. She was crying and longing to go home and be with her parents. During the day, her chains were removed
and she was made to do the laundry.

After a week, Reynaldo was also brought to Camp Tecson. Two days from his arrival, two other captives, Karen Empeño and Manuel Merino, arrived. Karen and
Manuel were put in the room with "Allan" whose name they later came to know as Donald Caigas, called "master" or "commander" by his men in the 24th Infantry
Battalion. Raymond and Reynaldo were put in the adjoining room. At times, Raymond and Reynaldo were threatened, and Reynaldo was beaten up. In the
daytime, their chains were removed, but were put back on at night. They were threatened that if they escaped, their families would all be killed.

On or about October 6, 2006, Hilario arrived in Camp Tecson. He told the detainees that they should be thankful they were still alive and should continue along
their "renewed life." Before the hearing of November 6 or 8, 2006, respondents were brought to their parents to instruct them not to attend the hearing. However,
their parents had already left for Manila. Respondents were brought back to Camp Tecson. They stayed in that camp from September 2006 to November 2006,
and Raymond was instructed to continue using the name "Oscar" and holding himself out as a military trainee. He got acquainted with soldiers of the 24th Infantry
Battalion whose names and descriptions he stated in his affidavit.

On November 22, 2006, respondents, along with Sherlyn, Karen, and Manuel, were transferred to a camp of the 24th Infantry Battalion in Limay, Bataan. There
were many huts in the camp. They stayed in that camp until May 8, 2007. Some soldiers of the battalion stayed with them. While there, battalion soldiers whom
Raymond knew as "Mar" and "Billy" beat him up and hit him in the stomach with their guns. Sherlyn and Karen also suffered enormous torture in the camp. They
were all made to clean, cook, and help in raising livestock.

Raymond recalled that when "Operation Lubog" was launched, Caigas and some other soldiers brought him and Manuel with them to take and kill all sympathizers
of the NPA. They were brought to Barangay Bayan-bayanan, Bataan where he witnessed the killing of an old man doing kaingin. The soldiers said he was killed
because he had a son who was a member of the NPA and he coddled NPA members in his house. Another time, in another "Operation Lubog," Raymond was
brought to Barangay Orion in a house where NPA men stayed. When they arrived, only the old man of the house who was sick was there. They spared him and
killed only his son right before Raymond’s eyes.

From Limay, Raymond, Reynaldo, Sherlyn, Karen, and Manuel were transferred to Zambales, in a safehouse near the sea. Caigas and some of his men stayed
with them. A retired army soldier was in charge of the house. Like in Limay, the five detainees were made to do errands and chores. They stayed in Zambales from
May 8 or 9, 2007 until June 2007.

In June 2007, Caigas brought the five back to the camp in Limay. Raymond, Reynaldo, and Manuel were tasked to bring food to detainees brought to the camp.
Raymond narrated what he witnessed and experienced in the camp, viz:

x x x x.34 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The Court takes judicial notice of its Decision in the just cited Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo35 which assessed the account of Manalo to be a candid and
forthright narrative of his and his brother Reynaldo’s abduction by the military in 2006; and of the corroborative testimonies, in the same case, of Manalo’s brother
Reynaldo and a forensic specialist, as well as Manalo’s graphic description of the detention area. There is thus no compelling reason for the Court, in the present
case, to disturb its appreciation in Manalo’s testimony. The outright denial of petitioners Lt. Col. Boac, et al. thus crumbles.

Petitioners go on to point out that the assailed Decision of the appellate court is "vague and incongruent with [its] findings" for, so they contend, while the appellate
court referred to the perpetrators as "misguided and self-righteous civilian and military elements of the 7th Infantry Division," it failed to identify who these
perpetrators are. Moreover, petitioners assert that Donald Caigas and Arnel Enriquez are not members of the AFP. They furthermore point out that their co-
petitioners Generals Esperon, Tolentino and Palparan have already retired from the service and thus have no more control of any military camp or base in the
country.36

There is nothing vague and/or incongruent about the categorical order of the appellate court for petitioners to release Sherlyn, Karen and Merino. In its discourse,
the appellate court merely referred to "a few misguided self-righteous people who resort to the extrajudicial process of neutralizing those who disagree with the
country’s democratic system of government." Nowhere did it specifically refer to the members of the 7th Infantry Division as the "misguided self-righteous" ones.

Petitioners finally point out that the parents of Sherlyn and Karen do not have the requisite standing to file the amparo petition on behalf of Merino. They call
attention to the fact that in the amparo petition, the parents of Sherlyn and Karen merely indicated that they were "concerned with Manuel Merino" as basis for
filing the petition on his behalf.37

Section 2 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo38 provides:

The petition may be filed by the aggrieved party or by any qualified person or entity in the following order:

(a) Any member of the immediate family, namely: the spouse, children and parents of the aggrieved party;

(b) Any ascendant, descendant or collateral relative of the aggrieved party within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, in default of those
mentioned in the preceding paragraph; or

(c) Any concerned citizen, organization, association or institution, if there is no known member of the immediate family or relative of the aggrieved
party.

Indeed, the parents of Sherlyn and Karen failed to allege that there were no known members of the immediate family or relatives of Merino. The exclusive and
successive order mandated by the above-quoted provision must be followed. The order of priority is not without reason—"to prevent the indiscriminate and
groundless filing of petitions for amparo which may even prejudice the right to life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party."39

The Court notes that the parents of Sherlyn and Karen also filed the petition for habeas corpus on Merino’s behalf. No objection was raised therein for, in a habeas
corpus proceeding, any person may apply for the writ on behalf of the aggrieved party.40

It is thus only with respect to the amparo petition that the parents of Sherlyn and Karen are precluded from filing the application on Merino’s behalf as they are not
authorized parties under the Rule.

G.R. No. 184495

Preliminarily, the Court finds the appellate court’s dismissal of the petitions against then President Arroyo well-taken, owing to her immunity from suit at the time
the habeas corpus and amparo petitions were filed.41

Settled is the doctrine that the President, during his tenure of office or actual incumbency, may not be sued in any civil or criminal case, and there is no need to
provide for it in the Constitution or law. It will degrade the dignity of the high office of the President, the Head of State, if he can be dragged into court litigations
while serving as such. Furthermore, it is important that he be freed from any form of harassment, hindrance or distraction to enable him to fully attend to the
performance of his official duties and functions. Unlike the legislative and judicial branch, only one constitutes the executive branch and anything which impairs his
usefulness in the discharge of the many great and important duties imposed upon him by the Constitution necessarily impairs the operation of the Government. x x
x 42

Parenthetically, the petitions are bereft of any allegation that then President Arroyo permitted, condoned or performed any wrongdoing against the three missing
persons.

On the issue of whether a military commander may be held liable for the acts of his subordinates in an amparo proceeding, a brief discussion of the concept of
command responsibility and its application insofar as amparo cases already decided by the Court is in order.

Rubrico v. Macapagal Arroyo43 expounded on the concept of command responsibility as follows:

The evolution of the command responsibility doctrine finds its context in the development of laws of war and armed combats. According to Fr. Bernas, "command
responsibility," in its simplest terms, means the "responsibility of commanders for crimes committed by subordinate members of the armed forces or other persons
subject to their control in international wars or domestic conflict." In this sense, command responsibility is properly a form of criminal complicity. The Hague
Conventions of 1907 adopted the doctrine of command responsibility, foreshadowing the present-day precept of holding a superior accountable for the atrocities
committed by his subordinates should he be remiss in his duty of control over them. As then formulated, command responsibility is "an omission mode of
individual criminal liability," whereby the superior is made responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates for failing to prevent or punish the perpetrators
(as opposed to crimes he ordered). (citations omitted; emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)44

It bears stressing that command responsibility is properly a form of criminal complicity,45 and thus a substantive rule that points to criminal or administrative liability.

An amparo proceeding is not criminal in nature nor does it ascertain the criminal liability of individuals or entities involved. Neither does it partake of a civil or
administrative suit.46 Rather, it is a remedial measure designed to direct specified courses of action to government agencies to safeguard the constitutional right to
life, liberty and security of aggrieved individuals.47

Thus Razon Jr. v. Tagitis 48 enlightens:


[An amparo proceeding] does nor determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for the disappearance [threats thereof or extrajudicial killings]; it determines
responsibility, or at least accountability, for the enforced disappearance…for purposes of imposing the appropriate remedies to address the
disappearance…49 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Further, Tagitis defines what constitutes "responsibility" and "accountability," viz:

x x x. Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established by substantial evidence to have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in
an enforced disappearance, as a measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases against
the responsible parties in the proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure of remedies that should be addressed to those who
exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or who are imputed
with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of
extraordinary diligence in the investigation of the enforced disappearance. In all these cases, the issuance of the Writ of Amparo is justified by our primary goal of
addressing the disappearance, so that the life of the victim is preserved and his liberty and security are restored.50 (emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)

Rubrico categorically denies the application of command responsibility in amparo cases to determine criminal liability.51 The Court maintains its adherence to this
pronouncement as far as amparo cases are concerned.

Rubrico, however, recognizes a preliminary yet limited application of command responsibility in amparo cases to instances of determining the responsible or
accountable individuals or entities that are duty-bound to abate any transgression on the life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party.

If command responsibility were to be invoked and applied to these proceedings, it should, at most, be only to determine the author who, at the first instance, is
accountable for, and has the duty to address, the disappearance and harassments complained of, so as to enable the Court to devise remedial measures that may
be appropriate under the premises to protect rights covered by the writ of amparo. As intimated earlier, however, the determination should not be pursued to fix
criminal liability on respondents preparatory to criminal prosecution, or as a prelude to administrative disciplinary proceedings under existing administrative
issuances, if there be any.52 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

In other words, command responsibility may be loosely applied in amparo cases in order to identify those accountable individuals that have the power to effectively
implement whatever processes an amparo court would issue.53 In such application, the amparo court does not impute criminal responsibility but merely pinpoint the
superiors it considers to be in the best position to protect the rights of the aggrieved party.

Such identification of the responsible and accountable superiors may well be a preliminary determination of criminal liability which, of course, is still subject to
further investigation by the appropriate government agency.

Relatedly, the legislature came up with Republic Act No. 985154 (RA 9851) to include command responsibility as a form of criminal complicity in crimes against
international humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes.55 RA 9851 is thus the substantive law that definitively imputes criminal liability to those superiors who,
despite their position, still fail to take all necessary and reasonable measures within their power to prevent or repress the commission of illegal acts or to submit
these matters to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.

The Court finds that the appellate court erred when it did not specifically name the respondents that it found to be responsible for the abduction and continued
detention of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino. For, from the records, it appears that the responsible and accountable individuals are Lt. Col. Anotado, Lt. Mirabelle, Gen.
Palparan, Lt. Col. Boac, Arnel Enriquez and Donald Caigas. They should thus be made to comply with the September 17, 2008 Decision of the appellate court to
IMMEDIATELY RELEASE Sherlyn, Karen and Merino.

The petitions against Generals Esperon, Razon and Tolentino should be dismissed for lack of merit as there is no showing that they were even remotely
accountable and responsible for the abduction and continued detention of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino.

G.R. No. 187109.

Contrary to the ruling of the appellate court, there is no need to file a motion for execution for an amparo or habeas corpus decision. Since the right to life, liberty
and security of a person is at stake, the proceedings should not be delayed and execution of any decision thereon must be expedited as soon as possible since
any form of delay, even for a day, may jeopardize the very rights that these writs seek to immediately protect.

The Solicitor General’s argument that the Rules of Court supplement the Rule on the Writ of Amparo is misplaced. The Rules of Court only find suppletory
application in an amparo proceeding if the Rules strengthen, rather than weaken, the procedural efficacy of the writ. As it is, the Rule dispenses with dilatory
motions in view of the urgency in securing the life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party. Suffice it to state that a motion for execution is inconsistent with the
extraordinary and expeditious remedy being offered by an amparo proceeding.

In fine, the appellate court erred in ruling that its directive to immediately release Sherlyn, Karen and Merino was not automatically executory. For that would defeat
the very purpose of having summary proceedings56 in amparo petitions. Summary proceedings, it bears emphasis, are immediately executory without prejudice to
further appeals that may be taken therefrom.57

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing discussions, the Court renders the following judgment:

1. The Petitions in G.R. Nos. 184461-62 and G.R. No. 184495 are DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 17, 2008 is
AFFIRMED with modification in that respondents in G.R. No. 184495, namely Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, Gen. Jovito
Palparan, Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, Arnel Enriquez and Donald Caigas are ordered to immediately release Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño and Manuel
Merino from detention.

The petitions against Generals Esperon, Razon and Tolentino are DISMISSED.
2. The petition in G.R. No. 187109 is GRANTED. The named respondents are directed to forthwith comply with the September 17, 2008 Decision of
the appellate court. Owing to the retirement and/or reassignment to other places of assignment of some of the respondents herein and in G.R. No.
184495, the incumbent commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division and the incumbent battalion commander of the 24th Infantry Battalion, both of
the Philippine Army, are enjoined to fully ensure the release of Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño and Manuel Merino from detention. 1awphi 1

Respondents Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, Gen. Jovito Palparan, Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, Arnel Enriquez and Donald Caigas
shall remain personally impleaded in the petitions to answer for any responsibilities and/or accountabilities they may have incurred during their
incumbencies.

Let copies of this Decision and the records of these cases be furnished the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for further investigation to determine the respective criminal and administrative liabilities of respondents.

All the present petitions are REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for appropriate action, directed at monitoring of the DOJ, PNP and AFP investigations and the
validation of their results.

SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

G.R. No. 177407 February 9, 2011

RICO ROMMEL ATIENZA, Petitioner,


vs.
BOARD OF MEDICINE and EDITHA SIOSON, Respondents.

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision1 dated September 22, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. SP No. 87755. The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner Rico Rommel Atienza (Atienza), which, in turn, assailed the Orders2 issued
by public respondent Board of Medicine (BOM) in Administrative Case No. 1882.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dispositions of the Board of Medicine

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

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

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

"SO ORDERED."

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

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

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

Hence, this recourse positing the following issues:

I. PROCEDURAL ISSUE:

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

II. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE:

WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY
NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW AND THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE ADMISSION OF
INCOMPETENT AND INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE BY RESPONDENT BOARD, WHICH CAN RESULT IN THE DEPRIVATION OF PROFESSIONAL
LICENSE – A PROPERTY RIGHT OR ONE’S LIVELIHOOD.4

We find no reason to depart from the ruling of the CA.

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

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

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

We disagree.

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

[I]t is the safest policy to be liberal, not rejecting them on doubtful or technical grounds, but admitting them unless plainly irrelevant, immaterial or incompetent, for
the reason that their rejection places them beyond the consideration of the court, if they are thereafter found relevant or competent; on the other hand, their
admission, if they turn out later to be irrelevant or incompetent, can easily be remedied by completely discarding them or ignoring them.8
From the foregoing, we emphasize the distinction between the admissibility of evidence and the probative weight to be accorded the same pieces of evidence.
PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation v. Court of Appeals9 teaches:

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

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

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

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

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

xxxx

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

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

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

Unquestionably, the rules of evidence are merely the means for ascertaining the truth respecting a matter of fact. 12Thus, they likewise provide for some facts which
are established and need not be proved, such as those covered by judicial notice, both mandatory and discretionary.13 Laws of nature involving the physical
sciences, specifically biology,14 include the structural make-up and composition of living things such as human beings. In this case, we may take judicial notice that
Editha’s kidneys before, and at the time of, her operation, as with most human beings, were in their proper anatomical locations.

Third, contrary to the assertion of petitioner, the best evidence rule is inapplicable. Section 3 of Rule 130 provides:
1awphil

1. Best Evidence Rule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson

A.M. No. RTJ-92-876 September 19, 1994

STATE PROSECUTORS, complainants,


vs.
JUDGE MANUEL T. MURO, Regional Trial Court, Branch 54, Manila, respondent.

PER CURIAM:

In assaying the requisite norms for qualifications and eminence of a magistrate, legal authorities place a premium on how he has complied with his continuing duty
to know the law. A quality thus considered essential to the judicial character is that of "a man of learning who spends tirelessly the weary hours after midnight
acquainting himself with the great body of traditions and the learning of the law; is profoundly learned in all the learning of the law; and knows how to use that
learning."1

Obviously, it is the primary duty of a judge, which he owes to the public and to the legal profession, to know the very law he is supposed to apply to a given
controversy. He is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. Party litigants will have great faith in the
administration of justice if judges cannot justly be accused of apparent deficiency in their grasp of the legal principles. For, service in the judiciary means a
continuous study and research on the law from beginning to end. 2

In a letter-complaint dated August 19, 1992, respondent Judge Manuel T. Muro of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 54, was charged by State
3

Prosecutors Nilo C. Mariano, George C. Dee and Paterno V. Tac-an with ignorance of the law, grave misconduct and violations of Rules 2.01, 3.01 and 3.02 of the
Code of Judicial Conduct, committed as follows:

1. That on August 13, 1992, respondent judge issued an Order dismissing eleven (11) cases (docketed as Crim. Cases Nos. 92-101959
to 92- 101969, inclusive) filed by the undersigned complainant prosecutors (members of the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors) against the
accused Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, for Violation of Central Bank Foreign Exchange Restrictions, as consolidated in CB Circular No.
960, in relation to the penal provisions of Sec. 34 of R.A. 265, as amended, . . .;

2. That respondent Judge issued his Order solely on the basis of newspaper reports (August 11, 1992 issues of the Philippine Daily
Inquirer and the Daily Globe) concerning the announcement on August 10, 1992 by the President of the Philippines of the lifting by the
government of all foreign exchange restrictions and the arrival at such decision by the Monetary Board as per statement of Central Bank
Governor Jose Cuisia;

3. That claiming that the reported announcement of the Executive Department on the lifting of foreign exchange restrictions by two
newspapers which are reputable and of national circulation had the effect of repealing Central Bank Circular No. 960, as allegedly
supported by Supreme Court decisions . . ., the Court contended that it was deprived of jurisdiction, and, therefore, motu, prop(r)io had to
dismiss all the eleven cases aforementioned "for not to do so opens this Court to charges of trying cases over which it has no more
jurisdiction;"

4. That in dismissing aforecited cases on August 13, 1992 on the basis of a Central Bank Circular or Monetary Board Resolution which as
of date hereof, has not even been officially issued, and basing his Order/decision on a mere newspaper account of the advance
announcement made by the President of the said fact of lifting or liberalizing foreign exchange controls, respondent judge acted
prematurely and in indecent haste, as he had no way of determining the full intent of the new CB Circular or Monetary Board resolution,
and whether the same provided for exception, as in the case of persons who had pending criminal cases before the courts for violations
of Central Bank Circulars and/or regulations previously issued on the matter;

5. That respondent Judge's arrogant and cavalier posture in taking judicial notice purportedly as a matter of public knowledge a mere
newspaper account that the President had announced the lifting of foreign exchange restrictions as basis for his assailed order of
dismissal is highly irregular, erroneous and misplaced. For the respondent judge to take judicial notice thereof even before it is officially
released by the Central Bank and its full text published as required by law to be effective shows his precipitate action in utter disregard of
the fundamental precept of due process which the People is also entitled to and exposes his gross ignorance of the law, thereby
tarnishing public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. How can the Honorable Judge take judicial notice of something which has not
yet come into force and the contents, shape and tenor of which have not yet been published and ascertained to be the basis of judicial
action? The Honorable Judge had miserably failed to "endeavor diligently to ascertain the facts" in the case at bar contrary to Rule 3.02 of
the Code of Judicial Conduct constituting Grave Misconduct;

6. That respondent Judge did not even ha(ve) the prudence of requiring first the comment of the prosecution on the effect of aforesaid
Central Bank Circular/Monetary Board resolution on the pending cases before dismissing the same, thereby denying the Government of
its right to due process;

7. That the lightning speed with which respondent Judge acted to dismiss the cases may be gleaned from the fact that such precipitate
action was undertaken despite already scheduled continuation of trial dates set in the order of the court (the prosecution having started
presenting its evidence . . .) dated August 11, 1992 to wit: August 31, September 3, 10, 21, & 23 and October 1, 1992, all at 9:30 o'clock
in the morning, in brazen disregard of all notions of fair play, thereby depriving the Government of its right to be heard, and clearly
exposing his bias and partiality; and
8. That, in fact, the motive of respondent Judge in dismissing the case without even waiting for a motion to quash filed by the counsel for
accused has even placed his dismissal Order suspect.

Pursuant to a resolution of this Court dated September 8, 1992, respondent judge filed his comment, contending, inter alia, that there was no need to await
4

publication of the Central Bank (CB) circular repealing the existing law on foreign exchange controls for the simple reason that the public announcement made by
the President in several newspapers of general circulation lifting foreign exchange controls was total, absolute, without qualification, and was immediately effective;
that having acted only on the basis of such announcement, he cannot be blamed for relying on the erroneous statement of the President that the new foreign
exchange rules rendered moot and academic the cases filed against Mrs. Marcos, and which was corrected only on August 17, 1992 but published in the
newspapers on August 18, 1992, and only after respondent judge had issued his order of dismissal dated August 13, 1992; that the President was ill-advised by
his advisers and, instead of rescuing the Chief Executive from embarrassment by assuming responsibility for errors in the latter's announcement, they chose to
toss the blame for the consequence of their failures to respondent judge who merely acted on the basis of the announcements of the President which had become
of public knowledge; that the "saving clause" under CB Circular No. 1353 specifically refers only to pending actions or investigations involving violations of CB
Circular No. 1318, whereas the eleven cases dismissed involved charges for violations of CB Circular No. 960, hence the accused cannot be tried and convicted
under a law different from that under which she was charged; that assuming that respondent judge erred in issuing the order of dismissal, the proper remedy
should have been an appeal therefrom but definitely not an administrative complaint for his dismissal; that a mistake committed by a judge should not necessarily
be imputed as ignorance of the law; and that a "court can reverse or modify a doctrine but it does not show ignorance of the justices or judges whose decisions
were reversed or modified" because "even doctrines initiated by the Supreme Court are later reversed, so how much more for the lower courts?"

He further argued that no hearing was necessary since the prosecution had nothing to explain because, as he theorized, "What explanation could have been
given? That the President was talking 'through his hat' (to use a colloquialism) and should not be believed? That I should wait for the publication (as now alleged
by complainants), of a still then non-existent CB circular? . . . As it turned out, CB Circular No. 3153 (sic) does not affect my dismissal order because the said
circular's so-called saving clause does not refer to CB Circular 960 under which the charges in the dismissed cases were based;" that it was discretionary on him
to take judicial notice of the facts which are of public knowledge, pursuant to Section 2 of Rule 129; that the contention of complainants that he acted prematurely
and in indecent haste for basing his order of dismissal on a mere newspaper account is contrary to the wordings of the newspaper report wherein the President
announced the lifting of controls as an accomplished fact, not as an intention to be effected in the future, because of the use of the present perfect tense or past
tense "has lifted," not that he "intends to lift," foreign exchange controls.

Finally, respondent judge asseverates that complainants who are officers of the Department of Justice, violated Section 6, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court which
provides that "proceedings against judges of first instance shall be private and confidential" when they caused to be published in the newspapers the filing of the
present administrative case against him; and he emphasizes the fact that he had to immediately resolve a simple and pure legal matter in consonance with the
admonition of the Supreme Court for speedy disposition of cases.

In their reply and supplemental reply, complainants aver that although the saving clause under Section 16 of CB Circular No. 1353 made specific reference to
5 6

CB Circular No. 1318, it will be noted that Section 111 of Circular No. 1318, which contains a saving clause substantially similar to that of the new circular, in turn
refers to and includes Circular No. 960. Hence, whether under Circular No. 1318 or Circular No. 1353, pending cases involving violations of Circular No. 960 are
excepted from the coverage thereof. Further, it is alleged that the precipitate dismissal of the eleven cases, without according the prosecution the opportunity to file
a motion to quash or a comment, or even to show cause why the cases against accused Imelda R. Marcos should not be dismissed, is clearly reflective of
respondent's partiality and bad faith. In effect, respondent judge acted as if he were the advocate of the accused.

On December 9, 1993, this Court issued a resolution referring the complaint to the Office of the Court Administrator for evaluation, report and recommendation,
pursuant to Section 7, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as revised, there being no factual issues involved. The corresponding report and recommendation, dated 7

February 14, 1994, was submitted by Deputy Court Administrator Juanito A. Bernad, with the approval of Court Administrator Ernani Cruz-Paño.

The questioned order of respondent judge reads as follows:


8

These eleven (11) cases are for Violation of Central Bank Foreign Exchange Restrictions as consolidated in CB Circular No. 960 in
relation to the penal provision of Sec. 34 of R.A. 265, as amended.

The accused Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos pleaded not guilty to all these cases; apparently the other accused in some of these cases, Roberto
S. Benedicto, was not arrested and therefore the Court did not acquire jurisdiction over his person; trial was commenced as against Mrs.
Marcos.

His Excellency, the President of the Philippines, announced on August 10, 1992 that the government has lifted all foreign exchange
restrictions and it is also reported that Central Bank Governor Jose Cuisia said that the Monetary Board arrived at such decision (issue of
the Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 11, 1992 and issue of the Daily Globe of the same date). The Court has to give full confidence and
credit to the reported announcement of the Executive Department, specially from the highest official of that department; the Courts are
charged with judicial notice of matters which are of public knowledge, without introduction of proof, the announcement published in at
least the two newspapers cited above which are reputable and of national circulation.

Per several cases decided by the Supreme Court (People vs. Alcaras, 56 Phil. 520, People vs. Francisco, 56 Phil. 572, People vs. Pastor,
77 Phil. 1000, People vs. Crisanto Tamayo, 61 Phil. 225), among others, it was held that the repeal of a penal law without re-enactment
extinguishes the right to prosecute or punish the offense committed under the old law and if the law repealing the prior penal law fails to
penalize the acts which constituted the offense defined and penalized in the repealed law, the repealed law carries with it the deprivation
of the courts of jurisdiction to try, convict and sentence persons charged with violations of the old law prior to its repeal. Under the
aforecited decisions this doctrine applies to special laws and not only to the crimes punishable in the Revised Penal Code, such as the
Import Control Law. The Central Bank Circular No. 960 under which the accused Mrs. Marcos is charged is considered as a penal law
because violation thereof is penalized with specific reference to the provision of Section 34 of Republic Act 265, which penalizes
violations of Central Bank Circular No. 960, produces the effect cited in the Supreme Court decisions and since according to the decisions
that repeal deprives the Court of jurisdiction, this Court motu proprio dismisses all the eleven (11) cases as a forestated in the caption, for
not to do so opens this Court to charges of trying cases over which it has no more jurisdiction.

This order was subsequently assailed in a petition for certiorari filed with the Court of Appeals, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Manuel T. Muro, Judge,
RTC of Manila, Br. 54 and Imelda R. Marcos," docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 29349. When required to file her comment, private respondent Marcos failed to file
any. Likewise, after the appellate court gave due course to the petition, private respondent was ordered, but again failed despite notice, to file an answer to the
petition and to show cause why no writ of preliminary injunction should issue. Eventually, on April 29, 1993, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision setting
9

aside the order of August 13, 1992, and reinstating Criminal Cases Nos. 92-101959 to 92-101969.
In finding that respondent judge acted in excess of jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion in issuing the order of dismissal, the appellate court held that:

The order was issued motu proprio, i.e., without any motion to dismiss filed by counsel for the accused, without giving an opportunity for
the prosecution to be heard, and solely on the basis of newspaper reports announcing that the President has lifted all foreign exchange
restrictions.

The newspaper report is not the publication required by law in order that the enactment can become effective and binding. Laws take
effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation unless
it is otherwise provided (Section 1, Executive Order No. 200). The full text of CB Circular 1353, series of 1992, entitled "Further
Liberalizing Foreign Exchange Regulation" was published in the August 27, 1992 issue of the Manila Chronicle, the Philippine Star and
the Manila Bulletin. Per certification of the CB Corporate Affairs Office, CB Circular No. 1353 took effect on September 2 . . . .

Considering that respondent judge admittedly had not seen the official text of CB Circular No. 1353, he was in no position to rule
judiciously on whether CB Circular No. 960, under which the accused Mrs. Marcos is charged, was already repealed by CB Circular No.
1353. . . .

xxx xxx xxx

A cursory reading of the . . . provision would have readily shown that the repeal of the regulations on non-trade foreign exchange
transactions is not absolute, as there is a provision that with respect to violations of former regulations that are the subject of pending
actions or investigations, they shall be governed by the regulations existing at the time the cause of action (arose). Thus his conclusion
that he has lost jurisdiction over the criminal cases is precipitate and hasty. Had he awaited the filing of a motion to dismiss by the
accused, and given opportunity for the prosecution to comment/oppose the same, his resolution would have been the result of
deliberation, not speculation.

I. The doctrine of judicial notice rests on the wisdom and discretion of the courts. The power to take judicial notice is to be exercised by courts with caution; care
must be taken that the requisite notoriety exists; and every reasonable doubt on the subject should be promptly resolved in the negative. 10

Generally speaking, matters of judicial notice have three material requisites: (1) the matter must be one of common and general knowledge; (2) it must be well and
authoritatively settled and not doubtful or uncertain; and (3) it must be known to be within the limits of the jurisdiction of the court. The provincial guide in
11

determining what facts may be assumed to be judicially known is that of notoriety. Hence, it can be said that judicial notice is limited to facts evidenced by public
12

records and facts of general notoriety. 13

To say that a court will take judicial notice of a fact is merely another way of saying that the usual form of evidence will be dispensed with if knowledge of the fact
can be otherwise acquired. This is because the court assumes that the matter is so notorious that it will not be disputed. But judicial notice is not judicial
14 15

knowledge. The mere personal knowledge of the judge is not the judicial knowledge of the court, and he is not authorized to make his individual knowledge of a
fact, not generally or professionally known, the basis of his action. Judicial cognizance is taken only of those matters which are "commonly" known. 16

Things of "common knowledge," of which courts take judicial notice, may be matters coming to the knowledge of men generally in the course of the ordinary
experiences of life, or they may be matters which are generally accepted by mankind as true and are capable of ready and unquestioned demonstration. Thus, 17

facts which are universally known, and which may be found in encyclopedias, dictionaries or other publications, are judicially noticed, provided they are of such
universal notoriety and so generally understood that they may be regarded as forming part of the common knowledge of every person. 18

Respondent judge, in the guise of exercising discretion and on the basis of a mere newspaper account which is sometimes even referred to as hearsay evidence
twice removed, took judicial notice of the supposed lifting of foreign exchange controls, a matter which was not and cannot be considered of common knowledge
or of general notoriety. Worse, he took cognizance of an administrative regulation which was not yet in force when the order of dismissal was issued.
Jurisprudence dictates that judicial notice cannot be taken of a statute before it becomes effective. The reason is simple. A law which is not yet in force and
19

hence, still inexistent, cannot be of common knowledge capable of ready and unquestionable demonstration, which is one of the requirements before a court can
take judicial notice of a fact.

Evidently, it was impossible for respondent judge, and it was definitely not proper for him, to have taken cognizance of CB Circular No. 1353, when the same was
not yet in force at the time the improvident order of dismissal was issued.

II. Central Bank Circular No. 1353, which took effect on September 1, 1992, further liberalized the foreign exchange regulations on receipts and disbursements of
residents arising from non-trade and trade transactions. Section 16 thereof provides for a saving clause, thus:

Sec. 16. Final Provisions of CB Circular No. 1318. - All the provisions in Chapter X of CB Circular No. 1318 insofar as they are not
inconsistent with, or contrary to the provisions of this Circular, shall remain in full force and effect: Provided, however, that any regulation
on non-trade foreign exchange transactions which has been repealed, amended or modified by this Circular, violations of which are the
subject of pending actions or investigations, shall not be considered repealed insofar as such pending actions or investigations are
concerned, it being understood that as to such pending actions or investigations, the regulations existing at the time the cause of action
accrued shall govern.

Respondent judge contends that the saving clause refers only to the provisions of Circular No. 1318, whereas the eleven criminal cases he dismissed involve a
violation of CB Circular No. 960. Hence, he insists, Circular No. 960 is deemed repealed by the new circular and since the former is not covered by the saving
clause in the latter, there is no more basis for the charges involved in the criminal cases which therefore warrant a dismissal of the same. The contention is
patently unmeritorious.

Firstly, the second part of the saving clause in Circular No. 1353 explicitly provides that "any regulation on non-trade foreign transactions which has been repealed,
amended or modified by this Circular, violations of which are the subject of pending actions or investigations, shall not be considered repealed insofar as such
pending actions or investigations are concerned, it being understood that as to such pending actions or investigations, the regulations existing at the time the
cause of action accrued shall govern." The terms of the circular are clear and unambiguous and leave no room for interpretation. In the case at bar, the accused in
the eleven cases had already been arraigned, had pleaded not guilty to the charges of violations of Circular No. 960, and said cases had already been set for trial
when Circular No. 1353 took effect. Consequently, the trial court was and is supposed to proceed with the hearing of the cases in spite of the existence of Circular
No. 1353.

Secondly, had respondent judge only bothered to read a little more carefully the texts of the circulars involved, he would have readily perceived and known that
Circular No. 1318 also contains a substantially similar saving clause as that found in Circular No. 1353, since Section 111 of the former provides:

Sec. 111. Repealing clause. - All existing provisions of Circulars 365, 960 and 1028, including amendments thereto, with the exception of
the second paragraph of Section 68 of Circular 1028, as well as all other existing Central Bank rules and regulations or parts thereof,
which are inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this Circular, are hereby repealed or modified accordingly: Provided, however,
that regulations, violations of which are the subject of pending actions or investigations, shall be considered repealed insofar as such
pending actions or investigations are concerned, it being understood that as to such pending actions or investigations, the regulations
existing at the time the cause of action accrued shall govern.

It unequivocally appears from the section above quoted that although Circular No. 1318 repealed Circular No. 960, the former specifically excepted from its
purview all cases covered by the old regulations which were then pending at the time of the passage of the new regulations. Thus, any reference made to Circular
No. 1318 necessarily involves and affects Circular No. 960.

III. It has been said that next in importance to the duty of rendering a righteous judgment is that of doing it in such a manner as will beget no suspicion of the
fairness and integrity of the judge. This means that a judge should not only render a just, correct and impartial decision but should do so in such a manner as to
20

be free from any suspicion as to its fairness and impartiality and as to his integrity. While a judge should possess proficiency in law in order that he can
competently construe and enforce the law, it is more important that he should act and behave in such a manner that the parties before him should have confidence
in his impartiality. Thus, it is not enough that he decides cases without bias and favoritism. Nor is it sufficient that he in fact rids himself of prepossessions. His
actuations should moreover inspire that belief. Like Caesar's wife, a judge must not only be pure but beyond suspicion. 21

Moreover, it has always heretofore been the rule that in disposing of controverted cases, judges should show their full understanding of the case, avoid the
suspicion of arbitrary conclusion, promote confidence in their intellectual integrity and contribute useful precedents to the growth of the law. A judge should be
22

mindful that his duty is the application of general law to particular instances, that ours is a government of laws and not of men, and that he violates his duty as a
minister of justice under such a system if he seeks to do what he may personally consider substantial justice in a particular case and disregards the general law as
he knows it to be binding on him. Such action may have detrimental consequences beyond the immediate controversy. He should administer his office with due
regard to the integrity of the system of the law itself, remembering that he is not a depository of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of the law. These
23

are immutable principles that go into the very essence of the task of dispensing justice and we see no reason why they should not be duly considered in the
present case.

The assertion of respondent judge that there was no need to await publication of Circular No. 1353 for the reason that the public announcement made by the
President in several newspapers of general circulation lifting foreign exchange controls is total, absolute, without qualification, and immediately effective, is beyond
comprehension. As a judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, respondent is supposed to be well-versed in the elementary legal mandates on the publication of
laws before they take effect. It is inconceivable that respondent should insist on an altogether different and illogical interpretation of an established and well-
entrenched rule if only to suit his own personal opinion and, as it were, to defend his indefensible action. It was not for him to indulge or even to give the
appearance of catering to the at-times human failing of yielding to first impressions. He having done so, in the face of the foregoing premises, this Court is hard
24

put to believe that he indeed acted in good faith.

IV. This is not a simple case of a misapplication or erroneous interpretation of the law. The very act of respondent judge in altogether dismissing sua sponte the
eleven criminal cases without even a motion to quash having been filed by the accused, and without at least giving the prosecution the basic opportunity to be
heard on the matter by way of a written comment or on oral argument, is not only a blatant denial of elementary due process to the Government but is palpably
indicative of bad faith and partiality.

The avowed desire of respondent judge to speedily dispose of the cases as early as possible is no license for abuse of judicial power and discretion, 25
nor does
such professed objective, even if true, justify a deprivation of the prosecution's right to be heard and a violation of its right to due process of
law.26

The lightning speed, to borrow the words of complainants, with which respondent judge resolved to dismiss the cases without the benefit of a hearing and without
reasonable notice to the prosecution inevitably opened him to suspicion of having acted out of partiality for the accused. Regardless of how carefully he may have
evaluated changes in the factual situation and legal standing of the cases, as a result of the newspaper report, the fact remains that he gave the prosecution no
chance whatsoever to show or prove that it had strong evidence of the guilt of the accused. To repeat, he thereby effectively deprived the prosecution of its right to
due process. More importantly, notwithstanding the fact that respondent was not sure of the effects and implications of the President's announcement, as by his
27

own admission he was in doubt whether or not he should dismiss the cases, he nonetheless deliberately refrained from requiring the prosecution to comment
28

thereon. In a puerile defense of his action, respondent judge can but rhetorically ask: "What explanation could have been given? That the President was talking
'through his hat' and should not be believed? That I should wait for the publication of a still then non- existent CB Circular?" The pretended cogency of this
ratiocination cannot stand even the minutest legal scrutiny.

In order that bias may not be imputed to a judge, he should have the patience and circumspection to give the opposing party a chance to present his evidence
even if he thinks that the oppositor's proofs might not be adequate to overthrow the case for the other party. A display of petulance and impatience in the conduct
of the trial is a norm of conduct which is inconsistent with the "cold neutrality of an impartial judge." At the very least, respondent judge acted injudiciously and
29

with unjustified haste in the outright dismissal of the eleven cases, and thereby rendered his actuation highly dubious.

V. It bears stressing that the questioned order of respondent judge could have seriously and substantially affected the rights of the prosecution had the accused
invoked the defense of double jeopardy, considering that the dismissal was ordered after arraignment and without the consent of said accused. This could have
spawned legal complications and inevitable delay in the criminal proceedings, were it not for the holding of the Court of Appeals that respondent judge acted with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. This saved the day for the People since in the absence of jurisdiction, double jeopardy will not set in. To
stress this point, and as a caveat to trial courts against falling into the same judicial error, we reiterate what we have heretofore declared:

It is settled doctrine that double jeopardy cannot be invoked against this Court's setting aside of the trial court's judgment of dismissal or
acquittal where the prosecution which represents the sovereign people in criminal cases is denied due process. . . . .

Where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and prove its case, its right to due process is thereby violated.
The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional rights, courts are ousted of their jurisdiction. Thus, the
violation of the State's right to due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue . . . which cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will.
Where the denial of the fundamental right of due process is apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of
jurisdiction . . . .30

It is also significant that accused Marcos, despite due notice, never submitted either her comment on or an answer to the petition for certiorari as required by the
Court of Appeals, nor was double jeopardy invoked in her defense. This serves to further underscore the fact that the order of dismissal was clearly unjustified and
erroneous. Furthermore, considering that the accused is a prominent public figure with a record of influence and power, it is not easy to allay public skepticism and
suspicions on how said dismissal order came to be, to the consequent although undeserved discredit of the entire judiciary.

VI. To hold a judge liable for rendering a manifestly unjust order through inexcusable negligence or ignorance, it must be clearly shown 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. Negligence and ignorance are inexcusable if they imply a manifest injustice which cannot be explained by a reasonable interpretation, and even though
there is a misunderstanding or error of the law applied, it nevertheless results logically and reasonably, and in a very clear and indisputable manner, in the
notorious violation of the legal precept.
31

In the present case, a cursory perusal of the comment filed by respondent judge reveals that no substantial argument has been advanced in plausible justification
of his act. He utterly failed to show any legal, factual, or even equitable justification for the dismissal of the eleven criminal cases. The explanation given is no
explanation at all. The strained and fallacious submissions therein do not speak well of respondent and cannot but further depreciate his probity as a judge. On this
point, it is best that pertinent unedited excerpts from his comment be quoted by way of graphic illustration and emphasis:
32

On the alleged ignorance of the law imputed to me, it is said that I issued the Order dismissing the eleven (11) cases against Mrs. Imelda
R. Marcos on the basis of newspaper reports referred to in paragraph 2 of the letter complaint without awaiting the official publication of
the Central Bank Circular. Ordinarily a Central Bank Circular/Resolution must be published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of
general circulation, but the lifting of "all foreign exchange controls" was announced by the President of the Philippines WITHOUT
QUALIFICATIONS; as published in the Daily Globe, August 11, 1992" the government has lifted ALL foreign exchange controls," and in
the words of the Philippine Daily Inquirer report of the same date "The government yesterday LIFTED the LAST remaining restrictions on
foreign exchange transactions, . . ." (emphasis in both quotations supplied) not only the President made the announcement but also the
Central Bank Governor Jose Cuisia joined in the announcement by saying that "the Monetary Board arrived at the decision after noting
how the "partial liberalization" initiated early this year worked."

Therefore, because of the ABSOLUTE lifting of ALL restrictions on foreign exchange transactions, there was no need to await the
publication of the repealing circular of the Central Bank. The purpose of requiring publication of laws and administrative rules affecting the
public is to inform the latter as to how they will conduct their affairs and how they will conform to the laws or the rules. In this particular
case, with the total lifting of the controls, there is no need to await publication. It would have been different if the circular that in effect
repealed Central Bank Circular No. 960, under which the accused was charged in the cases dismissed by me, had provided for penalties
and/or modified the provisions of said Circular No. 960.

The Complainants state that the lifting of controls was not yet in force when I dismissed the cases but it should be noted that in the report
of the two (2) newspapers aforequoted, the President's announcement of the lifting of controls was stated in the present perfect tense
(Globe) or past tense (Inquirer). In other words, it has already been lifted; the announcement did not say that the government INTENDS to
lift all foreign exchange restrictions but instead says that the government "has LIFTED all foreign exchange controls," and in the other
newspaper cited above, that "The government yesterday lifted the last remaining restrictions on foreign exchange transactions". The
lifting of the last remaining exchange regulations effectively cancelled or repealed Circular No. 960.

The President, who is the Chief Executive, publicly announced the lifting of all foreign exchange regulations. The President has within his
control directly or indirectly the Central Bank of the Philippines, the Secretary of Finance being the Chairman of the Monetary Board which
decides the policies of the Central Bank.

No official bothered to correct or qualify the President's announcement of August 10, published the following day, nor made an
announcement that the lifting of the controls do not apply to cases already pending, not until August 17 (the fourth day after my Order,
and the third day after report of said order was published) and after the President said on August 17, reported in the INQUIRER's issue of
August 18, 1992, that the "new foreign exchange rules have nullified government cases against Imelda R. Marcos, telling reporters that
the charges against the widow of former President Marcos "have become moot and academic" because of new ruling(s) which allow free
flow of currency in and out of the country" (Note, parenthetically, the reference to "new rules" not to "rules still to be drafted"). The
INQUIRER report continues: "A few hours later, presidential spokeswoman Annabelle Abaya said, RAMOS (sic) had "corrected himself'."
"He had been belatedly advised by the Central Bank Governor Jose Cuisia and Justice Secretary Franklin Drilon that the Monetary Board
Regulation excluded from its coverage all criminal cases pending in court and such a position shall stand legal scrutiny', Mrs. Abaya,
said."

I will elaborate on two points:

1. If the President was wrong in making the August 10 announcement (published in August 11, 1992, newspapers) and in the August 17
announcement, SUPRA, and thus I should have relied on the Presidential announcements, and there is basis to conclude that the
President was at the very least ILL-SERVED by his financial and legal advisers, because no one bothered to advise the President to
correct his announcements, not until August 17, 1992, a few hours after the President had made another announcement as to the
charges against Imelda Marcos having been rendered moot and academic. The President has a lot of work to do, and is not, to my
knowledge, a financier, economist, banker or lawyer. It therefore behooved his subalterns to give him timely (not "belated") advice, and
brief him on matters of immediate and far-reaching concerns (such as the lifting of foreign exchange controls, designed, among others to
encourage the entry of foreign investments). Instead of rescuing the Chief Executive from embarrassment by assuming responsibility for
errors in the latter's announcement, these advisers have chosen to toss the blame for the consequence of their failing to me, who only
acted on the basis of announcements of their Chief, which had become of public knowledge.

xxx xxx xxx


The Court strongly feels that it has every right to assume and expect that respondent judge is possessed with more than ordinary credentials and qualifications to
merit his appointment as a presiding judge in the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region, stationed in the City of Manila itself. It is, accordingly,
disheartening and regrettable to note the nature of the arguments and the kind of logic that respondent judge would want to impose on this Court notwithstanding
the manifest lack of cogency thereof. This calls to mind similar scenarios and how this Court reacted thereto.

In one case, an RTC Judge was administratively charged for acquitting the accused of a violation of CB Circular No. 960 despite the fact that the accused was
apprehended with US$355,349.00 while boarding a plane for Hongkong, erroneously ruling that the State must first prove criminal intent to violate the law and
benefit from the illegal act, and further ordering the return of US$3,000.00 out of the total amount seized, on the mistaken interpretation that the CB circular
exempts such amount from seizure. Respondent judge therein was ordered dismissed from the government service for gross incompetence and ignorance of the
law.33

Subsequently, the Court dismissed another RTC judge, with forfeiture of retirement benefits, for gross ignorance of the law and for knowingly rendering an unjust
order or judgment when he granted bail to an accused charged with raping an 11-year old girl, despite the contrary recommendation of the investigating judge, and
thereafter granted the motion to dismiss the case allegedly executed by the complainant. 34

Similarly, an RTC judge who was described by this Court as one "who is ignorant of fairly elementary and quite familiar legal principles and administrative
regulations, has a marked penchant for applying unorthodox, even strange theories and concepts in the adjudication of controversies, exhibits indifference to and
even disdain for due process and the rule of law, applies the law whimsically, capriciously and oppressively, and displays bias and impartiality," was dismissed
from the service with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and with prejudice to reinstatement in any branch of the government or any of its agencies or
instrumentalities.35

Still in another administrative case, an RTJ judge was also dismissed by this Court for gross ignorance of the law after she ordered, in a probate proceeding, the
cancellation of the certificates of title issued in the name of the complainant, without affording due process to the latter and other interested parties.36

Only recently, an RTC judge who had been reinstated in the service was dismissed after he acquitted all the accused in four criminal cases for illegal possession
of firearms, on the ground that there was no proof of malice or deliberate intent on the part of the accused to violate the law. The Court found him guilty of gross
ignorance of the law, his error of judgment being almost deliberate and tantamount to knowingly rendering an incorrect and unjust judgment. 37

ACCORDINGLY, on the foregoing premises and considerations, the Court finds respondent Judge Manuel T. Muro guilty of gross ignorance of the law. He is
hereby DISMISSED from the service, such dismissal to carry with it cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of leave credits and retirement benefits, and disqualification
from reemployment in the government service. 38

Respondent is hereby ordered to CEASE and DESIST immediately from rendering any judgment or order, or continuing any judicial action or proceeding
whatsoever, effective upon receipt of this decision.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

Bidin, is on official leave.

G.R. No. 130030 June 25, 1999

EXPERTRAVEL & TOURS, INC., petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and RICARDO LO, respondents.

VITUG, J.:

Petitioner, Expertravel and Tours, Inc., seeks in the instant petition for review on certiorari a modification of the decision, dated 20 March 1997, of the Court of
Appeals affirming in toto the 07th November 1994 judgment of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 5) of Manila, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is rendered declaring the instant suit DISMISSED, and hereby orders the plaintiff to
pay defendant Ricardo Lo moral damages in the amount of P30,000.00; attorney's fees in the amount of P10,000.00, and to pay the costs
of the suit.

No pronouncement as to other damages for lack of evidence to warrant the same. 1

The factual and case settings of the controversy are culled from the pleadings on record and the assailed decision of the appellate court and that of the court a
quo.

On 07 October 1987, Expertravel & Tours, Inc., ("Expertravel"), a domestic corporation engaged in the travel agency business, issued to private respondent
Ricardo Lo four round-trip plane tickets for Hongkong, together with hotel accommodations and transfers, for a total cost of P39,677.20. Alleging that Lo had failed
to pay the amount due, Expertravel caused several demands to be made. Since the demands were ignored by Lo, Expertravel filed a court complaint for recovery
of the amount claimed plus damages.
Respondent Lo explained, in his answer, that his account with Expertravel had already been fully paid. The outstanding account was remitted to Expertravel
through its then Chairperson, Ms. Ma. Rocio de Vega, who was theretofore authorized to deal with the clients of Expertravel. The payment was evidenced by a
Monte de Piedad Check No. 291559, dated 06 October 1987, for P42,175.20 for which Ms. de Vega, in turn, issued City Trust Check No. 417920 in favor of
Expertravel for the amount of P50,000.00, with the notation "placement advance for Ricardo Lo, etc." Per its own invoice, Expertravel received the sum on 10
October 1987.

The trial court, affirmed by the appellate court, held that the payment made by Lo was valid and bidding on petitioner Expertravel. Even on the assumption that Ms.
de Vera had not been specifically authorized by Expertravel, both courts said, the fact that the amount "delivered to the latter remain(ed) in its possession up to the
present, mean(t) that the amount redounded to the benefit of petitioner Expertravel, in view of the second paragraph of Article 1241 of the Civil Code to the effect
that payment made to a third person shall also be valid in so far as it has rebounded to the benefit of the creditor."

In this recourse, petitioner confines itself to the following related legal issues; viz.:

I. Can moral damages be recovered in a clearly unfounded suit?

II. Can moral damages be awarded for negligence or quasi-delict that did not result to physical injury to the offended party? 2

There is merit in the petition.

Moral damages are not punitive in nature but are designed to


compensate and alleviate in some way the physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock,
3

social humiliation, and similar injury unjustly caused to a person. Although incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages, nevertheless, must somehow be
proportional to and in approximation of the suffering inflicted. Such damages, to be recoverable, must be the proximate result of a wrongful act or omission the
4

factual basis for which is satisfactorily established by the aggrieved party. An award of moral damages would require certain conditions to be met; to wit: (1) First,
5

there must be an injury, whether physical, mental or psychological, clearly sustained by the claimant; (2) second, there must be a culpable act or omission factually
established; (3) third, the wrongful act or omission of the defendant is the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the claimant; and (4) fourth, the award of
damages is predicated on any of the cases stated in Article 2219. Under the provisions of this law, in culpa contractual or breach of contract, moral damages may
6

be recovered when the defendant acted in bad faith or was guilty of gross negligence (amounting to bad faith) or in wanton disregard of his contractual obligation
and, exceptionally, when the act of breach of contract itself is constitutive of tort resulting in physical injuries. By special rule in Article 1764, in relation to Article
7

2206, of the Civil Code, moral damages may also be awarded in case the death of a passenger results from a breach of carriage. In culpa aquiliana, or quasi-
delict, (a) when an act or omission causes physical injuries, or (b) where the defendant is guilty of intentional tort, moral damages may aptly be recovered. This
8

rule also applies, as aforestated, to contracts when breached by tort. In culpa criminal, moral damages could be lawfully due when the accused is found guilty of
physical injuries, lascivious acts, adultery or concubinage, illegal or arbitrary detention, illegal arrest, illegal search, or defamation. Malicious prosecution can also
give rise to a claim for moral damages. The term "analogous cases," referred to in Article 2219, following the ejusdem generis rule, must be held similar to those
expressly enumerated by the law. 9

Although the institution of a clearly unfounded civil suit can at times be a legal justification for an award of attorney's fees, such filing, however, has almost
10

invariably been held not to be a ground for an award of moral


damages. The rationale for the rule is that the law could not have meant to impose a penalty on the right to litigate. The anguish suffered by a person for having
11

been made a defendant in a civil suit would be no different from the usual worry and anxiety suffered by anyone who is haled to court, a situation that cannot by
itself be a cogent reason for the award of moral damages. If the rule were otherwise, then moral damages must every time be awarded in favor of the prevailing
12

defendant against an unsuccessful plaintiff. 13

The Court confirms, once again, the foregoing rules.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the award of moral damages to respondent Ricardo Lo under the assailed decision is DELETED. In its other
aspects, the appealed decision shall remain undisturbed. No costs. 1âw phi1.nêt

SO ORDERED.

being the only heir, from her deceased father, Alfonso Bollos, who died on December 10, 1992.

"Defendant, Eddie Herrera, denied the allegations against him maintaining that he entered and occupied not Lot No. 20, as claimed by Teodora, but
Lot No. 21, GSS-615, which is owned by Conrado Bollos, a brother of Teodora’s father, Alfonso. Further, Herrera said that his occupation of the
property was not through stealth or strategy but by virtue of a contract of lease executed between Conrado Bollos, as lessor, and Ernesto Tijing, as
lessee. Herrera is Tijing’s overseer on the land.

"As a consequence, the complaint was twice amended, first, on March 23, 1994 to include Ernesto T. Tijing as a party-defendant and much later on
October 4, 1995, this time to implead Conrado Bollos as an additional defendant.

"After due proceedings, the first level court rendered its judgment dispositively ruling:

‘ACCORDINGLY, in the light of the foregoing considerations for plaintiffs’ failure to make-out a forcible entry case because of lack of
jurisdiction the above-entitled case is hereby DISMISSED. Plaintiffs’ remedy should be reivendicatory (sic) action before the proper forum.

‘SO ORDERED.

‘Given this 30th day of June, 1997, at Bayawan, Negros Oriental, Philippines.
'(SGD.) RUDY T. ENRIQUEZ
'Circuit Judge'

‘(p. 11, MCTC Decision; p. 69, Rollo)

"On Appeal to the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City, docketed as Civil Case No. 12014, the challenged verdict was reversed in a Decision
dated October 21, 1997, the decretal portion reads:

‘WHEREFORE, as prayed for by plaintiffs-appellants, judgment is hereby rendered restoring Lot No. 20, GSS-615 to the plaintiffs and
ejecting the defendants from the said parcel of land. Defendants-appellees are condemned to solidarily pay plaintiffs-appellants the
following:

'Actual Damages – P50,000.00;


'Moral Damages – P25,000.00
'Attorney's Fees – P 5,000.00

‘Reasonable rental/month from the date of this judgment of P2,000.00 and to pay the costs.

‘SO ORDERED.

‘GIVEN this 21st day of October, 1997, in the City of Dumaguete, Philippines.

'(SGD.) ALVIN L. TAN


'Judge'

‘(p. 13, RTC Decision; p. 27, Rollo)’ 2

On March 12, 1998, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review assailing the ruling of the regional trial court. 3

On December 18, 1998, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

"IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed, except that the award of actual and moral damages therein contained
are deleted. No pronouncement as to costs.

"SO ORDERED." 4

On February 1, 1999, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a motion for reconsideration of the above-cited decision. 5

On March 8, 1999, the Court of Appeals denied the motion. 6

Hence, this appeal. 7

The Issues

The issues raised are:

(a) Is the municipal trial court vested with jurisdiction over a second amended complaint impleading a new defendant filed beyond one year from
dispossession alleging a case of forcible entry in the original action?

(b) May the regional trial court award moral and exemplary damages against defendants in an appeal from a dismissal of the case for forcible entry by
the lower court? 8

The Court’s Ruling

We deny the petition.

Resolving the first issue, we emphasize the basic rule that jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter of the action is determined by the allegations of the
complaint at the time of its filing, irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. "What determines
9

the jurisdiction of the court is the nature of the action pleaded as appearing from the allegations in the complaint. The averments therein and the character of the
relief sought are the ones to be consulted." 10
In the case at bar, plaintiffs’ complaint, both original and amended, contains sufficient allegations constituting an action for forcible entry, as clearly alleged in
paragraphs 4 and 5 of the complaint, to wit:

"4. That plaintiffs and even their predecessor-in-interest Alfonso Bollos were in peaceful, adverse, continuous possession of the property and
in concepto de dueno until the commission of the act or acts of dispossession or deprivation by the defendant hereinafter mentioned.

"5. That sometime in the second week of June, 1993, defendant pursuant to an avaricious intent of enriching himself at the expense of the plaintiffs,
through stealth and strategy, and taking advantage of the absence of the latter, entered and occupied the property in question and without any legal
justification therefore, fertilized the sugar cane rations growing thereon and planted the vacant portions with sugar cane. 11

Thus, we find that the complaint alleged prior physical possession de facto which the defendants disturbed by force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth, against
the will or without the consent of the plaintiffs, sufficient to constitute a cause of action for forcible entry.

In fact, defendants admitted the truth of the foregoing facts in their answer and first amended answer. The thrust of their defense was that they had occupied Lot
No. 21, not Lot No. 20, which is the land in question.

On the second issue, the concept of damages in an action for forcible entry and detainer cases is well defined in several cases. These damages mean "rents" or
12

"the reasonable compensation for the use and occupation of the premises," or "fair rental value of the property." Temperate, actual, moral and exemplary are
13

neither rents nor reasonable compensation for the use and occupation of the premises, nor fair rental value, and are not recoverable in such cases. 14

In the case at bar, the municipal trial court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, and the regional trial court reversed the dismissal but rendered judgment
ejecting the defendants from the parcel of land involved, and condemning them to pay damages and attorney’s fees. This is not correct. In case of reversal, the
case shall be remanded to the municipal trial court for further proceedings. The regional trial court in reversing an appealed case dismissing the action cannot
15

decree the eviction of the defendants and award damages. A court cannot take judicial notice of a factual matter in controversy. The court may take judicial notice
of matters of public knowledge, or which are capable of unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because of their judicial functions. Before 16

taking such judicial notice, the court must "allow the parties to be heard thereon." Hence, there can be no judicial notice on the rental value of the premises in
17

question without supporting evidence.

The Judgment

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court DENIES the petition. However, the Court SETS ASIDE the decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Court. The
18 19

Court remands the case to the municipal trial court for further proceedings.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 140160 January 13, 2004

LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
FELICIANO F. WYCOCO, respondent.

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

G.R. No. 146733 January 13, 2004

FELICIANO F. WYCOCO, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE RODRIGO S. CASPILLO, Pairing Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Third Judicial Region, Branch 23, Cabanatuan City and the
Department of Agrarian Reform, respondents.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Before the Court are consolidated petitions, the first seeking the review of the February 9, 1999 Decision1 and the September 22, 1999 Resolution2 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP No. 39913, which modified the Decision3 of Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23, acting as a Special Agrarian Court in
Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF); and the second for mandamus to compel the said trial court to issue a writ of execution and to direct Judge Rodrigo S. Caspillo to
inhibit himself from Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF).

The undisputed antecedents show that Feliciano F. Wycoco is the registered owner of a 94.1690 hectare unirrigated and untenanted rice land, covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. NT-206422 and situated in the Sitios of Ablang, Saguingan and Pinamunghilan, Barrio of San Juan, Licab, Nueva Ecija.4

In line with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the government, Wycoco voluntarily offered to sell the land to the Department of Agrarian
Reform (DAR) for P14.9 million.5 In November 1991, after the DAR’s evaluation of the application and the determination of the just compensation by the Land
Bank of the Philippines (LBP), a notice of intention to acquire 84.5690 hectares of the property for P1,342,667.466 was sent to Wycoco. The amount offered was
later raised to P2,594,045.39 and, upon review, was modified to P2,280,159.82. 7 The area which the DAR offered to acquire excluded idle lands, river and road
located therein. Wycoco rejected the offer, prompting the DAR to indorse the case to the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) for the
purpose of fixing the just compensation in a summary administrative proceeding.8 The case was docketed as DARAB VOS Case No. 232 NE 93. Thereafter, the
DARAB requested LBP to open a trust account in the name of Wycoco and deposited the compensation offered by DAR.9 In the meantime, the property was
distributed to farmer-beneficiaries.

On March 29, 1993, DARAB required the parties to submit their respective memoranda or position papers in support of their claim.10 Wycoco, however, decided to
forego with the filing of the required pleadings, and instead filed on April 13, 1993, the instant case for determination of just compensation with the Regional Trial
Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23, docketed as Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF).11 Impleaded as party-defendants therein were DAR and LBP.

On April 30, 1993, Wycoco filed a manifestation in VOS Case No. 232 NE 93, informing the DARAB of the pendency of Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF) with the
Cabanatuan court, acting as a special agrarian court.12 On March 9, 1994, the DARAB issued an order dismissing the case to give way to the determination of just
compensation by the Cabanatuan court. Pertinent portion thereof states:

Admittedly, this Forum is vested with the jurisdiction to conduct administrative proceeding to determine compensation. [H]owever, a thorough perusal
of petitioner’s complaint showed that he did not only raise the issue of valuation but such other matters which are beyond the competence of the
Board. Besides, the petitioner has the option to avail the administrative remedies or bring the matter on just compensation to the Special Agrarian
Court for final determination.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this case is hereby dismissed.

SO ORDERED.13

Meanwhile, DAR and LBP filed their respective answers before the special agrarian court in Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF), contending that the valuation of Wycoco’s
property was in accordance with law and that the latter failed to exhaust administrative remedies by not participating in the summary administrative proceedings
before the DARAB which has primary jurisdiction over determination of land valuation.14

After conducting a pre-trial on October 3, 1994, the trial court issued a pre-trial order as follows:

The parties manifested that there is no possibility of amicable settlement, neither are they willing to admit or stipulate on facts, except those contained
in the pleadings.

The only issue left is for the determination of just compensation or correct valuation of the land owned by the plaintiff subject of this case.

The parties then prayed to terminate the pre-trial conference.

AS PRAYED FOR, the pre-trial conference is considered terminated, and instead of trial, the parties are allowed to submit their respective
memoranda.

WHEREFORE, the parties are given twenty (20) days from today within which to file their simultaneous memoranda, and another ten (10) days from
receipt thereof to file their Reply/Rejoinder, if any, and thereafter, this case shall be deemed submitted for decision.

SO ORDERED.15

The evidence presented by Wycoco in support of his claim were the following: (1) Transfer Certificate of Title No. NT-206422; (2) Notice of Land Valuation dated
June 18, 1992; and (3) letter dated July 10, 1992 rejecting the counter-offer of LBP and DAR.16 On the other hand, DAR and LBP presented the Land Valuation
Worksheets.17

On November 14, 1995, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of Wycoco. It ruled that there is no need to present evidence in support of the land valuation
inasmuch as it is of public knowledge that the prevailing market value of agricultural lands sold in Licab, Nueva Ecija is from P135,000.00 to 150,000.00 per
hectare. The court thus took judicial notice thereof and fixed the compensation for the entire 94.1690 hectare land at P142,500.00 per hectare or a total of
P13,428,082.00. It also awarded Wycoco actual damages for unrealized profits plus legal interest. The dispositive portion thereof states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Ordering the defendants to pay the amount of P13,419,082.00 to plaintiff as just compensation for the property acquired;

2. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiff the amount of P29,663,235.00 representing the unrealized profits from the time of acquisition of
the subject property and the sum of P8,475,210.00 for every calendar year, until the amount of compensation is fully paid including legal
interest which had accrued thereon.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.18

The DAR and the LBP filed separate petitions before the Court of Appeals. The petition brought by DAR on jurisdictional and procedural issues, docketed as CA-
G.R. No. SP No. 39234, was dismissed on May 29, 1997.19The dismissal became final and executory on June 26, 1997.20 This prompted Wycoco to file a petition
for mandamus before this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 146733, praying that the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23, in Agrarian
Case No. 91 (AF) be executed, and that Judge Rodrigo S. Caspillo, the now presiding Judge of said court, be compelled to inhibit himself from hearing the case.

The petition brought by LBP on both substantive and procedural grounds, docketed as CA-G.R. No. SP No. 39913, was likewise dismissed by the Court of
Appeals on February 9, 1999.21 On September 22, 1999, however, the Court of Appeals modified its decision by deducting from the compensation due Wycoco the
amount corresponding to the 3.3672 hectare portion of the 94.1690 hectare land which was found to have been previously sold by Wycoco to the Republic, thus –

WHEREFORE, and conformably with the above, Our decision of February 9, 1999 is hereby MODIFIED in the sense that the value corresponding to
the aforesaid 3.3672 hectares and all the awards appertaining thereto in the decision a quo are ordered deducted from the totality of the awards
granted to the private respondent. In all other respects, the decision sought to be reconsidered is hereby RE-AFFIRMED and REITERATED.

SO ORDERED.22

In its petition, LBP contended that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling:

THAT THE TRIAL COURT ACTING AS A SPECIAL AGRARIAN COURT MAY ASSUME JURISDICTION OVER AGRARIAN CASE NO. 91 (AF) AND RENDER
JUDGMENT THEREON WITHOUT AN INITIAL ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF JUST COMPENSATION BY THE DARAB PURSUANT TO SECTION
16 OF RA 6657, OVER THE TIMELY OBJECTION OF THE PETITIONER, AND IN VIOLATION OF THE RULE ON EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE
REMEDIES AND ON FORUM SHOPPING;

II

THAT THE JUST COMPENSATION DETERMINED BY THE TRIAL COURT WAS SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, WHEN IT WAS BASED ONLY
ON JUDICIAL NOTICE OF THE PREVAILING MARKET VALUE OF LAND BASED ON THE ALLEGED PRICE OF TRANSFER OF TENURAL RIGHTS, TAKEN
WITHOUT NOTICE AND HEARING IN VIOLATION OF RULE 129 OF THE RULES OF COURT;

III

THAT THE TRIAL COURT CAN REQUIRE THE PETITIONER TO COMPENSATE THE PORTIONS OF RESPONDENT’S PROPERTY WHICH WERE NOT
DECLARED BY THE DAR FOR ACQUISITION, NOR SUITABLE FOR AGRICULTURE NOR CAPABLE OF DISTRIBUTION TO FARMER BENEFICIARIES
UNDER THE CARP;

IV

THAT THE TRIAL COURT CAN AWARD AS PART OF JUST COMPENSATION LEGAL INTEREST ON THE PRINCIPAL AND ALLEGED UNREALIZED
PROFITS OF P29,663,235.00 FROM THE TIME OF ACQUISITION OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY AND P8,475,210.00 FOR EVERY CALENDAR YEAR
THEREAFTER, CONSIDERING THAT THE SAME HAS NO LEGAL BASIS AND THAT THE RESPONDENT RETAINED THE TITLE TO HIS PROPERTY
DESPITE THE DAR’S NOTICE OF ACQUISITION;

THAT THE TRIAL COURT HAD VALIDLY GRANTED EXECUTION PENDING APPEAL ON THE ALLEGEDLY GOOD REASON OF THE PETITIONER’S
ADVANCED AGE AND WEAK HEALTH, CONTRARY TO THE APPLICABLE JURISPRUDENCE AND CONSIDERING THAT THE RESPONDENT IS NOT
DESTITUTE.23

The issues for resolution are as follows: (1) Did the Regional Trial Court, acting as Special Agrarian Court, validly acquire jurisdiction over the instant case for
determination of just compensation? (2) Assuming that it acquired jurisdiction, was the compensation arrived at supported by evidence? (3) Can Wycoco compel
the DAR to purchase the entire land subject of the voluntary offer to sell? (4) Were the awards of interest and damages for unrealized profits valid?

Anent the issue of jurisdiction, the laws in point are Sections 50 and 57 of Republic Act No. 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988) which, in
pertinent part, provide:

Section 50. Quasi-judicial Powers of the DAR. – The DAR is hereby vested with primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform
matters and shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform, except those falling under the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)….

Section 57. Special Jurisdiction. – The Special Agrarian Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all petitions for the determination of
just compensation to landowners, and the prosecution of all criminal offenses under this Act.

The Special Agrarian Courts shall decide all appropriate cases under their special jurisdiction within thirty (30) days from submission of the case for decision.

In Republic v. Court of Appeals,24 it was held that Special Agrarian Courts are given original and exclusive jurisdiction over two categories of cases, to wit: (1) all
petitions for the determination of just compensation; and (2) the prosecution of all criminal offenses under R.A. No. 6657. Section 50 must be construed in
harmony with Section 57 by considering cases involving the determination of just compensation and criminal cases for violations of R.A. No. 6657 as excepted
from the plenitude of power conferred to the DAR. Indeed, there is a reason for this distinction. The DAR, as an administrative agency, cannot be granted
jurisdiction over cases of eminent domain and over criminal cases. The valuation of property in eminent domain is essentially a judicial function which is vested
with the Special Agrarian Courts and cannot be lodged with administrative agencies.25 In fact, Rule XIII, Section 11 of the New Rules of Procedure of the DARAB
acknowledges this power of the court, thus –

Section 11. Land Valuation and Preliminary Determination and Payment of Just Compensation. The decision of the Adjudicator on land valuation and
preliminary determination and payment of just compensation shall not be appealable to the Board but shall be brought directly to the Regional Trial
Courts designated as Special Agrarian Courts within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the notice thereof. Any party shall be entitled to only one motion
for reconsideration. (Emphasis supplied)

Under Section 1 of Executive Order No. 405, Series of 1990, the Land Bank of the Philippines is charged with the initial responsibility of determining the value of
lands placed under land reform and the just compensation to be paid for their taking. 26 Through a notice of voluntary offer to sell (VOS) submitted by the
landowner, accompanied by the required documents, the DAR evaluates the application and determines the land’s suitability for agriculture. The LBP likewise
reviews the application and the supporting documents and determines the valuation of the land. Thereafter, the DAR issues the Notice of Land Valuation to the
landowner. In both voluntary and compulsory acquisition, where the landowner rejects the offer, the DAR opens an account in the name of the landowner and
conducts a summary administrative proceeding. If the landowner disagrees with the valuation, the matter may be brought to the Regional Trial Court acting as a
special agrarian court. This in essence is the procedure for the determination of just compensation. 27

In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,28 the landowner filed an action for determination of just compensation without waiting for the completion of
DARAB’s re-evaluation of the land. This, notwithstanding, the Court held that the trial court properly acquired jurisdiction because of its exclusive and original
jurisdiction over determination of just compensation, thus –

…It is clear from Sec. 57 that the RTC, sitting as a Special Agrarian Court, has "original and exclusive jurisdiction over all petitions for the
determination of just compensation to landowners." This "original and exclusive" jurisdiction of the RTC would be undermined if the DAR would vest in
administrative officials original jurisdiction in compensation cases and make the RTC an appellate court for the review of administrative decisions.
Thus, although the new rules speak of directly appealing the decision of adjudicators to the RTCs sitting as Special Agrarian Courts, it is clear from
Sec. 57 that the original and exclusive jurisdiction to determine such cases is in the RTCs. Any effort to transfer such jurisdiction to the adjudicators
and to convert the original jurisdiction of the RTCs into an appellate jurisdiction would be contrary to Sec. 57 and therefore would be void. Thus,
direct resort to the SAC [Special Agrarian Court] by private respondent is valid. (Emphasis supplied)29

In the case at bar, therefore, the trial court properly acquired jurisdiction over Wycoco’s complaint for determination of just compensation. It must be stressed that
although no summary administrative proceeding was held before the DARAB, LBP was able to perform its legal mandate of initially determining the value of
Wycoco’s land pursuant to Executive Order No. 405, Series of 1990. What is more, DAR and LBP’s conformity to the pre-trial order which limited the issue only to
the determination of just compensation estopped them from questioning the jurisdiction of the special agrarian court. The pre-trial order limited the issues to those
not disposed of by admission or agreements; and the entry thereof controlled the subsequent course of action.30

Besides, the issue of whether Wycoco violated the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies was rendered moot and academic in view of the DARAB’s
dismissal31 of the administrative case to give way to and in recognition of the court’s power to determine just compensation. 32

In arriving at the valuation of Wycoco’s land, the trial court took judicial notice of the alleged prevailing market value of agricultural lands in Licab, Nueva Ecija
without apprising the parties of its intention to take judicial notice thereof. Section 3, Rule 129 of the Rules on Evidence provides:

Sec. 3. Judicial Notice, When Hearing Necessary. – During the trial, the court, on its own initiative, or on request of a party, may announce its intention
to take judicial notice of any matter and allow the parties to be heard thereon.

After trial and before judgment or on appeal, the proper court, on its own initiative, or on request of a party, may take judicial notice of any matter and
allow the parties to be heard thereon if such matter is decisive of a material issue in the case.

Inasmuch as the valuation of the property of Wycoco is the very issue in the case at bar, the trial court should have allowed the parties to present evidence thereon
instead of practically assuming a valuation without basis. While market value may be one of the bases of determining just compensation, the same cannot be
arbitrarily arrived at without considering the factors to be appreciated in arriving at the fair market value of the property e.g., the cost of acquisition, the current
value of like properties, its size, shape, location, as well as the tax declarations thereon. 33Since these factors were not considered, a remand of the case for
determination of just compensation is necessary. The power to take judicial notice is to be exercised by courts with caution especially where the case involves a
vast tract of land. Care must be taken that the requisite notoriety exists; and every reasonable doubt on the subject should be promptly resolved in the negative. To
say that a court will take judicial notice of a fact is merely another way of saying that the usual form of evidence will be dispensed with if knowledge of the fact can
be otherwise acquired. This is because the court assumes that the matter is so notorious that it will not be disputed. But judicial notice is not judicial knowledge.
The mere personal knowledge of the judge is not the judicial knowledge of the court, and he is not authorized to make his individual knowledge of a fact, not
generally or professionally known, the basis of his action.34

Anent the third issue, the DAR cannot be compelled to purchase the entire property voluntarily offered by Wycoco. The power to determine whether a parcel of
land may come within the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program is essentially lodged with the DAR. That Wycoco will suffer damages by the
DAR’s non-acquisition of the approximately 10 hectare portion of the entire land which was found to be not suitable for agriculture is no justification to compel DAR
to acquire the whole area.

We find Wycoco’s claim for payment of interest partly meritorious. In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,35 this Court struck down as void DAR
Administrative Circular No. 9, Series of 1990, which provides for the opening of trust accounts in lieu of the deposit in cash or in bonds contemplated in Section 16
(e) of RA 6657.

"It is very explicit …from [Section 16 (e)] that the deposit must be made only in ‘cash’ or in ‘LBP bonds.’ Nowhere does it appear nor can it be inferred
that the deposit can be made in any other form. If it were the intention to include a ‘trust account’ among the valid modes of deposit, that should have
been made express, or at least, qualifying words ought to have appeared from which it can be fairly deduced that a ‘trust account’ is allowed. In sum,
there is no ambiguity in Section 16(e) of RA 6657 to warrant an expanded construction of the term ‘deposit.’

xxx xxx xxx


"In the present suit, the DAR clearly overstepped the limits of its powers to enact rules and regulations when it issued Administrative Circular No. 9.
There is no basis in allowing the opening of a trust account in behalf of the landowner as compensation for his property because, as heretofore
discussed, Section 16(e) of RA 6657 is very specific that the deposit must be made only in ‘cash’ or in ‘LBP bonds.’ In the same vein, petitioners
cannot invoke LRA Circular Nos. 29, 29-A and 54 because these implementing regulations can not outweigh the clear provision of the law.
Respondent court therefore did not commit any error in striking down Administrative Circular No. 9 for being null and void." 36

Pursuant to the forgoing decision, DAR issued Administrative Order No. 2, Series of 1996, converting trust accounts in the name of landowners into deposit
accounts. The transitory provision thereof states –

VI. TRANSITORY PROVISIONS

All trust accounts issued pursuant to Administrative Order No. 1, S. 1993 covering landholdings not yet transferred in the name of the Republic of the Philippines
as of July 5, 1996 shall immediately be converted to deposit accounts in the name of the landowners concerned.

All Provincial Agrarian Reform Officers and Regional Directors are directed to immediately inventory the claim folders referred to in the preceding paragraph,
wherever they may be found and request the LBP to establish the requisite deposit under this Administrative Order and to issue a new certification to that effect.
The Original Certificate of Trust Deposit previously issued should be attached to the request of the DAR in order that the same may be replaced with a new one.

All previously established Trust Deposits which served as the basis for the transfer of the landowner’s title to the Republic of the Philippines shall likewise be
converted to deposits in cash and in bonds. The Bureau of Land Acquisition and Distribution shall coordinate with the LBP for this purpose.

In light of the foregoing, the trust account opened by LBP in the name of Wycoco as the mode of payment of just compensation should be converted to a deposit
account. Such conversion should be retroactive in application in order to rectify the error committed by the DAR in opening a trust account and to grant the
landowners the benefits concomitant to payment in cash or LBP bonds prior to the ruling of the Court in Land Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals.
Otherwise, petitioner’s right to payment of just and valid compensation for the expropriation of his property would be violated.37 The interest earnings accruing on
the deposit account of landowners would suffice to compensate them pending payment of just compensation.

In some expropriation cases, the Court imposed an interest of 12% per annum on the just compensation due the landowner. It must be stressed, however, that in
these cases, the imposition of interest was in the nature of damages for delay in payment which in effect makes the obligation on the part of the government one of
forbearance.38 It follows that the interest in the form of damages cannot be applied where there was prompt and valid payment of just compensation. Conversely,
where there was delay in tendering a valid payment of just compensation, imposition of interest is in order. This is because the replacement of the trust account
with cash or LBP bonds did not ipso facto cure the lack of compensation; for essentially, the determination of this compensation was marred by lack of due
process.39

Accordingly, the just compensation due Wycoco should bear 12% interest per annum from the time LBP opened a trust account in his name up to the time said
account was actually converted into cash and LBP bonds deposit accounts. The basis of the 12% interest would be the just compensation that would be
determined by the Special Agrarian Court upon remand of the instant case. In the same vein, the amount determined by the Special Agrarian Court would also be
the basis of the interest income on the cash and bond deposits due Wycoco from the time of the taking of the property up to the time of actual payment of just
compensation.

The award of actual damages for unrealized profits should be deleted. The amount of loss must not only be capable of proof, but must be proven with a
reasonable degree of certainty. The claim must be premised upon competent proof or upon the best evidence obtainable, such as receipts or other documentary
proof.40 None having been presented in the instant case, the claim for unrealized profits cannot be granted.

From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that Wycoco’s petition for mandamus in G.R. No. 146733 should be dismissed. The decision of the Regional Trial Court
of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23, acting as Special Agrarian Court in Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF), cannot be enforced because there is a need to remand the case to
the trial court for determination of just compensation. Likewise, the prayer for the inhibition of Judge Rodrigo S. Caspillo in Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF) is denied for
lack of basis.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition in G.R. No. 140160 is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF) is REMANDED to the Regional
Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23, for the determination of just compensation. The petition for mandamus in G.R. No. 146733 is dismissed.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 140160 January 13, 2004

LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
FELICIANO F. WYCOCO, respondent.

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

G.R. No. 146733 January 13, 2004

FELICIANO F. WYCOCO, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE RODRIGO S. CASPILLO, Pairing Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Third Judicial Region, Branch 23, Cabanatuan City and the
Department of Agrarian Reform, respondents.
DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Before the Court are consolidated petitions, the first seeking the review of the February 9, 1999 Decision1 and the September 22, 1999 Resolution2 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP No. 39913, which modified the Decision3 of Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23, acting as a Special Agrarian Court in
Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF); and the second for mandamus to compel the said trial court to issue a writ of execution and to direct Judge Rodrigo S. Caspillo to
inhibit himself from Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF).

The undisputed antecedents show that Feliciano F. Wycoco is the registered owner of a 94.1690 hectare unirrigated and untenanted rice land, covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. NT-206422 and situated in the Sitios of Ablang, Saguingan and Pinamunghilan, Barrio of San Juan, Licab, Nueva Ecija. 4

In line with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the government, Wycoco voluntarily offered to sell the land to the Department of Agrarian
Reform (DAR) for P14.9 million.5 In November 1991, after the DAR’s evaluation of the application and the determination of the just compensation by the Land
Bank of the Philippines (LBP), a notice of intention to acquire 84.5690 hectares of the property for P1,342,667.466 was sent to Wycoco. The amount offered was
later raised to P2,594,045.39 and, upon review, was modified to P2,280,159.82. 7 The area which the DAR offered to acquire excluded idle lands, river and road
located therein. Wycoco rejected the offer, prompting the DAR to indorse the case to the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) for the
purpose of fixing the just compensation in a summary administrative proceeding.8 The case was docketed as DARAB VOS Case No. 232 NE 93. Thereafter, the
DARAB requested LBP to open a trust account in the name of Wycoco and deposited the compensation offered by DAR.9 In the meantime, the property was
distributed to farmer-beneficiaries.

On March 29, 1993, DARAB required the parties to submit their respective memoranda or position papers in support of their claim.10 Wycoco, however, decided to
forego with the filing of the required pleadings, and instead filed on April 13, 1993, the instant case for determination of just compensation with the Regional Trial
Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23, docketed as Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF).11 Impleaded as party-defendants therein were DAR and LBP.

On April 30, 1993, Wycoco filed a manifestation in VOS Case No. 232 NE 93, informing the DARAB of the pendency of Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF) with the
Cabanatuan court, acting as a special agrarian court.12 On March 9, 1994, the DARAB issued an order dismissing the case to give way to the determination of just
compensation by the Cabanatuan court. Pertinent portion thereof states:

Admittedly, this Forum is vested with the jurisdiction to conduct administrative proceeding to determine compensation. [H]owever, a thorough perusal
of petitioner’s complaint showed that he did not only raise the issue of valuation but such other matters which are beyond the competence of the
Board. Besides, the petitioner has the option to avail the administrative remedies or bring the matter on just compensation to the Special Agrarian
Court for final determination.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this case is hereby dismissed.

SO ORDERED.13

Meanwhile, DAR and LBP filed their respective answers before the special agrarian court in Agrarian Case No. 91 (AF), contending that the valuation of Wycoco’s
property was in accordance with law and that the latter failed to exhaust administrative remedies by not participating in the summary administrative proceedings
before the DARAB which has primary jurisdiction over determination of land valuation.14

After conducting a pre-trial on October 3, 1994, the trial court issued a pre-trial order as follows:

The parties manifested that there is no possibility of amicable settlement, neither are they willing to admit or stipulate on facts, except those contained
in the pleadings.

The only issue left is for the determination of just compensation or correct valuation of the land owned by the plaintiff subject of this case.

The parties then prayed to terminate the pre-trial conference.

AS PRAYED FOR, the pre-trial conference is considered terminated, and instead of trial, the parties are allowed to submit their respective
memoranda.

WHEREFORE, the parties are given twenty (20) days from today within which to file their simultaneous memoranda, and another ten (10) days from
receipt thereof to file their Reply/Rejoinder, if any, and thereafter, this case shall be deemed submitted for decision.

SO ORDERED.15

The evidence presented by Wycoco in support of his claim were the following: (1) Transfer Certificate of Title No. NT-206422; (2) Notice of Land Valuation dated
June 18, 1992; and (3) letter dated July 10, 1992 rejecting the counter-offer of LBP and DAR.16 On the other hand, DAR and LBP presented the Land Valuation
Worksheets.17

On November 14, 1995, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of Wycoco. It ruled that there is no need to present evidence in support of the land valuation
inasmuch as it is of public knowledge that the prevailing market value of agricultural lands sold in Licab, Nueva Ecija is from P135,000.00 to 150,000.00 per
hectare. The court thus took judicial notice thereof and fixed the compensation for the entire 94.1690 hectare land at P142,500.00 per hectare or a total of
P13,428,082.00. It also awarded Wycoco actual damages for unrealized profits plus legal interest. The dispositive portion thereof states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:


1. Ordering the defendants to pay the amount of P13,419,082.00 to plaintiff as just compensation for the property acquired;

2. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiff the amount of P29,663,235.00 representing the unrealized profits from the time of acquisition of
the subject property and the sum of P8,475,210.00 for every calendar year, until the amount of compensation is fully paid including legal
interest which had accrued thereon.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.18

The DAR and the LBP filed separate petitions before the Court of Appeals. The petition brought by DAR on jurisdictional and procedural issues, docketed as CA-
G.R. No. SP No. 39234, was dismissed on May 29, 1997.19The dismissal became final and executory on June 26, 1997. 20 This prompted Wycoco to file a petition
for mandamus before this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 146733, praying that the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23, in Agrarian
Case No. 91 (AF) be executed, and that Judge Rodrigo S. Caspillo, the now presiding Judge of said court, be compelled to inhibit himself from hearing the case.

The petition brought by LBP on both substantive and procedural grounds, docketed as CA-G.R. No. SP No. 39913, was likewise dismissed by the Court of
Appeals on February 9, 1999.21 On September 22, 1999, however, the Court of Appeals modified its decision by deducting from the compensation due Wycoco the
amount corresponding to the 3.3672 hectare portion of the 94.1690 hectare land which was found to have been previously sold by Wycoco to the Republic, thus –

WHEREFORE, and conformably with the above, Our decision of February 9, 1999 is hereby MODIFIED in the sense that the value corresponding to
the aforesaid 3.3672 hectares and all the awards appertaining thereto in the decision a quo are ordered deducted from the totality of the awards
granted to the private respondent. In all other respects, the decision sought to be reconsidered is hereby RE-AFFIRMED and REITERATED.

SO ORDERED.22

In its petition, LBP contended that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling:

THAT THE TRIAL COURT ACTING AS A SPECIAL AGRARIAN COURT MAY ASSUME JURISDICTION OVER AGRARIAN CASE NO. 91 (AF) AND RENDER
JUDGMENT THEREON WITHOUT AN INITIAL ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF JUST COMPENSATION BY THE DARAB PURSUANT TO SECTION
16 OF RA 6657, OVER THE TIMELY OBJECTION OF THE PETITIONER, AND IN VIOLATION OF THE RULE ON EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE
REMEDIES AND ON FORUM SHOPPING;

II

THAT THE JUST COMPENSATION DETERMINED BY THE TRIAL COURT WAS SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, WHEN IT WAS BASED ONLY
ON JUDICIAL NOTICE OF THE PREVAILING MARKET VALUE OF LAND BASED ON THE ALLEGED PRICE OF TRANSFER OF TENURAL RIGHTS, TAKEN
WITHOUT NOTICE AND HEARING IN VIOLATION OF RULE 129 OF THE RULES OF COURT;

III

THAT THE TRIAL COURT CAN REQUIRE THE PETITIONER TO COMPENSATE THE PORTIONS OF RESPONDENT’S PROPERTY WHICH WERE NOT
DECLARED BY THE DAR FOR ACQUISITION, NOR SUITABLE FOR AGRICULTURE NOR CAPABLE OF DISTRIBUTION TO FARMER BENEFICIARIES
UNDER THE CARP;

IV

THAT THE TRIAL COURT CAN AWARD AS PART OF JUST COMPENSATION LEGAL INTEREST ON THE PRINCIPAL AND ALLEGED UNREALIZED
PROFITS OF P29,663,235.00 FROM THE TIME OF ACQUISITION OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY AND P8,475,210.00 FOR EVERY CALENDAR YEAR
THEREAFTER, CONSIDERING THAT THE SAME HAS NO LEGAL BASIS AND THAT THE RESPONDENT RETAINED THE TITLE TO HIS PROPERTY
DESPITE THE DAR’S NOTICE OF ACQUISITION;

THAT THE TRIAL COURT HAD VALIDLY GRANTED EXECUTION PENDING APPEAL ON THE ALLEGEDLY GOOD REASON OF THE PETITIONER’S
ADVANCED AGE AND WEAK HEALTH, CONTRARY TO THE APPLICABLE JURISPRUDENCE AND CONSIDERING THAT THE RESPONDENT IS NOT
DESTITUTE.23

The issues for resolution are as follows: (1) Did the Regional Trial Court, acting as Special Agrarian Court, validly acquire jurisdiction over the instant case for
determination of just compensation? (2) Assuming that it acquired jurisdiction, was the compensation arrived at supported by evidence? (3) Can Wycoco compel
the DAR to purchase the entire land subject of the voluntary offer to sell? (4) Were the awards of interest and damages for unrealized profits valid?

Anent the issue of jurisdiction, the laws in point are Sections 50 and 57 of Republic Act No. 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988) which, in
pertinent part, provide:
Section 50. Quasi-judicial Powers of the DAR. – The DAR is hereby vested with primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform
matters and shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform, except those falling under the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)….

Section 57. Special Jurisdiction. – The Special Agrarian Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all petitions for the determination of
just compensation to landowners, and the prosecution of all criminal offenses under this Act.

The Special Agrarian Courts shall decide all appropriate cases under their special jurisdiction within thirty (30) days from submission of the case for decision.

In Republic v. Court of Appeals,24 it was held that Special Agrarian Courts are given original and exclusive jurisdiction over two categories of cases, to wit: (1) all
petitions for the determination of just compensation; and (2) the prosecution of all criminal offenses under R.A. No. 6657. Section 50 must be construed in
harmony with Section 57 by considering cases involving the determination of just compensation and criminal cases for violations of R.A. No. 6657 as excepted
from the plenitude of power conferred to the DAR. Indeed, there is a reason for this distinction. The DAR, as an administrative agency, cannot be granted
jurisdiction over cases of eminent domain and over criminal cases. The valuation of property in eminent domain is essentially a judicial function which is vested
with the Special Agrarian Courts and cannot be lodged with administrative agencies.25 In fact, Rule XIII, Section 11 of the New Rules of Procedure of the DARAB
acknowledges this power of the court, thus –

Section 11. Land Valuation and Preliminary Determination and Payment of Just Compensation. The decision of the Adjudicator on land valuation and
preliminary determination and