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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No.


GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition to review the decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court which affirmed the decision of the then Circuit Criminal Court of Dagupan City finding petitioner Filomeno Urban guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide. The records disclose the following facts of the case. At about 8:00 o'clock in the morning of October 23, 1980, petitioner Filomeno Urbano went to his ricefield at Barangay Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan located at about 100 meters from the tobacco seedbed of Marcelo Javier. He found the place where he stored his palay flooded with water coming from the irrigation canal nearby which had overflowed. Urbano went to the elevated portion of the canal to see what happened and there he saw Marcelo Javier and Emilio Erfe cutting grass. He asked them who was responsible for the opening of the irrigation canal and Javier admitted that he was the one. Urbano then got angry and demanded that Javier pay for his soaked palay. A quarrel between them ensued. Urbano unsheathed his bolo (about 2 feet long, including the handle, by 2 inches wide) and hacked Javier hitting him on the right palm of his hand, which was used in parrying the bolo hack. Javier who was then unarmed ran away from Urbano but was overtaken by Urbano who hacked him again hitting Javier on the left leg with the back portion of said bolo, causing a swelling on said leg. When Urbano tried to hack and inflict further injury, his daughter embraced and prevented him from hacking Javier. Immediately thereafter, Antonio Erfe, Emilio Erfe, and Felipe Erfe brought Javier to his house about 50 meters away from where the incident happened. Emilio then went to the house of Barangay

Captain Menardo Soliven but not finding him there, Emilio looked for barrio councilman Felipe Solis instead. Upon the advice of Solis, the Erfes together with Javier went to the police station of San Fabian to report the incident. As suggested by Corporal Torio, Javier was brought to a physician. The group went to Dr. Guillermo Padilla, rural health physician of San Fabian, who did not attend to Javier but instead suggested that they go to Dr. Mario Meneses because Padilla had no available medicine. After Javier was treated by Dr. Meneses, he and his companions returned to Dr. Guillermo Padilla who conducted a medico-legal examination. Dr. Padilla issued a medico-legal certificate (Exhibit "C" dated September 28, 1981) which reads: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: This is to certify that I have examined the wound of Marcelo Javier, 20 years of age, married, residing at Barangay Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan on October 23, 1980 and found the following: 1 -Incised wound 2 inches in length at the upper portion of the lesser palmar prominence, right. As to my observation the incapacitation is from (7-9) days period. This wound was presented to me only for medico-legal examination, as it was already treated by the other doctor. (p. 88, Original Records) Upon the intercession of Councilman Solis, Urbano and Javier agreed to settle their differences. Urbano promised to pay P700.00 for the medical expenses of Javier. Hence, on October 27, 1980, the two accompanied by Solis appeared before the San Fabian Police to formalize their amicable settlement. Patrolman Torio recorded the event in the police blotter (Exhibit A), to wit: xxx xxx xxx Entry Nr 599/27 Oct '80/103OH/ Re entry Nr 592 on page 257 both parties appeared before this Station accompanied by brgy. councilman Felipe Solis and settled their case amicably, for they are neighbors and close relatives to each other. Marcelo Javier accepted and granted forgiveness to Filomeno Urbano who shoulder (sic) all the expenses in his medical treatment, and promising to him and to this Office that this will never be repeated

anymore and not to harbour any grudge against each other. (p. 87, Original Records.) Urbano advanced P400.00 to Javier at the police station. On November 3, 1980, the additional P300.00 was given to Javier at Urbano's house in the presence of barangay captain Soliven. At about 1:30 a.m. on November 14, 1980, Javier was rushed to the Nazareth General Hospital in a very serious condition. When admitted to the hospital, Javier had lockjaw and was having convulsions. Dr. Edmundo Exconde who personally attended to Javier found that the latter's serious condition was caused by tetanus toxin. He noticed the presence of a healing wound in Javier's palm which could have been infected by tetanus. On November 15, 1980 at exactly 4:18 p.m., Javier died in the hospital. The medical findings of Dr. Exconde are as follows: Date Diagnosis 11-14-80 ADMITTED due to trismus adm. at DX TETANUS 1:30 AM Still having frequent muscle spasm. With diffi#35, 421 culty opening his mouth. Restless at times. Febrile 11-15-80 Referred. Novaldin 1 amp. inj. IM. Sudden cessation of respiration and HR after muscular spasm. 02 inhalation administered. Ambo bag resuscitation and cardiac massage done but to no avail. Pronounced dead by Dra. Cabugao at 4:18 P.M. PMC done and cadaver brought home by relatives. (p. 100, Original Records) In an information dated April 10, 1981, Filomeno Urbano was charged with the crime of homicide before the then Circuit Criminal Court of Dagupan City, Third Judicial District.

Upon arraignment, Urbano pleaded "not guilty." After trial, the trial court found Urbano guilty as charged. He was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of from TWELVE (12) YEARS of prision mayor, as minimum to SEVENTEEN (17) years, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal, as maximum, together with the accessories of the law, to indemnify the heirs of the victim, Marcelo Javier, in the amount of P12,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. He was ordered confined at the New Bilibid Prison, in Muntinlupa, Rizal upon finality of the decision, in view of the nature of his penalty. The then Intermediate Appellate Court affirmed the conviction of Urbano on appeal but raised the award of indemnity to the heirs of the deceased to P30,000.00 with costs against the appellant. The appellant filed a motion for reconsideration and/or new trial. The motion for new trial was based on an affidavit of Barangay Captain Menardo Soliven (Annex "A") which states: That in 1980, I was the barrio captain of Barrio Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan, and up to the present having been re-elected to such position in the last barangay elections on May 17, 1982; That sometime in the first week of November, 1980, there was a typhoon that swept Pangasinan and other places of Central Luzon including San Fabian, a town of said province; That during the typhoon, the sluice or control gates of the Bued irrigation dam which irrigates the ricefields of San Fabian were closed and/or controlled so much so that water and its flow to the canals and ditches were regulated and reduced; That due to the locking of the sluice or control gates of the dam leading to the canals and ditches which will bring water to the ricefields, the water in said canals and ditches became shallow which was suitable for catching mudfishes; That after the storm, I conducted a personal survey in the area affected, with my secretary Perfecto Jaravata; That on November 5, 1980, while I was conducting survey, I saw the late Marcelo Javier catching fish in the shallow irrigation canals with some companions;

That few days there after,or on November l5, l980, I came to know that said Marcelo Javier died of tetanus. (p. 33, Rollo) The motion was denied. Hence, this petition. In a resolution dated July 16, 1986, we gave due course to the petition. The case involves the application of Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that "Criminal liability shall be incurred: (1) By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended ..." Pursuant to this provision "an accused is criminally responsible for acts committed by him in violation of law and for all the natural and logical consequences resulting therefrom." (People v. Cardenas, 56 SCRA 631). The record is clear that Marcelo Javier was hacked by the petitioner who used a bolo as a result of which Javier suffered a 2inch incised wound on his right palm; that on November 14, 1981 which was the 22nd day after the incident, Javier was rushed to the hospital in a very serious condition and that on the following day, November 15, 1981, he died from tetanus. Under these circumstances, the lower courts ruled that Javier's death was the natural and logical consequence of Urbano's unlawful act. Hence, he was declared responsible for Javier's death. Thus, the appellate court said: The claim of appellant that there was an efficient cause which supervened from the time the deceased was wounded to the time of his death, which covers a period of 23 days does not deserve serious consideration. True, that the deceased did not die right away from his wound, but the cause of his death was due to said wound which was inflicted by the appellant. Said wound which was in the process of healing got infected with tetanus which ultimately caused his death. Dr. Edmundo Exconde of the Nazareth General Hospital testified that the victim suffered lockjaw because of the infection of the wound with tetanus. And there is no other way by which he could be infected with tetanus except through the wound in his palm (tsn., p. 78, Oct. 5, 1981). Consequently, the proximate cause of the victim's death was the wound which got infected with tetanus.

And the settled rule in this jurisdiction is that an accused is liable for all the consequences of his unlawful act. (Article 4, par. 1, R.P.C. People v. Red, CA 43 O.G. 5072; People v. Cornel 78 Phil. 418). Appellant's allegation that the proximate cause of the victim's death was due to his own negligence in going back to work without his wound being properly healed, and lately, that he went to catch fish in dirty irrigation canals in the first week of November, 1980, is an afterthought, and a desperate attempt by appellant to wiggle out of the predicament he found himself in. If the wound had not yet healed, it is impossible to conceive that the deceased would be reckless enough to work with a disabled hand. (pp. 20-21, Rollo) The petitioner reiterates his position that the proximate cause of the death of Marcelo Javier was due to his own negligence, that Dr. Mario Meneses found no tetanus in the injury, and that Javier got infected with tetanus when after two weeks he returned to his farm and tended his tobacco plants with his bare hands exposing the wound to harmful elements like tetanus germs. The evidence on record does not clearly show that the wound inflicted by Urbano was infected with tetanus at the time of the infliction of the wound. The evidence merely confirms that the wound, which was already healing at the time Javier suffered the symptoms of the fatal ailment, somehow got infected with tetanus However, as to when the wound was infected is not clear from the record. In Vda. de Bataclan, et al. v. Medina (102 Phil. 1181), we adopted the following definition of proximate cause: xxx xxx xxx ... A satisfactory definition of proximate cause is found in Volume 38, pages 695-696 of American Jurisprudence, cited by plaintiffsappellants in their brief. It is as follows: ... "that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred."And more comprehensively, "the proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion, all constituting a natural and continuous chain of events,

each having a close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event in the chain immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the cause which first acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for the first event should, as an ordinarily prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default that an injury to some person might probably result therefrom." (at pp. 185-186) The issue, therefore, hinges on whether or not there was an efficient intervening cause from the time Javier was wounded until his death which would exculpate Urbano from any liability for Javier's death. We look into the nature of tetanusThe incubation period of tetanus, i.e., the time between injury and the appearance of unmistakable symptoms, ranges from 2 to 56 days. However, over 80 percent of patients become symptomatic within 14 days. A short incubation period indicates severe disease, and when symptoms occur within 2 or 3 days of injury the mortality rate approaches 100 percent. Non-specific premonitory symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, and headache are encountered occasionally, but the commonest presenting complaints are pain and stiffness in the jaw, abdomen, or back and difficulty swallowing. As the progresses, stiffness gives way to rigidity, and patients often complain of difficulty opening their mouths. In fact, trismus in the commonest manifestation of tetanus and is responsible for the familiar descriptive name of lockjaw. As more muscles are involved, rigidity becomes generalized, and sustained contractions called risus sardonicus. The intensity and sequence of muscle involvement is quite variable. In a small proportion of patients, only local signs and symptoms develop in the region of the injury. In the vast majority, however, most muscles are involved to some degree, and the signs and symptoms encountered depend upon the major muscle groups affected. Reflex spasm usually occur within 24 to 72 hours of the first symptom, an interval referred to as the onset time. As in the case of the incubation period, a short onset time is associated with a poor prognosis. Spasms are caused by sudden intensification of afferent stimuli arising in the periphery, which increases rigidity

and causes simultaneous and excessive contraction of muscles and their antagonists. Spasms may be both painful and dangerous. As the disease progresses, minimal or inapparent stimuli produce more intense and longer lasting spasms with increasing frequency. Respiration may be impaired by laryngospasm or tonic contraction of respiratory muscles which prevent adequate ventilation. Hypoxia may then lead to irreversible central nervous system damage and death. Mild tetanus is characterized by an incubation period of at least 14 days and an onset time of more than 6 days. Trismus is usually present, but dysphagia is absent and generalized spasms are brief and mild. Moderately severe tetanus has a somewhat shorter incubation period and onset time; trismus is marked, dysphagia and generalized rigidity are present, but ventilation remains adequate even during spasms. The criteria for severe tetanus include a short incubation time, and an onset time of 72 hrs., or less, severe trismus, dysphagia and rigidity and frequent prolonged, generalized convulsive spasms. (Harrison's Principle of Internal Medicine, 1983 Edition, pp. 1004-1005; Emphasis supplied) Therefore, medically speaking, the reaction to tetanus found inside a man's body depends on the incubation period of the disease. In the case at bar, Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm when he parried the bolo which Urbano used in hacking him. This incident took place on October 23, 1980. After 22 days, or on November 14, 1980, he suffered the symptoms of tetanus, like lockjaw and muscle spasms. The following day, November 15, 1980, he died. If, therefore, the wound of Javier inflicted by the appellant was already infected by tetanus germs at the time, it is more medically probable that Javier should have been infected with only a mild cause of tetanus because the symptoms of tetanus appeared on the 22nd day after the hacking incident or more than 14 days after the infliction of the wound. Therefore, the onset time should have been more than six days. Javier, however, died on the second day from the onset time. The more credible conclusion is that at the time Javier's wound was inflicted by the appellant, the severe form of tetanus that killed him was not yet present. Consequently, Javier's wound could have been infected with tetanus after the

hacking incident. Considering the circumstance surrounding Javier's death, his wound could have been infected by tetanus 2 or 3 or a few but not 20 to 22 days before he died. The rule is that the death of the victim must be the direct, natural, and logical consequence of the wounds inflicted upon him by the accused. (People v. Cardenas, supra) And since we are dealing with a criminal conviction, the proof that the accused caused the victim's death must convince a rational mind beyond reasonable doubt. The medical findings, however, lead us to a distinct possibility that the infection of the wound by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause later or between the time Javier was wounded to the time of his death. The infection was, therefore, distinct and foreign to the crime. (People v. Rellin, 77 Phil. 1038). Doubts are present. There is a likelihood that the wound was but the remote cause and its subsequent infection, for failure to take necessary precautions, with tetanus may have been the proximate cause of Javier's death with which the petitioner had nothing to do. As we ruled in Manila Electric Co. v. Remoquillo, et al. (99 Phil. 118). "A prior and remote cause cannot be made the be of an action if such remote cause did nothing more than furnish the condition or give rise to the occasion by which the injury was made possible, if there intervened between such prior or remote cause and the injury a distinct, successive, unrelated, and efficient cause of the injury, even though such injury would not have happened but for such condition or occasion. If no danger existed in the condition except because of the independent cause, such condition was not the proximate cause. And if an independent negligent act or defective condition sets into operation the instances which result in injury because of the prior defective condition, such subsequent act or condition is the proximate cause." (45 C.J. pp. 931-932). (at p. 125) It strains the judicial mind to allow a clear aggressor to go scot free of criminal liability. At the very least, the records show he is guilty of inflicting slight physical injuries. However, the petitioner's criminal liability in this respect was wiped out by the victim's own act. After the hacking incident, Urbano and Javier used the facilities of barangay mediators to effect a compromise agreement where Javier forgave Urbano while Urbano defrayed the medical

expenses of Javier. This settlement of minor offenses is allowed under the express provisions of Presidential Decree G.R. No. 1508, Section 2(3). (See also People v. Caruncho, 127 SCRA 16). We must stress, however, that our discussion of proximate cause and remote cause is limited to the criminal aspects of this rather unusual case. It does not necessarily follow that the petitioner is also free of civil liability. The well-settled doctrine is that a person, while not criminally liable, may still be civilly liable. Thus, in the recent case of People v. Rogelio Ligon y Tria, et al. (G.R. No. 74041, July 29, 1987), we said: xxx xxx xxx ... While the guilt of the accused in a criminal prosecution must be established beyond reasonable doubt, only a preponderance of evidence is required in a civil action for damages. (Article 29, Civil Code). The judgment of acquittal extinguishes the civil liability of the accused only when it includes a declaration that the facts from which the civil liability might arise did not exist. (Padilla v. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 559). The reason for the provisions of article 29 of the Civil Code, which provides that the acquittal of the accused on the ground that his guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt does not necessarily exempt him from civil liability for the same act or omission, has been explained by the Code Commission as follows: The old rule that the acquittal of the accused in a criminal case also releases him from civil liability is one of the most serious flaws in the Philippine legal system. It has given use to numberless instances of miscarriage of justice, where the acquittal was due to a reasonable doubt in the mind of the court as to the guilt of the accused. The reasoning followed is that inasmuch as the civil responsibility is derived from the criminal offense, when the latter is not proved, civil liability cannot be demanded. This is one of those causes where confused thinking leads to unfortunate and deplorable consequences. Such reasoning fails to draw a clear line of demarcation between criminal liability and civil responsibility, and to determine the logical result of the distinction. The two liabilities are separate and distinct from each other. One affects the social order and the other, private rights. One is for the punishment or correction of the offender while the other is for

reparation of damages suffered by the aggrieved party. The two responsibilities are so different from each other that article 1813 of the present (Spanish) Civil Code reads thus: "There may be a compromise upon the civil action arising from a crime; but the public action for the imposition of the legal penalty shall not thereby be extinguished." It is just and proper that, for the purposes of the imprisonment of or fine upon the accused, the offense should be proved beyond reasonable doubt. But for the purpose of indemnity the complaining party, why should the offense also be proved beyond reasonable doubt? Is not the invasion or violation of every private right to be proved only by a preponderance of evidence? Is the right of the aggrieved person any less private because the wrongful act is also punishable by the criminal law? "For these reasons, the Commission recommends the adoption of the reform under discussion. It will correct a serious defect in our law. It will close up an inexhaustible source of injustice-a cause for disillusionment on the part of the innumerable persons injured or wronged." The respondent court increased the P12,000.00 indemnification imposed by the trial court to P30,000.00. However, since the indemnification was based solely on the finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt in the homicide case, the civil liability of the petitioner was not thoroughly examined. This aspect of the case calls for fuller development if the heirs of the victim are so minded. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The questioned decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petitioner is ACQUITTED of the crime of homicide. Costs de oficio. SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines



G.R. No. 103119 October 21, 1992 SULPICIO INTOD, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

CAMPOS, JR., J.: Petitioner, Sulpicio Intod, filed this petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 affirming in toto the judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XIV, Oroquieta City, finding him guilty of the crime of attempted murder. From the records, we gathered the following facts. In the morning of February 4, 1979, Sulpicio Intod, Jorge Pangasian, Santos Tubio and Avelino Daligdig went to Salvador Mandaya's house in Katugasan, Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental and asked him to go with them to the house of Bernardina Palangpangan. Thereafter, Mandaya and Intod, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig had a meeting with Aniceto Dumalagan. He told Mandaya that he wanted Palangpangan to be killed because of a land dispute between them and that Mandaya should accompany the four (4) men, otherwise, he would also be killed. At about 10:00 o'clock in the evening of the same day, Petitioner, Mandaya, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig, all armed with firearms, arrived at Palangpangan's house in Katugasan, Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental. At the instance of his companions, Mandaya pointed the location of Palangpangan's bedroom. Thereafter, Petitioner, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig fired at said room. It turned out, however, that Palangpangan was in another City and her home was then occupied by her son-in-law and his family. No one was in the room when the accused fired the shots. No one was hit by the gun fire. Petitioner and his companions were positively identified by witnesses. One witness testified that before the five men left the premises, they shouted: "We will kill you (the witness) and especially Bernardina Palangpangan and we will come back if (sic) you were not injured". 2 After trial, the Regional Trial Court convicted Intod of attempted murder. The court (RTC), as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, holding that Petitioner was guilty of attempted murder. Petitioner seeks from this Court a modification of the judgment by holding him liable only for an impossible crime, citing Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code which provides: Art. 4(2). CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY. Criminal Responsibility shall

be incurred: xxx xxx xxx 2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means. Petitioner contends that, Palangpangan's absence from her room on the night he and his companions riddled it with bullets made the crime inherently impossible. On the other hand, Respondent People of the Philippines argues that the crime was not impossible. Instead, the facts were sufficient to constitute an attempt and to convict Intod for attempted murder. Respondent alleged that there was intent. Further, in its Comment to the Petition, respondent pointed out that:

. . . The crime of murder was not consummated, not because of the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment (Art. 4(2), Revised Penal Code), but due to a cause or accident other than petitioner's and his accused's own spontaneous desistance (Art. 3., Ibid.) Palangpangan did not sleep at her house at that time. Had it not been for this fact, the crime is possible, not impossible. 3
Article 4, paragraph 2 is an innovation 4 of the Revised Penal Code. This seeks to remedy the void in the Old Penal Code where:

. . . it was necessary that the execution of the act has been commenced, that the person conceiving the idea should have set about doing the deed, employing appropriate means in order that his intent might become a reality, and finally, that the result or end contemplated shall have been physically possible. So long as these conditions were not present, the law and the courts did not hold him criminally liable. 5
This legal doctrine left social interests entirely unprotected. 6 The Revised Penal Code, inspired by the Positivist School, recognizes in the offender his formidability, 7 and now penalizes an act which were it not aimed at something quite impossible or carried out with means which prove inadequate, would constitute a felony against person or against property. 8 The rationale of Article 4(2) is to punish such criminal tendencies. 9 Under this article, the act performed by the offender cannot produce an offense against person or property because: (1) the commission of the offense is inherently impossible of accomplishment: or (2) the means employed is either (a) inadequate or (b) ineffectual. 10

That the offense cannot be produced because the commission of the offense is inherently impossible of accomplishment is the focus of this petition. To be impossible under this clause, the act intended by the offender must be by its nature one impossible of accomplishment. 11 There must be either impossibility of accomplishing the intended act 12 in order to qualify the act an impossible crime. Legal impossibility occurs where the intended acts, even if completed, would not amount to a crime. 13 Thus:

Legal impossibility would apply to those circumstances where (1) the motive, desire and expectation is to perform an act in violation of the law; (2) there is intention to perform the physical act; (3) there is a performance of the intended physical act; and (4) the consequence resulting from the intended act does not amount to a crime. 14
The impossibility of killing a person already dead 15 falls in this category. On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when extraneous circumstances unknown to the actor or beyond his control prevent the consummation of the intended crime. 16 One example is the man who puts his hand in the coat pocket of another with the intention to steal the latter's wallet and finds the pocket empty. 17 The case at bar belongs to this category. Petitioner shoots the place where he thought his victim would be, although in reality, the victim was not present in said place and thus, the petitioner failed to accomplish his end. One American case had facts almost exactly the same as this one. In People vs. Lee Kong, 18 the accused, with intent to kill, aimed and fired at the spot where he thought the police officer would be. It turned out, however, that the latter was in a different place. The accused failed to hit him and to achieve his intent. The Court convicted the accused of an attempt to kill. It held that: The fact that the officer was not at the spot where the attacking party imagined where he was, and where the bullet pierced the roof, renders it no less an attempt to kill. It is well settled principle of criminal law in this country that where the criminal result of an attempt is not accomplished simply because of an obstruction in the way of the thing to be operated upon, and these facts are unknown to the aggressor at the time, the criminal attempt is committed. In the case of Strokes vs. State, 19 where the accused failed to accomplish his intent to kill the victim because the latter did not pass by the place where he was lying-in wait, the court held him liable for attempted murder. The court explained that: It was no fault of Strokes that the crime was not committed. . . . It only

became impossible by reason of the extraneous circumstance that Lane did not go that way; and further, that he was arrested and prevented from committing the murder. This rule of the law has application only where it is inherently impossible to commit the crime. It has no application to a case where it becomes impossible for the crime to be committed, either by outside interference or because of miscalculation as to a supposed opportunity to commit the crime which fails to materialize; in short it has no application to the case when the impossibility grows out of extraneous acts not within the control of the party. In the case of Clark vs. State, 20 the court held defendant liable for attempted robbery even if there was nothing to rob. In disposing of the case, the court quoted Mr. Justice Bishop, to wit: It being an accepted truth that defendant deserves punishment by reason of his criminal intent, no one can seriously doubt that the protection of the public requires the punishment to be administered, equally whether in the unseen depths of the pocket, etc., what was supposed to exist was really present or not. The community suffers from the mere alarm of crime. Again: Where the thing intended (attempted) as a crime and what is done is a sort to create alarm, in other words, excite apprehension that the evil; intention will be carried out, the incipient act which the law of attempt takes cognizance of is in reason committed. In State vs. Mitchell, 21 defendant, with intent to kill, fired at the window of victim's room thinking that the latter was inside. However, at that moment, the victim was in another part of the house. The court convicted the accused of attempted murder. The aforecited cases are the same cases which have been relied upon by Respondent to make this Court sustain the judgment of attempted murder against Petitioner. However, we cannot rely upon these decisions to resolve the issue at hand. There is a difference between the Philippine and the American laws regarding the concept and appreciation of impossible crimes. In the Philippines, the Revised Penal Code, in Article 4(2), expressly provided for impossible crimes and made the punishable. Whereas, in the United States, the Code of Crimes and Criminal Procedure is silent regarding this matter. What it provided for were attempts of the crimes enumerated in the said Code. Furthermore, in said jurisdiction, the impossibility of committing the offense is merely a defense to an attempt charge. In this regard, commentators and the cases generally divide the impossibility defense into two categories: legal versus factual impossibility. 22 In U.S. vs. Wilson 23 the Court held that: . . . factual impossibility of the commission of the crime is not a defense. If the crime could have been committed had the circumstances been as the defendant believed them to be, it is no defense that in reality the

crime was impossible of commission. Legal impossibility, on the other hand, is a defense which can be invoked to avoid criminal liability for an attempt. In U.S. vs. Berrigan, 24 the accused was indicated for attempting to smuggle letters into and out of prison. The law governing the matter made the act criminal if done without knowledge and consent of the warden. In this case, the offender intended to send a letter without the latter's knowledge and consent and the act was performed. However, unknown to him, the transmittal was achieved with the warden's knowledge and consent. The lower court held the accused liable for attempt but the appellate court reversed. It held unacceptable the contention of the state that "elimination of impossibility as a defense to a charge of criminal attempt, as suggested by the Model Penal Code and the proposed federal legislation, is consistent with the overwhelming modern view". In disposing of this contention, the Court held that the federal statutes did not contain such provision, and thus, following the principle of legality, no person could be criminally liable for an act which was not made criminal by law. Further, it said: Congress has not yet enacted a law that provides that intent plus conduct constitutes the offense of attempt irrespective impossibility until such time as such legislative changes in the place, this court will not fashion a new non-statutory law of attempt. plus act of legal law take criminal

To restate, in the United States, where the offense sought to be committed is factually impossible or accomplishment, the offender cannot escape criminal liability. He can be convicted of an attempt to commit the substantive crime where the elements of attempt are satisfied. It appears, therefore, that the act is penalized, not as an impossible crime, but as an attempt to commit a crime. On the other hand, where the offense is legally impossible of accomplishment, the actor cannot be held liable for any crime neither for an attempt not for an impossible crime. The only reason for this is that in American law, there is no such thing as an impossible crime. Instead, it only recognizes impossibility as a defense to a crime charge that is, attempt. This is not true in the Philippines. In our jurisdiction, impossible crimes are recognized. The impossibility of accomplishing the criminal intent is not merely a defense, but an act penalized by itself. Furthermore, the phrase "inherent impossibility" that is found in Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code makes no distinction between factual or physical impossibility and legal impossibility. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. The factual situation in the case at bar present a physical impossibility which rendered the intended crime impossible of accomplishment. And under Article 4, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code, such is sufficient to make the act an impossible crime.

To uphold the contention of respondent that the offense was Attempted Murder because the absence of Palangpangan was a supervening cause independent of the actor's will, will render useless the provision in Article 4, which makes a person criminally liable for an act "which would be an offense against persons or property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment . . ." In that case all circumstances which prevented the consummation of the offense will be treated as an accident independent of the actor's will which is an element of attempted and frustrated felonies. WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED. the petition is hereby GRANTED, the decision of respondent Court of Appeals holding Petitioner guilty of Attempted Murder is hereby MODIFIED. We hereby hold Petitioner guilty of an impossible crime as defined and penalized in Articles 4, paragraph 2, and 59 of the Revised Penal Code, respectively. Having in mind the social danger and degree of criminality shown by Petitioner, this Court sentences him to suffer the penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor, together with the accessory penalties provided by the law, and to pay the costs. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 162540

July 13, 2009

GEMMA T. JACINTO, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. DECISION PERALTA, J.: Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioner Gemma T. Jacinto seeking the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 23761 dated December 16, 2003, affirming petitioner's conviction of the crime of Qualified Theft, and its Resolution2 dated March 5, 2004 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration. Petitioner, along with two other women, namely, Anita Busog de Valencia y Rivera and Jacqueline Capitle, was charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City, Branch 131, with the crime of Qualified Theft, allegedly committed as follows: That on or about and sometime in the month of July 1997, in Kalookan City, Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together and mutually helping one another, being then all employees of MEGA FOAM INTERNATIONAL INC., herein represented by JOSEPH DYHENGCO Y CO, and as such had free access inside the aforesaid establishment, with grave abuse of trust and confidence reposed upon them with intent to gain and without the knowledge and consent of the owner thereof, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and deposited in their own account, Banco De Oro Check No. 0132649 dated July 14, 1997 in the sum of P10,000.00, representing payment made by customer Baby Aquino to the Mega Foam Int'l. Inc. to the damage and prejudice of the latter in the aforesaid stated amount of P10,000.00. CONTRARY TO LAW.3 The prosecution's evidence, which both the RTC and the CA found to be more credible, reveals the events that transpired to be as follows. In the month of June 1997, Isabelita Aquino Milabo, also known as

Baby Aquino, handed petitioner Banco De Oro (BDO) Check Number 0132649 postdated July 14, 1997 in the amount of P10,000.00. The check was payment for Baby Aquino's purchases from Mega Foam Int'l., Inc., and petitioner was then the collector of Mega Foam. Somehow, the check was deposited in the Land Bank account of Generoso Capitle, the husband of Jacqueline Capitle; the latter is the sister of petitioner and the former pricing, merchandising and inventory clerk of Mega Foam. Meanwhile, Rowena Ricablanca, another employee of Mega Foam, received a phone call sometime in the middle of July from one of their customers, Jennifer Sanalila. The customer wanted to know if she could issue checks payable to the account of Mega Foam, instead of issuing the checks payable to CASH. Said customer had apparently been instructed by Jacqueline Capitle to make check payments to Mega Foam payable to CASH. Around that time, Ricablanca also received a phone call from an employee of Land Bank, Valenzuela Branch, who was looking for Generoso Capitle. The reason for the call was to inform Capitle that the subject BDO check deposited in his account had been dishonored. Ricablanca then phoned accused Anita Valencia, a former employee/collector of Mega Foam, asking the latter to inform Jacqueline Capitle about the phone call from Land Bank regarding the bounced check. Ricablanca explained that she had to call and relay the message through Valencia, because the Capitles did not have a phone; but they could be reached through Valencia, a neighbor and former co-employee of Jacqueline Capitle at Mega Foam. Valencia then told Ricablanca that the check came from Baby Aquino, and instructed Ricablanca to ask Baby Aquino to replace the check with cash. Valencia also told Ricablanca of a plan to take the cash and divide it equally into four: for herself, Ricablanca, petitioner Jacinto and Jacqueline Capitle. Ricablanca, upon the advise of Mega Foam's accountant, reported the matter to the owner of Mega Foam, Joseph Dyhengco. Thereafter, Joseph Dyhengco talked to Baby Aquino and was able to confirm that the latter indeed handed petitioner a BDO check for P10,000.00 sometime in June 1997 as payment for her purchases from Mega Foam.4 Baby Aquino further testified that, sometime in July 1997, petitioner also called her on the phone to tell her that

the BDO check bounced.5 Verification from company records showed that petitioner never remitted the subject check to Mega Foam. However, Baby Aquino said that she had already paid Mega Foam P10,000.00 cash in August 1997 as replacement for the dishonored check.6 Generoso Capitle, presented as a hostile witness, admitted depositing the subject BDO check in his bank account, but explained that the check came into his possession when some unknown woman arrived at his house around the first week of July 1997 to have the check rediscounted. He parted with his cash in exchange for the check without even bothering to inquire into the identity of the woman or her address. When he was informed by the bank that the check bounced, he merely disregarded it as he didnt know where to find the woman who rediscounted the check. Meanwhile, Dyhengco filed a Complaint with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and worked out an entrapment operation with its agents. Ten pieces of P1,000.00 bills provided by Dyhengco were marked and dusted with fluorescent powder by the NBI. Thereafter, the bills were given to Ricablanca, who was tasked to pretend that she was going along with Valencia's plan. On August 15, 2007, Ricablanca and petitioner met at the latter's house. Petitioner, who was then holding the bounced BDO check, handed over said check to Ricablanca. They originally intended to proceed to Baby Aquino's place to have the check replaced with cash, but the plan did not push through. However, they agreed to meet again on August 21, 2007. On the agreed date, Ricablanca again went to petitioners house, where she met petitioner and Jacqueline Capitle. Petitioner, her husband, and Ricablanca went to the house of Anita Valencia; Jacqueline Capitle decided not to go with the group because she decided to go shopping. It was only petitioner, her husband, Ricablanca and Valencia who then boarded petitioner's jeep and went on to Baby Aquino's factory. Only Ricablanca alighted from the jeep and entered the premises of Baby Aquino, pretending that she was getting cash from Baby Aquino. However, the cash she actually brought out from the premises was the P10,000.00 marked money previously given to her by Dyhengco. Ricablanca divided the money and upon returning to the jeep, gave P5,000.00 each to Valencia and petitioner. Thereafter, petitioner and Valencia

were arrested by NBI agents, who had been watching the whole time. Petitioner and Valencia were brought to the NBI office where the Forensic Chemist found fluorescent powder on the palmar and dorsal aspects of both of their hands. This showed that petitioner and Valencia handled the marked money. The NBI filed a criminal case for qualified theft against the two and one Jane Doe who was later identified as Jacqueline Capitle, the wife of Generoso Capitle. The defense, on the other hand, denied having taken the subject check and presented the following scenario. Petitioner admitted that she was a collector for Mega Foam until she resigned on June 30, 1997, but claimed that she had stopped collecting payments from Baby Aquino for quite some time before her resignation from the company. She further testified that, on the day of the arrest, Ricablanca came to her mothers house, where she was staying at that time, and asked that she accompany her (Ricablanca) to Baby Aquino's house. Since petitioner was going for a pre-natal check-up at the Chinese General Hospital, Ricablanca decided to hitch a ride with the former and her husband in their jeep going to Baby Aquino's place in Caloocan City. She allegedly had no idea why Ricablanca asked them to wait in their jeep, which they parked outside the house of Baby Aquino, and was very surprised when Ricablanca placed the money on her lap and the NBI agents arrested them. Anita Valencia also admitted that she was the cashier of Mega Foam until she resigned on June 30, 1997. It was never part of her job to collect payments from customers. According to her, on the morning of August 21, 1997, Ricablanca called her up on the phone, asking if she (Valencia) could accompany her (Ricablanca) to the house of Baby Aquino. Valencia claims that she agreed to do so, despite her admission during cross-examination that she did not know where Baby Aquino resided, as she had never been to said house. They then met at the house of petitioner's mother, rode the jeep of petitioner and her husband, and proceeded to Baby Aquino's place. When they arrived at said place, Ricablanca alighted, but requested them to wait for her in the jeep. After ten minutes, Ricablanca came out and, to her surprise, Ricablanca gave her money and so she even asked, "What is this?" Then, the NBI agents arrested them.

The trial of the three accused went its usual course and, on October 4, 1999, the RTC rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds accused Gemma Tubale De Jacinto y Latosa, Anita Busog De Valencia y Rivera and Jacqueline Capitle GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of QUALIFIED THEFT and each of them is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of FIVE (5) YEARS, FIVE (5) MONTHS AND ELEVEN (11) DAYS, as minimum, to SIX (6) YEARS, EIGHT (8) MONTHS AND TWENTY (20) DAYS, as maximum. SO ORDERED.7 The three appealed to the CA and, on December 16, 2003, a Decision was promulgated, the dispositive portion of which reads, thus: IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the trial court is MODIFIED, in that: (a) the sentence against accused Gemma Jacinto stands; (b) the sentence against accused Anita Valencia is reduced to 4 months arresto mayor medium. (c) The accused Jacqueline Capitle is acquitted. SO ORDERED. A Partial Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing CA Decision was filed only for petitioner Gemma Tubale Jacinto, but the same was denied per Resolution dated March 5, 2004. Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by petitioner alone, assailing the Decision and Resolution of the CA. The issues raised in the petition are as follows: 1. Whether or not petitioner can be convicted of a crime not charged in the information; 2. Whether or not a worthless check can be the object of theft; and 3. Whether or not the prosecution has proved petitioner's guilt

beyond reasonable doubt.8 The petition deserves considerable thought. The prosecution tried to establish the following pieces of evidence to constitute the elements of the crime of qualified theft defined under Article 308, in relation to Article 310, both of the Revised Penal Code: (1) the taking of personal property - as shown by the fact that petitioner, as collector for Mega Foam, did not remit the customer's check payment to her employer and, instead, appropriated it for herself; (2) said property belonged to another the check belonged to Baby Aquino, as it was her payment for purchases she made; (3) the taking was done with intent to gain this is presumed from the act of unlawful taking and further shown by the fact that the check was deposited to the bank account of petitioner's brother-in-law; (4) it was done without the owners consent petitioner hid the fact that she had received the check payment from her employer's customer by not remitting the check to the company; (5) it was accomplished without the use of violence or intimidation against persons, nor of force upon things the check was voluntarily handed to petitioner by the customer, as she was known to be a collector for the company; and (6) it was done with grave abuse of confidence petitioner is admittedly entrusted with the collection of payments from customers. However, as may be gleaned from the aforementioned Articles of the Revised Penal Code, the personal property subject of the theft must have some value, as the intention of the accused is to gain from the thing stolen. This is further bolstered by Article 309, where the law provides that the penalty to be imposed on the accused is dependent on the value of the thing stolen. In this case, petitioner unlawfully took the postdated check belonging to Mega Foam, but the same was apparently without value, as it was subsequently dishonored. Thus, the question arises on whether the crime of qualified theft was actually produced. The Court must resolve the issue in the negative. Intod v. Court of Appeals9 is highly instructive and applicable to the present case. In Intod, the accused, intending to kill a person, peppered the latters bedroom with bullets, but since the intended victim was not home at the time, no harm came to him. The trial

court and the CA held Intod guilty of attempted murder. But upon review by this Court, he was adjudged guilty only of an impossible crime as defined and penalized in paragraph 2, Article 4, in relation to Article 59, both of the Revised Penal Code, because of the factual impossibility of producing the crime. Pertinent portions of said provisions read as follows: Article 4(2). Criminal Responsibility. - Criminal responsibility shall be incurred: xxxx 2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of the employment of inadequate to ineffectual means. (emphasis supplied) Article 59. Penalty to be imposed in case of failure to commit the crime because the means employed or the aims sought are impossible. - When the person intending to commit an offense has already performed the acts for the execution of the same but nevertheless the crime was not produced by reason of the fact that the act intended was by its nature one of impossible accomplishment or because the means employed by such person are essentially inadequate to produce the result desired by him, the court, having in mind the social danger and the degree of criminality shown by the offender, shall impose upon him the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine ranging from 200 to 500 pesos. Thus, the requisites of an impossible crime are: (1) that the act performed would be an offense against persons or property; (2) that the act was done with evil intent; and (3) that its accomplishment was inherently impossible, or the means employed was either inadequate or ineffectual. The aspect of the inherent impossibility of accomplishing the intended crime under Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code was further explained by the Court in Intod10 in this wise: Under this article, the act performed by the offender cannot produce an offense against persons or property because: (1) the commission of the offense is inherently impossible of accomplishment; or (2) the means employed is either (a) inadequate or (b) ineffectual.

That the offense cannot be produced because the commission of the offense is inherently impossible of accomplishment is the focus of this petition. To be impossible under this clause, the act intended by the offender must be by its nature one impossible of accomplishment. There must be either (1) legal impossibility, or (2) physical impossibility of accomplishing the intended act in order to qualify the act as an impossible crime. Legal impossibility occurs where the intended acts, even if completed, would not amount to a crime. xxxx The impossibility of killing a person already dead falls in this category. On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when extraneous circumstances unknown to the actor or beyond his control prevent the consummation of the intended crime. x x x 11 In Intod, the Court went on to give an example of an offense that involved factual impossibility, i.e., a man puts his hand in the coat pocket of another with the intention to steal the latter's wallet, but gets nothing since the pocket is empty. Herein petitioner's case is closely akin to the above example of factual impossibility given in Intod. In this case, petitioner performed all the acts to consummate the crime of qualified theft, which is a crime against property. Petitioner's evil intent cannot be denied, as the mere act of unlawfully taking the check meant for Mega Foam showed her intent to gain or be unjustly enriched. Were it not for the fact that the check bounced, she would have received the face value thereof, which was not rightfully hers. Therefore, it was only due to the extraneous circumstance of the check being unfunded, a fact unknown to petitioner at the time, that prevented the crime from being produced. The thing unlawfully taken by petitioner turned out to be absolutely worthless, because the check was eventually dishonored, and Mega Foam had received the cash to replace the value of said dishonored check.
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The fact that petitioner was later entrapped receiving the P5,000.00 marked money, which she thought was the cash replacement for the dishonored check, is of no moment. The Court held in Valenzuela v. People12 that under the definition of theft in

Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, "there is only one operative act of execution by the actor involved in theft the taking of personal property of another." Elucidating further, the Court held, thus: x x x Parsing through the statutory definition of theft under Article 308, there is one apparent answer provided in the language of the law that theft is already "produced" upon the "tak[ing of] personal property of another without the latters consent." xxxx x x x when is the crime of theft produced? There would be all but certain unanimity in the position that theft is produced when there is deprivation of personal property due to its taking by one with intent to gain. Viewed from that perspective, it is immaterial to the product of the felony that the offender, once having committed all the acts of execution for theft, is able or unable to freely dispose of the property stolen since the deprivation from the owner alone has already ensued from such acts of execution. x x x xxxx x x x we have, after all, held that unlawful taking, or apoderamiento, is deemed complete from the moment the offender gains possession of the thing, even if he has no opportunity to dispose of the same. x x x x x x Unlawful taking, which is the deprivation of ones personal property, is the element which produces the felony in its consummated stage. x x x 13 From the above discussion, there can be no question that as of the time that petitioner took possession of the check meant for Mega Foam, she had performed all the acts to consummate the crime of theft, had it not been impossible of accomplishment in this case. The circumstance of petitioner receiving the P5,000.00 cash as supposed replacement for the dishonored check was no longer necessary for the consummation of the crime of qualified theft. Obviously, the plan to convince Baby Aquino to give cash as replacement for the check was hatched only after the check had been dishonored by the drawee bank. Since the crime of theft is not a continuing offense, petitioner's act of receiving the cash replacement should not be considered as a

continuation of the theft. At most, the fact that petitioner was caught receiving the marked money was merely corroborating evidence to strengthen proof of her intent to gain. Moreover, the fact that petitioner further planned to have the dishonored check replaced with cash by its issuer is a different and separate fraudulent scheme. Unfortunately, since said scheme was not included or covered by the allegations in the Information, the Court cannot pronounce judgment on the accused; otherwise, it would violate the due process clause of the Constitution. If at all, that fraudulent scheme could have been another possible source of criminal liability. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated December 16, 2003, and its Resolution dated March 5, 2004, are MODIFIED. Petitioner Gemma T. Jacinto is found GUILTY of an IMPOSSIBLE CRIME as defined and penalized in Articles 4, paragraph 2, and 59 of the Revised Penal Code, respectively. Petitioner is sentenced to suffer the penalty of six (6) months of arrresto mayor, and to pay the costs. SO ORDERED.