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November 2011 Philippine Supreme Court

Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure


Posted on December 14, 2011 by Dominador Maphilindo O. Carrillo Posted in Criminal Law, Philippines - Cases,Philippines -
Law, Remedial Law
Here are selected November 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and
procedure:
1. REVISED PENAL CODE
Malversation of public funds; elements.The elements of the crime of malversation of public funds are as
follows: (a) that the offender is a public officer; (b) that he had the custody or control of funds or property by
reason of the duties of his office; (c) that those funds or property were public funds or property for which he
was accountable; and (d) that he appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented or, through abandonment or
negligence, permitted another person to take them. In this case, all the elements are present and proven by the
prosecution. With respect to the first three elements, it was established that petitioner was a revenue collection
agent of the BIR. He was a public officer who had custody of public funds for which he was accountable.
Anent the fourth element, such was established when the PNB confirmed that there was a discrepancy in the
amounts actually received by the PNB and the amounts stated in the receipts reported by petitioner. Guillermo
E. Cua v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 166847, November 16, 2011.
Rape; elements. Proof of hymenal laceration is not an element of rape. An intact hymen does not negate a
finding that the victim was raped. Penetration of the penis by entry into the lips of the vagina, even without
laceration of the hymen, is enough to constitute rape, and even the briefest of contact is deemed rape. People of
the Philippines v. Bernabe Pangilinan y Crisostomo, G.R. No. 183090, November 14, 2011.
Rape; testimony of victim. In rape cases, the accused may be convicted solely on the testimony of the victim,
provided it is credible, convincing, and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things. An
examination of the records of this case shows no indication that the testimony of the private complainants
should be viewed in a suspicious light. People of the Philippines v. Avelino Subesa y Moscardon, G.R. No.
193660, November 16, 2011.
Self-defense; elements. For the justifying circumstance of self-defense to be properly appreciated, the
following elements must concur: (1) unlawful aggression; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to
prevent or repel it; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself. The most
important among all the elements is unlawful aggression. Unlawful aggression must be proved first in order
for self-defense to be successfully pleaded, whether complete or incomplete. There can be no self-defense
unless there was unlawful aggression from the person injured or killed by the accused; otherwise, there is
nothing to prevent or repel. People of the Philippines v. Edgar Concillado, G.R. No. 181204, November 28,
2011.
Self-defense; elements. There was no unlawful aggression on the part of Diosdado. The distance of the
accused from the fence while he was urinating was about 1 meters, while the victim was outside and in-
between them was a bamboo fence about four feet high. With the height of the fence and his distance from the
fence, unlawful aggression on the part of the victim was impossible. The victim could not have entered the
yard of the accused. The dead body of Diosdado was found lying on the road about eight meters from the
house of Edgar. However, no traces of blood could be found in the yard of the accused. Moreover, the
disparity of the injuries sustained belies all pretensions of self-defense. Diosdado suffered a total of 26 incised,
stab and bullet wounds. On the other hand, Edgar suffered only three superficial wounds. There being no
unlawful aggression to speak of, Edgars theory of self-defense has no leg to stand on. Having failed to
discharge his burden of proof, Edgar is criminally responsible for the death of Diosdado.People of the
Philippines v. Edgar Concillado, G.R. No. 181204, November 28, 2011.
Self defense; elements. The elements of the plea of self-defense are: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the
victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel the unlawful aggression; and (c)
lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the accused in defending himself. In the nature of self-defense, the
protagonists should be the accused and the victim. The established circumstances indicated that such did not
happen here, for it was Talampas who had initiated the attack only against Eduardo; and that Ernesto had not
been at any time a target of Talampas attack, he having only happened to be present at the scene of the attack.
In reality, neither Eduardo nor Ernesto had committed any unlawful aggression against Talampas. Thus,
Talampas was not repelling any unlawful aggression from the victim (Ernesto), thereby rendering his plea of
self-defense unwarranted. Virgilio Talampas y Matic v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 180219, November
23, 2011.
Self-defense; unlawful aggression; elements. Unlawful aggression on the part of the victim is the primordial
element of the justifying circumstance of self-defense. Without unlawful aggression, there can be no justified
killing in defense of oneself. The test for the presence of unlawful aggression under the circumstances is
whether the aggression from the victim put in real peril the life or personal safety of the person defending
himself; the peril must not be an imagined or imaginary threat. Accordingly, the accused must establish the
concurrence of three elements of unlawful aggression, namely: (a) there must be a physical or material attack
or assault; (b) the attack or assault must be actual, or, at least, imminent; and (c) the attack or assault must be
unlawful. Here, Nugas did not credibly establish that Glen had first punched him and then reached for his
clutch bag on the dashboard, making Nugas believe that he had a gun there. Nugas admitted not actually seeing
if Glen had a gun in his clutch bag, and Nugas testimony about Glen punching him is improbable.
Consequently, Nugas had absolutely no basis for pleading self-defense because he had not been subjected to
either actual or imminent threat to his life. He had nothing to prevent or to repel considering that Glen
committed no unlawful aggression towards him. People of the Philippines v. Melanio Nugas y Mapait, G.R.
No. 172606, November 23, 2011.
2. SPECIAL PENAL LAWS
Dangerous Drugs Law; buy-bust operations. A buy-bust operation is far variant from an ordinary arrest; it is a
form of entrapment which has repeatedly been accepted to be a valid means of arresting violators of the
Dangerous Drugs Law. In a buy-bust operation, the violator is caught in flagrante delicto and the police
officers conducting the operation are not only authorized, but duty-bound, to apprehend the violator and to
search him for anything that may have been part of or used in the commission of the crime. Here, Police
Officer (P0) 1 Michael Espares (Espares) and P03 Edilberto Sanchez (Sanchez), police officers of Pasig City,
provided clear and detailed testimonies, and corroborated each others account of the entrapment or buy-bust
operation their team conducted on August 5, 2003, during which, they caught accused-appellant in flagrante
delicto or while in the commission of the offense of illegally selling dangerous drugs. People of the
Philippines v. Edgar Cincillado, G.R. No. 184807, November 23, 2011.
Dangerous Drugs Law; buy-bust operations; chain of custody. In People v. Kamad, the Supreme Court
enumerated the links that the prosecution must establish in the chain of custody in a buy-bust situation to be as
follows: first, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the
apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the
investigating officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist
for laboratory examination; andfourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized from the
forensic chemist to the court. These links in the chain of custody were not adequately established by the
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and the documentary records of the case. It is significant to note that
the testimonies of poseur-buyer Catubay and his back-up, Esguerra, lack specifics on the post-seizure custody
and handling of the subject narcotic substance. Although Catubay testified that he seized the small plastic
sachet containing the suspected shabu from Salcena and brought it to the BSDO office, he never disclosed the
identity of the person/s who had control and possession of the shabu at the time of its transportation to the
police station. Neither did he claim that he retained possession until it reached the police station. Furthermore,
the prosecution failed to supply vital details as to who marked the sachet, where and how the same was done,
and who witnessed the marking. People of the Philippines v. Garet Salcena y Victorino, G.R. No. 192261,
November 16, 2011.
Dangerous Drugs Law; buy-bust operations; objective test. In determining the credibility of prosecuting
witnesses regarding the conduct of a legitimate buy-bust operation, the objective test as laid down in People
v. De Guzman should be utilized, which in part reads: We therefore stress that the objective test in buy-bust
operation demands that the details of the purported transaction must be clearly and adequately shown. This
must start from the initial contact between the poseur-buyer and the pusher, the offer for purchase, the promise
or payment of the consideration until the consummation of the sale by the delivery of the illegal drug subject of
the sale. The manner by which the initial contact was made, whether or not through an informant, the offer to
purchase the drug, the payment of the buy-bust money, and the delivery of the illegal drug, whether to the
informant alone or the police officer, must be the subject of strict scrutiny by courts to insure that law-abiding
citizens are not unlawfully induced to commit an offense. Applying this objective test, the Supreme Court
is of the considered view that the prosecution failed to present a complete picture of the buy-bust operation
highlighted by the disharmony and inconsistencies in its evidence. In this case, there are loose ends in the
prosecution evidence, unsupported by coherent and rational amplification. People of the Philippines v. Garet
Salcena y Victorino, G.R. No. 192261, November 16, 2011.
Dangerous Drugs Law; chain of custody; marking of seized items. In People v. Martinez, the Supreme Court
ruled that the marking of the seized items, to truly ensure that they were the same items that enter the chain
of custody and were eventually the ones offered in evidence, should be done (1) in the presence of the
apprehended violator; and (2) immediately upon confiscation in order to protect innocent persons from
dubious and concocted searches and to shield the apprehending officers as well from harassment suits based on
planting of evidence and on allegations of robbery or theft. People of the Philippines v. Garet Salcena y
Victorino, G.R. No. 192261, November 16, 2011.
Dangerous Drugs Law; illegal sale of drugs. In a prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the following
elements must be duly established: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and the consideration;
and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. The delivery of the illicit drug to the poseur-
buyer and the receipt by the seller of the marked money successfully consummate the buy-bust transaction.
What is material, therefore, is the proof that the transaction or sale transpired, coupled with the presentation in
court of the corpus delicti. Upon examination of the records of the instant case confirms the presence of all the
required elements. The witness for the prosecution successfully proved that a buy-bust operation indeed took
place, and the shabu subject of the sale was brought to and duly identified in court. PO1 Delos Santos
positively identified the appellant as the person who sold to him one plastic sachet containing white crystalline
substances in exchange for P200.00. The white crystalline substances contained in the seized plastic sachet
were examined and confirmed to be shabu per Chemistry Report No. D-653-04 issued by the PNP Forensic
Chemical Officer, P/Insp. Mariano. P/Insp. Marianos finding was approved by the Chief of the PNPs
Chemical Section, Police Senior Inspector Judycel Macapagal. Significantly, the appellant did not impute any
ill motive on the part of PO1 Delos Santos that would lead the latter to falsely testify. People of the Philippines
v. Asmad Bara y Asmad, G.R. No. 184808, November 14, 2011.
Dangerous Drugs Law; illegal sale of drugs. Only two elements are to be proven for the prosecution of illegal
sale of regulated or prohibited drugs: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and the
consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. Here, the prosecution had
presented evidence that established both elements by the required quantumof proof, i.e., guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. Legaspi was positively identified by the prosecutions eyewitnesses as the person who sold
to the poseur-buyer a heat-sealed plastic sachet containing a white crystalline substance. Her identity as the
culprit cannot be doubted, having been caught inflagrante delicto in an entrapment operation conducted by the
MSAT of Pasig City. Such positive identification prevails over Legaspis uncorroborated and weak defense of
denial, and unsubstantiated and contradictory defense of instigation.The prosecution also succeeded in
establishing with certainty and conclusiveness the corpus delicti of the crime. After Legaspi received the
P200.00 from San Andres, the poseur-buyer, she reached into her pocket and handed him one heat-sealed
plastic sachet containing shabu. The delivery of the contraband to the poseur-buyer and the receipt by the
seller of the marked money successfully consummated the buy-bust transaction between the entrapping
officers and Legaspi. People of the Philippines v. Nenita Legaspi y Lucas, G.R. No. 173485, November 23,
2011.
Dangerous drugs; illegal sale of drugs; chain of custody. Proof beyond reasonable doubt demands that
unwavering exactitude be observed in establishing the corpus delicti the body of the crime whose core is the
confiscated illicit drug. Hence, every fact necessary to constitute the crime must be established. The chain of
custody requirement performs this function in that it ensures that unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of
the evidence are removed. People of the Philippines v. Garet Salcena y Victorino, G.R. No. 192261, November
16, 2011.
Trademark Infringement. To establish trademark infringement under R.A. 8293 or the Intellectual Property
Code, the following elements must be shown: (1) the validity of plaintiffs mark; (2) the plaintiffs ownership
of the mark; and (3) the use of the mark or its colorable imitation by the alleged infringer results in likelihood
of confusion. Of these, it is the element of likelihood of confusion that is the gravamen of trademark
infringement. Gemma Ong a.k.a. Ma. Theresa Gemma Catacutan v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No.
169440, November 23, 2011.
Trademark Infringement. A mark is valid if it is distinctive and not barred from registration. Once registered,
not only the marks validity, but also the registrants ownership of the mark is prima faciepresumed. The
prosecution was able to establish that the trademark Marlboro was not only valid for being neither generic
nor descriptive, it was also exclusively owned by PMPI, as evidenced by the certificates of registration issued
by the Intellectual Property Office of the Department of Trade and Industry. Anent the element of confusion,
the counterfeit cigarettes seized from Gemmas possession were intended to confuse and deceive the public as
to the origin of the cigarettes intended to be sold, as they not only bore PMPIs mark, but they were also
packaged almost exactly as PMPIs products. Gemma Ong a.k.a. Ma. Theresa Gemma Catacutan v. People of
the Philippines, G.R. No. 169440, November 23, 2011.
3. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
Alibi and denial. As his main defenses, appellant puts forward denial and alibi which has consistently been
regarded as inherently weak defenses and must be rejected when the identity of the accused is satisfactorily
and categorically established by the eyewitnesses to the offense, especially when such eyewitnesses have no ill
motive to testify falsely. People of the Philippines v. Arnel Manjares, G.R. No. 185844, November 23, 2011.
Alibi and denial. In the instant case, the defense failed to show that the victim and sole eyewitness to the
crimes of rape was motivated by ill will. Moreover, for the defense of alibi to prosper, the accused must prove
not only that he was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime, but also that it was
physically impossible for him to be at the locus delicti or within its immediate vicinity. Appellants own
categorical admission that he regularly went to the alleged boarding house of the victim and his two other
children to give them their provisions for food and other expenses cast major doubt on his defense of alibi
because, even if it were true, this only demonstrates that it was not physically impossible for appellant to be at
the locus delicti when the victim was repeatedly raped. People of the Philippines v. Arnel Manjares, G.R. No.
185844, November 23, 2011.
Appeal. It is settled that in a criminal case, an appeal throws the whole case open for review, and it becomes
the duty of the appellate court to correct such errors as may be found in the judgment appealed from, whether
they are made the subject of assignment of errors or not. People of the Philippines v. Bernabe Pangilinan y
Crisostomo, G.R. No. 183090, November 14, 2011.
Arrests; warrantless arrests. Under Section 5, Rule 113 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure, the
following are the instances when a peace officer can effect a lawful warrantless arrest: (a) when, in his
presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense; (b) when an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal
knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c) when the person to
be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final
judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one
confinement to another. In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a
warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in
accordance with section 7 of Rule 112 of the Rules. People of the Philippines v. PO1 Froilan L. Trestiza,G.R.
No. 193833, November 16, 2011.
Evidence; crucial nature of testimony of victim in rape cases. In almost all cases of sexual abuse, the
credibility of the victims testimony is crucial in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime where only the
persons involved can testify as to its occurrence. In this case, the Supreme Court found no reason to disturb the
findings of the Regional Trial Court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.People of the Philippines v. Avelino
Subesa y Moscardon, G.R. No. 193660, November 16, 2011.
Evidence; trial courts evaluation of witnesses highly respected on appeal. Time and again, it has been
emphasized that the manner of assigning values to declarations of witnesses at the witness stand is best and
most competently performed by the trial judge who has the unique and unmatched opportunity to observe the
demeanor of witnesses and assess their credibility. In essence, when the question arises as to which of the
conflicting versions of the prosecution and the defense is worthy of belief, the assessment of the trial court is
generally given the highest degree of respect, if not finality. The assessment made by the trial court is even
more enhanced when the Court of Appeals affirms the same, as in this case. The prosecution successfully
proved beyond reasonable doubt the charges of rape and acts of lasciviousness against Subesa. All his four
children positively identified him as their molester. People of the Philippines v. Avelino Subesa y
Moscardon, G.R. No. 193660, November 16, 2011.
Petition for review on certiorari; when filed. Under the Rules of Court, a petition for review oncertiorari must
be filed within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or final order or resolution appealed from, or of
the denial of a motion for new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after notice of the judgment. In the
instant case, the petition for review on certiorari was not filed on time. The petitioners alleged that they
received a copy of the August 20, 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals on February 10, 2009. Thus, the
petitioners had only until February 25, 2009 to assail the August 20, 2008 Decision of the CA via a petition for
review on certiorari. However, the petitioners were only able to file the instant petition on April 27, 2009.
Clearly, the instant petition was filed out of time. People of the Philippines, Felix Florece, et al v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 187409, November 16, 2011.