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Astorga vs. People

*
G.R. No. 154130. October 1, 2003.

BENITO ASTORGA, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE


PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Criminal Law; Arbitrary Detention; Elements of.—Arbitrary


Detention is committed by any public officer or employee who,
without legal grounds, detains a person. The elements of the
crime are: 1. That the offender is a public officer or employee. 2.
That he detains a person. 3. That the detention is without legal
grounds.
Same; Same; Same; The prevailing jurisprudence on
kidnapping and illegal detention is that the curtailment of the
victim’s liberty need not involve any physical restraint upon the
victim’s person.—The prevailing jurisprudence on kidnapping and
illegal detention is that the curtailment of the victim’s liberty
need not involve any physical restraint upon the victim’s person.
If the acts and actuations of the accused can produce such fear in
the mind of the victim sufficient to paralyze the latter, to the
extent that the victim is compelled to limit his own actions and
movements in accordance with the wishes of the accused, then the
victim is, for all intents and purposes, detained against his will.
Same; Same; Evidence; Desistance; An affidavit of desistance
is merely an additional ground to buttress the defenses of the
accused, but not the sole consideration that can result in acquittal.
—Regarding the Joint Affidavit of Desistance executed by the
private complainants, suffice it to say that the principles
governing the use of such instruments in the adjudication of other
crimes can be applied here. Thus, in People v. Ballabare, it was
held that an affidavit of desistance is merely an additional ground
to buttress the defenses of the accused, not the sole consideration
that can result in acquittal. There must be other circumstances
which, when coupled with the retraction or desistance, create
doubts as to the truth of the testimony given by the witnesses at
the trial and accepted by the judge. Here, there are no such
circumstances.

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Same; Same; Same; Appeals; Trial court’s factual findings are


conclusive and binding upon appellate courts unless some facts or
circumstances of weight and substance have been overlooked,
misapprehended or misinterpreted.—Petitioner also assails the
weight given by the trial court to the evidence, pointing out that
the Sandiganbayan’s reliance on the testimony of SPO1
Capoquian is misplaced, for the reason that SPO1 Capoquian is
not one of the private complainants in the case. He also makes
much of the fact that prosecution witness SPO1 Capoquian was

_______________

* FIRST DIVISION.

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Astorga vs. People

allegedly “not exactly privy to, and knowledgeable of, what exactly
transpired between herein accused and the DENR team leader
Mr. Elpidio E. Simon, from their alleged ‘confrontation,’ until they
left Barangay LucobLucob in the early morning of 2 September
1997.” It is a time-honored doctrine that the trial court’s factual
findings are conclusive and binding upon appellate courts unless
some facts or circumstances of weight and substance have been
overlooked, misapprehended or misinterpreted. Nothing in the
case at bar prompts us to deviate from this doctrine.
Same; Same; Same; The impartiality of the court cannot be
assailed on the ground that clarificatory questions were asked
during the trial.—Petitioner argues that he was denied the “cold
neutrality of an impartial judge”, because the ponente of the
assailed decision acted both as magistrate and advocate when he
propounded “very extensive clarificatory questions” on the
witnesses. Surely, the Sandiganbayan, as a trial court, is not an
idle arbiter during a trial. It can propound clarificatory questions
to witnesses in order to ferret out the truth. The impartiality of
the court cannot be assailed on the ground that clarificatory
questions were asked during the trial.

PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the


Sandiganbayan.
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The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.


          Brillantes, Navarro, Jumamil, Arcilla, Escolin,
Martinez & Vivero Law Offices for petitioner.
     The Solicitor General for the People.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of


Court, seeking the reversal of a Decision of the
Sandiganbayan
1
in Criminal Case No. 24986, dated July 5,
2001, as well as its Resolutions dated September 28, 2001
and July 10, 2002.
On October 28, 1998, the Office of the Ombudsman filed
the following Information against Benito Astorga, Mayor of
Daram, Samar, as well as a number of his men for
Arbitrary Detention:

_______________

1 Records, p. 255; penned by Associate Justice Rodolfo G. Palattao,


concurred in by Associate Justices Narciso S. Nario and Nicodemo T.
Ferrer.

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Astorga vs. People

“That on or about the 1st day of September, 1997, and for


sometime subsequent thereto, at the Municipality of Daram,
Province of Samar, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public officer, being
the Municipal Mayor of Daram, Samar, in such capacity and
committing the offense in relation to office, conniving,
confederating and mutually helping with unidentified persons,
who are herein referred to under fictitious names JOHN DOES,
who were armed with firearms of different calibers, with
deliberate intent, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously detain Elpidio Simon, Moises dela Cruz, Wenifredo
Maniscan, Renato Militante and Crisanto Pelias, DENR
Employees, at the Municipality of Daram, by not allowing them to
leave the place, without any legal and valid grounds thereby
restraining and depriving them of their personal liberty for nine
(9) hours, but without exceeding
2
three (3) days.
CONTRARY TO LAW.”

On September 1, 1997, Regional Special Operations Group


(RSOG) of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) Office No. 8, Tacloban City sent a team
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to the island of Daram, Western Samar to conduct


intelligence gathering and forest protection operations in
line with the government’s campaign against illegal
logging. The team was composed of Forester II Moises dela
Cruz, Scaler Wenifredo Maniscan, Forest Ranger Renato
Militante, and Tree Marker Crisanto Pelias, with Elpidio
E. Simon, Chief of the Forest Protection and Law
Enforcement Section, as team leader. The team was
escorted by3 SPO3 Andres B. Cinco, Jr. and SPO1 Rufo
Capoquian.
The team stopped at Brgy. Bagacay, Daram, Western
Samar at 2:00 p.m., where they saw two yacht-like boats
being constructed. After consulting with the local barangay
officials, the team learned that the boats belonged to a
certain Michael Figueroa. However, since Figueroa4
was not
around at the time, the team left Brgy. Bagacay.
En route to Brgy. Manungca, Sta. Rita, Samar, the team
spotted two more boats being constructed in the vicinity of
Brgy. LucobLucob, Daram, Samar, between 4:30-5:00 p.m.,
prompting them to stop and investigate. Thus, Maniscan
and Militante disembarked from the DENR’s service pump
boat and proceeded to the site of

_______________

2 Records, p. 1 (italics and emphasis in the original).


3 TSN, August 14, 2000, p. 6; Exhibit “B”, p. 1.
4 Id., pp. 7-8; Exhibit “B”, p. 1.

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the boat construction. There, they met Mayor Astorga.


After conversing with the mayor, Militante returned to
their boat for the 5purpose of fetching Simon, at the request
of Mayor Astorga.
When Simon, accompanied by dela Cruz, SPO3 Cinco,
and SPO1 Capoquian, approached Mayor Astorga to try
and explain the purpose of their mission, Simon was
suddenly slapped hard twice on the shoulder by Mayor
Astorga, who exclaimed, “Puwede ko kamo papaglanguyon
pag-uli ha Tacloban. Ano, di ka maaram nga natupa ako?
Natupa baya ako. Diri kamo makauli yana kay puwede
kame e charge ha misencounter.” (I can make you swim
back to Tacloban. Don’t you know that I can box? I can box.6
Don’t you know that I can declare this a misencounter?)
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Mayor Astorga then ordered someone to fetch


“reinforcements,” and forty-five (45) minutes later, or
between 5:00-6:00 p.m., a banca arrived bearing ten (10)
men, some of them dressed in fatigue uniforms. The men
were armed with M-16 and M14 rifles, and they promptly7
surrounded the team, guns pointed at the team members.
At this, Simon tried
8
to explain to Astorga the purpose of his
team’s mission. He then took out his handheld ICOM
radio, saying that he was going to contact his people at the
DENR in Catbalogan to inform them of the team’s
whereabouts. Suddenly, Mayor Astorga forcibly grabbed
Simon’s radio, saying, “Maupay nga waray kamo radio bis
diri somabut an iyo opisina kon hain kamo, bis diri kamo
maka aro hin bulig.” (It’s better if you have no radio so that
your office would not know9
your whereabouts and so that
you cannot ask for help). Mayor Astorga again slapped the
right shoulder of Simon, adding, “Kong siga kamo ha Leyte
ayaw pagdad-a dinhi ha Samar kay diri kamo puwede ha
akon” (If you are tough guys in Leyte, do not 10
bring it to
Samar because I will not tolerate it here.) Simon then
asked Mayor Astorga to allow the team to go home, at
which Mayor Astorga retorted that they would not be
allowed to go
11
home and that they would instead be brought
to Daram. Mayor Astorga then addressed the team,
saying, “Kon magdakop man la kamo,

_______________

5 Id., pp. 8-9; Exhibit “B”, p. 1.


6 Id., pp. 10-12; Exhibit “B”, p. 1; TSN, August 15, 2000, p. 6.
7 Id., pp. 14-16; Exhibit “B”, p. 1.
8 Exhibit “B”, p. 2.
9 TSN, August 14, 2000, p. 13; Exhibit “B”, p. 2.
10 Exhibit “B”, p. 2.
11 TSN, August 14, 2000, p. 19.

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unahon an mga dagko. Kon madakop niyo an mga dagko,


an kan Figueroa dida ha Bagacay puwede ko liwat
ipadakop an akon.” (If you really want to confiscate
anything, you start with the big-time. If you confiscate the
boats 12of Figueroa at Brgy. Bagacay, I will surrender
mine.) Simon then tried to reiterate his request for
permission to leave, which just succeeded in irking Mayor
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Astorga, who angrily said, “Diri kamo maka uli yana kay
dad on ko kamo ha Daram, para didto kita mag uro
istorya.” (You cannot go home now because I will bring 13
you
to Daram. We will have many things to discuss there.)
The team was brought to a house where they were told
that they would be served dinner. The team had dinner
with Mayor Astorga and several others at a14 long table, and
the meal lasted between 7:00-8:00 p.m. After dinner,
Militante, Maniscan and SPO1 Capoquian were allowed 15
to
go down from the house, but not to leave the barangay. On
the other hand, SPO3 Cinco and the rest just sat in the
house16until 2:00 a.m. when the team was finally allowed to
leave.
Complainants filed a criminal complaint for arbitrary
detention against Mayor Astorga and his men, which led to
the filing of the above-quoted Information.
Mayor Astorga was subsequently arraigned on July 3,
2000, wherein
17
he pleaded not guilty to the offenses
charged. At the trial, the prosecution presented the
testimonies of SPO1 Capoquian
18
and SPO3 Cinco, as well as
their Joint Affidavit. However, the presentation of
Simon’s testimony was not completed, and none of his
fellow team members came forward to testify. Instead, the
members of the team sent by19 the DENR RSOG executed a
Joint Affidavit of Desistance.
On July 5, 2001, the Sandiganbayan promulgated its
Decision, disposing of the case as follows:

_______________

12 Exhibit “B”, p. 2.
13 Id.
14 TSN, August 15, 2000, pp. 7, 39.
15 Id., pp. 9, 22.
16 Id., pp. 25, 36.
17 Records, pp. 129,135.
18 TSN, August 14-15, 2000; Exhibit “B”.
19 Records, p. 158.

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Astorga vs. People

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby


rendered finding accused BENITO ASTORGA Y BOCATCAT
guilty of Arbitrary Detention, and in the absence of any
mitigating or aggravating circumstances, applying the
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Indeterminate Sentence Law, he is hereby sentenced to suffer


imprisonment of four (4) months of arresto mayor as minimum to
one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional as
maximum. 20
SO ORDERED.”

The accused
21
filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated July
11, 2001 which was denied by the Sandiganabayan
22
in a
Resolution dated September 28, 2001. A23Second Motion
for Reconsideration dated October 24, 2001 was also filed,
and this 24was similarly denied in a Resolution dated July
10, 2002.
Hence, the present petition, wherein the petitioner
assigns a sole error for review:

5.1. The trial court grievously erred in finding the accused guilty
of Arbitrary Detention as defined and penalized under Article 124
of the Revised Penal Code, based on mere speculations, surmises
and conjectures and, worse, notwithstanding the Affidavit of
Desistance executed by the five (5) complaining witnesses
wherein the latter25categorically declared petitioner’s innocence of
the crime charged.

Petitioner contends that the prosecution failed to establish


the required
26
quantum of evidence to prove the guilt of the
accused, especially in light of the fact that the private 27
complainants executed a Joint Affidavit of Desistance.
Petitioner asserts that nowhere in the records of the case is
there any competent evidence that could sufficiently
establish the fact that restraint
28
was employed upon the
persons of the team members. Furthermore, he claims
that the mere presence of armed men at the scene does not

_______________

20 Id., p. 265 (emphasis in the original).


21 Id., p. 271.
22 Id., p. 306; penned by Associate Justice Rodolfo G. Palattao,
concurred in by Associate Justices Narciso S. Nario and Nicodemo T.
Ferrer.
23 Id., p. 315.
24 Id., p. 370; penned by Associate Justice Rodolfo G. Palattao,
concurred in by Associate Justices Narciso S. Nario and Nicodemo T.
Ferrer.
25 Rollo, p. 18.
26 Id., pp. 18-19.
27 Id., p. 35; Records, p. 158.
28 Id., pp. 25-26.

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qualify as competent evidence to prove that fear was in fact


instilled in the minds of the team members, to the extent
that they
29
would feel compelled to stay in Brgy. Lucob-
Lucob.
Arbitrary Detention is committed by any public officer or
30
employee who, without legal grounds, detains a person.
The elements of the crime are:

1. That the offender is a public officer or employee.


2. That he detains a person.
31
3. That the detention is without legal grounds.

That petitioner, at the time he committed the acts assailed


herein, was then Mayor of Daram, Samar is not disputed.
Hence, the first element of Arbitrary Detention, that the
offender is a public officer or employee, is undeniably
present.
Also, the records are bereft of any allegation on the part
of petitioner that his acts were spurred by some legal
purpose. On the contrary, he admitted that his acts were
motivated by his “instinct for self-preservation”
32
and the
feeling that he was being “singled out.” The detention was
thus without legal grounds, thereby satisfying the third
element enumerated above.
What remains is the determination of whether or not the
team was actually detained. 33
In the case of People v. Acosta, which involved the
illegal detention of a child, we found the accused-appellant
therein guilty of kidnapping despite the lack of evidence to
show that any physical restraint was employed upon the
victim. However, because the victim was a boy of tender
age and he was warned not to leave until his godmother,
the accused-appellant, had returned, he was practically a
captive in the sense that he could34
not leave because of his
fear to violate such instruction.

_______________

29 Id., p. 27.
30 REVISED PENAL CODE, art. 124.
31 II REYES, THE REVISED PENAL CODE 43 (14th ed. 1998); citing
U.S. v. Braganza, 10 Phil. 79 [1908] and Milo v. Salanga, G.R. No. 37007,

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20 July 1987, 152 SCRA 113 (emphasis in the original).


32 Rollo, pp. 30-31.
33 107 Phil. 360 [1960].
34 Id., emphasis supplied.

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35
In the case of People v. Cortez, we held that, in
establishing the intent to deprive the victim of his liberty,
it is not necessary that the offended party be kept within
an enclosure to restrict her freedom of locomotion. At the
time of her rescue, the offended party in said case was
found outside talking to the owner of the house where she
had been taken. She explained that she did not attempt to
leave the premises for fear that the kidnappers would
make good their threats to kill her should she do so. We
ruled therein that her fear was not baseless as the
kidnappers knew where she resided and they had earlier
announced that their intention in looking for her cousin
was to kill him on sight. Thus, we concluded that fear has
been known to render people immobile and that appeals to
the fears of an individual, such as by threats to kill or
similar threats,
36
are equivalent to the use of actual force or
violence.
The prevailing jurisprudence on kidnapping and illegal
detention is that the curtailment of the victim’s liberty
need not involve any physical restraint upon the victim’s
person. If the acts and actuations of the accused can
produce such fear in the mind of the victim sufficient to
paralyze the latter, to the extent that the victim is
compelled to limit his own actions and movements in
accordance with the wishes of the accused, then the victim
is, for all intents and purposes, detained against his will.
In the case at bar, the restraint resulting from fear is
evident. Inspite of their pleas, the witnesses and the 37
complainants were not allowed by petitioner to go home.
This refusal was quickly followed by the call for and arrival
of almost a dozen “reinforcements,” all armed with
military-issue rifles, who proceeded to encircle the team, 38
weapons pointed at the complainants and the witnesses.
Given such circumstances, we give credence to SPO1
Capoquian’s statement 39that it was not “safe” to refuse
Mayor Astorga’s orders. It was not just the presence of the
armed men, but also the evident effect these gunmen had

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on the actions of the team which proves that fear was


indeed instilled in the minds of the

_______________

35 381 Phil. 345; 324 SCRA 335 [2000]; citing People v. Dela Cruz, 342
Phil. 854; 277 SCRA 173 [1997] and People v. Ramos, 358 Phil. 261; 297
SCRA 618 [1998].
36 Id.; citing People v. Hope, 177 N.E. 402, 257 N.Y. 147.
37 TSN, August 14, 2000, pp. 19-20; TSN, August 15, 2000, p. 17.
38 Id., pp. 14-16; Exhibit “B”, p. 1.
39 TSN, August 15, 2000, pp. 19-20.

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team members, to the extent that they felt compelled to


stay in Brgy. Lucob-Lucob. The intent to prevent the
departure of the complainants and witnesses against their
will is thus clear.
Regarding the Joint Affidavit of Desistance executed by
the private “complainants, suffice it to say that the
principles governing the use of such instruments in the
adjudication of other crimes can be applied here. Thus, in
People v. Ballabare, it was held that an affidavit of
desistance is merely an additional ground to buttress the
defenses of the accused, not the sole consideration that can
result in acquittal. There must be other circumstances
which, when coupled with the retraction or desistance,
create doubts as to the truth of the testimony given by the
witnesses at the trial and accepted 40
by the judge. Here,
there are no such circumstances. Indeed, the belated
claims made in the Joint Affidavit of Desistance, such as
the allegations that the incident was the result of a
misunderstanding and that the team acceded to Mayor
Astorga’s orders “out of respect,” 41are belied by petitioner’s
own admissions to the contrary. The Joint Affidavit of
Desistance of the private complainants is evidently not a
clear repudiation of the material points alleged in the
information and proven at the trial, but a mere expression
of the lack of interest of private complainants to pursue the
case. This conclusion is supported by one of its latter
paragraphs, which reads:

11. That this affidavit was executed by us if only to prove our


sincerity and improving DENR relations with the local Chiefs
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Executive and other official of Daram, Islands so that DENR


programs and project can be effectively implemented through the
support of the local officials for the betterment of the residence
living conditions who are facing 42
difficulties and are much
dependent on government support.

Petitioner also assails the weight given by the trial court to


the evidence, pointing out that the Sandiganbayan’s
reliance on the testimony of SPO1 Capoquian is misplaced,
for the reason that SPO1 Capoquian 43
is not one of the
private complainants in the case. He also makes much of
the fact that prosecution witness SPO1 Capoquian was
allegedly “not exactly privy to, and knowl-

_______________

40 People v. Ballabare, 332 Phil. 384; 264 SCRA 350 [1996].


41 Records, p. 158; Rollo, pp. 27, 30-31, 32-33, 41.
42 Id., p. 159.
43 Rollo, pp. 28-29.

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Astorga vs. People

edgeable of, what exactly transpired between herein


accused and the DENR team leader Mr. Elpidio E. Simon,
from their alleged ‘confrontation,’ until they left Barangay44
Lucob-Lucob in the early morning of 2 September 1997.”
It is a time-honored doctrine that the trial court’s factual
findings are conclusive and binding upon appellate courts
unless some facts or circumstances of weight and substance 45
have been overlooked, misapprehended or misinterpreted.
Nothing in the case at bar prompts us to deviate from this
doctrine. Indeed, the fact that SPO1 Capoquian is not one
of the private complainants is completely irrelevant.
Neither penal law nor the rules of evidence requires
damning testimony to be exclusively supplied by the
private complainants in cases of Arbitrary Detention.
Furthermore, Mayor Astorga’s claim that SPO1 Capoquian
was “not exactly privy” to what transpired between Simon
and himself is belied by the evidence. SPO1 Capoquian
testified that he accompanied
46
Simon when the latter went
to talk to petitioner.47 He heard all of Mayor Astorga’s
threatening remarks. He was with Simon when they were
encircled by the men
48
dressed in fatigues and wielding M-16
and M-14 rifles. In sum, SPO1 Capoquian witnessed all
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the circumstances which led to the Arbitrary Detention of


the team at the hands of Mayor Astorga.
Petitioner submits that it is unclear whether the team
was in fact prevented from leaving Brgy. Lucob-Lucob or
whether they had simply decided to “while away the time”
and take 49
advantage of the purported hospitality of the
accused. On the contrary, SPO3 Cinco clearly and
categorically denied that they were simply “whiling away
the time” between their dinner with Mayor Astorga 50
and
their departure early the following morning. SPO1
Capoquian gave similar testimony, saying that they did not
use the time between their dinner with Mayor Astorga and
their departure

_______________

44 Id., p. 20.
45 People v. Torellos, G.R. No. 143084, 1 April 2003, 400 SCRA 243;
citing People v. Daramay, Jr., G.R. Nos. 140235 & 142748, 9 May 2002,
382 SCRA 119.
46 TSN, August 14, 2000, p. 10; Exhibit “B”, p. 1.
47 Id., pp, 10-14, Exhibit “B”, pp. 1-2.
48 Id., p. 15; Exhibit “B”, p. 1.
49 Rollo, pp. 24-25.
50 TSN, August 15, 2000, p. 36.

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early the following morning to “enjoy the 51


place” and that,
given a choice, they would have gone home.
Petitioner argues that he was denied the “cold neutrality
of an impartial judge”, because the ponente of the assailed
decision acted both as magistrate and advocate when he
propounded “very extensive clarificatory questions” on the
witnesses. Surely, the Sandiganbayan, as a trial court, is
not an idle arbiter during a trial. It can propound
clarificatory questions to witnesses in order to ferret out
the truth. The impartiality of the court cannot be assailed
on the ground 52that clarificatory questions were asked
during the trial.
Thus, we affirm the judgment of the Sandiganbayan
finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
Arbitrary Detention. Article 124 (1) of the Revised Penal
Code provides that, where the detention has not exceeded
three days, the penalty shall be arresto mayor in its
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maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum


period, which has a range of four (4) months and one (1)
day to two (2) years and four (4) months. Applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, petitioner is entitled to a
minimum term to be taken from the penalty next lower in
degree, or arresto mayor in its minimum and medium
periods, which has a range of one (1) month and one (1) day
to four (4) months. Hence, the Sandiganbayan was correct
in imposing the indeterminate penalty of four (4) months of
arresto mayor, as minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8)
months of prision correccional, as maximum.
Before closing, it may not be amiss to quote the words of
Justice Perfecto in his concurring opinion in Lino v. Fugoso,
wherein he decried the impunity enjoyed by public officials
in committing arbitrary or illegal detention, and called for
the intensification of efforts towards bringing them to
justice:

The provisions of law punishing arbitrary or illegal detention


committed by government officers form part of our statute books
even before the advent of American sovereignty in our country.
Those provisions were already in effect during the Spanish
regime; they remained in effect under American rule; continued in
effect under the Commonwealth. Even under the Japanese regime
they were not repealed. The same provisions con-

_______________

51 Id., p. 26.
52 People v. Pinuela, G.R. Nos. 140727-28, 31 January 2003, 396 SCRA 561.

523

VOL. 412, OCTOBER 1, 2003 523


Astorga vs. People

tinue in the statute books of the free and sovereign Republic of


the Philippines. This notwithstanding, and the complaints often
heard of violations of said provisions, it is very seldom that
prosecutions under them have been instituted due to the fact that
the erring individuals happened to belong to the same
government to which the prosecuting officers belong. It is high
time that every one must do his duty, without fear or favor, and
that prosecuting officers should not answer with cold shrugging of
the shoulders the complaints of the victims of arbitrary or illegal
detention.
Only by an earnest enforcement of the provisions of articles
124 and 125 of the Revised Penal Code will it be possible to
reduce to its minimum such wanton trampling of personal
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freedom as depicted in this case. The responsible officials should


be prosecuted, without prejudice to the detainees’ right to the
indemnity to which they may be 53entitled for the unjustified
violation of their fundamental rights.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is


hereby DENIED. The Decision of the Sandiganbayan in
Criminal Case No. 24986, dated July 5, 2001 finding
petitioner BENITO ASTORGA guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Arbitrary Detention and sentencing
him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) months
of arresto mayor, as minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8)
months of prision correccional, as maximum, is
AFFIRMED in toto.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.

     Davide, Jr. (C.J., Chairman), Vitug and Carpio, JJ.,


concur.
     Azcuna, J., On leave.

Petition denied, judgment affirmed in toto.

Note.—It is essential in the crime of illegal detention


that there be an actual confinement or restriction of the
person of the offended party. (People vs. Fajardo, 315 SCRA
283 [1999])

——o0o——

_______________

53 Lino v. Fugoso, 77 Phil. 983 [1947]; concurring opinion of Justice


Perfecto.

524

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