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SECOND DIVISION

JEFFREY RESO DAYAP, G.R. No. 177960


Petitioner,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - CORONA,
*

CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
CHICO-NAZARIO,
**
JJ.

PRETZY-LOU SENDIONG,
GENESA SENDIONG, ELVIE Promulgated:
SY and DEXIE DURAN,
Respondents. January 29, 2009
x---------------------------------------------------------------------------x

D E C I S I O N

TINGA, J.:

Before us is a petition for review
[1]
on certiorari of the Decision
[2]
dated 17
August 2006 and Resolution
[3]
dated 25 April 2007 by the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 01179 entitled, Pretzy-Lou P. Sendiong, Genesa R. Sendiong, Elvie H.
Sy and Dexie Duran v. Hon. Judge Cresencio Tan and Jeffrey Reso Dayap.

The case had its origins in the filing of an Information
[4]
on 29 December
2004 by the Provincial Prosecutors Office, Sibulan, Negros Oriental, charging
herein petitioner Jeffrey Reso Dayap with the crime of Reckless Imprudence
resulting to Homicide, Less Serious Physical Injuries, and Damage to
Property. The pertinent portion of the information reads:

That at about 11:55 oclock in the evening of 28 December 2004 at Brgy.
Maslog, Sibulan, Negros Oriental, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously drive in a reckless and imprudent manner a 10-
wheeler cargo truck with plate number ULP-955, color blue, fully loaded with
sacks of coconut shell, registered in the name of Ruben Villabeto of Sta. Agueda
Pamplona, Negros Oriental, thereby hitting an automobile, a Colt Galant with
plate number NLD-379 driven by Lou Gene R. Sendiong who was with two
female passengers, namely: Dexie Duran and Elvie Sy, thus causing the
instantaneous death of said Lou Gene R. Sendiong, less serious physical injuries
on the bodies of Dexie Duran and Elvie Sy and extensive damage to the above-
mentioned Colt Galant which is registered in the name of Cristina P. Weyer of
115 Dr. V. Locsin St., Dumaguete City, to the damage of the heirs of the same
Lou Gene R. Sendiong and the other two offended parties above-mentioned.

An act defined and penalized by Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.
On 10 January 2005, before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Sibulan,
Negros Oriental, petitioner was arraigned and he pleaded not guilty to the
charge.
[5]


On 17 January 2005, respondents Pretzy-Lou P. Sendiong, Genesa Sendiong
and Dexie Duran filed a motion for leave of court to file an amended
information.
[6]
They sought to add the allegation of abandonment of the victims by
petitioner, thus: The driver of the 10-wheeler cargo truck abandoned the victims,
at a time when said [Lou-Gene] R. Sendiong was still alive inside the car; he was
only extracted from the car by the by-standers.
[7]


On 21 January 2005, however, the Provincial Prosecutor filed an Omnibus
Motion praying that the motion to amend the information be considered
withdrawn.
[8]
On 21 January 2003, the MTC granted the withdrawal and the
motion to amend was considered withdrawn.
[9]


Pre-trial and trial of the case proceeded. Respondents testified for the
prosecution. After the prosecution had rested its case, petitioner sought leave to
file a demurrer to evidence which was granted. Petitioner filed his Demurrer to
Evidence
[10]
dated 15 April 2005 grounded on the prosecutions failure to prove
beyond reasonable doubt that he is criminally liable for reckless imprudence, to
which respondents filed a Comment
[11]
dated 25 April 2005.

In the Order
[12]
dated 16 May 2005, the MTC granted the demurrer and
acquitted petitioner of the crime of reckless imprudence. The MTC found that the
evidence presented by respondents failed to establish the allegations in the
Information. Pertinent portions of the order state:

An examination of the allegations in the information and comparing the
same with the evidence presented by the prosecution would reveal that the
evidence presented has not established said allegations. The facts and
circumstances constituting the allegations charged have not been proven. It is
elementary in the rules of evidence that a party must prove his own affirmative
allegations.

x x x x

Nowhere in the evidence of the prosecution can this Court find that it
was the accused who committed the crime as charged. Its witnesses have never
identified the accused as the one who has committed the crime. The prosecution
never bothered to establish if indeed it was the accused who committed the
crime or asked questions which would have proved the elements of the
crime. The prosecution did not even establish if indeed it was the accused who
was driving the truck at the time of the incident. The Court simply cannot find
any evidence which would prove that a crime has been committed and that the
accused is the person responsible for it. There was no evidence on the allegation
of the death of Lou Gene R. Sendiong as there was no death certificate that was
offered in evidence. The alleged less serious physical injuries on the bodies of
Dexie Duran and Elvie Sy were not also proven as no medical certificate was
presented to state the same nor was a doctor presented to establish such
injuries. The alleged damage to the [C]olt [G]alant was also not established in
any manner as no witness ever testified on this aspect and no documentary
evidence was also presented to state the damage. The prosecution therefore
failed to establish if indeed it was the accused who was responsible for the death
of Lou Gene R. Sendiong and the injuries to Dexie Duran and Elvie Sy,
including the damage to the Colt Galant. The mother of the victim testified only
on the expenses she incurred and the shock she and her family have suffered as a
result of the incident. But sad to say, she could not also pinpoint if it was the
accused who committed the crime and be held responsible for it. This Court
could only say that the prosecution has practically bungled this case from its
inception.

x x x x

The defense furthermore argued that on the contrary, the prosecutions
[evidence] conclusively show that the swerving of vehicle 1 [the Colt Galant] to
the lane of vehicle 2 [the cargo truck] is the proximate cause of the
accident. The court again is inclined to agree with this argument of the
defense. It has looked carefully into the sketch of the accident as indicated in
the police blotter and can only conclude that the logical explanation of the
accident is that vehicle 1 swerved into the lane of vehicle 2, thus hitting the
latters inner fender and tires. Exhibit 7 which is a picture of vehicle 2 shows
the extent of its damage which was the effect of vehicle 1s ramming into the
rear left portion of vehicle 2 causing the differential guide of vehicle 2 to be cut,
its tires busted and pulled out together with their axle. The cutting of the
differential guide cause[d] the entire housing connecting the tires to the truck
body to collapse, thus causing vehicle 2 to tilt to its left side and swerve towards
the lane of vehicle 1. It was this accident that caused the swerving, not of [sic]
any negligent act of the accused.

x x x x

Every criminal conviction requires of the prosecution to prove two
thingsthe fact of the crime, i.e., the presence of all the elements of the crime
for which the accused stands charged, and the fact that the accused is the
perpetrator of the crime. Sad to say, the prosecution has miserably failed to
prove these two things. When the prosecution fails to discharge its burden of
establishing the guilt of the accused, an accused need not even offer evidence in
his behalf.

x x x x

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the demurrer is granted and the
accused JEFFREY RESO DAYAP is hereby acquitted for insufficiency of
evidence. The bail bond posted for his temporary liberty is also hereby
cancelled and ordered released to the accused or his duly authorized
representative.

SO ORDERED.
[13]


Respondents thereafter filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65,
[14]
alleging that
the MTCs dismissal of the case was done without considering the evidence
adduced by the prosecution. Respondents added that the MTC failed to observe
the manner the trial of the case should proceed as provided in Sec. 11, Rule 119 of
the Rules of Court as well as failed to rule on the civil liability of the accused in
spite of the evidence presented. The case was raffled to the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Negros Oriental, Br. 32.

In the order
[15]
dated 23 August 2005, the RTC affirmed the acquittal of petitioner
but ordered the remand of the case to the MTC for further proceedings on the civil
aspect of the case. The RTC ruled that the MTCs recital of every fact in arriving
at its conclusions disproved the allegation that it failed to consider the evidence
presented by the prosecution. The records also demonstrated that the MTC
conducted the trial of the case in the manner dictated by Sec. 11, Rule 119 of the
Rules of Court, except that the defense no longer presented its evidence after the
MTC gave due course to the accuseds demurrer to evidence, the filing of which is
allowed under Sec. 23, Rule 119. The RTC however agreed that the MTC failed to
rule on the accuseds civil liability, especially since the judgment of acquittal did
not include a declaration that the facts from which the civil liability might arise did
not exist. Thus, the RTC declared that the aspect of civil liability was not passed
upon and resolved to remand the issue to the MTC. The dispositive portion of the
decision states:

WHEREFORE, the questioned order of the Municipal Trial Court of
Sibulan on accuseds acquittal is AFFIRMED. The case is REMANDED to the
court of origin or its successor for further proceedings on the civil aspect of the
case. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
[16]


Both parties filed their motions for reconsideration of the RTC order, but
these were denied for lack of merit in the order
[17]
dated 12 September 2005.

Respondents then filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals under
Rule 42, docketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 01179. The appellate court subsequently
rendered the assailed decision and resolution. The Court of Appeals ruled that
there being no proof of the total value of the properties damaged, the criminal case
falls under the jurisdiction of the RTC and the proceedings before the MTC are
null and void. In so ruling, the appellate court cited Tulor v. Garcia (correct title
of the case is Cuyos v. Garcia)
[18]
which ruled that in complex crimes involving
reckless imprudence resulting in homicide or physical injuries and damage to
property, the jurisdiction of the court to take cognizance of the case is determined
by the fine imposable for the damage to property resulting from the reckless
imprudence, not by the corresponding penalty for the physical injuries charged. It
also found support in Sec. 36 of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 and the
1991 Rule 8 on Summary Procedure, which govern the summary procedure in
first-level courts in offenses involving damage to property through criminal
negligence where the imposable fine does not exceed P10,000.00. As there was no
proof of the total value of the property damaged and respondents were claiming the
amount of P1,500,000.00 as civil damages, the case falls within the RTCs
jurisdiction. The dispositive portion of the Decision dated 17 August 2006 reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered by Us
REMANDING the case to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Judicial Region,
Branch 32, Negros Oriental for proper disposition of the merits of the case.

SO ORDERED.
[19]


Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the Court of Appeals
decision,
[20]
arguing that jurisdiction over the case is determined by the allegations
in the information, and that neither the 1991 Rule on Summary Procedure nor Sec.
36 of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 can be the basis of the RTCs
jurisdiction over the case. However, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for
reconsideration for lack of merit in the Resolution dated 25 April 2007.
[21]
It
reiterated that it is the RTC that has proper jurisdiction considering that the
information alleged a willful, unlawful, felonious killing as well as abandonment
of the victims.

In the present petition for review, petitioner argues that the MTC had
jurisdiction to hear the criminal case for reckless imprudence, owing to the
enactment of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7691,
[22]
which confers jurisdiction to first-
level courts on offenses involving damage to property through criminal
negligence. He asserts that the RTC could not have acquired jurisdiction on the
basis of a legally unfiled and officially withdrawn amended information alleging
abandonment. Respondents are also faulted for challenging the MTCs order
acquitting petitioner through a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 in
lieu of an ordinary appeal under Rule 42.

The petition has merit. It should be granted.

The first issue is whether the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that
jurisdiction over the offense charged pertained to the RTC.

Both the MTC and the RTC proceeded with the case on the basis of the
Information dated 29 December 2004 charging petitioner only with the complex
crime of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide, less serious physical injuries
and damage to property. The Court of Appeals however declared in its decision
that petitioner should have been charged with the same offense but aggravated by
the circumstance of abandonment of the victims. It appears from the records
however that respondents attempt to amend the information by charging the
aggravated offense was unsuccessful as the MTC had approved the Provincial
Prosecutors motion to withdraw their motion to amend the information. The
information filed before the trial court had remained unamended.
[23]
Thus,
petitioner is deemed to have been charged only with the offense alleged in the
original Information without any aggravating circumstance.

Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code punishes any person who, by reckless
imprudence, commits any act which, had it been intentional, would constitute a
grave felony, with the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision
correccional in its medium period. When such reckless imprudence the use of a
motor vehicle, resulting in the death of a person attended the same article imposes
upon the defendant the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and
maximum periods.

The offense with which petitioner was charged is reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide, less serious physical injuries and damage to property, a
complex crime. Where a reckless, imprudent, or negligent act results in two or
more grave or less grave felonies, a complex crime is committed.
[24]
Article 48 of
the Revised Penal Code provides that when the single act constitutes two or more
grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for
committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the
same to be applied in its maximum period. Since Article 48 speaks of felonies, it
is applicable to crimes through negligence in view of the definition of felonies in
Article 3 as acts or omissions punishable by law committed either by means of
deceit (dolo) or fault (culpa).
[25]
Thus, the penalty imposable upon petitioner, were
he to be found guilty, is prision correccional in its medium period (2 years, 4
months and 1 day to 4 years) and maximum period (4 years, 2 months and 1 day to
6 years).

Applicable as well is the familiar rule that the jurisdiction of the court to
hear and decide a case is conferred by the law in force at the time of the institution
of the action, unless such statute provides for a retroactive application
thereof.
[26]
When this case was filed on 29 December 2004, Section 32(2) of Batas
Pambansa Bilang 129 had already been amended by R.A. No. 7691. R.A. No.
7691 extended the jurisdiction of the first-level courts over criminal cases to
include all offenses punishable with imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years
irrespective of the amount of fine, and regardless of other imposable accessory or
other penalties including those for civil liability. It explicitly states
that in offenses involving damage to property
through criminal negligence, they shall have exclusive original
jurisdiction thereof. It follows that criminal cases for reckless
imprudence punishable with prision correccional in its medium and maximum
periods should fall within the jurisdiction of the MTC and not the RTC. Clearly,
therefore, jurisdiction to hear and try the same pertained to the MTC and the RTC
did not have original jurisdiction over the criminal case.
[27]
Consequently, the
MTC of Sibulan, Negros Oriental had properly taken cognizance of the case and
the proceedings before it were valid and legal.

As the records show, the MTC granted petitioners demurrer to evidence and
acquitted him of the offense on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. 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.
[28]
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.
[29]
But while the dismissal
order consequent to a demurrer to evidence is not subject to appeal, the same is
still reviewable but only by certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Thus, in
such case, the factual findings of the trial court are conclusive upon the reviewing
court, and the only legal basis to reverse and set aside the order of dismissal upon
demurrer to evidence is by a clear showing that the trial court, in acquitting the
accused, committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction or a denial of due process, thus rendering the assailed judgment
void.
[30]


Accordingly, respondents filed before the RTC the petition for certiorari
alleging that the MTC gravely abused its discretion in dismissing the case and
failing to consider the evidence of the prosecution in resolving the same, and in
allegedly failing to follow the proper procedure as mandated by the Rules of
Court. The RTC correctly ruled that the MTC did not abuse its discretion in
dismissing the criminal complaint. The MTCs conclusions were based on facts
diligently recited in the order thereby disproving that the MTC failed to consider
the evidence presented by the prosecution. The records also show that the MTC
correctly followed the procedure set forth in the Rules of Court.

The second issue is whether the Court of Appeals erred in ordering the
remand of the case of the matter of civil liability for the reception of evidence.

We disagree with the Court of Appeals on directing the remand of the case
to the RTC for further proceedings on the civil aspect, as well as with the RTC in
directing a similar remand to the MTC.

The acquittal of the accused does not automatically preclude a judgment
against him on the civil aspect of the case. The extinction of the penal action does
not carry with it the extinction of the civil liability where: (a) the acquittal is based
on reasonable doubt as only preponderance of evidence is required; (b) the court
declares that the liability of the accused is only civil; and (c) the civil liability of
the accused does not arise from or is not based upon the crime of which the
accused is acquitted.
[31]
However, the civil action based on delict may be deemed
extinguished if there is a finding on the final judgment in the criminal action that
the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist
[32]
or
where the accused did not commit the acts or omission imputed to him.
[33]


Thus, if demurrer is granted and the accused is acquitted by the court, the
accused has the right to adduce evidence on the civil aspect of the case unless the
court also declares that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise
did not exist.
[34]
This is because when the accused files a demurrer to evidence, he
has not yet adduced evidence both on the criminal and civil aspects of the
case. The only evidence on record is the evidence for the prosecution. What the
trial court should do is issue an order or partial judgment granting the demurrer to
evidence and acquitting the accused, and set the case for continuation of trial for
the accused to adduce evidence on the civil aspect of the case and for the private
complainant to adduce evidence by way of rebuttal. Thereafter, the court shall
render judgment on the civil aspect of the case.
[35]


A scrutiny of the MTCs decision supports the conclusion that the acquittal
was based on the findings that the act or omission from which the civil liability
may arise did not exist and that petitioner did not commit the acts or omission
imputed to him; hence, petitioners civil liability has been extinguished by his
acquittal. It should be noted that the MTC categorically stated that it cannot find
any evidence which would prove that a crime had been committed and that accused
was the person responsible for it. It added that the prosecution failed to establish
that it was petitioner who committed the crime as charged since its witnesses never
identified petitioner as the one who was driving the cargo truck at the time of the
incident. Furthermore, the MTC found that the proximate cause of the accident is
the damage to the rear portion of the truck caused by the swerving of the Colt
Galant into the rear left portion of the cargo truck and not the reckless driving of
the truck by petitioner, clearly establishing that petitioner is not guilty of reckless
imprudence. Consequently, there is no more need to remand the case to the trial
court for proceedings on the civil aspect of the case, since petitioners acquittal has
extinguished his civil liability.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals Decision
dated 17 August 2006 and Resolution dated 25 April 2007 in CA-G.R. SP. No.
01179 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Order dated 16 May 2005 of the
Municipal Trial Court of Sibulan, Negros Oriental in Criminal Case No. 3016-04
granting the Demurrer to Evidence and acquitting petitioner Jeffrey Reso Dayap of
the offense charged therein is REINSTATED and AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice


WE CONCUR:

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Acting Chief Justice


RENATO C. CORONA CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice Associate Justice


MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice


CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby
certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.


LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Acting Chief Justice


*
Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. per Special Order No. 558.

**
Additional member in lieu of Justice Arturo D. Brion per Special Order No. 562.

[1]
Rollo, p. 3-26.

[2]
Id. at 28-36. Penned by Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison and concurred in by Justices Pampio A.
Abarintos and Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla of the Twentieth (20
th
) Division, Court of Appeals, Cebu City.

[3]
Id. at 38-42. Penned by Justice Stephen C. Cruz and concurred in by Justices Isaias P. Dicdican and
Antonio L. Villamor of the Nineteenth (19
th
) Division, Court of Appeals, Cebu City.

[4]
Records, p. 32.

[5]
Rollo, p. 44; See Order dated 10 January 2005.

[6]
Records, pp. 34-36.

[7]
Id. at 37.

[8]
Id. at 41.

[9]
Rollo, p. 55.

[10]
Records, pp. 80-92.

[11]
Id. at 93-94.

[12]
Rollo, pp. 72-74.

[13]
Id. at 72 and 74.

[14]
Records, pp. 3-11.

[15]
Rollo, pp. 75-81.

[16]
Id. at 81.

[17]
Id. at 89-90.

[18]
No. L-46934, 15 April 1998, .

[19]
Rollo, p. 35.

[20]
Id. at 90-94.

[21]
Supra note 2.

[22]
Entitled AN ACT EXPANDING THE JURISDICTION OF THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL
COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS AND MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS, AMENDING FOR
THE PURPOSE BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 129, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE JUDICIARY
REORGANIZATION ACT OF 1980, which took effect on 14 April 1994.

[23]
See notes 8 and 9.

[24]
People v. de los Santos, 407 Phil. 724, 744 (2001, citing Reodica v. Court of Appeals, 292 SCRA 87,
102 (1998).

[25]
People v. de los Santos, 407 Phil. 724 (2001).

[26]
Venancio Figueroa y Cervantes v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 147406, 14 July 2008,
citing Alarilla v. Sandiganbayan, 393 Phil. 143, 155 (2000) and Escovar v. Justice Garchitorena, 466 Phil. 625, 635
(2004).

[27]
Venancio Figueroa y Cervantes v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 147406, 14 July 2008.

[28]
People v. Sandiganbayan, 488 Phil. 293, 310 (2004), citing People v. City of Silay, No. L-43790, 9
December 1976, 74 SCRA 247.

[29]
Id.

[30]
People v. Uy, G.R. No. 158157, 30 September 2005, 471 SCRA 668.

[31]
Hun Hyung Park v. Eung Won Choi, G.R. No. 165496, 12 February 2007, 515 SCRA 502, 513.

[32]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 111, Sec. 2, last par.

[33]
Salazar v. People, 458 Phil. 504 (2003).

[34]
Id. at 607.

[35]
Id. at 518-519.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 80116 June 30, 1989
IMELDA MANALAYSAY PILAPIL, petitioner,
vs.
HON. CORONA IBAY-SOMERA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXVI; HON. LUIS C. VICTOR, in his
capacity as the City Fiscal of Manila; and ERICH EKKEHARD
GEILING, respondents.

REGALADO, J .:
An ill-starred marriage of a Filipina and a foreigner which ended in a foreign
absolute divorce, only to be followed by a criminal infidelity suit of the latter
against the former, provides Us the opportunity to lay down a decisional rule on
what hitherto appears to be an unresolved jurisdictional question.
On September 7, 1979, petitioner Imelda Manalaysay Pilapil, a Filipino citizen,
and private respondent Erich Ekkehard Geiling, a German national, were married
before the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths at Friedensweiler in the
Federal Republic of Germany. The marriage started auspiciously enough, and
the couple lived together for some time in Malate, Manila where their only child,
Isabella Pilapil Geiling, was born on April 20, 1980.
1

Thereafter, marital discord set in, with mutual recriminations between the
spouses, followed by a separation de facto between them.
After about three and a half years of marriage, such connubial disharmony
eventuated in private respondent initiating a divorce proceeding against petitioner
in Germany before the Schoneberg Local Court in January, 1983. He claimed
that there was failure of their marriage and that they had been living apart since
April, 1982.
2

Petitioner, on the other hand, filed an action for legal separation, support and
separation of property before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXXII,
on January 23, 1983 where the same is still pending as Civil Case No. 83-
15866.
3

On January 15, 1986, Division 20 of the Schoneberg Local Court, Federal
Republic of Germany, promulgated a decree of divorce on the ground of failure of
marriage of the spouses. The custody of the child was granted to petitioner. The
records show that under German law said court was locally and internationally
competent for the divorce proceeding and that the dissolution of said marriage
was legally founded on and authorized by the applicable law of that foreign
jurisdiction.
4

On June 27, 1986, or more than five months after the issuance of the divorce
decree, private respondent filed two complaints for adultery before the City Fiscal
of Manila alleging that, while still married to said respondent, petitioner "had an
affair with a certain William Chia as early as 1982 and with yet another man
named Jesus Chua sometime in 1983". Assistant Fiscal Jacinto A. de los Reyes,
Jr., after the corresponding investigation, recommended the dismissal of the
cases on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.
5
However, upon review, the respondent
city fiscal approved a resolution, dated January 8, 1986, directing the filing of two complaints for adultery
against the petitioner.
6
The complaints were accordingly filed and were eventually raffled to two branches
of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. The case entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and
William Chia", docketed as Criminal Case No. 87-52435, was assigned to Branch XXVI presided by the
respondent judge; while the other case, "People of the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and James Chua",
docketed as Criminal Case No. 87-52434 went to the sala of Judge Leonardo Cruz, Branch XXV, of the
same court.
7

On March 14, 1987, petitioner filed a petition with the Secretary of Justice asking
that the aforesaid resolution of respondent fiscal be set aside and the cases
against her be dismissed.
8
A similar petition was filed by James Chua, her co-accused in
Criminal Case No. 87-52434. The Secretary of Justice, through the Chief State Prosecutor, gave due
course to both petitions and directed the respondent city fiscal to inform the Department of Justice "if the
accused have already been arraigned and if not yet arraigned, to move to defer further proceedings" and
to elevate the entire records of both cases to his office for review.
9

Petitioner thereafter filed a motion in both criminal cases to defer her arraignment
and to suspend further proceedings thereon.
10
As a consequence, Judge Leonardo Cruz
suspended proceedings in Criminal Case No. 87-52434. On the other hand, respondent judge merely
reset the date of the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 87-52435 to April 6, 1987. Before such scheduled
date, petitioner moved for the cancellation of the arraignment and for the suspension of proceedings in
said Criminal Case No. 87-52435 until after the resolution of the petition for review then pending before
the Secretary of Justice.
11
A motion to quash was also filed in the same case on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction,
12
which motion was denied by the respondent judge in an order dated September 8, 1987.
The same order also directed the arraignment of both accused therein, that is, petitioner and William
Chia. The latter entered a plea of not guilty while the petitioner refused to be arraigned. Such refusal of
the petitioner being considered by respondent judge as direct contempt, she and her counsel were fined
and the former was ordered detained until she submitted herself for arraignment.
13
Later, private
respondent entered a plea of not guilty.
14

On October 27, 1987, petitioner filed this special civil action for certiorari and
prohibition, with a prayer for a temporary restraining order, seeking the
annulment of the order of the lower court denying her motion to quash. The
petition is anchored on the main ground that the court is without jurisdiction "to try
and decide the charge of adultery, which is a private offense that cannot be
prosecuted de officio (sic), since the purported complainant, a foreigner, does not
qualify as an offended spouse having obtained a final divorce decree under his
national law prior to his filing the criminal complaint."
15

On October 21, 1987, this Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining
the respondents from implementing the aforesaid order of September 8, 1987
and from further proceeding with Criminal Case No. 87-52435. Subsequently, on
March 23, 1988 Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez acted on the aforesaid
petitions for review and, upholding petitioner's ratiocinations, issued a resolution
directing the respondent city fiscal to move for the dismissal of the complaints
against the petitioner.
16

We find this petition meritorious. The writs prayed for shall accordingly issue.
Under Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code,
17
the crime of adultery, as well as four other
crimes against chastity, cannot be prosecuted except upon a sworn written complaint filed by
the offended spouse. It has long since been established, with unwavering consistency, that compliance
with this rule is a jurisdictional, and not merely a formal, requirement.
18
While in point of strict law the
jurisdiction of the court over the offense is vested in it by the Judiciary Law, the requirement for a sworn
written complaint is just as jurisdictional a mandate since it is that complaint which starts the prosecutory
proceeding
19
and without which the court cannot exercise its jurisdiction to try the case.
Now, the law specifically provides that in prosecutions for adultery and
concubinage the person who can legally file the complaint should be the
offended spouse, and nobody else. Unlike the offenses of seduction, abduction,
rape and acts of lasciviousness, no provision is made for the prosecution of the
crimes of adultery and concubinage by the parents, grandparents or guardian of
the offended party. The so-called exclusive and successive rule in the
prosecution of the first four offenses above mentioned do not apply to adultery
and concubinage. It is significant that while the State, as parens patriae, was
added and vested by the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure with the power to
initiate the criminal action for a deceased or incapacitated victim in the aforesaid
offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness, in default of
her parents, grandparents or guardian, such amendment did not include the
crimes of adultery and concubinage. In other words, only the offended spouse,
and no other, is authorized by law to initiate the action therefor.
Corollary to such exclusive grant of power to the offended spouse to institute the
action, it necessarily follows that such initiator must have the status, capacity or
legal representation to do so at the time of the filing of the criminal action. This is
a familiar and express rule in civil actions; in fact, lack of legal capacity to sue, as
a ground for a motion to dismiss in civil cases, is determined as of the filing of the
complaint or petition.
The absence of an equivalent explicit rule in the prosecution of criminal cases
does not mean that the same requirement and rationale would not apply.
Understandably, it may not have been found necessary since criminal actions are
generally and fundamentally commenced by the State, through the People of the
Philippines, the offended party being merely the complaining witness therein.
However, in the so-called "private crimes" or those which cannot be
prosecuted de oficio, and the present prosecution for adultery is of such genre,
the offended spouse assumes a more predominant role since the right to
commence the action, or to refrain therefrom, is a matter exclusively within his
power and option.
This policy was adopted out of consideration for the aggrieved party who might
prefer to suffer the outrage in silence rather than go through the scandal of a
public trial.
20
Hence, as cogently argued by petitioner, Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code thus
presupposes that the marital relationship is still subsisting at the time of the institution of the criminal
action for, adultery. This is a logical consequence since the raison d'etre of said provision of law would be
absent where the supposed offended party had ceased to be the spouse of the alleged offender at the
time of the filing of the criminal case.
21

In these cases, therefore, it is indispensable that the status and capacity of the
complainant to commence the action be definitely established and, as already
demonstrated, such status or capacity must indubitably exist as of the time he
initiates the action. It would be absurd if his capacity to bring the action would be
determined by his status before or subsequent to the commencement thereof,
where such capacity or status existed prior to but ceased before, or was acquired
subsequent to but did not exist at the time of, the institution of the case. We
would thereby have the anomalous spectacle of a party bringing suit at the very
time when he is without the legal capacity to do so.
To repeat, there does not appear to be any local precedential jurisprudence on
the specific issue as to when precisely the status of a complainant as an
offended spouse must exist where a criminal prosecution can be commenced
only by one who in law can be categorized as possessed of such status. Stated
differently and with reference to the present case, the inquiry ;would be whether it
is necessary in the commencement of a criminal action for adultery that the
marital bonds between the complainant and the accused be unsevered and
existing at the time of the institution of the action by the former against the latter.
American jurisprudence, on cases involving statutes in that jurisdiction which
are in pari materia with ours, yields the rule that after a divorce has been
decreed, the innocent spouse no longer has the right to institute proceedings
against the offenders where the statute provides that the innocent spouse shall
have the exclusive right to institute a prosecution for adultery. Where, however,
proceedings have been properly commenced, a divorce subsequently granted
can have no legal effect on the prosecution of the criminal proceedings to a
conclusion.
22

In the cited Loftus case, the Supreme Court of Iowa held that
'No prosecution for adultery can be commenced except on the
complaint of the husband or wife.' Section 4932, Code. Though
Loftus was husband of defendant when the offense is said to have
been committed, he had ceased to be such when the prosecution
was begun; and appellant insists that his status was not such as to
entitle him to make the complaint. We have repeatedly said that the
offense is against the unoffending spouse, as well as the state, in
explaining the reason for this provision in the statute; and we are of
the opinion that the unoffending spouse must be such when the
prosecution is commenced. (Emphasis supplied.)
We see no reason why the same doctrinal rule should not apply in this case and
in our jurisdiction, considering our statutory law and jural policy on the matter. We
are convinced that in cases of such nature, the status of the complainant vis-a-
vis the accused must be determined as of the time the complaint was filed. Thus,
the person who initiates the adultery case must be an offended spouse, and by
this is meant that he is still married to the accused spouse, at the time of the filing
of the complaint.
In the present case, the fact that private respondent obtained a valid divorce in
his country, the Federal Republic of Germany, is admitted. Said divorce and its
legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines insofar as private respondent
is concerned
23
in view of the nationality principle in our civil law on the matter of status of persons.
Thus, in the recent case of Van Dorn vs. Romillo, Jr., et al.,
24
after a divorce was
granted by a United States court between Alice Van Dornja Filipina, and her American husband, the latter
filed a civil case in a trial court here alleging that her business concern was conjugal property and praying
that she be ordered to render an accounting and that the plaintiff be granted the right to manage the
business. Rejecting his pretensions, this Court perspicuously demonstrated the error of such stance,
thus:
There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce in
any of the States of the United States. The decree is binding on
private respondent as an American citizen. For instance, private
respondent cannot sue petitioner, as her husband, in any State of
the Union. ...
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15
of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy
against absolute divorces the same being considered contrary to our
concept of public policy and morality. However, aliens may obtain
divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines,
provided they are valid according to their national law. ...
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer
the husband of petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the
case below as petitioner's husband entitled to exercise control over
conjugal assets. ...
25

Under the same considerations and rationale, private respondent, being no
longer the husband of petitioner, had no legal standing to commence the adultery
case under the imposture that he was the offended spouse at the time he filed
suit.
The allegation of private respondent that he could not have brought this case
before the decree of divorce for lack of knowledge, even if true, is of no legal
significance or consequence in this case. When said respondent initiated the
divorce proceeding, he obviously knew that there would no longer be a family nor
marriage vows to protect once a dissolution of the marriage is decreed. Neither
would there be a danger of introducing spurious heirs into the family, which is
said to be one of the reasons for the particular formulation of our law on
adultery,
26
since there would thenceforth be no spousal relationship to speak of. The severance of the
marital bond had the effect of dissociating the former spouses from each other, hence the actuations of
one would not affect or cast obloquy on the other.
The aforecited case of United States vs. Mata cannot be successfully relied upon
by private respondent. In applying Article 433 of the old Penal Code, substantially
the same as Article 333 of the Revised Penal Code, which punished adultery
"although the marriage be afterwards declared void", the Court merely stated that
"the lawmakers intended to declare adulterous the infidelity of a married woman
to her marital vows, even though it should be made to appear that she is entitled
to have her marriage contract declared null and void, until and unless she
actually secures a formal judicial declaration to that effect". Definitely, it cannot
be logically inferred therefrom that the complaint can still be filed after the
declaration of nullity because such declaration that the marriage is void ab
initio is equivalent to stating that it never existed. There being no marriage from
the beginning, any complaint for adultery filed after said declaration of nullity
would no longer have a leg to stand on. Moreover, what was consequently
contemplated and within the purview of the decision in said case is the situation
where the criminal action for adultery was filed before the termination of the
marriage by a judicial declaration of its nullity ab initio. The same rule and
requisite would necessarily apply where the termination of the marriage was
effected, as in this case, by a valid foreign divorce.
Private respondent's invocation of Donio-Teves, et al. vs. Vamenta, hereinbefore
cited,
27
must suffer the same fate of inapplicability. A cursory reading of said case reveals that the
offended spouse therein had duly and seasonably filed a complaint for adultery, although an issue was
raised as to its sufficiency but which was resolved in favor of the complainant. Said case did not involve a
factual situation akin to the one at bar or any issue determinative of the controversy herein.
WHEREFORE, the questioned order denying petitioner's motion to quash is SET
ASIDE and another one entered DISMISSING the complaint in Criminal Case
No. 87-52435 for lack of jurisdiction. The temporary restraining order issued in
this case on October 21, 1987 is hereby made permanent.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.
Separate Opinions
PARAS, J ., concurring:
It is my considered opinion that regardless of whether We consider the German
absolute divorce as valid also in the Philippines, the fact is that the husband in
the instant case, by the very act of his obtaining an absolute divorce in Germany
can no longer be considered as the offended party in case his former wife
actually has carnal knowledge with another, because in divorcing her, he already
implicitly authorized the woman to have sexual relations with others. A contrary
ruling would be less than fair for a man, who is free to have sex will be allowed to
deprive the woman of the same privilege.
In the case of Recto v. Harden (100 Phil. 427 [1956]), the Supreme Court
considered the absolute divorce between the American husband and his
American wife as valid and binding in the Philippines on the theory that their
status and capacity are governed by their National law, namely, American law.
There is no decision yet of the Supreme Court regarding the validity of such a
divorce if one of the parties, say an American, is married to a Filipino wife, for
then two (2) different nationalities would be involved.
In the book of Senate President Jovito Salonga entitled Private International Law
and precisely because of theNational law doctrine, he considers the absolute
divorce as valid insofar as the American husband is concerned but void insofar
as the Filipino wife is involved. This results in what he calls a "socially grotesque
situation," where a Filipino woman is still married to a man who is no longer her
husband. It is the opinion however, of the undersigned that very likely the
opposite expresses the correct view. While under the national law of the husband
the absolute divorce will be valid, still one of the exceptions to the application of
the proper foreign law (one of the exceptions to comity) is when the foreign law
will work an injustice or injury to the people or residents of the forum.
Consequently since to recognize the absolute divorce as valid on the part of the
husband would be injurious or prejudicial to the Filipino wife whose marriage
would be still valid under her national law, it would seem that under our law
existing before the new Family Code (which took effect on August 3, 1988) the
divorce should be considered void both with respect to the American husband
and the Filipino wife.
The recent case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. (139 SCRA [1985]) cannot apply
despite the fact that the husband was an American can with a Filipino wife
because in said case the validity of the divorce insofar as the Filipino wife is
concerned was NEVER put in issue.

Separate Opinions
PARAS, J ., concurring:
It is my considered opinion that regardless of whether We consider the German
absolute divorce as valid also in the Philippines, the fact is that the husband in
the instant case, by the very act of his obtaining an absolute divorce in Germany
can no longer be considered as the offended party in case his former wife
actually has carnal knowledge with another, because in divorcing her, he already
implicitly authorized the woman to have sexual relations with others. A contrary
ruling would be less than fair for a man, who is free to have sex will be allowed to
deprive the woman of the same privilege.
In the case of Recto v. Harden (100 Phil. 427 [1956]), the Supreme Court
considered the absolute divorce between the American husband and his
American wife as valid and binding in the Philippines on the theory that their
status and capacity are governed by their National law, namely, American law.
There is no decision yet of the Supreme Court regarding the validity of such a
divorce if one of the parties, say an American, is married to a Filipino wife, for
then two (2) different nationalities would be involved.
In the book of Senate President Jovito Salonga entitled Private International Law
and precisely because of theNational law doctrine, he considers the absolute
divorce as valid insofar as the American husband is concerned but void insofar
as the Filipino wife is involved. This results in what he calls a "socially grotesque
situation," where a Filipino woman is still married to a man who is no longer her
husband. It is the opinion however, of the undersigned that very likely the
opposite expresses the correct view. While under the national law of the husband
the absolute divorce will be valid, still one of the exceptions to the application of
the proper foreign law (one of the exceptions to comity) is when the foreign law
will work an injustice or injury to the people or residents of the forum.
Consequently since to recognize the absolute divorce as valid on the part of the
husband would be injurious or prejudicial to the Filipino wife whose marriage
would be still valid under her national law, it would seem that under our law
existing before the new Family Code (which took effect on August 3, 1988) the
divorce should be considered void both with respect to the American husband
and the Filipino wife.
The recent case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. (139 SCRA [1985]) cannot apply
despite the fact that the husband was an American can with a Filipino wife
because in said case the validity of the divorce insofar as the Filipino wife is
concerned was NEVER put in issue.
Footnotes
1 Rollo, 5, 29.
2 Ibid., 6, 29.
3 Ibid., 7.
4 Ibid., 7, 29-30; Annexes A and A-1, Petition.
5 Ibid., 7, 178.
6 Ibid., 8; Annexes B, B-1 and B-2, id.
7 Ibid., 8-9, 178.
8 Ibid., 9, 178; Annex C, id.
9 Ibid., 9-10, 178; Annex D, id.
10 Ibid., 9; Annexes E and E-1, id.
11 Ibid., 10; Annex F, id.
12 Ibid., 9, 179; Annex G, id.
13 Ibid., 10 Annex H, id.
14 Ibid, 105.
15 Ibid., 11.
16 Ibid., 311-313.
17 Cf. Sec. 5, Rule 110, Rules of Court.
18 People vs. Mandia, 60 Phil. 372, 375 (1934); People vs. Zurbano,
37 SCRA 565, 569 (1971); People vs. Lingayen, G.R. No. 64556,
June 10, 1988.
19 Valdepeas vs. People, 16 SCRA 871 (1966); People vs.
Babasa, 97 SCRA 672 (1980).
20 Samilin vs. Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, 57 Phil. 298
(1932); Donio-Teves, et al. vs. Vamenta, et al., 133 SCRA 616
(1984).
21 Rollo, 289.
22 2 Am. Jur. 2d., 973 citing State vs. Loftus, 104 NW 906, 907; Re
Smith, 2 Okla. 153, 37 p. 1099; State vs. Russell, 90 Iowa 569, 58
NW 915.
23 Recto vs. Harden, 100 Phil. 427 (1956).
24 139 SCRA 139,140 (1985).
25 The said pronouncements foreshadowed and are adopted in the
Family Code of the Philippines (Executive Order No. 209, as
amended by Executive Order No. 227, effective on August 3, 1988),
Article 26 whereof provides that "(w)here marriage between a
Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is
thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating
him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have
capacity to re under Philippine law.
26 U.S. vs. Mata, 18 Phil. 490 (1911).
27 Footnote 20, ante.




















Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-48183 November 10, 1941
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
RODOLFO A. SCHNECKENBURGER, ET AL., defendants-appellants.
Cardenas & Casal for appellants.
Office of the Solicitor-General Ozaeta and Acting Solicitor Luciano for appellee.
MORAN, J .:
On March 16, 1926, the accused Rodolfo A. Schneckenburger married the
compliant Elena Ramirez Cartagena and after seven years of martial life, they
agreed, for reason of alleged incompatibility of character, to live separately each
other and on May 25, 1935 they executed a document which in part recites as
follows:
Que ambos comparecientes convienen en vivir separados el uno del otro
por el resto de su vida y se comprometen, y obligan reciprocamente a no
molastarse ni intervenir ni mezclarse bajo ningun concepto en la vida
publica o privada de los mismos, entre si, quendado cada uno de los
otorgantes en completa libertad de accion en calquier acto y todos
concepto.
On June 15, 1935, the accused Schneckenburger, without leaving the
Philippines, secured a decree of divorce from the civil court of Juarez, Bravos
District, State of Chihuahua, Mexico. On May 11, 1936, he contracted another
marriage with his co-accused, Julia Medel, in the justice of the peace court of
Malabon, Rizal, and since then they lived together as husband and wife in the
city of Manila. Because of the nullity of the divorce decreed by the Mexico Court,
complaint herein instituted two actions against the accused, one for bigamy in the
Court of First Instance of Rizal and the other concubinage in the court of First
Instance of Manila. The first culminated in the conviction of the accused for which
he was sentenced to penalty of two months and one day of arresto mayor. On
the trial for the offense of concubinage accused interposed the plea of double
jeopardy, and the case was dismissed; but, upon appeal by the fiscal, this Court
held the dismissal before the trial to be premature this was under the former
procedure and without deciding the question of double jeopardy, remanded the
case to the trial court for trial on the merits. Accused was convicted of
concubinage through reckless imprudence and sentenced to a penalty of two
months and one day of arresto mayor. Hence this appeal.
As to appellant's plea of double jeopardy, it need only be observed that the office
of bigamy for which he was convicted and that of concubinage for which he stood
trial in the court below are two distinct offenses in law and in fact as well as in the
mode of their prosecution. The celebration of the second marriage, with the first
still existing, characterizes the crime of bigamy; on the other hand, in the present
case, mere cohabitation by the husband with a woman who is not his wife
characterizes the crime of concubinage. The first in an offense against civil status
which may be prosecuted at the instance of the state; the second, an offense
against chastity and may be prosecuted only at the instance of the offended
party. And no rule is more settled in law than that, on the matter of double
jeopardy, the test is not whether the defendant has already been tried for the
same act, but whether he has been put in jeopardy for the same offense.
(Diaz v. U. S., 223 U. S., 422; People v. Cabrera, 43 Phil., 82)
Upon the other hand, we believe and so hold that the accused should be
acquitted of the crime of concubinage. The document executed by and between
the accused and the complaint in which they agreed to be "en completa libertad
de accion en cualquier acto y en todos conceptos," while illegal for the purpose
for which it was executed, constitutes nevertheless a valid consent to the act of
concubinage within the meaning of section 344 of the Revised Penal Code.
There can be no doubt that by such agreement, each party clearly intended to
forego to illicit acts of the other.
We said before (People vs. Guinucod, 58 Phil., 621) that the consent which bars
the offended party from instituting a criminal prosecution in cases of adultery,
concubinage, seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness is that which
has been given expressly or impliedly after the crime has been committed. We
are now convinced that this is a narrow view in way warranted by the language,
as well as the manifest policy, of the law. The second paragraph of article 344 of
the Revised Penal Code provides:
The offended party cannot institute criminal prosecution without including
both the guilty parties, if they are both alive, nor, in any case, if he shall
have consented or pardoned the offenders. (Emphasis ours.)
As the term "pardon" unquestionably refers to the offense after its commission,
"consent" must have been intended agreeably with its ordinary usage, to refer to
the offense prior to its commission. No logical difference can indeed be perceived
between prior and subsequent consent, for in both instances as the offended
party has chosen to compromise with his/her dishonor, he/she becomes
unworthy to come to court and invoke its aid in the vindication of the wrong. For
instance, a husband who believers his wife another man for adultery, is as
unworthy, if not more, as where, upon acquiring knowledge of the adultery after
its commission, he says or does nothing. We, therefore, hold that the prior
consent is as effective as subsequent consent to bar the offended party from
prosecuting the offense.
In this arriving at this conclusion we do not with to be misconstrued as legalizing
an agreement to do an illicit act, in violation of law. Our view must be taken only
to mean that an agreement of the tenor entered into between the parties herein,
operates, within the plain language and manifest policy of the law, to bar the
offended party from prosecuting the offense. If there is anything morally
condemnatory in a situation of his character, the remedy lies not with us but with
the legislative department of the government. What the law is, not what it should
be, defines the limits of our authority.
Judgment is reversed and the accused is hereby acquitted, without costs.
Avancea, C.J., Abad Santos, Diaz and Horilleno, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 186459 September 1, 2010
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,
vs.
NITA EUGENIO Y PEJER, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J .:
Nita Eugenio y Pejer (appellant) was charged before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Pasig City
1
for violation ofSection 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165
(R.A. No. 9165) or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, allegedly
committed as follows:
2

On or about May 13, 2003 in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the accused, not being lawfully authorized by law, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver and give away to PO1 Aldrin
Mariano, a police poseur-buyer, one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet
containing three (3) centigrams (0.03 gram) of white crystalline substance, which
was found positive to the test for methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous
drug, in violation of the said law.
Contrary to law. (underscoring supplied)
From the evidence for the prosecution, the following version is culled:
On the night of May 13, 2003, at around 7:30 p.m., a confidential informant
reported to PO1 Aldrin Mariano (PO1 Mariano), officer-on-duty at the Pasig City
Hall Detachment, that one alias "Aruba" was selling shabu at Vicper Compound,
Malinao, Pasig City.
P/Sr. Insp. Chief Rodrigo Villaruel at once formed a buy-bust team to conduct an
operation composed of, among others, PO3 Amilassan Salisa as team leader,
and PO1 Mariano as poseur-buyer. PO1 Mariano, who was given two one
hundred peso bills bearing Serial Numbers BT219634 and XN547078 to be used
as buy-bust money, wrote his initials "ARM" thereon at the lower left portion.
The operation was recorded in the police blotter and coordinated with the
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) which gave it control number NOC-
1305-03-10.
3

At around 8:00 in the evening, the team, together with the confidential informant,
proceeded to the residence of appellant who was standing in front of her house.
The informant at once introduced PO1 Mariano as buyer. As appellant inquired
how much, PO1 Mariano handed her the two marked bills upon which appellant
drew out one substance-filled sachet from the "outside wall" of her house. At that
instant, PO1 Mariano removed his cap, the pre-arranged signal for the team
members to, as they did, close in.
PO1 Mariano then held appellants arm, identified himself as a police officer, and
apprised her of her constitutional rights as he retrieved from her the buy-bust
money. He thereafter marked "EXH-A arm/05/13/03" on the substance-filled
sachet "sold" to him by appellant.
The buy-bust team brought appellant to the Rizal Medical Center for physical
check-up and later to the police detachment office where P/Sr. Insp. Chief
Villaruel prepared the following memorandum of May 13, 2003
4
addressed to the
Chief of the Eastern Police District Crime Laboratory Office, requesting the
conduct of laboratory examination on the seized substance-filled sachet to
determine the presence of dangerous drugs and their weight:
1. Respectfully forwarded to your good office herewith/attached (sic)
submitted specimen for laboratory examination to wit:
NATURE OF OFFENSE VIOLATION OF RA 9165
NAME OF SUSPECT NITA EUGENIO Y
PEJER,
57 years old, widow,
Res. At Vicper
Compound,
Malinao, Pasig City
D.T.P.O. On or about 8:30 PM 13
May


2003 at Vicper
Compound,


Malinao, Pasig City

ARRESTING OFFICER Elements of Mayors
Special
Action Team/ City Hall
Detachment, Pasig City
Police Station
represented by
PO1 Aldrin Mariano
SPECIMEN SUBMITTED One (1) heat sealed
transparent plastic
sachet
containing undetermined
amount of suspected
"shabu"
Marked EXH A ARM
05/13/03
2. Request acknowledge (sic) receipt.
5
(emphasis and underscoring
supplied)
Acting on the above-quoted memorandum, P/Sr. Insp. Annalee R. Forro,
Forensic Chemical Officer of the Eastern Police District Crime Laboratory Office,
who received the sachet, conducted on the same night of May 13, 2003, at
around 8:33 P.M, a laboratory examination of the contents of the sachet, the
result of which she recorded in Chemistry Report No. D-889-03E
6
wherein she
concluded that the substance inside the sachet weighed 0.03 gram and was
positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.
Hence, the filing of the Information against appellant.
Denying the charge against her, appellant gave the following version:
On May 11, 2003, while fetching water from a nearby well, she was, in the
presence of family and neighbors, accosted by police officers who brought her to
the police station. At the station, she was questioned whether she knew one
"Baylene Ramba," to which she replied in the negative. She was later surprised
to learn that an Information for violation of R.A. 9165 had been filed against her.
Finding for the prosecution, the trial court, by Decision of May 31, 2005,
convicted appellant, disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused NITA EUGENIO y Pejer @ Aruba
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of violation of Sec. 5, Art. II of
R.A. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of
2002 and imposes upon her the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a
fine of Php500,000.00
SO ORDERED.
7
(underscoring supplied)
By Decision of September 16, 2008,
8
the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial
courts decision.
In affirming the trial courts rejection of appellants defense, the appellate court
held:
. . . As correctly observed by the trial court, the claim that accused-appellant was
arrested without reason is not supported by evidence. Not one of the alleged
witnesses to the unlawful arrest, including accused-appellants own daughter,
was presented to corroborate the claim. Hence, the court a quo is correct in
considering the defense incredible for being self-serving and
uncorroborated.
9
(underscoring supplied)
In her present appeal, appellant claims, in the main, that there was failure to
follow the requirements of Sec. 21 of R.A. No. 9165, hence, it compromised the
integrity and evidentiary value of the allegedly seized item.
Sec. 21 of R.A. No 9165 provides:
Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered
Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors
and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory
Equipment. The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous
drugs, plant sources or dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential
chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so
confiscated, seized and or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following
manner:
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall,
immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph
the same in the presence of the accused or the persons/s from whom such items
were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a
representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any
elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory
and be given a copy thereof; x x x (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Appellant specifically claims that no physical inventory and photographing of the
specimen took place. Respecting the required conduct of an inventory, since only
one sachet was seized, failure to comply therewith may understandably have
been rendered unnecessary.
As for the required photograph of the seized item, a reading of the testimony of
PO1 Mariano confirms the prosecutions failure to follow such requirement:
Atty. Ronatay:
Q: Are you aware that it is required under the dangerous drugs law that in
case of the buy-bust operation,the subject specimen their (sic) must be a
picture taken on the subject specimen?
A: What I said is that impossible, we have a buy-bust to verify.
Atty. Ronatay:
Your Honor, I think the answer is not responsive to the question. We
moved (sic) to strike that out and the witness to answer the question.
Court: Answer the question.
Witness:
A: Not yet maam.
Atty. Ronatay:
Q: How many times have you been engaged in buy-bust operation?
A: More or less ten maam.
Q: And in those ten cases, was there ever an occasion that the subject
specimen, there was a picture taken on that subject specimen?
A: None, maam.
Q: Are you also aware Mr. witness that under the dangerous drugs law, it
is standard operating procedure that in cases of operation specifically in a
buy-bust operation, there has also be (sic) a presence of the media?
A: I do not know, maam.
Q: In this case was there a media present at the time of the operation?
A: None maam.
Q: Are you also aware that under the dangerous drugs law, it is required
that there has to be coordination with the Local Brgy.?
A: None maam.
10
(emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Failing to comply with the provision of Section 2 of R.A. No. 9165 does not
necessarily doom the case for the prosecution, however. People v. Pringas
enlightens:
Non-compliance by the apprehending/buy-bust team with Section 21 is not fatal
as long as there is justifiable ground therefor, and as long as the integrity and the
evidentiary value of the confiscated/seized items, are properly preserved by the
apprehending officer/team. Its non-compliance will not render an accused's arrest
illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible. What is of utmost
importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the
seized items, as the same would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or
innocence of the accused.
11
(citation omitted, emphasis, italics and underscoring
supplied)
The Courts pronouncement in Pringas is based on the provision of Section 21(a)
of the Implementing Rules and Regulations
12
of R.A. No. 9165 reading:
x x x Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements under
justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized
items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render
void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items; (emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
Clearly, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the integrity and
evidentiary value of the shabu was preserved.
As reflected in the above-quoted Memorandum of P/Sr. Insp. Chief Villaruel, the
time of operation was "on or about8:30 P.M., 13 May 2003." If the allegedly
seized substance-filled sachet was confiscated at 8:30 p.m., it is highly
improbable that it was received at the Crime Laboratory at 8:33 P.M or a mere
three minutes after the seizure, given that appellant was after his arrest first
brought to a hospital for physical check-up.
Doubt is thus engendered on whether the object evidence subjected to laboratory
examination and presented in court is the same as that allegedly "sold" by
appellant. In fine, the prosecution failed to prove the integrity and evidentiary
value of the 0.03 gram specimen.
Parenthetically, unlike in Pringas, the defense in the present case questioned
early on, during the cross examination of PO1 Mariano, the failure of the
apprehending officers to comply with the inventory and photographing
requirements of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165. And the defense raised it again
during the offer of evidence by the prosecution, thus:
Atty. Ronatay:
x x x x
Exh. C - we object to its admission as well as the purpose for which they are
being offered for being planted evidence, your honor.
13
(underscoring supplied)
The prosecution having failed to discharge the burden of establishing the guilt of
the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the burden of the evidence did not shift to
the defense to thus leave it unnecessary to pass upon the defense evidence
even if it were considered weak. Appellants acquittal based on reasonable doubt
is then in order.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. Appellant, Nita Eugenio y Pejer, is ACQUITED for failure of the
prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Director of the Bureau of Corrections
for Women, Mandaluyong City who is directed to cause the immediate release of
appellant, unless she is being lawfully held for another cause, and to inform this
Court of action taken within ten (10) days from notice.
SO ORDERED.
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
*

Associate Justice
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Associate Justice
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Associate Justice
A T T E S T A T I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
Chairperson
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice


Footnotes
*
Per Special Order No. 879 dated August 13, 2010 in lieu of Associate
Justice Arturo D. Brion.
1
Records, pp. 1-2
2
Id.
3
Id. at 8.
4
Id. at 7.
5
Ibid.
6
Id. at 10.
7
CA rollo, p. 14
8
Penned by Associate Justice Ramon M. Bato, Jr. with the concurrence of
Associate Justices Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando and Rosalinda
Asuncion-Vicente.
9
Rollo, p. 8.
10
TSN, October 21, 2003, pp. 23-24.
11
G.R. No. 175928. August 31, 2007, 531 SCRA 828, 842-843.
12
Took effect on November 27, 2002.
13
Exhibit C pertains to the specimen confiscated from appellant which is
the plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance or shabu., TSN,
March 10, 2004, p. 31






Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-47388 October 22, 1940
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
MARIANO R. MARCOS, ET AL., defendants-appellants.
The defendants and appellants in their own behalf.
Office of the Solicitor-General Ozaeta and Solicitor Guerrero for appellee.

LAUREL, J .:
In the elections of 1934 in which Mariano Marcos and Julio Nalundasan, both of
Batac, Ilocos Norte, were rival candidates for the office of representative for the
second district of said province, Nalundasan was elected. The term for which the
latter was elected was, however, cut short as a result of the approval of the
Constitution of the Philippines under the general elections for members of the
National Assembly were by law set for September 17, 1935. In these general
elections Julio Nalundasan and Mariano Marcos resumed their political rivalry
and were opposing candidates for assemblyman in the same district. In the strife
Nalundasan again came out triumphant over Marcos. In the afternoon of
September 19, 1935, in celebration of Nalundasan's victory, a number of this
followers and partymen paraded in cars and trucks through the municipalities of
Currimao, Paoay and Batac, Ilocos Norte, and passed in front of the house of the
Marcoses in Batac. The parade is described as provocative and humiliating for
the defeated candidate, Mariano Marcos. The assemblyman-elect, Julio
Nalundasan, was not, however, destined to reap the fruits of his political laurels
for on the night of September 20, 1935, he was shot and killed in his house in
Batac. Very intensive investigation of the crime by the Government authorities,
particularly the Philippine Constabulary, followed, as a consequence of which an
information was filed in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte charging one
Nicasio Layaoen, a businessman of Batac, Ilocos Norte, with having committed
the murder of Nalundasan. After trial, however, Layaoen was acquitted. This
acquittal resulted in another protracted investigation and detective work by the
Governmental agencies, particularly the Division of Investigation of the
Department of Justice, with a view to solving the Nalundasan murder. On
December 7, 1938. or more than three years after the death of Nalundasan,
Mariano Marcos, Pio Marcos, Ferdinand Marcos and Quirino Lizardo were
prosecuted for the crime of murder in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte
under the following information:
Que en o hacia la noche del 20 de septimbre de 1935, en el Municipio de
Batac, Provincia de Ilocos Norte, Filipinas, y dentrio de la jurisdiccion de
este Honorable Juzgado, los acusados arriba nombrados, armados con
armas de fuego, puestos de acuerdo y conspirandose entre si, voluntaria,
elegal y criminalmente, con alevosia y premeditacion conocida y con
intencion de matar, dispararon contra Julio Nalundasan, entonces electo
Diputado por el Segundo Distrito de Ilocos Norte, tocandole en su costado
derecho habiendo la bala interesado organos vitales internos,
lesionandolos, las cuales lesiones causaron la muerte instantinea de dicho
Julio Nalundasan.
Hecho cometido con infraccion de la ley y con las circunstancias
agravantes de nocturnidad y de haberse cometido el delito en la morada
del occiso.
On June 10, 1939, before the conclusion of the trial, Mariano Marcos, Pio
Marcos, Ferdinand Marcos and Quirino Lizardo filed eight separate complaints
before the justice of the peace of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, charging Calixto
Aguinaldo, the principal witness for the prosecution, who was still under cross-
examination in the trial against Lizardo, with the offense of false testimony
allegedly committed in the preliminary investigation of December 7, 1938, and
during the trial. The defense had not yet completed the presentation of its
evidence, and the prosecution was preparing its rebuttal testimony. Upon motion
of the provincial fiscal of Ilocos Norte, the trial court ordered the provincial
dismissal of the complaints. Fiscal Higinio Macadaeg also moved said court to
find the Marcoses and Lizardo guilty of contempt of court, by virtue of which the
latter were ordered to show cause why the motion should not be granted. After
the conclusion of the trial, the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte rendered
judgment the dispositive parts of which read as follows:
En su virtud, el Juzgado halla a los acusados Quirino S. Lizardo y
Ferdinand E. Marcos culpables, fuera de toda duda recional, del delito de
asesinato, con agravante de morada, pero compensada por la atenuante
de provocacion en el caso de Quirino S. Lizardo, y por la circunstancia
adicional de minoria de edad en el caso de Ferdinand E. Marcos, y
condena al primero a la pena de resolucion perpectua, a las accesorias de
ley, y al pago de una cuarta parte de las costas procesales; y al segundo,
a la pena indeterminada de diez anos como minima a diecisiete anos y
cuatro meses como maxima, a las accesorias de ley, y al pago de una
cuarta parte de las costas procasales; y ambos a indemnizar
mancomunada y solidtriameiite a los herederos del occiso en la cantidad
de mil pesos (P1,000), pero sin prision subsidiaria en caso de Insolvencia;
y se absuelve a los acusados Mariano R. Marcos y Pio Marcos, con la
mitad de las costas procesales de oficio, y con la cancelacion de la fianza
que han prestado para su libertad provisional.
Por lo expuesto, el Juzgado declara a los acusados en el incidente reos de
desacato, y les condena a cada uno a pagar una multa de P200, o a sufrir
la prision subsidiaria correspondiente en caso de insolvencia o falta de
pago.
From this judgment the defendants Ferdinand Marcos and Quirino appealed,
assigning the following errors:
1. The trial court erred in according greater credibility to the prosecution
witnesses.
2. The trial court erred in convicting two and acquitting two accused upon
the same evidence.
3. The trial court erred in considering the character of Quirino Lizardo
against the accused.
4. The trial court erred in not crediting the electoral censo, Exhibit 84 for
the defense, with any probative value. l awphil. net
5. The trial court erred in denying the motions of the accused for a
reopening and a new trial.
6. The trial court erred in finding the four accused- appellant guilty of
contempt.1awphil. nt
The defendants Mariano Marcos and Pio Marcos have also appealed, but only
from so much of the judgment as found them guilty of contempt. A three-volume
brief was filed by the appellants and a comprehensive brief submitted by the
Government. Both briefs are, however, more valueable for their literary value.
Oral argument was had and doubtful points eliminated.
In view of the importance of the case and the fact that the Government asks for
the extreme penalty of death for the defendants-appellants, Ferdinand Marcos
and Quirino Lizardo, we have taken over the case on appeal with utmost caution
and searching scrutiny of the evidence presented both by the prosecution and by
the defense. As a general rule, this court will not interfere with judgment of the
trial court in passing upon the weight or credibility that should be attached to the
testimony of witnesses; but this court may determine for itself the guilt or
innocence of the defendant and may modify or reverse the conclusions of fact
laid down by the trial court if there is some fact or circumstance of weight and
influence which has been over- looked or the significance of which has been
misinterpreted.
The theory of the prosecution, stripped of nonessentials, is that Mariano Marcos,
Pio Marcos, Ferdinand Marcos and Quirino Lizardo were prompted to conspire
against the life of Julio Nalundasan by the latter's electoral victory over Mariano
Marcos, father of Ferdinand and brother-in-law of Lizardo, on September 17,
1935; that Calixto Aguinaldo, the principal witness for the prosecution, was a
trusted and loyal attendant and bodyguard of Quirino Lizardo; that the said
Calixto Aguinaldo was present in various conference of the Marcoses and
Lizardo, in the last of which (that held on September 20, 1935) it was decided
that Nalundasan must be killed; that Ferdinand was selected as the trigger man
because he was a marks- man and because, if discovered and convicted, he
would only be sent to Lolomboy reformatory school in view of his age, and that
Mariano Marcos, father of Ferdinand, would in the meantime be in Laoag; that
about nine o'clock in the evening of September 20, 1935, Ferdinand Marcos and
Quirino Lizardo, the first armed with an automatic pistol and the second with a
police positive revolver, and accompanied by Calixto Aguinaldo, left for the fatal
mission and, upon reaching Nalundasan's yard, they posted themselves at a
point where they could not be detected but where they could get a full view of the
intended human target; that Calixto Aguinaldo was asked to watch while his two
companions, Ferdinand and Lizardo, were to execute the act that would put an
end to Nalundasan's life; that Calixto Aguinaldo, after waiting for a few minutes,
was seized by fear as a result of which he proceeded to return to the house of
the Marcoses, but that on his way he heard the fatal shot from the direction of
Nalundasan's home; that Ferdinand fired the fatal shot at Nalundasan while the
latter's back was turned towards Ferdinand and Lizardo. On the other hand, the
defense is one of complete denial of participation by any of the herein defendants
in the commission of the crime. It is at once apparent that the validity of the
theory of the prosecution rests upon the weight that should be accorded to the
testimony of Calixto Aguinaldo, the principal witness for the prosecution and the
alleged companion of the defendants-appellants, Quirino Lizardo and Ferdinand
Marcos on the night of the killing of Julio Nalundasan.
It is important to observe that, as stated, immediately after the death of
Nalundasan and as a result of the efforts exerted by the agents of the
Government, particularly the Philippine Constabulary, Nicasio Layaoen, a
businessman of Batac, Ilocos Norte, was prosecuted for the murder of
Nalundasan. In that case the star witness, Gaspar Silvestre, identified Layaoen
as the man who fired the fatal shot at Nalundasan on the night in question, and
the prosecution, with the same earnestness and vehemence exhibited in the
case, prayed for the imposition of the extreme penalty of death upon the accused
Layaoen. In that case it was claimed that the accused Layaoen was seen on the
night in question with a revolver under the house of the deceased and that in a
house immediately adjoining that of Layaoen and under the care and control of
his wife, the Constabulary agents discovered eighty-one rounds of ammunition of
the 22 long Lubaloy Western rifle, the brand and class of bullet which was
alleged in that case and is alleged in the present case to have killed Nalundasan.
Nevertheless the accused Layaoen was acquitted by the court of First instance of
Ilocos Norte.
According to Calixto Aguinaldo, the principal witness for the prosecution, he was
present in the various stages of the conspiracy to murder Nalundasan and, as
noted above, he was present at the time of the commission of the murder on the
night of September 20, 1935. Aguinaldo also alleges to have been present at the
meeting in the house of the Marcoses in the morning of September 15th as well
as at the meetings in the morning and in the after- noon of September 20th, The
very evidence for the prosecution therefore shows that Calixto Aguinaldo was a
coconspirator. His testimony accordingly comes from a polluted source and
should be received with a great deal of caution and, for this reason, should be
closely and carefully scrutinized. A painstaking review of the evidence reveals
several important considerations leading to the inescapable conclusion that the
testimony of Calixto Aguinaldo does not deserve the credit that was accorded by
the trial court.
It is noteworthy that Aguinaldo claims to have been present at the various stages
of the conspiracy and to have participated in the commission of the offense
herein charged to the extent admitted by him. Nevertheless he remained silent
for approximately three years, it appearing that it was only in November, 1938,
that he broke his silence. The reason given the prosecution is that his loyalty to
the defendant Quirino Lizardo prevented him from betraying the latter's
confidence, and in this connection it was admitted in the argument by the
representative of the prosecution that it was only when Aguinaldo was
approached by the Constabulary agents that he decided to speak out the truth.
The pretended loyalty of Aguinaldo is conspicuously disproved by the
circumstance that, as the prosecution itself admits, although he was asked to
watch, he returned to the house of the Marcoses before Ferdinand Marcos and
Quirino Lizardo has executed the alleged fatal act. But whatever might have
Aguinaldo's reason, the fact is that his long continued silence creates serious
doubts in the mind of this Court as to his motives for breaking that silence. The
change of attitude could not have been due to a desireable impulse to serve the
interest of justice and proves, if it proves anything at all, the tardy revival of
stultified civic consciousness.
According to the theory of the prosecution, Ferdinand was selected as the trigger
man for two reasons, namely: because he is experienced in pistol shooting,
having been cadet major in the University of the Philippines, and because he was
below eighteen years of age and, if discovered and convicted, would be merely
sent to Lolomboy reformatory school. With reference to the first reason, it is even
represented that Mariano Marcos, father of Ferdinand, not only acquiesced in the
arrangement but apparently encouraged his son to perform the foul task, with the
simple remark that an assurance be made that the target was not missed and, if
we may believe further the testimony of Calixto Aguinaldo, that he (Mariano
Marcos) was to go in the meantime to Laoag, Ilocos Norte, thereby leaving his
son to accomplish the dirty job while he, the person most affected by the
electoral triumph of Nalundasan, was to stay away safe and sound. This is
something extraordinary for a father to feel and to do, and we incline to reject the
testimony of Aguinaldo and the inferences deducible therefrom, because the
story is, while possible, devoid of reasonable probability and opposed to the
lessons of common experience and the teachings of experimental psychology.
As regards the second reason, it appears that both the prosecution and the
defense agree that Ferdinand Marcos was at the time of the commission of the
alleged offense already over eighteen years of age. As a matter of fact, one of
the ground invoked by the Solicitor-General in asking for the modification of the
judgment of the lower court and imposition of the death penalty upon this
appellant is that he was more than eighteen years old at the time of the
commission of the offense. It is of course reasonable to assume that at least his
father and the interested party himself, if not his uncle Pio Marcos and Quirino
Lizardo, knew this fact. The theory that Ferdinand was chosen to be the trigger
man because of minority must therefore be decidedly false.
We find the claim of Calixto Aguinaldo that he was present at the alleged various
conferences held in the house of the Marcoses as a mere bodyguard of Quirino
Lizardo to be incredible, in view of the absence of a valid reason for the latter,
admitted by the prosecution to be "a domineering, blustering giant of a man" and
by the trial court to be "un hombre de rebusta constitucion fisica, de caracter
implusivo, val;iente y decidido," to employ as his bodyguard Calixto Aguinaldo,
who is only about one-half of Lizardo in size and who has not been shown to be
capable, either by experience or by nature, to discharge such office. More
incredible still is alleged participation of Aguinaldo in the actual conspiracy to kill
Julio Nalundasan, especially in view of the fact that, notwithstanding the attempt
of the prosecution to show that he was a trusted man of Quirino Lizardo, there is
evidence to prove that the relationship between the two could not be said to be of
the best, it appearing, according to the admission of Aguinaldo himself, that he
lost his job in the Government by order of the University of Labor upon the
strength of the findings in an administrative investigation in which Lizardo
testified Aguinaldo. It is hard to believe that either the Marcoses or Quirino
Lizardo would allow themselves to commit the stupidity of permitting Calixto
Aguinaldo, who was a stranger to the Marcoses and who, as already stated, had
reason to be antagonistic to Lizardo, to know their alleged plan to kill Nalundasan
and of later asking Aguinaldo to merely play the insignificant, nay unnecessary,
role of watcher, unless it was the intention of the defendant herein to facilitate the
discovery of the alleged crime and to preserve the only means of their conviction.
Since, according to the theory of the prosecution, Ferdinand Marcos was
selected to be the trigger man, Quirino Lizardo, Mariano Marcos or Pio Marcos
could easily have personally done the alleged watching.
Calixto Aguinaldo testified that when he and Quirino Lizardo arrived at noon in
Batac, Ilocos Norte, Ferdinand was in the house of the Marcoses to whom he
was introduced. It is a fact, however, that Ferdinand was a student of the
University of the Philippines and left Manila in the morning of September 15,
1935, arriving in Batac only at 8:30 p. m. of that day. Aguinaldo therefore
declared falsely when he stated that he met Ferdinand in the house of the
Marcoses at the time he (Aguinaldo) and Lizardo arrived in Batac at noon of
September 15, 1935.
The prosecution has pictured Quirino Lizardo as a person more interested and
enthusiastic than his brother-in-law, Mariano Marcos, in seeing the latter win in
the elections of September 17, 1935, against Julio Nalundasan at all costs. Thus
it is represented that when Pio Marcos informed Lizardo prior to the elections
about the imminent defeat of Mariano Marcos, Lizardo is alleged to have
impulsively exclaimed " Eso no puede ser! !Si vamos a perder la eleccion
ganaremos en otra cosa, y es . . . matar a Nalundasan! Con una bala voy a
terminar la politica en Ilocos!" In this connection it is well to recall that after
marriage of Quirino Lizardo to Maria Marcos, sister of Mariano and Pio Marcos,
animosity and ill feeling arose between the Marcoses and Lizardo as a result of
family questions, which culminated in the filing in court of a criminal complaint
against Lizardo for attempted homicide in which the offended party was the
mother of the Marcoses. In the light of this circumstance, we cannot align
ourselves with the theory that Lizardo could thereafter have shown such interest
in the candidacy of Mariano Marcos as to take the initiative not only of suggesting
but of participating in the murder of Julio Nalundasan, even granting that
previous family differences had been patched up.
The trial court was of the opinion that the Marcoses and Lizardo conceived the
idea of killing Nalundasan with some seriousness only in the morning of
September 209, 1935, after the provocative and humiliating parade held by
Nalundasan's followers and partymen in the afternoon of the preceding day. But
while the defeat of Marcos, followed by such insulting parade, might have
irritated the herein defendants, the existence of a motive alone, though perhaps
an important consideration, is not proof of the commission of a crime, much less
of the guilt of the defendants-appellants.
By and large, we find the testimony of Calixto Aguinaldo to be inherently
improbable and full of contradictions in important details. For this reason, we
decline to give him any credit. In view of this conclusion, we find it neither
necessary nor profitable to examine the corroborative evidence presented by the
prosecution. Where the principal and basic evidence upon which the prosecution
rests its case fails, all evidence intended to support or corroborate it must
likewise fail.
In passing we may state that the prosecution deserves commendation for the
industry and zeal it has displayed in this case, although its failure to obtain the
conviction of Nicasio Layaoen in the first case it is not necessarily vindicated by
the instant effort to secure a judgment against the herein defendants-appellants,
unless the latter's guilt is shown to the point of a certain degree of moral certainty
and the judicial mind is set at ease as to their culpability.
The judgment of the lower court, herein appealed from is accordingly reversed,
and the defendants-appellants, Ferdinand Marcos and Quirino Lizardo, acquitted
of the charge of murder and forthwith liberated from imprisonment and
discharged from the custody of the law, with costs de oficio.
With reference to the incident of contempt, it appears that on June 10, 1939, the
four accused below filed eight separate complaints with the justice of the peace
of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, charging the principal witness for the prosecution, Calixto,
Aguinaldo, with the crime of false testimony because of alleged false declaration
made by the latter in the preliminary investigation of December 7, 1938, and
during the trial of the aforesaid four accused. When the several complaints for
false testimony were filed, it appears that Calixto Aguinaldo was under cross-
examination in the separate trial against Quirino Lizardo, and the trial of the other
three accused, Mariano, Pio and Ferdinand Marcos, had not yet commenced.
The judge of the Court of First Instance who was trying the murder case, upon
motion of the provincial fiscal of Ilocos Norte, ordered the provincial dismissal of
the various complaints filed in the justice of the peace court of Laoag against
Calixto Aguinaldo and, thereafter, a motion was presented asking that the
Marcos and Lizardo be declared in contempt. Lizardo and the Marcoses were
ordered to show cause why they should not be punished for contempt and,
simultaneously with the judgment on the principal case for murder, Quirino
Lizardo, Mariano Marcos, Pio Marcos and Ferdinand Marcos were adjudged
guilty of contempt and sentenced each to pay a fine of two hundred pesos, with
corresponding subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
It is evident that the charges for false testimony filed by the four accused above
mentioned could not be decided until the main case for murder was disposed of,
since no penalty could be meted out to Calixto Aguinaldo for his alleged false
testimony without first knowing the extent of the sentence to be imposed against
Lizardo and the Marcoses (Revised Penal Code, art. 180). The latter should
therefore have waited for the termination of the principal case in the lower court
before filing the charges for false testimony against Calixto Aguinaldo. Facts
considered, we are of the opinion that the action of the Marcoses and Lizards
was calculated, or at least tended. directly or indirectly to obstruct the
administration of justice and that, therefore, the trial court properly found them
guilty of contempt. (In re Gomez, 6 Phil., 647; U.S. vs. Jaca, 26 Phil., 100.) In
view of the result, however, arrived at in the principal case, and considering that
the inherent power to punish for contempt should be exercised on the
preservative and not on the vindictive principle (Villavicencio vs. Lukban 39 Phil.,
778), and on the corrective and not on the retaliatory idea of punishment (In
re Lozano and Quevedo, 54 Phil., 801), it is our view that this purpose is
sufficiently achieved and the principle amply vindicated with the imposition upon
each of the four accused above mentioned of a fine of fifty (50) pesos, with
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. So ordered.
Avancea, C.J., Imperial, Diaz and Horrilleno, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 141066 February 17, 2005
EVANGELINE LADONGA, petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J .:
Petitioner Evangeline Ladonga seeks a review of the Decision,
1
dated May 17,
1999, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20443, affirming the Decision
dated August 24, 1996, of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 3 of Bohol, in
Criminal Case Nos. 7068, 7069 and 7070 convicting her of violation of B.P. Blg.
22, otherwise known as The Bouncing Checks Law.
The factual background of the case is as follows:
On March 27, 1991, three Informations for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 were filed with
the RTC, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 7068 - 7070. The Information in
Criminal Case No. 7068 alleges as follows:
That, sometime in May or June 1990, in the City of Tagbilaran, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
conspiring, confederating, and mutually helping with one another, knowing fully
well that they did not have sufficient funds deposited with the United Coconut
Planters Bank (UCPB), Tagbilaran Branch, did then and there willfully, unlawfully,
and feloniously, draw and issue UCPB Check No. 284743 postdated July 7, 1990
in the amount of NINE THOUSAND SEVENTY-FIVE PESOS AND FIFTY-FIVE
CENTAVOS (P9,075.55), payable to Alfredo Oculam, and thereafter, without
informing the latter that they did not have sufficient funds deposited with the bank
to cover up the amount of the check, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously pass on, indorse, give and deliver the said check to Alfredo Oculam
by way of rediscounting of the aforementioned checks; however, upon
presentation of the check to the drawee bank for encashment, the same was
dishonored for the reason that the account of the accused with the United
Coconut Planters Bank, Tagbilaran Branch, had already been closed, to the
damage and prejudice of the said Alfredo Oculam in the aforestated amount.
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22.
2

The accusatory portions of the Informations in Criminal Case Nos. 7069 and
7070 are similarly worded, except for the allegations concerning the number,
date and amount of each check, that is:
(a) Criminal Case No. 7069 - UCPB Check No. 284744 dated July 22, 1990 in
the amount of P12,730.00;
3

(b) Criminal Case No. 7070 UCPB Check No. 106136 dated July 22, 1990 in
the amount of P8,496.55.
4

The cases were consolidated and jointly tried. When arraigned on June 26, 1991,
the two accused pleaded not guilty to the crimes charged.
5

The prosecution presented as its lone witness complainant Alfredo Oculam. He
testified that: in 1989, spouses Adronico
6
and Evangeline Ladonga became his
regular customers in his pawnshop business in Tagbilaran City,
Bohol;
7
sometime in May 1990, the Ladonga spouses obtained a P9,075.55 loan
from him, guaranteed by United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) Check No.
284743, post dated to dated July 7, 1990 issued by Adronico;
8
sometime in the
last week of April 1990 and during the first week of May 1990, the Ladonga
spouses obtained an additional loan of P12,730.00, guaranteed by UCPB Check
No. 284744, post dated to dated July 26, 1990 issued by Adronico;
9
between
May and June 1990, the Ladonga spouses obtained a third loan in the amount
ofP8,496.55, guaranteed by UCPB Check No. 106136, post dated to July 22,
1990 issued by Adronico;
10
the three checks bounced upon presentment for the
reason "CLOSED ACCOUNT";
11
when the Ladonga spouses failed to redeem the
check, despite repeated demands, he filed a criminal complaint against them.
12

While admitting that the checks issued by Adronico bounced because there was
no sufficient deposit or the account was closed, the Ladonga spouses claimed
that the checks were issued only to guarantee the obligation, with an agreement
that Oculam should not encash the checks when they mature;
13
and, that
petitioner is not a signatory of the checks and had no participation in the
issuance thereof.
14

On August 24, 1996, the RTC rendered a joint decision finding the Ladonga
spouses guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating B.P. Blg. 22, the dispositive
portion of which reads:
Premises considered, this Court hereby renders judgment finding accused
Adronico Ladonga, alias Ronie, and Evangeline Ladonga guilty beyond
reasonable doubt in the aforesaid three (3) criminal cases, for which they stand
charged before this Court, and accordingly, sentences them to imprisonment and
fine, as follows:
1. In Criminal Case No. 7068, for (sic) an imprisonment of one (1) year for
each of them, and a fine in the amount of P9,075.55, equivalent to the
amount of UCPB Check No. 284743;
2. In Criminal Case No. 7069, for (sic) an imprisonment for each of them to
one (1) year and a fine of P12, 730.00, equivalent to the amount of UCPB
Check No. 284744; and,
3. In Criminal Case No. 7070, with (sic) an imprisonment of one year for
each of them and a fine ofP8,496.55 equivalent to the amount of UCPB
Check No. 106136;
4. That both accused are further ordered to jointly and solidarily pay and
reimburse the complainant, Mr. Alfredo Oculam, the sum of P15,000.00
representing actual expenses incurred in prosecuting the instant
cases; P10,000.00 as attorneys fee; and the amount of P30,302.10 which
is the total value of the three (3) subject checks which bounced; but
without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
With Costs against the accused.
SO ORDERED.
15

Adronico applied for probation which was granted.
16
On the other hand, petitioner
brought the case to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the RTC erred in finding
her criminally liable for conspiring with her husband as the principle of conspiracy
is inapplicable to B.P. Blg. 22 which is a special law; moreover, she is not a
signatory of the checks and had no participation in the issuance thereof.
17

On May 17, 1999, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of petitioner.
18
It
held that the provisions of the penal code were made applicable to special penal
laws in the decisions of this Court in People vs. Parel,
19
U.S. vs.
Ponte,
20
and U.S. vs. Bruhez.
21
It noted that Article 10 of the Revised Penal Code
itself provides that its provisions shall be supplementary to special laws unless
the latter provide the contrary. The Court of Appeals stressed that since B.P. Blg.
22 does not prohibit the applicability in a suppletory character of the provisions of
the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the principle of conspiracy may be applied to
cases involving violations of B.P. Blg. 22. Lastly, it ruled that the fact that
petitioner did not make and issue or sign the checks did not exculpate her from
criminal liability as it is not indispensable that a co-conspirator takes a direct part
in every act and knows the part which everyone performed. The Court of Appeals
underscored that in conspiracy the act of one conspirator could be held to be the
act of the other.
Petitioner sought reconsideration of the decision but the Court of Appeals denied
the same in a Resolution dated November 16, 1999.
22

Hence, the present petition.
Petitioner presents to the Court the following issues for resolution:
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONER WHO WAS NOT THE
DRAWER OR ISSUER OF THE THREE CHECKS THAT BOUNCED BUT
HER CO-ACCUSED HUSBAND UNDER THE LATTERS ACCOUNT
COULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR VIOLATIONS OF BATAS PAMBANSA
BILANG 22 AS CONSPIRATOR.
2. ANCILLARY TO THE MAIN ISSUE ARE THE FOLLOWING ISSUES:
A. WHETHER OR NOT CONSPIRACY IS APPLICABLE IN VIOLATIONS
OF BATAS PAMBANSA BILANG 22 BY INVOKING THE LAST SENTENCE OF
ARTICLE 10 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE WHICH STATES:
Art. 10. Offenses not subject of the provisions of this Code. Offenses which are
or in the future may be punished under special laws are not subject to the
provisions of this Code. This Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless
the latter should specially provide the contrary.
B. WHETHER OR NOT THE CASES CITED BY THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS IN AFFIRMING IN TOTO THE CONVICTION OF PETITIONER AS
CONSPIRATOR APPLYING THE SUPPLETORY CHARACTER OF THE
REVISED PENAL CODE TO SPECIAL LAWS LIKE B.P. BLG. 22 IS
APPLICABLE.
23

Petitioner staunchly insists that she cannot be held criminally liable for violation
of B.P. Blg. 22 because she had no participation in the drawing and issuance of
the three checks subject of the three criminal cases, a fact proven by the checks
themselves. She contends that the Court of Appeals gravely erred in applying the
principle of conspiracy, as defined under the RPC, to violations of B.P. Blg. 22.
She posits that the application of the principle of conspiracy would enlarge the
scope of the statute and include situations not provided for or intended by the
lawmakers, such as penalizing a person, like petitioner, who had no participation
in the drawing or issuance of checks.
The Office of the Solicitor General disagrees with petitioner and echoes the
declaration of the Court of Appeals that some provisions of the Revised Penal
Code, especially with the addition of the second sentence in Article 10, are
applicable to special laws. It submits that B.P. Blg. 22 does not provide any
prohibition regarding the applicability in a suppletory character of the provisions
of the Revised Penal Code to it.
Article 10 of the RPC reads as follows:
ART. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this Code. Offenses which
are or in the future may be punishable under special laws are not subject to the
provisions of this Code. This Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless
the latter should specially provide the contrary.
The article is composed of two clauses. The first provides that offenses which in
the future are made punishable under special laws are not subject to the
provisions of the RPC, while the second makes the RPC supplementary to such
laws. While it seems that the two clauses are contradictory, a sensible
interpretation will show that they can perfectly be reconciled.
The first clause should be understood to mean only that the special penal laws
are controlling with regard to offenses therein specifically punished. Said clause
only restates the elemental rule of statutory construction that special legal
provisions prevail over general ones.
24
Lex specialis derogant generali. In fact,
the clause can be considered as a superfluity, and could have been eliminated
altogether. The second clause contains the soul of the article. The main idea and
purpose of the article is embodied in the provision that the "code shall be
supplementary" to special laws, unless the latter should specifically provide the
contrary.
The appellate courts reliance on the cases of People vs. Parel,
25
U.S. vs.
Ponte,
26
and U.S. vs. Bruhez
27
rests on a firm basis. These cases involved the
suppletory application of principles under the then Penal Code to special
laws. People vs. Parel is concerned with the application of Article 22
28
of the
Code to violations of Act No. 3030, the Election Law, with reference to the
retroactive effect of penal laws if they favor the accused. U.S. vs. Ponte involved
the application of Article 17
29
of the same Penal Code, with reference to the
participation of principals in the commission of the crime of misappropriation of
public funds as defined and penalized by Act No. 1740. U.S. vs. Bruhez covered
Article 45
30
of the same Code, with reference to the confiscation of the
instruments used in violation of Act No. 1461, the Opium Law.
B.P. Blg. 22 does not expressly proscribe the suppletory application of the
provisions of the RPC. Thus, in the absence of contrary provision in B.P. Blg. 22,
the general provisions of the RPC which, by their nature, are necessarily
applicable, may be applied suppletorily. Indeed, in the recent case of Yu vs.
People,
31
the Court applied suppletorily the provisions on subsidiary
imprisonment under Article 39
32
of the RPC to B.P. Blg. 22.
The suppletory application of the principle of conspiracy in this case is analogous
to the application of the provision on principals under Article 17 in U.S. vs. Ponte.
For once conspiracy or action in concert to achieve a criminal design is shown,
the act of one is the act of all the conspirators, and the precise extent or modality
of participation of each of them becomes secondary, since all the conspirators
are principals.
33

All these notwithstanding, the conviction of the petitioner must be set aside.
Article 8 of the RPC provides that "a conspiracy exists when two or more persons
come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to
commit it." To be held guilty as a co-principal by reason of conspiracy, the
accused must be shown to have performed an overt act in pursuance or
furtherance of the complicity.
34
The overt act or acts of the accused may consist
of active participation in the actual commission of the crime itself or may consist
of moral assistance to his co-conspirators by moving them to execute or
implement the criminal plan.
35

In the present case, the prosecution failed to prove that petitioner performed any
overt act in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy. As testified to by the lone
prosecution witness, complainant Alfredo Oculam, petitioner was merely present
when her husband, Adronico, signed the check subject of Criminal Case No.
7068.
36
With respect to Criminal Case Nos. 7069-7070, Oculam also did not
describe the details of petitioners participation. He did not specify the nature of
petitioners involvement in the commission of the crime, either by a direct act of
participation, a direct inducement of her co-conspirator, or cooperating in the
commission of the offense by another act without which it would not have been
accomplished. Apparently, the only semblance of overt act that may be attributed
to petitioner is that she was present when the first check was issued. However,
this inference cannot be stretched to mean concurrence with the criminal design.
Conspiracy must be established, not by conjectures, but by positive and
conclusive evidence.
37
Conspiracy transcends mere companionship and mere
presence at the scene of the crime does not in itself amount to
conspiracy.
38
Even knowledge, acquiescence in or agreement to cooperate, is
not enough to constitute one as a party to a conspiracy, absent any active
participation in the commission of the crime with a view to the furtherance of the
common design and purpose.
39

As the Court eloquently pronounced in a case of recent vintage, People vs.
Mandao:
40

To be sure, conspiracy is not a harmless innuendo to be taken lightly or accepted
at every turn. It is a legal concept that imputes culpability under specific
circumstances; as such, it must be established as clearly as any element of the
crime. Evidence to prove it must be positive and convincing, considering that it is
a convenient and simplistic device by which the accused may be ensnared and
kept within the penal fold.
Criminal liability cannot be based on a general allegation of conspiracy, and a
judgment of conviction must always be founded on the strength of the
prosecutions evidence. The Court ruled thus in People v. Legaspi, from which
we quote:
At most, the prosecution, realizing the weakness of its evidence against accused-
appellant Franco, merely relied and pegged the latters criminal liability on its
sweeping theory of conspiracy, which to us, was not attendant in the commission
of the crime.
The rule is firmly entrenched that a judgment of conviction must be predicated on
the strength of the evidence for the prosecution and not on the weakness of the
evidence for the defense. The proof against him must survive the test of reason;
the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment. The conscience
must be satisfied that on the defense could be laid the responsibility for the
offense charged; that not only did he perpetrate the act but that it amounted to a
crime. What is required then is moral certainty.
Verily, it is the role of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the appellant beyond
reasonable doubt in order to overcome the constitutional presumption of
innocence.
In sum, conviction must rest on hard evidence showing that the accused is guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. In criminal cases, moral certainty
-- not mere possibility -- determines the guilt or the innocence of the accused.
Even when the evidence for the defense is weak, the accused must be acquitted
when the prosecution has not proven guilt with the requisite quantum of proof
required in all criminal cases. (Citations omitted)
41

All told, the prosecution failed to establish the guilt of the petitioner with moral
certainty. Its evidence falls short of the quantum of proof required for conviction.
Accordingly, the constitutional presumption of the petitioners innocence must be
upheld and she must be acquitted.1a\^/ phi1. net
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision, dated
May 17, 1999, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20443 affirming the
Decision, dated August 24, 1996, of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 3), Bohol,
in Criminal Case Nos. 7068, 7069 and 7070 convicting the petitioner of violation
of B.P. Blg. 22is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Evangeline
Ladonga is ACQUITTED of the charges against her under B.P. Blg. 22 for failure
of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. No
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.


Footnotes
1
Penned by Justice Buenaventura J. Guerrero (now retired) and concurred
in by Justices Portia Alino-Hormachuelos and Eloy R. Bello (now retired).
2
Original Records, pp. 1-2.
3
Id., p. 3.
4
Id., p. 5.
5
Id., pp. 29-31.
6
Also known as Ronie.
7
TSN of December 3, 1991, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, pp. 4-7.
8
Id., pp. 16-21.
9
TSN of December 4, 1991, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, pp. 2-3.
10
TSN of January 28, 1992, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, pp. 1-2.
11
TSN of December 3, 1991, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, p. 19; TSN of
December 4, 1991, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, pp. 1 and 3; TSN of
January 28, 1992, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, p. 1; Original Records, p.
128.
12
TSN of December 4, 1991, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, pp. 2 and 4;
TSN of January 28, 1992, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, p. 2; Original
Records, p. 125.
13
TSN of August 23, 1993, Testimony of Evangeline Ladonga, pp. 7-8, 11-
12 and 15; TSN of December 20, 1993, Testimony of Adronico Ladonga,
p. 18.
14
TSN of August 23, 1993, Testimony of Evangeline Ladonga, p. 10; TSN
of December 20, 1993, Testimony of Adronico Ladonga, pp. 24-26.
15
Original Records, p. 124.
16
Id., p. 126.
17
Court of Appeals (CA) Rollo, p. 28.
18
Rollo, p. 133.
19
No. 18260, January 27, 1923, 44 Phil. 437.
20
No. 5952, October 24, 1911, 20 Phil. 379.
21
No. 9268, November 4, 1914, 28 Phil. 305.
22
Rollo, p. 39.
23
Rollo, pp. 69-70.
24
Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) vs. Zamora, G.R. No. 138570,
October 10, 2000, 342 SCRA 449, 483.
25
Note No. 19, supra.
26
Note No. 20, supra.
27
Note No. 21, supra.
28
ART. 22. Retroactive effect of penal laws. Penal laws shall have a
retroactive effect insofar as they favor the person guilty of a felony, who is
not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this
Code, although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence
has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.
29
ART. 17. Principals. The following are considered principals:
1. Those who take a direct part in the execution of the act;
2. Those who directly force or induce others to commit it;
3. Those who cooperate in the commission of the offense by another
act without which it would not have been accomplished.
30
ART. 45. Confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of
the crime. Every penalty imposed for the commission of a felony shall
carry with it the forfeiture of the proceeds of the crime and the instruments
or tools with which it was committed.
Such proceeds and instruments or tools shall be confiscated and
forfeited in favor of the Government, unless they be the property of a
third person not liable for the offense, but those articles which are
not subject of lawful commerce shall be destroyed.
31
G.R. No. 134172, September 20, 2004.
32
ART. 39. Subsidiary penalty. If the convict has no property with which
to meet the fine mentioned in paragraph 3 of the next preceding article, he
shall be subject to a subsidiary personal liability at the rate of one day for
each eight pesos, subject to the following rules:
1. If the principal penalty imposed be prision
correccional or arresto and fine, he shall remain under confinement
until his fine referred in the preceding paragraph is satisfied, but his
subsidiary imprisonment shall not exceed one-third of the term of the
sentence, and in no case shall it continue for more than one year,
and no fraction or part of a day shall be counted against the
prisoner.
2. When the principal penalty imposed be only a fine, the subsidiary
imprisonment shall not exceed six months, if the culprit shall have
been prosecuted for a grave or less grave felony, and shall not
exceed fifteen days, if for a light felony.
3. When the principal penalty imposed is higher than prision
correccional no subsidiary imprisonment shall be imposed upon the
culprit.
4. If the principal penalty imposed is not to be executed by
confinement in a penal institution, but such penalty is of fixed
duration, the convict, during the period of time established in the
preceding rules, shall continue to suffer the same deprivation as
those of which the principal penalty consists.
5. The subsidiary personal liability which the convict may have
suffered by reason of his insolvency shall not relieve him from the
fine in case his financial circumstances should improve.
33
People vs. Felipe, G.R. No. 142505, December 11, 2003, 418 SCRA
146, 176; People vs. Julianda, Jr., G.R. No. 128886, November 23, 2001,
370 SCRA 448, 469; People vs. Quinicio, G.R. No. 142430, September 13,
2001, 365 SCRA 252, 266.
34
People vs. Pickrell, G.R. No. 120409, October 23, 2003, 414 SCRA 19,
33; People vs. Bisda, G.R. No. 140895, July 17, 2003, 406 SCRA 454,
473; People vs. Pagalasan, G.R. Nos. 131926 & 138991, June 18, 2003,
404 SCRA 275, 291.
35
People vs. Caballero, G.R. Nos. 149028-30, April 2, 2003, 400 SCRA
424, 437; People vs. Ponce, G.R. No. 126254, September 29, 2000, 341
SCRA 352, 359-360.
36
TSN of December 3, 1991, Testimony of Alfredo Oculam, p. 20.
37
People vs. Tamayo, G.R. No. 138608, September 24, 2002, SCRA 540,
553; People vs. Melencion, G.R. No. 121902, March 26, 2001, 355 SCRA
113, 123.
38
People vs. Leao, G.R. No. 138886, October 9, 2001, 366 SCRA
774; People vs. Compo, G.R. No. 112990, May 28, 2001, 358 SCRA 266,
272.
39
People vs. Natividad, G.R. No. 151072, September 23, 2003, 411 SCRA
587, 595.
40
People vs. Mandao, G.R. No. 135048, December 3, 2002, 393 SCRA
292.
41
Id., pp. 304-305.
EVANGELINE LADONGA VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
G.R. No. 141066. February 17, 2005


Facts: In 1989, spouses Adronico and Evangeline Ladonga became Alfredo Oculams regular
customers in his pawnshop business. Sometime in May 1990, the Ladonga spouses obtained a
P9,075.55 loan from him, guaranteed by United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) Check No.
284743, post dated to July 7, 1990 issued by Adronico; sometime in the last week of April 1990
and during the first week of May 1990, the Ladonga spouses obtained an additional loan of
P12,730.00, guaranteed by UCPB Check No. 284744, post dated to July 26, 1990 issued by
Adronico; between May and June 1990, the Ladonga spouses obtained a third loan in the
amount of P8,496.55, guaranteed by UCPB Check No. 106136, post dated to July 22, 1990
issued by Adronico; the three checks bounced upon presentment for the reason CLOSED
ACCOUNT; when the Ladonga spouses failed to redeem the check, despite repeated demands,
he filed a criminal complaint against them. While admitting that the checks issued by Adronico
bounced because there was no sufficient deposit or the account was closed, the Ladonga spouses
claimed that the checks were issued only to guarantee the obligation, with an agreement that
Oculam should not encash the checks when they mature; and, that petitioner is not a signatory
of the checks and had no participation in the issuance thereof. The RTC rendered a joint
decision finding the Ladonga spouses guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating B.P. Blg. 22.
Petitioner brought the case to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the
conviction of petitioner.

Issue: Whether or not the petitioner who was not the drawer or issuer of the three checks that
bounced but her co-accused husband under the latters account could be held liable for
violations of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 as conspirator.

Held: The conviction must be set aside. Article 8 of the RPC provides that a conspiracy exists
when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and
decide to commit it. To be held guilty as a co-principal by reason of conspiracy, the accused
must be shown to have performed an overt act in pursuance or furtherance of the complicity.
The overt act or acts of the accused may consist of active participation in the actual commission
of the crime itself or may consist of moral assistance to his co-conspirators by moving them to
execute or implement the criminal plan. In the present case, the prosecution failed to prove that
petitioner performed any overt act in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy. Apparently, the only
semblance of overt act that may be attributed to petitioner is that she was present when the first
check was issued. However, this inference cannot be stretched to mean concurrence with the
criminal design. Conspiracy must be established, not by conjectures, but by positive and
conclusive evidence. Conspiracy transcends mere companionship and mere presence at the
scene of the crime does not in itself amount to conspiracy. Even knowledge, acquiescence in or
agreement to cooperate, is not enough to constitute one as a party to a conspiracy, absent any
active participation in the commission of the crime with a view to the furtherance of the
common design and purpose


FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 132371. April 9, 2003]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. DANILO SIMBAHON y
QUIATZON, appellant.
D E C I S I O N
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J .:
On April 22, 1995, the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 23, issued Search
Warrant No. 95-100,
[1]
commanding the search in the premises of 771 Roxas Street,
Sampaloc, Manila, owned by appellant Danilo Simbahon y Quiatzon, for alleged
violation of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of
1972, as amended, and Presidential Decree No. 1866, penalizing the illegal possession
of firearms.
The search led to the prosecution and conviction of appellant for violation of Section
8, Article III of RA 6425 by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 9, in Criminal
Case No. 95-142514.
The facts as narrated by the trial court are as follows:
Stripped of their immaterialities, the prosecutions evidence tends to establish that
about 3:00 oclock in the early morning of April 23, 1995, police operatives, together
with the chairman of the barangay which had jurisdiction over the place, and a
member of media, served Search Warrant No. 95-100, Exhibit F, issued by Hon.
Judge William Bayhon on April 22, 1995, upon Danilo Simbahon, Maricar Morgia,
and Charito Mangulabnan at their residence at No. 771 Roxas Street, Sampaloc,
Manila, that although at first they were met with slight resistance, the team
nevertheless gained entry into the house and, rounding up all the occupants found
therein, herded them to the sala. Thereafter, they began conducting a search of all the
rooms in accordance with the search warrant; that in the room occupied by live-in
partners Danilo Simbahon and Charito Mangulabnan, the police officers found under
the bed a brick of dried flowering tops suspected to be marijuana, weighing 856.8
grams, wrapped in a newspaper and placed inside a plastic (Exhibit C) and a black
bullet pouch containing six (6) live ammunitions, while in the room occupied by
Maricar Morgia, the operative recovered a green plastic pencil case containing nine
(9) pieces of small transparent sachets with white crystalline substance suspected to
be shabu (Exhibit B-1) and five (5) pieces of .38 caliber live ammunitions. When
lastly the living room was searched, the policemen found therein a red and black
synthetic case. Inside the case were three (3) pieces of small transparent plastic
sachets containing suspected shabu (Exhibit B-2), some sniffing paraphernalias
such as improvised burner, tooter (Exhibit B-6), scissors (Exhibit B-8), eight (8)
strips of aluminum foil (Exhibit B-5), plastic sachets with residue (Exhibit B-3),
and empty plastic sachets (Exhibit B-4). After the search, an inventory receipt
(Exhibit G) of the items seized from the house of the suspects was prepared and,
together with an affidavit of orderly search (Exhibit H), was signed by Danilo
Simbahon; that the three accused were then arrested and brought to the precinct for
investigation. The ammunitions recovered were sent to the Firearms and Explosive
Unit, Camp Crame, Quezon City, to determine their identities and on September 22,
1995 and August 6, 1996, certifications were issued by said office to the effect that
accused Maricar Morgia and Danilo Simbahon were not licensed/registered
firearm/ammunitions holders of any kind and caliber. The other evidence recovered
were brought to the National Bureau of Investigation for laboratory examination and
were found to be positive for shabu and marijuana as evidenced by Exhibit E.
For his part, Danilo Simbahon denied the allegations against him and gave his version
of the incident as follows:
That in the early morning of April 23, 1995, he was sleeping, together with his wife
and children, in one of the rooms in their house located at No. 771 Roxas Street,
Sampaloc, Manila, when some male persons who introduced themselves as police
officers but were not in uniform forcibly pushed open the door of their house and just
barged in; that all of them were herded by the police officers to the sala from their
room but he and his wife, Charito, were not aware if something was indeed taken
from the other rooms; that thereafter they were all brought, together with another
female companion, to the headquarters and he (Simbahon) was investigated but
despite his request, the investigation was not reduced into writing. Simbahon denied
that a leather bag containing the evidence marked as Exhibits B-1 to B-11 and a
belt bag with six (6) live ammunitions were found under their bed claiming that they
have no bed in their room as they were sleeping only on the floor. He admitted,
however, that they were shown a document or paper by the police officers but the
same was never handed to him inspite of his request and that one of the policemen
also showed them a taped package saying that it was recovered from the room of
Maricar Morgia but the contents of the taped package were never shown to them
despite demands. He likewise stated that the only reason he was charged by the police
was he refused to accede to their demand of P20,000.00 in exchange for his release.
[2]

Separate informations were filed against Danilo Simbahon, Charito Mangulabnan,
and Maricar Morgia for violation of RA 6425, as amended, and PD 1866, as amended,
before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 9, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos.
95-142512 to 95-142515.
The three accused were arraigned on June 2, 1995 and respectively pleaded not
guilty. Thereafter, upon motion of the prosecution, the charges against Charito
Mangulabnan were dismissed on the ground that she had no participation in the crimes
charged against her.
[3]
The cases were then consolidated and jointly tried against Danilo
Simbahon and Maricar Morgia. After trial, the court a quo rendered a decision, the
dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, for the failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused
Maricar Morgia y Mangulabnan on evidence beyond reasonable doubt, both in
Criminal Case No. 95-142512 and in Criminal Case No. 95-142513, she is hereby
ACQUITTED of the charges against her in the above mentioned criminal cases. The
warrant of arrest issued against her dated November 15, 1995 is hereby ordered
recalled.
Likewise, for failure also of the prosecution to prove the guilt of accused Danilo
Simbahon y Quiatzon beyond reasonable doubt, said accused is hereby ACQUITTED
of the charge against him in Criminal Case No. 95-142515.
However, the Court is convinced that there is proof beyond reasonable doubt that
accused Danilo Simbahon y Quiatzon committed the crime charged against him in
Criminal Case No. 95-142514 thereby finding him guilty thereof and hereby sentences
him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay a fine of Five Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) and to pay the cost.
x x x x x x x x x
SO ORDERED.
[4]

In view of the imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua, appellant interposed
this direct appeal raising the following issues:
I
WHETHER OR NOT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE
PROSECUTION PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THAT
APPELLANT COMMITTED A VIOLATION OF SECTION 8 OF REPUBLIC ACT
NO. 6425 (1972).
II
WHETHER OR NOT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT SEARCH
WARRANT NO. 95-100 WAS VALID.
III
WHETHER OR NOT THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN FAILING TO SUSPEND THE APPELLANTS ARRAIGNMENT
AFTER GRANTING A REINVESTIGATION.
IV
WHETHER OR NOT THE PUBLIC ATTORNEY WAS GROSSLY NEGLIGENT
IN FAILING TO CHALLENGE THE VALIDITY OF THE SEARCH
CONDUCTED PRIOR TO THE ARRAIGNMENT OF THE APPELLANT.
Appellant contends that the prosecution failed to prove that he was
caught in flagrante delicto in possession of the brick of marijuana flowering tops. He
cites the testimony of SPO2 Nelson Estuaria that he never admitted ownership or
possession of the seized items, particularly the marijuana, and that the same could
belong to any one of the occupants of the house that was searched.
[5]

On the other hand, the Solicitor General argues that the positive testimony of SPO2
Nelson Estuaria that marijuana was found inside the room of accused-appellant prevails
over his mere denial.
[6]

In all prosecutions for violation of The Dangerous Drugs Act, the existence of the
dangerous drug is condition sine qua non for conviction. The dangerous drug is the
very corpus delicti of the crime.
[7]

We find that the prosecutions evidence on the identification of the marijuana
allegedly seized from appellant is demonstrably weak, unreliable and
unconvincing. The prosecution failed to identify that the marijuana presented in court
was the very same marijuana allegedly seized from appellant.
[8]
Such failure to identify
the corpus delicti of the crime charged against the appellant or to establish the chain of
custody cannot but inure to the detriment of the prosecutions case.
[9]
SPO2 Nelson
Estuaria testified in this wise:
FISCAL SULIDUM:
Q What happened after you have searched the room of Danilo Simbahon?
Witness
A I found several specimens, maam.
FISCAL SULIDUM:
Q I am showing to you a brick of flowering tops dried leaves of marijuana, will you
please tell this Honorable Court what is the relation of this brick of marijuana to the
marijuana which you recovered from the room of Danilo Simbahon?
Witness
A This is the same brick of marijuana, maam.
FISCAL SULIDUM:
Q How do you know that this marijuana was recovered from the room of Danilo
Simbahon?
Witness
A It was marked by the investigator, maam.
COURT:
Q How about you, did you put your own marking in order to identify that this was
recovered from the room of Danilo Simbahon?
Witness
A None, Your Honor. I did not put my marking.
COURT:
Q Where is the marking that were marked by the investigator?
Witness
A I could not find the marking, Your Honor.
[10]

The prosecutions failure to explain why the markings were no longer on the bricks
of marijuana leaves is certainly damaging to its case. The prosecution must ensure that
the item presented in court is the very same item seized from an accused in order to
discourage tampering with the evidence. Its failure to do so, therefore, raised serious
doubt as to appellants guilt.
Considering that in criminal cases, proof beyond reasonable doubt is necessary to
establish the guilt of an accused, similarly, unwavering exactitude in the identification of
the corpus delicti is necessary. Every fact necessary to constitute the crime must be
established by proof beyond reasonable doubt.
[11]

More importantly, this case should be dismissed on the ground of manifest
violations of the constitutional right of the accused against illegal search and
seizure. While appellant may be deemed to have waived his right to question the
legality of the search warrant and the admissibility of the evidence seized for failure to
raise his objections at the opportune time,
[12]
however, the record shows serious defects
in the search warrant itself which render the same null and void.
[13]

As a general rule, factual findings of the trial court are entitled to respect absent any
indication that it overlooked certain facts or circumstances of weight and influence
which, if considered, would alter the result of the case.
[14]
In this case, we find that the
trial court overlooked defects in Search Warrant No. 95-100, to wit:
[15]

TO ANY PEACE OFFICER:
G R E E T I N G S:
It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned after examining under oath SPO1
Bayani Corpuz Agulan and his witness, that there are reasonable grounds to believe
that a violation of Section 15 and 16, Article III of RA 6425, as amended, and
violation of PD 1866 has been committed or is about to be committed and there are
good and sufficient reasons to believe that DANILO SIMBAJON @ Danny Pilay,
CHARITO MANGULABNAN @ Chato and MARICAR MORGIA @ Caycay has
in his possession the following: (Emphasis provided)
Undetermined amount of methamphetamine Hydrochloride or Shabu, regulated
drugs;
Packaging/sniffing paraphernalia such as weighing scale, plastic sachet/bags, tooters,
aluminum foils, burner, scissor and knife;
.38 caliber revolver unlicensed firearm
You are hereby commanded to make an immediate search anytime of the day or night
of the premises including the ground floor, the second floor and in all floors and
rooms therein above-mentioned and forthwith seize and take possession of the above-
mentioned properties subject of the offense and bring to this Court said properties and
persons to be dealt with as the law direct. You are further directed to submit return
with in (10) days from today.
GIVEN UNDER MY HAND AND SEAL OF THIS COURT, this 20
th
day of April,
1995 in Manila, Philippines.
(sgd.) WILLIAM M. BAYHON
Executive Judge
The caption as well as the body of Search Warrant No. 95-100 show that it was
issued for more than one offense for violation of RA 6425 and for violation of PD
1866. In Tambasen v. People, et al., it was held:
On its face, the search warrant violates Section 3, Rule 123 of the Revised Rules of
Court, which prohibits the issuance of a search warrant for more than one specific
offense. The caption of Search Warrant No. 365 reflects the violation of two special
laws: P.D. No. 1866 for illegal possession of firearms, ammunitions and explosives;
and R.A. No. 1700, the Anti-Subversive Law. Search Warrant No. 365 was therefore
a scatter-shot warrant and totally null and void.
[16]

Likewise, the warrant failed to describe the place to be searched with sufficient
particularity. The rule is that a description of a place to be searched is sufficient if the
officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place
intended.
[17]
The constitutional requirement is a description which particularly points to a
definitely ascertainable place, so as to exclude all others. In the case at bar, only the
application for search warrant
[18]
contained the address of the place to be searched. The
search warrant issued by the court merely referred to appellants residence as
premises, without specifying its address. The Constitution and the Rules of Court limit
the place to be searched only to those described in the warrant.
[19]
The absence of a
particular description in the search warrant renders the same void.
Finally, the seized marijuana was not mentioned in the search warrant issued for
the search of appellants house. The seizure by the police officers conducting the
search of articles not described in the search warrant was beyond the parameters of
their authority under the search warrant. Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution
requires that a search warrant should particularly describe the things to be seized. The
evident purpose and intent of the requirement is to limit the things to be seized to those,
and only those, particularly described in the search warrant, to leave the officers of the
law with no discretion regarding what articles they should seize, to the end that
unreasonable searches and seizures may not be made and that abuses may not be
committed.
[20]
Neither can the admissibility of such seized items be justified under the
plain view doctrine, for the bricks of marijuana in this case were found not inadvertently
or in plain view. Rather, they were found after a meticulous search under the bed,
wrapped in a newspaper and inside a plastic bag. In People v. Musa,
[21]
the marijuana
recovered by NARCOM agents was declared inadmissible because the said drugs were
contained in a plastic bag which bore no indication of its contents.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the trial court is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. Appellant Danilo Simbahon y Quiatzon is ACQUITTED of the crime
charged against him. He is ordered immediately released unless he is being held for
some other valid or lawful cause.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Carpio and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

[1]
Records, Folder No. 2 Search Warrant No. 95-100, p. 1.
[2]
Decision, per Judge Zeus C. Abrogar, Rollo, Annex A, pp. 120-124.
[3]
Record, p. 108.
[4]
Record, p. 229.
[5]
Appellants Brief, Rollo, pp. 83-119.
[6]
Brief for the Appellee, Rollo, pp. 139-152.
[7]
People v. Mendiola, G.R. No. 110778, 4 August 1994, 235 SCRA 116, 120.
[8]
Id.
[9]
See People v. Dismuke, G.R. No. 108453, 11 July 1994, 234 SCRA 51.
[10]
TSN, August 28, 1996, pp. 4-5.
[11]
People v. Mendiola, supra, citing People v. Garcia, G.R. No. 94187, 4 November 1992, 215 SCRA 349.
[12]
See Demaisip v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 89393, 25 January 1991, 193 SCRA 373, 382.
[13]
Burgos, Sr. v. Chief of Staff, AFP, 218 Phil. 754 (1984).
[14]
People v. Balano, G.R. No. 138474, 28 March 2001.
[15]
Records, Folder No. 2 Search Warrant No. 95-100, p. 1.
[16]
316 Phil. 237 (1995).
[17]
People v. Veloso, 48 Phil. 169, 180 (1927).
[18]
Records, Folder No. 2 Search Warrant No. 95-100, pp. 2-3.
[19]
Paper Industries Corporation of the Phils. v. Asuncion, 366 Phil. 717 (1999).
[20]
Tambasen v. People, et. al., supra.
[21]
G.R. No. 96177, 27 January 1997, 217 SCRA 597.
G.R. No. 132371 April 9, 2003
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. DANILO SIMBAHON y QUIATZON
FACTS:
Police operatives, together with the chairman of the barangay which had
jurisdiction over the place, and a member of media, served Search Warrant No.
95-100 upon appellant Danilo Simbahon, Maricar Morgia, and Charito
Mangulabnan at their residence. Thereafter, the team began conducting a
search of all the rooms in accordance with the search warrant, and found under
the bed a brick of dried flowering tops suspected to be marijuana wrapped in a
newspaper, a black bullet pouch containing six (6) live ammunitions, and
sachets of white crystalline substance suspected to be shabu. After the search,
an inventory receipt of the items seized from the house of the suspects was
prepared and, together with an affidavit of orderly search was signed by Danilo
Simbahon. Appellant Danilo Simbahon y Quiatzon was chargedfor alleged
violation of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs
Act of 1972, as amended, and Presidential Decree No. 1866, penalizing the
illegal possession of firearms. The Court found him guiltyof the crime charged
against him in Criminal Case No. 95-142514 thereby sentencing him to suffer
the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay a fine of Five Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P500,000.00) and to pay the cost.
However, appellant contended that the court erred in convicting him because
the search warrant served was invalid.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the search warrant was invalid.
HELD:
Yes. The record shows serious defects in the search warrant itself which render
the same null and void.
The caption as well as the body of Search Warrant No. 95-100 show that it was
issued for more than one offense for violation of RA 6425 and for violation of
PD 1866. In Tambasen v. People, et al., it was held:
On its face, the search warrant violates Section 3, Rule 123 of the Revised
Rules of Court, which prohibits the issuance of a search warrant for more than
one specific offense. The caption of Search Warrant No. 365 reflects the
violation of two special laws: P.D. No. 1866 for illegal possession of firearms,
ammunitions and explosives; and R.A. No. 1700, the Anti-Subversive Law.
Search Warrant No. 365 was therefore a scatter-shot warrant and totally null
and void.
Likewise, the warrant failed to describe the place to be searched with
sufficient particularity. The rule is that a description of a place to be searched
is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort,
ascertain and identify the place intended. The constitutional requirement is a
description which particularly points to a definitely ascertainable place, so as
to exclude all others. In the case at bar, only the application for search
warrant contained the address of the place to be searched. The search warrant
issued by the court merely referred to appellants residence as premises,
without specifying its address. The Constitution and the Rules of Court limit the
place to be searched only to those described in the warrant. The absence of a
particular description in the search warrant renders the same void.
Finally, the seized marijuana was not mentioned in the search warrant issued
for the search of appellants house. The seizure by the police officers
conducting the search of articles not described in the search warrant was
beyond the parameters of their authority under the search warrant. Article III,
Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution requires that a search warrant should
particularly describe the things to be seized. The evident purpose and intent of
the requirement is to limit the things to be seized to those, and only those,
particularly described in the search warrant, to leave the officers of the law
with no discretion regarding what articles they should seize, to the end that
unreasonable searches and seizures may not be made and that abuses may not
be committed.
20
Neither can the admissibility of such seized items be justified
under the plain view doctrine, for the bricks of marijuana in this case were
found not inadvertently or in plain view. Rather, they were found after a
meticulous search under the bed, wrapped in a newspaper and inside a plastic
bag.